What features are important on a flashlight? [Archive] - Glock Talk

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golls17
04-17-2011, 18:56
Update on Post #34. I'm going with the Stinger. If I were to get one charger for a flashlight, should I get AC or DC? Should I fork out the extra money for both? Is the faster charger worth the extra money?


I've searched the flashlight threads, and everything is about lumens and brands, but I'm wondering about other features. I can research my own brands, but I'm just wondering what I should look for in an everyday flashlight for somebody working nights.

Do I really need a 200+ lumen flashlight? What is actually efficient vs. the "mine is brighter than yours" battle

Is the strobe/SOS feature that important, or just a neat thing to have? I have it on a flashlight already, but I don't plan on using it as my primary light. I'll probably keep it in the bag, since I've seen demonstrations on distracting somebody with the strobe while somebody else sneaks up in the dark. I just don't see it as necessary on a primary light.

Does it really matter if it has 5 different brightness settings?

Right now, my gear is set up for a 3D cell maglight, but I'm thinking I want something lighter weight and less bulky on the belt.

Any other input is helpful. Thanks.

Dragoon44
04-17-2011, 19:08
What features are important on a flashlight?


first and foremost that it has a light bulb.

:tongueout::rofl:


on a more serious note I would go for 200 lumens or more. simply to fry the eyeballs out of an advesary during a nighttime encounter.

Don't see an SOS feature as really useful unless you are working in a remote rural area.

golls17
04-17-2011, 19:17
first and foremost that it has a light bulb.



Thanks Drag. I suppose we are spoiled today. Weren't you around when 100 candle-light power meant actually lighting 100 candles?

Atomic Punk
04-17-2011, 19:37
my wife has a nice one. aluminum body. it holds 3 D cells. and the head is about 2 inches across with a ton of led's in it. been on the current set of battery's for almost 2 years. i think we bought it for $20 at a gas station in the middle of no where. so who knows what brand, but its bright, sturdy, and you could put a beating on somebody with it.

Dragoon44
04-17-2011, 19:42
Thanks Drag. I suppose we are spoiled today. Weren't you around when 100 candle-light power meant actually lighting 100 candles?

We used to have to catch lightning bugs to use for nighttime illumination.

:tongueout::rofl:

Kahr_Glockman
04-17-2011, 20:38
To answer the question with my opinion, Leave the flashlight ring on your belt. An LED Maglight will cost around $30. A smaller Streamlight Polytac LED light will run about $40.

I recommend the MagLight because it provides good light, and good throw. The beam is focusable, and the batteries are common and cheap. They also last forever. I would also have a Streamlight SL-20X or a Pelican 8060. The MagLight would be the backup.

SOS is a moot issue because if you need it you can do it yourself with the momentary button. Strobe is really cool but you have to train with it. My opinion is that we have searched and used lights without strobe for years, and we can do our jobs without it, but it is usefull.

Fenix lights are great, OLights are really good. I would still give the nod to Streamlight's PolyTac.(I use this light on my belt currently. Switched from a Fenix TK11)

There are many lights out there but this is the way I would go. It is the way that I have gone.

I have not bought any Surefire lights.(They are too exspensive for my budget.) I have one of the new Streamlight Microstream lights that takes a single AAA battery. It is a good light for my breast pocket. It isn't bright but it is a great little light for document reading, or just a decent little light.

There are many light options but you have to decide what you want.

collim1
04-17-2011, 22:05
First off 200 lumens is not necessary, inside a house it can blind you just as much as the bad guy.

Strobe is only useful for traffic direction IMO. On a traffic stop I have a spot light and take down lights to blind the driver from looking back at me. All I need is to light up the inside of car, 60 lumens is plenty for that.

What you need is a reliable light that is 60+ lumens and rechargeable.

I use a Stinger incandescant, and keep a spare charged battery in the car.

I keep a 3D cell Mag LED in the car as a backup, and a ring on my belt.

I have a Stinger LED that I keep in the car with a traffic cone on it so I dont kill my normal light working a wreck or a malfunctioning traffic signal.

