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Thread: Search and Rescue Flashlights

  1. #1
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    Default Search and Rescue Flashlights

    I'm looking for the best Flashlights for a K9 Handler in Search and Rescue.

    Basically I'm in the Wilderness, heavy wooded areas.
    And also search in disasters like fallen concrete buildings.

    I've read an older post in 2008 about changing out modules and adding filters to better see victims.

    I have to have 2 flights for my tact gear.
    One smaller light, like one that would be on a gun and a handheld light.

    Keep in mind, our searches may start in the light and it turns dark very quickly around here, so the flashlight has to be able to fit on my tactical vest or even on a leg pouch...

    I need it to be as bright as possible and last as long as possible.

    I've heard there are some great advances with rechargables...
    And I've heard Surefire and Stream Light are what I should be looking at...

    But there are 1000s of choices and I'm greatly confused on who to listen to... All my tact suppliers seem to have a different opinion..

    Thanks for any help...

  2. #2

    Default Re: Search and Rescue Flashlights

    Do you feel like you need a long carrying tight beam or a floody big beam?

    Surefire could do both for you, but for lower powered stuff or if you need longer run times, you might be better served with a top quality LED light for the secondary light.

    Since you're in the woods at night, I'd go with an incandescent light for your big gun just because it shows color better. Surefire has plenty of extremely powerful incandescent lights.

    The M4 would make a good search and rescue light

    http://www.surefire.com/M4-Devaster

    and something small and high powered and "throwy" for your secondary light could be something like a 4Sevens Maelstom G5 Quark AA^2 Turbo or 123^2 Turbo. They will last much longer on their set of batteries than the M4, but still shoot plenty of light in the woods.

    http://www.4sevens.com/index.php?cPath=297_406
    http://www.4sevens.com/index.php?cPath=297_330
    Last edited by Sailboat; 10-29-2010 at 07:04 AM.
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  3. #3
    Flashaholic* computernut's Avatar
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    Default Re: Search and Rescue Flashlights

    I don't do SAR but I walk my dog every night in a large off-leash forest park. I have a Surefire M4 and as Sailboat mentions it's my big-gun that I use on and off for seeing things in the distance. The 2.5" turbo head might make it a little larger than what you'd want but it really makes a difference in throw. Even the stock MN60 lamp is great and you'll get an hour off 4 CR123's.

    As a secondary light a Surefire LX2 might fit the bill, putting an F04 or FM54 turns the throwy TIR optic into a nice close-up work light. The 15 lumen low is good for watching where you're going while the 200 lumen mode is good for spotting things far off. The two-stage switch gives you instant access to high when you need it too.

    You said you need 2 lights and one of them is for your gun but I'd go for 3 if possible, the two mentioned above plus a Surefire weaponlight. I don't think you really want to be pointing your gun around when you're on a SAR unless it's a felon that's lost.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Search and Rescue Flashlights

    I'm not a SAR professional but did SAR work with our provincial emergency program in the mountains 20 some odd years ago, and have taken some light urban rescue courses over the last few years in conjunction with volunteer work I do in emergency planning and disaster relief. I've also been an active all season mountaineer since the 1970's. I'm a team leader for our municipal disaster assistance program - most of what we do is post-evacuation work with victims but often on scene, in the rain and all sorts of weather. I frequently need to tour fire, flood and other scenes. I am not a first responder by any means, but as you know, we have to help ourselves first before we can help others, in the event of a large regional emergency. We live in an earthquake zone and many older buildings in this area are at high risk of collapse, thus my personal interest in this.

    Since I've not done any recent SAR activity other than training, take anything I say with a large grain of salt.

    Below treeline your more floody lights will be far more useful than throw-centric lights, above treeline the reverse is true, so you need both.

    - headlamp - a must. Frees your hands when you need them. Should be more floody, maybe even all flood would be ok, your call. Hugely useful when hiking into a search area and when working with victims. Clearly must have a facility to lower output.

    - handheld light - more throwy than floody but not pencil thin beams.

