Web Blast Extra: Tactical Torches For Every Task
Eighty lumens is the nominal “threshold” level at which light directed into a subject’s eyes at close range can cause visual degradation and disorientation. More — like 120 to 180 lumens — assures that blinding, scrambling effect and provides it at greater distance, like down-the-long-hallway to across the street. From 80 to 180 lumens is generally an effective illumination spread from our ubiquitous 5″ to 6″ 2-lithium cell lights.
That’s good for the majority of an officer’s routine duty needs, but it leaves dangerous gaps in your tactical illumination toolbox. You need lower-level light to preserve your night vision while making notes, scratching out tickets, or maneuvering stealthily through alley litter and yard junk while serving a warrant; a long-range light-cannon for reaching down the highway, probing deep into canyons or wooded areas, or lighting up a gang of ’bangers from one side of a parking lot to the other.
WEB BLAST EXTRA
You saw Elzetta’s mighty morphing ZFL M60 light in the print edition; now here’s one of their innovative mounts: The ZFH1500 provides an ambidextrous lightweight (2.8 ounces) mount for AR’s lacking quad rails or other options. Built from a glass-filled polymer, it’s very tough and extremely heat resistant, and it sandwiches securely on the standard forged front sight assembly. The mount fits not only all 1″ lights like the ZFL M60 but with included sizing adaptors, it also holds lights ranging in size from 0.7″ to 1.1″ in diameter. Even if you have rails at 3 and 9 o’clock, you might want to consider the value of this centered mount in narrowing the operational profile of your carbine.
While you’re on the Elzetta web site, check out their ZORM mount for 1913 rails and the ZSM mount for tactical shotguns.
Too late for the print edition but just in time for this extension, Streamlight introduced the latest version of the Sidewinder, the Compact II; one of their best, and in my opinion, most under-appreciated designs. It may look like it would be of interest only to SWAT officers, but it’s something every patrol cop or investigator who throws on a tac vest or chest rig for moving shooter, high-risk warrant service or other critical incident response should look at.
The Sidewinder offers four light sources — a white C4 LED plus red, blue and IR LEDs — in a compact package, which tilts 185 degrees and rotates 360 in its included helmet mount. A strong clip also allows mounting to MOLLE gear, belts or almost any kind of strap. The control system is highly ergonomic, with a domed rubber push-activation switch, and pull-and-rotate light source selector with an additional tactile “cue” for the IR mode. The “IR Safe Mode” prevents accidental activation and battery depletion while in IR. Both controls are easily operable without looking, and with gloved hands. Each light source offers four light levels plus strobe function. Runtimes of course depend on the light level used, but they’re all generous.
The new feature on the Compact II is that it will accept either a single CR123 lithium battery, or an AA (lithium or alkaline) battery. The whole assembly is highly shock resistant and waterproof to IPX7 (1 meter for 30 minutes) and meets Mil-STD-810F. We’ll try to get one for testing and review in a future issue, but given the performance of past Sidewinders, we can assume a very positive level of performance.
New in September 2011, FoxFury expanded their line of forensic lights with the Rook R3A Kit. Packed in a sturdy case you get a dual wavelength (450 + 470 nm) UV light, dual wavelength blue (380 + 395 nm) light and a 220 lumen Rook MD1 white light. The lights are built to the same quality standards as FoxFury tactical lights for use under any environmental conditions. Teamed with the color-appropriate yellow and orange goggles, you’re well equipped to detect serological evidence including semen plus blood, hair, fibers and other trace evidence. The set lists for $655.
Just released at SHOT Show 2012, the SureFire P2X Fury delivers spotlight-level illumination in a 5.4″, 5.7-ounce package. The Fury is dual-output, offering a low-power mode of 15 lumens, and high power is amazing for its size — 500 blazing lumens. On two CR123A batteries runtimes are 1.5 hours on high and 46 hours on low. At either setting, the polymer micro-textured reflector creates a smooth, comparatively wide beam with a bright center, so you get both a spot effect as well as excellent peripheral light.
The tailcap switch makes control easy: A light press activates the 15-lumen low level in momentary mode, and pressing through to the click makes it constant-on. To get high level, press the tailcap switch twice within two seconds for momentary, and press-to-click for constant. It’s straightforward, fast and simple. The tailcap also can be locked out to prevent activation during transport or storage.
