SIDE SWITCH POPULARITY?

Fireclaw18

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....

Additionally, electronic switches lack a momentary function....

Not necessarily.

There's no reason a momentary function can't be programmed into an electronic switch.

For instance, my favorite custom electronic switch driver, DrJones lumodrv, has a momentary function. Simply ramp the brightness down to minimum then wait a few seconds. The light will automatically enter momentary tactical mode where any press of the button instantly puts the light to max power, but only while the button is held down. Disconnect the power to the driver (typically by slightly unscrewing the battery tube) to exit this mode.
 

Fireclaw18

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The downside of side switches is that they're more difficult to locate than a tail switch.

I think that depends.

If you're a LEO with your light in a holster, are wearing gloves, and have trained tactically with tailswitch lights, then that's obviously a better choice.

However, if you're a civilian like me and just want a small EDC flashlight at the bottom of your pocket with all your other pocket stuff, a side switch light might be easier. I find that for small EDC lights its much more natural to hold the light in a handshake grip, which means side switch. Such lights tend to feel much more secure in the hand for one-handed operation than the rather awkward hand positioning needed for tailswitch lights.

If I'm pulling a sideswitch light from my pocket I can already have it in a secure grip with my thumb on the button before it leaves my pocket. the light is parallel to my leg so won't catch on my pants or other pocket junk. If I want to have a tailcap switch in a secure grip with my hand on the button I'll either have to have it perpendicular to my leg (making it more likely to catch on my pants or other pocket junk), or will have to awkwardly bend my wrist so it clears my pocket. Of course, I can pull it out of my pants and then rotate it in my hand after to put my thumb on the button, but doing so increases the chance I might drop it.

Also, many side switch lights have deeply recessed wells for the switch. When you reach into your pocket, your thumb will naturally fall into this well resulting in perfect grip almost every time. The best example of this for the lights I own is the Zebralight SC80.... a simple knurled cylinder with a deeply recessed sideswitch at the front. The Spark SF3 is very similar.

Of course not every sideswitch light is like this. The XTar WK41 and 42 have smallsideswitches that are flush with the body, and take slightly longer to find. Some lights like the Fenix PD12 and Olight S10 have raised sideswitches above the body... fairly easy to find but there's more risk of turning on accidentally in the pocket.
 
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reppans

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A clicky switch has a rotating piece inside it that works very much like a pushbutton ballpoint pen. That's what allows it to go on or off. This rotating piece is usually made of plastic and has small ridges in it and can wear out over time. In contrast, an electronic switch is a simple momentary pushbutton with a spring. There's no rotating piece inside. Electrical contact is only made when the button is depressed.

This simpler mechanical construction means that electronic switches should be much less prone to wear than clickies. They're also much smaller so allow for a more compact light.

An electronic switch will also need to be connected to a circuit that will open or close the current to the LED. This circuit can be on a separate board mounted with the switch, or it can be part of the main driver. However, unlike a conventional clicky, because it's wired in, electronic switches usually aren't a user serviceable part except for hobbyists. This additional circuit has no moving parts so really shouldn't wear out.

When Zebralight first came out with their new smaller switch in the original SC600, they had issues with the switch cycling from static electricity when people brushed the switchboot without depressing it. This was due to defective assembly on Zebralight's part and not due to the switch wearing out.

I don't have the technical expertise to dispute your comments Fireclaw, and we have discussed this in another thread, but it just seems to me that anecdotally, there's a disproportionate amount of electronic switch issue threads (2 recent ones I linked to), they cannot be user/field fixed, swapped, or by-passed resulting in return to Asia repairs, the dedicated manufacturers of them (ZL and Spark) seem to not really trust their own lights with the short 1yr warranty, and the durability/reliability/most beat-up threads seem to be lacking E-switch manufacturers.

That said, E-switches are, in the scheme of things, relatively new and I do agree that the later model ZL switches seem loads better now... this place used to have loads of ZL reliability/failure polls, but that has really died down - congrats to ZL! I hope to see as their LT reliability improves, they find it fit to offer an industry standard 2yr warranty - shouldn't cost them any more if it's so reliable. I also believe we will be seeing mechanical clickies go the way of the dinosaur ...... that's just technology!
 

the.Mtn.Man

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HDS lights have electronic switches and can be programmed for momentary operation. In fact, the HDS Tactical has two presets that are momentary only.
 

