The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The Skunkworks > Gear and Accessories

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old March 31, 2012, 11:06 AM   #1
dalegribble
Senior Member
 
Join Date: August 4, 2007
Posts: 861
flashlight education 101?

can some one help me understand these new tactical flashlights? brands, prices, lumens, size, features, types of bulbs, led's, etc?

i see some measure their power in how many feet the beam of light goes, others in lumens. are bulb lights still the best or have led's caught up. most seem to use the 123 batteries while i see some are using aa or other regular batteries.

prices seem to start at expensive and go up from there. is more $$$ really more flashlight? are there real bargins out there or a good reasonably price light out there?

i have had 1 of the tactical type 123 battery flashlights and while it was very brite, the batteries didn't last long and the flashlite sometimes got very hot to the point i don't trust it anymore. most of my flashlights are maglites or those big 6 volt type with a few free w/coupon little led lights from harbor frieght thrown in.

do i really need to buy an expensive "tactical" flashlight? are they really worth the money? do they last? do they get hot like my old light? thanks for any info.
__________________
Waltzes with woofs
dalegribble is offline  
Old April 1, 2012, 03:58 PM   #2
JerryM
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 4, 1999
Location: New Mexico
Posts: 1,884
I recommend that you go to Candle Power Forums, CPF.
http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/forum.php

If there is a place where all flashlight knowledge is present it is there.
Jerry
__________________
Ecclesiastes 12:13 *┬ÂLet us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
14 *For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.
JerryM is offline  
Old April 2, 2012, 05:58 AM   #3
griz
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 31, 2000
Location: Middle Peninsula, VA
Posts: 1,428
LED lights have pretty much taken over. More light while drawing less power. That said, there is a broad range of quality in LED lights. The free Harbor Freight light is down right feeble compared to a high quality light of the same size. Just as an example, you can get a nice LED light that runs on a single AAA battery, and the output is roughly comparable to an old two D cell Maglite but the beam will be smooth instead of having rings and hot spots.
griz is offline  
Old April 2, 2012, 11:56 AM   #4
Double Naught Spy
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 8, 2001
Location: Forestburg, Montague County, Texas
Posts: 10,344
Quote:
LED lights have pretty much taken over. More light while drawing less power.
And that is just the start. LEDs are more shock resistent than previous filament bulbs. The also tend to generate much less heat. It was always interesting to smell the smoke and know something was on fire and realize that it is you - that your xenon bulb light got activated in your pocket and was setting the clothing on fire.

LED bulbs last around 50,000 hours, some will last longer. So basically they last longer than you are likely to still have the flashlight. So the only reason to change bulbs is because you want one that performs in a different manner, not because they are burned out.

I have become a big fan of many of the lights offered by Dealextreme.com. They offer a wide variety of lights in a variety of configurations at very reasonable prices.

You can find them that run on CR123 batteries which are still pricey. You can find them that run on AAs or AAAs. I have gone to the 18650rechargeable batteries for the lights that would normally require 2 CR123 batteries. The 18650 lasts longer and is much more cost effective for a light that you use a lot of the time.
__________________
"If you look through your scope and see your shoe, aim higher."
-- said to me by my 11 year old daughter before going out for hogs 8/13/2011
Double Naught Spy is offline  
Old April 2, 2012, 12:33 PM   #5
Skadoosh
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 13, 2010
Location: Virginia
Posts: 1,773
Quote:
I have gone to the 18650rechargeable batteries for the lights that would normally require 2 CR123 batteries.
18650 replaces CR123 batteries? They look more like a AA batteries to me.
__________________
NRA Life Member (2003)
USN Retired
I think that one of the notions common to the anti-gunner is the idea that being a victim is 'noble'; as if it is better to be noble in your suffering than disruptive in your own defense.
Skadoosh is offline  
Old April 2, 2012, 12:36 PM   #6
kraigwy
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 16, 2008
Location: Wyoming
Posts: 9,369
A huge majority of my time in LE was spent working nights.

