Modifying the FourSevens QT2A-X for daily carry: the Quark Tactical Exigent Circumstances Edition

In my last post I mentioned that the QT2A-X was larger than my previous carry light (the Fenix LD10). In this post I’ll show you what I did about that.

After carrying the QT2A-X for a week There are some things I would like to change about it. The length needs to be brought down to something smaller (I can manage with the QT2A-X’s size, and for prolonged use it’s actually pretty comfortable, but at 5.8 inches I have to use the pocket clip, as it won’t sit right in my pocket unless it is clipped to it. On that note, with the standard pocket clip it rides a wee bit too high to be comfortable when I am sitting and standing frequently (I am constantly getting up and sitting back down in my job, so this became apparent pretty rapidly).

So how do we make it better?

My ideal carry light would have the following characteristics:

  1. High power – at least 100 lumenspreferably 200 lumens (more is better).
  2. Tailcap switch with momentary on capabilities.
  3. Small enough to carry comfortably, but big enough to fit comfortably in my hand (so right around 4 inches long and an inch around, for me).
  4. Runs on common cheap batteries (CR123A’s are ok, AA’s are better).
  5. Water resistant (waterproof would be better).
  6. Impact resistant.
  7. Grippy but won’t shred my pocket.
  8. Detachable pocket clip.
  9. User replaceable parts (at least of high wear parts like the tail switch boot and switch).
  10. Multiple light modes for use as an actual flashlight when I need to see something.
  11. Won’t roll off a table or car hood if set down.

So, with that feature set in mind how does the QT2A-X stack up?

  1. Yes (280 lumen max output!).
  2. Yes.
  3. Not really.
  4. Yes.
  5. Yes (waterproof).
  6. Yes.
  7. Yes.
  8. Yes.
  9. Yes.
  10. Yes.
  11. Kinda (with the pocket clip attached it won’t).

So it looks like length is the only issue. In my last post I mentioned how my friend was telling me that the Quark series lights are like legos. He’s right. There are a huge variety of interchangeable parts. I could put an L series body on the QT2A-X, which will shorten it considerably. The drawback being that the light would have to be run on a CR123A battery. The ability to run on AA batteries is a huge bonus for me as I have a ton of things that run on AA batteries, and consequently I have a big pile of Sanyo Eneloop AA batteries. This cuts down on the total cost of ownership, in that I essentially don’t have to buy batteries for a light that runs on AA cells. I’d really like to keep the light running on AA batteries, but that length has to go if I’m going to carry the light on a daily basis.

I could put an A series body on the QT2A-X, but this would bring the light down to approximately 110 lumens max output, and then I might as well have just bought a QTA and saved some money. The head on the QT2A-X light can operate at anywhere from 0.9v to 4.2v. What I need is a battery the size of an AA that puts out 3 volts or better (AA batteries are 1.5 volts, CR123A batteries are 3 volts).

Enter the 14500

In doing some research on batteries I discovered that this problem has already been solved! The 14500 lithium-ion cell has a nominal voltage of 3.7v (with max being 4.2v), and is the size of an AA cell. Like it was made for this flashlight. It will drive the XM-L emitter at slightly higher output than two AA cells, or even a single CR123A. This gets me a light that can put out 280-300 lumens (this is a guess, per FourSevens technical support a single CR123A or two AA batteries will put out the same amount of light, and an RCR123A or 14500 cell will put out just a bit more), and if the battery dies before I can recharge it, I can run a single AA cell in it for approximately 110 lumens of output. Perfect.

So what do I need to reconfigure this light?

Since I’m already tearing down the light I might as well change out the pocket clip for the “Deep Carry” pocket clip that FourSevens sells. So I placed two orders. One from FourSevens for an A series body and the Deep Carry pocket clip, and one from Lighthound for an AW 14500 Protected battery, and an Ultrafire WF-139 Charger.

WARNING:

If you are going to use 14500 cells in a flashlight I really recommend that you only use protected cells. This page on the lighthound website details very well why this is.

Reconfiguration

All the parts arrived in about 5 business days (I’m in California and used USPS standard shipping for both orders), so now it’s time to get to work reconfiguring the flashlight.

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You’ll notice that there are two Deep Carry pocket clips, and a regular clip on the A Series body in this photo. The FourSevens site lists the Deep Carry pocket clip for $7. I ordered one, they sent two. That’s good customer service.

