Light Review: Fenix PD36 TAC

In this review of the Fenix PD36 TAC, I’m going to be taking a detailed look at the details, comparing its performance to the specifications, checking out the beam and how usable it is. The review includes video content as well as photo galleries and technical testing results.
Join me in this look over the Fenix PD36 TAC Flashlight / Torch, a light built around the increasingly common larger 21700 cell (compared to the typical 18650 previously used). This has a specialised tail-cap with physical lockout, dedicated ‘Tactical’ setting, and a normal ‘duty’ multi-mode setting.
Let’s get to really know the Fenix PD36 TAC!

Video Overview

Starting out with the video overview of the PD36 TAC.


What is in the box?:

Unpacking the PD36 TAC and its accessories.


Taking a more detailed look at the holster:

Before moving onto the PD36 TAC itself, this is a run round the supplied belt holster.


A good look round the PD36 TAC – Things to look out for here are:
In the gallery are details of the design, the clip, bezel, contacts, threads, battery, and more…


The beam

Please be careful not to judge tint based on images you see on a computer screen. Unless properly calibrated, the screen itself will change the perceived tint.

The indoor beamshot is intended to give an idea of the beam shape/quality rather than tint. All beamshots are taken using daylight white balance. The woodwork (stairs and skirting) are painted Farrow & Ball “Off-White”, and the walls are a light sandy colour called ‘String’ again by Farrow & Ball. I don’t actually have a ‘white wall’ in the house to use for this, and my wife won’t have one!

Below are the indoor and outdoor beamshots giving you an idea of throw and spill. The PD36 TAC has a great balanced beam with great area lighting.


Batteries and output:

The PD36 TAC runs on the supplied 21700 USB-C rechargeable cell.

Please note, all quoted lumen figures are from a DIY integrating sphere, and according to ANSI standards. Although every effort is made to give as accurate a result as possible, they should be taken as an estimate only. The results can be used to compare outputs in this review and others I have published.

Measured output is a great match for the specifications.

For the runtime graphs, I have included runs for Turbo and Tactical, which have different starting outputs. Also included is a graph of the first six minutes to better show the difference between Turbo and Tactical modes.


The PD36 TAC in use
The general change towards using 21700 cells is great for two reasons; better runtime/output and a comfortable size to hold. If you were completely unaware of the reason the battery tube was larger than previous generations that run on 18650, you would just be thinking the PD36 TAC is nice and comfortable to hold. The fact that it now houses a 21700 cell with that 5000mAh capacity is a further bonus to the comfort in the hand. Win win at this point.

With that greater capacity of the 21700 cell, this compact tactical light can pump out a huge 3000lm. Go back and look at the runtime graphs to see how impressively the PD36 TAC keeps its output going. The output limitation is more down to thermal capacity for longer runs.

This is the first of this style of Fenix tactical tail-cap I have been able to try. It has three functional modes. One is a simple and solid physical lockout. Line the selector ring up with the padlock, and the button does not move.

The selector ring certainly feels secure enough in its positioning that you won’t be accidentally going between locked and unlocked by accident. You pre-select the type of use you want and leave it there. Bear in mind, you can also use this to lock the PD36 TAC on. If you first turn it on to a mode you want and then rotate the selector ring to the padlock, you can’t turn it off again.

Being designed as a ‘Tactical’ light, most users will likely keep it in ‘Tactical’ mode – instant 2000lm output with momentary or latched action. Half press the tail-switch for momentary output, complete the press to latch it on (or just go for the full press to start with). Holding the switch fully in for about 1s and you enter strobe mode.

Move the selector round to the ‘Duty’ mode and you have access to five different output levels. Starting on ‘eco’ the first time you use it, but after that the last used level is remembered. Changing modes requires a half press – this can either be a half press from off and then cycle through modes before latching on, or a half press after turning the PD36 TAC on with a full press, the half presses then cycling through modes. Personally I would have preferred an automatic reset to eco after a few seconds being off as after not using it for a period of time, you won’t know if you had eco or turbo set, and this could be quite a shock.

The Fenix PD36 TAC is a purposeful lighting tool, and can instantly be reconfigured as either a dedicated ‘Tactical’ light or into a multi-mode ‘Duty’ light to fit with your needs.


Review Summary
The views expressed in this summary table are from the point of view of the reviewer’s personal use. I am not a member of the armed forces and cannot comment on its use beyond that covered in the review.

Something that might be a ‘pro’ for one user can be a ‘con’ for another, so the comments are categorised based on my requirements. You should consider all points and if they could be beneficial to you.

_______________________________________________
What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________

‘Duty’ mode last used level remembered (so could be on eco or turbo).
Tail-switch has a relatively stiff action.
No grip ring provided.

_______________________________________________
Things I like
_______________________________________________

Great area lighting beam profile.
Nearly 3000lm from a compact light.
Three function tail-cap selector ring.
Dedicated ‘Tactical’ mode.
Proper physical lockout.
Uses a large capacity 21700 cell.
Supplied cell has built-in USB-C charging.
Very usable holster supplied.

Light Review: Cyansky H3 and H5 (built-in Red/Green Filter)

Cyansky have come up with a novel way to solve the problem of having multiple colours of light in a single device without many of the compromises multi-LED or LED swapping lights might have. Most people will have come across, or used, colour filters to change the output of a white beam, but these are easily forgotten or lost. In the Cyansky H3 and H5 hunting models, glass filters are completely contained within the head of the light and the patented mechanism lets you drop a red or green filter in front of the XHP35 HI LED with a simple twist of the control ring – nothing else needed. The H3 and H5 use the increasingly popular 21700 cell to provide more power and runtime, but can run on an 18650 or 2 CR123s for added versatility.
Join me in the detailed examination of these two hunting lights and see how they perform.

Video Overview

Starting with a look over these light in a short video.

This is what arrived from Cyansky –

A good look round the H3 – Things to look out for here are:
As you may have already seen in the video, first up are the contents of the box. The H3 has a belt hanger (rather than full holster) providing a head-up belt carry option. Moving round the H3 and we get onto the mode switch and filter control ring at the base of the head. The tail-switch is semi-recessed, so allowing for tail standing, but with cutouts to ease access to the switch. The stainless bezel ring is wide and well finished. And then a first look at one of the filters.
The H3 comes with a 21700 with built-in USB-C charging. As it arrives there is a plastic insulator to prevent accidental discharge in the light.


