Pat’s Product Review: LED Lenser Flashlights

When the power goes out, the lights go out – simple as that! Many people will then reach for a flashlight, only to find, that the batteries are dead, or dying – assuming they can even find a flashlight at night, when the power goes off. I have to admit, in my younger and dumber days, I fell victim to this many times. Living in a rural area, especially during the winter months, our power goes out several times due to trees falling over on power lines. Last time, we were without power for several days, in the winter when a huge snow storm knocked down hundreds of trees onto power lines. We have electric heat, too – but we keep a kerosene heater on-hand, and it really heats our house nicely – thank you!
Look, let’s be brutally honest here, old-style D-cell flashlights, that cost a buck or two just don’t cut it any longer – they don’t through much light, and they aren’t very durable, unless you go to some of the better “police” flashlights, even those aren’t as good as they should be. Over the past half dozen years or so, technology has really gone wild when it comes to small flashlights, that throw a tremendous amount of light, using nothing more than A, AA or AAA batteries – which are still fairly inexpensive. When my wife and I were first married in 1979, I worked two full-time security jobs, one of which was, patrolling around the wooded areas around Trojan Nuclear Power Plant (now dismantled and gone) all night long, with a K-9 companion. I carried a “lantern” style flashlight, the ones that take those big and expensive rectangular 6 Volt batteries – that only lasted an hour or two. Needless to say, it didn’t throw a good amount of light, and I was buying batteries several times a week – and it was big and bulky to carry and handle. I would have paid anything to have had one of the new hi-tech flashlights that are available today.
Leatherman Products recently purchased a company called LED Lenser which is producing some very affordable, hi-tech, super-bright, small flashlights. I received three samples for test and evaluation for this article, and I’m totally impressed with them all. Up first is the LED Lenser M7. is only 5.39″ long and weighs a mere 6.81-oz, and runs on 4 AAA batteries. We’re talking a little flashlight that throws as much as 220 lumens (with a boost to 235-lumens), at a distant of 650-feet. Living out in the country, I had ample opportunity to test the brightness of all the LED Lenser flashlight samples sent to me, and I’m here to tell you that, the M7 does as advertised – I can easily light-up the distance of two football fields. Power time for the M7 at 220 lumens is 1-hour, however, there is another setting on it that gives you 30-lumens that will last for 11-hours. Yes, you read that right eleven hours – and that will easily last you all night long in your dark home at night when the power goes out.
The LED Lenser also has Rapid Focus which allows you to go from reading to searching by using the thumb on your holding hand to simply slide the bezel away from you (pushing forward) in one seamless movement.  Many flashlights you have to use two hands to adjust the focus, assuming you have the feature on your flashlight. I could easily light-up my entire front yard by focusing out, instead of focusing in, for a tighter light. The M7 is made out of aircraft grade black anodized aluminum for a lifetime of rough use, too. The M7 also has what is called “Smart Light Technology” and this gives your 8 different sight functions, including a strobe for blinding and disorienting someone who might be a threat to you – and this works as well in daylight as it does in the dark, too. Ok, I have to admit it, but I did have to go to the instructions that came with the M7 to figure it all out…I was playing around with this light, and it kept doing “different” functions for me, and I couldn’t figure out what I did wrong. You don’t need a PhD to figure it out, but you really need to read the instructions and practice.
One more feature I’d like to mention is the Advanced Focus System is the patented combination of reflector and lens to create a light system that provides both a focus beam for long-range and a homogenous split-beam for u-close reading – easier to see than explain, but it’s one of those “gee, why did I think of that” things. Also the M7 comes with 4 AAA batteries (nice) and a polymer clip-on “holster” that allows you to carry the M7 on your belt or pants. There’s a small lanyard ring on the butt of the flashlight, right next to the push-button on/on button. You can also lock the flashlight head so as to not move it from long-distance to up-close reading. I really like the M7, it will get the job done if you are in law enforcement or a home owner who needs to see what went “bump” in the night. While not really designed as a non-lethal weapon per se, it will easily temporarily blind an attacker with the bright 220 lumens that it emits – giving you time to escape or find a weapon with which to defend yourself with. Full-retail on the M7 is $100. Yes, that is a little bit spendy, but I’ve had other hi-tech flashlights, that easily cost more than twice this amount, that didn’t have the features the M7 has…it’s a best-buy in my book for a flashlight that has so much to offer.