I prefer the light of a normal flashlight to an LED. My stinger Also the Stinger LED is just too big, and the way it sits on my belt tears the leather carriers up where it sits on the belt.

I went back to my normal Stinger after a few months of being issued the LED.

MeefZah
04-17-2011, 22:12
At least 12 inches long and knurled aluminum, so you can put a human man assed beating on those deserving. SL20X is my choice. I have an LED Stinger and 14 year old incandescent Stinger and I go for the SL20 every time I get out of the car.

Chico Bill
04-17-2011, 22:15
I think with advances in light technology the benchmark has been raised for patrol lights. What was high tech ten years ago is obsolete now. It'll work but there are sooooo many options that will work better.

I think a small patrol belt light should have the following mandatory features:

At least two modes (High/Low)
Minimum of 100 Lumens on High
Momentary activation with the ability to activate constant-on

My preferences include:

A "neutral" or "warm" tint LED
Ability to accept rechargeable (Eneloop-type NiMH) AA batteries
Single function tailcap switch (modes change by head-twist, etc., but not by tail-switch)

So far I'm very happy with my Eagletac P20A2 Mk II Neutral tint. I also have and like (though it doesn't fit all my ideal preferences) the Streamlight "PT" series. I have a PT2AA and PT1L. I also really like the "Quark" series lights (I have a neutral 1xAA) and Fenix Lights (TK20, TA30).

There are so many options it's hard to recommend one single light. The closest to exactly what I want is the "Quark", though I bought the 1xAA and I'd get the 2xAA for a belt light. They're all good and have various features to address different preferences. You don't need 5 modes. You don't need strobe. At the same time having options is nice.

Cav
04-17-2011, 22:25
IMHO you need 2 or more flashlights. I have 3-5 for Police work.

On my Duty belt is a Strion LED. It is small, light, bright, white, and rechargeable. I use it close to every day. It can dim or strobe.

I carry a Stinger in my patrol bag (used to carry the Stinger before the Strion came out, then I went with the Strion LED). It is a back up, and I use it for night time traffic control if I need to.

I also have SL-20 that I use for night time traffic stops that is kept in my vehicle, and I have a belt loop that can holdit if need be.

For the three Streamlights I have three traffic cones. I have been on the sight of crashes from vehicles, people, and trains where all three got used one at a time till they went dead. The strobe function will last longer and warn better with a cone. I have also had to lend out lights to Officer that had them go dead while working a crash (5.11 Light for Life, may be for a short traffic stop, but not on a long crash or search party).

Last I have Sure Fire and Black Hawk CR123 battery powered lights I keep in Go-Bags and on my Tac Vest that stay there till the time comes I need them. I also do not count a CR123 battery weapon light that I carry on my duty belt (a holster that holds the light on the weapon is in the near future for me, as 90% I work with use them).

Rechargeable lights will drain and can not be stored for later use. Battries get expensive if you use them all the time.

All in all I have 25-30 flashlights, thanks to the Military and Police work I do.

The old SL20, Stinger, and Strion I started out with about 7-10 years ago are now outdated I feel and I dont know how I did stuff prior to LED lights.

20 years ago I used to take a 6 D cell Maglight and drop it in a M203 grenade launcher to have a weapon light for use at night.

pal2511
04-18-2011, 01:43
I like to have a full size light like the maglite or sl20x. I use a maglite rechargable with a led upgrade. I also use a pelican 7060 that I throw in my cargo pocket or the passenger seat. I keep a Strion Led on my belt. THe strion gets the most use. Surefire X200 on the Glock in my holster

Chowser
04-18-2011, 01:43
We have ancient Maglight rechargeables in the car. On my belt is my backup light which is an OLight M20s warrior. 320+lumens. 4 hr runtime at max brightness. Good throw. Multiple levels. Strobe. Spare battery in holster etc. We once had to search the woods at night and the maglight barely made it an hour. My Olight was a champ. I also have a tlr-1 c4 on my gun if i really needed a third light.
have your primary be something a little large that can double as an impact weapon in a pinch and have a backup on your belt.

