Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Let There Be Light...

I have a confession to make. I am a bad gunnie. I don't have an EDC flashlight. Oh, sure, I've got a little keychain light that's technically a flashlight, but nothing like the miniature sun that Mopar carries, f'rinstance. Now, I lurves me some flashlights (although not quite as much as SCI-FI...), and have a wide range of inexpensive to moderate lights, all the way up to my monstrous 5-D Cell maglight (it's a spotlight! It's a melee weapon!) - but I never made the jump to "small but powerful light I carry every day".

A lot of it is the same reasoning as to why I carry an inexpensive knife - they get lost or "permanently borrowed" too easily. When a decent flashlight runs north of three figures, I don't want to run the risk of putting it down somewhere and forgetting where I left it (which I have done with, say, Ray-Bans...). With a multitude of options well under $50, though, it's time I picked something up...

The first parameter is already covered (~ $50). The second would be size - it should fit into a pocket with room left over for at least a spare magazine. Ideally it would take AAA batteries, but I don't mind going with CR123 if it's significantly brighter. And lastly, it should be bright enough to double as an auxiliary light source when taking pictures, or at least stun small woodland creatures.

There's a handful that I can think of that meet this criteria:

Fenix P Series

Surefire G2

Streamlight ProTac or Key chain series

LED Lenser pocket-size

Quark Tactical line

Any other models of pocket flashlights I should be looking at?

That is all.


John said...

I generally carry a Mini Maglite with a Nite Ize LED conversion (cheaper, and better IMHO, than the Mini Mag LED from Maglite) pretty much all the time, but then I'm a mechanic and use the light daily.

It has one shortcoming as a tactical light (twist head instead of pushbutton activation), but I can activate it with one hand, and with the LED focusing isn't an issue.

Recently I bought a Streamlight Stylus and find it to be pretty handy...pen size, so it fits in my shirt pocket, lighter than the Mini-Mag, momentary pushbutton or twist the cap for constant light. It's main downside is that it uses AAAA cells, which can be difficult to find.

Amazon has the best price for the Stylus, and also has Duracell AAAAs.

I'm told AAAAs can be found at Radio Shack too, but I haven't looked there for them yet.

These work for me, but YMMV.

ZerCool said...

My bag has a Maglite XL50 in it all the time. Size of a roll of lifesavers, runs on 3 AAA's, has high/low/strobe via a tailcap click switch. $25 at most stores.

Eric said...

I vote Streamlight PT1L. It's small, bright, has multiple modes, and was less than $50. They make it in AA too.

Ed said...

Surefire P2X Fury - 15 lumens or 500 lumens with tailcap click switch.

Anonymous said...

Surefire p2x fury defender. 500 lumins, $115 delivered for retina burning light or some of the Coleman brand LED lights around 135 lumins and they use aaa batteries.

Roger said...

I've been using a Streamlight Pro Tac 2aa for a while now & find it ideal for pocket carry. It comes with a pocket clip and uses 2 aa batteries, 3 way tailend switch.
I bought AA rechargeable NIMH batteries @ 2700 mah (higher than std alkaline batts.) & charger.
I switch the batteries every 2 weeks or as needed. Fits all my needs. The light fits in my back pocket alongside the 2 magazines & stays in place nicely. It is much thinner than the lights using CR 123 batts. Its price is right around $50.00.

Mopar said...

The Surefire PX2 series is way outside his stated price range, and all that bright comes at a price. The bell/lens on those things is HUGE. Oh, and for reference, my EDC light that Jay mentions is a Surefire Executive Defender. It's a bit pricey, but the quality is top-notch, and there are plenty of accessories such as light-specific holsters. If you can get away with holster carry, that's really the way to go. You will never lose it that way. Only time mine leaves my belt is if I need to dress formal, then it goes in my pocket.

Roadkill said...

I have 2 Fenix lights that have been really great. The one I'm wanting next is their newest AA model, the LD12. It has a pocketclip, tail on/off momentary switch, side switch for light modes, and lots of light modes. 115/60/27/3 lumens with a respective run times of 2.3/4.8/11/93 hours and two SOS strobes. AA's are easy to find and you can keep lithium photo batteries in them to just in case.

JD said...

Been happy with my Fenix E21. . takes normal AA cells too

bluesun said...

When the surefire I bought died after three weeks of sitting in my pocket, I went and bought a tiny little Fenix LD15. 1AA, size of a chapstick tube. The only thing you might not like about it is that it's a twist-to-turn-on rather than with a button. Still plenty bright enough to leave you with spots in your eyes if you look into the light.

Wolfman said...

I'll admit, I love my G2, but I dont know that Id buy it again. At $30 its readily replaceable, but 123 batteries are not cheap, nor are they always available. Ive spent a lot more money on batts than the light. They are, however, light, compact, durable, and give nice white light. Ive never been a fan of the blue tinged led lights. YMMV

Tim K said...

4sevens makes some excellent flashlights - they're small, durable, bright and they come in models that use normal batteries; not the annoying CR123s.
They're my #1 choice for an everyday flashlight by far (Also, you don't pay for the name).

doubletrouble said...

Streamlight Microstream- not a light cannon, but casts a beam pretty well. One AAA, tiny, l'il price (<$20, i.e. losable w/o tears), end cap switch, pocket clip.

Anonymous said...

Another vote for FourSevens:


The Minis run on AA's, CR123, CR2's.

I've given the CR2 and AA versions for Christmas presents and had more positive feedback over time about those presents than anything I've ever given.

I gave my father one of each of the AA and CR2, thinking that he would like the availability of AA batteries. He found he much preferred the CR2 form....It is, to me, the perfect pocket flashlight.