Double_A

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The downside of side switches is that they're more difficult to locate than a tail switch.

I agree, especially in a pocket size light. I get annoyed having to rotate the light in my hand to find the switch. However with a large light, 3 D cell or larger, a side switch makes sense as holding the light in the middle balances the heavy light in your hand. But that's not an issue with a light less than 6" long.

Most of my lights are pocketable lights. I had mostly Surefire lights when I got into this forum and with the exception of my M6 all could slip into my pocket and I found the tailcap switch a natural, as it's alway under your thumb. Of course I used them in Emergency response role so I had different requirements than most people.

With most lights that are powered by a single cell, the tail clickie seems natural.
 

hiuintahs

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Now when you guys are talking about "side switches" you must be talking about the on/off power switch where one switch does it all. Personally I do not like those at all. My first one was the Olight S15 and I ended up giving it away.

As far as side switches go, I like them when they are mode select such as the Fenix LD/PD series with forward momentary tail cap on/off.
 

dts71

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The downside of side switches is that they're more difficult to locate than a tail switch.

For the S10 and SC52 I can not agree with you, with the clip 180 degrees from the button it's a win every time I pick up these lights.
With the SC600 I have no issues either even without the clip. Maybe it's just out of habit, I don't give it any thought, I just turn it on.
 

dts71

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Now when you guys are talking about "side switches" you must be talking about the on/off power switch where one switch does it all. Personally I do not like those at all. My first one was the Olight S15 and I ended up giving it away.

As far as side switches go, I like them when they are mode select such as the Fenix LD/PD series with forward momentary tail cap on/off.

If you use the same mode 95% of the time, two switches is ok. When altering between the modes, Olight Sxx and Zebras are the way to go - one hand operation and no need to flip the flashlight back and forth to reach the buttons.
It's like faucets, why would you want to have to adjust the warm and cold water individually rather than using one hand to adjust temperature and pressure?
 

markr6

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If you use the same mode 95% of the time, two switches is ok. When altering between the modes, Olight Sxx and Zebras are the way to go - one hand operation and no need to flip the flashlight back and forth to reach the buttons.
It's like faucets, why would you want to have to adjust the warm and cold water individually rather than using one hand to adjust temperature and pressure?

Exactly. Unfortunately I usually don't use a single mode with any frequency. As a result, my PD32UEs don't see much daily use. I just keep cycling thru all the modes to get to what I want which can be a pain.
 

Etsu

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On a large light, I want a side switch. Otherwise, the weight makes it too difficult to one-hand a tail switch.

On a small light, I prefer a tail clicky. That makes it easy to find the switch. I'm also okay with a side switch, as long as it's easy to locate without looking. Pocket clip on the opposite side is usually sufficient. But even with that, it sometimes takes a second or so of feeling for it.

I don't really like twisties, but when a small light is priority (keychain, pocket), I'm okay with them.
 

stona

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Now when you guys are talking about "side switches" you must be talking about the on/off power switch where one switch does it all. Personally I do not like those at all. My first one was the Olight S15 and I ended up giving it away.

As far as side switches go, I like them when they are mode select such as the Fenix LD/PD series with forward momentary tail cap on/off.

Agreed, I like tailcap momentary on/off with modes on the side for a small light. For big lights definitely side switch on/off with mode as a separate button (no tail switch). Would prefer control rings over side buttons for small or big lights though.
 

edpmis02

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My E35 has turned on in my pocket several times. after I pulled out the 18650, it was 3.2v. now I have to lock it out. When I want to use it.. I need to use two hands to tighten, find the small side switch, and wait the 1/2 second to turn on. Overall.. Not the best experience. Did not have these issues with tail switch lights!

Side switch lights have no standards!

Fenix E35 - Long press to turn on/off then quick press to change levels
OLight S20 - long press for moonlight. quick press for remembered mode on/off.. then another long press to change levels.
Zebra SC600W - I still cant remember the single/double/triple click sequences to turn it on. but gotta double click to change sublevels, A quick click for on/off. hold down to cycle levels (not sublevels)

Ugh!
 
