Bell & Howell TacLight Lantern/Flashlight Combo, by Pat Cascio

When the lights go out, we usually reach for a flashlight. However, there are much better forms of portable light. Today we check out the TacLight lantern and flashlight. They are winners.

I’ve owned many LED lanterns over the years, some were really bad, and some were a bit more than okay, when it came to giving us light, when the lights went out. Living in the boonies, we lose electricity quite often from trees falling on power lines because of heavy snow, rain, and winds. It just comes with living out in the country, and we are usually the last to get the lights back on. The nearby towns get power first.

We have small, high intensity flashlights within reach in every room in our house, and they work great. However, when you need something hands-free, the flashlight isn’t always your best or first choice. We used a small battery-powered fluorescent lantern for a lot of years, it threw a lot of light, and operated on those great big 6-volt lantern batteries. The problem was with those lanterns was that while they threw a lot of light, the batteries didn’t last long at all – a couple hours at best. This is because filament light bulbs draw a tremendous amount of current compared to modern LEDs. Also, the batteries were bulky, heavy, and never lasted more than a year just sitting on the shelf.

We used another LED lantern that had tiny LED lights in the bottom of it, and a cone shaped mirror, that reflected the light – not a bad choice, but not a great choice, either. It didn’t shed enough light to light-up the smallest room. However, it did last a good long time – on “D” sized batteries and it was better than candles – and of course safer, too.

The TacLight Combo

I’m sure many of our readers have seen the television commercials for the Bell & Howell TacLight lantern. These commercials play all the time. I was more than a little impressed with what I saw in the commercials, but still had my doubts. All these products we see in these “as seen on TV” commercials usually aren’t as well-made as advertised. A couple that do live up to the hype are the Flex-Seal and some of those cooking pans that have a special coating that prevents foods from sticking.

We’ve also seen the commercials for the Bell & Howell TacLight Flashlight, and they are incredible when it comes to throwing some serious light a long distance. You can adjust the beam from a tight one, to a wide one, to light-up a larger area. I own several of them. They are outstanding product for the money.

Our local small-box store in Oregon, Bi-Mart, is our favorite store to shop, they usually have just about everything we are looking for, except food. I always manage to make my way to the sporting goods department, to check out ammo deals, and for  the past six months they have had some fantastic ammo deals in Bi-Mart. I honestly don’t know how they are selling some of their ammo so cheap. But I took advantage of this over the summer months, and really topped-off my ammo locker. Their sales keep coming every other week or so. Right next to the sporting goods section is their “As Seen on TV” section, and they have a pretty decent selection of many of the products you’ve seen advertised on television We already own half a dozen of the Bell & Howell TacLight flshlights and are pleased with them. However, Bi-Mart recently had a combo package – the TactLight Lantern and the TacLight Flashlight – for  just $24.99 – they only had one left on the shelf and I grabbed it. The lanterns alone sell for $19.99 and ditto for the flashlights – if purchased separately that is almost $40.00. So for $24.99, I knew I was getting a deal.

Let’s check out the TacLight lantern first. It is very compact, and stands less than 7-inches high when opened, and it operates off of 3 size “AA” batteries. And, I don’t know how long the batteries last, but we’ve yet to have to change the batteries when we used this lantern, and we are talking they are running a lot of hours – and I mean, a lot of hours. When not in use, you simply press down on the top of the lantern and it compresses into the base, and it is about half the size. This lantern operates off of something they call COB LED lights. COB stands for Chip On Board. They are so bright, that you can’t look directly into the lantern when it is on – it would temporarily blind you. You can also hang this lantern up by the handles. The advertising on the box claims that the LED lights will last up to 100,000 hours. One lantern will light up our entire living room – and we have a fairly large living room. Of course, these products are made in China. It seems there is no avoiding a lot of things made in China these days, but these are well-made products.

Lantern Operation

The Bell & Howell TacLight Lantern is turned on by simply raising the top portion out of the bottom portion. And, if you don’t need all that light – and it throws a lot of light, you can only pull the top portion out of the base a little bit or fully extend it. There is no on/off button – just pull up on the carry/hanging handles to activate the light.

On to the Bell & Howell TacLight Flashlight: it is a big winner if you ask me. It is a compact flashlight that only stands about 5-inches tall and it is thin. You can carry it in a pocket or purse, and it comes with a lanyard on it. The barrel of the flashlight is made out of quality Aluminum, too – no cheap plastic here. The on/off button is in the bottom of the barrel, and is easy to activate. It has several settings from a steady high and bright beam, and I don’t know how many lumens it is, but it is actually brighter than several similar flashlights that costs over a hundred bucks. You simply press the on/off button and the light is on high, press it again, and it is dimmer, and press it yet another time and you have an even dimmer light – sometimes you don’t need full-power lighting and it saves on the battery. Press again, and we have a strobe effect – that will easily blind an attacker – day or night. And, press one last time, and the light sends out the universally-recognized Morse Code SOS signal. Press it one last time, and the light goes off.

