LED flashlight trends ran towards increased numbers of Luxeon based lights, with increasing levels of sophistication, but also apparently plenty of frustrations on the part of manufacturers due to quality control issues with the Luxeon LEDs. Many told us they were returning more Luxeons than they were using. Besides the standard Luxeon, Lumileds has introduced a "High Dome" version providing a slightly more focused beam than standard Luxeon Stars and it also has a much better tint gradient across the beam, the result being improved beam reach and quality.
There were also more dual element lights, in other words mixing LEDs and an incandescent lamp in the same light, and optically enhanced conventional LED lights, with a lens to focus the light, mostly from a single LEDs, were also popular. While the optics get you brighter light with much more range from a single LED by focusing it into a narrow beam, it also often results in a beam so focused it is virtually useless unless you hold the light a couple feet away from anything that's larger than a penny. This has proved somewhat annoying in our experience.
What follows are just the highlights. We have provided the specifications we received from the manufacturers for the most part; some are much better than others in what they provide, so blame them if you are missing some spec you'd have liked to have seen.
Prices quoted are manufacturer's suggested retail price as of March 1, 2003 (we don't waste pixels, or your intelligence, on 95 cents, we just round up). Most gear covered here can be purchased at significantly discounted prices from those quoted.
This SHOT Show Report is split into three sections: Knives (including multi-purpose tools), Lights (including flashlights and headlamps) and Gear (everything else). Click on the link in this paragraph or at the bottom of the page to get to the next section, or to any of the other sections.
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ARC Flashlight's latest obvious evolution of the Arc-LS (as in Luxeon Star) series is the addition of a rubber-capped tail cap pushbutton switch, now standard on the Arc-LS (the original tail cap is an available option). The Arc-LSH series lights, shown, feature the latest "High Dome" 1-watt version of the Luxeon Star LED.
The tail switch is dual mode (momentary or constant-on), waterproof and it is the same as used by Streamlight and others. ARC provides a lifetime free replacement guarantee on the switch. The flashlights themselves come with a 10-year guarantee.
ARC's Peter Gransee noted that other improvements for 2003 included upgrading the circuit board with current regulation (the previous model was voltage regulated), adding a thermal circuit breaker to protect the LED and an approximate 10 percent increase in output and conversion efficiency over the previous model. ARC claims that the light puts out within 95 percent of maximum over the life of the battery, regardless of what batteries are installed. The new LS is also slightly smaller (0.050") in diameter from the previous model, a wee bit less bulky to carry. Did we mention that Peter is a bit of an obsessive, compulsive type?
The aluminum bodies are hard anodized, any color you want as long as it's O.D., and the interior now has a "Chemkote" coating to better resist corrosion. A Lexan polycarbonate lens now covers the integral lens/body of the LED. ARC now rates the units as waterproof to 50 feet.
The basic Arc-LSH is powered by a single 123-cell lithium and remains by a considerable margin the most compact of the Luxeon powered lights. It is available in both Standard and Premium grade, the latter with the very brightest of the Luxeon Star LEDs, for $130 and $160, respectively (LED production consistency still remains elusive for the LED manufacturers). A body that accommodates a pair of AA-cell batteries (TSP-2AA) is a $40 option. Unfortunately, it does away with the lanyard attachment point. On the plus side, it allows you to use it with the many third party accessories available for 2AA flashlights (Mini-mags and its clones).
The Arc-LSH is 3.125 inches long with a diameter of 0.945 inch. The 2xAA body extends the length to 5.75 inches and that adapter has a body diameter of 0.715 inches. Weight is 2.2 and 3.8 ounces, respectively. Brightness is virtually the same, regardless of battery packs; the difference is in run time: 2 hours with the single 123-cell lithium, 1.5 with a pair of AA-cell alkalines, 2.5 using NiMH AA-cells and 3 hours using AA lithiums
The original Arc-AAA has also seen some upgrades. The black body is gone, it's now got the same O.D. color hard anodizing as the Arc-LS, along with the Chemkote interior coating and a 50 feet waterproof rating. Its circuitry has also been improved for better efficiency. A removable clip is now included for attaching the light to your cap, pocket, etc.