    - LED not incandescent unless you are willing to carry spare bulbs/lamp assemblies. I've no idea if modern incandescents have the reliability you want, but I know for certain that LEDs do. You can get "neutral" or even "warm" LED lights so I see no need for incans when LED's are so efficient and long lasting, not for SAR work anyway.

    - Backup: If you can obtain a diffuser for your handheld light (or for a backup handheld light) and a headband (small, can be tucked away) you'll have options in case your either your handheld or headlamp should die. Angle-lights might also be useful in this regard.

    Power is an issue. How long are typical deployments for you? I assume you have quite a bit of support at a field command centre.

    Edit: Had to run, didn't get to finish this already too-wordy post. You are already doing the work so I'm sure you have a handle on the type of light that works for you but want specific recommendations. In the throw arena by all accounts the 4Sevens Maelstrom G5 is a winner and popular because of it; in the same class, simpler but possibly stronger build would be a Malkoff Hound Dog. Here's a beam comparison discussion of both.

    If you are looking for something with a little more general purpose beam (a mix of some throw but more brightness in the spill) in a handheld light, any SureFire equipped with a Malkoff M61W (W for neutral or warm light) is likely to please and be a solid choice, but it'll only be on or off, no levels. A Malkoff MD2 flashlight with the same M61W drop in can be equipped with a two level switch and that might be useful to you. Or a M61WL - somewhat lower output but much much longer runtimes - something to consider as well. Both the Malkoff MD2 and any SureFire you are likely to put these drop-ins into would be considered as rugged as they come.

    SureFire's Nitrolon bodies (G series) won't suck the heat out of hands in the cold, something to think about. But you can't run high power emitters in them for extended periods of time. The lower output Malkoff's (M61WL vs M61) I believe are suitable for running in a Nitrolon body for as long as your cells will power it. You can get 125 out the front lumens from a M61WL for 5 hours out of a pair of CR123A primary cells before the output starts to go into an extended taper. The M61W (best in an aluminum body) will push out 240 lumens for about 2 hours on the same cells before it starts to taper. Malkoff drop ins are awfully popular and often out of stock but calling them may help unearth one.
    Last edited by tandem; 10-29-2010 at 12:18 PM.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Search and Rescue Flashlights

    My brother does S&R, and I sold him a G5, and he loves it. They have a tremendous amount of "punch" for their size, enabling you to tell the difference if that's a branch or a leg sticking from out behind a tree at 100yds.

    The other light I'd suggest, is the Surefire M3LT...I have one, and in my opinion, I think the M3LT and G5 throw a beam out roughly the same distance, but the Surefire will light up a whole tree at 100 yards, while the G5 will light up the top of the tree. The Surefire's TIR Optic focuses the light brilliantly, I think it's THE perfect S&R light, but it's big. It also has a great tint, helping with weather and color. There's very little corona around that big beautiful hotspot though, but as long as you had your headlamp on you'd be fine! Runtime on high is about the same for the G5 and M3LT, about 1.5 hours roughly.

    I second the headlamp, you NEED to have light wherever you're looking, and to me a floody headlamp is the way to go, with a throwing handheld to spot stuff. You need to be able to see where you're going so YOU'RE not injured looking for someone else!

    Surefire's incandescents are probably the best, in my opinion, expecially for throw and color rendition, however, they're thirsty, and you guys carry enough stuff already. It would be a good idea to carry one, in case of fog, mist, rain or smoke ,because incans definitely penetrate much better than an LED, but maybe a red filter would help? I haven't tried that personally.


    my recomendations:

    1--Surefire Saint Maximus headlamp, runs on either 3x123s or 2xAAs, same brightness, less runtime.

    2--4Sevens G5 or M3LT for primary search light--the G5 is built to handle recoil, so it could be a combination light, with a Surefire M79 picatinny mount.

    3--good incandescent backup light with a spare bulb and some batteries. G3 nitrolon comes to mind, 105lumesn for an hour or so, with a spare P90 (or P91 for 200 lumens) and 2 changes of batteries in an SC1 spares carrier for about 3 hours of run time.

