Next on my list of handheld tactical lights is from Pentagon Weapon Lights: the X2. Virtually all of today's hand-held lights are incorporating some type of anti-roll design feature so that you can put them down and not have them disappear on a slanted surface (within reason). The Pentagon lights have a five-sided (pentagon--get it?) end cap. Like most other contemporary tactical lights, the body is one inch in diameter and the head/bezel is 1.25 inches. Though not shown in this review, mounting systems exist so that you can put any one inch diameter tactical light onto a shoulder fired weapon. Pentagon Weapon Lights took this common system to the next level by developing their own mounting systems and providing added versatility through an auxiliary lighting system. For instance, you can get a Pentagon Weapon Light, like the X2, plus a smaller infrared light, in the same mount. Another option, and one I think would be of greater value for patrol operations, would be the X2 plus a smaller LED-driven light. This would allow for good light when searching for or engaging suspects, but would allow the use of lower levels of light when navigating or doing close-in security work.
Probably the best known name in the tactical light industry is SureFire. SureFire has been manufacturing tactical lights for decades now and was the driving force of today's contemporary standards such as the one inch diameter body and 1.25 inch bezel. SureFire lights have become synonymous with military special operations, and any "cool" cop in the late '80s or early '90s had a SureFire on their gun belt. SureFire was also largely behind switching the light industry over from measuring light output in candlepower to the more realistic and expressive measurement of lumens. Instead of seeing handheld spotlights advertised as producing two million candlepower, the market all of a sudden saw lights producing 65 lumens of light--and became aware of the difference. On the subject of lumens, I consider anything over 60 lumens to be sufficient for a personal hand-held light. For more specific high-risk or combat operations, obviously more is better. On a shoulder fired weapon, you probably want a light pushing at least 120 lumens, and 250 lumens is even better. The three inch "turbe" head on some SureFire lights was designed to give the hand-held light greater reach or distance. For the average patrol officer, at a minimum, I recommend two hand-held lights delivering a minimum of 65 lumens. It's better to have a 120 lumen light available with the 65 lumen light as your backup (or the light you hand off to your back up because he was dumb enough to show up without a light).
I would be remiss if I failed to mention SureFire's hand held torch, the M6. The M6 takes six 3V lithium batteries that are loaded into a battery cartridge to put into the light. The M6 produces an astounding 500 lumens of light. When I attended Low-Light Operations Instructor training, I was told that 500 lumens of light could do permanent retinal damage to a person if it was shone directly into their open eyes. To be honest, the 500 lumens of light is so bright that even if your eyes are closed and it's pointed at your face from within ten feet you're still going to turn your head. It's just BRIGHT. The downside is that 3V lithium batteries aren't cheap, and the M6 burns them up six at a time fairly quickly. Additionally, it's larger than the typical one inch body light and the 3 inch head makes it much wider. It's not convenient to carry on a gun belt, being better suited for placement in or on a tactical vest. I remind the reader that you still need a back up light, and if you're using an M6 as your primary, having a 120 lumen backup is a noticeable drop in light output.
To be honest, one of the biggest challenges with hand-held tactical lights is the pricing. Few of them cost less than $100, and those that do still need to be fed 3V lithium batteries. Enter the LightSaver Mini-Blitzer, imported exclusively in North America by Brigade Quartermaster. This hand-sized LED light is driven by two 3V lithium batteries (as is common in lights this size). The tail cap is multifunctional and provides you two light operations:
- Push and release to turn the light on
- Push and hold to get a flashing light
If you push and release to turn the light on, push and release again turns it off. To go from steady on to flashing, push and hold (just like if the light was off when you started). Once you get the light into flashing mode, you have to continue to hold the button or the light turns off. The body is made of aircraft grade aluminum alloy and is designed to prevent rolling. The three watt LED produces 75 lumens of light (according to the published material). It's a very clean light--so white as to almost look blue. Brigade Quartermaster markets a rifle mounting kit for this light, as well as a remote pressure switch tail cap assembly. Perhaps of greater importance to the officer paying for his own equipment out of his own pocket, the MSRP is $99.99.