I know i know. Dont hit people with your flashlight. But in an instant it might be all that you can use to save your life.

silverado_mick
04-18-2011, 04:38
Must have features for a primary duty light IMHO include:

At least 100 lumens.

Long enough to easily tuck under your arm on traffic stops or to funtion as an impact weapon in a pinch.

LED.

Rechargeable.

Backup lights should be small, light, battery powered, and at least 100 lumens as well. My primary is a Streamlight Stinger LED and my backup is a Fenix Tk-10. Weaponlight is a TLR-1 and on the rifle is another Tk-10.

Spearmint
04-18-2011, 07:28
rechargeable, bright, and durable -- I just picked up the Pelican LAPD light. What an upgrade from the old Streamlight I was carrying.

PinkoCommie
04-18-2011, 07:49
Two lights are mandatory, and more could be good. A small light on your belt for when (a) you didn't know you were going to need a light [i.e. daytime traffic stop, etc] or (b) a bigger, brighter light would be blinding, inappropriate, etc. A big light for when you know you will need a light [which means you ALWAYS have it with you at night].

Everyone has a different solution. Here is mine, for what it's worth:

-a Pelican 8060 as a "big" light. Why? Because it ****ing rocks. Great battery life, very bright and focused beam, LED, nice weight, chunky enough to say to someone "hold on while I reach for my ASP/taser/gun". The charger is in my locker. When I am in the car after dark, this light lives between my thigh and the car seat. I NEVER leave the car without it at night. It is my security blanket.

-a surefire G2 LED. Why? Because I have had it for a couple of years and haven't upgraded to a newer, fancier light. I have lost one in a fight with a stupid chick on a third story balcony once (it was in the Surefire holster and all, still fell out). Went back and looked, but did not find it. A G2 is cheap enough to replace, but works well enough.

- A Streamlight UltraStinger in the car (belongs to the department, not me). In case I need another light ;)

- A TLR-1 on my G17. In case I need a light on my gun. I don't ever want to carry a duty gun without a light again. Ever. I am just too retarded to manage a gun and flashlight while opening doors and keeping the gun pointed at scary demons in the dark.

- A TLR-1 on my AR. See above.

Bruce M
04-18-2011, 07:52
Possibly something a bit more modern, but this was great in it's day

http://s91795574.onlinehome.us/pics/utility/police%20lantern.jpg

DaBigBR
04-18-2011, 10:37
Number one and most important: what are you going to use it for?

One of the things that I have found with modern LED lights that I never saw coming was that you CAN go too bright. A light for searching a house does not (and should not be) a two million lumen retina scorcher, it will reflect off of everything and blind you and your partners.

I carry the following lights:

-Belt: Streamlight Polytac LED in V70 holster. Absolutely the best value in small, bright, well designed lights. Has a click tail cap and costs less than $40 on Amazon most of the time. No variable brightness, no strobe mode, just a light.

-Cargo Pocket: Streamlight Strion LED in 5.11 BBS holster. Rechargeable, bright, has intuitive dimmer and strobe mode. If it fit the V70, I would probably carry two of them. A little pricey, but rechargeable without having to find suitable CR123 style (18650) rechargeables.

-Front pocket: Fenix P1DCE. Backup light. Will probably replace with a Streamlight PT1L.

-Sap pocket: Streamlight SL-20XP-LED. I like a light that I can tuck under my arm while reading documents, doing field sobriety, etc. The long barreled light is pretty well dead for most purposes since compact LED lights are small, lighter, and brighter, but I still like them. I would love to see a super-bright LED SL20 with the three dim LED "nav" lights this one has. I would imagine you could fit enough battery in there to run forever, too.

-Car: 5.11 LFL (the bigger one). This thing delivers what it promises...runs bright, recharges in 90 seconds. Barrell is a little thick and a little slick, but it's a decent light.

-Bag: Old Surefire G2LED in a pouch attached to one of the carry straps in case one of my other lights craps out.

So there you go...six lights. Each has a purpose.

Kahr_Glockman
04-18-2011, 10:58
Number one and most important: what are you going to use it for?

