Knife Review: Pohl Force Tactical Eight and Nine

Based on the Pohl Force Mk-8 and Mk-9 knives designed by Dietmar Pohl for the movie Rambo Last Blood, Dietmar has now modified the designs of these two hero knives to create the Tactical Eight and Tactical Nine knives. With slightly reduced dimensions and using D2 steel, the Tactical Eight and Tactical Nine have been tweaked and optimised by Dietmar Pohl to make them more real-world usable. Join me in this review of the Tactical Eight and Nine for a detailed look at these ‘practical’ versions of the Rambo Last Blood movie knives.

Video Overview

This video is a detailed look at the Tactical Eight and Tactical Nine Models, from handling to technical measurements. Hopefully something for everyone and you should have a better idea if you should also pick up one or both.


The Tactical Eight’s Sheath:

The models on test here both use the kydex sheath option (a leather sheath version is available). For the Tactical Eight, a leg cord is provided. The sheath is constructed using eye rivets, and these allow for the belt holder to be attached with four screw bolts that you can remove and flip the sheath round for right/left handed use. A drainage hole is included at the tip of the knife on one side of the sheath. The belt hanger/loop is a very heavy webbing, heavy enough to be semi-rigid. The moulded lips of the sheath fully cover the front of the handle and guard.


A good look round the Tactical Eight – Things to look out for here are:

The Tactical Eight retains all of the identity of the Mk-8 it was based on. The handle scales extend over the sides of the finger guard making it wider and more comfortable to bear into. There is a hidden lanyard hole; the lanyard hole in the blade tang is concealed under the handle scales and a milled channel allows the cord to run under the G-10 and neatly to the rear. Large hollow bolts hold the handle scales in place and would also allow further locations to fit cords.
A large choil and thumb jimping allow for various grip options.


The Tactical Nine’s Sheath:

For the Tactical Nine, a leg strap with plastic clip buckle is provided. The leg strap also includes an elasticated section to provide better comfort. The elastic is added on the inside of the strap in such a way that should it fail, the strap itself is not compromised and would not break. The sheath is constructed using eye rivets, and these allow for the belt holder to be attached with four screw bolts that you can remove and flip the sheath round for right/left handed use. A drainage hole is included at the tip of the knife on one side of the sheath. The belt hanger/loop is a very heavy webbing, heavy enough to be semi-rigid. The moulded lips of the sheath fully cover the front of the handle and double guard.


A good look round the Tactical Nine – Things to look out for here are:

The Tactical Nine also retains all of the identity of the Mk-9 it was based on with highly distinctive curving blade (although without the sub-hilt). The handle scales extend over the sides of the double finger guard making it wider and more comfortable to bear into. There is a hidden lanyard hole; the lanyard hole in the blade tang is concealed under the handle scales and a milled channel allows the cord to run under the G-10 and neatly to the rear. Large hollow bolts hold the handle scales in place and would also allow further locations to fit cords. Handle scale texture is very pronounced on the Tactical Nine with a series of interlocking grooves giving a lot of grip.


The Blade and Handle – Detailed Measurements:
For full details of the tests and measurements carried out and an explanation of the results, see the page – Knife Technical Testing – How It’s Done.

The blade is made from D2 steel.


The Factory edge up close – NEW FOR 2022!:

Followers of Tactical Reviews will know my views on factory edges, but to recap:

Anyone using a knife will need to sharpen it. That first factory edge is just like the first tank of fuel that a new car comes with (or first charge of the battery).
A good factory edge is a ‘nice to have’ but not a ‘make or break’ for a good knife, as you will be putting your own edge onto it soon enough.
The factory edge does however indicate the care a knife maker has put into the final finish.
It is for this reason Tactical Reviews measures factory edge sharpness and specifications, and includes this information in the detailed technical testing.

As a further look at the factory edge, this section has been added to include some high magnification photos of the factory edges.

Tactical Eight

Tactical Nine


What is it like to use?

Starting this section with a couple of side-by-side comparisons of the Tactical Eight and Nine. In this first photo, the knives are unsheathed and their different scale and ‘weight’ (both visually and in amount of steel). The Tactical Eight being the much slimmer and more compact blade, and the Nine having a bigger presence and striking power.

Once encased in kydex the difference in size is much less apparent; yes the Nine is a larger overall package, but not as much as you might think.

Onto some observations about the handling; with its single guard, the Tactical Eight allows the thumb-forward type of grip and has a thumb ramp with deep jimping for excellent grip. The large choil allows for a choked grip to be used for fine control. However, when tightening this type of grip the heel of the edge can easily cut into your finger, so beware of this.
The handle scales are smooth and shaped well. The spine of the handle is wide and allows a lot of pressure to be applied comfortably, combined with the well shaped finger groove that gives excellent stability.


