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What features are important on a flashlight?

Discussion in 'Cop Talk' started by golls17, Apr 17, 2011.

  1. golls17

    golls17 Lifetime Newbie

    Feb 3, 2009
    Update on Post #34. I'm going with the Stinger. If I were to get one charger for a flashlight, should I get AC or DC? Should I fork out the extra money for both? Is the faster charger worth the extra money?

    I've searched the flashlight threads, and everything is about lumens and brands, but I'm wondering about other features. I can research my own brands, but I'm just wondering what I should look for in an everyday flashlight for somebody working nights.

    Do I really need a 200+ lumen flashlight? What is actually efficient vs. the "mine is brighter than yours" battle

    Is the strobe/SOS feature that important, or just a neat thing to have? I have it on a flashlight already, but I don't plan on using it as my primary light. I'll probably keep it in the bag, since I've seen demonstrations on distracting somebody with the strobe while somebody else sneaks up in the dark. I just don't see it as necessary on a primary light.

    Does it really matter if it has 5 different brightness settings?

    Right now, my gear is set up for a 3D cell maglight, but I'm thinking I want something lighter weight and less bulky on the belt.

    Any other input is helpful. Thanks.
    Last edited: May 13, 2011
  2. Dragoon44

    Dragoon44 Unfair Facist Lifetime Member

    Apr 30, 2005
    first and foremost that it has a light bulb.


    on a more serious note I would go for 200 lumens or more. simply to fry the eyeballs out of an advesary during a nighttime encounter.

    Don't see an SOS feature as really useful unless you are working in a remote rural area.
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2011

  3. golls17

    golls17 Lifetime Newbie

    Feb 3, 2009
    Thanks Drag. I suppose we are spoiled today. Weren't you around when 100 candle-light power meant actually lighting 100 candles?
  4. Atomic Punk

    Atomic Punk

    Mar 11, 2008
    my wife has a nice one. aluminum body. it holds 3 D cells. and the head is about 2 inches across with a ton of led's in it. been on the current set of battery's for almost 2 years. i think we bought it for $20 at a gas station in the middle of no where. so who knows what brand, but its bright, sturdy, and you could put a beating on somebody with it.
  5. Dragoon44

    Dragoon44 Unfair Facist Lifetime Member

    Apr 30, 2005
    We used to have to catch lightning bugs to use for nighttime illumination.

  6. Kahr_Glockman


    Feb 26, 2005
    To answer the question with my opinion, Leave the flashlight ring on your belt. An LED Maglight will cost around $30. A smaller Streamlight Polytac LED light will run about $40.

    I recommend the MagLight because it provides good light, and good throw. The beam is focusable, and the batteries are common and cheap. They also last forever. I would also have a Streamlight SL-20X or a Pelican 8060. The MagLight would be the backup.

    SOS is a moot issue because if you need it you can do it yourself with the momentary button. Strobe is really cool but you have to train with it. My opinion is that we have searched and used lights without strobe for years, and we can do our jobs without it, but it is usefull.

    Fenix lights are great, OLights are really good. I would still give the nod to Streamlight's PolyTac.(I use this light on my belt currently. Switched from a Fenix TK11)

    There are many lights out there but this is the way I would go. It is the way that I have gone.

    I have not bought any Surefire lights.(They are too exspensive for my budget.) I have one of the new Streamlight Microstream lights that takes a single AAA battery. It is a good light for my breast pocket. It isn't bright but it is a great little light for document reading, or just a decent little light.

    There are many light options but you have to decide what you want.
  7. collim1

    collim1 Shower Time!

    Mar 14, 2005
    First off 200 lumens is not necessary, inside a house it can blind you just as much as the bad guy.

    Strobe is only useful for traffic direction IMO. On a traffic stop I have a spot light and take down lights to blind the driver from looking back at me. All I need is to light up the inside of car, 60 lumens is plenty for that.

    What you need is a reliable light that is 60+ lumens and rechargeable.

    I use a Stinger incandescant, and keep a spare charged battery in the car.

    I keep a 3D cell Mag LED in the car as a backup, and a ring on my belt.

    I have a Stinger LED that I keep in the car with a traffic cone on it so I dont kill my normal light working a wreck or a malfunctioning traffic signal.

    I prefer the light of a normal flashlight to an LED. My stinger Also the Stinger LED is just too big, and the way it sits on my belt tears the leather carriers up where it sits on the belt.

