I’ve reviewed Elzetta torches before; I’m no stranger to their high quality construction and performance. So, when Elzetta contacted me about reviewing their new high output model tac light, I was eager to see how it held up against the standard they established with their original ZFL-M60 torch.
Like the standard output model that came before it, the Elzetta High Output tac light has multiple options for tail caps, body sizes, and bezels (Elzetta states on their website that they’re currently working on a drop-in flood lens to add one more option). In fact, beyond the light head, the standard output and high output lights are the same, which makes their components interchangeable. Their site walks you through your custom build to narrow your ideal light down out of the 96 unique configurations. The Elzetta High Output tac light detailed in this review has this setup:
- Tail cap: High/Low
- Body: Charlie (3 cell)
- Light emitter: Elzetta high output LED (with solid acrylic optical lens)
- Bezel: Crenelated bezel
The bodies (including tail cap and flashlight head) of every Elzetta tac light are constructed of mil-spec 6061-T6 aluminum with a type III hard-anodized coating. As with Ford’s Model T, you can get one in any color you like, so long as it’s black (although, I have seen a couple limited edition runs in one or two other colors). Besides choosing from the component options, Elzetta lets you give your lights a personal touch with custom laser engraving, if you’re willing to shell out a few extra dollars ($10, to be specific). If you like, you can also throw on a lanyard adapter for four bucks.
This specific Elzetta High Output tac light utilizes a high/low tail cap. When the tail cap is turned clockwise, a momentary press engages the 900 lumen beam. A full “click” keeps the beam on. Twisting the tail cap counter clockwise reduces the beam’s brightness to 30 lumens.
Elzetta offers two bezel types for their high output light head: standard or crenelated. The smooth bezel has a 1.45in diameter with a smooth profile—ideal for weapon mounting. The crenelated bezel, featured in this review, has a scalloped edge. Both heads have fluting to prevent them from rolling on flat surfaces.
Because of the modularity of Elzetta tac lights, the high output head can be used with either two cell or three cell body. What Elzetta’s AVS (Automatic Voltage Sensing) technology performs as advertised: it changes the output depending on the voltage it detects. Using the high output head on a 2 cell, or “bravo” body produces a max output of 650 lumens with a FL1 ANSI standard run time of 1.5hrs. The same light emitter produces 900 lumens (with a 1.75hr FL1 run time) on a “charlie” (3 cell) body. The LED produces a warm, bright, even beam. The solid acrylic (and easily replaceable) lens directs the beam well, giving it a bright throw of about 400m.
Because of the customizeability of Elzetta lights overall, their price varies depending on the components you choose. The Elzetta high output tac lights run about $200 for both the bravo and charlie bodies. The specific model in this review sells for $230.
When considering a tac light, I have two key categories of use: every day carry or weapons use. Elzetta lights excel in both areas. If you need a light with a distant throw, the Elzetta high output tac light is hard to beat, especially for its size. However, the three cell body does add approximately 1.5in to the overall length of the light. The C333 measures 7.0in, from bezel to cap. Including a ZORM mount (one of the 3 options Elzetta sells for Picatinny rail mounts), throwing the C333 on my AR adds 9.7oz. For weapons mounting, I’m more inclined to sacrifice a couple hundred lumens and save an inch and a half and use the high output head on the bravo body with a remote tape switch tail cap.
On the other hand, if I’m weilding a tac light in my non-firing hand while utilizing a pistol, the extra length and high/low tailcap of the C333 aren’t an inconvenience. I can easily operate the light with one hand, either to momentarily flash the beam, or to keep it constantly engaged, as needed. The one inch diameter accommodates a wide range of hand sizes and the mil-spec aluminum construction is sturdy. The solid acrylic lens is wear resistant and provides both a long throw (~400m at 900 lumens) as well as an excellent spill with soft edges. And if the lens were to become scratched, or otherwise damaged, replacing it only takes a few seconds to drop in a new lens (and/or o-ring). In addition to improving electrical and thermal conduction, the grease inside the flashlight body, combined with the o-rings, helps to keep Elzetta lights waterproof and corrosion resistant.
