Being the CAFireAlliance, we wanted to partake in the recent discussion of real life benefits of using and having tactical flashlights wherever and whenever you needed them most. Consider this our tactical flashlight user guide for getting knowledge and education about what is available and what is right for you.
LED Tactical Flashlight Review Guide
A flashlight is a tool that every person should have in their home. Flashlights are a safety feature and necessary accessory for a variety of tasks, but there are different types of flashlights for each task. An LED tactical flashlight is a flashlight with an LED light that is designed for tactical or firearm uses. There are many brands and models of tactical flashlights, but, today, you will learn about the uses of a tactical flashlight, along with the assistive technological benefits of purchasing a Shadowhawk flashlight for everyday carry and use, especially during hunting expeditions and outdoor excursions.
What is an LED Tactical Flashlight?
An LED flashlight has two different characteristics you must understand, before you decide if the model is right for you – the LED bulb and the tactical capabilities.
LED Light Bulbs
An LED light in any flashlight lasts a long time, making it perfect for camping trips or nighttime trekking adventures that do not have readily-available access to light bulbs or batteries. The LED bulb has no filament, which makes them durable, even if they are dropped or bumped. In general, LED lights come in a variety of color choices, depending on your particular needs.
LED light bulbs are subject to an “efficiency droop,” which basically means that LED lights loses their “luminous efficiency,” or ability to produce enough light, over time, which is similar to other light bulbs. Scientists used to believe this change was caused by an increase in temperature. After some studies, scientists actually discovered that the opposite is true, that higher temperatures actually increases the light output of an LED bulb.
Finding an LED light bulb that meets Energy Star criteria is your best bet of having a long-lasting LED light, while also reducing the amount of energy by 20% or 30% that is used by the accessory. Energy Star has multiple qualifications for an LED light to meet their standards, including:
- Reduces energy costs — uses at least 75% less energy than incandescent lighting, saving on operating expenses.
- Reduces maintenance costs — lasts 35 to 50 times longer than incandescent lighting and about 2 to 5 times longer than fluorescent lighting. No bulb-replacements, no ladders, no ongoing disposal program.
- Reduces cooling costs — LEDs produce very little heat.
- Is guaranteed — comes with a minimum three-year warranty — far beyond the industry standard.
- Offers convenient features — available with dimming on some indoor models and automatic daylight shut-off and motion sensors on some outdoor models.
- Is durable — won’t break like a bulb.
Additionally, for an LED light to be approved for Energy Star, it must also pass several tests, as dictated by Energy Star. Those tests include:
- Brightness is equal to or greater than existing lighting technologies (incandescent or fluorescent) and light is well distributed over the area lit by the fixture.
- Light output remains constant over time, only decreasing towards the end of the rated lifetime (at least 35,000 hours or 12 years based on use of 8 hours per day).
- Excellent color quality. The shade of white light appears clear and consistent over time.
- Efficiency is as good as or better than fluorescent lighting.
- Light comes on instantly when turned on.
- No flicker when dimmed.
- No off-state power draw. The fixture does not use power when it is turned off, with the exception of external controls, whose power should not exceed 0.5 watts in the off state.
A tactical flashlight simply means that the flashlight is designed for use with a firearm. The reason that many tactical flashlights use LED bulbs is their endurance, which makes it easier to see your target while camping or in the military. LED light bulbs don’t emit very bright light, but they give enough illumination to see the target ahead. With this illumination, the user has a greater chance of hitting their mark, rather than letting their prey get away. A tactical flashlight is usually mounted directly onto the firearm, making it easier to focus on the target.
Tactical flashlights used to require the use of xenon bulbs, since an LED light bulb was not previously capable of emitting the light necessary to see the target from far away. However, the makers of LED light bulbs have made many advancements in the technology, making the LED brighter and longer lasting than the years before. The precision of a tactical flashlight is necessary for hitting a target, especially as your distance from the prey increases. Many tactical flashlight models use an LED light bulb, since their usage does not require the frequent replacement that others light bulbs do.
Most tactical flashlights use premium lithium batteries to power them. This style of lithium batteries is long-lasting, emits high specific energy, and slowly loses battery power, rather than generic and cheap batteries that lose their life relatively quickly. Some tactical flashlight models are compatible with alkaline batteries.
Tactical flashlights can be either handheld or mounted on the gun. Typically, handheld flashlights are restricted to use with a handgun, due to the shortness of the barrel. Almost any flashlight can be considered a handheld tactical flashlight, but the style of the flashlight dictates how easy the flashlight is to hold while you aim and fire. You will have to find the right position for you, when using the handheld tactical flashlight. A handheld model is also suitable when you need to look away from your target. Most handheld tactical flashlights are just standard handheld flashlights.
If you choose a mounted tactical flashlight, it is likely you are using a rifle or another firearm with a long barrel, which would require both of your hands to steady the shot. This style of tactical flashlight was introduced in the early 1900s, around the same time as dry cell batteries and incandescent light bulbs. Weapon-mounted lights are also referred to as “weaponlights,” which often have an on/off switch that is easy to access while holding your rifle. Most of the time, weapon-mounted lights are specific to a particular model of gun. For example, Mossberg 500, Benelli M3 shotguns, Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine guns, and the M4 carbine all typically use lights designed by SureFire, since they are designed to fit their particular models.
