It's been awhile since I received a flashlight that was much bigger than palm-sized that I thought was really worth having. Why? Because if it's not on the cop's belt when he jumps out of his cruiser or it's not on the soldier's gear when he goes out on patrol, then it's not doing much good. The days of big heavy lights are long past. So when I got the Light for Life from 5.11 Tactical, I was surprised at its size; and then its weight; and then its performance. This is one I think I'll keep and recommend. Here's why.
First and foremost, this light is LED lamp driven. LED lamp assemblies are much harder to break than the incandescent bulbs of old. I've thrown LED lights directly down onto concrete with all my might - only to have the concrete chip. The Light for Life actually has three LED lamps powered by a rechargeable system. According to the published material, 5.11 Tactical partnered with IVUS Energy Innovations - makers of the fastest recharging system commercially available today. How fast? The light will charge in about 90 seconds. That's 90 seconds from dead to fully charged.
Fully charged the Light for Life will produce two hours of light. That two hours is broken down into:
- 60 minutes producing 90 lumens
- 30 minutes producing 25 lumens
- 30 minutes producing 15 lumens
That's not taking into consideration the "peak" setting which would produce 270 lumens of light. THAT is a significant and powerful level of light to blast into a suspect's face. The on/off button is digitally switched to allow you to select between peak, standard and strobe.
Of the three standard light levels I consider only the 90 lumens as adequate for any type of "tactical" work. Less than 65 lumens is good for seeing your way around and not kicking over a chair in a campsite. As a duty light, you should consider this a viable tool for an hour. That isn't a negative statement. 90 lumens of light for a full hour after a 90 second charge is signficant. Allegedly the light will charge over 50,000 times before failing. I can't attest to that. I've only charged my test sample a few dozen times at the most. It does charge fast and it does seem to charge completely. For what it's worth, 50,000 charges, if you charge it once a day, equals more than 130 years of use. Theoretically, if you take care of the light you'll be able to leave it for your grandchildren. That's saying something. Think about how many batteries you won't buy in 130 years... or better yet, think about how many you WOULD. That's a significant savings.
Objectively, it's a good size for a primary duty light. Weighing in at almost exactly one pound, officers will like the light because it's not heavy to carry around; administrators will like it because it's not ever going to be a highly effective impact weapon. Overall length is just under one foot and it's weighted properly to hang neatly in the provided light-ring / nylon strap (belt loop).
The 12V charging mount is easy enough to install. You can mount it one of two ways: affixed to the side of something or on top of something. The mount has screw holes in the bottom and the side. The charger itself is deep enough to hold the light securely during rough or accelerated driving. The charging contacts are located in the bottom so gravity is constantly helping you to keep the light in its proper place for charging. And remember, it only has to be there for 90 seconds.
A quick online search found me several dealers with this light in stock, with prices ranging from $170 to just over $200. Although that may seem like a lot for a full size duty light, let's remember a couple things:
- This is an LED driven light - and they typically cost more anyway, and
- You'll never have to buy batteries for this light
So, look around. Do your research. For more information about this light check out 5.11 Tactical online.