While I do occasionally train for shooting in low light conditions, the most use my tac lights get is as part of my every day carry. At 7.4oz, this 7in torch is conveniently sized to tote around all day, whether in my book bag or my jacket pocket. I often keep the light at low power (~30 lumens) for general use. On the low setting, the Elzetta high output flashlight runs for about 50 hours. I was especially grateful to have had it on my last camping trip. I used the Elzetta not only to help light up our campsite while we pitched the tent, but also brought it with me as we chased away a quartet of coyotes that were bold enough to approach within 50ft of where we were preparing to sleep.
Aside from more everyday uses, the Elzetta high output tac light also has self defense applications. The bright beam can serve as an excellent distraction technique. The 900 lumens is bright enough to cause discomfort in broad daylight. The photo-bleaching effect, or “night blindness,” is notably stronger in dim environs, and downright blinding in the dark. A blast on the high power setting effectively saturates the rhodopsin pigment in the retina. In for the brain to receive and interpret light information normally, the rhodopsin must regenerate. The more dramatic the difference between the dark environment and the bright light, the more severe (and uncomfortable) the photo-bleaching, and the longer it takes to recover. The night blindness effect of the 900 beam, if used correctly, can impair the affected individual’s vision for some thirty seconds (and can leave an imprint on their vision for up to 45min). Granted, night blindness is a very temporary issue, but it could buy a few much-needed seconds to distance one’s self from an attacker.
As a female, I recognize that, were I to be attacked, odds are that my assailant would be a larger, stronger male. It’s unrealistic for me to think that I can fend off a determined, physically advantaged assaulter with melee combat. But, if there’s no way to avoid a physical altercation with an attacker, the Elzetta high output tac light can be utilized as a small melee device, similar to a kubotan. The hard aluminum body is durable, and the ridged, textured grip is ergonomic. Especially with a blow to the eyes or temple, the crenelated bezel is sure to leave a mark.
I mentioned before that I’m no stranger to Elzetta torches; I’ve carried the ZFL-M60 for several months. Here’s a quick breakdown of the differences between the Elzetta high output tac light and its predecessor.
Because of Elzetta’s modular designs, not much is different in the way of size. The high output light head is a bit larger than the standard output, but the bodies and tailcaps they both use are interchangeable. The high output light head is about .05in wider in diameter, and about .5in taller than the standard ZFL-M60 light head.
Naturally, the greatest difference between the Elzetta ZFL-M60 and the Elzetta high output lights is in the output. Both bravo and charlie ZFL lights produce 235lumen beams. Due to Elzetta’s AVS technology, he bravo high output generates a 650 lumen beam, while the charlie produces a stunning 900 lumen beam. Unsurprisingly, the beam sizes are different as well. The ZFL with the 8° lens, compared to the Elzetta high output lens, has a narrower beam. The high output’s hotspot is more defined, but, as the ZFL, the corona is soft-edged which further reduces the tunnel effect. Another difference between the beams is in their color quality. The Malkoff M60 LED (used in the standard output torches) generates a more blue-white light than the somewhat warmer high output AVS LED.
The biggest differences in battery life between Elzetta lights is a factor of whether the flashlight has a 2 cell or a 3 cell body. As can be expected, the charlie flashlights generally last longer than the bravo lights. Bravo ZFL lights last about 2.5 hours at the ANSI FL1 standard on the 235 lumen setting, and about 40 hours on low power (~15 lumens). Charlie ZFLs last about 50% longer, at 3.7hrs (at the ANSI FL1 standard) and about 60 hours of 15 lumen light.
The bravo high output lights produce 1.5hrs (ANSI FL1) of bright light at the 650 lumen setting, and 60 hours on the low power (~15 lumen) setting. Whereas, the charlie high output lights run on high power (the 900 lumen setting) for 1.75hrs, and last about 50hrs on the 30 lumen (low power) setting.
When it comes to firearms and related tactical gear, a general rule of thumb is that you get what you pay for. Tac lights are no exception. If you’re only looking for a cheap EDC torch to throw a little light when you need, Elzetta lights may not be for you. I’d consider them for EDC or weapons use because of their durable construction, the lengthy throw, and solid battery life. I can expect the Elzetta High Output 900 lumen tac light to provide blinding light, an ally in darkness.