Next up is the P7  that is only 5.24″ long, and weighs in at 6.77oz, and it also takes 4 AAA batteries (included). Now, the P7 doesn’t have all the same features as the M7 does, it doesn’t have 8 different functions, and you may not need all those functions. However, you do get 175-lumens, with a power boost up to 210-lumens for a one hour run time. Or you can power down to 27-lumens for 13-hours, if you don’t need a super-bright light all the time. The P7 also has the Advanced Focus System as well as the Rapid Focus, plus the Dynamic switch that Pros want to switch at lightening speed and adjust brightness equally fast. This baby would make a great flashlight for around the camp fire, walking the dog in low-light or whatever chores you have that require added light. At only $60 full-retail, its worth checking out.
The last LED Lenser I received was the P3 AFS P  – and this little power house is my favorite of the samples I received. The P3 is small, really small at only 3.66″ long, and it weighs a mere 1.48-oz. We’re talking small, very small! The P3 has 75-lumens, and a one hour run time on a single AAA battery. Yes, one hour at 75-lumens with one AAA battery! And, believe me, this is a lot of light in a little package. The end of my driveway is about 80-feet from my front door, and I could easily light-up that area, as well as across the road to the mailboxes, and onto my neighbors pasture with this little light. Again, it is made out of aircraft grad black anodized aluminum, and it has the Rapid Focus feature as well as the Advanced Focus System. It comes with a battery, and a small Nylon carry pouch that you can slide onto your belt and have this little baby with you all the time. There is also a key ring attached, so you can add your house and car keys to it. There is also a pocket/clothing clip, if you want to carry it attached to your pants or shirt pocket.
Without a doubt, the P3 is a keeper, and anyone and everyone can benefit by having one of these itty-bitty flashlights on their person, in a purse or any place. You will have a hour of light in an emergency, and we’re talking 75-lumens of light, not 15-20 lumens that the average 2-D Cell flashlights give out – that don’t throw the light very far, and they don’t last very long. And, it really isn’t a problem to carry a spare AAA battery in a coat pocket, either. Full-retail on the P3 is only $40.00 and this one is the best-buy of the three I tested, in my humble opinion, and I like the fact that it is soooooo small and handy, you can have it with you all the time, even clipped to a shirt pocket or pants pocket.
Back to my days patrolling around Trojan Nuclear Power plant…I couldn’t tell you the number of times I had to use a flashlight to light-up an area when I heard something go bump in the night, or when the interior guard company could call on the radio and report an alarm went off on the fence surrounding the plant. I worked for a different company than the one providing security inside the plant. There were usually two of us patrolling around the outside of the plant – usually in wooded areas. We worked from sundown until sun-up – we’re talking a long shift, walking all night long with a K-9 partner, with no back-up other than our K-9 partner or the other officer – and it might take them 20-minutes to reach me if there was a problem. One of the biggest “problems” we had was the head of security at the plant, he was always “testing” us, to see if he could sneak into the plant. That never happened, we caught him every time, and would hold him on the ground with our K-9 partner barking and on high alert, until our other human partner could assist. I would have loved to have had one of these LED Lenser flashlights back then. It would have been much easier holding someone at gunpoint, with a smaller, hi-tech and super-bright flashlight, than with an old “lantern” style flashlight. I could have seen a lot farther in the dark with a super-bright flashlight, too. And just think of the money I could have saved by buying AAA batteries over the old big rectangular flashlight batteries.
On more than one occasion, I shinned by flashlight on a momma black bear that roamed the woods where we patrolled – and she had a cub with her. So, we were always on alert for the momma black bear and her cub. The LED Lenser flashlight shinned into her eyes might have given her cause to roam some other area. In short order, I started carrying a Remington Model 740 .30-06 semi-auto rifle, as a back-up to my .38 Special revolver after my first encounter with the momma black bear. We also had packs of feral dogs that caused us a lot of problems – again, a super-bright flashlight, like one of the LED Lensers would have been nice to have on-hand. A good flashlight can make all the difference in the world!
Look, if you’re still using a dollar 2 D-cell flashlight from the dollar store, get rid of it – simple as that. Get yourself a hi-tech flashlight, that throws a lot of light, is light-weight and will give you a lifetime of service. Your life and the life of a loved one might just depend on a really good flashlight. When I hear something go bump in the night, or one of my German Shepherds starts barking, the first thing I reach for is a flashlight – then a firearm, before I go investigating in the dark. A person can’t hide from the bright light emitted by the LED Lenser – even the small P3 with the 75-lumens. Once you go hi-tech flashlight, you’ll wonder why it took you so long. You can pay a LOT more for a hi-tech flashlight than the LED Lenser line-up has to offer – by why pay more? Check out the complete line-up of LED Lenser flashlights on their web page, and I’m betting good money, you’ll find more than one you’ve simply gotta have. BTW, all LED Lenser flashlights are also waterproof, too! – SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio