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Thread: What's the meaning of "Tactical LED Light"?

  1. #1

    Default What's the meaning of "Tactical LED Light"?

    Okay, here's a rant. Just like the rest of you flashoholics, I'm frustratingly fed up with so many lights that claim to be 'tactical' when obviously they're NOT. I'm also sick and tired of manufacturers that loosely throw around the term 'tactical' - as if a black colored flashlight automatically means a tactical light! Or how about that 'tactical' fridge light?! Ugh...

    1. The true definition of a handheld tactical flashlight (as defined by Paul Kim of Surefire) means those that are used by special agents, S.W.AT, law enforcement, military personel, for attack and/or rescue missions. For instance, a team of FBI agents with one hand holding a gun and the other holding a flashlight, silently surrounding a warehouse of potential enemies... and then storming in to rescure hostages, gun fight etc.

    2. It must have a tail mounted forward switch to allow for momentary operation and preferably a twist action for constant on. The button must also be protruding (eg. Surefire L5) - this enables the user to 'signal' silently with the light, even with gloves on, which is very important as you often only use the light for fractions of a second.

    A forward clicky that makes no sound when clicked - eg. Novatac 120T, can also be a tactical light. This requirement, obviously excludes most chinese lights, which are reverse clickies, and have their switch recessed, which is NOT suitable for tactical use - bad tactile feedback. (Eg, the Fenix lights, which are far too complicated U.I and turning it on makes noises that will give away your position - hence they're not tactical lights.)

    An example of a tactical situation with a tactical light:


    Below is NOT a tactical situation nor a tactical light (although some manufactuers would have you believe that this is a 'Tactical light' allowing nightly fridge raids to combat hunger strikes!) Lol


    An example of a true Tactical light: There's only a few manufacturers that make true tactical lights. Surefire, Novatac (only the 120T), and Gladius Night-ops are few of them. SUREFIRE L5 and Novatac 120T shown below: Notice they all have protruding switches to allow easy activation in times of danger. They also have forward switch meachanism allowing for momentary signaling to blind suspects or alert other team members.


    Below is NOT a tactical light: (Reverse clicky, which means it's noisy operation, doesn't allow forward momentary operation, far too complex U.I., and button shrouded by the body, which is a big NO-NO for tactical lights.) Shown here is a Fenix L2D-CE... NOT a tactical light.

    Nor is this: The bright orange clicky, and non-protruding switch is a big NO-NO for tactical lights.



    Anyways, rant over. I'd also like to point out that twisty lights (ie those which require a twist to turn on) are NOT tactical lights, despite what manufacturers would like to tell you. The twist action is far too cumbersome to be used in dangerous situations, and require both hands to activate.
    Last edited by xiaowenzu; 11-19-2007 at 08:25 PM. Reason: SPAG

  2. #2
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    Default Re: What's the meaning of "Tactical LED Light"?

    Below is NOT a tactical nor a tactical light (although some manufactuers would have you believe that this is a 'Tactical light' allowing nightly fridge raids to combat hunger strikes!) Lol
    Good one ....

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    *Flashaholic* Marduke's Avatar
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    Default Re: What's the meaning of "Tactical LED Light"?

    Most of the Fenix line is now switching to FORWARD clickies. May still not be "tactical" in the silent department, but they are no longer reverse clickies as you continue to post.
    Last edited by Marduke; 11-13-2007 at 08:53 PM.

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    Default Re: What's the meaning of "Tactical LED Light"?


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    Flashaholic* madecov's Avatar
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    Default Re: What's the meaning of "Tactical LED Light"?

    Very Very good post.
    I'm a full time Police Officer and a part time Gun dealer. Everything is marketed as tacticool.

    My Surefire lights and my Gladius are absolutely tactical.

    My PILA and Wolf Eyes lights are 90-95% tactical. My Pelican 7060 is just a cool flashlight. The Streamlight TLR-1 is tactical.