First thing I noticed is that I couldn’t get the pocket clip off. There is a retaining ring that screws down over the tension band that holds the clip on the light which must be loosened all the way to remove the pocket clip (which I did, but it still wouldn’t come off) shown here:

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As it turns out, you’re going to have to remove the o-ring that is above this band and under the tailcap to get the pocket clip off. Here is the light all disassembled:

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Let’s reassemble the light into it’s new configuration, the QTECE (Quark Tactical Exigent Circumstances Edition):

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How does this compare (in size) to the Fenix LD10 that it is replacing?

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The lights are almost precisely the same size.

Only the QTECE puts out nearly three times as much light as the Fenix LD10.

My only complaint (and I’ll admit it is a minor one) is that the bend radius on the Deep Carry pocket clip is too narrow to seat fully on the pocket of my jeans, but is still much better than the standard pocket clip.

Click to enlarge

Other than that, this light is now as close as anything I can find to my ideal carry light.

I’m all about versatility. I now have a light that can run on a single 14500 cell (at full 280-300 lumen output), one AA battery (at ~110 lumen output), or with a quick body change two AA batteries (at full 280 lumen output). If I want to increase the versatility of this light, I can also buy a Quark L Series body, and have a light that can run on a CR123A (at 280 lumen output) or a RCR123A cell (at 280-300 lumen output) as well.

If you noticed, the Quark bodies come with two delrin caps that not only protect the threads, they make the body into a convenient spare battery carrier, I can keep the 2A series body (with two AA batteries), and the L series body (with a CR123A battery) in my laptop bag, and I have multiple power source options that I can change out to in just a few seconds if my 14500 cell dies on me.

The only way this light could be better is if it could put out 500+ lumens on a single AA battery. Judging by the advances in LED emitter technology, I’ll only have to wait about another decade for that.

Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman: This is pretty much all I’m going to say about this.

Wall of text coming at you, feel free to skip it if you’re fed up with hearing about the shooting of Trayvon Martin.

I’ve tried really hard not to comment on this at all because, well we really didn’t know much of anything, and I wanted to see how things played out (poorly, apparently).

Ok, aside from all the crap that has been spewed by the Usual Suspects lineup of Race Baiters, I didn’t form any kind of opinion as to what happened until the 911 recording was released (edit, apparently the file has been moved on the Sanford site, a youtube version can be found here). This is the first real hard factual evidence that the public was allowed to see.

I want to make very clear right up front that I am of the opinion that Zimmerman acted incorrectly when he left his vehicle, which is not the same as acting illegally, but I’ll get to that later.

I don’t live in Florida (in fact, I’ve never been there). The only thing I know about Florida is that my dad was escorted across the state line by a State Trooper and told not to return in the mid 1970’s (he was ejected for living in a whorehouse. As a young man who’d just left the Navy after a trip to Vietnam, he protests to this day that he was just storing his clothes there. I worship that man). I’m not going to comment on the initial investigation of the shooting other than to say that as it has played out, it looks like the Sheriff was right not to press charges.

I’m not going to get into NBC’s “creative editing” of the 911 call, which plainly was done in an attempt to make the facts fit The Narrative.

I do think it is kind of telling that until the day Zimmerman was arrested the only photos we saw of him in The Media were 60 pounds heavier than he was on the day the shooting took place, and the only photos we saw of Martin were of a 13 year old, whilst current photos of both were readily available with just the slightest effort to find them.

Let’s take a look at an actual excerpt from that 911 call:

At 2:07 Zimmerman tells the dispatcher; “He’s running.”

At 2:09 you can hear a car door open and a chime begins that is plainly the “door is open, keys in ignition” warning on Zimmerman’s truck.

At 2:13 you can clearly hear the car door being shut, and the chime stops.

At 2:17 Zimmerman’s voice wobbles and he starts breathing heavily into the phone, indicating that he has started running.

At 2:22 without any prompting other than the aforementioned noises and breathing, the dispatcher asks “Are you following him?” to which Zimmerman responds, “Yeah.”

At 2:26 the dispatcher says, “Okay, we don’t need you to do that.” To which Zimmerman responds, “Okay.” Zimmerman proceeds to give the dispatcher his name. Then he says, “He ran.”

At 2:39 the heavy breathing into the phone stops (just 13 seconds after the dispatcher told Zimmerman “we don’t need you to do that.”)

At 3:35 Zimmerman says, “Oh crap, I don’t want to give that all out. I don’t know where this kid is.” (in response to the dispatcher requesting Zimmerman’s address)

So, let’s think about that for just a moment. Zimmerman can still be heard breathing heavily into the phone until about 2:39, when the heavy breathing stops. I would have to assume that indicates that Zimmerman has stopped running, and the 13 seconds of elapsed time since the dispatcher’s “we don’t need you to do that” comment would seem at first glance to indicate that Zimmerman took that to mean “stop following him”. Zimmerman then proceeds to give the dispatcher his own information, directions to and a description of, his location for another minute and a half or so.

