If you have been following me for any length of time you know that I rarely endorse products. Well, I have a product that I’ve been testing for a month, and it is not only getting my full endorsement, but I’m going to continue to use it for myself, because I need it. It is the NEXTORCH TA 30 tactical flashlight.
On August 12, 2018 I met with Sören Beck. He is a German law enforcement officer, and defensive tactics instructor, who was in California engaged in activities with the International Police Association. His host, Rich Robert, the former captain of the Security Forces of the Installation Support Group at Joint Forces Training Base, which was my former military unit, and thus our connection. It turns out that my name came up in conversation in Los Angeles when the two were talking about police training, because for two decades I had trained many police and military units in Germany, and Rich told him, “I know Jim Wagner. Would you like to meet him?” I had never met Sören (pronounced Zur-en) before, and he said that he would very much like to meet with me, and that even his lieutenant back in Germany knew about my reputation. A meeting was arranged.
After talking with Sören at length, I realized that he and I were “cut from the same cloth.” He had an extensive police background, and he was just as passionate about training as I was: police tactics, firearms, and the martial arts. As is the tradition among police officers from different units, we exchanged gifts. I gave him my former unit patch, and he gave me his. I gave him the Jim Wagner Reality Based Training Tool (“injury” marking training knife) manufactured by Böker, and he gave me a brand new NEXTORCH TA 30 tactical flashlight that he also carries on duty and teaches with.
“What? Really? This is mine?” I said in excitement. “What a great gift!” I could tell that it was a quality product after he showed me all the features. I had never used NEXTORCH before.
I’ve received tactical flashlights before from students, fellow police officers, and military personnel before, but a few minutes later I found out that this tactical flashlight was different from the rest.
Sören then unscrewed the end of the flashlight, the Tail Cap Switch, where the battery goes, and then slipped on a composite plastic “ring.” He then screwed the cap back into place. The ring was a shape I had never seen before. He said, “This is the FR-1 Tactical Flashlight Ring,” and then proceeded to demonstration how to grab onto someone while holding the NEXTORCH that keeps it from falling; free hands at any time. He demonstrated a few strikes that would be common in a combative situation, and then how to use it in low light situations while holding a gun in the primary hand.
Sören explained, “You know how strict German law is, having trained there yourself, because the other side of the ring is not fused it does not fall under the category of ‘brass knuckles.’ It’s just a ‘clip.’”
I looked at it wide eyed, and I just knew I had to have one myself. I could recognize a good tactical product when I see one.
Sören, anticipating this, handed the FR-1 Tactical Flashlight Ring to me and said, “This is yours also.”
It was like Christmas day.
Two thoughts instantly went through my head at that moment. One, I needed to give Sören an additional gift for the additional one he just gave me. Two, I can’t wait to try out my new equipment.
But, it got better.
It turns out that Sören was the inventor of the FR-1 Tactical Flashlight Ring. Not only was Sören a professional and an instructor like me, I thought, but he’s also an inventor.
I invented the Jim Wagner Reality-Based Blade series manufactured by Böker (a German company), and the Jim Wagner Go Bag manufactured by S-Gear (a Czech Republic company), and so I know it is not easy to turn ideas into reality and get them on the market.
Sören worked with NEXTORCH, which is an international company known for their quality products: flashlights for industry, outdoors, cycling, everyday carry and the professionals (law enforcement, military, private security, executive protection, doormen, and everyone else on “the front line.”).
In 2017 Sören came up with the idea for his tactical flashlight ring, and then he contacted NEXTORCH. The company knew that it was a good idea, and within weeks they engineered it, and put it into production. Obviously, this cooperation created a strong bond between Sören and NEXTORCH.
Then came the unexpected. Sören looked at me, “Jim, NEXTORCH and I would like for you to test both products. The TA 30 tactical flashlight and my FR-1 Tactical Flashlight Ring.”
Of course, whenever a company asks me to test something for them I’ll do it, but they always run the risk of a bad review if I find something wrong with it, or I don’t like it. I’m always brutality honest with testing, and that is why so few companies send them their products to me for testing. Having been a corrections officer, police officer, SWAT officer, professional bodyguard, counterterrorist for the federal government, and a military police soldier I exactly how to test a product for real world situations.
I took on the challenge by saying, “Yes, I’ll do it, but it is going to take a while. I’m not only going to run it through a series of tests, but I’m going be on some real world missions coming up soon, and I’m going to actually carry these products.”
Sören was not worried in the least, and he smiled and said, “Wunderbar!” – wonderful!
