Friday, March 12, 2010

Light my way.

When I first started carrying a flashlight, I found it was a handy thing to have around. I mean, sure, I liked the whole "fanged ninja flashlight of tactical doom" that was my Surefire Z2 with its GG&G "Tactical Impact Device", but what I used it for was the things for which you'd usually use a flashlight: illuminating darkened pathways, not stepping in doggie land mines in the pasture, finding stuff that had rolled under my car seat...

The problem is that it was like using a howitzer to hunt rabbits. Eleventeen jillion eye-searing xenon-fueled candlepower was a bit of overkill for a lot of applications, and that bulb would suck the electrons out of those expensive lithium batteries like a shop vac in a Dixie cup. So I started keeping a second flashlight in my turse or a vest pocket; a little Streamlight TwinTask 1L.

Brighter than the little light on my keychain, but not bright enough to leave me blinking with its glare in the dark, it's nice and small and best of all, it uses the same CR123 cells as my big light. I've been using it for five years now, as recently as about an hour ago (to go look at the downspouts), and haven't managed to break it yet. I couldn't be happier with it.

27 comments:

RevolverRob said...

Everyday carry light for me is a now discontinued Jetbeam MKII, a single AA LED light that puts out 80 lumens on bright and has a run time of somewhere about infinity (I think in five years of carry, I've changed the batteries five or six times).

They have a model now that has replaced it and it is a terrific light that also has a dim (15 lumens, perfect for lighting up keyholes of navigating without destroying night vision) and strobe settings which are kind of nice (the strobes are effective at making drunk people lose their lunch, but beyond that, not sure what else, besides instant rave).

I seriously recommend Jetbeam lights, smaller than all of the Streamlight and Surefire offerings with more options. I love my Streamlights and Surefires too, but the ease of carry and use is just too much.

-Rob

Carteach0 said...

I favor a 5 watt LED powered by CE123 batteries. It is rather bright, and lasts for some hours on a set of batteries.

Backup is a 1 watt LED powered by AA's. It lasts for months on a set of batteries.

RHT447 said...

My solution was the Surefire L2. 15 lumens w/18hr run time, or 100 lumens w/1hr runtime. I believe the L2 has been discontinued and replaced by the LX2 LumaMax. 15 lumes / 30hrs or 200 lumens / 2hrs.

Montie said...

I have really been both impressed and happy with My Fenix P2D light for daily carry. It runs on one of the same CR123 batteries that my bigger lights take and puts out 180lumens on max and 12 lumens on low. it has 2 other light output levels in between low and max along with an SOS feature and a strobe feature. Excellent for such a small light.

MrWolf. said...

Have you looked at Gene Malkoff's own brand lights? I have one of his orange ceramic coated lights that has a high/low device. Good quality, and the orange is more 'safety' than 'ninja'. I can recommend it, for what that is worth.

Best wishes.

reflectoscope said...

I've got one of the single-AA streamlights; not a single problem with it; fits anywhere, lights up everything I need to see, runs forever.

Jim

GuardDuck said...

Picked up one of these about six months ago

http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.23653

Nice and small, pocket clip, 5 mode, 220 lumens (ok, not quite as bright as advertised but compares favorably to my surefire led lights), uses the cr123 and best of all less than $15

Mike said...

I have a Surefire A2 low power LEDs on low, bright main beam. Goes everywhere.

Tam said...

I just can't afford another Surefire at the moment; not an LED.

The new low-buck Chinese lights are interesting, but how tough are they? Are they waterproof? I know my TwinTask has put up with being dunked, dropped, and otherwise abused...

Joel said...

best of all, it uses the same CR123 cells as my big light.

Best of all? Yew gotta be kidding; I've owned cars that were worth less than what a pair of CR123s cost. The thing I like about my everyday light, a thoroughly non-tacticool Leatherman, is that it takes AAAs that need changing maybe annually. My one "tactical" flashlight had the tactically not-so-great habit of having its batteries show up completely dead just when I really needed the light. I don't understand why they've gotten so popular, but I think it's related to the fact that people who read SWAT magazine will actually buy "tactical" polo shirts.