A good look round the H5 – Things to look out for here are:
With the H5, the details are the same as for the H3, so I won’t repeat them, the difference is in the much larger head and reflector to give extra beam range.
One small observation which doesn’t affect function at all is that the mode switch has room to move about and twist, so might look a little ‘off’. This doesn’t affect function at all, and is only mentioned in case you see the button looking slightly twisted (this is the same for both models).


The Remote Switch and scope mount:
The supplied remote switch replaces the tail-cap of either the H3 or H5. The remote switches are in a rail-mount unit, and you have a momentary only switch, plus a forward clicky latching switch much like the original tail switch.
The scope mount is basic and easy to use, but I would not use it for heavy duty setups. For smaller calibers and for quick tool-less mounting it works well, and has enough stand off for the H3 or H5.


The Cyansky special feature – built-in colour filters:
Now for a set of images to just show the built-in filter change. I’ve used the H3 here as with the smaller head it is easier to see the filter better than with the H5. First no filter – with the filter holder just having a little bit of extra reflector round the base of the LED. Then part of the way to dropping a filter in place (this is NOT how you use it, just showing the filter holder disk rotating). Finally with the red and green glass filters shown in place over the LED.


The beam

Please be careful not to judge tint based on images you see on a computer screen. Unless properly calibrated, the screen itself will change the perceived tint.

The indoor beamshot is intended to give an idea of the beam shape/quality rather than tint. All beamshots are taken using daylight white balance. The woodwork (stairs and skirting) are painted Farrow & Ball “Off-White”, and the walls are a light sandy colour called ‘String’ again by Farrow & Ball. I don’t actually have a ‘white wall’ in the house to use for this, and my wife won’t have one!

Stepping through these beamshots we have the H3 white beam, then H5 white beam, and as you go through the gallery it is H3 then H5 to show a direct comparison on each colour indoors and out.


Batteries and output:

The two models runs on 21700 cells. Logging the built-in USB-C charging gives these traces for the cell provided with each light.

Please note, all quoted lumen figures are from a DIY integrating sphere, and according to ANSI standards. Although every effort is made to give as accurate a result as possible, they should be taken as an estimate only. The results can be used to compare outputs in this review and others I have published.

The Output table also includes the manufacturer specified lumens for comparison.

For the runtime trace, only the highest and lowest output colours were used (white and red) and all traces were run on maximum power.


The H3 and H5 in use

The first aspect to mention is how the H3 and H5 themselves compare. Actually this photo doesn’t show it accurately, but from the control ring to tail-cap, the H3 and H5 are identical. Not a surprise as they run on the same cell, have the some output specifications (apart from beam range), and have the same controls. So when holding them, they are the same for grip and controls.

With the larger head, and larger reflector, the H5 does have the edge in overall output, and it focuses the beam more for a longer reach. This gallery shows some longer distant photos on a golf course driving range. The H3 and H5 beams compared directly. The focus of the H5 is clearly visible at these longer ranges.


Using a zoom rifle scope this gallery has a set of images at the same exposure to show the gain in distance the H5 has over the H3. The magnification is set to 8x in this first gallery.
Important to note is that the distance markers the scope is aimed at are 250 yards, and that the H3 is still usable on white output, but struggles a bit at this range on the coloured output.
Also bear in mind that I am using a .22lr on this course, so 250 yards it beyond the limit I would take a shot.


Now taking the scope to 16x magnification. Although all the images here are the same exposure, I have had to use a longer exposure than for the 8x magnification. At this range and magnification the H3 was pushed too far. the H5 was still working well.
This was to test the limits for range and scope magnification. (At 32x magnification I could not get any photos to come out.)


All of the above proves the H3 and H5 work well on or off a rifle, and the coloured output filters, being built-in, are so convenient, allowing for changes of output colour with nothing but a turn of the control ring.
Although I normally use dedicated coloured lights (so the LED is red or green) due to being most efficient and having the best quality of beam, it means I need to carry entire replacement lights to change colour. There are also LED swapping lights on the market but these compromise the thermal path as the heat sink has to move. With the H3 and H5, the single LED has an optimal thermal path for heat sinking.
Using filters on any light does reduce efficiency as you are ‘wasting’ up to 93% of the actual output (in the case of the red 1306lm down to 94lm). This is the cost of the convenience of instant access to red green or white light.

As long as you have a suitable rail to mount the remote switch on, this switch works really well. By including both a dedicated momentary switch, and a latching forward-clicky switch that gives you momentary and permanent on options, you have all you might want. If you don’t have a rail in the right place, this switch won’t really work for you, so consider this before choosing.

If you normally use a dedicated coloured light, then do you switch to the H3 and H5? – if you ever have a need to change between red, white, and green, then the all-in-one solution these Cyansky lights give you allows you to stop carrying additional separate lights.
If you use, or would consider using colour filters, then the H3 and H5 are no-brainers. Why would you want external filters you can lose, that are often a plastic filter material, when you can have self-contained selectable glass filters?

Review Summary
The views expressed in this summary table are from the point of view of the reviewer’s personal use. I am not a member of the armed forces and cannot comment on its use beyond that covered in the review.

Something that might be a ‘pro’ for one user can be a ‘con’ for another, so the comments are categorised based on my requirements. You should consider all points and if they could be beneficial to you.

_______________________________________________
What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________

Using filters is not efficient compared to dedicated coloured lights.
The mode button can look a little twisted as it has a little too much room to move.
Basic belt hanger provided.

_______________________________________________
Things I like
_______________________________________________

Glass filters are used.
Simple turn of the control ring to change filter colour.
21700 power (plus can use 18650 or CR123 if needed).
Supplied 21700 is USB-C chargeable.
Good choice of beam pattern between the H3 and longer reaching H5.

You can find the Official Cyansky Store Here, if you would like to get hold of these lights. (I have no affiliation and get no reward for you buying from this link).

Light Review: Fenix WT16R and WT20R

I’ve always liked functional lights, those lights that not only give you light, but give you various options for positioning and types of light. Typically they are not the mega-lumen monsters, instead with more modest outputs, but with a focus on utility. One of the latest releases from Fenix is the WT16R which compliments the existing WT20R model, and this detailed review is of the Fenix WT16R and WT20R from the ‘WT’ Work Light series.