We had very little time to spend in the Black Diamond booth as we were quite literally on our way out when we stumbled across them in the last aisle. Thus a very brief report. The coolest light in the booth was the new "Ion" ($22.50), an ultralight dual LED headlamp. When we say ultralight, we're talking just 0.9 ounces (28 g) all up, including the elastic headband. Even so, it still incorporates a 180 degree hinged head assembly, a hinged head with a reasonable range of motion being an essential feature for a headlamp from our perspective.
Power is from a single 6-volt silver oxide battery, which you'll find only in the specialty battery section. On the other hand, less hassle than dealing with four button cells. Battery life for "usable light" is given at 15 hours. There's a solid feeling rubberized pushbutton switch centered on the bottom of the housing, easy to operate, but it's on or off only, no dimmer modes. We got a sample to play with and the two LEDs are fine for close up work and adequate for finding your way in the dark.
The thin 0.5 inch wide elastic headband is reasonably comfortable and there's a small foam bad at the lamp to ease pressure. A sliding cord-lock type adjuster makes it easy to fit. It's not waterproof, but worked well enough under a light shower. We'd be willing to give up a bit of potential battery life for a third LED and a multi-level illumination switch, but all in all, so far we're impressed with this little guy.
CMG is downsizing its original Infinity to an AAA-cell powered single LED light, the "Sonic" ($20). The anodized aluminum body is 2.25 inches long with an attached split ring and key ring lanyard. Available initially only in black with a white LED, other body colors may follow. There's a rotary switch in the cap and CMG claims the microprocessor controlled circuit will give 12 hours full brightness light from the single AAA-cell alkaline battery.
CMG has also super-sized the Reactor, resulting in the "Reactor 3" ($40) with three AA-cell batteries and a brighter Luxeon LED. CMG claims 20 hours of run time at peak brightness, double the life of the original with two AA-cells. It retains the polycarbonate housing for the head with an anodized aluminum barrel. Black remains the only color choice. Bezel diameter is 1.25 inches, length is 8 inches and it weighs in at 4.45 ounces.
Emissive Energy who produce the Inova line of LED lights was showing off their new "X1" ($25) single LED light (top at right). Powered by a single AA-cell alkaline battery, it uses a reflector and focusing lens to increase effective brightness, with the aforementioned potential drawbacks. The body is anodized aluminum while the head is stainless; the lens is "double coated" glass. Operation is via a tailcap switch mechanism similar to that of the larger X5 (bottom at right). Overall length is 3.9 inches, diameter is 0.72 inch.
The Inova "24/7 LED Smartlight" ($49) is a combination light and signaling device with eight LEDs arrayed in a circle in the octagonal head, four white, two red and two yellow. Modes are: low output white, high output white, a while signal "strobe" at the rate of 60 flashes/minute, white S.O.S. signal, three color signal strobe with alternating colors, two color (red and yellow) "auto signal" and constant on "night vision" red.
Power comes from a single 123-cell lithium battery, approximate size is 2 x 3 x 1 inches. The Smartlight comes with a stainless pocket clip mounted on the back, an elastic headband with hinged (90 degrees) mounting for the light, using that clip, and a plastic mounting bracket that can be permanently affixed with screws or adhesive and to which the light can be clipped.
The literature we received at the show and the sales pitches we overheard
claim that the strobe meets U.S. Coast Guard specifications, which is very true with regards flash rate, but that's the extent of it and we expressed our concern that consumers might be mislead into believing it was Coast Guard Approved, even though they don't make that claim. Since then we have been shown updated literature that drops all mention of the Coast Guard specification and thus there's no likelihood of confusion, for which they are to be commended.
There were three new water-resistant LED lights of interest at Essential Gear. The "Stretch Light" ($25) aims to perform both as a flashlight and a lantern. As a flashlight, the focused lens does a lot with the single white LED, though it has the same drawback as most other focused single LED lights, as previously noted. Its trick is that by sliding the plastic head up, the LED is revealed and it is useable for general area illumination, so long as it isn't a lot of area you want to illuminate. An LED is by its nature a fairly directed source of light, so the amount of light thrown off to the sides is limited. It would likely work for a small tent or even better in a snow cave, but don't expect to light up a room.
The knurled and anodized aluminum case holds three AAA-cell alkaline batteries in a carrier. The plastic tail cap twists about 20 degrees to replace batteries and has a wrist lanyard attached. Switching is via a rotary switch at the top of the body. Bodies are available in black with translucent blue plastic pieces or silver with black plastic. With the light in the closed configuration it is 4.312 inches long; 1.125 inches in diameter and it weighs in at 3 oz. Battery life is given at 1000 hours.