One of the things that I have found with modern LED lights that I never saw coming was that you CAN go too bright. A light for searching a house does not (and should not be) a two million lumen retina scorcher, it will reflect off of everything and blind you and your partners.

I carry the following lights:

-Belt: Streamlight Polytac LED in V70 holster. Absolutely the best value in small, bright, well designed lights. Has a click tail cap and costs less than $40 on Amazon most of the time. No variable brightness, no strobe mode, just a light.

-Cargo Pocket: Streamlight Strion LED in 5.11 BBS holster. Rechargeable, bright, has intuitive dimmer and strobe mode. If it fit the V70, I would probably carry two of them. A little pricey, but rechargeable without having to find suitable CR123 style (18650) rechargeables.

-Front pocket: Fenix P1DCE. Backup light. Will probably replace with a Streamlight PT1L.

-Sap pocket: Streamlight SL-20XP-LED. I like a light that I can tuck under my arm while reading documents, doing field sobriety, etc. The long barreled light is pretty well dead for most purposes since compact LED lights are small, lighter, and brighter, but I still like them. I would love to see a super-bright LED SL20 with the three dim LED "nav" lights this one has. I would imagine you could fit enough battery in there to run forever, too.

-Car: 5.11 LFL (the bigger one). This thing delivers what it promises...runs bright, recharges in 90 seconds. Barrell is a little thick and a little slick, but it's a decent light.

-Bag: Old Surefire G2LED in a pouch attached to one of the carry straps in case one of my other lights craps out.

So there you go...six lights. Each has a purpose.



This is a good example. These are relatively inexspensive, with the exception of the 5.11 LFL.

I will add again that I really like the MagLight LED. Good size with good life and brightness.

I did forget to mention I have a TLR-1 on my pistol and a Pentagon Light for my AR. I am in the process of building an SBR and I will mount my Fenix TK-11 on it. I do have a Fenix TK-11 and it works. With the 18860 batteries I get 11 hours run time before it needs to be recharged. If it dies in the field I can replace the batteries with standard CR-123.

volsbear
04-18-2011, 11:29
Good thread. I get to buy a new light for my new external vest carrier. The old light will go into a bag. I hope to find some good suggestions in this thread.

Tagged1

Magicmanmb
04-18-2011, 11:36
A light you don't have to sell your first born to afford batteries. I've used the strobe once
so my cover unit could see me since everything was blacked out.

DaBigBR
04-18-2011, 11:59
I really cannot say enough good things about the Polytac LED. I had all but given up on Streamlight as a manufacturer of lights other than the SL series and the Strion LED. Their non-rechargeable offerings just did nothing for me. I dismissed the Polytac LED when it came out until a co-worker bought one. Now I've got a couple of them. The biggest advantage of the Polytac LED over the comparable Surefire offerings (other than price) is the click tailcap as opposed to the twist style on most Surefires.

PinkoCommie
04-18-2011, 12:14
I really cannot say enough good things about the Polytac LED. I had all but given up on Streamlight as a manufacturer of lights other than the SL series and the Strion LED. Their non-rechargeable offerings just did nothing for me. I dismissed the Polytac LED when it came out until a co-worker bought one. Now I've got a couple of them. The biggest advantage of the Polytac LED over the comparable Surefire offerings (other than price) is the click tailcap as opposed to the twist style on most Surefires.

That's what I found when I checked it out. When I lose/break/give away my G2, I am getting one of these fo shizzle.

chance3290
04-18-2011, 14:35
Still haven't used the strobe or sos feature on our issued flashlight. You have to press the tailcap a few times to get it to stay on......this is what its designed to do. Don't like it.......I want a light where you press it once-it comes on. Press it again-it goes off.
A flashlight with a computer chip in it is prone to failing.....as our do...a lot.

Defender77
04-18-2011, 15:28
Penguin flashlight, the one LAPD helped design.

With a Bianchi nylon holster...fits right over the leather gun belt.



Truly awesome combo.

PinkoCommie
04-18-2011, 15:31
Penguin flashlight, the one LAPD helped design.

With a Bianchi nylon holster...fits right over the leather gun belt.



