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UNITY Tactical: Switchology Evolved

UNITY Tactical: Switchology Evolved

UNITY Tactical has been at the forefront of switchology for weapon mounted lights and lasers for the past several years. I recently had the pleasure of discussing some of UNITY’s latest switching products with Joe Nagy, one of their subject matter experts. In our wide-ranging conversation, we delved into the origins and unique capabilities of the AXON™ switch line and groundbreaking GASCAP™ USB-C LINK™ Tailcap.


The first topic we tackled was UNITY Tactical’s AXON weapon mounted light switches, and why UNITY decided to transition from the popular Hot Button™ to the new AXON design. As Joe explained, it goes back to their original TAPS™ switch. TAPS was UNITY’s first dual-button switch, with a flat profile and programmability on certain models. However, customers and UNITY’s own team found that differentiating the two buttons could be challenging, especially when wearing gloves, using night vision, or shooting in dynamic positions. They also found most end users were programming the buttons the same way.

This led UNITY to develop the AXON, featuring a unique, ergonomic design with a flat electronic button and an angled mechanical “ramp” button. The distinct tactile difference between the two buttons makes activating the desired mode much easier and more intuitive. For customers who preferred a single button, UNITY created the AXON™ SL. Rather than continuing to produce two different switch bodies, UNITY simplified their manufacturing by making the AXON SL out of the same high-impact polymer as the dual-lead AXON.

The AXON™ SL essentially replaced the legacy Hot Button in UNITY’s lineup. As Joe points out, if you look at the two side-by-side, the AXON™ SL is basically the next-generation Hot Button. It has the same strong functional form, but with enhanced texturing for improved control. By focusing their efforts on the AXON platform, UNITY has been able to rapidly iterate and offer a wider range of tailored solutions for users.

One of the key advantages of the AXON design is that the buttons are slightly recessed into the housing. This prevents accidental discharge of the light or laser if the switch gets bumped or snagged on gear. In high-stress situations where speed and precision are paramount, these thoughtful design elements can make a crucial difference. The last thing operators need to worry about is a stray piece of equipment unintentionally giving away their position.

Diving deeper into the AXON configurations, Joe walked me through some of the key options and their unique capabilities. On the dual lead AXONs, UNITY offers a range of SYNC cable setups tailored for specific lights and lasers. One specialized config is a SYNC SureFire® / DBAL A3/A4 model. This variant features an ingenious visible override functionality when used with the DBAL.

Here’s how it works: if you have the DBAL set to IR mode and hit just the laser button, it will activate the IR laser only as expected. However, if you activate the white light, the switch will automatically trigger the visible laser as well, overriding the IR setting. This is a critical capability for instances where an operator may be running IR for night vision but suddenly needs to engage with white light. With the visible override, there’s no fumbling under stress to change laser modes – the AXON™ handles it seamlessly.

For users who want a single button switch with dual functionality, the AXON™ SL SYNC is the answer. Available in a variety of configurations, the AXON™ SL SYNC provides simultaneous activation of the light and laser with a single press. This is ideal for operators running a white light and IR laser/illuminator combo. When you’re already juggling multiple flashlights and laser systems, simplifying the controls is a huge benefit.

Beyond the switches themselves, we talked about some of the common issues that have plagued other manufacturers’ pressure pad designs. Cheap, failure-prone tape switches were the bane of every operator’s existence in the early days. You’d be lucky if they survived a single mission without cracking or peeling off the rail. Even the higher-end offerings had their quirks, with many requiring a very precise push directly in the center of the pad to achieve full output.

UNITY took all of these failure points and annoyances into consideration when engineering the AXON™ line. The goal was to create a truly bombproof switch with 100% reliability in any conditions or activation method. Whether you’re mashing on it with your support hand, bumping it with your gear, or trying to shoot around obstacles, the AXON will consistently deliver the output you need.

That commitment to real-world durability and functionality has earned UNITY a devoted following among top-tier military, law enforcement and armed citizens.


Next, we shifted gears to discuss UNITY’s latest innovation, the GASCAP™ featuring LINK™ USB-C System technology. Released in early Jan. 2024, the GASCAP has been steadily gaining traction as more and more people experience its benefits firsthand. For those unfamiliar, the GASCAP is an inline USB-C adapter that replaces the standard tailcap on SureFire® and similar Scout®-pattern lights.

The impetus behind developing the GASCAP was the somewhat inconsistent nature of the legacy connections. Whether it was a SureFire, Modlite™, or another brand, the weakest link in the system was often the tailcap interface. Slight variations in tailcap spec could lead to issues like flickering output or outright switch failures, even on high-end lights. When these problems cropped up, customers would often get caught in frustrating exchanges between the light and switch manufacturers. Since the tailcaps technically met spec, the light makers would insist the issue was with the aftermarket switch. Meanwhile, the switch companies would say that their design worked fine with other sample tailcaps.

Ultimately, it fell on the end user to troubleshoot the problem or simply buy another tailcap and hope for the best. For a $300+ light setup, that’s just not acceptable. UNITY knew there had to be a better way. Enter the GASCAP LINK USB-C tailcap.

By leveraging the widely adopted USB-C standard plug, UNITY solved multiple problems at once. The new connection is physically robust, with a 360-degree contact surface that eliminates any flicker due to loss of current. It’s also fully sealed against the elements, with an integrated O-ring that keeps moisture and debris out. The user doesn’t even need to run the included dust cover; the port will function perfectly even if left exposed.

