Radetec: Future Is Now (and it’s Kinda Dumb)
A strong argument could be made that the M41 pulse rifle from Aliens is the most popular science fiction firearm of gun nuts everywhere. Probably even more so now that
Private Hudson Bill Paxton has passed on. From non-working guns for the cosplay crowd to airsoft copies that cost about as much as a used Glock to people shelling out for the pair of tax stamps it takes to make a real firing copy, these things are still insanely popular decades after Aliens DVDs went into bargain bins.
Thing is, they don’t look very future-y anymore; heck, they don’t even look very 2017. They don’t have a low-power variable optic or infrared laser. There’s not an MLOK slot or even KeyMod anywhere in sight. They don’t even have one solitary inch of Picatinny rail…but they do have that ammo counter.
Right there on the magwell was the cool LED display that counted down for dramatic tension as the waves of xenomorphs kept a-comin’. And now you can have that functionality, too, thanks to the folks at the Spanish arms technology company, Radetec!
At SHOT this year Radetec displayed a new addition to their line: the RISC, a magnetic saddle that drops over the rear of your Glock’s slide, precluding you from using cool things like the “Gadget” Striker Control Device, goofy things like Punisher logo slide cover plates, and probably three quarters of the decent retention holsters on the market.
[RISC covers up your Punisher logo cover plate]
What do you get in return for giving up these capabilities? An LCD screen that senses shots via inertia and keeps track of how many rounds you’ve fired or, alternatively, how many you have left to fire.
Prior to the RISC, Radetec introduced devices similar in concept that counted rounds and displayed the numbers in little LED windows on the right side of an add-on grip for the Beretta 92, M1911, or on the mag well of an AR-pattern rifle.
[Two-digit LED readout on Beretta 92]
While I suppose these might be of interest to department armorers with OCD or serious control freak issues, or maybe end users who have a serious blinking light addiction, their function as a logbook for the personally-owned weapon is easily equaled by a 79¢ notebook and a ballpoint pen.
They also offer an extremely basic form of this technology in the form of a product called the “AmmoControl LED Advisor”. In addition to the aforementioned 92 and M1911, these are offered for Gen4 Glocks and Smith & Wesson M&P pistols. They had these available for writer testing at NRAAM and I cadged one to try on my M&P357.
In place of the numerical LED readout, the LED Advisor is a replacement grip panel for the M&P that offers a single LED light high on the right side of the grip, facing the shooter, about the same place as the laser in a Crimson Trace LaserGrip. The package also contains a replacement magazine follower containing a powerful magnet.
There’s a sensor in the grip module that monitors the travel of the magazine follower up and down the tube and alerts the shooter via the means of the LED when they are low on ammunition.
Eager to see the thing in action, I dragged my M&P and the AmmoControl LED Advisor to the range.
Installation was straightforward. I simply popped the floorplate off the mag body, swapped out the followers, and reassembled the magazine. The LED Advisor unit itself replaced the backstrap with no more fuss than changing size with the factory backstraps.
[Radetec was easy to install on M&P]
The LED Advisor was activated with a pressure switch in the same location as the one on the common CTC LaserGrip: the high center of the backstrap. Gripping the gun or pressing this button would activate the unit.
If no light appeared, it meant you had more than three rounds left in the magazine. A blue light would illuminate when you had three left. The blue would turn green with two remaining, solid red with one left in the tube, and then turn a blinking red when the mag went empty.
[The light codes are simpler than the colored lines in hockey]
I loaded the mag up and squared up on the steel in the bay some twenty yards away and started shooting. Quick two and three round strings on the plates, switching back and forth…TANG!TANG!TANG!…and the slide locked back.
Sure enough, the light was blinking red when I squeezed the grip. But had it turned the other colors? I repeated the performance with the same results; slide locked back on an empty gun, blinking red light, and I’d missed seeing the other colors again.
Loading up the magazine a third time, I forgot about transitioning between plates and just hammered the eight-inch steel dead ahead and, once I’d rang the steel about ten times, I shifted my eyes from the front sight to the spot on the gun just above the base knuckle of my trigger finger.
Of course, the noise of the ringing steel stopped as rounds just started thudding harmlessly into the berm but…there it was! It turned blue! And now green! And red! Blinking red!
[This blue light means you have three rounds in the mag]
Cool! It worked!
So, the unit does do exactly what the makers claim it will do. Exactly how useful this is, I will leave up to the reader.
[This non-light means you have plenty of ammo. Or the unit’s dead]
Personally, I’m thinking that if I’ve got time to wonder if my gat needs more BB’s in it, then I’ve probably got time to go ahead and put more BB’s in it just to be on the safe side. I’m also thinking that if I’m blazing away at something that I need to hit, I’m probably not going to have a lot of inclination to glance at a gas gauge in the middle of things.
Mad Duo, Breach-Bang& CLEAR!
Emergency: Activate firefly, deploy green (or brown) star cluster, get your wank sock out of your ruck and stand by ’til we come get you.
About the Author: Tamara Keel made a living slinging guns across the glass for more than 20 years, so it goes without saying she’s been muzzled more times than just about anyone we know. Tamara has been regularly published in many places such as SWAT Magazine, Concealed Carry Magazine, and is currently the Handgun Editor for the NRA’s Shooting Illustrated magazine. But it’s not just on dead trees that she writes–you can catch most of her wit on her blog. She’s into making fun of gun hipsters, shooting bowling pin matches, drinking new craft beers, and collecting old and outdated cameras. You can also catch her on Instagram @tamarakeel