Truly awesome combo.

Pelican. Whole different kind of bird. The model you are referring to is the 7060.

http://www.pelican.com/lights_detail.php?recordID=7060

Defender77
04-18-2011, 15:36
Pelican. Whole different kind of bird. The model you are referring to is the 7060.

http://www.pelican.com/lights_detail.php?recordID=7060



Oops.... thanks for correcting me! :whistling:

Yes, that flashlight is great. A couple of us have upgraded to it.


The only drawback for me is it's a bit heavier than our issued flashlights....the pro is that it has a metal head and if you hold it just right, it can also double as a blunt force object if SHTF.

Chowser
04-19-2011, 00:48
I buy my 123 batteries in bulk, usually $50 for 50 batteries. Most of the time, I use rechargeable 123 (the 3.0V ones) in my lights that use them. My OLight uses the 18500? I think. I find that using the primary 123s in my tac light better than the rechargeable 123s.

mrdann
04-19-2011, 07:00
1) reliability, waterproof, and toughness; can it takes drops, hits, throws?

2) Affordable batteries (regular or rechargeable; 3v lithiums get expensive) I like one that uses rechargeables OR others for backup, IE, the rechargeable Pelican that also takes regular "c"s or theOlight that can use CR123s.

3) Brightness. You may not NEED 700 lumens, but I'd never go back to less for GP. How many lumens does one "NEED"? Somewhere between none and1000, I guess. Often times I operate in the dark or by ambiant light. For years hardware store flasghlights of a few candle power were all that was available. When the Surefire 6P came out with 60 lumens it was considered the most awsome ligting instrument ever devised by man. My light has 10 - 80 - or 700 lumens. I use the 700 almost exclusively. ***** envy? I don't think so, sometimes I just REALLY want to see what's out there!

4) Variable power can be a great feature, but more then 3 levels can get silly and CONFUSING. I like, nominally, 7 - 70 - 700 lumens. Also you should be able to select the power level without turning the light on. The selector should be simple, positive, and eyes free.

5) Strobe, imo, is a worhless feature that just adds complexity

6) I like a momentary AND posi-click on/off tailcap that does not require any twisting or turning to use or adjust.

7) A proper light pattern should have a "Spot" AND "Flood" together, with NO dark areas. The spot can reach out far and can blind opponents, while the flood or corona can illuminate your surroundings with enough light to see clearly without blinding you or others.

8) It's GOT TO FIT a holster / holder. There are a lot of good lights that don't.

9) Size. Choose one small enough to fit on your belt 24/7 OR one big enough to double as an impact weapon. Imo, a Maglight less than 4D is too small for hitting AND too big for carrying.

10) Price. My partner couldn't belive that I spent $200 for my flashlight. I asked him how many lights he had bought over the last 3 years. He said 6. I asked what was the average price fo those lights. He said $30. Do the math. Then I asked him if he was happy with his current light. He said, "Well it's not as good as yours."

PS, When Dragoon showed up for work with a TORCH, all the candle carrying old timers called him "gear queer" and "Rookie"!

Goldstar225
04-20-2011, 06:41
We were issued the Stinger LED about 2 years ago as our primary light. I had reservations about it and was reluctant to give up my mag-charger. I was wrong. The Stinger has served us well. It stays on my belt, backed up by my old 6P that I've added a KX-4 LED head to.

Delon
04-20-2011, 10:32
I would say depends on use.

You want a light that is bright and has a good throw, but you don't want a light that will blind you if you shine it on a white wall when clearing a house at night.

I think the 150 to 250 lumen range is fine.

I would agree the SOS Strobe is of no use in law enforcement, the combat strobe on the other hand can be if you train with it. The high frequency strobe will shutdown must people.

The other thing I would suggest is simple, you don't want a light that has 20 different settings and is complex to control.

Just my 2 cents.

volsbear
04-20-2011, 10:59
We were issued the Stinger LED about 2 years ago as our primary light. I had reservations about it and was reluctant to give up my mag-charger. I was wrong. The Stinger has served us well. It stays on my belt, backed up by my old 6P that I've added a KX-4 LED head to.

