I need want a EDC flashlight.  I have an old Digilight 1000XB, but it eats CR123 batteries like they are candy, doesn’t have any way to attach a lanyard or other retention device, and the bulbs are very susceptible to heat shock.  Since CR123 batteries give little warning before discharging fully, and because I have to carry around replacement bulbs in case I accidentally hit the on/off button an extra time when turning it on, I’d prefer something else.

I bought a Fenix E21 a few months ago, knowing that it was slightly large for practical everyday carry, buy the price was right and the reviews were good.  Despite the reviews, I was less than impressed.  When it works, it is awesome.  It has the known deficiencies that I knew going in – a bit large to carry around constantly, and the adjustment from really fucking bright to almost as bright never seemed to work (a common complaint).  However, I’m not getting the life out of my NiMH batteries that I expected based on the experience of other users.  I’m running some experiments to verify whether it is the light or the batteries that is the problem, so I won’t malign the light until I know for sure.  Regardless, it really is too big for everyday carry.

I’ve also tried some cheapie options.  The $3.77 Rayovac model from WallyWorld is housed in what appears to be an impressively durable case that might actually be strong enough to knock a car window out or put dents in a BG’s skull.  However, it only puts out just enough light to be visible three inches away in complete darkness on a full battery.  I used it last night when I stopped by the house, and I almost tripped walking around to the front steps from not being able to see the ground.

The Energizer keyring light that utilizes multiple button batteries (almost a disqualification there) puts out slightly more light, but is still severely lacking, and only has a momentary pushbutton switch.  I lost the fucking thing a couple weeks ago, and didn’t like it enough to buy another to replace it.

I want something sized so that that I can carry in my pants pocket or on a carabiner attached to my belt loop along with my keys.  Five inch overall length would be about the max I’d be comfortable with, and length is more important than girth.  In other words short and fat better than long and skinny.  I strongly prefer something that uses AAA or AA batteries, so I can use rechargeable batteries, but I will consider a model that uses button or CR123 batteries if I must.  I don’t need to signal airplanes with it, but I would like to be able to comfortably change a tire by the light it puts out, and not completely drain the batteries in the process.  It needs to be durable enough that is is not likely to go tits up the first time I gravity check it.  I’d like to limit the price to $50-75, while less would obviously be better.

I’d prefer that it not utilize Cree LEDs.  First of all, I used to work for them and they fired me for no good reason.  Mostly, though, I’ve owned six lights that used their LEDs, and five of them had reliability or functionality issues.  Four either blinked when shook or did not work at all from the beginning, or stopped working after very minimal shock – only one survived until a battery leaked and destroyed it.  I also blame the inoperable low/high adjustment on the Fenix E21 on Cree, and I don’t really give a shit whether it is their fault or not.

I know that the technology is available within my preferred price range.  I just hate to keep throwing $25-75 out for lights that suck for me for one reason or another until I finally find one that suits me.  Any suggestions?

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11 Responses to Recommendations?

  1. hilljohnny says:

    i like my mini mag that i converted to led. i have attached two feet of plumbers chain and a heavy brass clip on which i have my keys. doubles as a flail in a pinch.

    • alaskan454 says:

      Should’ve known somebody made a conversion kit for those, but I never gave it a thought. Now if I can just remember where I put my old mini mag, that could be a distinct possibility. I like the flail idea, too.

  2. GarandGal says:

    My husband and I just received two Kel-Tec CR-42 flashlights this weekend. We became aware of them based on Erin’s review of the CR-43, and liked them well enough to shell out the 80 clams apiece for them. My husband immediately fumbled his and it hit the linoleum with nary a blip, although my kids were blinking rather a lot from the light twirling around.
    It takes two CR123 batteries that Kel-Tec says gives it 3.5 hours of steady use, it puts out 420 lumens which is bright enough to light up just about anything you want to see. I know nothing about the bulbs it uses. My husband plans to mount his to one of the long guns, I plan to carry mine.

    • Erin Palette says:

      Those suckers really are bright, aren’t they? 😉

      I’m really interested in hearing how your husband plans to mount his light. What brackets is he going to use?

      • alaskan454 says:

        Erin, which would you recommend, the KelTec 42 for 80 FRNs or the $15 Nebo that you suggested yesterday, assuming that I’m willing to shell out the extra cash for the KT? I really like the Nebo, the price, and the fact that it uses batteries for which rechargeable options are readily available. I’m not sure that I /need/ 420 lumens, but that’s like saying I’m not sure if I need that extra reload. It never hurts to have it.

    • alaskan454 says:

      It’s on the high end of my price range, and considering that it uses CR123 batteries, it is a maybe for me. But, it’s hard to argue with 420 lumens that can be carried comfortably in a pants pocket. I probably shouldn’t make an issue out of the batteries, since I seldom use it, so cost wouldn’t be a huge concern. But, I always tend to think in an EOTW context. I have a solar charger for my AA and AAA NiMH batteries. Not so for 123s.

      • Erin Palette says:

        Given what you plan to use it for, I’d say the Nebo. It’s cheaper, it has the batteries you prefer, and if you break it/lose it you aren’t out much money.

        The CL series is, to my mind, very much a tactical light: no strobe (but why would you need one at 420 lumens?), no ability to narrow or widen the light, no other bells and whistles. Turn it on to blind or burn. The Nebo has far more utility for every day use, and that utility includes disposability if necessary.

        I’d be annoyed if I lost my Nebo. I’d be PISSED if I lost my CL-43.

      • alaskan454 says:

        Makes sense. Thanks! 🙂

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