Brunton is also marketing a branded version of this light as the "Lamplight" ($25).
Essential Gear also showed off two aluminum LED "Handtorches." The single LED Handtorch ($25) is has a magnifier lens for improved brightness (drawbacks as previously noted), a rotary head switch and operates for 15 hours on a trio of alkaline button cells. It measures 3.812 inches long with a 0.875 head diameter and weighs 2 oz. A key chain with clip is attached.
The 10 LED Handtorch ($55) operates off four AA-cell
alkaline batteries in a plastic carrier inside the tubular body. A ribbed
rubber sleeve around the grip area provides a sure grip. The dual mode
rubberized pushbutton switch in the head switches on either 3 or 10 LEDs. With three LEDs, burn time is given at 80
hours, with 10 LEDs it is 25 hours. Overall length is 6.625 inches, head
diameter is 1.625 inches while grip diameter is 1.406 inches. It weighs 9 oz. A wrist lanyard is attached.
Litepro's four white LED "Teknolite" ($45) is a sleek ergonomic design, if a bit on the bulky size (7.5 x 1.5 inches) for a triple AA-cell flashlight. As a flashlight, it is typical of the breed with a clear rotary switch head and plastic body. Its claim to fame are the three 8 mm long tritium tubes inside the clear plastic head, spaced equally around the circumference. These glow-in-the-dark, self-illuminating vials allow you to more easily locate the flashlight in the dark.
We took some home and it does work. It's bright enough to be functional, but you'll still need to be fairly close to see it. Certainly handy for those late night, groping in the dark for the light, situations.
The light comes with a wrist tether and the attachment point is located in a recess in the end so that the light will stand on either end. Available in black, yellow, orange, khaki (sort of a light O.D.) and translucent blue.
The big news from David Allen is an alliance formed between the Laughing Rabbit and the Energizer Bunny, or more properly, between Laughing Rabbit, Inc., who produce the Photon LEDlights, and Energizer Holdings, Inc., "the world's largest manufacturer of batteries and flashlights." The agreement allows for technology transfers and Allen will be involved in the development of a new LED "Photon by Energizer" flashlight line for Energizer. L.R.I. will also have access to Energizer's manufacturing capabilities. Said Allen, "this is a win-win situation for both of us."
We were also able to handle a prototype of Photon's new "Freedom," a 4 x AAA cell light with a 2 watt Luxeon Hi-Flux LED. Allen claims this custom microprocessor controlled light will be 95% efficient for longer battery life compared to others on the market. It will be waterproof with an anodized aluminum body. He is aiming for fourth quarter delivery.
New and available now are Photon Micro-Lights in Realtree
Hardwoods HD camouflage cases; just what you need when you drop one. As if black wasn't difficult enough to find... We suppose you can look at it as guaranteed repeat business.
For a company that is synonymous with plastic bodied flashlights and cases, it was a shock to see in Pelican Products' both an aluminum-bodied flashlight. The "M6 Lithium" ($65), another Sure Fire 6P clone, is their first metal-bodied flashlight. Powered by a pair of 123-cell lithium batteries, it is claimed to put out 108 lumens while the literature also gives us a run time of 1 hour.
This appears to us to be a questionable lumen number in terms of being able to use it to compare to other manufacturer's products, the fine print noting that this is an ""un-based lamp measurement," not as installed in the light, which number is at least somewhat useful to consumers and used by a number of other major flashlight manufacturers. In response to our query, Scott Jones of Pelican noted, "due to the lack of standardization in light measuring, it makes it difficult to compare these kinds of figures with other manufactures numbers."
You don't say! We'll go on record here to suggest that it would add considerable legitimacy to the industry, and be a boon to consumers, if the flashlight industry would adopt standardized testing that consumers could rely upon to compare products from different companies.
With a separate lamp and reflector, the M6 offers a focusing beam. The tail cap momentary and constant-on switch incorporates a lock-out to prevent inadvertent activation. Weight is 5.9 oz. It comes with a holster and is available in either silver or black anodizing.
