In search of a tactical torch

This month’s column looks at flashlights. I had to convince my editor that an article on flashlights is relevant to firearms. Yeah, yeah, I know. I write the Firearms Tactics column. OK, this month, I’m testing light cannons. How’s that? (Editor’s...

The InfiniStar Design is typical of machined aluminum flashlights. The barrel is a mite thicker than most and is covered with a grippy rubber sleeve. It has excellent ergonomics for shooters. This is a superior product with inherent quality.

Pelican 7060 and 8060LED

No one even raised an eyebrow when LAPD adopted the 7060 as a patrol light. When I tested it, I found the dual switches and strategic gripping surfaces gave me perfect control, even when patrolling in a downpour. The design allows for almost any type of shooting technique, and it is easy to orient by feel. Although the switch modes should include dimming and strobe capabilities, one can overlook this, considering the lightweight case and great handling.

Two things you should know about the 7060 LED: First, it uses cooling fins to dissipate heat. It never gets too hot to the touch, but the warm feel of the bezel area may surprise you. Second, my experience of using this light for more than a year suggests that it charges a little faster than advertised. Its 160-lumen output spec is a little surprising for me, too. It seems much brighter than that.

The 8060 LED is larger and heavier, but still has the sleek handling of its smaller brother. Its 179-lumen output can hold steady for several hours. The beam on both lights concentrates well and has enough spillbeam to cover a large portion of the periphery. The 8060 LED will actually take C batteries when the power pack runs out. I don’t think officers will ever have a problem here; this light can be left on for almost a whole shift, which few others can do.

Bushnell HD Torch

This is a bizarre light with an even more bizarre output. It runs on two CR123 cells and shines a perfectly square 165-lumen beam (there is a 200-lumen model for hunters), so everybody illuminated appears as if on TV. It also has a “find me” LED illuminated tailcap, which should be taped over if it’s going on patrol. The square beam’s defined edge gives clear vision everywhere within the beam, which makes suspects appear literally as if they were on stage. There are no irregularities, cold spots or deceptive shadows in this beam. This square, by the way, does not blind the officer searching a bedroom, and it renders more accurate colors than most models. I played with this one a little and it’s intimidating.

Streamlight Stinger LED

The Stinger LED has it all. It puts out 180 lumens and can be dimmed or strobed for longer runtime. Its reflector has a deep dish design, which does great in fog or when cops wish to play firefighter (not recommended), or when firefighters wish to play cops (I’ve heard they do—also not recommended). The Stinger LED has dual switches and the kind of design that allows the officer to quickly put the light into play.

If you tried the magazine changing instructional in this article with your light, you’ll know why many shooters appreciate the form factor of the Stinger LED. It also loans itself rather well to writing citations.

The Stinger LED does not get very warm. Like the Pelican 7060, its charger can be vehicle- or office-mounted. I recommend mounting the charger (a pretty sturdy product in its own right) in the patrol car where it can’t be overcharged or affected by earlier generations of “battery memory.”

I’ve used both the Pelican 7060 and the Stinger LED during a night pistol match. It would be hard for me to choose between the two. I brought the Bushnell HD to the same match. Everyone wanted to try it out, but it’s not rechargeable, so its BYOB (bring your own batteries) to use it.

4sevens Quark X AA Tactical

What if I told you that this next light has a maximum output of 280 lumens and runs on AA batteries? What if I told you it has a momentary switch, programmable output and IPX-8 waterproofing? What if I told you this is one of the least expensive lights to own and operate?

When David Chow of 4sevens handed me a Quark during SHOT 2011, I thought I was going to test it as a backup light. I did. However, this light has all of the desirable features of a full-sized duty light in a compact form factor. In fact, this is one of the few duty lights that can be carried in a shirt pocket. It is 5.8 inches long and weighs 2.2 ounces.

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