Again, I'll have to say to you what I say to everyone else who posts here with a question like this: "What are you using it for, and what do you need from it?"
If $50 is overkill for a flashlight, then exactly what do you require from it? Are you walking around the house or lighting up your keyhole with this? Shining a light across a parking lot? Temporarily blinding gun-wielding thugs? Going into the deep woods? Using it in a theatre?
Do you need throw? Are you worried about batteries possibly being expensive? What sorts of runtimes do you require?
One thing to look at might be the Inova X5 - very efficient use of its battery, and it'll suck the things dry before it's done. However, it's not very good at throwing light - few 5mm-based lights are, so use only at short ranges (under 50 feet).
Does this need to be small? Or do you prefer AA batteries? If the latter, you've missed the Elektrolumens XM-3, which is fairly bright and can easily do 50 feet. If you need a smaller light, why not look at a Nuwai Quantum-III, such as those sold on our B/S/T Lights forum?
Otherwise, a Peak 3-LED light might do the job for you, if you want something more compact but which uses easy-to-find AA/AAA batteries.
I prefer the light to be fairly long so they can fit in my hand well and I can get a good hold on it. Some thing like a 2 or 3 AAA sized light. As for throw, I would like more than 50 ft. Battery price isn't much of an issue. As long as the light can handle a few hrs of runtime I'll be happy. I prefer AA's.
I found the thread here on the XM-3. It seems great, but I prefer just going to a store to buy it. I suspect it is hard to find outside of the internet.
I had a 3AA 4 LED light, but ever since my last camping trip it's MIA. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/frown.gif[/img]
Sorry to hijack this thread -- wanted to see if I could get additional information over here (in addition to Survival Forum).
I'm mostly a flashlight enthusiast -- I want a good flashlight, very dependable, compact, bright as the sun (figurative), light, and, well, hopefully not too expensive. I stumbled across the Surefire line and like their construction and brightness; they are a little expensive, but I think I'm willing to go for that given their credibility.
My question to you all is, for a college student who needs a dual-powered beam, a compact light, ruggedness, and a very bright high-beam, what models (even excluding Surefire) do you recommend? Is the A2 not quite as bright as the L4? I was looking at the chart comparing throw and noticed that the L4 outdid the A2 by 0.5 on one of the charts; the A2 came in nearly 25 points ahead on the other. However, from the pictures posted in messerforums, it seemed like the L4 was quite a bit brighter than the A2 in the garage. What do you suggest, and what's a good supplier of Surefire products? Should I visit a Surefire authorized retailer prior to buying? (The closest one is over forty minutes away by car, so I'm not too keen on trekking out there too often.)
(Also -- forgot to ask -- is it true that the L4 will cut through smoke but the A2 not? I live on the fifth floor of a college dorm with only three stairwells serving nearly 700 people, so it'd be nice to know that I have a flightlight that will get me somewhere.)
I think a very good combination is the L4 with a McGizmo 2 stage tail cap. This gives you two levels of light and you can tailor the dim setting to your needs. Add to this a Pila rechargeable LiIon 168S battery and you are good to go.
My son (a fire fighter) tells me that the best way to see through smoke is with thermal imaging. Lights don't penetrate dense smoke. With that said, a light with a tighter beam will have more penetration in light smoke or fog than a broad beamed light. The L4 has a broad beam so you may end up having to get a different emergency light as well.
Thanks for the replies. I'm thinking about the L4, yes, and will try to demo it. I have heard that the add-on LED accessory for the MiniMag AA is pretty good, and at a price of $25, is a lot more appealing than the $165 sticker of the L2. But if the accessory isn't bright enough (brighter than my current lamp but a large factor), I won't buy it.
Went with a Surefire A2... amazing light and I love its throw. It'll be awhile before I try out the L2 (or equivalent when it comes out), but thanks everyone for the help... it's truly appreciated. Happy Holidays.