Pelican also showed some new "Headsup Lite" headlamps with
three LEDs and a single Xenon lamp. Basically variations on a theme, the head
assembly can be had with a cloth head strap or a rubber helmet strap,
integrated into a magazine holding 3 x AAA-cell batteries ($35), or a
back-of-the-head pack with 4xAA-cell batteries ($37) or a waist battery pack
holding 4 x D-cell batteries ($45). The different power options provide claimed
run time, LEDs / Xenon respectively, of 50 / 3 hours, 2-3 / 80 hours, and 15 /
400 hours. The head is hinged for 90 degrees vertical adjustment. A "rear tail light" is an available option.
Princeton Tec added a microprocessor controlled single LED mini light to join the existing Pulsar duo. The "Eclipse" ($15) retains the translucent colored body (red, green, blue, white or black), but has a new elliptical shape (suppose that's where the name came from?). The tail is actually a removable plastic clip that snaps onto the light body. This ought to make for easier use; no more fighting a heavy hand full of keys to use the light.
The rubberized push button switch has a 7.5 minute automatic shut-off timer to preclude running down the battery. Not sure how much that will be appreciated when it turns itself off at an inopportune time. It wasn't clear in our brief time with the light how exactly this worked. Modes include high, medium and low intensity and slow or fast blink. LEDs come in white, green, blue and red and it is powered by a pair of lithium coin cells. Run time is given as 12-14 hours.
The "Scout" ($22) is a new twin LED headlamp that uses the same contol unit with the same five operating modes. Available only with white LEDs, it is powered by four lithium coin cells. The hinged housing can be fairly easily removed from the supplied elastic headband and the integral clip can then be used to attach it to your cap, shirt pocket, etc., making it very adaptable to whatever needs present themselves.
Princeton Tec's other new headlamp is the "Yukon" ($40) which offers the choice of three LEDs or a Xenon lamp. The Xenon lamp is focusable, though we weren't able to judge how well that worked. The triple AA-cell battery pack is back-of-the-head mounted on the three-point elastic headband. Both the battery pack and headlamp are waterproof.
The "Impact II" ($25) is their second geenration entry into the focused single LED wars. With four AA-cell batteries, burn time is listed at 75+ hours and weight is only 2.85 ounces. The ergonomic body is very comfortable in the hand, a huge improvement over their older lights. Rated waterproof to 500 feet. Body colors are translucent blue, yellow, blue and black.
Streamlight introduced a host of new lights, including five LED and Xenon combinations with the moniker "Twin-Tasks." Common features include anodized aluminum bodies in "titanium" (color, not metal) or black, prominent knurling over the entire length of the body, rubberized pushbutton switch in the head, facetted reflector, adjustable spot-to-flood focus, polycarbonate lens, wrist lanyard and o-ring seals for water resistance (they don't claim waterproof).
The switch is three function on the smaller lights: off, LEDs and Xenon; four function on the larger lights: off, few LEDs, all LEDs, Xenon. For long battery life and low to moderate illumination, use LEDs. For traditional incandescent beam-throwing illumination, use the Xenon lamp and take a big hit in the battery life department. The focusing reflector also allows adjustment from narrow to wider beam, even to a limited extent with the LEDs.
The Twin-Task range, from small to large:
"1-Cell Lithium" ($35) 1 x 3 volt 123-cell lithium, 3 LEDs (9.5 hr run time), 1 Xenon (1.5 hr. run time), 4 oz./112 gr.
"2-Cell Lithium" ($50) 2 x 3 volt 123-cell lithium, 3 LEDs (28 hr run time), 1 Xenon (2.5 hr. run time), 5.4 oz./152 gr.
"3AA" ($40) 3 x 1.5 volt AA-cell alkaline, 3 LEDs (80 hr run time), 1 Xenon (2.6 hr. run time), 6.7 oz./191 gr.
"3C" ($50) 3 x 1.5 volt C-cell alkaline, 3 LEDs (160 hr run time), 6 LEDs (100 hr run time), 1 Xenon (5 hr. run time), 15.8 oz./449 gr.
"2D" ($60) 2 x 1.5 volt D-cell alkaline, 5 LEDs (80 hr run time), 10 LEDs (50 hr run time), 1 Xenon (9.5 hr. run time), 22.3 oz./632 gr.
Then there's the "3AA Luxeon Task-Light" ($55), same basic construction but using a single Luxeon Star LED claimed to put out 35 lumens, 3 x 1.5 volt AA-cell alkalines with "up to 28 hours" run time and weighing in at 6.3 oz./180 gr.