A ‘First Look’ Video of the WT16R and WT20R:


A good look round the WT16R – Things to look out for here are:
The WT16R on test is actually a pre-production model (but of the final construction), so did not have any packaging. It has a fully fixed body where nothing moves or opens, and has a non-removable built-in USB-C rechargeable cell. The WT16R has a main spot beam at the front and a large side panel to provide area flood lighting (and a flashing amber option). A clip and two magnets allow for various mounting options, and the design allows for free-standing use as well, plus it definitely won’t roll away.


A good look round the WT20R – Things to look out for here are:
An articulated head, how I love an articulated head. The WT20R has me straight away on that one alone. But then it much more; look out for the illuminated side switch, metal bezel, twin beam types and dual-fuel ability with the supplied li-ion and you can also fit it with AAs (not provided).


The beam

Please be careful not to judge tint based on images you see on a computer screen. Unless properly calibrated, the screen itself will change the perceived tint.

The indoor beamshot is intended to give an idea of the beam shape/quality rather than tint. All beamshots are taken using daylight white balance. The woodwork (stairs and skirting) are painted Farrow & Ball “Off-White”, and the walls are a light sandy colour called ‘String’ again by Farrow & Ball. I don’t actually have a ‘white wall’ in the house to use for this, and my wife won’t have one!

For each of the following galleries the exposure was set to the same to directly compare the two beam types from each light.

WT16R Beamshots
(The WT16R’s flashing amber mode is not represented here.)


WT20R Beamshots


Batteries and output:

The WT16R runs on a non-removable built-in USB-C rechargeable cell, and the WT20R is supplied with a USB rechargeable li-ion cell but can also use AAs.

Please note, all quoted lumen figures are from a DIY integrating sphere, and according to ANSI standards. Although every effort is made to give as accurate a result as possible, they should be taken as an estimate only. The results can be used to compare outputs in this review and others I have published.

Note the Parasitic drain of the WT16R cannot be measured, and for the WT20R the li-ion and AA values differ slightly. Also note that when using AAs, the WT20R cannot output on High.

The following gallery has the lumen output graph and USB recharging trace for the WT16R first, then the WT20R. For the WT16R the two traces are the spot and flood beam outputs, and for the WT20R the two traces are for the (higher output) flood beam, but powered with the supplied li-ion cell and then AA Eneloop cells.


The WT16R and WT20R in use:
This gallery actually says without words most of what I want to say, so let’s start with that…


The first of those images shows the WT16R using its tail magnet to give downward facing hands-free lighting from the side panel flood light, along with the WT20R aiming at another area. Then the WT16R on the front of a boiler lighting up the control panel. Remember there is also a second magnet on the clip, so if you needed to tuck the WT16R up under something you can do this as well. Similarly you can use the spot beam if you need the light concentrated in a smaller area.

Onto the WT20R and its articulated head. The gallery has a photo showing the extreme angle range the head can be moved to, it is not just 90 degrees of motion, but 105 degrees of motion from fully straight to a slight downward angle when tail-standing it. Combined with the magnetic tail, the WT20R is a superbly ‘aim-able’ light. You can mount/stand it and then angle the head to put the light exactly where you want it, easily and quickly. You even have a choice of flood or spot beams as well.

These are true ‘working lights’. They are illumination tools, and designed such that you can use them hands-free and put them into difficult locations which you might not be able to with a headlamp.

Using side switches makes the controls very natural to use, the only minor comment I would have on this is that the side the power switch is on is better suited to right-handed use. When using the WT20R with head angled, or the WT16R’s side panel light, for left-handed use this means either using a finger curled round underneath, or a slightly switch on and twist round action. This minor point is unavoidable really, so is not a criticism, more of a consideration.

If you have one or both of these you will wonder why you struggled on with a normal light for so long, when these make mobile task-lighting a breeze.

Review Summary
The views expressed in this summary table are from the point of view of the reviewer’s personal use. I am not a member of the armed forces and cannot comment on its use beyond that covered in the review.

Something that might be a ‘pro’ for one user can be a ‘con’ for another, so the comments are categorised based on my requirements. You should consider all points and if they could be beneficial to you.

_______________________________________________
What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________

WT16R – has a non-removable cell, so no on-the-go battery changes.
WT20R – the battery door clip can be a bit awkward to release.

_______________________________________________
Things I like
_______________________________________________

WT16R – Side panel flood and Front spot output.
WT16R – Side panel flood also has flashing amber mode.
WT16R – USB-C charging.
WT16R – Ergonomic Side switch.
WT16R – Wide, strong clip.
WT16R – Two different magnetic mounting points.
WT16R – Power level gauge.
WT20R – Beam can be switched from flood to spot.
WT20R – 105 degrees of head articulation.
WT20R – Duel-fuel option of supplied li-ion or AA.
WT20R – Supplied li-ion cell is USB rechargeable.
WT20R – Wide, strong clip.
WT20R – Magnetic base.
WT20R – Ergonomic Side switch.
WT20R – Power level gauge.

 
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Light Review: Acebeam L35 – 5000 Lumen Tactical Flashlight

For me, finally, the long awaited arrival of an Acebeam L35. In fact, for this test sample I had given up all hope and written it off as lost, but amazingly it did arrive, only five months late! (courier issue, not Acebeam) Clearly it was meant to be (eventually), and as with all Acebeam lights I have tested, immediately showed its mettle. Join me in this belated review of the Acebeam L35, a 5000 Lumen tactical flashlight.

First Look Video:
This is a first look Review of the Acebeam L35 5000 Lumen Tactical Flashlight. ‘First look’ as at this point I had not carried out the full technical testing and output traces.


With the box being destroyed in transit, it is not shown. This is what was in the package when it arrived.


A run round the holster:
A quick run round the L35’s supplied belt holster.


Details of the L35 – Things to look out for here are:
The L35 has a nice large head which really aids the handling, an interesting spiral pattern grip on the tube, tail and side switches, plus a double-walled battery tube to provide an extra control signal connection.


The beam

Please be careful not to judge tint based on images you see on a computer screen. Unless properly calibrated, the screen itself will change the perceived tint.

The indoor beamshot is intended to give an idea of the beam shape/quality rather than tint. All beamshots are taken using daylight white balance. The woodwork (stairs and skirting) are painted Farrow & Ball “Off-White”, and the walls are a light sandy colour called ‘String’ again by Farrow & Ball. I don’t actually have a ‘white wall’ in the house to use for this, and my wife won’t have one!

