The Best & Brightest

Mini-Blinkers to Mega-Blasters.

About a decade ago, when lithium batteries and LEDs were the new wave in illumination tools, you could squeeze 80 lumens of light out of two 123A lithium batteries, and it would run for around an hour with erratic performance as the batteries lost power. Today that same size little tactical light powered by two identical batteries can deliver 600 lumens almost twice as long, offering multiple light levels and a strobe function, with its consistent power assured by a microprocessor controlled regulator. And the price? About the same as that 80-lumen light of yesterday.

Every season brings surprises in flashlights, and sometimes a game-changing leap in technology. Here’s an array of lights from mini to mighty, to fit one or more niches in your illumination needs.


The tiny Streamlight Microstream is always there when you need it.

Streamlight Microstream

I carried an original Streamlight Microstream clipped to my T-shirt collar or in a shirt pocket daily for several years. Although it was my least expensive light, it was by far the one I used most—and would least want to be without. Finally, the pocket clip broke, but Streamlight must have seen me coming, because the new C4 model has an unbreakable clip, with another advantage too: The clip is a “double-folded” design, so you can pocket-clip the Microstream lens down, or reverse-clip it to a cap brim for an instant hands-free light. And, C4 technology has bumped power from 20 to 28 lumens from the single AAA battery and nearly doubled the runtime.

It’s 3.5″ long and only weighs an ounce, yet it’s O-ring sealed for water resistance, virtually shockproof and has an unbreakable polycarbonate lens. I typically use mine for five to 30 seconds at a time, and at that rate you’ll get a lot of service out of its 2.25-hour runtime. Listing at $28, it’s often on sale for less, making it a best buy in featherweight lights.


The Dark Energy DE-01 from SOG Knives produces 214
lumens from a single 123A lithium battery.

SOG Dark Energy

At just 3.8″ long and 3 ounces in weight, the “Dark Energy” DE-01 flashlight by SOG Knives is a stout, stubby chunk of hard-anodized, aggressively checkered aluminum that puts out an amazing 214 lumens from a single 123A lithium battery. The tailcap switch controls momentary and constant-on, and half-taps will quickly cycle you through high, at 214 lumens, low at 40-percent light, and disorienting strobe mode. Runtime is 80 minutes on high, and 180 on low, and retail is a reasonable $105 for this tough little blinder.


Streamlight’s ProTac HL produces an incredible 600 lumens
from two lithium batteries, plus user-programmability.

ProTac HL

The latest in Streamlight’s ProTac series of tactical flashlights is the ProTac HL, or “High Lumen Output” model, and it sure delivers on that, wringing 600 blazing lumens out of two 123A lithium batteries. All the usual Streamlight features are there, like power-regulating C4 technology, aircraft-quality aluminum construction with a hard-anodized finish, shock suppression, waterproofing to IPX7 standard, and an anti-roll facecap, plus this: The default mode as shipped gives you momentary or constant-on high power at 600 lumens, strobe mode, then low power at 35 lumens, all activated with rapid taps on the tailcap and push-to-click for constant-on.

But with their new Ten-Tap programming built into the switch, you can program it to change from Hi-Strobe-Lo to high power only, or low to high. It’s easy; even I can do it. That’s a lot of smarts and a ton of power out of a 5.6-ounce, 5.4″ package! Shop around, because although the HL lists for $130, it’s often on sale.


Designed for law enforcement, the “dual-fuel” R1 Lawman by
SureFire is a rechargeable, which also runs on standard lithium batteries.

SureFire R1 Lawman

Designed for law enforcement, SureFire’s R1 Lawman carries a hefty price tag, but it also packs hefty features in a virtually bombproof package that’s a versatile, multi-function, long-term performer. Rechargeable flashlights save lots of money on batteries, but owners also run the risk of running out of juice in a “juice-free environment.” That’s not a problem with the dual-fuel Lawman: it will also run on two disposable or rechargeable lithium 123A batteries. With a little planning, you’ll never be left in the dark.

Charging is as simple as plugging a pin-type connector into the R1’s body, and both AC—with international adaptors—and a DC vehicle charger are provided. The precision micro-textured reflector maximizes the unit’s peak output of 750 lumens with a piercing spot and wide-beam combination. There are two control switches: The tailcap switch activates the 750-lumen output, with a press for momentary and twist for constant-on, while the head-mounted switch lets you cycle from high to 150 lumens medium and 15 lumens at low power. A rapid triple-tap on the tailcap activates a dazzling strobe function. Both switches are user-programmable so you can select your own menu of modes. Runtimes at all light levels are generous, and power is microprocessor managed.
The Lawman is 8.1″ long and weighs 10.2 ounces. It is, of course, Mil-Spec hard anodized and both O-ring and gasket sealed against dust and moisture, retailing for $455.


If you need maximum range and power, Sightmark’s
versatile H2000 delivers paint-blistering light.

Duty H2000

Two thousand lumens… Yup; you read that right: 2,000 paint-blistering lumens that’ll reach deep into that ravine, across the river or down the highway. Sightmark’s latest addition to their Triple Duty (tactical, hunting and competition) series is the H2000, a rechargeable unit using three powerful Cree T-6 LEDs in its oversized reflector. It features three selectable light levels of 2,000 lumens on high, 1,150 on medium and 270 on low power, though “low” and “270 lumens” don’t seem to belong in the same phrase. There are three modes—steady beam, strobe and SOS, all controlled from the same tailcap switch, and available in momentary and constant-on. Strobe and SOS modes always run at 2,000 lumens.

The two rechargeable lithium batteries must be removed and charged in the supplied cradle, and the light will run at maximum power for 1 hour on a full charge. The H2000 is relatively light and agile at 20.5 ounces, and the grip is enhanced with checkering and knurling. It is built shock-resistant for use as a weapon-mounted light, and comes with a rail mount, a pressure switch, and three color filters: red for night varmint hunting and vision preservation, green for use in heavy foliage, and blue for illuminating blood trails. The unit is waterproof, with Type II Mil-Spec anodizing, and comes with a limited lifetime warranty. Retail is only $179.99.
By John Connor

Streamlight Inc.
30 Eagleville Rd., Eagleville, PA 19403
(800) 523-7488

SOG Specialty Knives & Tools LLC
6521 212th St. S.W., Lynwood, WA 98036
(888) 405-6433

SureFire LLC
18300 Mount Baldy Cir.
Fountain Valley, CA 92708
(800) 828-8809

Sellmark Corporation
2203 Heritage Pkwy., Mansfield, TX 76063
(817) 225-0310

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