Not you, of course, Tam. Other people. Others. ;^}

Homer said...

Galco makes a neat offside 2-mag carrier for their SSII shoulder rig that includes a slot for a flashlight; mine had a 6P in it until recently, when I upgraded to an E2D LED. The E2D has a pocket clip so I always have it with me no matter what my carry mode.

I found the Streamight Stylus Pro on sale at Amazon a while back, and wish I had bought more than one. It's the size of a fat ballpoint with a pocket clip, carries easily in a shirt pocket, uses 2 cheap AAA batteries, and has enough light to do most tasks. If I need to melt plastic or eyeballs I drag out the E2D

RevolverRob said...

Tam, Fenix and Jetbeam both fit into the "cheaper Chinese" side of things, all of them I've seen are reasonably water tight (they use double O-rings to seal the head and tail), and they are all very durable lights (the one I've had, has five years of knocking about loose in my pocket with my keys and often times spare ammo of some sort). The light has also been dropped from a reasonable height (about 20 feet), and taken many a fall/slide/skid while out hiking/working and in my pocket.

-Rob

Tam said...

Joel,

"Best of all? Yew gotta be kidding; I've owned cars that were worth less than what a pair of CR123s cost."

I like 123s for their 10-year shelf life. I mitigate the cost by buying them from Surefire in bulk.

BryanP said...

They're nice little flashlights. I carry a Streamlight Microstream which uses AAA's, but then I don't have a lot of devices that use CR123 batteries. Is it going to blind someone? Probably not. Does it light my way reliably and ride in my pocket comfortably? Yep.

Billy Beck said...

Tam: on 123's; that's the right move. My man in the Surefire engineering department assures me that they make almost nothing on batteries.

My E2L has a prototype three-stage head with a strobe. I received it along with the stock two-stage head (no strobe), and I'm still sort of up in the air over it. Control switching can sometimes be a bit touchy. It often ends up strobing when I don't want it to -- it's a curious thing to a person professionally trained to split-second light control for a whole lifetime: I still sometimes don't have a touch for this thing.

I think it has a great deal to do with how I see (again: it's about the work), but the thing is that that three-stage head really works out in terms of battery life. Typically, I use the thing in *flashes*. I'm accustomed to moving with authority in what most people would call "darkness", and small fractions of a second of light precisely on target most often do the trick for me. The times when I use full output from this thing are almost rare. When it's necessary, I don't have to reach for a different instrument. In the meantime, I find that the low-stage works for digging my cell-phone out from under those evil seats in my Exploder (which eat everything). All in all, I'm getting great battery endurance out of it, for really amazing power in such a handy little package.

I didn't even know these things existed until a blog-fan hauled-off and sent me one. I'll never forget that. It's a very big deal to me.

ExurbanKevin said...

I keep this little cheap-o light from Fry's Electronics with me all the time, and it's not half-bad. I can keep it it any pocket I want because it's *tiny*, barely the size of one AA, and very, very bright for it's size, much more so that any other pocket LED light I've found. Downsides are that the battery life is short and it uses MS76/LR44 camera batteries, but for ten bucks, it's well worth it.

reflectoscope said...

I've also got one of these. If you think CR123s are painful, try AAAA cells. I didn't even know such a thing existed until I bought it.

Jim

Parallel said...

+1 on the Surefire L2 LumaMax; I've carried mine for several years now and love it.

wv "unholin": what a surgeon does after a social encounter involving gunfire

Montie said...

Tam,

I have carried my Fenix daily for over two years and it has been in the Illinois River for an extended time during a canoe trip with no ill effects. They usually come with two spare O-rings in case you damage one or the other. I also buy CR 123's in bulk which really helps in the price department.

Incidentally for you mini-maglight users, get an LED conversion unit and multi-function tailcap switch. These mods turned my old one into a fairly decent light. I also converted my old Surefire 6P to LED which gave it a brighter, more totally filled in beam and helped a lot with battery life (still only one light level though).

jed said...

