I never go anywhere without a compact, high-powered (120 lumens or more) tactical LED flashlight stashed in my front trouser pocket. I find a compact tactical light essential for daily or nightly utility activities, or for potential emergency actions taken after dark.
Today, 120 lumen lights, although still very useful, are weaklings when compared to the newest models on the market that produce 600-700 lumens of light. Having a lot of lighting power (as long as you can dim it for close up work) is a great thing, but it sure eats the still relatively expense CR123 lithium batteries. If you use your light a lot, even bulk purchased 123 costs begin to add up.
Rechargeable tactical lights are a cost saving alternative to the CR123 powered lights. Until now there hasn’t been a rechargeable tactical light that was small enough and still powerful enough to meet my needs. Before I continue, you need to know that there is one caveat about rechargeable lights. Even if you aren’t actually using them, you will need to pop them on the charger at least once a week to make sure they are at their maximum capability or they will lose their charge. Considering that, rechargeable cells can be charged around 1000 times before they need to be replaced, and that is a lot of electrical bang for the buck. You just need to be attentive to the requirements of the rechargeable lighting system. You shouldn’t leave it on the charger constantly; just pop it on until it’s fully recharged and take it off.
Streamlight is without a doubt my favorite brand for any type of flashlight or weapons light. An all-American product line, Streamlight has a model for every need. No bigger than tactical lights powered by two CR123 cells, the new Streamlight LED Strion® is the first rechargeable LED light that I think can serve the needs of civilians, cops or fire/EMS responders in emergency or daily activities.
Constructed of aircraft aluminum, the LED Strion has several different modes of operation, at varying power levels and duration of run time. All functions are controlled very simply by the pushbutton tactical switch mounted in the tailcap of the light (no other switches to turn or activate), and the Strion moves through all operating modes intuitively. There are three basic modes: momentary “on,” constant “on,” and strobe. Light pressure on the switch provides momentary “on,” and releasing it turns the light off. Momentary “on” always begins at the 250 lumen high power mode. From the “off” position, pushing all the way down on the switch until it clicks give you the constant “on” mode, which also always comes up on full power. A rapid double-tap type of push-to-click on the switch lights up the full power disorienting strobe mode. The sub modes of the Strion LED involve operation of the lower power settings. Pushing and holding the switch until it clicks from the “off” position cycles the light down and then back up through constant “on” power levels. Starting at 250 lumens, which allows the Strion to run from full charge for two hours, the power output drops down to a still very bright 135 lumens, which runs for four hours. Continuing to hold the switch drops it to a power conserving, close examination 65 lumen level, which allows the light to run for 7.5 hours. Continuing to hold the switch down causes the light to cycle back up to the 250 lumen level. In the strobe mode, the light runs for 5.5 hours.
The Strion’s fixed beam is excellent for a wide range of uses. It is tight enough for long range area search, but not so tight as be less than ideal for a tactical search of a dwelling. A wide corona illuminates objects that are in the periphery of the center of the beam.
The Strion LED comes with a charging collar that includes a power cord for AC charging, and a second cord for in car (DC) charging. If you want more power than the basic Strion rechargeable, it is also available as the 500 lumen Strion LED HL™. While it has twice the power as the standard model, it has half the run time at 500 lumens. Amazon.com currently has the standard model priced at $92.75. For more information of Streamlight products, go to www.streamlight.com.