    I went back to my normal Stinger after a few months of being issued the LED.
  8. MeefZah

    MeefZah Cover is Code 3

    Jan 2, 2008
    Lost Coast, Cali
    At least 12 inches long and knurled aluminum, so you can put a human man assed beating on those deserving. SL20X is my choice. I have an LED Stinger and 14 year old incandescent Stinger and I go for the SL20 every time I get out of the car.
  9. Chico Bill

    Chico Bill Millennium Member

    Nov 10, 1999
    LA area, CA,USA
    I think with advances in light technology the benchmark has been raised for patrol lights. What was high tech ten years ago is obsolete now. It'll work but there are sooooo many options that will work better.

    I think a small patrol belt light should have the following mandatory features:

    At least two modes (High/Low)
    Minimum of 100 Lumens on High
    Momentary activation with the ability to activate constant-on

    My preferences include:

    A "neutral" or "warm" tint LED
    Ability to accept rechargeable (Eneloop-type NiMH) AA batteries
    Single function tailcap switch (modes change by head-twist, etc., but not by tail-switch)

    So far I'm very happy with my Eagletac P20A2 Mk II Neutral tint. I also have and like (though it doesn't fit all my ideal preferences) the Streamlight "PT" series. I have a PT2AA and PT1L. I also really like the "Quark" series lights (I have a neutral 1xAA) and Fenix Lights (TK20, TA30).

    There are so many options it's hard to recommend one single light. The closest to exactly what I want is the "Quark", though I bought the 1xAA and I'd get the 2xAA for a belt light. They're all good and have various features to address different preferences. You don't need 5 modes. You don't need strobe. At the same time having options is nice.
  10. IMHO you need 2 or more flashlights. I have 3-5 for Police work.

    On my Duty belt is a Strion LED. It is small, light, bright, white, and rechargeable. I use it close to every day. It can dim or strobe.

    I carry a Stinger in my patrol bag (used to carry the Stinger before the Strion came out, then I went with the Strion LED). It is a back up, and I use it for night time traffic control if I need to.

    I also have SL-20 that I use for night time traffic stops that is kept in my vehicle, and I have a belt loop that can holdit if need be.

    For the three Streamlights I have three traffic cones. I have been on the sight of crashes from vehicles, people, and trains where all three got used one at a time till they went dead. The strobe function will last longer and warn better with a cone. I have also had to lend out lights to Officer that had them go dead while working a crash (5.11 Light for Life, may be for a short traffic stop, but not on a long crash or search party).

    Last I have Sure Fire and Black Hawk CR123 battery powered lights I keep in Go-Bags and on my Tac Vest that stay there till the time comes I need them. I also do not count a CR123 battery weapon light that I carry on my duty belt (a holster that holds the light on the weapon is in the near future for me, as 90% I work with use them).

    Rechargeable lights will drain and can not be stored for later use. Battries get expensive if you use them all the time.

    All in all I have 25-30 flashlights, thanks to the Military and Police work I do.

    The old SL20, Stinger, and Strion I started out with about 7-10 years ago are now outdated I feel and I dont know how I did stuff prior to LED lights.

    20 years ago I used to take a 6 D cell Maglight and drop it in a M203 grenade launcher to have a weapon light for use at night.
  11. pal2511


    Sep 15, 2002
    I like to have a full size light like the maglite or sl20x. I use a maglite rechargable with a led upgrade. I also use a pelican 7060 that I throw in my cargo pocket or the passenger seat. I keep a Strion Led on my belt. THe strion gets the most use. Surefire X200 on the Glock in my holster
  12. We have ancient Maglight rechargeables in the car. On my belt is my backup light which is an OLight M20s warrior. 320+lumens. 4 hr runtime at max brightness. Good throw. Multiple levels. Strobe. Spare battery in holster etc. We once had to search the woods at night and the maglight barely made it an hour. My Olight was a champ. I also have a tlr-1 c4 on my gun if i really needed a third light.
    have your primary be something a little large that can double as an impact weapon in a pinch and have a backup on your belt.

    I know i know. Dont hit people with your flashlight. But in an instant it might be all that you can use to save your life.
  13. silverado_mick


    Nov 30, 2006
    Must have features for a primary duty light IMHO include:

    At least 100 lumens.

    Long enough to easily tuck under your arm on traffic stops or to funtion as an impact weapon in a pinch.



