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Wiseman

So you want to buy a flashlight?

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This post is to help you decide what you want out of your next flashlight purchase. These are a simple 5 questions to help narrow down the field for your decision.

 

 

Question 1: LED or Incandescent?

 

You need to decide what route you want to go. LED's are quickly becoming the standard in lighting but still cost more than a comparable incan light. Both have advantages over one another that you need to take into account when deciding.

 

LED Advantages:

 

Longer battery life

No bulbs to break or burn out

More resistant to dropping and impacts

Many different colors of beams available

No ghosting effect after turning off light

The LED's themselves will usually out live the owner

A good LED light that has full regulation will give you the most max power before battery death

 

Incandescent Advantages:

 

Cheaper to buy initially

Still more powerful than LED

Will out throw comparable lumen LED lights

Better side spill than LED

Better performance over LED in dense fog and inclement weather

 

As you can see each have their advantages over one another. Choose wisely.

 

 

Question 2: What is your primary concern? Size? Battery life? Power? Batteries they run on?

 

You can't have it all my friends so you need to decide what is the intended task for you light. If you want an EDC light small is the way to go obviously but you will not pull the kind of power you can with bigger lights. CR123 powered lights are among the most powerful out there and most of these can be had in descent sizes, single powered CR123 lights can be very small but you will pay big time in your battery life. However, many folks do not like CR123 lights as batteries are scarce locally and cost a lot, also these CR123 lights will give you the shortest battery life out of the whole market. If you shop online for these batteries it's not a big deal, if you decide to get into the rechargeable market it is a total non-issue. C and D size batteries will give you the most run times but will come up short in the performance department, plus they are big and not a good carry choice. Small little AA and AAA lights will be among the smallest and some will even give you good performance but still the CR123 powered lights will smoke their performance but you will have an advantage in run times.

 

If you want a light to carry on your person for general lighting tasks than AA and AAA is the way to go. If you want a tactical light for blinding performance and maximum performance a 2 or 3 x CR123 light is the way to go. If you want a compromise of these two a single CR123 battery light will fit the mold as it is a good compromise of power and size. If you want something you can throw into the glove box or keep as a home black out light C and D size lights are good for these tasks. If you shop smart and follow sound advice you can get good compromises in each area.

 

 

Question 3: How much do you want to spend?

 

If money is no object than look to premium companies like Surefire, HDS, Pentagonlight & Night-Ops. These companies are among the best names in lighting and you will get every dime you pay for out of your light. You can expect the best materials, best attention detail, best performance and best finish overall with the big names. Also these companies stand behind their products 110%!

 

If money is not your primary concern but you don't want to go all and still want a good deal and comparable performance to the big names then look to Streamlight, Inova, Pelican, Digilight, Peak LED Solutions, Gerber, Fenix or Nuwai.

 

If money is a big concern and you need the best deal possible then Brinkmann, the Inova polymer series, River Rock, Maglight, Dorcy and Coast are good go to lights.

 

 

Question 4: What's better a tight beam or a flood beam?

 

Again this is all about your preference. If you want the most throw and blinding power a spot or tightly focused beam is the only way to go, but it only lights up the beam hotspot and whatever small side spill it may have will only light up the surrounding area in that spill. If you want to light up a room to see what is going on all around you then you want a flood but you will lose that "blinding" effect. A good rule of thumb is a tactical light should have a very tight hotspot with minimal side spill and a general use light is better served with a flood.

 

 

Question 5: Do you plan to use this light for a weapon mount or duty use?

 

If you answered yes then you need to stop being cheap here and realize you need the best of the best. You are pretty much relegating your light to tough duty use that may be called upon to save you butt when you are in dire straights. Don't fool around and go with Surefire or Night-Ops right off the bat. Not everyone needs the best of the best but if your light is to be used in this task you can rest assured you have a light that will withstand the toughest conditions imaginable.

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Both, headlamp, AAAs (commonizing), under $20

 

Rayovac 3 in 1.