For the Tactical Nine the grip is quite a different prospect to the Eight. To start with the double guard blocks the use of a forward thumb grip, but being a bigger knife and more of a chopper, this doesn’t feel out of place.
With the ‘practical’ version not having the sub-hilt of the Mk-9, it makes the knife more general purpose and the pronounced finger groove still provides a very stable hold.
With a larger choil than the Eight, the Nine’s choked grip is safer, although you always need to be careful with this type of hold. The double guard also pulls back the choked grip slightly keeping your finger away from the cutting edge.


I do need to mention something I’ve noted for both the Tactical Eight and Nine when it comes to re-sheathing the knives that can catch you out, and you find the striker digging into you hand.

With the use of kydex for the sheaths on test here, the mouth of the kydex sheath envelops the front of the handle and finger guard. To be able to push the knife fully into the sheath you need to grip the handle up and away from the guard. What then happens is that you end up with the striker pressing into your hand as you push the knife home; not very comfortable. The kydex is also quite a firm fit, so requires a reasonable amount of force to click the knife into place, force which translates into the striker digging into your hand sometimes pretty hard.
The leather sheath versions would not have this issue.


In just some of the cutting tests, I was using completely dry and seasoned wood, so not softer green wood. With the Tactical Nine having a serious chopping ability I took it to some fully dry pallet wood, which it destroyed with ease. In dry wood there is a tendency to bind as the depth of cut it is capable of grips the blade. Once you have a few clearance cuts the chips just fly.

The Tactical Eight is not really a chopper, you would need to baton with it for wood processing. It is a great utility knife and very happy at general purpose tasks with the point a good angle for piercing.


If you like the style of the Rambo Last Blood knives and want a hard use, practical, version then Tactical Eight and Nine are the knives that deliver on this. Unmistakably related to the Mk-8 and Mk-9, these practical versions are more usable and made to be put to work.

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 a cutting tool or field/hunting knife.

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
_______________________________________________

Striker has a tendency to dig into the hand when sheathing the knives.
D2 steel – for a working knife I prefer higher stain resistance.
Noisy kydex click on re-sheathing.
Having to take the handle scales off to fit/remove the lanyard.

_______________________________________________
Things I like
_______________________________________________

Distinct and iconic design.
Sizing optimised for real use.
High quality fit and finish.
Complimentary designs with different strengths.
Choice of kydex or leather sheaths.
Ambidextrous sheath (remove/refit belt hanger).
Built for hard use.

 
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.

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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.

Classic Knife Review: Spyderco Police and Military Models

We all know them, we might not all have them. These two Spyderco classics (Police and Military) have stood the test of time and use, and are still current models – for good reason.
I refer to them as ‘Classics’ and Spyderco calls the Police model a ‘Signature’ model and the Military a ‘USA Made’ and/or ‘Save and Serve’ model. Both really qualify as a classic in my opinion and are worthy of being in your pocket.

Video Overview

This video is a detailed look at the Police and Military Models, from handling to technical measurements. Hopefully something for everyone and you should have a better idea if you should also pick up one or both.


A good look round the Police Model – Things to look out for here are:
Being of full stainless steel construction, and having brushed steel handles, to ensure you get it in new condition, the handle scales come with protectors fitted that you need to peel off.
The Police model has drilled and tapped holes in all four possible clip positions, so you can decide the very best clip position for your needs (personally I changed this to tip-up and right handed).
Being a long standing model it unsurprisingly uses a back lock.
With a rivet type of blade pivot, there is no adjustment or user servicing possible. The pivot rivet finishing is excellent and completely invisible.
This example is the part serrated version, but it also comes in a fully serrated or full plain edge blade.


A good look round the Military Model – Things to look out for here are:
Immediately unmistakably Spyderco, with the G10 handle scales, pocket clip and opening hole, the Military is a good sized folder.
Unlike the Police model, the Military can be taken apart, with the G10 handle scales bolted together and a pivot bolt. Also unlike the Police model, the Military has only the one clip position (tip-down right handed).
Recessed into the G10 handles are minimal steel liners and the Military uses a liner lock. Just to drive home that point about ‘minimal’ steel liners, this is what allows for the light weight yet still strong construction. The liner on the non-lock side just goes from handle bolt to handle bolt to the pivot (supporting the stop pin as well). The other partial liner is larger as it includes the lock bar.


The Blade and Handle – Detailed Measurements:
For full details of the tests and measurements carried out and an explanation of the results, see the page – Knife Technical Testing – How It’s Done.

An extra detail not in this table is the edge angle of the serration on the Police Model. One of the reasons the Spyderco serrations cut so well is that they are chisel grind (so only one side is sharpened) making the edge angle very fine – in this case just 17 degrees total inclusive edge angle (0 degrees one side and 17 the other).