Perhaps most importantly, the GASCAP USB-C breaks the proprietary stranglehold on switch compatibility. Customers are no longer beholden to the legacy SureFire plug format, with its associated headaches. The USB-C standard is universal, reliable, and well-supported across the multiple industries (Welcome to the club Apple). It’s a classic example of how a simple solution can leapfrog over decades of inertia and compromise.

Addressing some common questions and misconceptions about the GASAP:

The USB-C plug is NOT intended to be regularly disconnected, though it is durable enough to survive rigorous use. It forms a semi-permanent, weather-sealed connection to the light. Concerns about the durability of consumer USB-C ports are therefore misplaced in this application. The plug stays put until the user decides to swap switches. Though rumor has it that UNITY has used the same GASCAP to test thousands of AXONs with no degrade in reliability. The same can be said of their single AXON SL repeatedly used to test thousands of GASCAPs.

No, the USB-C port cannot be used to recharge the light. The GASCAP simply passes power from the tailcap to the head; it doesn’t alter the fundamental electrical layout. For rechargeable lights, you will still have to remove the head and place the batteries into a charger such as the Nitecore UM4.

While the GASCAP works with a range of existing light bodies (Modlite, Arisaka, SureFire, etc.), it’s only compatible with the UNITY AXON and AXON SL LINK USB-C switches. Using a complete LINK USB-C System light/switch system ensures the best reliability, durability, ergonomics and functionality.

The GASCAP does not automatically regulate power or provide a “dual fuel” capability. It will safely pass whatever voltage is provided by the host light, whether 18650, CR123A, or an 18650 rechargeable battery. However, some switch firmware may allow for user-selectable output levels.

UNITY offers the GASCAP in both black and FDE. The coloring is intrinsic to the polymer, not a surface finish, ensuring a perfect match to other UNITY components. No more worries about mismatched shades of FDE, at least not from UNITY!

So, what’s next for the LINK USB-C platform? UNITY was understandably tight-lipped about unannounced products, but Joe hinted at some exciting possibilities down the road. One potential avenue is using the data transport capabilities of USB-C to enable communication between lights, lasers and a central controller. Imagine an ecosystem where your weapon light, IR laser, and digital optic are all seamlessly exchanging information.

Your laser rangefinder could feed real-time ballistic data to the optic, while the pressure switch acts as the command hub. Click your light on, and the optic and laser instantly activate in a pre-programmed mode. No more fiddling with multiple control interfaces or mentally juggling divergent zeros. Obviously, this level of integration is still largely theoretical, but the building blocks are rapidly falling into place. With LINK USB-C and the AXON series, UNITY has laid the groundwork for some truly revolutionary capabilities.

Wrapping Up

Spending an hour geeking out about switches and tailcaps with Joe was an illuminating experience. It’s always a pleasure to glimpse the passion and brainpower that goes into creating genuinely innovative products. Too often in this industry, we see companies content to churn out endless variations on the same tired designs. They’ll slap on a new logo, tweak a couple of dimensions, and call it “next-gen.”

UNITY Tactical is one of the rare exceptions. It’s a company that starts with a clean slate and invents novel solutions to long-standing problems. The GASCAP is a perfect example; a deceptively simple device that eliminates a whole host of reliability and compatibility issues. Similarly, the AXON switches demonstrate a fundamental re-thinking of what defines a good pressure switch. By focusing relentlessly on ergonomics, durability and real-world usability, UNITY has achieved a quantum leap over legacy designs.

As Joe hinted in our conversation, these latest releases are just the beginning of what UNITY has in store. The advent of USB-C as a new connector standard opens worlds of possibilities for smart, interconnected accessories. I can easily envision a future where your pressure switch acts as a central hub, seamlessly coordinating the flow of power and data between lights, lasers and optics. Suddenly, the advanced combat systems from video games and movies doesn’t seem so science fiction.

At the same time, it’s reassuring to know that UNITY Tactical remains committed to supporting legacy hardware and standards. The SureFire, Crane and NGAL plugs aren’t going away anytime soon, nor should they. Customers have invested heavily in these interfaces, and they deserve to see continued development and product support. With the AXON series and GASCAP, UNITY has struck an ideal balance between embracing the future and respecting the past.

It’s an exciting time to be a gun nerd, and companies like UNITY Tactical are a big reason why. By focusing on actual innovation, rather than cynical trend-chasing, they consistently raise the bar for the entire industry. Whether you’re a professional door-kicker or a dedicated civilian shooter, that rising tide of quality and capability lifts all boats. I know I’ll be following UNITY’s new releases with great interest, and I suspect I won’t be alone.



In this episode of the Big Tex Ordnance Podcast, hosts Ike, Chris and Ian interview Trent and Ben from Unity Tactical. Trent discusses founding Unity Tactical in 2011 to design innovative shooting accessories. He shares how Unity focuses on building high-quality products and attracting talented people. Topics include Unity’s upcoming release of the GASCAP tailcap with USB-C link, the Axon SL switch, upcoming products for 2023 like new optic mounts, and the importance of intellectual property protection. Trent emphasizes designing integrated systems and challenging assumptions to take switching and other products into the future. He talks about optimizing mounts for speed, precision, and equipment needs. The hosts and guests also reflect on past products, industry shows, and fun marketing campaigns.


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