Streamlight also added LED power to their ProPolymer line that retains the polymer plastic body (in black, OD and yellow), rubberized tail switch and black rubberized head, just substituting the LEDs for the Xenon lamps with the exception of the 3N model which also substitutes three N-cells for the two AA-cells to get the required voltage in the same package. The three lights include:
"3C LED" ($55), 10 LEDs, 3 x 1.5 volt C-cells, 336 hours run time, 13.5 oz.
"4AA LED" ($40) 7 LEDs, 4 x 1.5 volt AA-cells, 155 hours run time, 6.3 oz.
"3N LED" ($25) 3 LEDs, 3 x 1.5 volt N-cells, 120 hours run time, 2.1 oz.
The single LED "Key-Mate" ($15) has a short anodized aluminum body (titanium or black) with a skeletonized pocket clip, included key chain, rotary head switch and focusing optics for a brighter, though narrow, beam. Power comes from four button cells giving it a claimed 96 hours run time. It is available with a white, blue or green LED. Overall length is 2.36 inches with a 0.728-inch diameter head and 0.56-inch diameter body, weighing in at 0.9 oz.
Streamlight presented a new series of anodized aluminum (shinney black or O.D.) bodied tactical lights, the "Tactical Light (TL) Series" (very original naming) and "Nightfighter (NF) Series". All feature focusable reflectors, flood to spot. The tail cap momentary push button switch is recessed so it doesn't protrude, decreasing the chance for inadvertent activation. There's a removeable pocket clip and adjustable wrist lanyard. The NF-2 ($75) is essentially the TL-2 with a adjustable rubber ring for one-handed combat operations. The body seemed a bit bulky for that sort of hold, but we didn't have time to draw firm conclusions in this regard.
The TL series comes in both double (TL-2) and triple (TL-3) 123-cell lithium battery powered models with either Xenon lamp ($75 and $100)) or Luxeon Star LED($100 and $175). Streamlight claims 100 lumens output for the xenon TL-2 and NF-2 and 175 lumens for the TL-3. The TL-2 LED has a 1 watt Luxeon with a claimed 22 lumens, the TL-3 LED is fitted with a 5 watt Luxeon putting out a claimed 85 lumens. The xenon lights are rated for 1 hour run time, the Luxeon LED lights for 4 hours, plus another 50 at declining brightness levels. We are sceptical of the lumen ratings for all but the 1 watt Luxeon as they seem so far out of line with others in the industry and our experience. See our previous comments on the subject.
Streamlight introduced two new headlamps, both built upon the same polymer body. The can behind the head holds the three AAA-cell batteries with the head forward. The body is hinged at the base and can rotate 90 degrees down from vertical. The pushbutton switch is on top of the head. Both weight in at 5 oz.
The "Trident" ($35) comes in a green or yellow body, the former with one green LED, two white LEDs and a Xenon lamp, the latter with three white LEDs and the Xenon lamp. Switch operation is off, 1 LED (green in the case of the green body), 2 or 3 white LEDs or the Xenon lamp. The yellow bodied Trident is also available with a rubber hard hat strap instead of the normal elastic head strap. Run time is claimed to be 120 hours with 1 LED, 60 or 40 hours for the 2 or 3 white LED operation, respectively, and 2.25 hours for the Xenon lamp.
The "Septor" ($50) is available only with the yellow body and is equipped with seven white LEDs. These can be operated with one, three or all seven illuminated, giving 120, 72 or 22 hours run time, respectively.
The "Stylus" ($21) is now available only in a triple AAAA-cell body (black, silver or gold) with either a white, blue, red or green LED. It now comes with a rubber "glare guard sleeve" that slips over the end if desired to prevent light from shining to the sides of the exposed LED. For those with older Styluses, the glare guard is also available as an optional accessory for $2.
The "Stylus Reach" ($30) adds a flexible 14-inch gooseneck extension to the end of the Stylus for peeking down holes, tight places and the like. It also works to position the light as needed for no-hands illumination. A plastic clip allows you to hold the remote head to the body for storage. Available in black or silver body with either a blue or white LED.