The Factory edge up close – NEW FOR 2022!:

Followers of Tactical Reviews will know my views on factory edges, but to recap:

Anyone using a knife will need to sharpen it. That first factory edge is just like the first tank of fuel that a new car comes with (or first charge of the battery).
A good factory edge is a ‘nice to have’ but not a ‘make or break’ for a good knife, as you will be putting your own edge onto it soon enough.
The factory edge does however indicate the care a knife maker has put into the final finish.
It is for this reason Tactical Reviews measures factory edge sharpness and specifications, and includes this information in the detailed technical testing.

As a further look at the factory edge, this section has been added to include some high magnification photos of the factory edges.

In this case the serrated part of the Police model (the plain edge part was sharpened before the imaging device was ready) and the edge of the Military model.

These two edges are outstanding and will the standard by which others are judged!


What is it like to use?

Before going further with using them, a quick side by side (and one on top of the other) size and form-factor comparison.


Moving onto the two knives in the hand, and despite being very similar in size, they do feel very different when you hold them. The G10 handles of the Military make for a different weight distribution plus fill the hand more. Of the two, the Military is definitely the more comfortable and easy to have a very secure grip of. Conversely though this makes it harder to carry, taking up more pocket space. The Police model is very slim and even at the size it is, slips into your pocket so easily.


In terms of carry, the Police model also gives you all four possible clip positions (or five if you count – ‘no clip’) so there isn’t any limitation of the clip position. Although that said, this current version is missing a lanyard hole if you wanted one of these.
For my own purposes, I have moved the clip from the factory position to tip-up and right handed.

Of course for edge maintenance, especially considering the serrated edge on the Police model, the Spyderco Tri-Angle Sharp Maker (also pictured above) is ideal and easy to use.

Both the Police and Military models do have a very pointy blade tip, the Police being the slightly pointier of the two. It makes them very aggressive at penetrating, and for anyone more used to a drop point or other less eager blade tip might find them unwieldy or difficult to control. You certainly need to use great care where depth of cut matters, and the long blade can make this control all the more difficult. You will get used to it, but it does need care and consideration when wielding these super capable blades.

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 a cutting tool or field/hunting knife.

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
_______________________________________________

Military –
single clip position.
clip/G10 abrasive on pocket edge.

Police –
no lanyard hole.
slippery when wet.

_______________________________________________
Things I like
_______________________________________________

Military –
Very light for its size.
Very ‘eager’ blade (full flat grind and sharp point).
Liner lock makes for very smooth opening.
G10 handles have excellent grip.
Spyderco high quality fit and finish
One of the best factory edges I have ever seen!

Police –
Slim design makes it easy to carry.
Pocket clip has four possible positions.
Spyderco serrations incredibly sharp.
Three options for blade (plain, serrated, part-serrated).

Hope to see you at IWA 2022 soon!

 
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.

BladeForums – Knife Reviews (US based Forum for Knife Discussion)

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

Tactical Briefcase Face-Off Part 4: The Results

Part 4 of the Tactical Briefcase Face-Off is all about the results! All three Tactical Briefcases in the Tactical Briefcase Face-Off series came from Military 1st who I’ve been buying from for many years.
This series of reviews was originally planned to be a single group review, but has evolved into something much larger as I used each of them for EDC, lived with them, got to know them well, and more and more needed to be shown. In parts 1-3, each of the three Tactical Briefcases (First Tactical Executive Briefcase, Hazard 4 Ditch Bail Out Bag and Condor Metropolis Briefcase) has been shown in detail, and now in Part 4, it all comes together to explain how I got on with each one and their strengths and weaknesses.

Part 1, featuring the First Tactical Executive Briefcase can be seen here.
Part 2, featuring the Hazard 4 Ditch Bail Out Bag can be seen here.
Part 3, featuring the Condor Metropolis Briefcase can be seen here.

The video tour of all three Tactical Briefcases:
In case you haven’t seen the video overview on Tactical Review’s youtube channel, here it is. This video covers all three of the bags.


Part 1 – The First Tactical Executive Briefcase:
The story of this Tactical Briefcase Face-Off series of tests starts with the bag in Part 1, the First Tactical Executive Briefcase.
These briefcases all have to follow in the footsteps of my established 20l EDC backpack. Over the years, this 20l class of backpack has fitted in nicely with my EDC needs, and the most recent of these being the Wisport Sparrow 20 (also reviewed here).

Taking this as my optimum starting point, all the Tactical Briefcases would need to measure up in terms of capacity, storage and function.
We all carry a variety of gear, and I just went with what I actually do EDC rather then contriving a test. Laying it all out ready to move over to the First Tactical bag, this is what I currently carry, and I’m not even going into the contents of the two organiser pouches in there.

So it’s all moved over, and there is room to spare, an easy and straightforward bag move; immediately feeling comfortable and reassured the bag will stand up to use.