    It's really funny how things are marketed as tactical, like 5.11 and underarmor even have tactical underwear and socks

    If things where marketed for what they really are no one would buy them.
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    Default Re: What's the meaning of "Tactical LED Light"?

    Tactics are basically military, swat etc. strategy, but it greatly varies as to what the application is. Bottom line a flashlight used in these situations has to be there when needed and be used as quickly as possible, having a rear switch be it clicky or momentary twist is important so there's no question where the switch is, should have a good clip at the tail end and it shouldn't make itself known it's there unless needed. As for my opinion on clickies and the whole silence thing, if you worry about being heard, you'll be seen. Also if I were in a covert mission I would find a Streamlight Stylus with red led, covert cover and sharp spot more tactical than a bright Surefire or whatever.
    What kind of self respecting nocturnal being cannot see in the dark, one way or another?

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    *Flashaholic* Patriot's Avatar
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    Default Re: What's the meaning of "Tactical LED Light"?

    What if the term was 'defensive light' instead of 'tactical light?'

    The problem is that tactical has too broad a meaning. Tactics can include planning and executing any task. Coming up with a plan to help your buddy change a tire on the side of the road can employ tactics. The general meaning of the word happens to allow it's loose usage.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tactical

    If we try to say that if a light makes a noise, it isn't tactical then a M3 with Z48 tailcap suddenly becomes...not tactical...hmm...I don't think so. How about the street cop who's been using his magcharger for tactical activities for 10 years now? I don't think it can be defined and if someone does define it, who's going to be the authority. The problem is that we will never all agree on the meaning of what's tactical with regards to a light, knife, eyewear, or underwear.

  8. #8

    Default Re: What's the meaning of "Tactical LED Light"?

    Quote Originally Posted by madecov View Post
    Very Very good post.
    I'm a full time Police Officer and a part time Gun dealer. Everything is marketed as tacticool.

    My Surefire lights and my Gladius are absolutely tactical.

    My PILA and Wolf Eyes lights are 90-95% tactical. My Pelican 7060 is just a cool flashlight. The Streamlight TLR-1 is tactical.
    Thanks, you're welcome! Yes, I agree.. it's ashame that many other manufacturers have skewed the original meaning of tactical, it's not what it use to be. They even call a book light a 'Tactical reading light' now, which IMO, is pretty silly. *sighs*

    Quote Originally Posted by madecov View Post
    It's really funny how things are marketed as tactical, like 5.11 and underarmor even have tactical underwear and socks
    LMAO!

    Quote Originally Posted by Patriot36
    What if the term was 'defensive light' instead of 'tactical light?'
    I wouldn't mind if manufacturers called their lights 'defensive' because any light can be used defensively (swing it at someones head! ) But as long as they don't call it 'tactical' then it's all good. I agree that the word 'tactical' has been overused by manufacturers, and it frustrates me because the majority of the lights are NOT tactical. Sure, they could call their fridge light a 'tactical food light' but that's just being silly. A true handheld tactical light is what we flashaholics have long considered to be used by S.W.AT teams, special agents, military personels, etc to engage in gun fights, rescue missions, in dark environments such as warehouse, underground areas, etc. They usually have one hand holding the gun and the other holding the light (as in the photos of 1st post) There are also weapon mounted tactical lights but that's another thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by defloyd77
    Bottom line a flashlight used in these situations has to be there when needed and be used as quickly as possible, having a rear switch be it clicky or momentary twist is important so there's no question where the switch is, should have a good clip at the tail end and it shouldn't make itself known it's there unless needed.
    Yes, a tail mounted switch is a must for tactical lights, because you don't want to fumble around to locate the side switch in the dark. Some may have clips, but that is not compulsory because many are stored in a holster.

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    Flashaholic* KeeperSD's Avatar
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    Default Re: What's the meaning of "Tactical LED Light"?

