Acebeam L16 Evolution rechargeable LED flashlight. 2000 lumen 603 metre. High-tech tactical torch! Reviews here.
* Tactical torches are the most warlike members of the flashlight tribe, constantly fighting for dominance over their peers. And in recent years there's been a steady influx of alpha-models challenging for leadership of this group.
These lights are typically powered by a single 18650 Li-Ion, for the best balance between size and performance, and most are fitted with a tail-switch and a "cigar ring" so they can be operated comfortably from a variety of hand positions. Nearly all have a one-inch battery tube so they can be weapons-mounted in a standard scope-mount, and their makers usually offer a range of accessories such as coloured filters and remote switches to enhance their versatility.
True tactical torches can take hard knocks and survive a dunking in a pool or river, and most are fitted with a stainless steel "strike bezel" so they can deliver a few hard knocks themselves. As a species they are small and light enough to be carried as part of a uniformed officer's standard kit and, indeed, they have become essential tools for the military, police and private security personnel, as well as hunters, farmers and anyone who wants a compact torch which punches way above its weight.
Acebeam's L16 is the newest entry to this fractious population. It's a deliberate effort by one of the world's top flashlight manufacturers to bring together the most sought-after features of the breed while adding a few tweaks of their own to the gene-pool. The result is impressive - a beautifully crafted example of its type and a clear contender for the leader's mantle.
Needless to say the L16, which I like to call the "Evolution", won't remain the best of its kind forever, but it sets the bar awfully high for other brands to follow - something Acebeam have been doing a lot lately. And when, in time, the Evolution concedes top spot to another luminary (perhaps from Acebeam themselves?) it will in no way detract from the stellar performance of this little gem, which promises to serve and protect for many years.
As a starting point, the Evolution is equipped with the very best LED currently available for a long-range flashlight, Cree Inc's XHP35 HI, capable of delivering an astonishing 2,000 lumens. This explosion of light is focused by a compact 40 mm clear reflector into a beam of almost 100,000 candela - the intensity of direct sunlight - equivalent to a throw of over 600 metres using the industry-standard ANSI formula, or 200 real-world metres using my own benchmark.
In common with all "turbo" torches, the L16 generates a lot of heat and will turn itself down after a few minutes to avoid overheating, but the "high" setting is almost as bright and will run for as long as the battery allows.
Not only does this flashlight deliver a good-sized hot-spot but also a respectable spill-beam - more than enough to avoid the tunnel vision which plagues the users of spotlights that deliver a tiny dot of light. The L16 produces the kind of beam which, until now, has been the exclusive territory of the larger and more expensive torches that make up the "hunting" class.
The L16 features an innovative user-interface with two independent switches - a tailswitch that simply turns the L16 on at full power (exactly what you need at a critical moment) and a front switch which provides access to all five brightness levels and a strobe. This switch also features mode-memory, so one can set up the torch to operate at "low" level (150 lm) at a touch of the front switch, while delivering a blinding 2000-lumens with a press of the tail-switch.
A long press of the front switch accesses the ultra-low (1 lm) "firefly" mode - essential for moving inconspicuously in the dark and preserving night vision - while a triple-click from either the "on" or "off" positions triggers a defensive strobe, proven by the Dutch police to be invaluable in dealing with aggressive suspects.
At full power you'll get around an hour of run-time on "high" with the standard 3,000 mAh high-drain battery, or about 20 days in firefly mode. This battery is one of the new-generation of high-drain cells, capable of supplying the currents needed by ultra-performance lights while still offering protection from over-discharge and short circuits, but I also stock Acebeam's proven 2,500 mAh unprotected INR battery.
The battery can be charged either externally in a separate charger (so you can charge one battery while using another, or battery-swap in the field) or inside the torch simply by connecting it to any USB port or any of the micro-USB power supplies that come with devices like smartphones and GPS, or from a power bank or solar charger, making the L16 the ideal travel companion.
There's a lot more to this torch - such as an advanced thermal control system, an anti-roll design, removable pocket clip, quality holster and lanyard, Acebeam's five-year warranty, as well as optional red, green and diffusing filters and a remote pressure-switch - all of which bear witness to the passion of those behind its design and construction.
When you handle the L16 you are left in no doubt whatever that it's at the apex of the evolutionary tree. To see what my customers have to say, please click here. Click on the drop-down list below to see the prices with the regular or high-capacity rechargeable battery, and drop me a line if you'd like an even better price!
* Try reading this in Sir David Attenborough's voice!