5.11 Tactical – H6 and H3 Headlamp dual Review (6xAA – 3xAA)


Flashlight Enthusiast
May 5, 2010
Hove, UK
Part of the new S + R series (Search and Rescue), the H6 and H3 headlamps bring a hands-free option to the 5.11 lighting line up.



Initial Impressions:

Perhaps the most distinctive feature of the 5.11 Tactical Search and Rescue H6 and H3 headlamps is the design of the removable and interchangeable battery packs. This coupled with the independently flood and spot outputs, straight out of the box the H6 and H3 look very attractive.

Taking a closer look and looking inside – H6:

Starting with the larger H6, this arrived in its full retail packaging, a blister pack.


The real of the packaging lists the general specifications and runtimes.


The contents were shown at the start of the review and include the headlamp unit already fitted to the headband, separate battery pack and instructions.

The battery pack is supplied with a set of 6 AAs already fitted and a plastic insulator to stop any possibility of power being used (mainly by the battery test button at this point). This is the battery door end of the pack.


Looking at the other end shows the battery test button, and the pack release button.


Opening the battery door and removing the plastic insulator, shows the AAs and contacts in the door.


Pressing the battery test button lights up either a green, amber or red led to indicate the remaining power.


Although we have not yet looked at the H3 in detail, here are the H3 and H6 battery packs next to each other to compare size.


Although different overall sizes, the H3 and H3 have the same attachment for fitting to the headband.


This is the mounting plate for the battery pack on the headband of both lights.


On the side of the H6 there is a lockout switch, here shown in the inactive (locked out) position with. (Orange showing means off)


Here shown it is in the active (not locked out) position.


Looking straight at the front of the light unit, you can see the three spot LEDs with TIR optics, and two flood LEDs with hexagonal diffusers.


The upper switch controls the spot output.


With the lower switch controlling the flood.


The head has 90 degrees of angle adjustment. Also visible are the metal heat-sink fins, on the back of the light head.


Taking a closer look and looking inside – H3:

Being supplied before the final packaging was ready, the H3 was supplied as shown here.


Like the H6, the H3 has 90 degrees of angle adjustment. Also visible are the metal heat-sink fins, on the back of the light head.


The H3 has a single spot emitter with TIR optic, and two flood emitters behind diffusers.


The headband elastic used on both lights has two soft rubber grips on the inside to really help these lights stay put.


On the side of the H6 there is a lockout switch, here shown in the inactive (locked out) position with. (Orange showing means off)


Here shown it is in the active (not locked out) position.


The H3's battery pack fitted to the strap.


As with the H6, when the battery test button is pressed the indicator lights up.


To remove the battery pack, press in the orange release button.


And the pack can then slide off.


The mount actually states it is compatible with the H6, H3, and optional rechargeable battery packs.


At the end of the mount are the two contacts.


The battery pack has a matching set of sprung loaded contacts.


The battery pack door open showing the battery configuration.


The contacts have physical reverse polarity protection.


The spot and flood beams are independently switched, here the flood beam is on.


Now the spot.


And here both fold and spot are on.


Modes and User Interface:

The H6 and H3 operate in exactly the same way.

First ensure the lockout switch is set to 'active' (with no orange showing). The lockout switch is the master off-switch and can be used to immediately turn the H6 or H3 off. Switching the lockout switch to active, does not turn the light on, but simply allows it to be turned on.

The top switch turns on the spot beam.
The first click gives High, press again for low and once more for off.

The bottom switch turns on the flood beam.
The first click gives High, press again for low and once more for off.

As both spot and flood work independently of each other, they can be used in any combination of outputs. So any level of each beam can be mixed with any level of the other beam.

Batteries and output:

The H6 runs on 6 x AA batteries. Either Alkaline AAs, or Ni-Mh rechargeable AAs can be used.

The H3 runs on 3 x AA batteries. Either Alkaline AAs, or Ni-Mh rechargeable AAs can be used.