While we like the Stylus for some uses, the slim
AAAA-cell batteries are still not the easiest to find when you finally need to
Another competitor in the tactical flashlight market showed for the first time, though we were told by Sunbrite that they have been in production since 1993. Sunbrite showed their line of mostly rechargeable lights, taking delight in tossing them onto the floor while on the demonstrate that the bulb won't break, an advantage they claim over some others. Basic specs are familiar with black knurled aluminum bodies, polycarbonate lens and tail cap switch. The Xenon bulb is not pre-focused, it is separate from the reflector, and a spare bulb is housed in the tail cap. This also allows a focusable beam, from narrow spot to flood. We were not able to assess how good beam quality was, often an issue with a focusable light.
Sunbrite told us when we asked that the lights are "water-resistant to at least 50 feet" using double silicone o-rings for sealing. The rechargeable lights come with a two-stage smart charger for the ni-cad batteries that recharges the light to 80% in two hours and the remaining 100% in three hours. The batteries are charged in the light, no need to remove them. Contact is via a ring of exposed aluminum on the body and through the aluminum push button in the tail cap. There is no way to charge a spare battery separately from the light, however.
The "Sun Fire 206-Li" ($74) is the smallest light, 4.85 inches in length with a body diameter of 1 inch and a head diameter of 1.18 inch. This is the sole non-rechargeable, powered by a pair of 123-cell lithium batteries and putting out 65 lumens for 1 hour. Weight is 4.9 oz.
The "Sun Fire 206-RF" ($156) adds rechargeable capability to the previous light with a body extension and charger. Overall length is now 6.85 inches and weight is up to 7.4 oz. It produces 50 lumens for 35 minutes. In a pinch you can unscrew the body extension, slip in a pair of lithium batteries and get back to work.
Next up the evolutionary chain is the "Sun Fire 206-RFX" ($177) which grows the 206 series to 8.85 inches overall, weighing in at 14 oz. The added battery capacity allows for 70 minutes of run time at 55 lumens. It too can be converted back to lithium power.
Top dog for Sunbrite is the "Sun Flare 306-RF" ($176),
producing 125 lumens for 55 minutes. It is 9.5 inches overall length with a
1.25 inch diameter body and 1.75 inch diameter head, and weighs in at 20 oz.
The Luxeon was star at Sure Fire's booth, with four prototypes of 5-watt Luxeon Lambertian High Dome powered lights. The goal is to provide approximately 60 lumens of light output, the same available light as produced by the incandescent E2 and nearly as much as the original 6P.
The key is how best to use this relatively diffuse light source. Sure Fire's solution is to provide a variety of reflector sizes. The smaller reflectors provide a more diffuse flood light while the larger ones give a tighter spot beam.
For now, the new model L1 "LumaMax" ($125) is the sole Luxeon powered light you can get from Sure Fire. This is essentially the original KL1 1-watt Luxeon conversion head (designed to fit the E1 and E2 bodies) mated to the E1 single lithium battery powered body with the addition of a two-stage digitally controlled switch. Press the switch half way (or twist the tail cap part way in) and you get a low level of illumination for close-up work. Depress the switch all the way (or twist the tail cap fully in) and it fully illuminates, providing its maximum reported 17 lumens. Run time at full illumination on the low-beam setting is 50 hours, 5 hours on high beam. Available in black or OD hard anodized, overall length is 4.75 inches (12 cm) and it weighs in at 2.9 oz. (82 g).
The model A2 "Aviator" ($175) combines a trio of LEDs with an incandescent lamp, offering a choice of lower level diffuse illumination, 3 to 5 lumens depending upon color, or a bright 50 lumen spot. The LEDs are available in white, red or green, the latter two for added assist in protecting night vision. As with the L1 above, control is via the digitally controlled switch in the tail cap. The L1 is a bit shorter than the A2.
Powered by a pair of 123-cell lithium batteries, run time on the LEDs is given as 15 hours followed by 30 hours of "minimal " output; for the incandescent it's 1 hour. Sure Fire claims the digital control provides a "soft start" of the incandescent lamp instead of a potentially damaging voltage spike, which extends the life of the lamp. Overall length is 5.6 inches; weight is 4 oz.
For those who fret over the high cost of 3 volt 123-cell lithium batteries used in
many of the Sure Fire lights, as well as many other manufacturers' tactical/sports lights, Sure
Fire has an answer. You can now purchase Sure Fire branded batteries (the exact same batteries as made and sold by... well, it's a "secret," but you get the idea) in bulk (boxes of 12) directly from Sure Fire for $15, only $1.25 each. Given their 10-year shelf life, it may be worth stocking up while the getting is good.