    All of those would run off of the same batteries, making packing easier, and on low the M3LT and G5 both have excellent runtimes, should make all night easy. The G5 does have the benefit of strobe, etc to signal others, but a few flashes from the M3LT would do the same. Hope I helped a little!
    Last edited by JTElectric; 10-29-2010 at 11:15 AM.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Search and Rescue Flashlights

    Quote Originally Posted by tandem View Post
    . . . .
    - headlamp - a must. Frees your hands when you need them. .
    I couldn't agree more !!! For Bush Search and Rescue I can't imagine using anything less now - I have both hands free for stretcher-carrying, or just hanging on in rough terrain.

    Both Paramedics I was working with on the last recovery used headlamps for walking to the patient and for working on the patient.

    Quote Originally Posted by tandem View Post
    . . . .
    maybe even all flood would be ok, your call. Hugely useful when hiking into a search area and when working with victims. Clearly must have a facility to lower output. . . .
    These days you no longer have to agonise over buying a flood or a spot beam or pick a poor compromise - there are great examples of Zoom headlamps and handhelds that cover the whole range of beamwidths, giving a smooth circle at both extremes, with an instant change.

    Getting a big range of brightness with instant adjustment is also easy these days.

    The difference in brightness between Dim+Flood (light on the patient while stretcher-carrying) and Bright+Spot (searching distant terrain) is amazing.

    The LED Lenser H7 does ALL these things
    - Rugged Headlamp
    - Instant Flood to Spot Zoom
    - Instant Dim to Bright

    If you're not sure, but want to test the importance of these features, you can buy a clone that isn't waterproof, but otherwise has excellent light and optics for less than $20 mailed worldwide. Once you've tried it, you won't be satisfied with less versatility from fixed-beam or fixed-brightness lights.

    Google dealextreme sku.29435
    Last edited by MikeAusC; 10-31-2010 at 08:35 PM. Reason: added "H7"

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Search and Rescue Flashlights

    Never have had an opportunity to look any of the LED Lenser models in person but certainly the idea if well executed would be a winner.

    Still, you'd need a backup light. I guess you could go with another LED Lenser and never need to worry about which of your flood or throw oriented lights may one day pack it in or get dropped over a cliff.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Search and Rescue Flashlights

    Go to Google Search, CPF only, at the top of every CPF page and write in Search and Rescue, Quite a few threads will pop up.

    Bill

  9. #9
    Flashaholic* RobertM's Avatar
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    Default Re: Search and Rescue Flashlights

    Quote Originally Posted by sardog View Post
    I'm looking for the best Flashlights for a K9 Handler in Search and Rescue.

    Basically I'm in the Wilderness, heavy wooded areas.
    And also search in disasters like fallen concrete buildings.

    I've read an older post in 2008 about changing out modules and adding filters to better see victims.

    I have to have 2 flights for my tact gear.
    One smaller light, like one that would be on a gun and a handheld light.

    Keep in mind, our searches may start in the light and it turns dark very quickly around here, so the flashlight has to be able to fit on my tactical vest or even on a leg pouch...

    I need it to be as bright as possible and last as long as possible.

    I've heard there are some great advances with rechargables...
    And I've heard Surefire and Stream Light are what I should be looking at...

    But there are 1000s of choices and I'm greatly confused on who to listen to... All my tact suppliers seem to have a different opinion..

    Thanks for any help...
    I would suggest getting a combination of a SureFire Saint (not the minimus version, the one with the battery pack) and then get a SureFire M6 with a separately purchased MN15 lamp (normally found in the M3T). The MN15 gives you almost 200 lumens of sweet incandescent light for around 2.5 hours in the M6. It really throws quite well allowing you to see at pretty far distances. Then just get a SureFire spares carrier to keep some extra CR123 batteries and an extra MN15 with you and you should be set.

    BTW,

    Robert

  10. #10

    Default Re: Search and Rescue Flashlights

    Quote Originally Posted by RobertM View Post
    I would suggest getting a combination of a SureFire Saint (not the minimus version, the one with the battery pack) and then get a SureFire M6 with a separately purchased MN15 lamp (normally found in the M3T). The MN15 gives you almost 200 lumens of sweet incandescent light for around 2.5 hours in the M6. It really throws quite well allowing you to see at pretty far distances. Then just get a SureFire spares carrier to keep some extra CR123 batteries and an extra MN15 with you and you should be set.

