Brite-Strike Tactical Blue Dot Flashlight Review
Reviewed by John Caradimas for M1911.ORG
As most of our readers know already, due to my living location in Greece, I get to miss most of the fun my colleagues get in M1911.ORG. They get to shoot and test new 1911 pistols and I am left here, reading their reviews and drooling. As a compensation, from time to time, they allow me to play with some goodies that can be imported to Greece without any hassle. How good they are!!!
With that out of the way, let's proceed to the latest toy that was sent to me for review. It's a flashlight and comes from a company called Brite-Strike.
Brite-Strike was created by two Law Enforcement Officers, namely Glenn Bushee (now acting as the company's president) and Jon Neal, with the purpose of creating lighting products which always use the latest technology, world class components, highest design and manufacturing standards, so that its customers can rely on their Brite-Strike® lights when they need them.
So Brite-Strike was kind enough to send me one of their new "Blue Dot" flashlights, to try it out. In case you are wondering why these flashlights are called Blue Dot, the picture below, which explains how these lights are made, will clarify that for you.
Description of a Blue Dot tactical light.
Yeap, it's that blue switch at the rear of the light, which is the reason behind the product's name.
The Blue Dot lights are in reality a family of lights, which are powered by either one or two CR123 batteries and come in two versions. One offers High/Low/Strobe operation and one offers only High output, momentary or constant on. You can see all the flashlights in the Blue Dot family in the company's web site, shown at the bottom of this review.
The Blue Dots come in a traditional cardboard white box.
Upon opening the box, I found the followings:
- Two CR123A 3.0V batteries
- The flashlight
- A ballistic nylon pouch for the light
- A leaflet describing the light with instructions on its use
The contents of the box with the batteries installed in the light.
This particular light (and I suspect the whole Blue Dot line) uses Cree LED units, specifically the LED used is CREE-XREWHT-L1-D01-Q5. It produces a very bright, white beam with a maximum output of 210 Lumens and a LED life of 100,000 hours. The light features what Brite-Strike calls DPM (Digital Power Management), a module hidden in the tail cap, which allows you to use this light in two light outputs (High and Low) plus a strobe mode.
After I took the light out of the box and put in the batteries, I tried to take some pictures showing you the intensity of this light compared to some others I have. The light's output is usually what buyers consider first, when selecting a new light.
The Blue Dot light is on the left, in the center is another two-CR123 battery 230 Lumens light and on the right is a one-CR123 battery light I own.
As you can see in the picture above, the Blue Dot is ... how shall I put it? Very bright. Its beam is a little less focused and a little warmer than the middle light, but of the same brightness. And of course, it beats the one-battery light hands down, something that is expected. The fact that the beam is less focused compared to the other two-cell light should be an advantage for an LEO who might use it during a traffic stop and he wants the beam to cover an entire car.
In this picture the Blue Dot is in its low power setting.
As you can see in the picture above, the Blue Dot in its Low setting has almost the same output as the one-cell light at full power.
After seeing those pictures on my computer, I was not 100% satisfied they would convey to my readers the exact capabilities of this light. So I tried to take some additional pictures to clarify the light's power.
You do not see much here, do you?
This is a picture of the house next to mine, the distance is about 30 meters and it was about 9 pm when I shot this. The light line you see there, comes from a window which looks to the left of the picture. The exposure I used was 1/30" and the aperture on the camera lens was f/4. Keeping the exact same settings on the camera, I took the following picture with the flashlight illuminating the balcony of the house next door.
Now you can see something!!
These pictures are as they came from the camera, without any post-processing. I just converted them to jpg files. So you can see how powerful the light's beam is. Here are two more:
This is a white wall of the same house, about 30 meters away.
This is the same wall, but with the flashlight illuminating it.
At that distance the Blue Dot is amazing powerful, revealing every little detail of the area.
After I got a good idea about how powerful the light is, I tried to learn its peculiarities, which have been puzzling me since I first turned it on. Conquering my fear of forever losing my man card, I read the instructions leaflet that came with the light. What I read was not something I liked.
The DPM module installed in the rear cap of this light allows you to have two different light outputs (High and Low) plus it allows you to have a Strobe mode (which seems to be de rigeur in every tactical light coming in the market lately). When the light is ON, you can switch between the various modes, by pressing lightly on the switch, which is very efficient and intuitive. However, you need to be careful when the time comes to switch the light off, because that defines the mode in which the light will be, next time you switch it on.