The testing was carried out with Eneloop LSD Ni-Mh cells.

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.

5.11 Tactical S+R H6I.S. measured ANSI output LumensPWM frequency (Hz)
Flood/Spot combined Maximum2860
Flood/Spot combined Low831190
Spot High2300
Spot Low761380
Flood High1950
Flood Low101560

5.11 Tactical S+R H3I.S. measured ANSI output LumensPWM frequency (Hz)
Flood/Spot combined Maximum1670
Flood/Spot combined Low58625
Spot High1460
Spot Low51680
Flood High580
Flood Low12760

The PWM measured, is not visible during normal use.

As both these lights utilise an electronic switch, there is parasitic drain to consider.

The H6 uses 4.2mA. With its 3S2P configuration this drain will take only 60 days to deplete the batteries.

The H3 uses 3.32mA. With its 3S1P configuration this drain will take only 25 days to deplete the batteries.

This shows the importance of using the lockout switch, or removing the battery pack when not in use.

The battery indicator showed Amber once the voltage had dropped to 3V and Red when this reached 2.8V.

The runtime graph shows the output traces for both the H6 and H3, and additionally shows each light using the other's battery pack.

The outputs are not regulated, and after the initial drop in output, there is a levelling out and then more gradual decline. The runtime traces are shown at the ANSI cut-off, with the lights continuing to dim further and never cutting out suddenly.


The beam

With the range of beam output options, here they are shown with direct comparison to each other.

This H3 animation is cycling through Spot – Combined – Flood – Combined etc.


And the same outdoors.


This H6 animation is cycling through Spot – Combined – Flood – Combined etc.


And the same outdoors.


What are they really like to use…

Unfortunately I did experience a couple of issues with these lights, the first of which was the H6's battery pack which was working intermittently for a while and then stopped working. This was due to the soldering of one of the sprung connectors failing.

This photo shows the wire that came loose.


However not wanting to wait for the replacement that 5.11 would have sent, I fixed it myself. After which the H6 worked perfectly.


While on the subject of the battery packs, I should mention that battery fit was tight. Alkaline cells fitted perfectly, but Eneloop cells were a tight fit and to remove them , you need to tap the battery pack quite firmly.

The other concern I had (which may well be a positive aspect for others) was the tightness of the headband. So much so I put together a test rig to quantify this.


My hat size is Large (58cm), and prefer a comfortable fit, so in most cases I have headlight bands at their almost loosest adjustment.

Having measured my head's circumference I used the rig to stretch each headband to this length (or half as the band is doubled up) and 'weigh' the band. All headbands were as they are when I normally wear them, but the H3 and H6 were set to their loosest adjustment.

The other headlights on test averaged around 730g of headband grip, the H3 had 1400g and the H6 1240g – significantly more. Enough to make wearing these uncomfortable for me after a few minutes. When I have worn them for longer I have ended up with a numb forehead.

While doing these tests, I gave the H6 and H3 headbands a good stretching, enough to fit them onto a hard hat (which they did without feeling over stretched). Immediately after this they each weighed 1170g of grip, so better, but this did recover after a few minutes.

Another indication is that with their bands adjusted for a comfortable fit, they were all around 27cm in 'relaxed' length. The H3 and H6 at their loosest adjustment were 25cm long when relaxed.

For some, this extra tight fit might be a benefit, and for Search and Rescue personnel, knowing it will stay put might be what they are looking for. The band had no trouble going over a hard hat, and had a very strong grip. On their own though, for everyday use I'd prefer it if the band could be made longer to allow for better comfort.

The positioning of the switches, top and bottom, makes it really easy to operate, and the instant off afforded by the lockout switch is very convenient.

Overall these lights appear very well made, and are simple to operate. The battery pack system is a real headliner with these lights, and their complete interchangeability with each other really useful. This allows you to tune weight and runtime to your requirements, or carry a modular pack to easily swap over rather than having to fit individual spare cells.

Test sample provided by 5.11 Tactical EU for review.
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