Who Is an LED Tactical Flashlight for?
Most people are able to get a regular flashlight for guidance in a dark hallway or during camping expeditions. It seems that the target audience for a tactical flashlight consists of hunters or military personnel that have a reason to focus their sights on a specific target. With a gun-mounted flashlight, these shooters are able to see exactly where the barrel of their gun is pointing, making it easy to focus their sights on their prey. In addition to the ability to see your prey, you are also able to take advantage of the brightness on the flashlight, shining the light in your prey’s or victim’s eyes to temporarily blind them, which can be used to your advantage.
Since a tactical flashlight can be either handheld or mounted to your gun, the model you choose is important. If you want a handheld flashlight, there is little difference between your average flashlight and a tactical flashlight, except possibly the construction, which has no bearing on the effectiveness of the flashlight. A tactical flashlight that requires mounting will only be able to be used on top of the gun, so that type of model is not suitable if you plan to use the flashlight for multiple types of tasks.
The amount of time you plan to use your flashlight, and the circumstances in which you will need it, should both be considered when you decide if a tactical flashlight is what you need. Individuals who need to use a tactical flashlight should be particular about the brand they use, which is where the Shadowhawk flashlight comes into play.
Certifications for a Tactical Flashlight
With multiple advancements in flashlight technology, certain certifications are in place to make it easy to distinguish between flashlights. These certifications fall under ANSI FL1 standards, and the policies include:
- Light Output: lumens rating that indicates the total amount of light that is emitted from the front of the flashlight.
- Run Time: the amount of time it takes for light to get to 10% of its initial output.
- Beam Distance: the measurement in meters of the distance at which the intensity of the beam reaches 0.25 lux.
- Peak Beam Intensity: Peak beam intensity is measured in Candela and is the brightest point in the beam – like the direct center of the beam.
- Water Resistance: Flashlights come with three different levels of water resistance, including IPX4, IPX7, and IPX8. As the number increases, the water resistance increases.
How Does the Shadowhawk Flashlight Compare?
The X800 Shadowhawk Tactical Flashlight is listed as a military-grade LED flashlight, but it seems that you don’t need a rifle or other gun to be able to use it. Though it doesn’t state so on the website or packaging, this makes it a handheld flashlight, meaning that it is no different than the style of flashlight you can find in your local Wal-Mart or home improvement store. On their main website, the makers list some of the qualities that they deem as their “standout” characteristics, none of which indicate their ability to meet the certification standards. However, this lack of indication does not mean the flashlight doesn’t meet the requirements. According to the website, the Shadowhawk flashlight:
- Has an XPE LED light bulb,
- Is made of premium-grade aluminum,
- Is military tested,
- Is made in the United States, and
- Has high-quality customer support.
The LED Light Bulb
On the website, Shadowhawk states that the LED lightbulb use is an 800 Lumen XPE Lighting-Class Performance bulb is a “one of a kind product” and is “one of the brightest and most powerful bulbs on the market today.” While the bulb may perform at the level you want, finding a replacement bulb is incredibly difficult, as it is not available on most major retailer’s websites. According to multiple websites, the light bulb has five potential settings, giving the user the ability to set the light on high, medium, low, SOS, and a strobe light. The light bulb included claims to have 10,000 hours of lamp life, while most LED light bulbs can last approximately 50,000 hours. However, this difference may be due to the excessive amount of usage that the flashlight has. You can also compare the G700 flashlight to get an idea of what the different options and features are of popular taclights.
The Aluminum Casing
The aluminum used is claimed to be the “strongest military grade aluminum,” which is designed to ensure that the product will never break. With this type of strength, you must understand the military standards for strength. If the strength meets military criteria, it simply means that it can handle a higher temperature before it incurs damage. However, the phrase can often imply military connection without actually complying to the specifications. Luckily, unless you are planning to try to damage the flashlight, it looks like the accessory will remain intact.
While there is no proof of the military testing, Shadowhawk states that the flashlight was commonly used with the military, even before use in the public became an option. According to some news reports, the military only presently uses Surefire, HDS, Fulton, Gerber, Smith & Wesson, and Maglite. The website does not indicate if the product is owned by a larger corporation. The military did previously obtain their guns from private vendors, but that policy has been outdated for some time now.
The Location for Production and Customer Service
With both the production of and the service of the flashlight located in the United States, Shadowhawk places a high-level of focus on keeping jobs local. However, the fact that the products are produced locally have little impact on their long-term performance. Customers are always excited to have a representative that is easy to understand, but you won’t have constant interaction with the company, so this fact should not impact your purchase.
In spite of boasting about their acclaimed customer service skills, the customer service department has restricted hours of operation. If you want to call in and speak with someone directly, you can call the toll-free line at 1-866-342-2144. However, you are only able to reach someone Monday through Friday, from 8:00am to 4:00pm, PST (since the only representatives for this company are based in California). The website also offers ways of reaching the company by email or via letter.
