Why Do You Spend Dozens Dollars on a Flashlight?


July 28, 2010, 09:17 PM
I use one-digit-dollar flashlights when I was very young and haven't used such a stuff for years. I got interested in flashlights worth dozens of dollars because friends around me often talk about them. I wonder why the stuffs are so attractive to my friends, so registered here for some answers.

Here is a flashlight i found yesterday [redacated URL] and the following are my questions:

1. What are advantages of LED material. 2. What does 7 LED mean -- is it a slip of pen? 3. From my friends, I know a flashlight's lightness is denominated by lumen, so please talk about it. 4. The product referred accordingly can be charged with DC 12V and then charge some Nokia and Samsung USB devices, but can such a small thing has this capacity?

The final question is: why do you spend dozens or even hundreds of dollars on just a flashlight? Thanks in advance.

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July 28, 2010, 09:41 PM
LED means Light Emitting Diode. It's the type of "bulb" in that particular kind of light.

Big-dollar flashlights seem to have their own group of fanboys, just like certain types of guns. The "only the best is good enough and the rest is crap, you get what you pay for" crowd. I use Smith & Wesson cheapos from Big 5 Sporting Goods, paid $30 each on sale. I think they're dandy for my needs, and very bright, but replacement bulbs are hard to find.

July 28, 2010, 09:44 PM
1) Brightness
2) Extended battery life at full power
3) Durability under extremes such as smacking people with them
4) Brand--I like SureFire, but there are other brands that are very good too

July 28, 2010, 10:09 PM
Depends on what your use for it is, and how dependable/tough you need it to be?

Fer myself, I've been upgrading my lights to Streamlight's Night Fighter with C4 LED (http://www.opticsplanet.net/streamlight-night-fighter-nf-2-led-tactical-flashlight-88005.html).

Not cheap, but not really expensive, and some of the things I like:
1. BRIGHT white LED light
2. Longer run times with LED
3. CR123 batteries (like the shelf life for my intermittent use-if you use constantly, you may prefer cheaper batteries?)
4. Streamlight reputation? (for reliability/toughness)
5. Like the simple operation, 'specially as a self defense light (doughnut also allows two-handed hold/operation with pistol)

I carry one with my CCW-I liked it so much I got another to keep beside my bed (with my bed gun). Darn if I didn't buy a third 'cause the operation/brightness makes it easy for quick searches for that small stuff that keeps getting lost!

BTW-the CR123 batteries aren't that high if you check police supply houses, or buy in bulk. They have 'bout a 10 yr. shelf life.

No idea what you're looking for-I'm a bit leery of some of these "torch wars", as I've heard from a number of folks who report having the usual suspects that were impressive as heck right up to the point where they stopped working!

The Streamlight can be delivered for around $60-Optics Planet has free shipping over $29.95, and you can Google Optics Planet Discount Code for 5% off coupon codes.

Zeke Markham
July 29, 2010, 07:55 AM
I like my Surefire because it still works after I drop it, wether down the flight deck ladder or off the wing.

July 29, 2010, 09:27 AM
I carry a Streamlight Stylus everyday (yes even to church). If anyone ever paid any attention to any of my posts, this should be the one...
The Stylus is only $20.00
the size of a long ink pen
puts out lots of light
batteries last forever...AAAA
makes excellent bore light (will fit down the barrel of .45 )
has a pocket clip that can be reversed and put on a hat bill
great for peering in radiators, automotive batteries, etc
Small enough to go anywhere you carry an inkpen
I think it is a MUST for any oudoorsman / gun enthusiast

July 29, 2010, 01:43 PM
Honestly, I think people get wrapped up in brand with flashlights just like they do with cars, toilet paper and virtually everything else in life. For a light that will be used as a "firearm accessory" I would want the following (not necessarily in priority order):

1. Durable
2. Reliable
3. Fits comfortably in my hand (I don't like lights hanging off of my guns)
4. Bright
5. Efficient (not a battery hog)
6. Has an instant-on thumb switch (you have to hold down the switch for the light to stay lit)

Unfortunately, I haven't found any cheap lights that meet all of the criteria.

July 29, 2010, 05:06 PM
That you found the flashlight you linked to in the "Toys & Novelty's" department on that website should tell you to pass it up.

7-LED's means it has 7 of the cheapest low power LEDS made in China for the bulbs.
It takes 7 of them to put out enough light to be useful for much of anything.
If you want to light up a room, or see across the back yard, you need something way better.

