When Is A Light A Tactical Light Vs. A Searchlight?

JAS

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I was looking at the Battery Junction website earlier. Are all single 18650 lights considered "tactical lights" and all 4 x 18650 lights considered "searchlights"? I already have a couple of Klarus lights, but I am considering a 4 x 18650 "thrower". The Battery Junction website seems to be leading me towards the ThruNite TN42. The Black Friday price of $135.96 might work for me. What 18650 batteries should I used for the ThruNite TN42? Can I get a better 4 x 18650 light with more throw for that price anywhere?
 

Zak

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It's a "tactical light" if the vendor wants to capture search traffic for that term. People search for that even if their use cases or feature preferences have nothing to do with combat. "Searchlight" is also a marketing term without a fixed definition.

The TN42 is a good thrower and still competitive at its size and price point. Thrunite's own site usually takes "20%" as a coupon code. The BLF GT with the short tube or Astrolux MF04 will have more throw.
 

Patriot

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The terms are all arbitrarily assigned but the way BJ is using the terms isn't unreasonable, if that's how they want to categorize their product.

There's nothing else that that will give you 600K lux for $135 right now. You can jump up to 1.2mcd with a MT35vn+ for $200 but it's a completely different class of light with that 136mm head. The TN42 gives great performance without crossing into a nearly impractical head size. (depending on what you're using the light for)

High output cells won't make a different in the TN42 so use the highest capacity LG 3500 or equivalent.
 
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bykfixer

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In flashlight history where more volts meant more light and reflector size dictated output a search light was generally one with a giant head with lots of batteries to put out a brighter beam that shone farther away while still providing a bunch of spill. Runtime was also a factor so big batteries could fuel the bulb longer than smaller ones.

A tactical light back then was a more portable number where ease of carry played a role along with easy to deploy in defensive situations.

In modern times a Streamlight Stinger HPL could be construed as a search light where the ProTac HPL could be considered a tactical light.

Both should be able to withstand outdoor hazards like high impact drops and rain. A search light should have uber long runtime available for a long night of searching where a tactical is all about the element of surprise and ability to use with one hand while the other is occupied. Perhaps even compliment what takes place with the busy hand.
Take the Malkoff BodyGuard that starts out a retina sizzling output for brief periods then settles down to a useable amount of light. Not to prove some ginormous number can be had but intended to surprise the bad guy and leave them vulnerable for a brief time. That would be a tactical light.
Take the 2019 Maglite classic 2D that can be a search light by double clicking to get about 80% output but increase runtime at least 10x from about 7 hours to 70 while providing nearly as much light for searching vast areas all night long if need be.
 
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CREEXHP70LED

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My interpretation: Tactical light, if and when you find the person you are searching for, there is a good chance if he doesn't surrender and poses a deadly threat then you will be ventilating him with copper and lead.

My interpretation: Search light, if and when you find the person you are searching for, hopefully they are alive and can be rescued to safety.

A tactical light in my opinion should be more dependable than a searchlight. Fractions of seconds count, been there done that.



The term tactical lights gets thrown around way too much, and if it has a strobe function, or any other function than a simple "on and off switch" they need to get shot at some more before calling it "tactical".
 

Lynx_Arc

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Tactical lights used to be associated with forward clicky switches that you can press but not click for momentary light and let go for off and no noise from them a very quick blast of light.
 

FNG

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Tactical lights are smaller and are meant to be used with handguns/rifles and are weapons mountable. This usually means momentary on rear with just on/off, none of that ridiculous cycling through 5 modes. The rear switch is so it can be used in an overhand grip/ice pick grip. Typical uses would be momentary as mentioned so only a few seconds at a time.

Searchlights/spotlights are usually a lot bigger (larger reflector and battery) and are meant to spot things at longer distances. They are also better at handling heat for constant use. Think of spotlights on a boat or police cruiser.
 

Patriot

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Thank you for the replies. I see that the official website http://www.thrunite.com/tn42-led-searchlight/ offers a choice between Cool White and Neutral White? Which is the Battery Junction model? I am still a little unclear of this. Is that simply a personal preference?

Unless the description specifically states that it's neutral white, it's very likely to be cool white. The simple answer is yes, it's a preference. Where EDC is concerned, many of us prefer neutral or warm tints. For maximum throw performance however, cool white outperforms neutral, giving higher lumen and lux numbers.
 

Bazar

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The Acebeam T27 from skylumen dot com will out throw the ThruniteTN42, with equal runtime for output levels at the same throw, less lumens though. It's smaller and uses a 21700, I highly recommend it.

If you can wait 3 or 4 months, and speculate with me, an entire line of new Nitecore lights should/might/maybe come out with throw on oar with the Acebeam K75, using the Luminous LED. Based on their 60 percent off coupons this month I highly speculate this is the case. Their 4 18650 thrower will be ridiculous, especially if they run 4 Osram LEDs or those new Luminous.
Olight might too but not for 8 months or so.

Speaking of new lights the Acebeam k30 GT will have kilometer throw for a very small 3 18650 package. But the TN42 thrunite is still competative none the less.
 

RetroTechie

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It's a "tactical light" if the vendor wants to capture search traffic for that term. People search for that even if their use cases or feature preferences have nothing to do with combat.
Tactical lights used to be associated with forward clicky switches that you can press but not click for momentary light and let go for off and no noise from them a very quick blast of light.
The latter is my understanding too. Possibly in the context of combat or law enforcement, dependable as in WILL WORK AS INTENDED EVEN IN A HIGH STRESS SITUATION. I think that usually translates into a forward clicky @ the rear of the light. Often single-mode or at least NO POSSIBLE WAY to change modes accidentally. And with quality construction being an absolute requirement rather than a feature.

Note this doesn't necessarily mean "expensive". Or less useful for ordinary jobs. Just designed & built to suit specific use cases.

That marketing attempts to dilute this, :shakehead doesn't change the meaning of "tactical" imho. It just means that when shopping for a light, seeing "tactical" advertised means exactly NOTHING until you've taken a closer look at the specs / manual and checked out some reviews. Or better: had the light in hand & tried it yourself.
 

NH Lumens

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Kudos to the responses so far. Here is a post in another thread where I share some insight based on feedback from those who depend on lights for serious use.

FWIW, the vast majority of lights labelled as "tactical" are anything but. As already pointed out, 99.9% of the time it's just a marketing ploy aimed at the uninformed.
 
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