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Old March 30, 2012, 02:58 PM   #1
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The ULTIMATE flashlight...the award goes to...

Back last year, I bought a few CR123A based led lights which were amazing totally outbeating my six cell Maglight. I was amazed and delighted until the big storm. I went out to get batteries at the store and the only ones left were AAs. No Cs, no Ds, and not a CR123a in site. Luckily, I bought a 12 pack from Surefire months ago and so I did not run dry although the power was out for about a week or so.

I also started reading about the effects of bad CR123a batteries which became small explosives and hazardous waste when not stored properly. There are even CR123a batteries out there which are fakes of the better made ones (Panasonic, Duracell, Surefire, Streamlight, etc.) which explode after a while. CR123a batteries can be hazardous and turn your flashlight into a pipe bomb.

So I found what I believe is the ultimate flashlight for tactical purposes. The Fenix TK41.

It uses 8 AA batteries and I saw on Amazon 45 of them going for $12. The AA batteries are the only ones I found at the area stores right before the hurricane and there were plenty of those AAs in various electronic items around my home. In comparison, other batteries were certainly not available. The CR123as can be found at a store, but they are A LOT more expensive at the store then online. Even the ones online cost about $22 for 12. So I get 3 reloads with a $22 12 pack with my TK35 which holds 4 CR123a, but I get 5 reloads with the $12 large pack from Amazon. The TK41 is less costly to operate in the long run.

The TK41 is about 3 times stronger then a six cell Maglight and about the size of a standard 2-D cell flashlight. You can stick the TK41 into the trunk of a patrol car on a hot day without fear the batteries might turn your cruiser into a flaming wreck or a site for Hazmat cleanup crews. If I was buying for a large law enforcement agency or disaster response, then every single person would have this one.
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Old March 30, 2012, 03:04 PM   #2
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I just bought a crap-ton of CR123 batteries from Surefire. The shelf life is extremely long, and I have so many different things that use them that it just made sense. I can see the attraction of a good flashlight that takes AAs if you don't have a stock of batteries on-hand, though.
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Old March 30, 2012, 03:19 PM   #3
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For me, I've found my ultimate flashlight is the Streamlight Strion or Stinger. Working security at night, I use a flashlight ALOT checking buildings and what not. I used to use strictly Surefore P6s and G2, however the cost of the batteries made me look for a rechargeable. I settled on the Streamlights and have been very pleased, yes it cost a little more up front but not having to buy the CR123s, it has well beyond payed for itself. Plus extra bulbs for the Streamlight or $7 local, compared to the Surefire $30 local. I can't tell any different in the brightness either.
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Old March 31, 2012, 09:04 AM   #4
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That Fenix site has a lot of products but no prices.
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Old March 31, 2012, 11:18 AM   #5
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what you need for your 6 cell mag lite is a TerraLUX MiniStar 5

i think is the place i got them,,,,THEY ARE the only way to have a mag,,,you get the great U.S. made mag lite and this led will turn it into a real light,,,140 lumens,, all you do is take the bulb and retainer off screw this thing on and instant flame thrower,,,100,000 hr life and shock resistant,,,,and battery life is unbelievable,,,i have a 3 cell with one that has had the same batts in it for at least 3 years,, i use it all the time,,,i bet you could go for at least a month in a power outage on 1 set of batts

they are not the cheapest replacement bulb but they are the best

i have tried the mag-led,,,no comparison with it,,you will get great batt life with the mag replacement led but nowhere near the light out put,,check it out

i guarantee you will not be sorry

my .02

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Old March 31, 2012, 04:24 PM   #6
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The ultimate flashlight for me has the following characteristics:

- AA battery based The AA is inferior to the CR123a but it is clearly the most available battery in disaster scenarios. A dual power light would be ideal where I can use CR 123a but also have the option to use AA. A triple power option would be nice where I can put in AAs, a rechargeable battery stick or CR123as.

- At least twice as powerful as the ultimate flashlight of the last decade which was the Magcharger.

- Able to be dropped from a height of five feet multiple times and remain operational.

- Able to be submerged completely underwater for 24 hours without any leaks into the body.

- Non rolling. I want to be able to set the light down on a trunk or hood without it rolling away.

- Lanyard. I like a long lanyard so I can hang or tie the light on something.

- Duty belt friendly. I want for it to be able to fit on a duty belt comfortably for hours at a time without hampering motion in any manner.

