The last flashlight you'll ever buy?

Unless you’re planning on patrolling the streets with your great grandchildren at your side, the Light For Life PC3.300 from 5.11 Tactical may be the last flashlight you ever buy

I have a thing for flashlights. It’s not totally rational, but there are excellent benefits to my odd little personality quirk for purchasing a wide variety of flashlights, not the least of which is that I’m never willingly in the dark (no jokes, please). Living in ‘earthquake country’ as I do — the ground shook again in the predawn hours this morning — it’s a practical necessity to have at least one high-quality working flashlight in an easy-to-access area on every floor of your home.

For a couple of years now I’ve had the 8060 LED Flashlight from Pelican Products in my kitchen next to the fire extinguisher, and I have at least two Surefire G2-LED lights. It’s strongly possible I have more than two of those, but I know for certain there’s always one in a pocket in my computer bag and another attached to the end of my AR-15. In the garage is my earthquake-response go-bag, and in that is one of three Mini Maglite LED flashlights in my inventory strategically scattered about the house, plus two full-size Maglights in my vehicle.

One light I don’t have — yet! — is the Light For Life from 5.11 Tactical. I first encountered this light at SHOT Show 2010, and was astounded by its design. I’m getting one of the PC3.300 lights delivered to me in coming days, and to say I’m excited about its arrival is an understatement of significant magnitude.

The Highlights
In the event you’re unfamiliar with this awesome piece of gear, here are some of the basics. Weighing in at just ten ounces, the solid-state, 8.75 inch PC3.300 is both rugged against drops and buoyant against sinking to the bottom of a river. The polymer casing resists abrasion, cracking, and bending. According to 5.11, the PC3.300 will run for 45 minutes in standard mode, plus an additional 15 minutes in reserve mode.

This light goes from bright (200 lumens), to standard (70 lumens) to tactical strobe with the press of either the top or tailcap buttons which are big enough to find with a gloved hand, but protected enough that the light won’t just turn itself on in your bail-out bag.

That stuff is all very cool, but here are the two best parts:

1.) It charges from zero to full power in 90 seconds. Plug it in at the same time you start to microwave a frozen burrito and the flashlight will be done long before you’re seated at a table and eating your delicious “instant” lunch.
2.) With this light, you will never replace the bulb or the battery and the expected lifespan is 130 years. Unless you’re planning on patrolling the streets with your great grandchildren at your side, it may be the last light you ever buy.

Don’t Call it a Battery
The design team at 5.11 Tactical tapped into some pretty cutting edge technology from IVUS Energy Innovations, the makers of Flashpoint Power Technology. That Flashpoint solution is one of the keys to the system.

Traditional batteries require a chemical reaction to store energy. Each time an ordinary battery charges and discharges, it converts electricity into a chemical bond and vice versa. During each charge the chemicals wear down and over time, the batteries lose their ability to retain a charge.

Unlike traditional rechargeable battery systems that develop “memory” and degrade over time, the Flashpoint system is actually a capacitor, which stores the electrical charge or energy directly. It’s essentially storing a lightning bolt rated for 50,000 charge/discharge cycles with virtually no degradation.

That’s one charge per day for more than 135 years.

Perhaps with this light in my hands I will finally be able to stop this puzzling affliction of compulsively collecting flashlights every time I visit Galls or Home Depot. Then again, perhaps not...

About the author

Doug Wyllie is Editor at Large for PoliceOne, responsible for providing police training content and expert analysis on a wide range of topics and trends that affect the law enforcement community. An award-winning columnist — he is the 2014 Western Publishing Association "Maggie Award" winner in the category of Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column — Doug has authored more than 900 feature articles and tactical tips. Doug is also responsible for planning and recording the PoliceOne Podcast, Policing Matters, as well as being the on-air host for PoliceOne Video interviews. Doug also works closely with the PoliceOne Academy to develop training designed to prepare cops for the fight they face every day on the street.

Doug regularly represents PoliceOne as a public speaker in a variety of forums and is available for media interviews — he has appeared on numerous local and national radio and television news programs, and has been quoted in a host of print publications. 

Doug is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers' Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).

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