Then I EDCed this bag for two weeks before considering a swap to the next.
At this stage where I didn’t have any comparison of using the other bags, I could only consider the first impressions of this one on its own. Sturdy and comfortable would be the words that come to mind. The well padded strap made carrying it very easy despite now having only a single strap compared to a backpack with two. The strap is also super stable, and doesn’t slip off the shoulder thanks to the rubberised grip-strips on the strap pad. On the floor it is nice and stable in the upright position, and the double-zipped top flap makes for very easy access to the main compartment, just make sure you put the most needed items near the front of the compartment.
The well made handles also add to the sturdy feel of the bag and when carrying with the handles they feel very strong. I keep a 10″ tablet in the laptop section rather than a laptop, and this only needs one side of the padded section, easily accessible with the twin zip.
With all the compartments using zip closures, noise levels are low when getting bits and pieces out, although when carrying it is prone to a bit of strap buckle squeaking from the swivels.
A strong start to the face-off series.

Part 2 – The Hazard 4 Ditch Bail Out Bag:
Hazard 4, oh Hazard 4, I do like Hazard 4 quality, so wanted this to be my favourite. I always try not to allow any bias into my assessment of gear, so had to have strong words with myself on how I was going to view this one.
Of the three, the Hazard 4 was the only one not to come with a shoulder strap. I understand why, but actually don’t think it is right that it doesn’t, considering the price point. There isn’t much choice in matching shoulder straps, really only two, the one on test, and a version with additional stabilisation strap that clips onto another loop on the bag. As a separate item, the strap is however of a quality that justifies it being an item itself, and not something made to fit within the overall pricing.
The use of a different fabric on the bottom that is waterproof and wipeable is a great touch and gives the impression this bag will definitely go on and on.

On swap-over day; laying out everything ready to move it over.

Slightly surprisingly, it was a bit more of a challenge to fit everything in, with the bag developing a bulge on the admin panel side. This, combined with the padded laptop compartment on the opposite side being quite rigid and stiff, gave the bag an imbalance and it seems to want to topple over rather than sit upright. This tendency continued throughout the fortnight it was in the EDC rotation, and was somewhat annoying. It was as if the laptop section was a bit too big for the side of the bag, which also impacts on the carrying capacity.

Reliability was never in question, and the strap made it comfortable to carry. Both because the contents seemed to fill it more, and the lack of capacity to take any top-up EDC items, made it appear smaller than the First Tactical bag. This was also noticeable while carrying it; I did not knock into door frames or walls with it (as much), so carry was easier, and more streamlined.
With the admin panel being the whole side, instead of a couple of smaller pockets, it was not as easy or convenient taking out a few bits a pieces. It would be more suited to a kit of items where you need to see them all at once to pick the one you want.
The main compartment however was very usable, with the internal end pockets, pockets on one side and a versatile webbing panel on the other. Access is quick and easy with the lightweight double-zip flap top.

Part 3 – The Condor Metropolis Briefcase:
And the transfer day for the last bag in this series after two weeks with the Hazard 4 – the Condor Metropolis Briefcase. A quick pre-transfer comparison, with the Condor looking like it might be quite similar in capacity to the Hazard 4.

Ready to start packing everything away to get it to all fit in the right way for my regular needs. By this stage I was finding that it is quite a challenge to keep reorganising gear you use all the time after having just got more or less used to where it was in the previous bag. The different pouches, pockets, sections make you rethink where things need to go.

The Condor had no issues accommodating everything without bulges or struggling at all and it is sits upright happily on the floor. The sharp eyed might have spotted in the bag contents there is a large admin pouch in coyote, and this is a Condor too.
In this bag, more Velcro closures are used than the previous two. When in the workplace, ripping these open does make quite a bit of noise and attracts attention. Velcro also has the tendency that once you take one thing out, if the flap falls closed by itself, you then have to rip it open yet again to get item two out. One of the front pockets does have a zip for part of its compartment, but then Velcro for the other part, and the second front pocket is fully Velcro.
Access to the main compartment in this bag is via a single zip requiring you to ‘dig’ a bit more to find things as the compartment is not as openly presented as those with a double-zip flap opening.
The main compartment having only two mesh pockets is simple in structure. Mesh pockets don’t provide much protection for what is in them, or what is on the main compartment, but the mesh does mean it is really easy to see what is in which pocket without a rummage. It really depends on what you carry for how well they suit your needs. In my case I have several items that partially poke through the mesh if I’m not careful.
For the first time in this series, I noticed some discomfort with the shoulder strap, but remember I do have this loaded up and the pouches I carry contain many tools, so can be pushing 10kg. With a slightly lighter load this would not be an issue.

And I was wrong:

After using all three bags, I was convinced that there was a big difference in their empty weight. I was clearly wrong, with this quick gallery of using luggage scales to weigh all of them. So it was purely an impression based on structure, build and materials. (These are in the same order as the previous parts, so it is the Condor that is a touch lighter.)


