Review: Coast FX350, HX5, and FX228 – Part 2, by The Novice

(Continued from Part 1. This concludes the review)

Opening the Second Box

The second product box was the Coast 100 Year Anniversary Gift Box. This box was less substantial than one containing the FX350, but it was still nothing to sneeze at. A flashlight and a knife were nested in a multi-layered cardboard cutout along with a brochure outlining the 100 year history of the Coast company, along with a couple of packs of rust preventative silica gel.

The flashlight is a special 100-year anniversary version of the HX5 flashlight. It is rated at 130 lumens and 3.75 hours of battery life with the included AA Duracell Coppertop battery. It has a zoom focus lens, and a clever two-way clip that I will talk more about later. The switch is on the bottom cap, and the switch protector has a tiny hole where a lanyard can be inserted (not included).

I initially assigned the HX5 as my “dresser flashlight” for the testing period. The dresser flashlight illuminates my steps when I get up in the middle of the night so that I don’t trip over anything in the dark. Gentlemen of a certain age may know something about getting up in the middle of the night.

I really like AA battery-powered flashlights for a couple of reasons. One reason is that I have a virtually unlimited supply of partly used AA batteries. Why? The cordless microphones at our church are powered by AA batteries. At the point when the batteries are partly discharged and too unreliable to power a microphone for an entire service, they are usually still strong enough to power an LED flashlight for a respectable period of time. The church’s Tech Team is only too happy to send these batteries home with me rather than throwing them in the trash. The second reason that I like AA powered flashlights is that I have a good supply of Eneloop rechargable AA batteries, which also work quite well in most LED flashlights. Both of these types of batteries worked well in the HX5.

The knife in the 100 Year Anniversary Gift Box is a FX228. As the name indicates, it is a frame locking knife with a blade a little over two inches long. It has a black metal frame with some nice engraving set off by brass screws. Although it has a frame lock rather than a liner lock, the frame on this little knife is not much thicker than the liner on many larger knives. The blade has a nail nick for opening, and comes out of the box usefully sharp.

This little knife left me in a bit of a quandary. There was no way I was going to allow it to replace the Victoronix MiniChamp as my secondary EDC knife. And it is just too small to be considered for my primary EDC knife. As a result, it just sat on my desk, waiting for me to discover an appropriate niche for its use.

HX5 Flashlight Testing

As I mentioned above, I initially tested the HX5 flashlight as a dresser flashlight to help make sure that I did not trip over anything in the dark. My initial impression was that the light was too bright for this task. When my eyes are adjusted to the dark, I need a gentle glow, not a harsh glare. The light was so bright that I was afraid that I might accidentally disturb my wife.

I soon discovered that it was a simple matter to cup my hand around the end of the flashlight when I turned it on. By adjusting my grip, I could release exactly the amount of light I needed. And if I needed more light, the full 130 lumens and adjustable focus were right there available to me.

I next tested the light as a dog walking light. It did well in that application also. It was nice and bright. The adjustable focus allowed me to either flood the driveway in front of me, or project a narrow beam deep into the adjoining woods. I should mention that our driveway is 300 yards long, so a trip down and back gives the dog plenty of time to sniff around and do his business. As I was walking down the driveway, I was thinking, “It would be really nice if this little light could clip onto the brim of my ball cap”. And then I realized, “It can!” The ingenious two-way clip can fasten so that the light faces either forward or backward.

The next text was a camping trip. The HX5 was my wife’s “find the restroom in the dark” light. It received the wife’s seal of approval. The clip on the HX5 is not as easy to fasten to the brim of a hat as is the clip on the Coast HX4. SurvivalBlog published my review of the HX4 on April 8, 2020. Although the HX5 I am now reviewing is not as easy to attach as the HX4, it is not horribly difficult to do so either. As I think about the HX4 which I reviewed previously and the HX5 which I am reviewing now, I can note some advantages for each.

Advantages of the HX4:

  • It has a rotating head that allows one to direct the light with greater precision.
  • The weight sits farther back on the clip, making it less front heavy when clipped to a cap.
  • It has a red light option, which degrades night vision less than white light.
  • It has a magnet, which can hold it to a metal surface while working on a car or other similar activity.

Advantages of the HX5:

  • It is brighter than the HX4.
  • It uses AA rather than AAA batteries.
  • The zoom focus can spread the light as a flood or project it as a spot.

All in all, the HX4 is my favorite light, but the HX5 flashlight runs a close second. The two-way clip definitely increases the versatility of the HX5. The clip also prevents the light from rolling away if it is set on a flat surface that is not perfectly level. This is a problem I sometimes have when I set down one of my Mini Maglites.

Perhaps you don’t do this, but I often find myself holding a flashlight in my mouth while I do something with both hands. The HX5 works better for this application than any other flashlight I have ever owned. The switch protector seems just the right size to hold in my teeth.

By the way, I think the gold trim of the 100 Year Anniversary version of the HX5 looks nicer than the red trim of the standard version.

The original battery has kept the light shining nice and bright throughout more than a month of intermittent use.

Conclusions

I found the Coast FX350 to be a sturdy, reliable EDC knife.

Those of you who fish know that your State fishing regulations define which fish are “keepers” and which are not. For example, they might say that a largemouth bass must be at least 14″ to be a “keeper”. Otherwise you need to throw it back. For me, the ability to shave the hair from my forearm tells me whether or not a knife meets the minimum standard to be a “keeper”. If it can’t meet this standard, I will get rid of it.

The FX350 meets the minimum standard, but I had the sense that it was not as sharp as some of my other blades. It is kind of like comparing the blade in your razor when you notice that you need to change blades with the new one right after you change blades. They will both shave, but the new blade gives a better and smoother shave. The FX350 was more like an old razor blade than a new one. So even though I like the FX350, I think I am going to look for something that takes a better edge. I don’t want to go back to the Onyx, because I still would like something more sturdy. My search for my ideal EDC knife continues.

Even though the FX350 was not quite totally satisfying, the HX5 flashlight was a wonderful unexpected bonus. I would not mind having a half dozen or so more of these little lights to replace some of my other flashlights. I would put them in the glove compartments of our cars, on our dressers, in my tool boxes, and in my traveling bag. The two way clip makes it easy to attach it to my cap or pocket. It is light, bright, and easy to use.

At roughly $20 each, though, I don’t plan to buy any in the immediate future. My present flashlights may not be quite as nice, but they are paid for. But if I could keep only two flashlights, the HX4 and HX5 would probably be my first and second choices.

The FX228 did not really appeal to me. If you are looking for a really small and light EDC knife, it might be a good candidate. I prefer the Victorinox MiniChamp in that category even though the FX228 has a locking blade and the MiniChamp does not. I may throw the FX228 in a toolbox or give it to one of my grandsons someday.

Discount Code

Coast tells me that if you would like to place an order with them, you can use the discount code FX25 to get 25% off.

Disclaimer

Coast provided me with free samples of the FX350, HX5, and FX228 for testing and evaluation. I tried diligently not to let their generosity cloud the objectivity of my assessment.




One Comment

  1. An outdoors light should have a minimum lumen output of 500 and as much candela as that model can muster. It’s 2020, man. 135 lumens for a 300 yard stroll surrounded by woods is a bit dated.

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