Even though not a LEP light, the raw power of the 5000lm output does create a visibly projected beam.


Batteries and output:

The L35 runs on a USB-C re-chargeable 21700 5100mAh cell provided with the light.

Please note, all quoted lumen figures are from a DIY integrating sphere, and according to ANSI standards. Although every effort is made to give as accurate a result as possible, they should be taken as an estimate only. The results can be used to compare outputs in this review and others I have published.

Also included here is a charging trace for the 21700 cell and a zoomed in runtime trace to show the first part in detail.


The L35 in use
We are all very used to tactical lights being based on the single 18650 / 2x CR123 framework, so the L35 might seem to be going in the wrong direction. For me that is not at all the case. The body is very comfortable to hold, the larger head give the L35 some presence and a stable front end to stand it on.

The ‘Ace’ delivered here is also the function provided by a tail and side switch. Making the tail-switch a dedicated maximum output switch, provides the true ‘tactical’ simple high output. The side-switch then delivers the rest – the more usable set of modes and ergonomic handling, for low stress situations. A really usable combination of modes and controls.

In an ideal world, the ‘moon’ mode could be a little dimmer. It’s not blinding with dark adapted eyes, but it is a little more disturbing for anyone you want to leave sleeping peacefully.

Talk about blinding – maximum output. Instant access to over 4000 lm from a small light (4769 lm at switch-on), it certainly is impressive and overwhelming at close range. But look at the runtime graph and you see that output (as is typical) dropping immediately, and by 60s from turn on you have 1500lm. So the headline figure is short lived and mainly available as an instantaneous blast.

There is nothing wrong with this as you have to manage significant heat output and the L35 is not a big light, so there is not much thermal ballast, the 5000lm figure is always going to be in short bursts. Despite this, it is a solid performer and you will soon realise that you actually rarely want that much light when you are also right there next to it.

With the side switch, and output level memory, the L35 also becomes a superb every day light. Pick you favourite output mode and a single tap to access it. I know many swear by tail-switches, and they have their place, but for every day tasks, the side switch gives you a more natural way to hold it.

Although the L35 can’t tail-stand, it has enough leakage due to the bezel crenellations, when head-standing that you have a gentle background light. I’ve found myself using this quite a bit, but being careful not to use anything other than moon, low or mid1 just in case it heats the desk too much.

It is a bit bigger than my typical EDC light, but moving to a new phrase I’m coining, it is an excellent EDU (Every day use) light, and I’ve made space for it.

Review Summary
The views expressed in this summary table are from the point of view of the reviewer’s personal use. I am not a member of the armed forces and cannot comment on its use beyond that covered in the review.

Something that might be a ‘pro’ for one user can be a ‘con’ for another, so the comments are categorised based on my requirements. You should consider all points and if they could be beneficial to you.

_______________________________________________
What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________

Moon mode is a bit bright.
Not quite 5000lm output.
Output drops to 1500lm after 1 minute.
No anti-roll.

_______________________________________________
Things I like
_______________________________________________

Great ergonomics.
Side and tail switches.
21700 cell with 5100mAh for power.
4769 lm output at switch-on.
Very usable interface.
Includes holster.
Large head provides smooth beam and stable head-standing.

If you found this review helpful and would like to support further reviews, please use this link to Acebeam should you decide to buy one.

 
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Light Review: Fenix PD 32 V2.0

The Fenix PD32 V2.0 is quite different from its predecessor, with a new soft-action two-stage tail switch instead of the earlier model’s tail and side switch configuration. With this new layout also comes a significant boost in output and a slimmer profile. In this review of the Fenix PD32 V2.0 I’ve tested actual output, runtime and other technical measurements along with detailed examination of the design in video and photos.

A good look round the Fenix PD32 V2.0:
This example was an early final production model and came without the packaging. The video also shows the measurement of parasitic drain.


Gallery of the details:


The beam

Please be careful not to judge tint based on images you see on a computer screen. Unless properly calibrated, the screen itself will change the perceived tint.

The indoor beamshot is intended to give an idea of the beam shape/quality rather than tint. All beamshots are taken using daylight white balance. The woodwork (stairs and skirting) are painted Farrow & Ball “Off-White”, and the walls are a light sandy colour called ‘String’ again by Farrow & Ball. I don’t actually have a ‘white wall’ in the house to use for this, and my wife won’t have one!

The beam is tuned more towards throw, which is quite clear in both the indoor and outdoor beamshots.


Batteries and output:

The Fenix PD32 V2.0 runs on a micro-USB chargeable 18650 3500mAh cell. Below is the charging trace for this cell. A full charge taking around 4 hours.

Please note, all quoted lumen figures are from a DIY integrating sphere, and according to ANSI standards. Although every effort is made to give as accurate a result as possible, they should be taken as an estimate only. The results can be used to compare outputs in this review and others I have published.

Of note here are some of the comments in the PWM column. There isn’t any classic PWM but instead a noise remnant in the output meaning there is a slight wavering in the output at high frequency and this is not at all visible.


Actual measured runtime output trace for maximum output.


The Fenix PD32 V2.0 in use

Next to a 2xAA light, the single 18650 (or 2x CR123) size of light is one of the best to hold. The Fenix PD32 V2.0 is a very comfortable size and shape with a head not much bigger than the battery tube. General form and size make for a very handy light.


For me, the tailcap layout is a compromise due to having the ability to tail-stand. The raised sections, which also provide lanyard attachment points, do obstruct the tail switch and make it more difficult to access as you have to ‘reach over’ these. For momentary use, this can work quite well as it makes it harder to push far enough for the second stage of the switch.
On a purely ‘tactical’ use case, a two-stage switch (which also changes modes) would not be my choice for a high-stress situation. I’d prefer a single function tail switch with the separate mode switch.
The soft-action of the two stage switch is a nice feature. The second stage, click-to-latch-the-output-ON, is silent. Far too many switches have loud clicks, so this is a breath of fresh air in this sense.
Readers of my other reviews will know I’m not a fan of strobe, and the strobe for the PD32 is accessed with a 0.5s hold of the switch’s second stage. This is a good implementation as you can start with a full power blast of light and it goes into the strobe, so overall a full face of light and then strobe.
Mode spacing feels a bit uneven towards being too bright on the medium mode; my preference would have been more like a 200-250lm – the measured output on medium was 429lm, higher than the specified 350lm.
With a beam profile tuned towards throw, it is still surprisingly useable for closer ranges, and the low mode has been absolutely fine for indoor use. Once you get to the longer ranges outdoor that tuned beam gives you a great reach for a compact light.

