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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Review: Budget Lights - Cree XM-L T6

Budget lights - a category everyone is interested in. There are multitudes of budget flashlights out there - everything from dollar store specials to online Cree-powered torches. Like anything else, these lights are usually given labels like 'tactical', 'defensive' or otherwise to widen their appeal to more people, but they've all got similar features.

First of all, we'll look at the Cree XM-L T6. This was purchased on eBay at a discounted rate of about 40 bucks, plus shipping. We didn't expect it to be as big as it is!

Sure, we read the specifications, but this light is a monster compared to the rest that came in the package. It's fitted more to deploy as a patrol light or a 'on-duty' type light than our other, smaller lights.

It's hefty and fits well in the hand. It's wide enough to fill out my hand and long enough to get about an inch and a half out on either end. It comes with a nylon pouch, only in black, that is MOLLE compliant - the strap on the back even reduces to the 'belt-loop' size to be attached directly to a belt with ease. I'm not sure what quality control on these made-in-china lights is like, and your mileage may vary - who knows, you might get something different by the same name.

Right away, another feature that I like is the hi-visibility push button on the tail cap. Most lights don't come with this in the budget market. I've got a pack of glow-in-the-dark buttons that can be fitted over common regular-coloured buttons for more visibility - because after all, if you NEED a light, it's likely that there isn't much around; any aid to visibility will likely be a gift. The button gives a good click on and off and is easy to use when switching between the light's 5 different modes: high, medium, low, strobe and SOS.

The light emitted from this flashlight is interesting. That's the best way I can think to describe it. It was advertised as being 1000 lumens, or something silly like that. Now, I don't have the equipment to accurately measure the output of this device, but I doubt very much that it truely is 1000 lumens. Sure, it's very difficult to stare into, and it's 'stupid bright' at night, but 1000 lumens?


The other end of the light features a push-zoom focus ring. You can push and pull the end to zoom and unzoom the light source, from a very bright square, to a large, circular fill light, this flashlight has multiple uses.

It has room for a little lanyard and with some play, I'd bet we could fit some paracord through there, but the one that comes with it is garbage - to be expected.

To be honest, it was strange to see the focused light come out as a square, but it works, and it's really bright. I can see how this light could be used in a variety of situations. If I could suggest, I'd say this light has a good shot at becoming a decent vehicle light, kept in the glove compartment. I like to have something big to get ahold of in a true emergency - the last thing I want to do is fumble around with a pocket light, no matter how bright it is.

Good light, good price - not perfect but it works for what it is.

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