I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 flashlights, including almost the entire Surefire line, (some with multiples) most of the smaller Streamlights, all the different form factor MagLights, Fenix lights, etc.

For the price, the FourSevens lights can't be touched.


TerriLiGunn said...

This is my edc light. http://www.energizer.com/lighting-products/outdoor/outdoor/Pages/tactical-metal-1aa-1-watt.aspx
Got it for 15 bucks and its been a tank. Bright enough to blind at night and throws pretty far. Never leave home without it.

Dave H said...

A couple of things to keep in mind:

1) Rechargeable NiCd or NiMH batteries are good, but they tend to self-discharge over time. They're better for applications where they're recharged regularly (weeky to monthly). They're probably fine for a carry light, less so for a glove box light.

2) Non-rechargeable lithium batteries perform better than alkalines at temperatures below freezing and have a very low self-discharge rate. Good for the glove box.

3) LiPo rechargeables (used in cell phones and R/C vehicles) have great capacity and lower self-discharge rates that NiCd and NiMH. They can be recharged quickly too with the right charger. But I don't know of any designed to fit a flashlight. If you find one, please let me know!

BenC said...

I use a Fenix LD10 it cost about $50 when I bought it a few years ago and I love it. It takes a standard AA battery and is about the size of a tube of lipstick.
Looks like the LD12 might be the replacement model

Anonymous said...

Rechargeable lithium cells for CR123 replacement can be found at multiple places, including Lighthound:


Unless you are VERY familiar with the use of unprotected Lithim cells, make sure you buy the AW cells that are protected. (They have built in circuitry to prevent overcharge/overdischarge, either of which can cause fires.)

Also, make sure you buy flashlightst that are approved for use with rechargeables if you are buying Lithium cell flashlights.


Daniel in Brookline said...

Ditto for John. I have a Maglite Solitaire with an LED conversion. Total price: $21 (Amazon Prime free shipping for the Maglite but not for the bulb).

It's just one LED, so it's not an eye-killer. But it goes anywhere; I use it as a key fob. They make great gifts, too; since some assembly is required, you can't just buy them. (I don't understand why Maglite doesn't just make an LED Solitaire, but whatever...)

Anonymous said...


Those are great little lights, but 45 lumens is far from enough to cause blindness in a tactical situation. Surefire did TONS of research, and found that 75-80 Lumens was minimum level to cause any disability. Strobing helps in that situation as well.

That said, those little Energizer lights will do enough to allow use for 90% of anyones needs.

Consider that the old 2 cell Maglite, the standard that most people used for a generation, produced about 35 lumens on new batteries, with the 3 cell producing about 75 lumens, which dropped to about 40-50 after less than 1 hour run time.


Erin Palette said...

I'm a big fan of the Nebo Blueline, which I can get for $15 at a local gun store. Takes 1 AA battery and produces 130 lumens, and it's only about 3 inches long. Can't beat that for pocket carry.

aczarnowski said...

I don't carry a flashlight on me but I do have a G2 in the bag. It seems pretty big for a pocket EDC.

But then I don't carry two full sized 1911s (primary + BUG) so I'm already doomed by internet preparedness standards. ;)

Reese said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Reese said...

I'll throw out another vote for the Maglite XL series. I really like my XL100 and will probably "upgrade" to the XL200 soon.

I think the gyroscope in the XL100 & 200, with which you can adjust the briteness of the light and the speed of the strobe, are nice features. This review is helpful: http://youtu.be/q_0mojg4H1s

Ritchie said...

Another for Maglite XL50, it can adjust for narrow or wide beam, or the head unscrews to light the room. Downside, you'll have to come up with your own clip or lanyard.

Rob Reed said...

I picked up a FourSevens AA a month or so ago.

One of my primary criteria was size. I needed something I could use as a keyring because that is the only way I'll actully carry the thing all day.

My old light was a ARC AA. it was exactly 3" long and that size was perfect, so any new light had to match that form factor.

I'm very happy with the FourSevens. It is pretty much exactly 3" and is much brighter than I would have expected.

It has 3 modes. I never use the low mode, as it's a bit too dim (8 lumens? or some such).

The middle mode is my personal default. I believe it's 40 lumens or so. Bright enough for 70% of what I need the light to do.

The high mode is, I believe, 90 lumens. It's really bright with a good throw. It only has a one hour run time on that setting though, so I tend to default to the middle setting unless I need/want the extra power.

The controls are a simple twist. One time for low, two for medium, and three for high.

Take a look at the specs and see if it meets your needs. i found mine through Amazon.

Anonymous said...

Inova X5?

Not terribly bright, not in the "Stun woodland creatures" range, but reasonably sized and with pretty amazing battery life. Excellent Usefulness:size ratio. I use the heck out of mine, and get 3+ months on a pair of CR123's. On my second one in six or eight years. Bounced them off concrete floors hundreds of times. The newer on had an LED (1 of 5) quit after a year, Waiting on an RMA for it now. Surprised it broke so quick. pretty happy with it overall.

John the Texaner said...

I carry an Inova X5 as well. They take CR123A batteries, are pretty inexpensive, tough, waterproof, and have a cylindrical profile that doesn't catch on stuff.

I had Michael make me a little scabbard for it, which can be seen with the flashlight here, for a sense of scale:


Ratus said...

Want to say too much.


RickR said...

Fenix P2D has been in my pocket for 2 years now. Small, bright, and pocket-death resistant so far. Tail cap on/off/strobe. Twist hi/low output. Simple & reliable in a chapstick sized all aluminum tube, LED lasting pretty close to forever.

Reven said...

Neebo Redline takes 3 AAA and puts out 220 lumens i got mine for free but they retail for around $25