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Ideal Lumens for Tactical Light ?

Discussion in 'Shooting Gear and Storage' started by rrruuunnn, Dec 25, 2009.

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  1. black bear

    black bear Member

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    A lumen figure is many times not enough to tell the power, range and usefulness of a light.
    For indoor and close outdoor use I consider the popular pocket or tactical lights (Fenix TK 10, Olight 20 etc.) good enough for about 50 yards.

    The limiting factor in throw, of course is the diameter of the reflector and the fact that many tactical lights are now LED’s.
    Any way even in the popular incandescent light from Surefire like the 9P (200 lumens lamp) or C-3 also with the P-91 lamp, the limiting factor in throw was (or still is) the size of the reflector.

    To provide a light with good throw for those that needed it, Surefire went to the M-4 (So popular in the CSI series) and the M-6 that have a reflector of about 2” in diameter.

    In the new LED’s lights the limiting factor in achieving range is that the white LED beam lack definition when the target is at certain distance.
    I have a fire hydrant at exactly 88 yards from my front door, that hydrant is getting hit all the time by many lights that I have or are brought into the house by friends and visitors.
    None of the LED’s can show detail of that hydrant as well as the incandescent with the same diameter reflector, many of the pictures of beam shots I have taken thru the years shows the lack of definition when making comparisons between the LED’s and the incandescent.

    A post of mine called “When a lumen is not a lumen” should be read to understand the situation, and the importance that reflector size have in sending a beam of light a good way out.


    WHEN A LUMEN IS NOT A LUMEN

    A lumen is not a lumen when somebody intends to throw a big bunch of them out of a small reflector the size of a dime or nickel. At least it seems to be that way.

    It used to be easy to tell the power of a light by the lumens figure, not anymore. You could be an experience user of lights, say a policeman that had used for years a 200 lumens Magchager and is well acquainted with its capabilities. Now he reads about this small light the size of a thumb that also outputs 200 lumens and is all excited to get the new marvel.

    He does and is promptly disappointed because the small light seems to throw a good amount of light, but all close by, and is nothing that can compare with his duty Magcharger that can illuminate objects at 100 yards.

    Besides emitters in the 200 lumens bracket can kill themselves with the heat that they produce when they are used in small lights with poor heat sinking. It is mostly a novelty thing and it should be used with caution. Some of them come in lights with multiple settings, and that is fine when the literature advice you to use the 200 lumens sparingly, and you follow that advice.

    To illustrate the point, here are a couple of pictures of beam shots at 20 yards, you can clearly see the superiority of the Bear Cub (reflector size 2”) over the Lightstar 220, (reflector the size of a dime) even when both lights are rated at 220 lumens.

    LIGHTSTAR 220 LUMENS AT 20 YARDS

    terra220.jpg

    BEAR CUB 220 LUMENS AT 20 YARDS

    bc220one.jpg


    Some manufacturers wishing to quote big numbers are now putting clusters of these small reflectors on duty size flashlights. Mind you these clusters that are from three to four are still all small reflectors with limited throw.
    So, somebody putting a cluster of four reflectors in a big head can claim 800 lumens, but you know better now, knowing that those 200 lumens for each reflector are not really behaving like real lumens!

    Unfortunately I don’t have one of those lights to prove the point. But I can get my own cluster of lights in the 200 lumens bracket, and demonstrate by picture what can you expect.

    I have here two of the Lightstar220 lumens, plus a Fenix P3D of 205 lumens and an Ultra Fire with Rebel emitter of 200 lumens, all of which together in a cluster will throw the figure of 845 lumens.

    The opposite number is a Black Bear 720 lumens flashlight, a light that is 10” long and weights 24 oz. and uses a 2” reflector that can throw several hundred of yards with a strong white light.

    HERE IS THE PICTURE OF THE CONTENDERS

    clustervsonereflector.jpg

    The distance for both beam shots is in this case 35 yards to the target (The no trespassing sign tacked in the tree). The camera is 20 yards from the target.

    CLUSTER OF REFLECTORS 845 LUMENS

    clusterreflectors.jpg


    BLACK BEAR 720 LUMENS ONE REFLECTOR 2”

    onereflector720.jpg

    Observe how the beam of the 720 lumens light travels beyond the range of the cluster lights, illuminating objects that the cluster lights are not capable of showing.
    So, if you are in the market for a new light, this use of small reflectors in clusters to boost lumens figures is something you should be aware off.

    Cheers
    Black Bear
     
  2. Rmfcasey

    Rmfcasey Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2009
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    It seems to prove that the bigger tool is always better!!!
    Rmfcasey
     
  3. Fred Fuller

    Fred Fuller Moderator Emeritus

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    Since the discussion here seems to be exclusively about hardware, and since no one seems to be addressing strategies and tactics, I'm moving this thread to Firearms Accessories.

    lpl
     
  4. rrruuunnn

    rrruuunnn Member

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    Location:
    Texas
    I'm puttin some d cell holders for aa batteries to lighten the maglight. And I think that I can find a bulb with optimun lumens. I think the mags are good for disarming knives, etc.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2010
  5. JLtZD

    JLtZD Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2010
    Messages:
    12
    I really like the fenix lights, 200+ lumens in strobe mode can be a bit much to bear with your eyes unadjusted. If you got used to it, it could give the upper hand during the critical 'target identification' phase.
     
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