February 21st, 2007 09:14 PM
Lights For Law Enforcement / Tactical Flashlight Review
LIGHTS FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT:
This post will try to show how different lights used in law enforcement compare with each other, and will clarify the difference between the lumen ratings used in Luxeon (LED) lights and incandescent lights.
In short, I will show (through pictures) how Luxeons lack definition when used at increased distances.
I have maintained for a long time that LED Luxeons donít have the range over the incandescent to really be helpful for law enforcement. They are excellent lights to use inside the house; their beams are very clean, white and with substantial flood, and in the average house, that is all you need. However, when taken outside to the backyard, woods, or large structure and the distance to the target is 25 yards or more, they lack definition (as they lack the red spectrum of light), and their poor penetration of fog or rain makes them inefficient to clearly identify what you are seeing at that distance.
Moreover, when the subject being illuminated is an animal with a light-drinking fur (depth of texture), the blending effect of the LEDís (against the background) will cause the observer to lose perspective.
LOW LIGHT FOR WRITING
As the maker of Black Bear Flashlights, I have had the input of hundred of police officers that tell me what they really need to perform their functions at night.
What those experienced officers want are three lights that will cover specific illumination chores.
First, when writing a ticket at night, or looking for a dropped pencil in the floor of their own car or any other close up chore, they want a flood light in LED form: small and with an output of 20 lumens or less (LED lumens), and preferably with a clip incorporated to free both hands for holding the pad and writing.
LEOís that have used my Fenix LOP (1 AAA) consider this light ideal (except for the lack of a clip). Another favorite is the ARC AAA. These lights can be held in the mouth without any discomfort.
Fenix has put out a bigger light (1 AA) with two stages output, and the lower output will be also ideal for these chores.
THE BELT LIGHT
Those same officers want to have a good light on their belt. Some prefer the two cell 123ís lights like the Surefire 6P, G2, or C-2 for their better flood beam over the more tightly focused Streamlight Scorpion, TL-2 and Night Fighter II (it is important for them to be able to cover an average room with the light, without the need of panning it).
They look for a run time of one hour and an output of 65 lumens.
Some opt for more intense lights like the Surefire 9P or the C-3 with their 105 lumens and one hour run time.
The Streamlight TL-3 is a little too tightly focused for clearing rooms, but it will do fine in an average backyard.
In LED form (Luxeon V), the Surefire L-4 is a good contender due to the excellent flood light that it puts out at medium range inside a house.
The main thing is that the officers want to avoid losing precious seconds by panning a light when entering a room. That is why the Surefires are preferred over the tightly focused others brands.
THE CAR LIGHT
These police officers wear a light holder in their belt (a plastic and leather ring). On exiting their cars, they slip in the ring one of the powerful rechargeable lights, most commonly the Magcharger (200 lumens) or the Ultra Stinger (295 lumens) and those that favor my products, a BOREALIS 1050 lumens.
Those are ideal lights for search, clearing houses, backyards, warehouses etc. Being rechargeable, they are always used with a maximum run time (taken out of the charger at start of the shift), a thing that you can not do with 123 batteries unless you are willing to dump half-used batteries at the start of a shift.
Their large diameter (2 inches) reflectors put more light at a longer distance than any of the belt lights. Even though some of the belt lights approach 200 lumens, they do it with reduced run time and much reduced throw, due to their small diameter reflectors.
A Magcharger will put a spot of light at 150 yards, as will the Ultra Stinger and a BOREALIS, which has the capability of illuminating the whole road for 250 yards.
Those lights are ideal for traffic stops, accident sites and the ones with major lumen output can even illuminate through heavily tinted windows.
Lets start with the popular Surefire G-2 (or 6 P) at 65 lumens, the target is the 8 by 12 tool shed at 30 yards.
We are going to pit the Surefire G-2 65 lumens $35.00 against the Surefire Digital Lumamax L-4 (also 65 lumens and with a price tag of $160.00).
Surefire G-2 65 lumens
Surefire L-4 Luxeon V, LED, 65 lumens
And now we are going to pit the Surefire 6 P with the P-61 120 lumen lamp (20 minutes run time) against the best Luxeon LED thrower that I have (similar to the cree LED).
This is a Mc Gizmo PR T head with a TWOJ bin Luxeon doing 120 plus lumens.
Surefire Centurion C-2 (same as the 6P) with the P-61 lamp, 120 lumens.
