I Carry: Watchtower Firearms Apache Double-Stack 1911 Pistol in a PHLster Floodlight 2 Holster

Today on I Carry we have a Watchtower Firearms Apache double-stack 1911 pistol in a PHLster Floodlight 2 holster with a Garmin Tactix 7 smartwatch.

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posted on June 7, 2024

Firearm: Watchtower Apache (MSRP: $3,999)

Watchtower Firearms is a relatively new player in the self-defense game, offering semi-automatic carbines and handguns with self-defense in mind. We’ve chosen the company’s Apache double-stack 1911-style pistol in 9 mm for today’s kit to highlight this new company and let you know about another option in the growing double-stack 9 mm 1911 market.

One look at the Apache, with its proprietary PVD coating on the frame, slide and other elements, and it’s clear this is no ordinary 1911. It’s chock-full of top-shelf components such as the Commander-length tri-top cut slide with built-in compensator, optics cut, 4.6-inch Clark/Para barrel, Dawson Precision Toolless Recoil System and Watchtower’s polymer grip module. Fit and finish are superlative, with contrasting controls making for an aesthetically pleasing handgun that delivers on the range.

A 17- and a 20-round magazine come with each Apache in its nylon case, along with different-weight recoil springs and a lock. Two color options are available, the contrasting graphite and copper in today’s kit as well as a slightly more subdued graphite and black version for a more monochromatic look. In either case, it’s a pistol designed to stand out not just because of the looks—each Apache has a flared magazine well for faster reloads, a mid-length trigger with a 3 to 4 pound pull weight, ambidextrous thumb safeties and a full-length dustcover with accessory rail.

With the prevalence of double-stack 9 mm 1911s available on the market, it’s no surprise that a new company might want to present the most visually appealing option possible. In the case of the Watchtower Apache, those good looks are backed up by rock-solid engineering, thoroughly tested operation and a lifetime warranty. While it might be a top-tier option, there’s nothing wrong with having more options, and if one of those happens to be an attractive pistol like the Apache that shoots supremely well? That’s a great option to have.

Holster: PHLster Floodlight 2 (MSRP: $138)

We’ve covered the PHLster Floodlight 2 multi-fit holster previously on “I Carry,” and noted how it makes finding a solid holster fit for unique firearms like the Watchtower Apache easy. Since the Floodlight 2 indexes on the attached weaponlight, rather than on a specific feature of the handgun, it can be used with pretty much any semi-automatic pistol with a dustcover-based accessory rail that will fit either a SureFire X300 or Streamlight TLR-1 weaponlight.

Optic: Trijicon SRO (MSRP: $783)

Another solid addition to the optics-ready Apache is the Trijicon SRO red-dot sight. With a large viewing window that’s quite forgiving, it’s much easier to find the dot than with smaller optics. The standard RMR footprint means that it will fit many popular pistol slides, although with the slight overhang of the SRO, the possibility exists that it may impinge on some holster fits. Available with 1-, 2.5- and 5-MOA dots, the SRO also features automatic and manual brightness controls, a top-loading battery and a water-resistant design.

Light: SureFire X300U-A (MSRP: $359)

To carry the Apache in the Floodlight 2 holster, we’ve added a SureFire X300U-A weaponlight to the front dustcover. This 1,000-lumen light offers a 1.25-hour runtime on two CR123A batteries, push or toggle on switches, IPX7-level water resistance and can attach to both Picatinny and universal-style accessory rails. The “A” in the model name indicates the quick-release attachment system rather than the thumbscrew, which is designated as “B.”

Accessory: Garmin Tactix 7 AMOLED watch (MSRP: $1,399)

The last item in our top-tier kit is the new Garmin Tactix 7 AMOLED smartwatch. It’s a navigational aid, a fitness tracker, ballistic calculator, compass, weather station, jukebox and much more, all on your wrist. Battery life is a claimed 31 days, which for a smartwatch is pretty much the longest out there, and in real-life testing I’ve seen it get about 3 ½ weeks out of a single charge. Operating the Tactix 7 is accomplished via buttons on the right and left side of the watch, with the left side handling the informational side of things – weather, compass, training status, etc. – and the right side covering the various active features – running, cycling, maps, ballistics and such.

There’s another feature that’s new in the Tactix 7 AMOLED watch: Press the light button that normally illuminates the face twice in rapid succession to turn on a variable-power, outward-facing light perfect for low-light tasks. The Tactix 7 is super tough, with a sapphire crystal face, titanium bezel and a choice of two straps, nylon and silicone. It’s water resistant to 100 meters,  has a 1.4-inch display, and has all the traditional watch features you’d expect like alarms, stopwatches, timers and such. Whether you want to track your daily run, keep a range card for your favorite long-range rifle, navigate your way out of the woods or simply check the weather by looking at your wrist, the Garmin Tactix 7 AMOLED smartwatch has you covered.

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