    Quote Originally Posted by xiaowenzu View Post


    Below is NOT a tactical situation nor a tactical light (although some manufactuers would have you believe that this is a 'Tactical light' allowing nightly fridge raids to combat hunger strikes!) Lol

    Unfortunately this is probably the most tactical situation that a lot of guys on CPF will face - no offence intended to anyone here.

    Quote Originally Posted by xiaowenzu View Post
    Yes, a tail mounted switch is a must for tactical lights, because you don't want to fumble around to locate the side switch in the dark. Some may have clips, but that is not compulsory because many are stored in a holster.
    That all depends on your shooting method, its not very "tactical" to be using a light with a tail switch when your shooting method is based on a body mounted switch.

    Most who really need tactical lights utilise weapon mounted lights, thus ensuring two hands on the weapon when shooting
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    Default Re: What's the meaning of "Tactical LED Light"?

    Quote Originally Posted by KeeperSD View Post
    Unfortunately this is probably the most tactical situation that a lot of guys on CPF will face - no offence intended to anyone here.
    Gah, you're making me hungry now! *goes and raids the fridge for a meat pie* hehe

    Quote Originally Posted by KeeperSD View Post
    Most who really need tactical lights utilise weapon mounted lights, thus ensuring two hands on the weapon when shooting
    I agree, and that would be called a weapon-mounted tactical light - a different kind of beast. But for a hand held tactical light, tail mounted switch is the Surefire way to go. (no pun intended! )

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    Flashaholic* KeeperSD's Avatar
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    Default Re: What's the meaning of "Tactical LED Light"?

    Quote Originally Posted by xiaowenzu View Post
    But for a hand held tactical light, tail mounted switch is the Surefire way to go. (no pun intended! )
    I think you missed the point, tactical by definition is 'relating to tactics' and tactics is defined as 'a planned way of doing something'.

    So if someone has been trained to shoot with a light that utilises a body switch, say the Chapman or the Ayoob method (http://www.surefire.com/maxexp/main/.../557/sesent/00), then a light that utilises a tail switch IS NOT TACTICAL for that user as it is not a planned way of doing something.
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    Flashaholic* MikeSalt's Avatar
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    Default Re: What's the meaning of "Tactical LED Light"?

    I must admit, I have become completely immune to the word 'tactical' where flashlights have been concerned. 9 times out of 10, it is meaningless salesperson jargon.

    I cannot help but feel that this thread had a slight undertone of Fenix bashing, but I agree with the original poster on this particular matter.

    I have a Fenix L1T V2.0 headed my way. As many of you know, this is now a proper forward clicky, which 'should' be silent in momentary operation. And as xiaowenzu point about button protrusion, the tailswitch now protrudes outside the recess, hence the fact that the L1T can no longer tailstand.

    Fenix, of course are bringing out the T1 series. Let us hope that these are truly tactical, as per xiaowenzu's description. However, I believe that they will be a forward clicky, push it too far and it will make a noise and stay on (very bad in life-or-death situation). The momentary with twisty-constant on, as most Surefires have would be a better solution.

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    Flashaholic quatra2008's Avatar
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    Default Re: What's the meaning of "Tactical LED Light"?

    Ha is that a new fenix t1 fridge light?

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    Flashaholic* MikeSalt's Avatar
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    Default Re: What's the meaning of "Tactical LED Light"?

    Quote Originally Posted by quatra2008 View Post
    Ha is that a new fenix t1 fridge light?
    If they make a bad job of it, yes, it is possible that the fridge light will be more useful. I hope they do it right though.

  15. #15

    Default Re: What's the meaning of "Tactical LED Light"?

    Interesting but silly post. Tactical? In the military we had a few inside jokes that involved the word tactical. For example we designated our Electronics Technicians as “tactical ETs” so that they would not feel left out.
    If anything we in the Military use is considered tactical, then by the powers vested in me I hereby declare Fenix lights as “tactical”.
    I have used my Fenix in the field and scared a few raccoons with it so they have sort of been used in a “tactical” assault.
    Last edited by LightJaguar; 11-14-2007 at 02:51 AM.