One really nice feature is the sliding bezel on the flashlight – you can have a nice tight light or slide it back towards you and it will throw a very large diameter light beam. The neighbor across the road from me  has 48 acres of land. You can’t see his dwelling from my digs, but he has cattle, sheep, and goats on his place. I can go out in the dark, and can’t see anything moving across the road from me. Yet, when I turn-on the TacLight Flashlight, it lights-up at least 200-yards or more. It is hard to measure this sort of thing. But I can easily see if any of his livestock is out there at night. The zoom feature easily lights up my entire front yard, too. On any given night (or day) we might have up to eight deer in our front yard and when you light ‘em up with this flashlight, they just stand there – the old deer in the headlight effect. “My” resident deer know they are safe in my front yard from hunters, too.

Run Time?

The flashlight operates on 3 “AA” batteries and just like the lantern, I honestly don’t know how long it will run, other than to say “a long, long time…” — a lot of hours. I keep it running with rechargeable Panasonic NiMH Eneloop AA batteries that are easy to keep charged.

For a little bit of money, you can get two sources of light – the lantern and the flashlight. For $24.99–and sometimes the deals on television and on Amazon.com are even better, at $19.99–for both lights. This pricing is a win-win for consumers. If you are looking to add some serious light sources to your SHTF supplies, you can’t go wrong with these products and they are a super deal.




16 Comments

  1. I have several of the lanterns (3 to be exact) but none of their brand of flashlights. The lanterns are excellent, I bought mine at Wal Mart in the ‘as seen on TV aisle’ for $14.99 each. I also gave a few as CHRISTmas gifts this last year. They are very, very bright, almost too bright,. They can be almost blinding when walking across the room or camp site. I’m going to make a small, unbreakable ‘light-softening defuser’ for ours that can slide up & down like the lens itself does, just don’t know what material I’m going to use yet… any ideas anyone?
    My biggest applause for the lantern is the ‘AA’ batteries vs. C’s, D’s or some button type. This allows us to use a solar battery charger or Lithium ‘photo batteries’ which work excellent in cold weather and have a long shelf- life (10+ years is the claim).

    Good Product at a reasonable price (and yes, I’m sure they’re made west of Hawaii)

    P.S. Re: the non-stick frying pans… I like cast iron but my does not so we bought a ‘Red Copper’ brand. It only lasted one year. It has NOT started peeling or flaking, but it’s not near as non-stick now as it was when new. We still use it, but must use assorted oils such as olive oil, coconut or sesame. (I like butter too, especially when frying eggs). We recently got a ‘Blue Diamond’ brand, we’ll see how well that holds up. I do like using metal utensils vs. the stupid plastic ones which were only ones allowed on the older Teflon pans etc.

    1. Milk jug plastic makes a good diffuser if you can shape it to what you want.
      If your wife does not like cast iron cookware because of the weight, Lodge has carbon steel skillets [amazon] that season similarly to cast iron (think carbon steel woks if you have ever used them) and are much lighter, but still sturdy. Also they heat up much faster. Otherwise, the frying pans that have a “stone” coating seem to hold up better than other coatings and are not toxic as Teflon can be when over heated.

    2. I would consider using wax paper that is found in the kitchen supplies. You could wrap it around the lens and tape it to itself. It may even stay on the lens when it is shut into the OFF position.

  2. I have the flashlights in every vehicle and on both night stands in the bedroom. Mine came with batteries which I generally toss as I’ve had a lot of problems with cheap batteries leaking and ruining things. Energizer Lithium goes in and along with a spare 3 pack in a vacuum sealed bag and a chem light in case I have to swap them out in the dark.

    I will looking at the lanterns later today when I do the Bi-Mart run. Truthfully I did not know they had an As Seen on TV section.

  3. Pat, I bought a two pack of the lanterns about two years ago. They show a pic of this lantern frozen in a block of ice still on. The problem is, there is no o-ring seal on the battery compartment or anywhere else for that matter

  4. I sure appreciate the tips for other sources. I have a nearby Harbor Freight that will be seeing me very soon.

    Looking at the lanterns and flashlights they have, I see a close approximation of what PAt reviewed. I realize my mileage may vary.

    Carry on

  5. Home depot has Lanterns on sale every Christmas I did see the ones I purchased a few years back. Highly recommended at 10 dollars each. The lamps have 2 power settings and a “strobe for emergencies? I have a half dozen or so. My Daughter uses one for a night light (it gets very dark in our home). It can run on enloops for 4 days every night 8~ish our a night on the low setting, the high setting is about 1/3rd of that. Not terrible if you have a good supply of enloop rechargeable and recharge them.

    As far as other lights I recommend not using “Zoom-able” lights. If they are dropped or used for an improvised defensive device they will not stand up to the abuse. Back to the mindset of more moving parts more chances to break. Get a light that matches what you need. Most lights are good for 30-50 yards. If you need more reach, get a light that is designed to “Throw” farther. (Check out the budget light forums. There is a wealth of information for batteries, chargers, solar chargers ect.)

    Just make sure too EDC something Bright, something sharp, something lethal, and some medical items.

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