Tuesday, December 17, 2013

You Can Never Have Too Many Knives or Too Much Light

I have a good flashlight in my truck that goes with my little emergency bag of goodies (this isn't the long drive kit, just the local one).  I also have a number of good flashlights around the Range,  Some  are heavy duty Maglights, and others tend toward either 18650 single cell lights or 1xCR123 LiFePO4 rechargeable batteries. I also added a  Olight i1EOS and  Eagletac D25c Mini to the collection at the recommendation of my savvy gal friend, Vic.

I think I realized the value of a good flashlight, when I first graduated and started climbing up in the Sierras in my old Dodge Lambcharger  and ended up with a flat tire, where not only it was dark, there were critters with big teeth around.  I wanted to make as much noise and light as possible.

So over the years, the collection grew, and I probably don't NEED any more. . BUT.

When I see a big honking flashlight on sale that advertises itself at 550 lumen and it costs less than a steak dinner, I'm going to pick it up, especially as I was needing an extra one to have around the crashpad.  I mean, 500 Lumen is going to send the dark running!

I grabbed this one last year, did a brief write up of it, but wanted to see how it held up over time, and  then report back. 
Now, before you say "that's going to be your go to light for your bug out kit?"  No, for a full fledged disaster kit I'd go with  headlamp light with low power LED's and the energizer solar 9-LED lantern light. But for something inexpensive to have in a couple of rooms or in the truck as a back up, for $20?  Yes! When I first saw it, I thought, "a perfect gift!".

The Defiant LED 550 Lumen Flashlight.  From Home Depot.  It's kind of like the AR15 of flashlights, sometimes available at a bargain, sometimes, absolutely none availalbe.  But after a year with it, I can say.  If you see one.  Pick it up.  Pick up two if you can.

Lights are fun, but we often don't think about them until the power is off and we just discovered that grocery store cheap plastic flashlight has all the candle power of a  microwaved corn dog.

And though the Jedi Pocket knives are fun to demonstrate The Force while you watch Star Wars in your Princess Leia bathrobe with the dog, they DON'T have much illumination power.
So you want to find something else to have on hand, even as a BUF (not to be confused with an aircraft known as BUFF, which WILL light up your sky), you might consider this one.   One sometimes want a flashlight that's inexpensive enough you can have one in the truck, in the bathroom, by the door, for the wife, for the dog (scratch that, you'd be woken up with a 500 Lumen spotlight in your face by someone that wants a Scooby Snack at 4 a.m).

You aren't going to chase down a bad guy with this, or go spelunking, you simply want an inexpensive bright  flashlight that won't break if you drop it on the floor, that will light up what you need to see, and stay lit up for a couple hours, while you fetch the dog that ran after the squirrel, or find that box in the basement after the ceiling light quits.

We'll start with the obvious.  Brightness. Since my photogoniometer was at the cleaners, I'll do a more rudamentary test.  These pictures were taken with my ultra cheap truck glove box camera, so there is no help with aperture to make the picture look "brighter". This is a large,  pitch black room  at the crash pad, with heavy insulated  curtains.  Its' darker than the inside of Barkley's stomach with the lights off as I sometimes have to sleep during the day.
I turned on the flashlight, one I've used to clean up Barkley land mines for a year, then  pointing up so not to hurt Barkley's eyes. Lab testing is careful work.

I've seen Sherpa landing lights that weren't as bright.

Here it is in the guest bath after dark with the same cheap camera.  If my power went out in a 4 a.m. morning storm, this would be more than enough to get dressed, showered and ready, including tactical lip gloss.
CON's

This is not a dainty flashlight. It's not a club, but it's definitely a fist.

It will NOT hide in your pocket without attracting unwanted attention.  It is a heavy flashlight, (even being aluminum) but that is a given considering the length.  But it's not one you can just toss in your little evening bag to take with you.  This is a "big storm, the power just went out" or "Honey, the zombies are eating the raccoons that were raiding our garbage can"  flashlight.

Made in China. 

PRO's

There's only one mode to the switch. Oscar November and Oscar Foxtrot Foxtrot.   Handy when it's dark and you just need to turn it on, and quickly. It has a little wrist strap, so you don't drop it down into whatever part  of you're vehicle you're inspecting.
The light is bright, almost pure white, very little yellow to it (you'll see the yellow in ultra cheapo LED lights).  As far as light goes,  it's a good throw with a usable spill.   I'm not sure it's quite the 800 feet advertised (600 anyway) but  it's much brighter than the small conventional flashlight you might have around the house and seriously brighter than most C and D cell flashlights.  (For the photogoniometer enthusiasts, sorry, I couldn't be more specific)

The construction is sturdy and solid for the price. The connections are tight due to decent threading and O rings (yes, I autopsied it).  The lens is pretty cheap plastic, the lens/reflector held in by a ring that will thread down pretty tight (and watch your fingers as there are some sharp edges). This flashlight is equipped with a Cree XM-L LED on a 20mm star board with the head threading into the midsection that acts as the heat sink and houses the emitter/driver that is a stand alone unit. The emitter appeared to be glued down and was pretty solid.

One unexpected feature is the green glow-in-the-dark lens gasket. Sure it looks cool but I'm not sure what purpose it serves and if you were to need to turn off the light suddenly so you are invisible to a threat, it's going to be visible in the dark briefly.  Sure it's handy for a couple of minutes if you turn off, then drop the flashlight in the dark, but when trying to be tactical, it might not be a feature you want.
It states it's good for 4 hours.  It uses 3 inexpensive C batteries, unlike most other 500+ lumen flashlights.  At 4000mAH (LSD) or 5000mAH (HSD), C cells are pretty high in capacity. So although I have not tested the  "four hour" use statement, the light should have a pretty good run of a couple of hours at least.

If you're going to use it a lot you might invest  invest in some Tenergy Premium rechargeable C cells and a charger for them.  Even though C cells are cheap, they're not free.

 Lifetime warranty it states on the packaging, although the Home Depot website says one year. 

There are certainly better built flashlights, and those are usually made in America, but where are you going to find  a C cell powered XM-L light for $20?  Flashlights this powerful from the top brands that are marketed to military and law enforcement units can run well over three hundred bucks. For those that don't wish to pay more for that type of quality, or can't with a tight budget, this is a good find. Plus it's cheap enough you don't mind it getting banged up a little.  Think of it it as a drop light without the cord. And it has been dropped, including a long drop off a ladder onto a cement floor. It got a little scratch, but no crenelation, not even around the lens.

Yes, it has its tactical drawbacks, and you'll never leave your Maglights for it, but it's a decent, bright, even, near-omnidirectional light at a popular price, one that after a year of use for such useful purposes as nightly poop patrol with the scooper and no change of battery,  is still going strong. . .

And still waterproof.