And the PR T with TWOJ bin Luxeon, (LED) @ 120 lumens
And now we are going to show a belt light of 200 lumens (The Surefire Centurion III with the P-91 lamp, 200 lumens, 20 minutes run) and three cars' lights of 200 lumens plus and beyond.
Surefire Centurion C-III, 200 lumens P-91 lamp.
And here the Magcharger also 200 lumens, with its bigger reflector and tighter focus will throw the light at 150 yards, while the Centurion III range will stop at 45 or 50 yards.
Magcharger 200 lumens (40,000 candlepowers)
And here is the Ultra Stinger, the most powerful of the rechargeables from Streamlight with 295 lumens and 75,000 candlepower.
And now the BOREALIS, the light that I provide my customers, with the format of a 3 D (12 1/2 inches long) outputting 1050 lumens for 50 minutes.
And even that they have been there all along thru the shootout of the lights, you can see them for the first time. My assistant is at the left of the tool shed, leaning on the second tree, and the Bear's head is hanging from the tree to the right of the shed.
Do I need to say anything about the importance of a powerful light when clearing a backyard or wooded area?
February 21st, 2007 11:56 PM
Wow, I need BOREALIS for night patrol! Would I need to hard wire the charger, or can it be moved from car to car?
February 22nd, 2007 12:05 AM
Love the comparison pics - most informative.
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February 22nd, 2007 12:17 AM
Excellent post....most informative!
Thanks for the leg work and time put in....it is appreciated!
February 22nd, 2007 01:12 AM
Next you should take on spot lights. The led lights have there place but when you need some candle power it sure is nice to have it. I use a 4-C cell led mag light for work. It is impervious to shock but the beam is real tight (almost like a laser) and dose not throw much peripheral light. Any chance of making a bicycle light or there ordinances against too much light on a non motor vehicle.
-Diplomacy: The art of saying nice dogie until you can find a rock.
-The truth is a three edged sword.
-Your brain is your primary weapon everything else is just a tool.
-When the only tool you have is a hammer then everything starts to look like a nail.
February 22nd, 2007 07:57 AM
I never knew that chooseing a light could be so complicated.The compaeison pictures are great. Thanks for your input.
February 22nd, 2007 03:58 PM
Hi guys, thank you for your appreciation of my efforts.
A inexpensive power invertor ($15 to $30) can be used to plug the charger in any car, it will convert electricity to 110 volts and the charger will charge the batteries in 1 1/2 hours.
I did a comparison shoot out between spotlights and the BOREALIS.
I used the regular setting on the camera not to overpower it.
But it is great for comparisons.
Here is the thread in combat carry.
Best regards to all
February 23rd, 2007 12:00 AM
DOH! forgot about that one lol.
-Diplomacy: The art of saying nice dogie until you can find a rock.
-The truth is a three edged sword.
-Your brain is your primary weapon everything else is just a tool.
-When the only tool you have is a hammer then everything starts to look like a nail.
February 23rd, 2007 10:59 AM
I think you have written this very well and its a great read. A few things I would like to note though. The Streamlight Scorpion has an adjustable beam so you can get a very similar beam profile to the P60 lamp assembly. Also, I think its a bit unfair to pit the L4 (all flood) against the G2/p60 LA. Also, according to Surefires website and reports from those at CPF the L4 is now rated at 100 lumens. Still all flood.(still a great light for certain instances).
With the latest advent of the cree and seoul LED's I have a feeling that LED's will definitely beat the P60 lamp assembly on brightness and intensity. It will take the right reflector to get an optimum beam profile though. There are several lights I'm excited about that looks like it will out due even my Streamlight Scorpion in performance.(brighter for longer on less one cell and more robust) There are some lights coming out that claim to be twice the brightness of a P60 LA with the same runtime except they only use one cell instead of 2 like the G2 or Scorpion.
I will agree that the LED's are lacking in the color rendition and depth perception field. The pure white (sunlight like) color they produce doesn't work the best with night adapted eyes. The more yellow tint LED's are better with this but still not as good as Incan lights.
Another note which I would think would be detrimental to law enforcement and to anyone who puts any trust into thier light. Incans burn out. The P60 lasts about 20 hours I've read (unless your me and then they last 2-3 for some reason) and cost close to $20 to replace. The Scorpions bulb last about 8 hours but only cost about $5 to replace. Still, the bulb will go out and the saying goes, what can go wrong will go wrong at the wrong time. Maybe its because I had a horrible experience with my G2 but I love the fact that I never have to replace my LED bulb.
