One of the areas of duty gear that has experienced a quantum leap in technology over the last few years is the flashlight, especially lightweight ultra powerful LED lights. Times have really changed from the days of the silver aluminum Eveready light.
A key player in the rapid adoption of LED technology for flashlights has been Emissive Energy, which produces LED flashlights under the brand name Inova. At first Inova was known for its Microlight single-LED models. Today Inova is breaking into the world of hard-use and duty lights with its tactical line, which includes three sizes.
For this evaluation, I chose the largest, the 3-watt T3 model. At first blush the size of the Inova T3 light was what caught my eye. The T3 is six inches long and fits comfortably in an accessory pocket or pouch. More importantly the light fits comfortably in hands that range in size from a small glove size to someone capable of palming a basketball. Inova's designers really gave this some thought.
Each model in Inova's tactical light series is built from the ground up for hard use. And the T3 is no exception; its body is black anodized aluminum, which cuts down on weight while offering great strength.
To ensure you maintain your grip, Inova checkers the flashlight's body. On first inspection, the checkering seemed to be so benign that it wouldn't really enhance the user's grip. And with dry, bare hands, this theory was somewhat true; the texture is good but not like the 20-LPI checkering you would find on a handgun. However, when I slipped on a pair of duty gloves or gripped the T3 with wet hands, I discovered that the flashlight's machined checkering sticks like glue.
Ease of operation is another feature that a quality duty light must have. And the T3 has that covered. The tail button is easily operated with one hand. With a light touch, the tail cap is a momentary switch; push it harder and the light is in "constant on" mode. Turn the tail cap, and it disables the button to ensure that you don't accidentally turn the light on.
Of course the most important consideration when evaluating a light is how much useful light it puts out. Believe me, the T3's performance doesn't disappoint.
In technical terms, the Inova T3 with its 3.2-watt lamp puts out 85 lumens. This is more than several other lithium-battery-operated duty lights that are on the market.
Inova claims that the T3 puts out a beam of light that is effective out to 250 feet or, put another way, nearly a football field. I don't have the means to duplicate that test. But I can tell you that this handheld light throws enough photons to illuminate anything in my backyard, which measures 30 yards deep by 25 yards wide. The Inova T3 puts out more than enough light for daily use.
A unique feature of the Inova T3 is the prefocused light beam. Unlike many other lights, the T3's LED is focused and has a machined inner lens. This ensures that the light has an even, strong beam, which does not lose its coherence over distance. This is something that can't be said for many other lights on the market.
Generally, flashlights that produce as much light as the T3 have fairly short run times. But thanks to LED technology, the T3 offers two hours of constant output. Considering that most duty lights are used on/off fairly quickly, that should be several days or weeks of use depending on your shift and duty requirements.
Inova has considered the many aspects of law enforcement in developing its tactical/police line. These tools have a fairly long run time, throw out a lot of light, and are durable. Inova lights truly are up to meeting the requirements of daily duty use and daily use around the house, the work shed, or wherever you need a light that can be counted on.
Scott Smith is a disabled veteran who served as an active duty Army MP and in the U.S. Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard as a security policeman.