Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Coast LED Lenser Reveiw (by HF)

When I was in the academy I had a firearms instructor who was very enthusiastic about flashlights.  One evening prior to a night shoot he gathered us around and began telling us his history with flashlights. 

"90% of your career will be spent in the dark.  How many flashlights do you think you'll need?"

We all looked down at our duty belts.  Everybody had one flashlight, most of them stream light Stingers.  We all immediately understood his point.  He went on to explain that there are various types of flashlights out there and that whatever model we would  choose to use or would be issued, we would need to become proficient with them.

He went on to detail his long history as a self proclaimed "light whore."  After several years he had become a fan of Surefire brand flashlights.  Most of us were familiar with Surefire lights and knew of their high quality as well as their high "gas mileage," when it came to pricier lithium batteries. 

He pulled out a light that was roughly the same size as a Surefire 6P.  He turned it on and illuminated one of the targets on the range.  It was bright.  He then went on to describe it:

"This light has a 100 hour battery life.  The bulb will last you your career.  It has a nice tail cap switch and comes with a retention lanyard.  It is made of aircraft grade machined aluminium, is shock proof, as far as I can tell so far it's water proof, and the best part is, it runs off of three common AAA batteries."

We were stunned.

"The best part is that you can get one of these at Lowes for $45.00.  I have eight of these guys now.  Don't get me wrong, I love my Surefire lights, but these are great lights."

That night I bought one and I've used it ever since.

I bought the Coast LED Lenser at Lowes home improvement store.  I paid about $45.00 for it.  It is about the size of a Surefire 6P and will fit in a 6P duty belt holster without any issues.  The light is made of heavy duty aircraft grade aluminum, and comes with six AAA batteries.  Three batteries were already in the light and three were packaged seperately in the clamshell packaging.  I replaced the batteries as soon as I got it out of the packaging since I didn't know how long they had been in there and how many times the light had been left on while in the package at the store (the packaging allows shoppers to test the light). 

The lens of the flash light features a prominent "bubble," that acts as a magnifyer.  The light has the abilty to adjust the beam much like a mag light, which I love.  The light has rubber/silicon O rings where they need to be to keep out water, dirt, etc.  The body of the light is textured, though not very deeply, and the tail cap is a dome shape that protrudes slightly from the tail end of the light.  Adjacent to the tail cap is an indentation with a hole for the attachment of the included lanyard.  A flimsy (probably 200-300D) black cordura sheath comes with the light as well.

The light has performed wonderfully for me in the field.  The tail cap allows me to use more gross motor skills when activating the light with my thumbs instead of looking for that little button near the head of so many other flash lights I've used.  The tail cap allows me to activate a "momentary on" style of activation by using slight pressure without clicking the light all the way on if I want to, which is important to me.  The light's size is great for shooting with.  I can use a number of techniques effectively with this light due to the compact size and the functionality of the tail cap.  The adjustable beam of the light is nice when I want to focus a direct beam at something or widen it out while "umbrella'ing" a room.

There are a few things that I don't like about the light.  The shallow texturing is lame.  I like grippy surfaces especially when wearing gloves and in bad weather. 

The tail cap, while effective, could be a little more robust.  I would like to see it protrude a little more from the body of the flashlight.  Even a rubberized tail cap that contrasts with the metal body would be a welcome change for me. 

The included accessories suck.  The lanyard is a joke and is more meant for wearing around a boy scout's neck than equipment/weapon retention.  The lanyard hole placement could be better too.  The holster/pouch is also lame.  Not very robust and has a red graphic on the outer flap which I don't like.  There is no defense/strike bezel.  I love strike bezels.  The light as it is could be used as a weapon in a pinch (everything is a weapon) but a bezel would be nice. 

The light could be brighter too.  83 lumens is pretty bright but I'd like something brighter.  As of this writing Coast has introduced a tactical line of lights and the updated version of the light I have is now shining in at 105 lumens with a run time of 120 hours on three AAA's.

So keep in mind the light I'm reviewing is almost a year old and flashlight technology, especially LED technology, is like computer technology.  Every 6 months it improves by leaps and bounds. 

This light has proven to be affordable, tough, bright, and very usable as a law enforcement light.  I love that it uses a common and readily available power source that won't break the bank.  The light is cheap enough that you could buy a few of these for the car, bail out bag/go bag, duty belt, pocket, etc.  The burn time is amazing.  After about 50 hours I did notice degredation in luminous output. It dropped from 83 lumens down to about 63.  The 100 hour burn time is actually pretty accurate.  I have changed the batteries once since I installed the new ones right after I opened it up out of the packaging.  I work nights and I have used this light extensively. 

I will be buying the upgraded version that is now available for the same price as the original, at Lowes.  In addition to the Coast LED Lenser I own a Stinger rechargeable light, triple D cell Mag light, standard mini mag light, One Surefire 6P, a Surefire 660 classic weapon light, a triple C cell Outback light, and an insight pocket light, and a UTG 200 Lumen weapon light.  I'm afraid I'm just beginning my light whoredom. 

Spouses, these make great gifts...


KD said...

My mom just told me she has a bunch of credit at Lowes, perhaps I will buy some of it from her and get one of these.

HF, you sound just like my flashlight-crazy husband. I guess it's nice to hear that I don't suffer alone.

The Officer said...

HF Thanks for the flashlight review. I am in the process of finding a new flashlight. If you get a moment can you give us a rundown of your opinions on the other flashlights you own?

BunnyO said...

Can I just tell you I find it hilariously coincidental that you posted this? Hubs and I were just doing some things around the house this week and I noticed he was lugging his maglite around the basement with him. I asked, "Why on earth are you using that flashlight during daylight?".. then he reminded me as your post says, he spends half his career in the dark. He told me how in the academy the one thing he learned is that even in broad daylight you can get called into a dark abandoned building or a dimly lit house looking for a bad guy. I shut up real quick after that.

mrsofficer said...

Mrs FUZZ the hub has taken over my blog and might i say he really enjoys these light post. I think I told you he is flashlight obsessed???? you know like buying 200buck flashlights and such! ugh