All that being said, I carry an LED light or two with me daily. But, when the ball drops at midnight and I hear a bump in the house or outside and my adrenaline is kicking in, its my Borealis that I grab.
When it comes down to the 0-150 lumens marker I feel the LED works best for me. Not being in law enforcement I generally don't have a need for a high intensity light all day everyday. Alot of people don't like LED's, alot do. You just have to try out a quality LED against a similar Incan and decide for yourself. Still my HDS EDC is capable of 60 lumes on high. I'm really looking forward to the new Amilite Neo T5 and Novatac edc 120.
February 23rd, 2007 10:03 PM
Yes I agree with you, the Scorpion can be adjusted to a wider beam.
And yes the Surefire L-4 is all flood and is GREAT inside the house, I have a big basement and it covers it very well, I showed in the pictures how two lights rated at 65 lumens can be so different at a distance of 30 yards, and that lumens of an incandescent are different from lumens from an LED.
I also like the new LED's coming in now, a friend brought a Fenix L2D CE with the 7090 cree VR-E LED and we compared it with my most powerful LED light, a PR T made by Mac Gizmo with a TWOJ bin Luxeon III, I was very impresed that the $55.00 Fenix was so close to my PR T in intensity.
February 27th, 2007 04:39 PM
MORE LIGHTS FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT
As a continuation of the first post and for whatever value it has, I am going to do some more shoot outs of a mix of popular Luxeon lights and incandescent ones.
The first order of things is to change the target area, to make it a little more interesting to my viewers.
Consequently I replaced the tool shed target with a deer and bear mount.
The deer head mounted on the tree is exactly 26 yards from my second story window from where the lights are shinning.
The bear head in the fence is only six more feet further away from the tree.
In the summer I have plenty of bushy cover in the area, but this time I had to be creative and cut and nailed to the tree and fence, some branches from a pine tree, not to hide the animals from view, just to provide a natural blending effect, like they were coming from a natural habitat.
The camera was placed twelve foot away from the tree (and eighteen feet from the bear) in a solid tripod, and the night camera mode used (this mode shows in pictures the same light values that I am seeing with my own eyes).
The close proximity of the camera is for the viewer to see the target with clarity; if I were to place the camera 26 yards away the target will be awfully small.
Here it is the target area and how it looks in daylight.
And here are the contenders, but before I describe them, let me voice my opinion that some manufacturers of Luxeon lights label the output in lumens in quite a wild way.
From left to right: # 1 Fenix L1P at about 40 lumens, # 2 Nuwaii Q III at 75 lumens (yes, sure!) # 3 Surefire L-4 Digital Lumamax at 65 lumens (this is a Luxeon V which is quite a flood light but with little throw).
# 4 Streamlight Task-Light 2 L (two Lithium 3 volts batteries, high and low output,
Cost is about $77.00) This is billed at a High Flux Luxeon III. With 75 lumens, which I think is about right.
# 5 is the Streamlight Pro Polymer 4 AA with a Luxeon I, billed as 40 lumens (3,500 candlepower according to the advertising) which I think is quite wrong, as it appears to me to have about 70 lumens or more, this light has a bigger and deeper reflector than the others lights and the beam is concentrated more than the others. This is a great light for the price of about $40.00
# 6, this is a PR T Luxeon III head done for me by master modder McGizmo, it is set on a Surefire E2e body and I am using two rechargeable 123ís with a voltage of 4.2 volts in it.
This light is my best Luxeon III light and up to two years ago it was pretty HOT STUFF, today the cree LEDís are approaching it in intensity, although it has not been overpower by any other Luxeon, yet.
My friends told me I have two of the Integrated Sphere Spectotometers just above my nose, those spheres are telling me that this light makes 120 to 130 ďrealĒ lumens.
# 7, this is A Surefire Centurion II in black with the P-60 lamp (65 lumens) this represents all the others Surefires lights that use this lamp, G-2, 6P. Z-2. etc.
# 8, this is another Surefire Centurion II, but in Hard anodized, it wears the HOLA lamp. The P-61 with the output of 120 lumens for 20 minutes.