The body is hard-anodized aluminum, O-ring and gasket sealed, and the lens is tough polycarbonate. List price is $155.
5.11 Tactical’s line of ATAC flashlights have proven very popular with cops, and the ATAC L2 is the most powerful light in that family. Two CR123 batteries produce 222 lumens for 4 hours or 74 hours on the low setting of 10 lumens. Both outputs and strobe, which always runs at full power, are controlled using only the silent momentary-on function of the unit’s “Intelligent Switch” in the tailcap. A rotary dial lockout switch is turned on and off smoothly with one hand, using your thumb.
If the cost of lithium CR123A batteries is killing you, you might want to look at the ATAC A2. While its cousin the L2 runs on lithium, two inexpensive AA batteries delivering 162 lumens on high power the A2 — it’s certainly powerful enough in its own right. Like the L2, it also offers high and low (15 lumens) modes, plus full-power strobe function, all of which can be cycled through silently using the noiseless “momentary” activation of the tailcap switch. When you’re in the mode you want, just push-to-click for constant-on.
Quality and construction details are the same for both lights, including the Cree XP-E LED, gold plated contacts, aerospace grade aluminum body, and digitally regulated circuitry for maximum output and power efficiency. The L2 lists for $84.99, while the A2 comes in $20 lower at $64.99.
TerraLUX noticed cops often need little pen-sized utility lights, and when they need both hands for a task, they often pop those lights into their mouths and bite them. Not good for dental health, but effective. Their new LightStar 80 is a 2.4-ounce aircraft aluminum job equipped with a ribbed rubber BiteGrip. It’s an 80-lumen tooth-saver that gets 5 hours runtime out of two AAA batteries. Shown here in high-visiblitiy orange, it’s also available in titanium grey and lists for only $29.99
Brite-Strike says their EPLI — Executive Precision Lighting Instrument — is for “the warrior whose battlefield is the boardroom,” but we don’t buy that. If you work plainclothes or investigations, or for off-duty use, a slim, 5.125″ penlight that delivers 160 lumens on high and strobe modes from two puny AAA batteries can be exactly what you need. They must have gotten the digital circuitry just right to wring that much power from two AAA’s, especially considering its runtime at full power on high is an impressive 1.5 hours, 2 hours on strobe, and 8 hours on its 10-lumen low-power mode.
The body is high grade aluminum with a graphite anodized finish and the bezel is polished stainless steel and brass, making it look more like an expensive pen than the effective light it is. The EPLI even comes in a gift box, and lists at $80.00.
If you like the adjustable-focus beam of the larger LED Lenser models, the P5R gives you the same versatility in miniature form, plus the advantage of a rechargeable lithium ion battery which juices up using either a USB port or a standard wall plug-in. The proprietary ICR 14500 battery is good for up to 1,000 charging cycles.
The P5R is only 4.63″ long and weighs 2.82 ounces. The LED delivers 200 lumens on high for 3 hours and 15 lumens on low for seven. The recharging device is simplicity itself: Plug the charger in and just touch the magnet-bearing tailcap to the magnetic charging connection. This holds it in place, and an indicator light tells you when full charge is complete, in about 3.5 hours. MSRP is around $100.
The sheer power of Fenix Lighting’s TK35 Tactical LED flashlight is all out of proportion to its size. Thanks mainly to its internal battery carriage, which places four CR123A or two Lithium ion 18650 rechargeable batteries side-by-side, it’s only 6.5″ long, but yields 820 blinding long-range lumens for 1.5 hours.
The LED is a top-of-the-line Cree XM-L (T6), and it drives four lighting modes (820, 346, 109 and 12 lumens) and two flashing modes, strobe at 820 lumens and SOS at 109. Two shielded buttons on the tailcap, one large and one small, control all functions easily. The large button is for momentary or constant-on, while the smaller button lets you change light levels and select flashing modes. It takes a little study, but it’s quickly picked up.
The body shape afforded by the battery configuration actually creates a very good natural grip, and the body itself is aircraft-grade aluminum with a type-III hard anodized finish, waterproof to IPX-8 Standard. Output is digitally controlled, and the system is reverse-polarity protected, just in case batteries are inserted wrong. Each TK35 comes with a lanyard, holster and spare O-ring, and you can opt for the rechargeable Li-ion batteries, with a charger unit. The TK35 lists for $135.
By John Morrison
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