  16. #16

    Default Re: What's the meaning of "Tactical LED Light"?

    Keeper, my thoughts totally on shooting methods, there is more than one shooting method, which means more than one style of light

  17. #17

    Default Re: What's the meaning of "Tactical LED Light"?

    Quote Originally Posted by LightJaguar
    I have used my Fenix in the field and scared a few raccoons with it so they have sort of been used in a “tactical” assault.
    Hahaha I've never seen a Rocoon tact-light! Seriously, Fenix products aren't as bad as some people claim them to be, and I applaud them for switching some of their lights to forward clickies (even though they're not true tactical switches)

    Quote Originally Posted by KeeperSD View Post
    I think you missed the point, tactical by definition is 'relating to tactics' and tactics is defined as 'a planned way of doing something'.
    Yep, I totally get what you're trying to say. There are of course many kinds of tactical lights out there, but I'd say 95% of lights marketed as 'Tactical' are NOT tactical, for any type of tactical methods at all. I can understand how someone trained in the Chapman method would not prefer a tail mounted handheld tactical light, and the same goes with those who've used weapon mounted tactical flashlight also. But a tail mounted tactical light (eg Surefire L5)is a tactical light for those who've not trained in these methods. All in all, you're quite right - there are more than one type of tactical lights and methods, but I guess I'm just here concentrating on a particular tactical light and trying to define what is NOT a tactical light.
    Last edited by xiaowenzu; 11-15-2007 at 09:24 AM.

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    *Flashaholic* Marduke's Avatar
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    Default Re: What's the meaning of "Tactical LED Light"?

    So, 20 armed swat team members or combat troops in full gear moving around, switching off safeties and such aren't going to make noise, but the tiniest noise of a flashlight switch is going to give their position away and ruin the day? If the bad guy is close enough to hear the switch (and not the 20 guys in full combat gear behind it), he's close enough to be a goner as soon as he turns around.

    I say it doesn't matter if a forward clickie actually clicks, as the momentary mode is always silent. I would futher say that twist momentaries are not tactical, because if you want constant on light, twisting the switch could take far more time than it should (and can require two hands), and there is the chance of the tailcap being locked out and you getting no light at all.

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeSalt View Post

    I cannot help but feel that this thread had a slight undertone of Fenix bashing....
    Of course it does, the OP bashes them every chance he gets, and doesn't even own one.
    Last edited by Marduke; 11-14-2007 at 07:43 AM.

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    Default Re: What's the meaning of "Tactical LED Light"?

    Part of the meaning of tactics is looking at a situation and using the best tools to solve the problem and get the job done. This may not involve a flashlight, but night vision goggles or a robot, or a dog, or a helicopter or something else.

    Somebody who has searched dark areas to arrest people and has combat training (rare) or experience (very rare) in darkness will have a good idea of what they want in a "tactical" flashlight. For one tactics instructor who has those qualifications (combat experience in darkness), brightness and an easily pressed switch are his most commonly mentioned points.

    Why easily pressed? Because he often sees a light cut out when a person is attempting to overcome excessive resistance on the switch and lets up the pressure enough for the light to turn off. There are a few flashlights I've owned that required a lot of thumb pressure, and in addition were excessively smooth and uniform in body diameter, making the problem worse as you pushed the light out of your fist with your thumb.

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    Flashaholic* KeeperSD's Avatar
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    Default Re: What's the meaning of "Tactical LED Light"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Marduke View Post
    So, 20 armed swat team members or combat troops in full gear moving around, switching off safeties and such aren't going to make noise, but the tiniest noise of a flashlight switch is going to give their position away and ruin the day?
    what about the 100 odd lumens coming out the front of the light, i think that might also be a little more of a give away than a slight click from the switch
    Last edited by KeeperSD; 11-14-2007 at 08:00 AM.
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    Default Re: What's the meaning of "Tactical LED Light"?