# 9 this is a Surefire Centurion III (3 cells) this is usually sold with the P-90 lamp that makes 105 lumens for one hour, but in this case is set up with the P-91 lamp for 200 lumens for 20 minutes, as you will see in the picture later, the floodlight effect is great at 26 yards. All those Pís lamps start to lose range at about 45 to 50 yards, this is because the reflectors are fabricated to produce a good flood so police officers can clear houses with them.
I took this particular light out of my Remington 742 rifle, where it sits in the special quick detach mount in a Picattiny rail.
# 10, this is the BEAR CUB, this light weights 13 oz and measures 9 inches long, it works with two Lithium Ion computer batteries, and produces 220 plus lumens for 90 minutes. Thanks to the big and deep 2 inch mirror-like reflector, this light concentrates the beam like a laser and has a throw of 120 to 150 yards.
So the 26 yards distance is like child play for the Bear Cub and the light is so intense at the target that they had to close their eyes!
# 11, (last on the left lying in horizontal position next to the Bear Cub) this light is a KL-1 head Luxeon I of three years ago, it is set up in a Surefire Outdoorsman body and the lumens output is no more than 20, consequently I decided to strike it out from the competition, there is no room in my stable for weaklings and I will present it to my nephew on his birthday quite soon.
And now letís go to the pictures:
Fenix L1P (40 lumens) Luxeon I
Nuwaii Q III (advertised at 75 lumens in a website, which I donít believe) Luxeon III.
Surefire L-4 Digital Lumamax (65 lumens) this is very flood light and the lumens spread in a very wide area, so it cannot be expected to have a good throw at 26 yards. (Luxeon V ~which are 4 of the one watt together)
Streamlight Task Light 2 L about 75 lumens on high, works on two 123ís batteries and has two levels of illumination. High Flux Luxeon III. About $77.00
Streamlight Poly Pro 4 AA Luxeon. This light has a deep and bigger reflector, the Luxeon is I, according to the manufacturer, is listed at 40 lumens, but to my eyes is doing about 75 lumens.
For the price of $40.00 this is a great light, and very battery friendly as it uses regulars AA.
I feed this light, rechargeable Nimhs AA of high current (Powerex 2700 mah) that hovers around 1.4 volts for weeks consequently it costs me nothing to operate it.
Mc Gizmo PR T head on Surefire body, Luxeon III, TWOJ bin,
My best Luxeon light putting out 120 to 130 lumens. This is a collectorís item and was state of the art, less than two years ago.
I have found nothing new that can approach its power, except the new cree 7090 that is getting close.
Surefire Centurion II in black with the P-60 lamp (65 lumens for one hour)
Surefire Centurion II in Hard anodized with the P-61 lamp (120 lumens for 20 minutes)
Surefire Centurion III in hard anodized, with the P-91 lamp (200 lumens for 20 minutes) as you can see it is a great flood at 26 yards.
BEAR CUB running for 90 minutes on two computer Lithium Ion batteries, driving a Xenon Magnum Star bulb for 5 cells pretty hard at 8.4 volts at a conservative 220 lumens (which make it a very white light) with a reach of 120 to 150 yards, even surpassing the Ultra Stinger.
March 1st, 2007 11:31 AM
I love my propolymer 4AA lux. I have it attatched to my fire helmet currently. Works like a charm.
March 22nd, 2007 09:29 AM
March 31st, 2007 07:57 PM
PELICAN M-6 and TAC-STAR T-6
About three years ago Pelican come out with his first tactical light in the M-6 incandescent, as others tactical lights it used two of the Lithium 123 batteries, the switch is in the tail cap and works like the Surefire 6P with lock and intermittent functions.
The light has some flats in the head that act as anti-roll, but not as well as the Surefire 6P.
The reflector is heavily orange peel and the pattern is nice and without artifacts. One thing in the design I like very much, in the tail cap instead of a spring bearing on the battery, is a plunger finished in gold plating, sure a very elegant way to produce the necessary contact.
The TAC STAR T-6 come into the market after the Pelican have already sold several thousands of lights and is in all effects a copy, same internals and same reflector and the only variation is the treatment of the outside body.
The T-6’s workmanship is not as good as the Pelican, threads in the tail cap are rough and the edges are not well finished, but the beam intensity and pattern are the same.
Two and a half years ago the Pelican cost me $60.00 it came with a very good holster in Cordura nylon.
