BOSS Black Durability

stewdogg

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I was wondering if anyone has any longer term experience using and possibly abusing a HA Aluminum BOSS? I'm trying to decide if I should buy one of the black Al BOSS's to be released next week or wait for the Ti 35's next fall/winter? I was also considering the Ti 70 in the sale section and then try to get the Oveready guys to sell a 35 body separately, when they're released... really just trying to see if the coated Al would hold up to the abuse I have in store for it and still look decent at the end of the day?

I'm a Fleet Manager/Mechanic and use my lights. I have used a Mac XML ECD TI for the last 6 years. I have dropped that thing in and on everything. I busted out the sapphire lens from dropping it so many times on concrete and it still looks great. It could use a polish to look new, but other than that it looks really good. The thermal properties don't bother me a bit with the Ti, I haven't seen any adverse affects on my Ti Mac over the years, for what its worth.

Thanks for any knowledge on the subject!
 

1313

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I bet the distressed / stonewashed aluminium finish would hide marks the best.
 

archimedes

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Basically, any "normal" surface finish will show wear, based on the scenario you describe.

Dark colored anodizing, even heavy duty Type III HA, will contrast strongly with silvery bare Al substrate underneath. Although some don't mind the cosmetic look of this type of wear, others do :shrug:

Raw Ti is very durable, of course, but will still show surface marks. A tumbled or stonewashed finish will hide these best, but is (in essence) "pre-scratched" all over.

Bead-blast will mark up very quickly, but can be re-blasted.

Machined or polished will show scratches most readily of all, but is also the easiest to refinish by buffing and polishing.

In terms of a truly durable surface finish, the very best I've seen has been DLC, when applied properly by a high quality coater.
 
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usdiver

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Depends on what kind of abuse. I believe Oveready uses mil spec hard ano type 3 which is about the best you’ll get on aluminum and it’s very hard wearing.
Far as dropping it I built a solution for that situation
 

archimedes

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I was referring to appearance above, by the way.

As for function, durability is probably pretty similar among most of the options, but it would likely be worth your while to upgrade at least the bezel to one of the harder and tougher metals (than Al)

The host is basically a metal tube, but the light engine(s) are the same among the different metal options.

The parts most at risk in a fall would be the switch (replaceable and inexpensive) , the bezel / optic / lens (replaceable) , and the light engine (replaceable but very expensive)
 
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the0dore3524

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I've owned a BOSS 35 HA for going on three years now, and it's by far my most carried light. I doubt I use it as hard as you would a mechanic, but it has held up well in my opinion. Interestingly, although I've dropped the light numerous times on concrete/pavement, the metal itself has very little wear to show for it which is probably attributable to the 7075-grade. The finish has worn the most and has slightly dulled over the years. There's various surface scratches to mine from rubbing up against my keys as well.

If the aesthetics don't bother you, then I don't think the HA will be a problem. But if you want something that'll "look great" then one of the bare/raw finishes might be more apt. That said, I like the worn look of the HA almost just as much as on a raw finish. The pictures I've attached are from about two years of daily carry.

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euroken

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If I remember correctly, Electronguru mentioned somewhere that there are very few materials stronger than HA III. The surface scratches you see may be more 'other' material deposited IN the HAIII than exposed bare aluminum.
 

the0dore3524

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It is the standard stainless steel version. I know it looks heat treated, but I’ve never done anything to it; it just took that hue naturally. 🤷*♂️

@euroken
Initially some scratches rubbed off, but they caught up eventually. The ones on there right now are permanent as far as I can tell. You might be right though, the coating on the BOSS seems pretty thick and I’ve never tried rubbing it out.
 
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archimedes

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If I remember correctly, Electronguru mentioned somewhere that there are very few materials stronger than HA III. The surface scratches you see may be more 'other' material deposited IN the HAIII than exposed bare aluminum.

My understanding is that HA has moderate to high hardness (HV ~400) , higher than say stainless steel (HV ~300) , and far higher than untreated aluminum (HV ~100)

The problem is that most of the full-thickness defects form when the underlying (soft) Al deforms, causing the brittle anodize layer to "crack open" and reveal the substrate.

Since the color contrasts with the raw metal, it is pretty apparent to see. If you can feel the scratch with a nail, that is probably a crack. If it feels smooth, that may be some other (softer) material that has smeared onto (or into) the surface.

Since the surface of HA is not naturally smooth (although it can be sealed), other discolorations can be adsorbed and thus difficult to remove or clean.

As a comparison, DLC hardness is typically HV 500 - 3500, although special application techniques and processes can push this over HV 5000+ (ta-C) . That vastly higher hardness still does not solve the problem entirely of a softer / weaker underlying substrate, however.
 
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stewdogg

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Thanks for the replies everyone!

Thanks for the pics the0dore! It really helps me to understand how the punishment/use looks on the black HA. To be honest, I'm not a huge fan of how that looks on the black. I would like to be able to carry it while not at work and not have people think it's just a thrashed piece of poop light.

With all the talk of how tough the 7075 and HA was it started to make me curious how close it got to the resilience that my Ti Mac has. I'm thinking I should maybe just stick with the tested and true (to me) Ti for my next lighting tool that I will put through the ringer at work... anyone looking to let a 35 Ti out of their stable?...:)

Thanks again for the help!
 
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