 

Nice write up just wanted to plug my favorite light and point out a different catagory.

 

Tj

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Since the writing of this post LED has progressed greatly. This last year where 65 lumens was average, this year with the new Cree LED's 150+ out of an LED is the norm, I have a tiny Fenix that puts out 200+ out the front lens. No longer does incan have an advantage over LED other than a warmer wave-length of beam, at the lumen level difference now it is a total "no brainer".

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I did a thread not too long ago about upgrading one of my old Minimags to a Cree and tail switch. Talk about bringing new life to an old light. Its become one of my favorite handhelds.

 

Tj

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I did a thread not too long ago about upgrading one of my old Minimags to a Cree and tail switch. Talk about bringing new life to an old light. Its become one of my favorite handhelds.

 

Tj

where did you purchase the parts to do this?

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Wow... I might have to grab that up. Any experience with these? It gets very bright for such a small light + such a long runtime. Intriguing.

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I have to say I've been a fan of maglites my whole life. Recently at my last "job" my maglite was used as a hammer to put about 250 nails into some wood to build something while at work. Light still worked. LED so I had no worries.

 

But Before LED bulbs, mag lite were great, went out about year ago, and bought the 3watt LED mag lite and WOW that sucker is bright! rated at 140 lumens against the 36 lumens hologen bulb maglites.

 

Though be carefull! I noticed at walmart you can buy the 3watt maglite (flashlight and bulb) or just the LED bulb..STAY AWAY FROM JUST THE BULB..for some reason its not even half as bright.. just to forwarn everyone lol

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where did you purchase the parts to do this?

 

I bought mine from Battery Junction but their website has gone to a new format more like fits anything if you know the bezel size. I did a fast google and here's a good price and link:

 

Zbattery

 

They do make a 100 lumen 5 watt retro kit but they're like $25. IMHO, that's a bit much to upgrade a $10 light.

 

Tj

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Anyone have experience upgrading teh bulb in a Surefire G2 to the LED lamp? Ive been wanting to do it for the longer battery life, but I still want a light that will reach pretty far outside.

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Anyone have experience upgrading teh bulb in a Surefire G2 to the LED lamp? Ive been wanting to do it for the longer battery life, but I still want a light that will reach pretty far outside.

 

You have to be careful upgrading polymer lights because polymer heads do not dissipate heat very well. Excessive heat on a LED is bad news, that is why on the G2L and the new polymer body Surefire LED's they still use an aluminum head.

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You have to be careful upgrading polymer lights because polymer heads do not dissipate heat very well. Excessive heat on a LED is bad news, that is why on the G2L and the new polymer body Surefire LED's they still use an aluminum head.

Ive been wanting to get one of teh aluminum heads, so not a problem.

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Anyone have experience upgrading teh bulb in a Surefire G2 to the LED lamp? Ive been wanting to do it for the longer battery life, but I still want a light that will reach pretty far outside.

 

The early G2Ls came with the 80 lumen P60L lamps. People reported that it was fine, although newer models have an aluminum head. Malkoff lamps can be used in G2 bodies.................

http://www.malkoffdevices.com/shop2/index....p;products_id=7

 

I took my 6PL, extended the body for 3xCR123A (9V), and installed a Malkoff M60L to get 140 lumens for about 5.5 hrs. Pretty good setup.....

 

6PLL.jpg

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Well like XHairs (with his help, thanks for the links) I modified a Surefire 6P Defender for use as my weapon light on my AR. I extended the body for 3 batteries and added a Malkoff M60 Lamp for 235+ lumens, have yet to determine the time it can run. To mount it i am using a Surefire M79 Flashlight Mount.

 

On a side note I just got this today and righ out of the package the lamp my surefire had in it was blown, so I have no idea how good the lamp was prior to my mod. Good thing my Malkoff lamp arrived a day earlier.

EDIT: Wow Surefire is awesome they are sending me a new lamp usually not covered by the warranty.

Edited by StuartBoyer

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