August 26th, 2006 05:48 PM
Flashlight Review: Borealis
I recently received a flashlight dubbed 'Borealis'. The name 'Borealis' comes from the term Aurora Borealis with is more commonly known as the Northern Lights. If you have never seen the Northern Lights, then let me tell, they put anyone at awe. They are an amazing sight to see. Similar the Northern Lights, the Borealis flashlight is something that many people will look at in awe. Sound over the top? Maybe it is. But, let me tell you, my wife could care less about flashlights (unless there is a power outage) and when I turned on my Borealis her eyes lit up (no, not because of the intense light). She actually said,”Wow, I'm impressed.” That is an amazing feat, to impress my wife. Enough about that, lets talk about the light.
The Borealis looks innocent enough in its 3D cell Mag-Lite body. But when you look closer, you see that there is much more going on inside this light. From the outside the only difference you can see is the LOP (light orange peel) reflector, and bulb. The reflector is aluminum with a coating over the shiny part. Like all flashlights, if you touch the shiny part of the reflector it will never go back to normal. Also the reflector is of the camless variety, meaning that twisting the head won't push the bulb up and down for adjustment. You can still adjust the beam from spot to flood by turning the head but, the bulb stays in same place in relation to the body of the light.
The bulb is a Welch Allyn 1185 which is rated for 9.6 volts. At 9.6 volts this lamp puts out 816 lumens and has a life of about 50 hours. Remember thats at 9.6 volts. This light drives the lamp at closer to 12 volts, bringing the lumens to 1050. You may be wondering how badly that hurts the bulbs life. Well, not that bad actually. I asked the make of this light how long the bulb lasts and he stated 35 hours. My light has 28 hours and counting. The bulb handles being overdriven very very well.
The lens has been replaced as well. It is made of Pyrex and is formed in such a way that it is very very resistant to heat shock. The lens is more specifically called a borafloat lens, referring to the method used to make and for the lens. It may not mean much to a lot of people but rest assured, with the amount of heat coming out of this thing, you won't have to worry about the lens busting. That is, unless you do something really stupid, like try to light a newspaper on fire. Yes the flashlight puts out enough light to set paper on fire but don't do it.
That is how I broke my lens and had to order a new one. It is dangerous and stupid. It does prove one point though, this flashlight is bright and with all bright flashlights, you need to be careful about how you pack this thing. If you leave it in a bag where it could be accidentally turned on, then unscrew the tail cap just enough so that it won't come on in transport. There are several stories of Surefire flashlights coming on in peoples pockets and burning a whole though the material. Just be cautious about handling any high intensity flashlights. Which brings me to another warning, don't flash this or any other flashlights in someones eyes. Especially your wife's. You are liable and very likely to get a black eye as a result.
“What is this thing running on?”, you ask. Well, I'll tell you. Nine AA rechargeable batteries. They come in a neat little battery carrier and they are stacked in series to bring the voltage up to 12 volts. Now you may be wondering, a AA is 1.5 volts and 9x1.5=13.5 volts so, why do I keep saying 12? Simple, you don't want to use this light right of the charger, It is going to be too much for the bulb. If it doesn't just flash and blow instantly then it will dramatically shorten the life of the bulb. If you wait about 1 ½ hours after the batteries are off the chargers, the batteries will calm down and stick around 12 volts. Now if you don't want to wait that long, there is another option. Juan sells a bleeder lamp. Basically it is a lamp that you can plug into the battery carrier to bleed off the extra power. You plug it in for 40 seconds and you're ready to go. Here are pics of the battery carrier, charger, and bleeder lamp.
The charger plugs into the negative end of the battery carrier. There are two different kinds of chargers. There is a quick RC charger and the one I have. It is slower but still not bad. The quick charger takes about 1 ½ hours to charge while the one I have takes about 4 ½ hours. On mine, while the batteries are charging the LED indicator on the charger will be red. When it is done charging it will blink green. At that point it will start a trickle charge. Since these batteries are NiMH, they don't need to be trickle charged so I take them off the charger as soon as I can. Pretty simple and straight forward. Here is a picture of the charger connected to the battery carrier.
I almost forgot. I said earlier that the bulb stayed in one spot compared to the body. Well there is a reason. The stock bulb holder in the mag-lite has been replaced with something new a more robust. Here is a picture.
After all that, you would think the flashlight would be bright enough, right? No! Juan went even further and modified the switch itself so there is as little resistance as possible between the bulb and batteries. Everything has been gone over with De-Oxit and Progold to further reduce resistance and keep the contacts from oxidizing. You don't find that in production flashlights. Juan takes a lot of time and plays some serious attention to detail on each flashlight.
So, now I suppose your wondering just how bright this thing really is. I'll tell you, then I'll show you. We have a decent sized back yard. Maybe 200 feet from my back door to the fence. I have struggled for a flashlight bright enough so I could see well when I let our dogs out. I have used everything I have from a Surefire G2, A2, Streamlight Propolymer 4AA Lux LED, TL-2 LED, and many many more. Well, this think obviously puts all of them to shame. It lights up out back yard light it was daylight. Absolutely spectacular. Here are some comparison pictures between my Surefire A2 (90 lumens) and the Borealis (1050 lumens)
Borealis on left, A2 on right.