    Quote Originally Posted by xiaowenzu View Post
    Below is NOT a tactical situation nor a tactical light (although some manufactuers would have you believe that this is a 'Tactical light' allowing nightly fridge raids to combat hunger strikes!) Lol

    Of course that's not a "Tactical" light. Anyone knows it is a "Strategic" light.
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    Flashaholic* elgarak's Avatar
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    Default Re: What's the meaning of "Tactical LED Light"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Marduke View Post
    So, 20 armed swat team members or combat troops in full gear moving around, switching off safeties and such aren't going to make noise, but the tiniest noise of a flashlight switch is going to give their position away and ruin the day? If the bad guy is close enough to hear the switch (and not the 20 guys in full combat gear behind it), he's close enough to be a goner as soon as he turns around.

    I say it doesn't matter if a forward clickie actually clicks, as the momentary mode is always silent. I would futher say that twist momentaries are not tactical, because if you want constant on light, twisting the switch could take far more time than it should (and can require two hands), and there is the chance of the tailcap being locked out and you getting no light at all.



    Of course it does, the OP bashes them every chance he gets, and doesn't even own one.
    So, you know how much sound a SWAT team makes? You believe that action movies where guns click whenever moved depict reality?

    Momentary: You fail to realize that constant on is NEVER employed in tactical situations. You give away your position when the light is on. Clickies are not recommended because you can accidentally switch to constant on. It's difficult to restrain yourself from pressing too hard when under duress. The moments you need to realize your error and to switch off the light might cost you your life.

    There's another consideration I see for tactical lights: A beamshape and brightness that illuminates the full body (or at least the torso) with enough light to assess all weaponry and movements.

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    Default Re: What's the meaning of "Tactical LED Light"?

    All the talk about tactical lights, how many here actually needs one? I don't even use the momentary feature on my l2t that much, most of the time it's clicked on.

    Although I do think the protrusion of the switch on l2t is too little, make momentary harder to do.

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    *Flashaholic* Marduke's Avatar
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    Default Re: What's the meaning of "Tactical LED Light"?

    Quote Originally Posted by elgarak View Post
    So, you know how much sound a SWAT team makes? You believe that action movies where guns click whenever moved depict reality?

    Momentary: You fail to realize that constant on is NEVER employed in tactical situations. You give away your position when the light is on. Clickies are not recommended because you can accidentally switch to constant on. It's difficult to restrain yourself from pressing too hard when under duress. The moments you need to realize your error and to switch off the light might cost you your life.

    There's another consideration I see for tactical lights: A beamshape and brightness that illuminates the full body (or at least the torso) with enough light to assess all weaponry and movements.
    I have several law enforcement buddies, and I have been lucky enough to be invited to watch them train on several occasions, and listen to countless hours of their stories. So yes, I do know how much noise a Swat team makes. And yes, I do know what sound a gun makes when you take the safety off, I own a number of them. And I also know that a large portion of the time spent in "tactical" situations is spent searching basements, attics, and general dark areas of a house, which requires CONSTANT illumination.

    Protruding switch? Definitely! Silent?? I think the bad guys heard someone coming when a door was kicked in and a flashbang went off....

  25. #25

    Default Re: What's the meaning of "Tactical LED Light"?

    Quote Originally Posted by elgarak View Post
    Momentary: You fail to realize that constant on is NEVER employed in tactical situations. You give away your position when the light is on. Clickies are not recommended because you can accidentally switch to constant on. It's difficult to restrain yourself from pressing too hard when under duress. The moments you need to realize your error and to switch off the light might cost you your life.
    +1 I agree. I'd also like to add that, Well-trained Elite SWAT teams are as stealthy as Ninjas, if they weren't the bad guys would hear their location long before they can spring a surprise. It's also important that equipment manufacturers strive to make their products operate as silently as possible since every little sound adds up at the end. For instance a SWAT team would NOT use a $5 dollar reverse clickie that emits a loud CLICK-CLACK when pressed would they?