Review Summary
And here we are now, where having used each of these three bags for a minimum of two weeks EDC, and looked at them in detail, I can come to a conclusion. The conclusion I can come to is only for my own EDC, as our choice of EDC is entirely personal.
On the way to reaching this point I hope to have given you enough information to find one that would suit your needs, with the video tour, individual detailed feature reviews, and the comments and impressions I’ve described earlier in this part of the face-off.

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
_______________________________________________

First Tactical – Can seem a bit big.
First Tactical – Strap squeaks a little when walking if heavily loaded.
Hazard 4 – A bit unbalanced and tending to topple over on the floor.
Hazard 4 – Strap needs to be purchased separately.
Condor – Main compartment access restricted by single zip opening.
Condor – Strap has less padding so is not as comfortable with heavy load.

_______________________________________________
Things I like
_______________________________________________

First Tactical – Easily has room for additional top-up items.
First Tactical – The most comfortable and stable strap.
First Tactical – Comprehensive pockets, pouches, all with easy access.
Hazard 4 – Super build quality (the others are great, but I’d put this ahead on build).
Hazard 4 – Lots of versatile webbing.
Hazard 4 – Large admin panel packed with features.
Condor – Great all-rounder with simplified main compartment.
Condor – Concealed compartment (easily accessed by pulling the front D-loop).
Condor – Drainage holes in elasticated end pockets in case of leaks.

In short, all of these Tactical Briefcases stand on their own merits. If I had purchased any one of them on its own, it would have done the job, and I would have been happy. You won’t go wrong with any of them, but if you have any specific requirements, take a look back over the details to see which would be the better fit.

For my uses, and the gear I EDC, one of them was a better fit, and is currently serving as my EDC bag…

Tactical Briefcase Face-Off Part 3: Condor

Part 3 of the Tactical Briefcase Face-Off features the Condor Metropolis Briefcase (see it here) and takes a detailed look round this contender. All three Tactical Briefcases in the Tactical Briefcase Face-Off series came from Military 1st who I’ve been buying from for many years.
This series of reviews was originally planned to be a single group review, but has evolved into something much larger as I used each of them for EDC, lived with them, got to know them well, and more and more detail needed to be shown. Each of the three Tactical Briefcases (First Tactical Executive Briefcase, Hazard 4 Ditch Bail Out Bag and Condor Metropolis Briefcase) will have a dedicated article before the final article, Part 4, brings it all together to explain how I got on with each one and their strengths and weaknesses.

Tactical Briefcase Face-Off Part 1, featuring the First Tactical Executive Briefcase can be seen here.
Tactical Briefcase Face-Off Part 2, featuring the Hazard 4 Ditch Bail Out Bag can be seen here.

Part 3 – The Condor Metropolis Briefcase:

All round the outside:
We’ll start with a run round the outside. – The Condor Metropolis Briefcase includes a shoulder strap which is tucked into the main compartment when it arrives. The front panel has two main pockets with a patch panel / MOLLE panel on one and an extra clear ID holder pocket on the other, and there is a handy D-loop in the middle for clipping keys etc to. The back panel has a large zip up pocket and a trolley bag handle loop strap for sitting the Metropolis Briefcase onto a larger wheeled bag with telescopic handle. Each end panel has an elasticated pocket with webbing for MOLLE pouches.


Pockets, Pouches, and Padding – Things to look out for here are:
Starting off with one of the end panel stretch pockets, here I’m using a pocket knife to prop it open so you can see the construction. Of the two front pockets, one has a Velcro flap, and the clear ID pocket on the other also has a Velcro flap closure. Inside that first pocket there are a couple of elastic organiser loops. The other pocket with ID holder, uses a zip to close it. Inside it has a set of organiser pockets of different sizes and a key hanger. Behind those front panel pockets is a full width pocket with internal Velcro mounting panel.
On the rear of the bag is a thin zip-up plain pocket. Behind this is the padded laptop storage compartment with a full double zip opening. Inside the laptop compartment are two pockets, the larger of which has a retaining strap to keep the laptop in place.
Accessed via a double-zip opening (but not using a flap like the other two bags), the main compartment has a Velcro-loop panel on one side, and two zip-up mesh pockets on the other side.


Strap and Handles:
There are two simply constructed carry handles, and one has a Velcro grip-wrap to hold them together. The shoulder strap has a removable sliding pad, and each end attaches to the bag with a side-release buckle. On one end of the strap there is the female buckle, and the other end has the male buckle – this means that you will always put it onto the bag the same way, and that strap can be made into a loop by clicking the ends together and used in other ways.


The video tour of all three Tactical Briefcases:
In case you haven’t seen the video overview on Tactical Review’s youtube channel, here it is. This video covers all three of the bags.