    BTW,

    Robert
    +1 for the M6-MN15 combo. I would even carry a preloaded MB20 battery Magazine as well as a spares carrier.

    I would also recommend the G3-V85 Holster combo as a back up.
    Finally seeing the light - going back to incans!!!!

  11. #11
    Flashaholic* Jash's Avatar
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    Default Re: Search and Rescue Flashlights

    I'm going to suggest two lights from the one manufacturer.

    Malkoff MD2 with H/L ring and a Hound Dog with MD4 body for extra runtime.

    The current MD2 comes with the M61 module and is a nice balance between throw and flood (many describe it as the perfect beam). It runs for a couple of hours at full output off two CR123's (then giving another few hours of declining output) and is nice a small.

    The hound dog is designed more for throw but still has a bright spill. It can use the MD2, MD3 or MD4 body. With the MD4 body it is no longer than a 2C maglite.

    If you want serious runtime with still bright output, the Olight SR91 will deliver 450 lumens for about 10 hours. It's a BIG light though. About the length of 3D and weight of a 4D maglite, with a bigger head too.
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  12. #12
    Flashaholic AEHaas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Search and Rescue Flashlights

    To me SAR means a LOT of light. Your hand held "tactical" light can give you several hours at around 300 lumens. 400 or 500 is not significantly brighter. When you are out of range of your jacket/pocket/pant leg light you need more. Examples are:

    AELight 25 watt or even the 2 speed 35-50 watt HID
    Polarion PH40 HID

    Carry a spare battery. Then you will be able to light up the woods. These lights generally throw a wide beam for several hundreds of yards, out beyond 500 or more. You do not want to miss anything by using a penlight when a true "search light" is needed.

    Otherwise just use your average 300 lumen, small sized light. Maybe do a run with somebody who actually has some of these lights.

    aehaas
    Last edited by AEHaas; 11-01-2010 at 09:13 PM.
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  13. #13

    Default Re: Search and Rescue Flashlights

    I know I am new and I am showing unenlightened but I have done a lot of research in this area and I have actually been on CPF for a while. Just thought I would start adding my 2 cents worth. I am a scout master and take a big group of boys camping every month. My biggest concern is having one of these boys wander off which has actually happened. I just bought the Pelican 8060 for two reasons. First, it will run a heck of a long time (11 hours) on 4C alkaline batteries. Second, this light is a thrower and is pretty bright for the run-time.

  14. #14
    Enlightened Loed7984's Avatar
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    Default Re: Search and Rescue Flashlights

    I'm in the SAR team of my town from about 12 years,however here it's rare that we have to do night search, (and in Italy is not mandatory to use a flashlight for night searching) I found two flashlights to be very useful : fenix tk 22 that I use for long range search or in the woods and the led lenser p7.2 for close range ('cause the flood light doesn't dazzle or scare the person being rescued) and urban searching. Alternative for tk 22 can be the Intimidator or the Tk 75, but in my own opinion are too heavy for long time search.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Search and Rescue Flashlights

    I think you need three lights personally. You need a headlight for hands free operation. For search and rescue, you need a bright light with decent runtime and you may not have your hands free to change settings. Look into the Petzl Reactive Series of headlights and take your pick. For a small flashlight, there are many options but I'd go with the Foursevens Quark Pro QP2L-X with burst mode. It's 780 lumens on high with 600 hours on it's lowest setting (some search and rescue situations can go bad and leave you injured or stuck for a long time). For the brighter and bigger light, take your pick of li-ion battery powered H.I.D. spotlights. These will be your brightest lights with the most throw (can be upwards of 3000 lumens). If you can find an l.e.d. flashlight with the same output as an H.I.D. that is waterproof and you can afford, go for it, but just remember that you will sacrifice throw (distance of the beam). However, most H.I.D. lights aren't waterproof so figure out what is most important to you before making a purchace.

  16. #16
    Flashaholic* Poppy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Search and Rescue Flashlights

    HkF,
    Did you realize this is a three year old thread, and the OP has only his one original post?
    Last edited by Bullzeyebill; 11-22-2013 at 09:13 PM.

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