According to the instructions, the next time you switch on your light it will be in the next mode in sequence from the one it was in when you switched it off. In other words, if you had your light on the high beam when you switched it off, it will be on the low beam the next time you turn it on. If it was on the low beam, the next time you turn it on it will be in the strobe mode. If you were in the strobe mode when you switched it off, it will be on the high beam next time you turn it on.
I find this whole arrangement a little bit counter-intuitive. I expect my lights to be always on the same settings when I turn them on. The association of the mode the light was in when switched off, with the mode the light will be next time it is switched on, is a bit troublesome for me. There are other lights in the market which allow you to switch between different modes, but they always come up in whatever mode you have selected, not the next one. That's a personal preference, and I do not expect everyone to share it with me, but this characteristic made using this light cumbersome for me.
Please understand that I am not an LEO, nor do I pretend to be one, so maybe Brite-Strike implementation makes more sense for the LEO community, I just don't know. For me it was not something I liked.
With these thoughts in mind, I contacted Brite-Strike and requested their BD198 MH Switch, which allows momentary high or constant high beam, just like God intended those lights to work. The good folks at Brite-Strike obliged by sending me a whole new light with that switch (it's their BD-198-MH model).
This light operates like it should: touch the button at the rear to switch it on momentarily. Release the pressure to switch it off (momentary ON switch). If you want it to be constantly on, just press the switch a little more until it clicks, and the light turns itself on and stays on, until you switch it off, by pressing the switch again. Just what the doctor ordered.
Some more points about these lights:
- The Blue Dots are built like a tank, they will surely withstand all the hardship a demanding user or an LEO can put in their way.
- There are rubber o-rings sealing the front and the rear of the light, which prevent water from entering the body. The light is NOT water-proof so don't take it under water next time you go swim, but it is well protected against rain, moisture etc.
- The -MH model works perfectly, the -HLS model, well, try it before you buy it. It's not for everyone.
- The body of the light is knurled and triangular in shape. Holding the light between your index and middle finger and operating the switch with your thumb, is very comfortable and secure.
- The front part of the light is fixed, so there is no way to replace the LED when/if it stops working. Trying to remove the light head will void your warranty, too. That shouldn't be a problem, since Brite-Strike provides a lifetime warranty for these lights, so if the LED goes south, they'll just replace the entire light for you.
- Brite-Strike tells you to use non-rechargeable CR123 batteries with these lights. Several flashlight manufacturers caution against the rechargeable batteries, due to their voltage fluctuation and the power requirements of the LED used. If you do decide to use rechargeables (something that will void the warranty), make sure they are the 3.0V batteries, not the 3.7V ones usually found on Ebay.
- The clip is a welcome feature, very useful in some situations. You can use it to secure the light in your pocket, an epaulet, your belt, or a seat belt. Useful when you need both hands to be free. I never had such a clip on a flashlight and I liked it. I do plan to add a lanyard to this light though, I find them very useful too.
- The pouch that comes with the light is made of ballistic nylon and it is of top quality. I have never seen such a quality pouch offered with a light before. It is kind of tight when removing the light, for the first few times, but it loosened up a tiny bit with usage. It is the ideal compromise of securing the light and allowing easy removal from the pouch. There is a velcro and a closure-button belt loop at the rear, so there is no chance of accidentally loosing the pouch with the light in it, during a fight.
- The front and the rear of the light feature aggressive crenelated crowns, for applying pressure point control techniques, something LEOs will appreciate.
- The Blue Dot lights are made in US of A, for those who pay attention to these things.
- The price of this flashlight is $200 with the Hi-Low-Strobe switch and $175 with the momentary on/off switch.
- The light is sold with a limited warranty against defects in manufacturing and workmanship, valid for the duration of the life of the product. The warranty does not include normal wear or abuse and applies only to the original purchaser.
So would I buy one of these Blue Dots (I need another light as much as I need another child, but anyway)?
The answer is yes. They are very bright, well-built and warranted for life. What more can one ask for? Oh yes, needless to say it would have to be the -MH version.
P.S. : It was just brought to my attention that there is a ... hidden feature in the -HLS light, which is worth mentioning. According to Glenn Bushee, president of Brite-Strike, if the light is left switched off for more than 5 seconds, then next time it will be turned on, it will be in the High beam. This is a real game changer for me, since my main objection against the -HLS light is not a factor. Thanks for the clarification Glenn, appreciated.
Please go to this thread on the M1911 Pistols Organization discussion forum to discuss this pistol and this review: http://forum.m1911.org/showthread.php?t=99056
11 Raffaele Road
Camelot Industrial Park
Plymouth, MA 02360
Web Site: http://brite-strike.com/