Review Summary
As in Parts 1 & 2 there is a lot to absorb, so this is where we will leave the Condor Metropolis Briefcase for now.
Please follow the series of articles to see all the insights, and it will be in part four that the real-use feedback will be included.

Tactical Briefcase Face-Off Part 2: Hazard 4

Part 2 of the Tactical Briefcase Face-Off features the Hazard 4 Ditch Bail Out Bag (see it here) and takes a detailed look round this contender. All three Tactical Briefcases in the Tactical Briefcase Face-Off series came from Military 1st who I’ve been buying from for many years.
This series of reviews was originally planned to be a single group review, but has evolved into something much larger as I used each of them for EDC, lived with them, got to know them well, and more and more detail needed to be shown. Each of the three Tactical Briefcases (First Tactical Executive Briefcase, Hazard 4 Ditch Bail Out Bag and Condor Metropolis Briefcase) will have a dedicated article before the final article Part 4 brings it all together to explain how I got on with each one and their strengths and weaknesses.

Tactical Briefcase Face-Off Part 1, featuring the First Tactical Executive Briefcase can be seen here.

Part 2 – The Hazard 4 Ditch Bail Out Bag:

All round the outside:
The Hazard 4 bag differs from the others on test in that it doesn’t come with a shoulder strap. The introduction image shows the bag and strap separately as they must be purchased separately. However, the consideration for this is that Hazard 4 do have a few strap options, so this does allow you to either not bother at all, or choose one to best suit your needs.
We’ll start with a run round the outside. – The front panel is a large MOLLE platform limited only by your imagination. The back panel has a trolley bag handle loop strap for sitting the Ditch Bail Out Bag onto a larger wheeled bag with telescopic handle. There are also wide webbing buckles allowing you to add extra straps to hold larger items onto the bag. Even the top flap is equipped with webbing attachment loops.
The base of the bag is a different nonabsorbent material which should be better at shrugging off wear and dirt from being on the floor. Each end of the bag has a small elasticated pocket and more webbing.


Pockets, Pouches, and Padding – Things to look out for here are:
Opening up the full size front section reveals a big admin panel crammed with organisation features; a clear document wallet, zip-up pocket, full width pocket, then various size organiser pockets, with two straps to stop the front section opening further than shown in the gallery.
To the rear of the bag is the single section, well padded, laptop pouch with double zips so you can open it either end or either way. This laptop pocket is lined with a soft quilted fabric.
The top flap has lots of details that make it very usable. At the end there is a small grab handle so you can pull it open in one motion. There is a zip either side of the flap and these can be joined with a small loop strap, or one end unhooked to allow them to move independently. So that the flap doesn’t end up on the floor, there are Velcro panels so the front of the flap can be folded in half and attached to the other end of the flap when fully open. This keeps it neat prevents it from getting under foot.
Comparatively, the main compartment has less going on; four pockets and a MOLLE platform on one side.


Strap and Handles:
As a completely separate item, the shoulder strap here is the one Hazard 4 recommended for the bag. It is a general purpose 2″ shoulder strap which has swivel clips and a removable pad.
The two carry handles on the bag are simple and comfortable, and have a Velcro grip-wrap to hold them together.


The video tour of all three Tactical Briefcases:
In case you haven’t seen the video overview on Tactical Review’s youtube channel, here it is. This video covers all three of the bags.


Review Summary
As in Part 1 there is a lot to absorb, so this is where we will leave the Hazard 4 Ditch Bail Out Bag for now.
Please follow the series of articles to see all the insights, and it will be in part four that the real-use feedback will be included.

Tactical Briefcase Face-Off Part 1: First Tactical

Part 1 of the Tactical Briefcase Face-Off features the First Tactical Executive Briefcase and takes a detailed look round this contender. All three Tactical Briefcases in the Tactical Briefcase Face-Off series came from Military 1st who I’ve been buying from for many years.
This series of reviews was originally planned to be a single group review, but has evolved into something much larger as I used each of them for EDC, lived with them, got to know them well, and more and more detail needed to be shown. Each of the three Tactical Briefcases (First Tactical Executive Briefcase, Hazard 4 Ditch Bail Out Bag and Condor Metropolis Briefcase) will have a dedicated article before the final article Part 4 brings it all together to explain how I got on with each one and their strengths and weaknesses.

Part 1 – The First Tactical Executive Briefcase:

All round the outside:
Starting with a run round the outside. This is how it arrived, so the shoulder strap is tucked away inside the bag. Already you see how well equipped this tactical briefcase is going to be.