I found the cheap plastic 2 "D" cell flashlights work the best. Most have a spot inside or an extra bulb.

I did hundreds if not thousands of building searches mostly alone. I found the fancy super bright flash lights lit me up (do to reflections) as much as what ever I was looking at.

Also they are harder on your night visions. They seemed to last longer then the high priced flashlights and if they did crater, you could get another one for a couple bucks.

Get good battery's and keep some extra in the car.
__________________
Kraig Stuart
CPT USAR Ret
USAMU Sniper School Oct '78
Distinguished Rifle Badge 1071
kraigwy is offline  
Old April 3, 2012, 03:53 PM   #7
Double Naught Spy
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 8, 2001
Location: Forestburg, Montague County, Texas
Posts: 10,344
Quote:
18650 replaces CR123 batteries? They look more like a AA batteries to me.
Did you look at any next to any other items or you just looked at a picture of a single battery and assumed that sense it was about the right shape for a AA that it must be a AA without considering size?

It is the same size as 2 CR123 batteries as I stated.

Confusion with AA batteries comes with the 14500 battery which is the same size and can be substituted in some cases for a AA, but runs 3.7 volts. The 18650 also runs 3.7 volts, but will substitute nicely and run most LED lights better than 2 CR123 batteries.
__________________
"If you look through your scope and see your shoe, aim higher."
-- said to me by my 11 year old daughter before going out for hogs 8/13/2011
Double Naught Spy is offline  
Old April 3, 2012, 07:27 PM   #8
Nathan
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 1, 2001
Posts: 1,883
can some one help me understand these new tactical flashlights? brands, prices, lumens, size, features, types of bulbs, led's, etc?

Well, CPF Forums is the right way to really dig in. Let me start off with some basics. First of all, I think you can get a good "tactical" light for $50 to $100. I have one at each price point.

Brands: I have a Fenix and a Nitecore. I think the there are many other good brands. Try 4Sevens.

Lumens:

5 - 10 - Good secret task light, menu light, movie theater light

40 - 60 - Good up close task lighting

100 - Good larger work space/task light

200 - enough to startle someone, even if they are expecting a light. They cannot look back at it easily, even with minimal eye dilation.

400 - Really bright. Good for searching your back yard and blinding what you find.

800 - Good for searching a larger yard and making someones eyes hurt at 25 yards or so.

Size:
Essentially, this is the size of a minimally thick tube and a torch head on it. 1 x AAA is a good front shirt pocket light
1 x AA is a good pocket light
1 x 123 same as 1 x AA, but more battery capacity
2 x AA is a good belt light
2 x 123 same. . .but more. . .
2 x 18650 Basically, still a small belt light, but mega battery! Rechargable only.

Bulbs:
Plain LED - 5 lumens each. You need a lot to do much.
CREE LED - Bulb type most super lights are based on.

Bulb Color:
Blue-White - Most LED's want to be bluish in color. This makes you see black and white. Not so good for some things.

White - Ideal for color rendition, but hard to find a real white bulb.

Yellow - White - Allows you to see color better than blue hues. Much of your house lighting is this color.

Features:
Momentary On - You want this capability so you can flash and move.

Single power on - You want this in a tactical. There is nothing worse, I imagine, than pulling your tacticool light to blast some BG blind and find out it turned on to 5 lumen mode!

Hi - Lo - option - Hi is great for blasting. It sucks for map, menu, etc reading, checking the oil, etc. For reading, 5 lumen is great and for oil checking, 40 lumen is ideal.
i see some measure their power in how many feet the beam of light goes, others in lumens. are bulb lights still the best or have led's caught up. most seem to use the 123 batteries while i see some are using aa or other regular batteries.

How to do it all with 1 light? Some programmables do it all pretty well. They do this with mode switches, momentary switches, long press, multi press, etc. Quark tactical series do this well for reasonable money.

