At SHOT Show I ran into a neat product by Radetec called the LED Advisor. It’s a grip replacement for your pistol (AR-15 version is on the way) that lets you know when your magazine is running low on ammo by triggering an LED light. Pretty neat idea — if it worked well and wasn’t distracting. When I ran into the Radetec team at the NRA Annual Meeting this year, we talked and they agreed to send me a unit to test out. It’s a great idea but I wanted to see how practical and useful it’d actually be.
Currently the models in development are for: 1911s, S&W M&P, Beretta 92FS, and AR-15.
When the box arrived, I cracked it open. Included were:
- Replacement backstrap for a S&W M&P (fits 9mm, .40 or .357sig versions)
- 3 Replacement followers for M&P9
- Instruction Sheet
From speaking with Radetec, the units will include complete magazines but the demo units have separate followers. The followers are interesting; there is a big magnet embedded in the side of each one. That’s how the unit works: As the follower rises, the magnetic pull changes strength as it gets closer to the sensor in the backstrap. The followers are pretty heavy-duty and well made.
The main unit itself is a complete unit that replaces the stock backstrap using the same pin system to hold it in place that the standard ones do. This unit is based on the medium grip, according to Radetec though it feels a bit large to me (I’m used to using the Small backstrap). It fit into place just fine with no wiggle room and looks like it belongs on the pistol. The LED unit on the side doesn’t get in the way of normal use and seems to be built to withstand the dings and bangs of regular usage. It also doesn’t get in the way of any of my holsters, IWB or OWB.
The battery in the Demo units is permanent and supposed to last around 6 years, but the normal product units will have replaceable batteries so there I no way to test battery retention until I get my hands on a production unit.
So, with the backstrap in place and the followers placed in my magazines, the real question is: How well does it work?
Tom and I hit the range with a few hundred rounds to put it through its paces. Our biggest concern was squashed right away; the unit only lights up when you hit under 4 rounds left in your magazine and not all the time, which would get real annoying real fast. The way it lights up is as follows:
- Blue = 3 rounds
- Green = 2 rounds
- Red = 1 round
- Flashing Red = Dry
Note that the count does NOT include chambered rounds, just what is left in your magazine.
The LED is triggered automatically after a shot for 1 second, or can be manually activated by a push button on the middle of the backstrap. There is a small panel on the back of the LED housing that is actually a light sensor. The LED wasn’t overly bright even in the dark, but was bright enough to see in full daylight.
To see how well it works, we did a slow fire string of a full mag and the LED worked perfectly. But then Tom looked at me, grinned and said “Mad Minute time”. 17 rounds and 3 seconds later, we confirmed that the LED Advisor could handle it. We confirmed it several more times, firing as quickly as we could and every time we could see exactly when we hit <4 rounds in the mags.
Here is a video of a medium fire test so you can see the LED:
The unit is built well, and it works well, but how useful is it? That depends on your intended usage.
Are you a target shooter? This will provide absolutely no benefit except for the Cool factor.
Would I keep this on my carry pistol? Very possibly, except that I don’t usually carry a spare magazine when I carry so it may not be as useful but I wouldn’t mind it since it doesn’t get in the way at all.
But on my home defense pistol? Absolutely. In fact, I plan on ordering one for my Colt 1911 that I keep inside the nightstand drawer.
Guys I’ve demoed it to have said they’d love it for some of the competitive shooting they do where how many rounds left in the mag dictates if they try shooting more difficult targets for more points or going for the larger targets for fewer points if they’re low on ammo.
And as soon as their digital counter, the version that shows your exact round count on a display, comes out for ARs, I will absolutely be purchasing one. This is a quality product and I really like the reps from Radetec that I’ve met. At a high price point of $259 though, it’s not for everyone but I’ll say this on the record: if my life depends on my gun, then my life also depends on not running out of ammo.
FIT AND FINISH:(Wish they made a Small backstrap version )