Pockets, Pouches, and Padding – Things to look out for here are:
As well as fixed storage, the First Tactical bag has an expandable pocket at each end with mesh sides. These are perfect for water bottles or other larger items you don’t carry all the time. There is so much storage in these bags it is easy to lose track of where you are looking.
Working through the gallery, after the end pockets, then we have the rear compartment. This is on the side of the bag with the trolley bag handle loop (so you can sit it onto a trolley bag with the loop holding it in place when slid over the handle). This double-zip rear compartment has two sections in it one of which has a panel of ‘Velcro loop’ for fixing items to.
The front of this bag has two separate zip-up pockets with internal organisers. (Not shown here, but is in the video – just behind the front pockets is a Velcro-closed full width pocket.)
In the middle of the main compartment flap is a pocket which might be used for storing glasses. The end of this flap has a Velcro closer that can be folded back on itself to keep it out of the way.
Onto the laptop section, which is to the rear of the bag, but on the inner side of the carry handle. It has multiple compartments as shown, and a strap to secure the laptop when fitted.
For the main compartment, the main flap has twin zips that can be disconnected to allow each side of the flap to be opened separately. One side of the main compartment has a full width pocket, and the other side has three smaller pockets.


Strap and Handles:
Should you wish to use this bag without a shoulder strap at all, the mounting system allows for one of the neatest and lowest profile residual fittings I’ve seen. As delivered, one end of the strap has been disconnected, so you need to fit the loose end or remove the already fitted end if you don’t want the shoulder strap. First Tactical have use a very slim karabiner style clip which has a sprung gate to both keep the clip in place and carry some of the load if the bag is heavy.
Also of note on the shoulder strap there are two rubberised patches to help prevent any shoulder slippage.
The two carry handles are simple and comfortable and don’t have one of those wraps to hold them together.


The video tour of all three Tactical Briefcases:
In case you haven’t seen the video overview on Tactical Review’s youtube channel, here it is. This video covers all three of the bags.


Review Summary
As you can see the design is so feature packed it needs time to absorb all the details, so to avoid overload, this is where we will leave the First Tactical Executive Briefcase for now.
Please follow the series of articles to see all the insights, and it will be in part four that the real-use feedback will be included.

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.

 
Discussing the Review:
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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.

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

Light Review: Surefire E2D Defender and Stiletto

With Surefire, your main expectations might be high quality build and performance, so read on to see if these lights keep up with Surefire’s standards. In this review are two quite different models; the latest update of the classic Defender E2D (in this case the two-mode ‘Ultra’) and the EDC-optimised pocket-friendly USB-chargeable multi-mode, programmable Stiletto.

What are we looking at?:

Though this review is all about the two headline lights, as well as primary cells I’ve been able to test the Surefire rechargeable cells for the Defender.


Moving onto the main feature let’s get into the details of these two.


Taking a more detailed look at the Stiletto:

The Stiletto is a new style of light, taking on more of the form of a pocket knife and slipping into your pocket in the same way, and with a clip to hold it in place. To achieve this narrow profile it has a built-in battery and USB charging, allowing the shape to not be compromised by replaceable batteries.


Taking a more detailed look at the Defender E2D Ultra:

The Defender E2D is a classic Surefire model, bit it has moved with the times. Starting life as a incandescent bulb light with lens/reflector, it has grown to use LED and TIR optics. This latest version has raised the output to 1000lm+. It is mainly the head of the light that has changed in appearance compared to the earlier models you might know.


Surefire’s rechargeable CR123 option:

Surefire have been a little behind other manufacturers with regard to taking up rechargeable batteries. In years past, dedicated Surefire owners have had to find their own way, often going to the lengths of getting their battery tubes bored out to take 18650 cells plus a few other methods.
In this case, the cells themselves are not Surefire branded, instead Surefire have chosen K2 Energy’s Lithium Phosphate cells.


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 character of each beam is really very different. Starting with the Defender and it’s mix of smooth hot-spot and spill beam giving a very useful all-round capability. The spill beam is surprisingly wide, so much so you can see the bezel crenellation shaping in the outer edge of the beam.

The Stiletto has a Surefire ‘MaxVision beam’; I’ve come across a few variations of this, but in essence they have all been quite wide and evenly lit to give you ease of vision at close to mid ranges. You will notice in the direct comparison that the Defender’s beam is actually wider than the Stiletto’s. This is even more noticeable in the outdoor beam-shots. The Stiletto however lacks the hot-spot and provides nicely even lighting.


Batteries and output:

To measure actual output, I built an integrating sphere. See here for more detail. The sensor registers visible light only (so Infra-Red and Ultra-Violet will not be measured).

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.

This is a table of measured results. PWM frequencies are recorded by an oscilloscope, and in some cases are clear and in others are more like superimposed noise. It only appeared that the Defender’s High beam when using the RCR123 cells showed any PWM. This is possibly due to power supply pulsing with the different voltage of the RCR123 cells which were able to produce a higher maximum output than on CR123.