Review Summary
The views expressed in this summary table are from the point of view of the reviewer’s personal use. I am not a member of the armed forces and cannot comment on its use beyond that covered in the review.

Something that might be a ‘pro’ for one user can be a ‘con’ for another, so the comments are categorised based on my requirements. You should consider all points and if they could be beneficial to you.

_______________________________________________
What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________

Slightly restricted access to tail-switch.
Medium mode too high.
Slow recharging using cell’s built-in USB charging.

_______________________________________________
Things I like
_______________________________________________

Soft-action two-stage tail switch.
Silent switching.
Good implementation of strobe.
Well tuned beam profile.
Impressive beam range.
Compact.

As well as the Tactical Reviews Facebook Page, please consider visiting one of the following to start/join in any discussion.

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Light Review: Fenix E03R, E28R and E35 V3.0

A set of three EDC type of lights from Fenix (see MyFenix in the UK). This is a review of the Fenix E03R, E28R and E35 v3.0 covering a range of power and capacity options. Of these, the E03R has been available for the longest, with the E28R being a recent release and the E35 updated to V3.0 and using the 21700 cell with huge 5000mAh capacity.

What is in the box?:


The beam

Please be careful not to judge tint based on images you see on a computer screen. Unless properly calibrated, the screen itself will change the perceived tint.

The indoor beamshot is intended to give an idea of the beam shape/quality rather than tint. All beamshots are taken using daylight white balance. The woodwork (stairs and skirting) are painted Farrow & Ball “Off-White”, and the walls are a light sandy colour called ‘String’ again by Farrow & Ball. I don’t actually have a ‘white wall’ in the house to use for this, and my wife won’t have one!

The beamshots are divided into two sets with the indoor and outdoor beams for a more direct comparison. In the indoor set the E03R is first shown with the red beam and then onto the E03R white followed by E28R and E35 V3.0. The same order (minus the red) is used for the outdoor beams.



Batteries and output:

This gallery shows the measured charging current for the E03R, the E28R built-in charging, and the USB-chargeable cell supplied with the E35.

Please note, all quoted lumen figures are from a DIY integrating sphere, and according to ANSI standards. Although every effort is made to give as accurate a result as possible, they should be taken as an estimate only. The results can be used to compare outputs in this review and others I have published.

Parasitic drain of the E03R cannot be measured.

This gallery has two runtime graphs. the first shows all three lights together for the entire ANSI run, the second is just to show the first few minutes of the run.
The E35 is showing clear thermal regulation as it hovers around the 1800lm mark.


Troubleshooting

This section is included to mention any minor niggles I come across during testing, in case the information helps anyone else.

The E28R displays a slight flicker in the main beam once the cell has reached a low enough level that the red switch warning flash is shown. At this point the output is very low and the cell needs to be recharged. The output is still usable but the flicker noticeable. As long as the low battery warning is not displayed this does not happen.

As per the description of this section, this information is provided in case anyone else finds a similar ‘issue’ that might be fixed in the same way.

The E03R, E28R and E35 V3.0 in use

Firstly a look at the relative sizes of these three options. On its own, the E03R is almost too small and easy to drop, but is intended to be attached to something (keys, zipper etc) and once it is, it suddenly comes to life in ease of use. For the other two, Fenix has nicely created the E28R and E35 to be only slightly bigger than the cells they use to power them, so your choice is almost more about the size and capacity of cell you want to have.


The interfaces of all the lights is basically the same apart from the E03R having red light instead of strobe. Press and hold to turn on, tap to change mode and press and hold to turn off. The last used output is memorised apart from the E03R which always starts on low.
A little trick to get the E28R and E35 to start on low is to use the lockout feature (double tap when off, and then double tap again to unlock) as the lowest output is selected when coming out of lockout.
Personally I would prefer an option to allow a single click to turn on as the press and hold is less immediate when using it.
The switch is relatively low profile on all three models, and just by feel, can be tricky to find. The E03R can just be held in a pinch grip and even if the button is underneath it will operate. For the E20R and E35, I found the pocket clip essential for ‘indexing’ my grip and finding the power switch. The clip is free to rotate around the tube, so the alignment can be off if you are not careful. I do like a side switch for daily use.
Beam tint is nicely neutral to warm, with the TIR optics giving a easy to use beam.
When you have the convenience of the built-in USB charging port, the drag of having to unscrew the light to charge the battery (E35) becomes more apparent. Perhaps the E35 v4.0 will have the USB-C charging built into the head like the E28R? Of course this is balanced by the cell having a healthy 5000mAh capacity, so unless you are always blasting the highest output level you should have a good time between charges.
A little note on the E03R red beam. Typically you want to keep light levels low when using red, so it is a pity there is no direct to red option. However, this is easily worked-around by simply holding the front of the E03R against your hand/leg/whatever while holding the power button, and do this long enough to reach the red output before using it. As the majority of use is most likely white anyway, it is no real hardship to do this when red output is needed.

Review Summary
The views expressed in this summary table are from the point of view of the reviewer’s personal use. I am not a member of the armed forces and cannot comment on its use beyond that covered in the review.

Something that might be a ‘pro’ for one user can be a ‘con’ for another, so the comments are categorised based on my requirements. You should consider all points and if they could be beneficial to you.

_______________________________________________
What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________

Power button difficult to find by feel.
Press to hold delay in switching on and off.
Lowest mode not low enough.

_______________________________________________
Things I like
_______________________________________________

Excellent general purpose smooth EDC beams.
Super tough TIR optics.
Very powerful.
USB-C charging – no separate charger needed.
E03R has choice of red or white beams.
Low parasitic drain.
EDC friendly side-switch.
Lightweight, simple and easy to carry.

 
Discussing the Review:
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As well as the Tactical Reviews Facebook Page, please consider visiting one of the following to start/join in any discussion.

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Light Review: Fenix TK30 White Laser LEP

LEP, what is LEP? Laser Excited Phosphor, the new super thrower with a highly focused beam; and I was certainly excited to try out the Fenix (see MyFenix in the UK) TK30 White LEP light. I first came across the concept of LEP to be used as a long range tactical scope illuminator for snipers, and there is no doubt this is a highly specialised type of light. For long range scope illumination it is outstanding, and for the general lighting enthusiast it is a lightsaber, with near laser beam like projection.