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dts71

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edpmis02;4371763 Side switch lights have no standards! Fenix E35 - Long press to turn on/off then quick press to change levels OLight S20 - long press for moonlight. quick press for remembered mode on/off.. then another long press to change levels. Zebra SC600W - I still cant remember the single/double/triple click sequences to turn it on. but gotta double click to change sublevels said:
Olight Sxx and Zebra got some similarities - both come on in low if you hold the button.
 

Wiggle

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I've become a fan of the side switch thanks to my EDC use of the SC52 for the last year. It works well and isn't hard to find at all, feels comfortable in hand. I wouldn't want it for all lights but for a floody EDC it's very nice.
 

hoop762

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I like a side switch so long as its done right.

For instance, I love the combination of tail and side switch on the olight m18. The side switch is easily found with the pinky finger without having to look at the light, but is not so proud that it is activated accidentally.

The other side of the coin...the side switch on the nitecore P12 is awful. Its too difficult to locate without looking at the light, and if you're wearing gloves, forget it. The pocket clip rotates around the body too easily and cannot be used for indexing.
 

Labrador72

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Find side switches on smaller lights boring and unpractical! It may be a matter of personal preference to a large extent but it's a fact side swtiches cannot be fixed or replaced on the go, they are harder to locate, etc. I think they are a better option on larger and heavier lights though. If I had go for a side switch light, I'd choose with with side switch only rather than one with both a rear and a side switch!
 
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Unicorn

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On a large light, I want a side switch. Otherwise, the weight makes it too difficult to one-hand a tail switch.

On a small light, I prefer a tail clicky. That makes it easy to find the switch. I'm also okay with a side switch, as long as it's easy to locate without looking. Pocket clip on the opposite side is usually sufficient. But even with that, it sometimes takes a second or so of feeling for it.

I don't really like twisties, but when a small light is priority (keychain, pocket), I'm okay with them.

I agree with you on this.
If it's cold and I'm wearing gloves, or I'm just being stupid and not wearing gloves and my fingers are number, it's a lot harder to find a side switch than a tail button. Especially if it's one of the supidly dinky buttons on the side. Of course a larger, switch sticking out more would get turned on by accident easily.
 

twl

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I don't buy any lights which have a side switch.
Twisty switch or pushbutton switch is okay for a tiny keychain light like twisty on a Fenix EO5 or pushbutton on a Photon.
I don't buy any massive lights that would be so large or heavy that I couldn't hold it in the normal and correct position at eye level. Holding at eye level eliminates parallax shadowing, which can obsure view of details I want to see. Holding a light at waist height casts shadows into my line of vision, unnecessarily.
Also, I hate all electronic switches of all kinds, and hate all the clicking and holding UI types which come along with them.
I want reliable and predictable switch action on/off/momentary at the tail switch. It's okay if there is a hi and a low mode that is able to be accessed prior to turning it on, so that it comes on in the mode that I want, without cycling thru modes, or "pressing and holding", or any of that junk. I never need any more than hi/lo.
 
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leon2245

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My E35 has turned on in my pocket several times. after I pulled out the 18650, it was 3.2v. now I have to lock it out. When I want to use it.. I need to use two hands to tighten, find the small side switch, and wait the 1/2 second to turn on. Overall.. Not the best experience. Did not have these issues with tail switch lights!

Side switch lights have no standards!

Fenix E35 - Long press to turn on/off then quick press to change levels

OLight S20 - long press for moonlight. quick press for remembered mode on/off.. then another long press to change levels.
Zebra SC600W - I still cant remember the single/double/triple click sequences to turn it on. but gotta double click to change sublevels, A quick click for on/off. hold down to cycle levels (not sublevels)

Ugh!


How long of a press to turn on btw? Anyone ever accidentally activate an e35 in their pocket?

That's my only concern, especially with side buttons, along with as stated finding it quickly & failure etc. vs. my edc ui of choice anyway. They just don't make too many of those any more. And forget about "all you have to do is..." (some additional operation like locking it out to prevent accidental activation), which defeats the quick & easy ui in the first place. Might as well just be a pure twist then.
 

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