In the runtime graphs, first check the start of the run and you can see how the RCR123 cells are capable of keeping that peak output from the Defender until the programmed slope-off of the output after 60s. However skip onto the full runtime and you can see the RCR123 cells run out after thirty minutes, but the CR123s go on a lot longer and with much more warning they are getting low. For ‘duty’ use you will still want to use CR123s, but the RCR123s give great guilt-free lumens.

Performance is solid from the Stiletto and output is more than good enough for EDC; 45 minutes of 500lm-plus output is impressive.


The Defender E2D Ultra and Stiletto in use

Though by no means a lesser light, there is perhaps slightly less to say about the Defender E2D, so I shall start with that. For me the ‘Ultra’ version is absolutely the one to have. The output levels are so opposite with a 9lm Low and a 1000lm+ High, these might seem too at odds to work well, but they do. If I could add one thing to the Defender E2D it would be a way to user program the Low to be the first mode, but without this the High-Low mode order ensures it lives up to its name.

Thanks to the beam shape and hot-spot, the 9lm mode does a great job for those daily needs of a bit of light. It hits the right balance of being low enough for complete darkness but not so low it is useless for anything but pitch black.

I have many 1000lm+ lights and many into the 5000lm+ level, yet the Defender seems to manage to appear brighter than similar output lights. I have never been left wanting by the Defender (running on the RCR123) with its solid performance and beam profile.

The slim body allows easy cigar gripping and general operation is what you expect from a tail-switch light.


And the Stiletto, this is a very different concept and is very different to use. It’s flat profile and large pocket clip make it one of the easiest lights I’ve used to pocket carry. Ergonomics are a really strong point with the Stiletto. In general use you will find the main side-switch falls nicely under your thumb. Side-switches are far superior to tail switches for EDC tasks, and make it more comfortable to hold the light for extended periods with a low arm position.

But of course, the Stiletto also has a tactical tail switch so you have the option of the high tactical grip with direct access to High. This leads me to the set of images in the gallery as I personally found the tail switch (which is quite stiff) gave me a few issues with grip and the Stiletto sliding forward. I had to use two methods to keep it stable; one was to hook my little finger just round the front of the aluminium head, and the other was to ensure I had the Stiletto rotated so I was gripping onto its width and not onto the flats. (check the gallery for examples) It has been fatiguing to use the tail-switch for longer periods, but with the streamlined shaping this is unavoidable.


The Stiletto’s main power switch is one of three areas on the rubber side panel; I am mentioning this to describe something else to be aware of. To the left of the main switch is a programming switch, this has not caused any issues in general use. However, the USB charging port cover is something to be aware of as I have often found myself trying to turn it on by pressing this part as it is quite ‘button-like’. It is very easy to do this, especially if wearing gloves, so just needs a little awareness and grip adjustment to correct.

‘Programming switch’ – yes the Stiletto can be programmed, with each switch independently programmed into one of two modes. I definitely prefer the default mode and I’d only change if I were mainly going to use the Stiletto in High. Programming is very easy – you hold the programming switch down until the indicator shows blue and then press either the main-switch or tail-switch to toggle it between modes. This programming switch also activates the emergency strobe.

Having three levels and the ability to swap the order from L-H or H-L is very useful. The most used mode for me was the Low, followed by Medium. High was too powerful for most of my EDC uses, but great to have for quick blasts.

The previous gallery has two in-use photos on a pathway to compare these two lights. In the earlier beam-shot gallery you could see the effect of the even circle of light the Stiletto emits. Once you get outdoors and don’t have light bouncing round to fill in the areas beyond the outer edge of the beam – the tunnel vision effect becomes more pronounced. You can see with both the Defender and Stiletto aimed in the same way, the Defender view is complete where the Stiletto’s beam leaves you blind beyond the narrower circle of the beam. Using the Stiletto in unlit areas required more beam movement and scanning to see where your feet are going.

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.

I’m trying something slightly different and starting with what doesn’t work so well, so I can finish on a more positive note

_______________________________________________
What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________

Defender E2D Ultra – no direct access to Low.
Stiletto – tail-switch a bit too stiff to hold-on in tactical mode.
Stiletto – beam profile can cause tunnel vision in unlit outdoor areas.

_______________________________________________
Things I like
_______________________________________________

Defender E2D Ultra – Powerful output (that seems more than it is).
Defender E2D Ultra – Great beam profile.
Defender E2D Ultra – Excellent neutral beam colour.
Defender E2D Ultra – High and Low level.
Defender E2D Ultra – Lockout.
Defender E2D Ultra – Slim and easy to carry.
Defender E2D Ultra – Super quality build.
Stiletto – Very ‘pocket friendly’ shape.
Stiletto – Choice of modes.
Stiletto – Two switches, side and tail.
Stiletto – Programmable modes for switches.
Stiletto – USB chargeable.
Stiletto – Fuel gauge indicator.
Backed by Surefire’s guarantee.

 

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.

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