First up is a video which covers the basics of a look round the TK30 and some outdoor video to show the incredible beam. This page has a lot more detail including the measured output figures, runtime graph and photos of the beam.

What is in the box?:


A good look round the TK30 – Things to look out for here are:
The TK30 comes with an excellent belt holster, and a 21700 cell that has a built-in USB-C charging port (in the cell, not the TK30).


The beam

Please be careful not to judge tint based on images you see on a computer screen. Unless properly calibrated, the screen itself will change the perceived tint.

The indoor beamshot is intended to give an idea of the beam shape/quality rather than tint. All beamshots are taken using daylight white balance. The woodwork (stairs and skirting) are painted Farrow & Ball “Off-White”, and the walls are a light sandy colour called ‘String’ again by Farrow & Ball. I don’t actually have a ‘white wall’ in the house to use for this, and my wife won’t have one!

Yes, this really is the beam, not a mistake. There is a small bright spot with all 500lm (422lm measured) in it.


Batteries and output:

The runs on the included 5000mAh 21700 cell.

Please note, all quoted lumen figures are from a DIY integrating sphere, and according to ANSI standards. Although every effort is made to give as accurate a result as possible, they should be taken as an estimate only. The results can be used to compare outputs in this review and others I have published.

Peak Beam intensity measured 469000lx @1m giving a beam range of 1370m!!!

In this gallery are measurements of the built-in USB-C charging for the 5000mAh cell, and the runtime graph (with active cooling).


Troubleshooting

This section is included to mention any minor niggles I come across during testing, in case the information helps anyone else.

It was noted that when the low battery warning is shown with the flashing indicator in the side switch, this makes the main beam output flicker. More on this is included in the ‘in use’ section below.

As per the description of this section, this information is provided in case anyone else finds a similar ‘issue’ that might be fixed in the same way.

The TK30 in use
Let’s first just get the minor quibble out of the way with the output that starts to flicker when the low battery warning comes on. It is shown in the marked copy of the runtime graph and only affects the very last part of the run. I personally take this as a point of the output being so near the end and not able to maintain the full output, that I would want to recharge the battery anyway at this point.

In some ways, the visible beam flickering is only further indication the battery is too low, so is not a problem so much as a ‘feature’. Moving on…

So the operation of the TK30 is just fine, a tail-switch, and a side switch for the mode. Easy and straightforward to use.

Although the high beam output is only in the region of 500lm, I would say that the heat generated and felt at the head of the TK30 is more than I would expect for a 500lm light. But this is no ordinary 500lm light. Inside the head is a UV Laser module that is then illuminating a phosphor surface to produce the beam, so overall it is not as efficient as a typical LED emitter and so generates more heat.

Swapping from the included 21700 cell to an 18650 (with adapter), the runtime is much less, and the lower efficiency of LEP to LED becomes even more obvious. A trade off in efficiency in exchange for a beam unlike any other.

Just take a look through this gallery. (I have used the Moon to cheat with a couple of these, it’s not quite that amazing.)


Review Summary
The views expressed in this summary table are from the point of view of the reviewer’s personal use. I am not a member of the armed forces and cannot comment on its use beyond that covered in the review.

Something that might be a ‘pro’ for one user can be a ‘con’ for another, so the comments are categorised based on my requirements. You should consider all points and if they could be beneficial to you.

_______________________________________________
What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________

Not really a ‘con’, but a warning – this is a specialist light and is not suitable for general use due to the tiny hotspot and no spill.
Shorter runtime compared to an LED light.

_______________________________________________
Things I like
_______________________________________________

Super focused beam with 1370m throw!
LEP – Laser Excited Phosphor.
USB-C rechargeable 21700 cell and cable included.
Very good belt holster.
It’s just superb fun to have a lightsaber / white laser.

 
Discussing the Review:
The ideal place to discuss this review is on the Tactical Reviews Facebook Page
Please visit there and start/join the conversation.

As well as the Tactical Reviews Facebook Page, please consider visiting one of the following to start/join in any discussion.

CandlePowerForums – Flashlight Reviews Section (Largest and Friendliest Flashlight Community Forum)

Light Review: Weltool 365nm UV/Red lights – M2-OL, M2-BF and M7-RD

For my first Weltool review I’m taking a look at some specialist lighting options; no white light here, instead it’s two lights with 365nm UV output, and one pure Red 625nm output. The models on test are the M2-OL (flood beam 365nm UV light kit with charger and cell), M2-BF (pure 365nm UV output, light only), and the M7-RD (625nm Red output with USB chargeable cell).

What is in the box?:
A quick overview of the three models and how they arrived. The M2-OL also includes a single-bay USB charger in the box.


A good look round all three of the models – Things to look out for here are:
The first one to be unpacked was the M2-OL. All three use a very similar chassis, with minor differences. For the two that included 18650 cells, each had an insulator disk to prevent accidental switch-on during transit. The lens/bezel arrangement is different in each of the three.


Taking a more detailed look at the charger and cells:
The M2-OL included a flat top 18650 with USB charger, and the M7-RD came with a USB rechargeable 18650 (no cell was included with the M2-BF). After looking over the set of contacts and the image of the flat top cell, you can also see a side shot of the cell in the charger where the negative contact end is raised slightly. This was required for the positive contact to touch the positive terminal in the charger.


The beam

Please be careful not to judge tint based on images you see on a computer screen. Unless properly calibrated, the screen itself will change the perceived tint.

The indoor beamshot is intended to give an idea of the beam shape/quality rather than tint. All beamshots are taken using daylight white balance. The woodwork (stairs and skirting) are painted Farrow & Ball “Off-White”, and the walls are a light sandy colour called ‘String’ again by Farrow & Ball. I don’t actually have a ‘white wall’ in the house to use for this, and my wife won’t have one!

In this set of beamshots, the only outdoor beamshot is of the M7-RD red beam, as the UV lights do not show up anything significant for this type of image. However, where it gets interesting is indoors. For this gallery, the first image is for the M2-OL, which is not pure UV, having some blue light. The next image is at the exact same exposure with the M2-BF that has a filtered output so it is pure 365nm UV light, and the only visible features are those fluorescing in the UV. The last two are of the red beam of the M7-RD.