    Backup lights should be small, light, battery powered, and at least 100 lumens as well. My primary is a Streamlight Stinger LED and my backup is a Fenix Tk-10. Weaponlight is a TLR-1 and on the rifle is another Tk-10.
  14. Spearmint


    Mar 6, 2011
    Lake County IL
    rechargeable, bright, and durable -- I just picked up the Pelican LAPD light. What an upgrade from the old Streamlight I was carrying.
  15. PinkoCommie

    PinkoCommie Unusual Member

    Two lights are mandatory, and more could be good. A small light on your belt for when (a) you didn't know you were going to need a light [i.e. daytime traffic stop, etc] or (b) a bigger, brighter light would be blinding, inappropriate, etc. A big light for when you know you will need a light [which means you ALWAYS have it with you at night].

    Everyone has a different solution. Here is mine, for what it's worth:

    -a Pelican 8060 as a "big" light. Why? Because it ****ing rocks. Great battery life, very bright and focused beam, LED, nice weight, chunky enough to say to someone "hold on while I reach for my ASP/taser/gun". The charger is in my locker. When I am in the car after dark, this light lives between my thigh and the car seat. I NEVER leave the car without it at night. It is my security blanket.

    -a surefire G2 LED. Why? Because I have had it for a couple of years and haven't upgraded to a newer, fancier light. I have lost one in a fight with a stupid chick on a third story balcony once (it was in the Surefire holster and all, still fell out). Went back and looked, but did not find it. A G2 is cheap enough to replace, but works well enough.

    - A Streamlight UltraStinger in the car (belongs to the department, not me). In case I need another light ;)

    - A TLR-1 on my G17. In case I need a light on my gun. I don't ever want to carry a duty gun without a light again. Ever. I am just too retarded to manage a gun and flashlight while opening doors and keeping the gun pointed at scary demons in the dark.

    - A TLR-1 on my AR. See above.
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2011
  16. Bruce M

    Bruce M

    Jan 3, 2010
    S FL
    Possibly something a bit more modern, but this was great in it's day

  17. DaBigBR

    DaBigBR No Infidels!

    Oct 28, 2005
    Circling the wagons.
    Number one and most important: what are you going to use it for?

    One of the things that I have found with modern LED lights that I never saw coming was that you CAN go too bright. A light for searching a house does not (and should not be) a two million lumen retina scorcher, it will reflect off of everything and blind you and your partners.

    I carry the following lights:

    -Belt: Streamlight Polytac LED in V70 holster. Absolutely the best value in small, bright, well designed lights. Has a click tail cap and costs less than $40 on Amazon most of the time. No variable brightness, no strobe mode, just a light.

    -Cargo Pocket: Streamlight Strion LED in 5.11 BBS holster. Rechargeable, bright, has intuitive dimmer and strobe mode. If it fit the V70, I would probably carry two of them. A little pricey, but rechargeable without having to find suitable CR123 style (18650) rechargeables.

    -Front pocket: Fenix P1DCE. Backup light. Will probably replace with a Streamlight PT1L.

    -Sap pocket: Streamlight SL-20XP-LED. I like a light that I can tuck under my arm while reading documents, doing field sobriety, etc. The long barreled light is pretty well dead for most purposes since compact LED lights are small, lighter, and brighter, but I still like them. I would love to see a super-bright LED SL20 with the three dim LED "nav" lights this one has. I would imagine you could fit enough battery in there to run forever, too.

    -Car: 5.11 LFL (the bigger one). This thing delivers what it promises...runs bright, recharges in 90 seconds. Barrell is a little thick and a little slick, but it's a decent light.

    -Bag: Old Surefire G2LED in a pouch attached to one of the carry straps in case one of my other lights craps out.

    So there you go...six lights. Each has a purpose.
  18. Kahr_Glockman


    Feb 26, 2005

    This is a good example. These are relatively inexspensive, with the exception of the 5.11 LFL.

    I will add again that I really like the MagLight LED. Good size with good life and brightness.

    I did forget to mention I have a TLR-1 on my pistol and a Pentagon Light for my AR. I am in the process of building an SBR and I will mount my Fenix TK-11 on it. I do have a Fenix TK-11 and it works. With the 18860 batteries I get 11 hours run time before it needs to be recharged. If it dies in the field I can replace the batteries with standard CR-123.
  19. volsbear

    volsbear IWannaBeSedated Lifetime Member

    Nov 8, 2007
    Good thread. I get to buy a new light for my new external vest carrier. The old light will go into a bag. I hope to find some good suggestions in this thread.

  20. A light you don't have to sell your first born to afford batteries. I've used the strobe once
    so my cover unit could see me since everything was blacked out.
    Last edited: May 15, 2011