    Quote Originally Posted by jzmtl View Post
    All the talk about tactical lights, how many here actually needs one?
    My Porsche can do 180Mph, but it's not like I'll ever drive it at that speed. Though it's good to have that capability under the bonnet! Being a Flashoholic is not about Sanity.

    Quote Originally Posted by Marduke View Post
    Protruding switch? Definitely! Silent?? I think the bad guys heard someone coming when a door was kicked in and a flashbang went off....
    Well, you've got be quiet before you can spring a 'flash-bang' surprise! Tada!

  26. #26

    Default Re: What's the meaning of "Tactical LED Light"?

    So with all the "tactical" lights out there, 98% of flashlight users must be on SWAT teams. What's left for the rest of us who don't have the training (or attitude) to be proper "tactical" users -- just Minimags? Surely there must be some lights advertised as "non-tactical" that we'd be authorized to use.

    c_c

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    Default Re: What's the meaning of "Tactical LED Light"?

    Tactical means that you spend a lot of money on a light and you need to have "tact" when you tell your wife.

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    Sssh Re: What's the meaning of "Tactical LED Light"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Marduke View Post
    So, 20 armed swat team members or combat troops in full gear moving around, switching off safeties and such aren't going to make noise, but the tiniest noise of a flashlight switch is going to give their position away and ruin the day? If the bad guy is close enough to hear the switch (and not the 20 guys in full combat gear behind it), he's close enough to be a goner as soon as he turns around.

    I say it doesn't matter if a forward clickie actually clicks, as the momentary mode is always silent. I would futher say that twist momentaries are not tactical, because if you want constant on light, twisting the switch could take far more time than it should (and can require two hands), and there is the chance of the tailcap being locked out and you getting no light at all.



    Of course it does, the OP bashes them every chance he gets, and doesn't even own one.
    A SWAT team making an entry isn't always as quiet as they'd like to be, but as a 20 year veteran police officer who has had to search dark buildings for armed felons without the benefit of a team. I can attest to need for a silent switch. There is nothing more aggravating then a small noise when you are trying to be silent and not get your a** shot.

  29. #29
    Flashaholic* MikeLip's Avatar
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    Default Re: What's the meaning of "Tactical LED Light"?

    Counter-rant;

    This whole thread is ridiculous. There is no point in getting bent out of shape over some marketing-speak.

    Definition per Merriam-Webster;

    tactic
    4 entries found.

    tactic[1,noun]tactic[2,adjective]-tactictactic

    Main Entry: 1tac·tic
    Pronunciation: \ˈtak-tik\
    Function: noun
    Etymology: New Latin tactica, from Greek taktikē, from feminine of taktikos
    Date: 1640
    1 : a device for accomplishing an end
    2 : a method of employing forces in combat

    So, ANY light can be tactical. A plastic $2.99 Eveready can be tactical is it allows you to accomplish your end. It doesn't even have to be black!

    Employing force? No reason why that same light can't be used to aim your Uzi or illuminate your grenade victim.

    Yeah yeah yeah - I know that's not how Surefire or Jeff Cooper define it. But they RE-defined it to suit their purposes in the first place. That doesn't give them ownership of the word you know, or even narrow the definition. So the marketing people are perfectly justified in using the word if they like.

    As far as I'm concerned, tactical is what gets the job done.

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  30. #30

    Default Re: What's the meaning of "Tactical LED Light"?

    In summary of this thread so far.... The word 'tactical' as defined by the oxford dictionary generally means something which employs tactics... but that definition hardly satisfies us flashoholics in the way we define a tactical flashlight. Paul Kim of Surefire defines it as in the first post.

    Dictionaries are great but they rarely serve to completely define or cover the wide subject field, especially one that is niched as Flashlights.

    Quote Originally Posted by BigD64 View Post
    There is nothing more aggravating then a small noise when you are trying to be silent and not get your a** shot.
    HAHA! Tell me about it! I've been through times where a 'click' will put my life in danger.. people have no idea how noisey it can sound at night.

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