I guess I got nothin' against CR123 batteries, but since I'm all setup for rechargeable AA/AAA, I'll probably just stick with those. In that vein, my Fenix LD20 has been, so far, a great light. No, I haven't given it any torture testing. But feels at least as solid as my Maglights. I'd have no qualms about buying another Fenix. The LD20 is also the right size to double as a kubotan, if you happen to need one of those.

Have you ever snooped around at Candlepower Forums? That's where I look, usually, for user feedback on flashlights.

There are a few Surefire models I've wanted to get, but couldn't ever quite come to grips with parting with the cash.

What I'd really like to have is a bright light with a good red filter for nighttime use.

Crotalus said...

I have a Surefire Kroma. It has red LEDs for night vision, blue LEDs for the sportsman (Not sure what that means, and two levels out of a white LED. The bright one will use up the batteries fairly quickly, but the dim will run for hours. And you can turn the bright on with the colors.

Greg in Allston said...

I'm very pleased with my Fenix LD10Q5. It uses a single AA, has 6 outputs from 9 lumens @ 32 hours run time to 120 lumens @ 1.5 hours (including strobe and SOS, whoopee) and it's extremely well made/machined. Reasonably priced, reliable, rugged and waterproof; a solid value.

On the other hand, I bought a brand new Streamlight G2 before a class at Sigarms. I hadn't run the light for 10 or 12 minutes before the lamp blew. Their customer service folks were utterly useless. Replacement lamps are stupid expensive. Never again will I buy a Surefire product.

The alleged 10 year shelf life on CR123's is an attractive feature, as is their power density. That said, you can easily find good quality AA's for cheap, anywhere in the world; CR123's, not so much.

I carry a Photon Micro Light II, in red, on my keychain. I use it when I need to preserve my night vision. Very bright with long battery life. It's a truly marvelous little tool.

Lergnom said...

I looked at the CR123 lights, but discovered that the batteries are locally difficult to get, so I went with the 1-AA Inova X1 spotlight (http://www.inovalight.com/x/x1.php) for pocket carry.
Then, after seeing a good writeup on Ferfal's blog(http://ferfal.blogspot.com/), I got the 1-AAA Fenix E01 (https://www.fenix-store.com/product_info.php?products_id=435)
for keychain carry. My wife's cousin saw me using the X1 and responded with something a bit larger from Sharper Image.
The only problem was that his light was too easy to turn on in a pocket, so I got him an X1, which he loves.
Sadly, Inova switched away from a tightly focused beam model to a flood, which seems less useful.

Mike W. said...

It's amazing how handy the little streamlights are.

I carry a Streamlight Microstream on me daily. Smaller and not as bright as yours, but it works for me and has the benefit of using one AAA battery.

Montie said...

Uh, Greg,

The G2 is s Surefire light not a Streamlight. I bought my original Surefire 6P about 15 years ago. I have replaced the lamp once prior to converting it to LED. The second lamp/reflector assy. is still good, so in the event I haave a problem with the LED assy., I can change them out. I have had good luck with their products, sorry your experience was not so good.

Anonymous said...

I had the same problem using a Surefire as a primary flashlight. Nowadays, it keeps the safe queen company.


The Arc-AAA flashlight rides with me now, clipped to a pants pocket. (Since its clipped to a pocket and not my belt, I am still not Batman.)

Greg in Allston said...

Montie, You're quite right and my apologies to Streamlight, the light is indeed a Surefire, I have a bad habit of getting the two companies mixed up in conversation. That said, Surefire is still on my list of companies that I will never again do business with. In regards to the light that I purchased; after two emails explaining the problem that were not responded to and a call to the customer service critters where I got a very unsatisfactory runaround, I simply will never again do business with them. I'm glad that your experience with them has been pleasant and that the product that you purchased has performed satisfactorily. From my experience, they can all go pound sand. Further, their replacement parts are still stupid expensive.