TacLites M600 Heavy Utility Flashlight Review

TacLites_20131213_T3i_008_1080The flashlight has been a core tool for Law Enforcement and Military personnel since it was first patented in 1899. Since then, the cardboard tube and bulky batteries have evolved into a countless number of designs. Some are cheaply made, disposable junk. Some are finely machined tools. The TacLites Flashlights fall into the latter category.

TacLites sent us one of their finely crafted M600 Heavy Utility Flashlights (HUF) to evaluate. The flashlight body is constructed of 6061 Aluminum and aggressively grooved to provide a sure grip. The body is 1″ diameter in order to fit many weapon mount options. Our test model was black anodized, but KG Guncoat finish is also available.

TacLites uses a “p60” style drop in LED module. This offers a wide variety of beam color and intensity options. Out test model came equipped with a Cree XM-L2 emitter and three power options (5%, 30%, 100%). At full power the light is rated at 800 Lumens.

While we don’t have any method to test the actual lumen output of a flashlight, I found that the TacLites M600 was the brightest of all of my handheld lights. The full-power setting easily illuminated 100-200 yard targets.

TacLites_20131213_T3i_013_1080The switch for the TacLites M600 HUF is located on the tail cap. The modes of operation were fairly straight forward, although a little troublesome in use. The tail cap switch will turn on the light with a light press. To keep the light on, the switch is fully depressed until it clicks. This is fairly standard for tactical flashlights. To select a power setting, quickly press-release-press. When you reach the level you want hold pressure or press all the way down until the switch clicks. When you turn the light off, it remembers the power setting. When turned back on, it will start at that setting.

This multiple-press selection method makes the three level M600 difficult to use. It seemed that every time I turned the light on, it was in the wrong mode. The lack of a consistent starting point made it difficult to get into a pattern of presses to get to the level I want. The press-to-select control also makes it almost impossible to use the light in a tactical mode along with a firearm. Attempting to use it in this manner leaves you tapping through brightness levels as you move.

I got the chance to test out the TacLites M600 during a week of teaching low-light AVOps (Armed Vehicle Operations) and Room Clearing for the Police Department. This resulted in a wide range of application from tactical work to routine tasks. The M600 worked very well for administrative and utility tasks.

The week of range training allowed me to verify that the light worked well enough for street use. I tossed the TacLites M600 in my cargo pocket on my first night back on regular patrol. I work night shift; I always have multiple flashlights on my person and at least one spare in the car. My Glock 21SF is equipped with a weapon light; the TacLites M600 would serve as my administrative light. This means it would be deployed anytime I needed light, but was not justified in drawing my handgun.

Over several weeks I relied on the TacLites M600 for searching vehicles, directing traffic, traffic stops and a search warrant or two. The high and low beam functions were excellent. The full 800 lumen setting allowed the light to reach out through the haze and momentarily blind unknown threats. The 5%, low beam was great for searching up close where I didn’t want to be blinded. The middle setting just seemed to be in the way. It was always there when I wanted another mode.

TacLites_20131213_T3i_016_1080During regular use the design of the tail cap became somewhat annoying. Crenellated bezels and tail caps seem to be all the rage with “tactical” flashlights these days. Crenellations are the wave like pattern that resembles the top of a castle’s towers.

The original reasoning behind this feature seemed to be to allow the small tactical flashlight to be a more effective impact weapon. In my career I have had cause to defend myself with improvised impact weapons. Nice rounded surfaces get the job done. Sharp edged surfaces cause lacerations. Lacerations cause blood flow. I prefer not to come in contact with body fluids if at all possible. I also prefer not to spend an evening with a prisoner in the emergency room while he gets stitched up. As an added benefit, a nice smooth bezel and tail cap make the light more comfortable to hold and less likely to wear holes through expensive uniform pants.

The TacLites M600 came with a rechargeable 18650 Li-Ion battery. When fully charged the battery lasted for two weeks of duty use before I felt the need to top it off. If the rechargeable battery becomes depleted it can be replaced with two CR123 batteries. This is a great option. Lights that are used nightly can burn through a considerable pile of batteries quickly. I prefer rechargeable lights when I have the option. However being able to switch commonly available disposable battery is a great feature.

Overall the TacLites M600 is an extremely high quality illumination tool. We have discussed the small drawbacks with TacLights. They are making several changes to the next generation of lights to include a two level LED Emitter and changes to the bezel and tail cap. The light can also be ordered with a single power LED for use as a weapon light or in conjunction with a handgun.

Price starts at $180 and varies depending on options.

More information can be found on TacLites Website.

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