Special beam galleries:
To properly appreciate the output of these dedicated UV lights the next two galleries are needed. In the first gallery are two sets of images, each set of the same scene, starting with a control image using a warm white light, then the M2-OL, and finally the M2-BF. The results are very clear.


In this second special gallery are two views from a pebble beach, where the confusion of the stones easily hides details that UV can reveal. In this gallery, a control warm white light is used, and the M2-BF. The last image shows bank note security features and the glow around the spots on a banana skin.


Batteries and output:

Please note, all quoted lumen figures are from a DIY integrating sphere, and according to ANSI standards. Although every effort is made to give as accurate a result as possible, they should be taken as an estimate only. The results can be used to compare outputs in this review and others I have published.

Included here are two charging traces, first for the USB charger and 18650 cell that came with the M2-OL, and second for the USB chargeable 18650 that came with the M7-RD. Lastly is a runtime graph for the M7-RD (which should be showing the actual lumen output), and the M2-BF showing a simulated output. The integrating sphere sensor does NOT measure UV, so in this run for the M2-BF I included fluorescent material inside the sphere to convert some of the UV to visible light. Doing this allows for a ‘relative’ output trace over the full runtime, but is not a measurement of actual lumens.


Troubleshooting

This section is included to mention any minor niggles I come across during testing, in case the information helps anyone else.

As mentioned in the previous section “Taking a more detailed look at the charger and cells:” The flat-top cell supplied with the M2-OL would not charge in the supplied USB charger. This was because the plastic wrap on the cell left the positive terminal slightly recessed. To allow charging the negative end of the cell just needed to be raised slightly.

Not a big issue and easily rectified. I mention it here in case you find the same and need to use this simple fix.

As per the description of this section, this information is provided in case anyone else finds a similar ‘issue’ that might be fixed in the same way.

The M2-OL, M2-BF and M7-RD in use:

These are specialist lights, so really shine (pun intended) in specific situations. If you are an enthusiast in portable lighting, then you might not really ‘need’ these lights, but they will be great fun to add to your line up.
If you are in need of them for their special purposes, then you have some really strong performers to choose from. Before getting to the model-specific comments, a quick look at their sizes; I am slightly surprised there is so much variation when based on the same body and switch, but each of these three is a different length, and has been fine tuned to the LED and lens configuration. All three lights have two output levels selectable with a quick on-off-on via the forward-clicky tailcap switch; all three start on low if left off for 2s or more.

M7-RD RED: Weltool describe the M7-RD as a choice that won’t affect dark adapted eyes. For this I partly disagree; yes, red light does have less of an effect on your night vision, but the M7-RD is very bright, and will still affect your night vision. Use this at a star party (if that is your bag) and you will be shouted at. However, I find it particularly useful for hunting. The quarry I often target does not appear to react to pure red light, and this means I can use a good brightness red light to help me, instead of a super dim light where I’d struggle to see (especially when using a gun light that is much brighter).

M2-OL UV: After looking at the special beamshot galleries, the M2-OL, might seem a lesser choice for a UV light, but the mix of UV with some blue light has a place. It means that you have some ‘supporting’ light to see other features in the scene even if they don’t react to UV. This mix of light is helpful and gives a different view of the area.

M2-BF: This is the most specialist of the three, as there is a filter lens to remove all but the pure 365nm UV light. If there is nothing to fluoresce, you won’t see anything. In the photo below, the M2-BF is on, but apart from the glow of the paper surface in front of the lens, you might not know it was on at all.
With this super pure UV you can reveal hidden details, and often show things you might rather you hadn’t seen! The M2-BF is the ultimate in true ‘black light’ as long as you don’t need any visible light mixed in.


Review Summary
The views expressed in this summary table are from the point of view of the reviewer’s personal use. I am not a member of the armed forces and cannot comment on its use beyond that covered in the review.

Something that might be a ‘pro’ for one user can be a ‘con’ for another, so the comments are categorised based on my requirements. You should consider all points and if they could be beneficial to you.

_______________________________________________
What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________

Minor issue with the USB charger and flat-top cell.
M7-RD’s Red output is too bright for saving night vision.
They are 18650 powered only, so no option for primary cells.

_______________________________________________
Things I like
_______________________________________________

Great fit and finish for all models.
Choice of different beam profiles to suit your needs.
M7-RD has a USB chargeable cell that does not need a separate charger.
M2-OL includes a full kit including a cell and charger.
M2-BF outputs pure filtered 365nm ‘black light’.

Light Review: The 10,000 lumen Fenix LR35R

Can it be true? 10,000 lumens from a light you could fit in your pocket? In this review of the Fenix LR35R I put Fenix’s claimed output figures to the test. As well as this companion review there is a full length video review, with behind the scenes insights into the testing. It turns out that this light went beyond the limits of my test equipment and meant making modifications to allow an accurate reading to be taken.


Here is the video review:

INDEX:
00:00-01:20 Intro
01:20-07:31 Looking over the LR35R
07:31-13:28 Measuring parasitic drain
13:28-19:56 Troubleshooting – comparing cells
19:56-20:43 Troubleshooting – benchmark measurements for sensor modification
20:43-24:28 Modifying the integrating sphere
24:28-26:02 Results – USB charging
26:02-26:57 Results – Thermal imaging
26:57-30:40 Results – Runtime Graphs
30:40-32:11 Results – Beam shots
32:11-33:35 Summary


What is in the box?:
As this is a pre-production sample, there is no un-boxing as only the light was supplied.

A good look round the LR35R – Things to look out for here are:
Be sure to check the video for many of these details.


The beam

Please be careful not to judge tint based on images you see on a computer screen. Unless properly calibrated, the screen itself will change the perceived tint.

The indoor beamshot is intended to give an idea of the beam shape/quality rather than tint. All beamshots are taken using daylight white balance. The woodwork (stairs and skirting) are painted Farrow & Ball “Off-White”, and the walls are a light sandy colour called ‘String’ again by Farrow & Ball. I don’t actually have a ‘white wall’ in the house to use for this, and my wife won’t have one!


Batteries and output:

The LR35R runs on two 21700 cells which can be recharged in the light.

Please note, all quoted lumen figures are from a DIY integrating sphere, and according to ANSI standards. Although every effort is made to give as accurate a result as possible, they should be taken as an estimate only. The results can be used to compare outputs in this review and others I have published.