- Pocketable - I would like it to fit into a standard pants front pocket even if the fit is very tight or uncomfortable. In an emergency situation sometimes the light has to be placed in a pocket just to hold it there temporarily. Lets say I didnt have a holster for it and needed to pick up a wounded person. I would need to stick the light in a pocket.

- Have various shades and wands which could be attached to the tip for varying situations.

- Have different modes such as strobe or flashing and at least three levels of power for power conversation when needed.

I havent seen a flashlight out there which has all of the above criteria but some do come close.
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Old April 2, 2012, 03:44 PM   #7
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These are my two current flashlights; the Fenix TK35 and PD32. The Fenix TK35 was invaluable during the storms last year which knocked out the power for several days. Fortunately, we had a good supply of CR123As which did not run out, but I did worry because when I went to the CVS, Walmart, Walgreens, etc. the only batteries left on the shelves were AAs. Everything else was gone. The power outage lasted here for a while in different parts of the town...I think it was about 1-2 weeks in some parts. I know other parts of the state were blacked out longer.

So if you are looking for a good duty light or where the supply of CR123as are of no particular concern then I think these two cannot be beat. The TK35 is slightly larger then the soda can and easily worn on a belt. It takes 4 CR123as and has about 800 lumens. The PD32 is much smaller, lighter and truely pocketable with about 300 lumens. In comparison, the MagCharger is about 225 lumens.

If all out survival and availability is your main concern then I would choose AA based led lights which Fenix sells a few. They are not as bright and so not so good for tactical purposes, but for survival purposes they would be the better pick.

Another consideration is there has been some exceptional issues with CR123as exploding, going on fire and producing noxious gas. You have to buy your CR123as carefully. From what I have read on the internet and observed between the batteries, my belief is the Panasonic, Streamlight, Surefire and Duracell are the same battery. I noticed Surefire on their website suggests only Duracell, Panasonic and Surefire CR123as in their lights. The Streamlight batteries seem the most economical around. The safest choice is to order directly from Surefire or Streamlight because you know they will not send you fake Chinese-made batteries (cross fingers). I know on ebay and Amazon there can be fakes and thats where the accidents happen. You have to keep your CR123as out of the heat and when your led light starts to flicker it means its time to change the batteries. Dont try to use the light any further.

I always carry around a few spare sets of CR123as just in case and we are well supplied in that regard.

I purposely included the other objects in this picture to demonstrate size.
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Old April 2, 2012, 04:32 PM   #8
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The TK41 is a nice light, but we opted not to purchase any of them for our needs because of the problematic parasitic battery drain issue. This makes it unreliable as a standby emergency light.
"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
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Old April 2, 2012, 06:32 PM   #9
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That is a good point and why you should not leave batteries in any flashlight or other device for long term storage. The batteries should always be seperated away from the lights if storing for more then a few days. Besides drain there is also rare instances of leaky or exploding batteries. So the batteries should be stored away from ammo and anything that might easily catch fire such as loose paper preferably in a metal container.

An old military ammo can with a few medium sized holes drilled towards the top for venting and temperature equalization would be ideal. A cheap metal pot might be another idea.

Battery explosion is a rare exceptional occurence, but you dont want your house or place of business burning down because of a mis-stored battery.
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Old April 3, 2012, 01:10 PM   #10
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I have used many different types of flashlights in my work as an industrial electrician. (often work in dark places and sometimes at night) I have to carry a flashlight. Same as the rest on my crew. I and the crew have used everything over the years..Maglite..Streamlight and about every fancy "tactical cop" light made.

Last year, our employer bought the whole crew some Inova rechargeables.

Everybody loves these. They put out like 300 lumens. Plenty bright with different brightness levels (even has a strobe mode) Mine has taken a beating in the last year. Other than the size, the main thing I like about it is recharging. The charger, BTW, works off either 110VAC or 12VDC. I use it a lot and only charge it once a week (usually only takes about an hour)

Replacement batteries are like $20. The nice thing is that in a situation where AC power might be down is that these can charge in the car or any 12VDC source.
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Old April 3, 2012, 02:05 PM   #11
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Ocharry's post brings to mind a question I've always wondered. Why doesn't anybody make an LED conversion for a standard 6v type lantern? Yes, they are a little bulky but it seems like a 6V battery could put out a LOT of light for a very long time.
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