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Thread: 5.11 ATAC A1 and A2 Review (1 AA and 2 AA versions)

  1. #1
    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default 5.11 ATAC A1 and A2 Review (1 AA and 2 AA versions)

    5.11 Tactical have been around for many years and have an established reputation for making hard wearing quality tactical clothing. 5.11’s first venture into lights was with the innovative Light for Life with its capacitor based power pack enabling almost instant recharging.

    This has been supplemented by the ATAC range of lights, primarily aimed at LEO/service personnel the features of these lights make them a good general purpose light for anyone.

    On test here are the AA powered ATAC lights, the A1 and A2 and the ATAC belt clip.


    Initial Impressions:

    All of the ATAC lights have a distinctive ribbed battery tube which, to me anyway, is reminiscent of a picatinny rail.

    Simple and solid, the ATAC lights will not have you tripping over complicated user interfaces, instead giving you light when you need it and no messing about when you really don’t need it.



    What is in the box:

    All of the ATAC range come in well presented boxes which have the light’s features marked clearly on the front, making it easy to compare their features.



    The A1’s box






    The A2’s box






    The ATAC belt clip packaging






    The plastic carrier tray removed the light comes with alkaline batteries, instructions and the ATAC break away lanyard.







    The review group all together.





    Looking inside:

    Despite being very similar as a 1xAA and 2xAA version, the tail-caps are different. Threads are standard.



    But the switch itself is the same



    Looking inside the battery tube, both have the same construction. The inner walls of the battery tube have longitudinal ridges. These hold the batteries to stop then rattling and allow a wider tube with little extra weight.

    This view also show the rubber anti-roll ring giving the square shape to the end of the tube



    Focussing further down shows the flat positive contact



    Looking straight into the lens showing the Cree XP-E emitter. Both A1 and A2 look the same.




    The ATAC range use a removable clip



    Here the A1 is shown with the clip removed



    There is a locator to keep the clip correctly positioned




    The reverse side of the light show a battery direction symbol




    The ATAC belt clip shown with the belt fixing open and the A1 fitted



    You can see the movable belt width stopper. This feature allows the belt clip to be fitted to various width belts and fit closely to the belt.

    The belt fixing opens by squeezing the sides of the clip allowing easy fitting and removal.


    The bezels of the ATAC range have fixed crenulations





    Modes and User Interface:

    The ATAC range have been designed with simple reliable operation in mind. Both the A1 and A2 have the same interface and output modes.

    The tail-switch is a forward clicky giving instant access to high.

    There are three modes, High, Low and Strobe. For the A1 this is 103lm, 11lm and strobe at 103lm. The A2 has 162lm, 15lm and strobe at 162lm.

    The lights default to high and if left off for about 1s will revert to high. A quick double tap of the switch gives low. This has to be quite quick to change down roughly 0.5s between taps. Then a quick triple tap will give the strobe, again with about 0.5s between taps.

    This is with the switch half pressed. Once you have the output mode you want, you can press the switch fully to latch the setting.

    What makes this so good is that the light is really easy to use in a hurry as normally this is when you want maximum output and a bonus is that it is easy to lend as it simply defaults to high.



    Batteries and output:

    Supporting only standard AA battery types (this does not include 14500 li-ions), the A1 and A2 are easy to keep powered.

    Output modes are regulated so battery choice is not critical. I have been using eneloops for my testing.

    High is regulated and when the batteries can no longer provide maximum output, the high mode simply dims gradually. As there is no sudden cut off so you will not be left in the dark and have plenty of warning. The lights do not drop down to the low mode when the batteries are running out, this is still accessible.

    High is constant output, and low is provided via PWM. The frequency is high enough not to be very noticeable.



    In The Lab

    In an attempt to quantify the actual beam profile I developed the following test. There are probably many flaws in my method, but it is simple and easy to carry out and seems to provide a good enough comparison.

    The method used was to put the light on the edge of a table 1m from a wall, with a tape measure on the wall. The zero of the scale is placed in the centre of the hotspot and a lux meter is then positioned at points along the scale, with the measurements recorded. Beam shots are often taken with the light shining on a flat white wall, so this method is simply measuring the actual intensity across the beam on a flat surface, not the spherical light emission.

    The results are then plotted on a graph.

    For the best throw you want to see a sharp peak with less of the distracting spill. For the best flood light the trace should be pretty flat.


    The A1 and A2 are shown here with a standard Cree R2 powered by an 18650 for comparison. The A1 and A2 with standard AA power stand up well next to this typical li-ion light.



    Taking this a little further, I calculated an approximate factor to apply to the lux measurements, as each measurement gets further from the centre of the beam, it corresponds to a larger area onto which the light is falling. It seems to me that this should also be taken into consideration, so I applied these area corrections and came up with this odd looking graph.

    The key quantity here is the area under the graph line. This should correspond to the total light output.




    The A2 is very comparable to the typical li-ion R2, but with slightly less throw and more light in the spill. This makes it a more versatile light than the R2.



    The beam of the A1 and A2

    The ATAC A1 and A2 are designed to be the most versatile combination of throw and flood. So have a bright spot, but a wide spill beam as well.

