*The Gladius High Intensity Flashlight*
By: MPBlue
15 August 2005

Iíll be honest. Iím a freak when it comes to combat lights. I should be as I spend a majority of my working shift in low light or no light conditions. As a cop and former military member, I really valued a quality flashlight. In my patrol car is the department issued Streamlight SL20X rechargeable club. Good flashlight, plenty of usable light, can serve as a serious defensive tool in a pinch. However, thanks to Mr. Murphy and practical experience, I have kept a spare small flashlight on my duty belt and carry one off duty. As of late, this was a Surefire C2 Centurion. It is a good flashlight that gave enough light to do the job when the Streamlight would fail (and it did thanks to other officers failing to keep the light charged).

I have been familiar with Ken Good, former Navy SEAL and former director of the old in-house Surefire Institute. Ken now has his own training company that focuses on low-light training, Strategos International. Over a year ago, Ken announced that a revolutionary combat flashlight was being developed but as with anything new, it was very secret. A year of development, testing and evaluating by all sorts of users in all facets of life have led to the creation of the Gladius High Intensity Combat Flashlight. The flashlight was developed and is sold by Blackhawk Industriesí new flashlight division, Night Ops.

The Gladius offered features that I needed for my work and as such, caught my eye. First, this flashlight is powered by two of the reliable lithium 123 batteries. This power source offers consistent energy for flashlights and weapon lights. Second, the Gladius has four selectable features. Third, the bulb is the latest generation of high intensity LED bulbs. Fourth, it is waterproof to 50 feet and durable. Fifth, it has a solid anti-roll case that means when dropped, it will not roll.

What are the selectable features? The Gladius has a positive rotary tail cap with center button. The first position is a true positive lock out feature. When the rotary switch is locked into this position, the button will not activate the light. This is important in my career as I want to move with stealth, then light up to surprise. Even when locked out, it is easy to rotate the switch to the desired position.

The second position is a switchable on/off position. Press the switch and the light switches on or off. An added feature of this light is that when the switch is pressed for 1.5 seconds or longer, the circuitry inside of the flashlight will turn down the light to a very dim but usable light. The circuitry is of a smart technology that retains memory of whatever light position is chosen. In order to bring the light back up, you can either click the button two times (instant full on) or again press the button for 1.5 seconds or longer and the light will gradually come back to full strength.

The third position is a unique strobe feature. When the button is pressed and remains pressed, the flashlight will strobe a pre-programmed pattern. In building searches, strobing the light has been proven to be effective at disorienting threats.

The fourth position is an intermittent steady light. Only when the button is pressed will the light activate. This is a great feature to prevent running down the battery.

As mentioned before, this flashlight does have circuitry inside of it. This "brain" not only controls light levels and strobe patterns but also senses heat buildup of the light. One of the great killers of combat flashlights is heat buildup in the light or light cup. In the Gladius, if the temperature rises to a certain level, the light will dim or shut off to save the flashlight.

How durable is the light? In a word, durable. I have seen the tests in which the lights has been submersed, driven over, drop tested and just about anything short of being shot with a gun. The bezel is thick and well protected. Unlike the Surefire line, the bezel is sealed and cannot be swapped out with other bezels. This serves to keep the light truly waterproof and beam focused. The case is anodized aluminum with a cut case that will permit weapons mounting (Night Ops has said they have a integrated ribbon switch/tail cap in the immediate works).

Is this light necessary for the average Joe Citizen? Depends on your needs and wants. It you want a defensive light that is bright, durable and has some features for building searches, then the light is for you. However, with a MSRP of ~$250, this price puts it out of most folksí cost comfort level. This is especially true when good quality Surefire lights can be had for about $100 dollars.

That being said, the Gladius has replaced my C2 and I expect it will serve me well.

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