The NEXTORCH TA 30 is an LED, 1100 Lumens shining at a distance of 240 meters (262 yards), water resistant, impact resistant (up to 2 meters, 6.5 feet) tactical flashlight made of aerospace grade aluminum 6061-T6 with a sturdy HA III military grade hard-anodized finish. This tactical tool fits well in the hand, perfect as an impact weapon with a head and a tail (for striking), measuring 135mm (5 ¼ inches) x body diameter of 23mm (slightly under 1 inch) with a head (containing 4 small “teeth”) diameter of 30mm (1.18 inch). The battery, which can be removed and charged with a USB cord that comes in the package, gives the tactical flashlight a continuous run time of 1 hour and 45 minutes. The patented dual-function tactical tail cap switch can access to momentary on or strobe by halfway or fully depressing the switch with the palm or the thumb, depending on preferred carry.
The FR-1 Tactical Flashlight Ring, invented by Sören, was designed to attach perfectly to the NEXTORCH TA 30. It is both a quick access clip design and a carrying and operation ring. This ring is perfect for clipping onto a pant pocket, a tactical vest or Go Bag for tactical situations.
The first test I did with the NEXTORCH TA 30, outfitted with the FR-1 Tactical Flashlight Ring, was to simulate building searches. With one press of the back button I could instantly light up an entire room, even large gym size rooms. That means that small rooms light up like “day light.”
When I was practicing CQB (Close Quarter Battle) I knew that the “suspect” was in an office room as I was moving up to it in a well lit hallway. Suddenly the suspect came out, and with the palm of my hand I pushed a little harder the back Momentary ON/OFF button and it went into strobe mode as long as it remained pressed. I got the suspect, “Mike” right in the eyes, and he shot up his arm in front of his face to cover his eyes. He instantly moaned, “Ahhhhhh.” I didn’t tell him what I was doing, nor that I had a new tactical flashlight I was testing, so he was caught by complete surprise when I drenched him with 1100 Lumens of light.
His next comment was, “I just lost my night vision!”
Mike later told me that it took a couple of minutes for his normal vision to return. He then commented on how powerful the NEXTORCH TA 30 was.
I knew that if the tactical flashlight worked this good in a well-lit hallway, then the effects would be even strong in low-light situations.
The next test was taking the NEXTORCH TA 30 with me on some long walks at night. I tested it in two different environments. The first was in a typical urban environment with streetlights, exterior building lights, and passing cars, and the second was a rural environment on a moonless night.
In the urban environment I was literally able to light up one side of a house and see all of its detail. In fact, from across a street I was able to shine the light on a tall pine tree and the whole tree was lit up where I could even clearly see the pine needles. Back when I was a street cop I once found a burglary suspect hiding in a tree, and it is because of him I always shine a light in the trees when looking for the bad guy. I wish I had the NEXTORCH TA 30 back then, because it is so much more powerful than what I carried back then.
When approaching a blacked out car interior, just as a cop would do on a car stop, I was able to see everything clearly with the beam that I aimed in.
If I wanted to read a map I’d just turn the mode switch to the lowest setting, which is a necessary feature since a piece of paper is quite reflective. On the other hand, if I ever had to look at an injury at night, for tactical medic purposes, I could easily crank up the light level to medium or intensely bright indicated by white graphics or the sound of clicks.
The last test for illumination was armed situations. For safety the “suspect” was a training mannequin. I was armed with a semi-automatic pistol in my primary hand (my weapon hand), and the NEXTORCH TA 30 in my secondary hand. In a low-light room I would simultaneously aim the muzzle at the suspect and press the Momentary ON/OFF button with my thumb. With a little more pressure the strobe would be activated. To get it back to just a steady stream of light I eased off of the pressure a bit. I was quite impressed how easy the system worked.
The next test, and a vital one for me as a police defensive tactics and military combatives instructor, was using the NEXTORCH TA 30, combined with the FR-1 Tactical Flashlight Ring, as an impact weapon. Once again, this is when the striking mannequin came in handy.
I made two to three strikes at a time, a fist grip around the NEXTORCH TA 30, simulating a hand-to-hand combat situation, targeting the head of the mannequin. I repeated the process accomplishing five sets. The flashlight easily withstood the shock and punishment, and the button and LED light worked the same as before the testing There were no cracks, twisting, or cracking of body, and the lamp glass remained unscratched. In fact, it would be pretty hard to damage the glass with impact strikes since it is recessed in the head by 5mm (over a 1/16 of an inch). Even if the glass were to be broken, the LED is well protected being a full inch (2.5cm) recessed from the teeth in the head of the lamp.
I wasn’t really expecting the back button to hold up to multiple impacts, but it did, and it worked just fine after the punishment. For these strikes I did the hammer fist to the top of the head and the temple areas.
When I did knuckle punches to the face of the mannequin, with my middle finger of my secondary hand through the FR-1 Tactical Flashlight Ring, it did not hurt this finger or the other two on each side of it. The ring performed like a single “brass knuckle,” but of course it does not legally fall into this category.
If I were to get into a real fight with the NEXTORCH TA 30 and FR-1 Tactical Flashlight Ring I would definitely have confidence in this equipment. A fight is stressful enough; the last thing anyone needs to worry about is their equipment failing them at the moment of truth.