Before getting onto the output graphs, let’s quickly look at the USB charging graphs. Fenix have use a pulse charging approach which the three images show clearly. Peak charging current is 3A.


And the three runtime graphs which show the effect of the thermal regulation, and how this is countered with stronger cooling.


A thermal image taken during the runtime testing.

The LR35R in use

A real surprise that this output can be achieved in a light smaller than one of my old favourites, the TK35. It does heat up very quickly, and in normal use, hand held, the thermal regulation kicks in much faster than on the runtime graphs which had strong cooling.
The built in charging is very useful, especially as all the 21700 rated chargers I have would not take the long Fenix 21700 cells. It also means you don’t need anything else, and can swap the cells if needed.
As the LR35R is so small, I really wish Fenix had added a lower sub-lumen mode, as for me that would make it a fantastic all-rounder.
Be aware that the headline 10,000 lumens is only short lived, but if you take it down a notch or two, the performance is very very strong.
Beam tint and beam profile are very useable, and overall this is a powerhouse that is easy to live with.


Review Summary
The views expressed in this summary table are from the point of view of the reviewer’s personal use. I am not a member of the armed forces and cannot comment on its use beyond that covered in the review.

Something that might be a ‘pro’ for one user can be a ‘con’ for another, so the comments are categorised based on my requirements. You should consider all points and if they could be beneficial to you.

_______________________________________________
What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________

Lack of a sub-lumen mode.
Heats up very quickly.

_______________________________________________
Things I like
_______________________________________________

Hits that 10,000 lumen headline figure.
Very strong performance on High and Medium output.
Surprisingly compact.
USB-C charging built-in.
Comes with two high-capacity 21700 cells.
Great Beam tint and profile.

Light Review: Fenix HM65R Headlamp

With the HM65R, Fenix have fitted in so much, but have kept this headlamp small and light enough that you don’t have to think twice about taking it with you on any adventure (or even just taking out the rubbish).
The 18650 li-ion cell used to be the ‘enthusiast’s choice’, being unfamiliar to many users, even more so when strapped to your forehead – not any longer. The Fenix HM65R comes with a high capacity 3500mAh 18650 cell, and there is a built in USB-C charging port. The ONLY thing you need is a USB charger of some kind to open the door to this powerful and capable light.
Join me in this review of the Fenix HM65R to take a look at all the details and how it performs.

What is in the box?:
For maximum stability the HM65R has a top strap, and the full head strap comes assembled and neatly tucked away in the packaging.


A good look round the HM65R – Things to look out for here are:
I’m splitting this detailed set of photos into two galleries for a more manageable tour of the HM65R. The HM65R is almost ready to go out of the packaging, but first you need to remove a small insulator that keeps the battery from running down or the HM65R from being turned on accidentally. From the appearance of the threads of the battery tube, you can see that this is made of magnesium, a material chosen by Fenix to shave off a few more grams of weight.


Taking in more details:
First up in this gallery are the twin lenses – the larger spot emitter with clear lens, and the smaller flood emitter with honeycomb type diffuser lens.
For a more stable fit to your head, the inside of the front part of the headband strap has a grippy strip. Flipping the HM65R forwards gives access to the USB-C charging port and shows the angle adjustment mechanism.


The beam:

Please be careful not to judge tint based on images you see on a computer screen. Unless properly calibrated, the screen itself will change the perceived tint.

The indoor beamshot is intended to give an idea of the beam shape/quality rather than tint. All beamshots are taken using daylight white balance. The woodwork (stairs and skirting) are painted Farrow & Ball “Off-White”, and the walls are a light sandy colour called ‘String’ again by Farrow & Ball. I don’t actually have a ‘white wall’ in the house to use for this, and my wife won’t have one!

For both indoor and outdoor beamshots, the individual spot and flood beams are shown, then (as both can be turned on at the same time) the combined beam. Each of the photos in the set of three is at the same exposure and white balance.


Batteries and output:

The HM65R runs on a supplied 3500mAh 18650 Fenix li-ion cell.

Please note, all quoted lumen figures are from a DIY integrating sphere, and according to ANSI standards. Although every effort is made to give as accurate a result as possible, they should be taken as an estimate only. The results can be used to compare outputs in this review and others I have published.

Take note of the very good (low) parasitic drain measurement.

Also shown in this gallery is a charging graph for the built in USB-C charging. Although USB-C is capable of up to 3A, the HM65R seems to top-out at about 1.4A when charging.


The HM65R in use:

Straight off the bat, the HM65R makes itself a success with the stable and comfortable head strap (with top strap), and the choice of spot or flood beams (or both combined). Then, in using the high capacity 18650, you get a great runtime and powerful output (yet without too much weight), and the built in USB-C charging means you actually don’t need anything else – The HM65R is a complete kit.

There is one thing missing for me though, and that is a very low output. Even 9 lm, and even with this being on the flood beam, it is still too bright for dark adapted eyes. Frequently when I’m using headlamps, I will have dark adapted eyes (waking from sleep, or when I don’t want to disturb others); if only Fenix could squeeze in that lower mode, a sub 1 lm mode for both spot and flood output, it would make the HM65R a fantastic all-rounder.

If you want to go full blast, then your wish is the HM65R’s command – perfect visibility.


It is very helpful having the quick charge level gauge, with just a click letting you see if you will want to top up the battery.

Having used many Fenix headlamps over the years, and many competitors headlamps too, the HM65R definitely goes down as a choice for Pro users. I use the term ‘Pro’ to indicate this is a serious tool, capable of hard work, versatile and something worth investing in.

Review Summary
The views expressed in this summary table are from the point of view of the reviewer’s personal use. I am not a member of the armed forces and cannot comment on its use beyond that covered in the review.

Something that might be a ‘pro’ for one user can be a ‘con’ for another, so the comments are categorised based on my requirements. You should consider all points and if they could be beneficial to you.

_______________________________________________
What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________

Lacking a sub-lumen output level.
USB-C charging limited to 1.4A.

_______________________________________________
Things I like
_______________________________________________

Independently switch-able Spot and Flood beams.
Stable and comfortable head mount with top strap.
High capacity 18650 cell included.
Built in USB-C charging.
Very low (negligible) parasitic drain.
Nearly 1400 lm combined beam output.
Light weight.