The best LED flashlights will run on CR123 batteries.
And it will have only one C4 or Cree LED bulb.
And it will put out 80 to 150 lumen's.
And it will be bright enough to blind you if you are foolish enough to shine it in your eyes.
It will also be shock-proof, water-proof, and extremely durable under any conditions.

Look at Surefire or Streamlight for name brand products of known quality.


July 29, 2010, 05:36 PM
Flashlights are a lot like guns in that if you use them frequently you will spend a lot more on batteries than you did for the flashlight. So...

CR123 Lithium batteries on sale at MidwayUSA - midwayusa.com

Sure Fire brand - product # 665-016 ................. 12 pack for $23.99

I bought these and I was satisfied. If anyone knows of a better deal please give me a heads up - thanks.....Doc

July 29, 2010, 05:44 PM
Thats about a good price.

If you want to save on battery costs, buy a Malkoff LED bulb.

I was getting 30 minutes with a 120 lumen Surefire incandescent.

I put a Malkoff 175 lumen LED in my 6P and the last set of batterys lasted 4 months!



July 29, 2010, 05:46 PM
The new tactical models aren't your daddy's flashlight.

I've got 3 now. A small Gerber that clips onto the bill of a cap for working in close quarters, working behind the computer, etc. A long S&W model that has two switches for different outputs, kept bedside. And a custom model sold here from a HR member mounted to the shotgun. This last one is a CR123-type, single LED, 200+ lumens. This is simply too powerful to look at directly, making it part of the weapon system.

July 29, 2010, 06:05 PM
Sure Fire brand - product # 665-016 ................. 12 pack for $23.99
I often see CR123s at police supply houses for $1.98-sometimes you have to look/ask as they tend to hide 'em in the display cases.
FWIW, I've tended to use Energizer brand-they're one of the few that print the expiration date on 'em-makes it nice to know the expiration date when you stock up on 'em so you make sure you rotate stock by date.
I just checked some Streamlight and Surefire CR123s I have-neither of 'em have the date stamped on 'em.

July 29, 2010, 06:43 PM
Deleted - Duplicate of post #9 and I have "NoAlibi" as to how that happened! :D

July 30, 2010, 07:43 AM
Was recently given a Inova T4 Tactical Flashlight and it really rocks! It has a rechargable Li-Ion battery with a run time of 2 hrs. Comes with a charger base and either 12 volt plug or 120 house current. Its not cheap but extremly well made with high power setting,low power and a strobe setting.It sells for $115.00 at Flashlightsunlimited. I know its expemsive but I think its going to last a lifetime.

July 30, 2010, 07:50 AM
Thought a pic of the Inova might be good.

gun guy
August 10, 2010, 11:01 AM
we use mag lites because they are rugged. a plastic flashlight might not make it thru one shift. Mag lites are expensive enough, beyond that the super tech lights dont seem worth it. flashlights in the field have a hard life, bashed over peoples heads, run over by trucks, left in the mud, name it. a mag lite is a pricey enough write off. we looked into the hi zoot models, at the rate stuff is destroyed, its just not worth it for serious field ops.

September 6, 2010, 01:21 PM
To the guy above me I'm a firefighter and we use streamlight lights all of which are plastic and many have been ran over by our tanker which is 6thousand gallons of water plus the weight of the truck and it did nothing to the light except scuff it I have used maglights and there good for around the house use but they are so cheaply made I would have to have one for every hour I wanted to use it and the streamlights are rechargeable with 30 minute chargers

Jim Watson
September 6, 2010, 04:54 PM
I put a Malkoff 175 lumen LED in my 6P and the last set of batterys lasted 4 months!

That's great.
They only advertise 5 hours.

September 6, 2010, 07:09 PM
I've been hauling around Mag-Lites for lots of years. For me, they were not, and are not very reliable. Switch gets all wierd, bulbs are waaay too fragile, but they were comforting:). We have one (with spare bulbs) in each vehicle.

Side note: Duracell, in the microscopic fine print, warrants that their batterys will not swell, corrode or otherwise damage the appliance that they were used in. Save receipts for the flashlight and batteries. Getting both at the same location helps.

Maybe like Colt, the Mag Light folks are trading on history. There are way better light sources available now. I continue to carry the shirt pocket Mag Light though.

As a practical aid for me, I like the skinny, pencil, two AAA battery light that is in my shirt pocket every day. I can even read a menu in dim light.