Bad weather is a fact of life for tactical operators. I’ve been caught in rain on missions many times in my career. However, it’s not only missions, but the U.S. Marine instructors I used to work with for nine years setting up training programs used to always say, “If it ain’t raining, it ain’t training.” Of course, training is the best way to test out equipment.Therefore a tactical flashlight has to hold up to inclement weather in training and on real world mission. That’s why I filled up my kitchen sink as high as the water would go, turned on my NEXTORCH TA 30 and dropped it in the water and left it at the bottom of sink for 5 minutes. I turned the setting to strobe and it flashed on and off like it was supposed to do. Having done tactical swimmer courses before, I thought that this feature would make for good signaling device for an emergency.
After the five minutes I pulled out the NEXTORCH TA 30 out of the water and ran through all the features again. My tactical flashlight worked perfectly. The water did absolutely no harm to it. It made me feel confident that if I ever had to use my tactical flashlight in a storm, directing traffic after an accident or something, or I fell into a pool or over the side of a boat for some reason, I’d be able to use this piece of equipment.
I really like the convenience of the NEXTORCH TA 30 battery. All I needed to charge it was to plug the power cord (that came in the box) into the actual battery, and the other end into a USB port.
After thoroughly testing the NEXTORCH TA 30 and the FR-1 Tactical Flashlight Ring I can, without reservation, endorse both products. Not only do I endorse them, but I carried the system with me on many bodyguard missions, both during the testing and after the testing. It is now a part of my standard equipment. The other tactical flashlight I used to carry on duty has found a place in my pick-up truck as a back up light should I ever break down and end up on the side of the road somewhere.
This report would not be complete if I ended only with an endorsement for some fantastic products. I mentioned at the beginning that Sören Beck invented the FR-1 Tactical Flashlight Ring, but I think you should know more about the inventor, because his product was not “created in a vacuum.” Men and women who design tactical products usually have quite an interesting tactical background, and Sören obviously does.
Sören is a German Customs Agent Trainer (Einsatztrainer Zoll), and he is an official instructor with the national police training organization known as PiD (Polizeitrainer in Deutschland). One year when I was in Nuremberg, and I attended a PiD course. Not only was the police course excellent, but anyone who did not speak German wore a headset to listen to instant translations in their own language. They had translators sitting in glass booths listening to the speaker like you’d see in the United Nations building. Sören is a 2nd degree black belt in Japanese Jiu Jitsu, and he has also trained in Schurikan-Jitsu and Yaku-Kobu-Jitsu.
It’s his passion for self-defense that also led him to becoming a certified safety instructor, and forming his own training system called Gewaltprävention Sören Beck (Violence Prevention Sören Beck). His specialty is teaching children, from preschool children to high school students, how to be self-confident and assertive (especially using one’s voice and demeanor), recognition and avoidance of violent situations, and what to do if someone wants to bully them or physically attack them. The training is done through role playing, movement games, and even with some fun thrown in.
When Sören explained to me his teaching methods I was impressed, and it was apparent that he is an expert in this field. I liked the fact that he teachings children how to deal with emergencies, and that they all have a civic duty to help others in need, even if that is only calling the authorities.
Sören teaches his Violence Prevention courses at the Budo-Club Karlsruhe in Karlsruhe, which just west of Stuttgard.
I was so impressed with Sören’s knowledge and talents, and he with mine, that we got together for a second meeting and a dinner, with Rich Robert included of course.
We did the 10 angles, the Feeding Drill, Pressure Point Control Techniques, and even discussed the history of the Kubotan, the Yawara, and different items which could be used as an improvised “tactical pen” or “stick.”
For the partner training I had “soft” training tools made out of foam pipe isolation, and wrapped with duct tape. For the Pressure Point Control techniques we used short sticks made of hard rubber.
It was a great session, based on Jim Wagner’s teachings, mixed with sweat and fun.
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RBPP Tactical Pen oder Pocket Stick
Unser letztes Trainingsthema war der RBPP Tactical Pen oder Pocket Stick. Für einige der Jungs war´s eine Auffrischung, für die anderen war es etwas komplett Neues.
Geübt wurden die 10 Richtungen, der „Fütterungs“ Drill, Kontroll Techniken und natürlich auch ein wenig Theorie über die Geschichte (Kubotan, Yawara) und die verschiedenen Gegenstände, welche als taktischer Kugelschreiber oder Kurzstock genutzt werden können.
Die weichen Trainingsgeräte hab ich aus Schaumstoffisolierung gemacht, die ich mit Panzerband umwickelt habe. Für die Kontrolltechniken haben wir Kurzstöcke aus Hartgummi verwendet.
Es war ein tolles Training über diese spezielle Jim Wagner Thema, angefüllt mit Schweiß und Spaß.
BE A HARD TARGET
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