That is the end of the facts that the public has been shown so far. Everything else is conjecture and hearsay at this point.

So what do we know? We know that George Zimmerman was following Trayvon Martin while on the phone with the 911 operator, and it would appear that he stopped pursuit of Martin when told by the 911 operator that it wasn’t necessary.

None of that is illegal.

I’ve heard people say that Zimmerman following Martin would be illegal under Florida’s Stalking laws, but this is just not the case. Do a bit of research, and you’ll find that even trying to stretch the Stalking laws to fit the situation fails.

The only other thing we know as a fact is that at some point in the few minutes following the 911 call Zimmerman and Martin had contact, which ended in Zimmerman shooting Martin in the chest once with his carry firearm, resulting in Martin’s death.

That is right now the sum total of the facts that the public has been shown. Everything else is only conjecture at this point.

Martin’s version of the events following the 911 call are that Martin approached Zimmerman, asked Zimmerman “do you have a problem” or something similar, to which Zimmerman replied “no” or something similar and turned around to return to his truck. Martin stated “you do now” or something similar, and punched Zimmerman knocking him to the ground. Martin then mounted Zimmerman and began slamming Zimmerman’s head into the concrete.

If that is accurate, Martin would have been the aggressor. Once Martin threw the first punch Zimmerman was justified in defending himself. Once Martin escalated the violence to a level where serious injury or death was a distinct possibility (slamming someone’s head into concrete makes either event likely), Zimmerman was justified in using lethal force to stop the attack.

Also consider that the Sanford Sheriff’s department has said that Zimmerman had wounds to his face and the back of his head consistent with his version of events leading up to the shooting. There are groups claiming that the Sheriff’s department is lying about that in order to cover up Zimmerman illegally “executing” Martin, but I’ve found reports from three of George Zimmerman’s neighbors which stated that the day after the shooting George Zimmerman had butterfly bandages on his nose and the back of his head and looked “pretty beat up”. All of whom said they spoke to both the FBI and Sanford Sheriff’s department about this, but none could recall talking to any investigators from the office of the Special Prosecutor assigned to the case. So is everybody lying then?

I don’t know, and neither does anybody else at this point.

What I do know is that the affidavit which resulted in Zimmerman’s arrest is a joke.

As I stated earlier, I believe that Zimmerman acted incorrectly. In my opinion his mistake was getting out of his vehicle. I believe this was incorrect for three reasons:

  1. As someone who carries a firearm for self defense, he gave up his primary tool of self defense when he pursued Martin: avoidance.
  2. Zimmerman is not a sworn Peace Officer, he had no duty to do so.
  3. Zimmerman gave up an enormous tactical advantage when he got out of his truck.

These actions are incorrect because they resulted in Zimmerman being in a situation in which he had to use his CCW firearm. As someone who carries a firearm for self defense it is a weapon of last resort, to be drawn when all other means of self defense have failed. A human’s primary tools of self defense are avoidance and deescalation. As true as those statements are, they do not make any of George Zimmerman’s actions illegal. Incorrect action and bad decisions led George Zimmerman into a situation where he shot an unarmed 17 year old. That’s a bad deal whatever circumstances led up to it.

This is why I’m disappointed in the people running this country:

Despite no evidence of a crime being committed (and even with minor exculpatory evidence existing), look at what has been done to George Zimmerman:

  • “Religious leaders” Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and Louis Farrakonvict (I just can’t resist taking a shot at that asshat) have all manipulated The Media into pushing a story of a “White Hispanic” shooting a black kid in cold blood. They have stirred up such public outrage (despite not having any of the actual evidence outlined above) to the point where Zimmerman and his family have had to go into hiding in fear that they will be assaulted.
  • The “New Black Panther Party” placed a $10,000 bounty for George Zimmerman’s “capture”, dead or alive.
  • Spike Lee retweeted an address that he thought was Zimmerman’s home address to his approximately 250,000 followers. The home actually belongs to an elderly couple, one of which currently suffers from a heart condition. Fox news has reported that the couple have received threats and hate mail, which has gotten so bad they’ve temporarily moved to a hotel.
  • Mike Tyson tossed out this gem of a quote: “It’s a disgrace that man (Zimmerman) hasn’t been dragged out of his house and tied to a car and taken away. Forget about him being arrested—the fact that he hasn’t been shot yet is a disgrace.”