Batteries:
This is where the learning begins.
AAA - Sucks. I change my work light battery all the time. I think it lasts a few days to a week depending on what I'm doing. It does have the benefit of being the size of my finger and weighing nothing in my tool pouch. As you can see, they still work.

AA - OK, but will be run hard to keep up with 123's. Result, you will use quite a few.

AA rechargables - Fine, but expect a regular recharge cycle.

123 - In a 1 x 123, I can use 1 battery for a month or so. Nice powerful battery for it's size.

16340 - I use AW 16340's in some fancy Chinese battery charger. If you don't blow yourself up, these are the way to go. I have 2 batteries and charge change about once a month depending on usage.

18650 - Again, AW is a good battery. These were made for laptops but now power mega lights like the TK35.

Beamshot:
This is what you pick a light on. Numbers are ok, but how is the beamshot. Is the middle small and hot, or does it have a larger more usable middle. Is it more throw, or more flood. Flood is better for task and throw is better for blinding. All modern lights have a spot-spill pattern. The spot is the bright part and spill is the surround. The relative sizes, brightness and total lumens to power the overall beam are how you pick a light. Online, there are tons of flashlight videos. These are quite helpful, if you remember the limitations of video. This is how you pick a light.

Heat:
Big lights or powerful for size lighting gets hot. It should never get hot enough to burn, but they will make you sweat. This is caused by the high current drain which makes them light up like a portable sun. The sun is hot and so are portable sun's. My rule is if the outside doesn't burn me, it is probably heat sinked well enough. The solution is a fan. Can you imagine a pocket light with a fan?

Surefire:
This has to be addressed. Surefire is a great brand. They have marketed as well or better than Kimber. Every tactical Tommy has one. I have a G2. Good lights. Everything you want, except they are behind the market in technology some and overpriced. That said, they are available locally usually, which is not true for everything else. Actually, good rechargable batteries are hard to find in America!


Other lights:
Well, I pretty much only use CREE lights which are well made except for my G2 which is stuck on my AR. It is too big to carry and Surefire owns the AR light mount market, IMO.

Conclusions from my use:
Yes, a good $50 - $100 daily EDC is worth it. I carry use/abuse my Nightcore daily. It's big brother Fenix TK35 has been relegated to dog finding and home intruder usage. Do you want 800 lumens in your eyes followed rapidly by 230 gr JHP's? A big brother light just gets less usage. Still, sometimes I really want it. Last, an assortment of headlamps is good. Headlamps are really better for working, hunting, camping as your hands are free. I have a Remington multi-output with optional diffuser and a cheap Rayovac for unglamorous duty.
Nathan is offline  
Old April 4, 2012, 12:49 AM   #9
CaptainObvious
Junior member
 
Join Date: February 5, 2012
Posts: 73
The correct light for you depends upon what you want to do exactly. All of the led lights today are constructed for a certain person in mind.

For example, the standard led light for police officers is the Pelican 7060 because its 1) politically correct in its construction, cant use it as a weapon 2) rechargeable 3) lightweight 4) throws a beam about 2.5 football fields. It was designed specifically for police officers by police officers of the LAPD.

http://www.amazon.com/Pelican-7060-R...3518133&sr=8-1

Whats good for the LAPD may not be good for you. I dont like the Pelican 7060 because I enjoy having a lot more light so I use the Fenix TK35. The 7060 also does not have certain modes that I enjoy having such as the strobe feature and the lower light settings. Its just on, off, and one power setting which is high.