An LED flex Spike light lasts for weeks even if I leave the light on and doze off while reading a time or two.

I have a Spike in the wheel well, travel kit, and the glove box. The Mag Lights are closer to hand though. Dumb on me.


September 6, 2010, 07:41 PM
The best LED flashlights will run on CR123 batteries.
And it will have only one C4 or Cree LED bulb.

eh, while that's sort of true, it's worth noting that LED technology is hella cool and advancing rapidly. LEDs emit light in a vary narrow wavelength so to make "white" light you have to combine several LEDs of different colors together or use phosphor, which i believe is what is taking place in the bulbs mentioned above.

however, i believe the future is in solid state lighting and LED arrays, not just in flashlights, but also replacing florescent and incandescent bulbs

September 6, 2010, 07:43 PM
I can even read a menu in dim light.

Yeah, I've had folks laugh when I pulled out one of my lights and started reading the menu. But then they are usually asking if they can borrow it thirty seconds later.

I spend a little more on decent flashlights because I got tired of buying cheap ones all the time.

I guess the OP was a drive-by....

September 6, 2010, 10:23 PM
Well being the cheap SOB that I am (that would be frugal to you!), I ain't gonna spend "dozens of dollars" on a light-I finally got around to buying some Streamlight LED lights for comparison (and to give as gifts) now that prices have started to fall. Prices listed are what I paid for 'em with a little shopping (those are TOTAL prices, including delivery).
All have end cap switch-push for temp light, push harder to click for constant on (except the Nightfighter, which is twist for constant on-still push for temp light).

Streamlight 66318 MicroStream LED Pen Flashlight ($16) (http://www.amazon.com/Streamlight-66318-MicroStream-LED-Flashlight/dp/B00143JZ08/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=hi&qid=1283824955&sr=8-1)
1 AAA battery, not bad light for what it is, but a bit small for my hand (nice for small hands/children?)

Streamlight 66118 Stylus Pro Black LED Pen Flashlight with Holster ($18) (http://www.amazon.com/Streamlight-66118-Stylus-Flashlight-Holster/dp/B0015UC17E/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=hi&qid=1283825033&sr=1-1)
Basically, same light as above, but longer (pen length) and uses 2 AAA batteries.
Nice for pocket, fits hand, can't really tell any difference in light output from above.

Streamlight 71500 JR C4 LED Flashlight, Black ($26) (http://www.amazon.com/Streamlight-71500-LED-Flashlight-Black/dp/B0002IO2A4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=hi&qid=1283825151&sr=1-1)
A step up in light output! I'm probably going to get more of these-slightly bigger than a 2-AA Maglite, serious step up in output, and use easily found/cheap AA batteries (2).

Streamlight 88005 Night Fighter NF, C4 LED Tactical Flashlight, Black ($60) (http://www.amazon.com/Streamlight-88005-Fighter-Tactical-Flashlight/dp/B00091V2KC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=hi&qid=1283825237&sr=1-1)
What I tote/have by my bed/use with my gun. Again a step up from the above, uses 2 CR123s, and the doughnut makes using/operating with your gun and a two-handed hold easy/convenient. I have 3 of these darn things!

Wait-mebbe I did spend dozens of dollars, but at least it was for dozens of flashlights! :D :banghead:

September 6, 2010, 10:39 PM
Now I am not going to go spend a couple hundred dollars on a flashlight but I sure don't mind spending some money either. If I am pulling wire through someones attic or sweating copper plumbing lines in someones crawl space i need to see. I don't want a flashlight that is heavy, unreliable, that I have to bang around to get it to come on. Bottom line I want something that works. I tried the min-mag lights with the led bulbs. While they are plenty bright and light weight they don't seem to last. I broke down and bought a surefire E2 and have not felt like I wasted a dime.

September 9, 2010, 05:32 AM
I have several high dollar lights, most of them from Surefire/Streamlight. I like having quality equipment that will work when I need it to, but I rely on my equipment more due to being in Law Enforcement. I have had several cheapo lights that never really impressed me with performance or service life.

So I don't mind spending more money for a quality light. Never know when my life may depend on it.

September 9, 2010, 06:06 AM
Brightness, size, durability, battery life. One or two of those don't cost much, but to get all 4 in the same package starts to add up.

September 12, 2010, 11:26 PM
Thanks, you guys have rekindled my flashlight fetish. Until now, I was content with the six or seven lights I have. Now I have to go checkout some of the brands mentioned here.


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