    Both lights have a unusual slightly lumpy corona at the extreme edge of the spill. This uneven corona, is different in the ATAC L2 (review coming soon) where it is much smoother. This corona, I suspect, is a symptom of the wide spill beam and the high position of the LED relative to the base of the reflector.

    Here the A1 and A2 are photographed with the same exposure to show their relative output.







    Using the A1 and A2

    I’ve found the ATAC A1 and A2 to be highly usable lights. Straight forward to use and although larger than other AA based lights, the slightly larger tube and the ribbed texture make for a very comfortable and secure grip, bare hands or gloved.



    The tail-cap switch is well designed with the sloping shoulders of the cap giving easy access to the switch. Even with gloved hands these light operate easily.

    As I don’t have police or military issue gloves, I used my motorcycle gloves which have a very similar construction and feeling.



    The belt clip works well, but unfortunately doesn’t hold the light’s clip firmly. I would have liked the light to click into place to make it more secure. The last thing you want is your light popping off the belt clip while you are running. The A2 is too long to allow you to sit down with it on the belt clip, but the A1 is a really good size to use with the belt clip.

    Included with the A1 and A2 is the 5.11 break away lanyard. This is a very good design providing a significant resistance to breaking away so there will be no accidental loss of the light, but should an assailant grab to light, the lanyard will break away preventing any impairment of your movement. Once the light is recovered the lanyard clips back together with no loss of security.



    5.11 have produced a well thought out and solidly made range of lights. The ATAC A1 and A2 have many strong features primarily designed for LEOs, but that transfer well into general purpose use.






    Review sample provided for review by 5.11 Tactical.

    I’ll update post 2 of this thread once I have some more comments to add....
    Last edited by subwoofer; 04-06-2012 at 09:22 AM.
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  2. #2
    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default Re: 5.11 ATAC A1 and A2 Review (1 AA and 2 AA versions)

    reserved for further updates...
    Tactical Reviews by Subwoofer
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  3. #3

    Default Re: 5.11 ATAC A1 and A2 Review (1 AA and 2 AA versions)

    Thanks for the excellent review subwoofer! I was looking for a 1AA light with good throw for 10 to 15 meters and the A1 looks promising. Looking forward to any updates you might have on these lights :-)

  4. #4

    Default Re: 5.11 ATAC A1 and A2 Review (1 AA and 2 AA versions)

    Great review!!! I like the look but I think with all these lights being released nowadays, 160lm for a 2xAA is a bit low.


  5. #5
    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default Re: 5.11 ATAC A1 and A2 Review (1 AA and 2 AA versions)

    Quote Originally Posted by richardcpf View Post
    Great review!!! I like the look but I think with all these lights being released nowadays, 160lm for a 2xAA is a bit low.
    Agreed, a 2xAA is capable of more these days, but it is not all about maximum output. I rarely use the other 2xAAs I have on maximum as higher output = lower runtime.

    The more important consideration is functionality and how you will use it. I've found the ATAC A2 to have plenty of light for general use and its beam has some throw. The forward clicky and simple UI make it a good working light and a light anyone can pick up and use without having to learn a UI.
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  6. #6
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    Default Re: 5.11 ATAC A1 and A2 Review (1 AA and 2 AA versions)

    Appreciate the review. Saw these A-1's going for $14.99 so I ended up buying 4, along with a couple of Primus Polaris lanterns.

    Not exactly the latest thing in AA lights but at that price I couldn't resist.

  7. #7
    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default Re: 5.11 ATAC A1 and A2 Review (1 AA and 2 AA versions)

    Quote Originally Posted by Groundhog View Post
    Appreciate the review. Saw these A-1's going for $14.99 so I ended up buying 4, along with a couple of Primus Polaris lanterns.

    Not exactly the latest thing in AA lights but at that price I couldn't resist.
    Where? That is an amazing price. The A1 may not be the latest, but I still find the Forward clicky switch and rapid tap mode selection one of the best interfaces. I'm still regularly using the A1 and A2 despite all the other lights I have.
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  8. #8
    Enlightened
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    Default Re: 5.11 ATAC A1 and A2 Review (1 AA and 2 AA versions)

    LAPoliceGear. Reading the reviews it was $24.99 last year but now a closeout special. I just wanted 1 lantern but the prices were great and it's free shipping over $89 so I doubled my original order.

    http://www.lapolicegear.com/511-atac-a1-flashlight.html

    EDIT - Ooops. Says 'sold out' now.

    Quote Originally Posted by subwoofer View Post
    Where? That is an amazing price. The A1 may not be the latest, but I still find the Forward clicky switch and rapid tap mode selection one of the best interfaces. I'm still regularly using the A1 and A2 despite all the other lights I have.

  9. #9

    Default Re: 5.11 ATAC A1 and A2 Review (1 AA and 2 AA versions)

    I also bought (13) of them (A1's) from La Police gear around Christmas 2013 for gifts. I kept (3) for emergencies and regularly edc and nightstand another one. They are quite good little lights with great grip and feel from the body and excellent switch. I get about 1:45 of runtime on a Duracell 2500mah AA.
    I really like this light and was thinking about getting the new version with the xpg but as nice as they are, $49.99 is a little much.
    Last edited by TheVat26; 08-21-2014 at 07:28 PM. Reason: Add info

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