Anything out there that's comparable in size to the Stinger LED (perhaps a bit shorter and more narrow) that has similar lumens (180 I believe) but takes common-sized batteries?

faceplant
04-20-2011, 16:39
I agree with DaBigBR. Streamlight Polytac LED. Simple light with no adjustments. Tail cap switch with safety, bright, price aint bad. You should have more than one. I keep one in my bunker pants, ems jacket and helmet. I back that up with a Stinger LED. I like the light so much I have it mounted on my ARs, One in each vehicle and two for the house. A total of 10:wow: (I am a flashlight junkie). If I was a cop the SL20X LED would be a must have.

Edwood
04-20-2011, 19:33
I have found that a lanyard attachment and a clip of some kind are must haves in a good leads flashlight.

golls17
05-13-2011, 10:32
Update: I decided to go with the Streamlight Stinger DS.

Now for 3 more questions:

If I were to get one charger for a flashlight, should I get AC or DC?
Should I fork out the extra money for both?
Is the faster charger worth the extra money?

They have a maglite or something like that for me in the squad, and I'll have a few other small lights in my bag.

volsbear
05-13-2011, 10:40
If you have a $10 inverter for the car, you don't need both. I bought the AC charger. Both my cars have a simple inverter in them (again - $10) which works with multiple appliances. My department doesn't want to pay to permanently mount a charger in the squads, so this way I can grab my own if necessary.

DaBigBR
05-13-2011, 12:18
I bought both chargers for my first Stinger years ago...I never used the car charger...not once, and that wasn't even an LED light. I would think with the impoved runtime, the need would be even less. Charge it regularly and you should be fine.

Kansas Slim
05-13-2011, 13:10
RELIABILITY!! Plus, it needs to be bright enough that if you need to use it to temporarily blind someone's adapted night vision that you can do so. I think 110 lumens is a minimum. I bought a Surefire G2X Tactical with a simple on/off tailcap switch and I don't need anything else.

nitesite10mm
05-14-2011, 19:44
I have "settled" on several LEDs.
> O-Light M30 with 18650 protected Lith-Ions. Really great light in very small package. Brightest light I own on HI (700 lumens), nine hours @ 120-lumens, and on LO will run almost 90-hrs
> 5.11 Light For Life (the large one). I find myself using it quite often. Very light weight, no batteries, lifetime warranty, AC and DC Chargers included, 90-sec to full charge good for 80-min
> Romisen RC-C3 II R2. The size of a 3" 12-ga shotgun shell. Takes one CR123 and throws an incredible 50+ yard tight beam with perfect even flood. Amazing CREE aluminum O-ringed pocket light for about $16 Check it out....
> Streamlight Stylus LED penlight in shirt pocket behind pocket notebook. Comes in very handy, use it often during SFSTs because it doesn't overpower the subjects pupils or cause blink reflex to increase

But as much as I like each of these lights, I still carry incandescent lights as well.
> a Streamlight Scorpion incan with two CR123s in my duty belt. The color temp of the light is perfect for searching for very tiny items against complicated backgrounds
>Streamlight PolyStinger incan in my seat organizer as a "loaner" flashlight
>Streamlight Stinger HP incan with traffic cone and a spare NiCad battery

When buying, don't forget about warmer colors being very useful even if they don't have nearly the throw or lumen output.

Oh, and my list of seven lights on every shift is soon going to increase by one. A Pelican 8060 because it is simply a "must have", elegant piece of professional equipment.

But to answer what to look for, here's my criteria:

It must click on to the the most useable light output by default each and every time.
Don't get a light that ramps up the output with each click and then cycles back to the lowest beginning.
Decide if you want a side switch near the head or a tail cap clickie, both have definite advantages.
Avoid at all costs a tail cap strike bezel
Not really much need for strobe
Primary Light should be bright and last at least three hours
Focusable Beam not my preference
One of each incan and LED minimum for color temp advantages of both
One light you can wear unobtrusively on your belt as an "oh crap" backup, or one like the Romisen that drops in a pocket.