The Tac-Star that I bought a year ago cost me $30.00 and came without a holster.
I use to have another T-6 that had a smooth reflector and the focus was adjustable, this was an early version that was changed not to infringe in the adjustable focus patent of another flashlight company.
The Pelican had a claim of 80 lumens in the outside of the box and 72 lumens in the instructions, the T-6 had no lumens claim in the paper work.
Here is a picture of the two lights.
And here is a picture of the beam shot, if you are curious to see how good or bad it compare with the Surefire 6P, just look in the above post for the beam shot of that light.
Many of these lights are still in use daily by police officers and civilians alike, I am sure some of the readers have one in their belt or night stand.
April 12th, 2007 07:45 PM
CREE 7090 XR-E LAMP
JET-I (AA) MK IIX FLASHLIGHT
I had the opportunity to test briefly this flashlight a few days ago; since I just got to handle it for a few hours I will not call it a review, but just a little trial.
The light was actually passing by, my friend Luis from Spain had ordered from me a Borealis 1050 lumens and a Bear Cub 220 lumens flashlights, he also wanted one of Emilionsí workbench JET-BEAM I MK IIX little lights that have multiple functions and are billed with a 100 lumens maximum power in the 1 AA version and with the extended tube for two AA batteries at 150 lumens.
So I had one ordered from Emilions and it arrived quite quickly, from Hong Kong to New York in just five days!
Physically, it is the size of my Fenix L1P light, (about 40 lumens) and it is very similar in shape and weight.
For those not familiar with these lights I have here a picture of them side by side.
By adding the extension for another AA, it is claimed that the maximum output is 150 lumens. Now that is a serious lumens output that we are taking about, so my main interest was to see if really the little light was going to reach that high.
Unfortunately I didnít have available any other comparable light, the closest that I had seem was my friend Fenix L2D that claims 135 lumens, but he was out of state, so the light was unavailable to me.
I have in my stable of lights, one PR T head (Pelican Reflector Turbo) that McGizmo made for me with a TWOJ Lumileds Luxeon III, which is a real screamer, going into the 130 lumens when pushed hard by two of the rechargeable 123ís at 3.7 volts each.
This head is in an E2e body and is my favorite of the Luxeons lights I own.
The comparison to the little reflector of the Jet Beam will be unfair, as the Pelican reflector is much bigger in diameter and deeper, concentrating the light in a much tighter and intense beam.
The smaller reflector of the Jet Beam will tend to disperse the light beam in a more open pattern which will compromise the throw.
But here is a picture of the two lights side by side, so you can see how they look like, and how the Jet Beam is with the added 1 battery extension tube.
And here is a picture of the beam shot against the ceiling at a distance of 6 feet, the one on left is the Jet Beam I MK IIX
And after that, I took pictures of the beams shots at my customary 26 yards against the Deer and Bear heads.
If the picture of the beam shot of the Jet Beam doesnít look too impressive for the 150 lumens figure, keep in mind the terrible advantage in concentration of light that the Pelican reflector provides for my PR T 130 lumens light.
Beam shot with the Jet Beam 150 lumens (2 batteries, maximum power)
And here the beam shot with the McGizmo PR T head (130 lumens)
I canít close this account without telling my readers of the many features of the little Jet Beam light,
On the exterior the light is finished in hard anodized type III, the lens is Sapphire crystal and it comes with a set of extra switch covers, lanyard and a nice belt holster.
The circuit is 0.7V to 4.2V, after you click it on (Medium Brightness) soft touching the rubber switch will provide low brightness, maximum brightness and strobe, and one more touch will put the light in standby.
Waiting two seconds and clicking the light again will access the advanced mode with 10 levels of output, and five special functions including strobe SOS at 100 % and SOS at 5 % and others.
This seems to me, is the light to end all of the key chain lights and then some. As soon as my checkbook is recuperated from the ravages of uncle Sam, I am going to order one for myself.
I still think that for clearing a warehouse or a big yard, you need the longer distance reach of a good (in the 200 lumens bracket) incandescent light. When the factories start using the Cree 7090 with bigger reflectors, we will see the results, but I myself believe that the lack of the red spectrum in the Luxeons will always make them short distance lights and reduce the definition on the target; just look at the pictures that I have presented until now and see the performance of Luxeons even with the big reflectors of the Streamlight 4AA and the Task Light.
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