At this point, it doesn’t really matter what happened that night, George Zimmerman’s life is over. He’s already lost his job because he’s had to go into hiding. Even if he’s acquitted, he’s going to have to go into hiding. If he wants to live for any significant amount of time, he’s going to have to disappear and cut off all contact with his family and friends. Trying to get a job in America? Not likely after the kind of publicity this has gotten and besides, how would he stay in hiding with coworkers? No trial, he hadn’t even been charged with a crime at this point, and look at the level of punishment that has been visited upon him.

The government has not done one single thing to put a stop to this. You know how I know this is unjust? Make Trayvon Hispanic, or Asian, or White. Leave the four bullet points above (but change the names to their other racial equivalents), and tell me that the government would not have been arresting people, and that The Media would not be in the midst of an orgy of applying the term “racist” to all of it.

Now that is some racist bullshit right there.

And based on the affidavit, it would appear that the Special Prosecutor has now charged Zimmerman with second degree murder with almost no evidence to back that up. I’ve heard it theorized that the decision to charge Zimmerman was politically motivated, or an attempt to stave off rioting. If either of those is the case I sincerely hope that Angela Corey is charged with Prosecutorial Misconduct.

I’m not a lawyer but I do understand the basic idea of an affidavit, and the one which was submitted in this case is something that I would expect to see from a first year law student, not a Special Prosecutor’s office. The affidavit is supposed to give a Judge facts and evidence supporting the prosecutor’s assertion that the subject of the affidavit should be arrested and prosecuted, while explaining how those facts are known, as well as when and where that evidence was collected so that the Judge can make an informed decision. Specific facts and evidence.

Let me give an example of what an affidavit should contain:

At 1:43pm on 4-17-2012 Mr. Jones entered the Bank of Money located on the corner of Zee Street and Here Way. At 3:50pm on 4-17-2012 the affiant (this is the person presenting the facts) spoke with Ms. Doe who is a teller at this bank, who told the affiant that Mr. Jones proceeded to urinate in one of the potted plants in the bank, while waving at her. She also stated that Mr. Jones said something about some ugly plants outside just prior to commencing the urination.

At 2:05pm on 4-17-2012 Officer Friendly responding to the 911 call made by the bank manager Mr. Cash, spoke to the owner of Irish Bar across the street who told Officer Friendly that Mr. Jones had been drinking in the bar for approximately an hour prior to the incident. Officer Friendly related this information to the affiant upon the affiant’s arrival at the Bank of Money.

That’s a great affidavit. It presents the facts of the case as known by the investigators, as well as how and when the information was discovered by the investigator, but does not make any inferences or draw unsupported conclusions.

Here’s what a bad affidavit looks like:

Mr. Jones walked into the Bank of Money Tuesday afternoon and peed in a potted plant while waving at a teller. The teller was on the phone with a friend, who said the teller told her that she felt that Mr. Jones wanted to rape her. He was drunk because he had been drinking at the bar across the street all afternoon. Mr. Jones profiled the plant because he mentioned that he hated ugly plants.

I mention this, because the second example is pretty much exactly what the State of Florida vs. Zimmerman Affidavit of Probable Cause looks like. It’s terrible.

If it should turn out that Zimmerman did illegally execute Trayvon Martin, and evidence can be shown to a level that he could be rightfully convicted, it still would not justify the way this case has been handled. Innocent until proven guilty? Not in this case.

I just shot someone in self defense, now what?

There are literally hundreds of training programs available to pretty much everyone on how to actually shoot a CCW weapon, how to carry the weapon, and legally when you are allowed to draw and use your CCW weapon, but there is no consensus on what to do after you have used your CCW weapon in self-defense.

Common “wisdom” on the topic seems to fall into one of two extremes:

  • Say absolutely nothing, demand a lawyer.
  • Answer any and all questions, after all what do you have to hide?

You’ll find an endless series of arguments on this topic that devolve into name calling on all of the popular CCW related forums, but nothing really concrete to tell you what a good course of action would be.

I’ve done quite a bit of research on this topic, and it seems to me that people who follow either of the above courses of action seem to have a much higher chance of ending up in court. If you say nothing and demand a lawyer, the cops who responded to the call are going to start looking at you as if you’re trying to hide something, or are guilty of something. In the worst case they will miss evidence or witnesses that could have cleared you of any wrongdoing. On the other hand, if you start running your mouth, chances are you’re going to make some contradicting statements, or say something that when looked at in the wrong context will make you look like you broke the law.

Personally, I think that the correct answer lies somewhere in between these two extremes.