In any event, I would NOT use the rechargeable 18650 or 14500 batteries at all. In the Fenix flashlight manual it clearly states to use 18650 batteries with caution and I believe all other rechargeables it says are "banned" from its flashlights. 18650 have safety issues. The safest way to go is to use high quality CR123a batteries bought from a known reliable source (Surefire, Streamlight, Duracell, Panasonic).
CaptainObvious is offline  
Old April 4, 2012, 08:04 AM   #10
cw_mi
Member
 
Join Date: February 24, 2009
Posts: 85
Some good feedback here, Candle Power forums has a wealth of knowledge on the subject.
I started into the flashaholic addiction about two and a half years ago with a Fenix LD20, then purchased quite a few of the inexpensive lights (Fenix, 4Sevens, Dereelight, etc.) fast forward to now and I think I might have 3 left out of about 20.
For EDC (I work in an office) I prefer customs, usually either XP-G or XM-L emitters and powered by RCR123's. For when I'm snowmobiling, ATV'ing or just going to be in an abusive environment I carry a HDS Ra clicky, or an old Novatac 120T both have been modded.
Here are some pictures of my customs :


cw_mi is offline  
Old April 4, 2012, 08:10 PM   #11
Kreyzhorse
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 12, 2006
Location: NKY
Posts: 11,456
Great post Nathan.
__________________
"He who laughs last, laughs dead." Homer Simpson
Kreyzhorse is offline  
Old April 4, 2012, 08:24 PM   #12
comn-cents
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 18, 2008
Location: Pac.N.W.
Posts: 1,804
I've have 7 ot 8 "tactical" flashlights and replacing all those 123 batteries sure does get spendy.

http://www.midwayusa.com/find?userSearchQuery=mag+light

I've started using these new Mag Light flashlights.

The xl 50 has a end cap that turns it off on, strobe & two output settings.

The xl 100 end cap is very cool, it is motion activated with 5 or so settings.

They both take 3 aaa batteries.
__________________
Be Smarter Than A Bore-Snake!
comn-cents is offline  
Old April 4, 2012, 09:58 PM   #13
Nathan
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 1, 2001
Posts: 1,883
Try this for 123's. batterystation.com

or, try these for rechargables:
cells
charger
Nathan is offline  
Old April 5, 2012, 02:39 AM   #14
Bud Helms
Staff
 
Join Date: December 31, 1999
Location: Middle Georgia
Posts: 12,995
Here is a review of a flashlight system that has had my interest for some time: http://thefiringline.com/forums/show...ear+flashlight.
__________________
"The irony of the Information Age is that it has given new respectability to uninformed opinion." - John Lawton, speaking to the American Association of Broadcast Journalists in 1995
Bud Helms is offline  
Old April 5, 2012, 03:03 AM   #15
Aaron1100us
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 19, 2011
Posts: 229
CR 123 batteries don't last long and are not rechargeable. AA are good and you can get rechargeable but it takes several batteries to give you enough power. I have a Fenix TK-45 led light with 760 lumens but it takes 8 AA. Still its only the size of a 2D maglite.



I usually carry my single cell Solarforce L2P with a 650 lumen led and one 18650 rechargeable lithium battery.

People always seem to want a light that has a lot of throw. I find that pretty usless. A flood beam is much more practical. My TK-45 and L2P both light up an area really well.



Sent from my PB99400 using Tapatalk
Aaron1100us is offline  
Old April 6, 2012, 02:21 PM   #16
checkmyswag
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 29, 2011
Location: Texas
Posts: 1,328
Streamlights with AA batteries FTW!
__________________
No brass. No ammo.
checkmyswag is offline  
Old April 6, 2012, 09:48 PM   #17
bbqbob51
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 6, 2005
Posts: 722
I am someone who just likes flashlights and has one in every room in the house and always carries one, just in case. I have used various 2 and 4 cell (C, D, and AA) Maglites and Streamlights for years and found them to be very good flashlights. It is only recently that I have gotten into the "tactical" flashlights and I love them for their portabllity and bright beams.
I have these and like them all:
Galls H.A.L.O.
Eagletac P100C2 LED powered by cr123 batteries
Fenix E21 LED powered by AA batteries
Remington RM123 A-B Cree XRE P4
As mentioned I have used the Maglites and Streamilight for many years and can attest to their durability, some I have had for years. In the case of the newer tactical flashlights I have not had them long enough to see how well they will last.
bbqbob51 is offline  
Reply

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:34 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2014 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.08569 seconds with 7 queries