Tektite was once again extending the line with new lights and optics in their existing bodies.
If brighter is better, then the "Excursion Pro" ($200) with 19 white LEDs might fit the bill. If that weren't enough, the light from the LEDs is then focused using a Micro Fresnel Magnifying Lens Insert under the Lexan head (see image at right). Three D-cells are contained in the aluminum body which is machined from a solid billet. They should provide "over 20 hours of bright light, plus an additional 30 hours of usable light." Double O-ring seals on the head give it a dive rating to 1,000 feet. The head serves as the rotary switch. Overall length is 10.25 inches, head diameter is 1.875 inches and it weighs in at a hefty 1 lb. 8 oz. Anodized in either silver or black, each is individually serial numbered. A rubberized glare shield is also included.
The "Expedition 1900 LTD" ($175) is the exact same package slimmed down with three C-cells. Run time on the smaller batteries is 12 hours at full power. Tektite's excellent wrist lanyard is included. Overall length is 7.75 inches, head diameter is 1.9 inches. This same package is also available in the traditional Tektite plastic body as the "Expedition 1900" ($150).
Tektite also now offers the Expedition plastic body in Realtree camouflage.
For those of you who already own an earlier model Expedition 300, 1400, 1900 or CC EXPEDITION (C. Crane model), you can upgrade to the new Micro Fresnel Magnifying Lens Insert that is claimed to tighten the beam by 40% and increase beam throw. Includes the Rubber Glare Guard as well for $10.
The "Expedition Star" ($70) adds the 1 watt Luxeon Star and a focusing "Narrow Beam" 6-degree optical lens to the 3 x C-cell Expedition body. Claimed output is 18-23 lumens. If that's not enough, the "Expedition Star Plus" ($90) is listed at "23+" lumens.
The single LED "Micra Lithium Survival Light"" ($35) and "Mini Trek" ($30) are now fitted with a new reflector and an optical magnifier lens for better performance, claimed equal to a double LED light. The Micra runs on a single 3.6 volt lithium battery; the Mini Trek uses three AAA-cells. Expect the light to run "10 hours at full brightness and provide another 75 hours of usable light." Both come with a Glare Shield and bungee wrist lanyard. The Mini Trek is equipped with an integral pocket or cap clip.
More new LED lights from Zweibrüder, designed in Germany, made in China and distributed over here by Coast Cutlery (got that straight?), and we get only a portion of their product line. The LED-Lenser additions included:
The "V12 Triplex Torch" ($26) with triple LEDs (white or blue), 5.5 inches long is powered by two AA-cells. Take the head off that and add a hing and a headband and you get the "Triplex Headlamp" ($36) with white LEDs only and with a separate battery pack mounted at the rear of the elastic headstrap.
Zweibrüder's "360ş Flex Torch" moves the single white LED head to the end of a flexible gooseneck and comes in three sizes, all with pocket clips and rubberized pushbutton switches: "Small" ($18) has a 2.375 inch body and a 3.625 inch flex neck, power by three button cells. This is small enough to attach to a cap's bill for handy no-hands use. "Medium" ($24) has a 2.75 inch body with a 3.75 inch flex neck, essentially the same torch with longer lasting power from three N-cell batteries. "Large" ($24) has a 5.5 inch body with a 13.625 inch long gooseneck. It has a larger reflector head for a bigger beam and the two AA-cell batteries provide even longer life.
The "V2 Power Chip" (no price available) is Zweibrüder's first Luxeon light and is equipped with a unique lens having a hollow cone in the center. Overall length is 5.437 inches and power is supplied from three N-cell batteries.
The single LED "V1 Zoom Lenser," ($15) powered by four button cells, adds a sliding optical lens offering either narrow or wider focus. At least theoretically, this is a better solution compared to the fixed optical lens we've seen so often which results in such a very concentrated beam that is often impractical for actual use.
The top of the line is now the "V2 16 Chip" ($60) equipped with sixteen LEDs. Each LED has its own tiny reflector. The stainless body holds three C-cells. Overall length is 9 inches with a head diameter of 2.25 inches. It comes with a nylon and clear plastic sheath if you worry about scratching up that sleek surface.
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Publisher and Editor: Doug Ritter
Email: Doug Ritter
First Published: March 10, 2003
Revision: 02 June 4, 2003
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