The makers of the Shadowhawk flashlight require you to order your battery separately, but the purchase is available on their website. The battery used is a rechargeable, lithium ion battery, which comes in a set with a charger. This type of battery has a longer shelf life than rechargeable batteries by Energizer or Duracell. The battery distributed by Shadowhawk is specifically designed with their flashlight’s usage in mind. Packages are available to order multiple batteries at once, but the website doesn’t list what size the battery is, which is probably an effort to reduce the amount of financial maintenance occurring outside of their website.
The only downside of using a rechargeable battery is the lack of instant access when you need it. A rechargeable battery will need to have an external energy source to properly charge, which means you may end up stuck on your hiking trail when your flashlight stops working, with no other option than to bring an extra rechargeable battery, or to bring a flashlight that accepts regular batteries.
Perhaps, the most impressive part of the Shadowhawk is the extensive warranty that comes with it. Two different warranty lengths are offered, but the consumer is responsible for paying the one-time fee of $10 or $20, regardless of the amount of flashlights he or she purchases in one order.
If you choose to pay the $10 fee, you get the standard one-year warranty. The warranty places the company in charge of replacing the LED light, if it burns out within the year. The warranty also covers defects from the parts or the assembly, circuit board malfunction, mechanical damage due to water, and internal component damage.
The premium warranty for three years involves a payment of $20. All of the benefits are exactly the same as the original warranty, except that you pay ten dollars more for another two years of coverage. Most of the description of the warranty focuses on being able to return your flashlight for nearly any reason.
When you purchase a warranty for your flashlight, you are also privy to free shipping for any returns you have to make, rather than having to cover the unnecessary charges yourself. For returns, you can send your defective merchandise to:
7875 Highlands Village Place,
Suite B102 #401
San Diego, CA 92129
Purchasing a LED Tactical Flashlights
LED tactical flashlights have a very broad price range, with the smallest and most uncomplicated models requiring only a $10 investment, whereas big corporations pull out all the stops to earn a $1,000 price tag. The average price for most LED tactical flashlights usually falls within the $25 to $50 price range. The only way to get a price that low for a Shadowhawk tactical flashlight is by purchasing more than one at a time.
The website for the Shadowhawk flashlight has a special discount for purchasing in bulk. If you purchase more than 10 Shadowhawk flashlights in one order, each one costs $35. However, if you decide to purchase each flashlight individually, you’re looking at spending $56 per flashlight. Since these types of flashlights seem to be used for hunting trips and other experiences, it would definitely benefit you to make a larger purchase upfront, allowing you to get your money’s worth.
Purchasing a Shadowhawk flashlight at these rates can only be done directly through the website, along with the purchase of the proper batteries, as described above. The website states that the “Battery” section includes all of their battery packages, but there is only one package listed – a single
“premium” lithium ion rechargeable battery with a wall charger. The “variety” they refer to is simply the amount of battery/charger sets you can purchase. The batteries can be purchased in increments of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 15, and 20. While the flashlight qualifies for free shipping, you will have to pay the applicable rates for the batteries.
The included rechargeable battery saves you money on maintenance, but still requires a separate purchase. The website advertises lower pricing as you purchase additional battery sets, saving you 50% off of each battery purchase, which is a $14 fee per set if you purchase separately. However, with a wall charger for your existing battery, you may only need one more to cover the flashlight when the other battery is charging.
While the website states that they have a “limited time” offer for 75% off of the lower packages of flashlights, it seems that this short-term offer is actually a long-term special, since multiple website reviews about this flashlight show the discount, regardless of the year.
One thing it seems you cannot replace on your own is the LED light bulb. If your bulb goes out while it is covered under the warranty, you can have the flashlight completely replaced. However, if the bulb goes out and you do not have a warranty, you will probably have to purchase a completely new light bulb.
The Makers of the Shadowhawk Flashlight
Very little information is available about the makers of the Shadowhawk Flashlight. The most information about the company is the email address and physical address for returns and questions. The only comment from the makers seems to be about sales, as they describe that over 52,000 of these flashlights were sold by the end of January 2016, which is a good ratio, since the product is still relatively new.
To contact the owners of the company, you can try to send mail to their corporate address at:
7582 Las Vegas Blvd. S #115-405
Las Vegas, NV 89123
Is Purchasing a Shadowhawk Flashlight a Smart Choice?
At some time in your life, you will need to purchase a flashlight anyway. A tactical flashlight is not necessary for every household. This type of flashlight usually only needs to be used on a rifle or assault weapon to provide a clear path of trajectory. However, the Shadowhawk flashlight does not need to be attached to any firearm to be useful. The powerful light and rechargeable batteries make this flashlight a great addition to your emergency kit or camping gear.
Essentially, if you need to find a flashlight that functions both independently and while attached to a firearm, the Shadowhawk flashlight will be able to handle the task for you. This flashlight is a smart purchase, if you want to get a high-quality flashlight that is capable of multiple jobs.