Part of the difficulty in finding solid information is that defensive shootings by CCW holders are relatively rare things. After going through all of the police reports and court records involving CCW holder shootings that I could find (which were not all that many), I was kind of at a loss for how to proceed.

So I started looking at the problem I was trying to solve: as a CCW holder, if I have to shoot in defense, how do I prevent being charged with a crime, and having to fight it out in court?

Now sadly enough there are jurisdictions where the DA will actively prosecute any CCW holders that are involved in a defensive shooting. If you are unfortunate enough to be involved in a defensive shooting where this is true (as it is in many places in California), get a good lawyer, and be prepared to spend an inordinate amount of money proving your innocence.

After wrestling with this I came to the conclusion that I’m either going to be charged or not based on information gathered by the first responders and the detective(s) assigned to the case (barring a DA with a political agenda). So what are their guidelines for investigating CCW holder shootings? What things are they looking for to determine if the CCW holder was in the right or acted illegally?

As it turns out, I really couldn’t find much in this regard. I called a couple of friends who work local PD and Sheriff’s Department to ask their opinions. They both suggested that I look into the departmental policies for Officer Involved Shootings (OIS).

What I found was very interesting. It seems that cops wrestle with this same issue. Apparently the policies and guidelines for OIS vary greatly from department to department, and sometimes from precinct to precinct. What I found was that in many law enforcement forums (and consistent with the Force Science Institute’s recommendations), the advice was generally along these lines:

  • Give a brief “public safety statement” on scene.
  • Get hospital transport.
  • Consult with a lawyer before giving a statement, generally 24-48 hours after the shooting.

A little further investigation shows that the “public safety statement” is suggested to consist only of the following (this specific example is from the Mount Prospect, Illinois PD’s OIS policy):

  1. Are you injured?
  2. If you know of anyone who was injured, what is his or her location?
  3. In what direction did you fire your weapon(s)?
  4. If any suspects are at large, what are their descriptions?
  5. What was their direction of travel?
  6. How long ago did they flee?
  7. For what crimes are they wanted?
  8. With what weapons are they armed?
  9. Does any evidence need to be preserved?
  10. Where is it located?
  11. Did you observe any witness(es)?
  12. Where are they?

It seems to me that giving a “public safety statement” along these lines would be very beneficial to a CCW holder that has been involved in a shooting. It addresses any immediate concerns for preserving safety, evidence, and witnesses. All of these things work in your favor. The key thing here is to remember that people who have been in a situation where they have used a firearm in self-defense (citizens and police alike) have a tendency to run their mouths. It’s a stress reaction and a perfectly normal human reaction. Unfortunately every single thing that comes out of your mouth can (and generally will) be used against you in court.

Even if the shooting was squeaky clean, if your story changes at all from telling it to one person to the next (if you let them, every cop you see will try to question you for this very purpose), someone is going to notice that and it is going to raise questions. This is a case where saying less is far better than saying more. If you hit the major points above and nothing else (and only give the statement one time), you have demonstrated that you are trying to be helpful. Wanting to stop at that is not unreasonable, a full interview can always be conducted within the next couple of days.

I find this really interesting, as are the further recommendations from FSI. On the topic of hospital transport, Laura Scarry (a prominent police attorney and certified Force Science Analyst) had the following to say:

This is a controlled, secure environment where an officer can get away from news and cell phone cameras that might otherwise feed intrusive footage of him from the scene to TV and YouTube.

Officers on some departments may be pressured inappropriately by supervisors to give a statement before the end of shift or write a report about the shooting before they go home. At a hospital, an officer can explain to a doctor that he’s keyed up from the stress of the incident and request a Valium. If he’s sedated, he can’t be required to give an immediate statement.

The important takeaway here is that unilaterally the Force Science Institute (and those certified by same) recommend that the shooter not be interviewed immediately. Among the reasons given for this are the growing number of studies that conclude that stress and fatigue negatively impact memory. There are many police unions in the US that have agreements that OIS interviews will not be conducted until at least 24 hours have elapsed from the time of the shooting. This is done because studies like the one above clearly demonstrate that it is beneficial to everyone involved, as the shooter’s memory will be anywhere from 50-70% more accurate when well rested after a stressful event.

They are specifically speaking about police officers, but I do not see any good reason for this to not apply to CCW holders as well. The dynamics of human memory do not change when one puts on a badge.

These are not the only considerations or possibilities of what will happen after you are involved in a defensive shooting, and I urge you to do your own research and don’t take my advice as gospel. I’m not a lawyer, DA, or police officer. I’m just a guy with a keyboard.