Same as above only underexposed.
As you can see, the Borealis completely dominates over the Surefire A2. This is the brightest flashlight I've ever seen. There are many many applications I can see for this light. Many times you see Law Enforcement carrying a tired old mag-light that isn't even rechargeable and when they turn it on, you notice that sickly yellow beam. This is a huge upgrade. What makes this even better is that it can still be used as a club/impact device. It could even make for and excellent search light for SAR teams. Here in my local, we don't have many stretches where you see more than 5-600 yards. On a recent trip to the Lake of the Ozarks I lit up trees that were easily 500 yards away. I could see animals eyes light up. Power outages? This thing pointed at the ceiling lights up a room as good as a 100 Watt light bulb.
Just in case anyone is really really curious, here is proof you can make fire from this flashlight. (Warning:
Don't try this at home.)
Here is the setup.
It will start smoldering in just a few seconds.
continued in next post.
August 26th, 2006 05:49 PM
And here you see fire. :)
For more info on the Borealis please check here
Last edited by clipse; August 26th, 2006 at 05:55 PM.
August 26th, 2006 06:42 PM
Nice review clipse! I love the idea of that flashlight. I have been wanting one but haven't gotten one yet.
Train and train hard, you might not get a second chance to make a first impression!
I vote for Monica Lewinsky's Ex-Boyfriend's Wife for President.....Not!
August 28th, 2006 09:07 AM
Originally Posted by Ti Carry
You won't be disappointed when you do. :)
August 28th, 2006 09:49 AM
Thx once more for a great write-up - most comprehensive.
I was thinking re the rechargeables - if NiCd then they would never have a potential of 1.5V - from their base potential of 1.2 nominal they rise to about 1.38V post charge, settling to perhaps 1.35V. .... so a series 9 pack then delivers 12.15V. In fact NiMh would be similar.
Chris - P95
NRA Certified Instructor & NRA Life Member.
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August 28th, 2006 09:03 PM
P95 I agree with you in theory, but I beleive they chose NiMh, due to the steady current. A NiCd will begin to loose it's ability to provide peak current soon after discharge begins.
A NiMh will provide near peak discharge, until it is nearly discharged, then it will taper off quickly.
In the case of these flashlights, you will get nearly the same output when the batteries are 75%+ discharged as you will when they are fresh.
On a NiCd setup, 75% discharged batteries would be very noticably dimmer.
August 29th, 2006 10:36 AM
I believe this is true. I get about 40 minutes before the light starts to dim. At least that I can tell. Once that happens I start charging again.
Originally Posted by GoodSamaritan
as for the voltage. I think your right. I may have misread the instructions. I'll take another look at them tonight.
August 29th, 2006 02:41 PM
September 13th, 2006 07:28 PM
September 21st, 2006 02:38 PM
Hey Black Bear, I think I saw a website once. Do you still have it? What's the cost on these, and are you offering the 2-D version again?
I'd love to get one,Thanks.
I'll keep my freedom, my liberty, and my guns. You can keep the change.
September 26th, 2006 01:35 PM
Black Bear Modified Maglite
Having read the article about Black Bear and his Maglites (sorry Borealis) I must input my praise for this man. I odered a modified 951 II Mag from him early in the year Juan could not have been more helpful. I am in the UK and his service was impeccable, every e-mail carefully replied to, and every query answered. The "light" duly arrived with the Rolls Royce battery carrier and charger.I followed his instructions to the letter and was gobsmacked (Engish slang!?) with the utter power of this product.At this time in the UK only the CRIMINALS have the guns, so any thing to respond with is useful and this light flashed in the eyes will stun a potential attacker for a few vital seconds, and if this does'nt work you resort to bashing him with the Maglite!
Anyway. nuff said Juan's the MAN!, get one You will not be disappointed.
September 26th, 2006 01:45 PM
wow ! I bet you can't hold that light within 1 foot of your crotch for fear of steralization...LOL...
a truly impressive lamp...
September 28th, 2006 10:00 AM
Originally Posted by skunkworks
Thank you for your interest, I will be working soon in a web-site, I still have the Black Bear 678 (actually 720 lumens with the new Pro-Gold and lowering the resistance) in the "host" of the M@G 2 D.
This light uses a shorter version of the Rolls Royce (6 batteries) and will run for 30 to 35 minutes. (10 inches long)
It is available only in black and red.
Here is a picture of it
For more information, please E-mail me at:
Also see my thread in this forum, here is the link:
Thank you for your appreciation of the BOREALIS and your kind words.
October 16th, 2006 02:53 PM
October 16th, 2006 10:00 PM
Black Bear was kind enough to send me two of his lights for review in CCM. The 951 is the most impressive flashlight I have ever seen in terms of light output and throw -- not to mention workmanship. I have a golf course behind my house and I can light up the course like daylight and have useable searchlight for at least 300 yards. Wow! This thing makes the SureFire P61 high output lamp look like a pen-light by comparision.
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