We’re taking a little break from our short/light MSR build this week, though not as a reflection of any consequent difficulty. Mainly, we want to catch up on some other types of cool gear that have come to our attention—so we’re looking at another sort of “light,” namely, light sources for hand and firearm.
Full disclosure seems appropriate: We’ve long suspected we are genetically predisposed lighting junkies. Even if an intervention looms, we bring you several dandies from relative newcomer Olight.
PL-1 II Valkyrie
Our thrashing about of the Valkyrie weapon light is incomplete, but so far the report is a mighty good one. Right off, we’re struck by a delightfully short instruction set: Push and release either button forward or sideways to turn the light on. Push either again to turn the light off. Hold either for instant on, release for off. Press both switches for a 10 Hz strobe. Done.
The gents (and ladies) at Olight offer that they arrived at this by experimentation with what users could deduce on their own—without explicit direction—and it’s a winner. We repeated the process and worked out all the functionality in short order, too.
But we think other features are even more likely to become down-the-road, living-with-it favorites. A no-fiddle, no-adjustment, no pieces-to-lose QD mount (it goes on and locks tight on every rail we’ve tried, including several long guns) is an immediate relief, as is the battery swap: Just unscrew the Cree XP-L LED lighting element at the front of the unit, and the CR-123A will slide out with ease. Again, no tool required.
Last is the narrow profile: It matched up perfectly with the three handguns (SIG, Glock and Grand Power X-Calibur), which was no surprise. How that match happens is a little more interesting: We don’t need to holster our light-equipped pistols very often (when carrying them routinely, they’re separate for several reasons), but the need to do so is not far-fetched at all. Often, this means separate—and not exactly cheap—kit due to the width lights so frequently add. If, however, you’ve got a generic holster of reasonable quality around, you may be able to make it work with a Valkyrie because the Olight matches the profile of dustcovers and rails so well. We plan to get a biggish one soon and give it a whirl.
In the interim, the 450-lumen PL-1 II has earned a longer, more punishing test on our night table defensive handgun.
R50 “Pro Seeker”
Our thoroughly unapproved moniker for lights like the R50 is “light bombs” because, simply, that’s what they do. If you need spotlight-style brightness in a one-handed package, the Pro Seeker deserves consideration.
Thoughtful design and solid execution will put the Pro Seeker in many kits, and not just because you could probably land an airplane by the light of one.
This 60- to 3200-lumen light is 9.2 ounces of serious illumination got up in black aluminum, and darn clever. Borrowing simple basics from the Valkryie, you won’t have any trouble finding power-saving low (or rotate through medium and high by holding the switch down when the light is already on, with the last level “remembered” as your preference), blinding turbo (double click), or strobe modes (triple click).
But the manual is worth a peek. There you’ll discover “lockout,” which prevents batteries from being eaten up while stowed, and really snazzy charging of the high output 26650/4500 mAh battery (replaceable for $8-14 to boot) through a magnetic end cap from USB. Charge complete indication? Of course.
Two considerations will close us out. We know some folks who are adamant about end-cap switching, and we understand why: This seems best for use with a handgun, as it puts the switch under the powerful thumb (Harries technique, for instance). We think the R50 body switch position has such good “feel” that it will work just fine under the ring finger, and would urge you not to dismiss it in choosing this sort of light—the stand-up, end-cap charging is a decent trade.
Two flat ends also compensate for the one trifling annoyance we encountered: The Pro Seeker can roll. We can think of several easy ways to fix this, but easier still is to remember that the flat “butt” is another way to set the flashlight down with good stability (the other is lens down). It has the additional advantage of still shedding light in such a position.
Big light, small size, good stuff, period.
The R50 and Valkyrie weren’t our introduction to Olight: Our predecessor to the M1X gave up the ghost in class back in August, and the pictured handheld appealed. OK, we liked the Gunsite logo too—how bad can it be if the Cooper clan approves?
There’s nothing we don’t like about the M1X, in fact we’ll be likely to stock up. Birthdays, etc.; you know the drill.
Once we had about 45 seconds to get the typically straightforward “whys” and “wherefores” settled, the first thing to appeal was the differentiation in and setting of light levels possible with two switches. Tail-cap activation of remembered brightness comes as expected on a full press of the end cap, or instant on/off (again, to the remembered level) with a half press. A side switch works in tandem with the main, however, and lets you cycle to the needed level up to 1000 lumens (for roughly an hour), from 10 lumens (60 hours) without ever going off. Strobe is available, of course: Just hold the side switch down with the light already on.
We’re also fans of what Olight calls the “moonlight setting.” This .5-lumen setting gives a theoretical 360 hours of illumination, and is more useful than you think. When your eyes are dark-adapted, it’s amazing how much you can see on this paltry setting, especially up close. It’s also easy on your own “night” setting—you don’t go back to square one on getting that internal aperture desirably wiiiiide again.
Lanyard, pocket clip and even a four-filter set ($10) are also available, which make this a mighty versatile light. Batteries, too, are a mundane comfort—a simple pair of CR123As, or a rechargeable 18650 (charger and two spares, under $21).
Six months down the road and with steady use, we’d call the M1X a very fine general-purpose light with an appealing price ($60). Oh yes: In a close-quarters pinch, the bezel features an aggressively toothy nose, hence the “Striker” label. We hope you never need it, but trust you to have it.
Frank Winn has been studying arms and their relationship to tyranny, meaningful liberty and personal security all his adult life. He has also been a competitive shooter and firearms safety/shooting instructor for more than 20 years, though he won’t admit how many more than 20.