Today, a lot of police work involves specialization. In large departments nationwide we have harbor/shore patrol units, water rescue, high-country search and rescue teams, SWAT units, K-9 units, and the list goes on and on. That’s why many officers are looking beyond traditional patrol flashlights and at “specialty” lights designed for hikers, climbers, hunters, and divers. If you’re in the market for a specialty outdoors light, I would suggest that you take a look at the products of a New Jersey-based company called Princeton Tec.
What sets Princeton Tec’s line of specialty lights apart from most police lights is that many of them are waterproof, not just water resistant. And to some beat cops, a waterproof light could be a godsend.
Don’t think so? Then ask any cop who works around the docks, bays, or rivers. Or any officers or deputies who could use waterproof lights when flash flooding makes house-to-house searches an underwater or boat-borne affair.
Now that I’ve made my case for waterproof specialty lights, let’s take a look at the Surge and Impact XL, two Princeton Tec lights that I think are particularly applicable to police duty.
Since it is the larger and more powerful of the two, let’s look at the Surge first. The Surge runs for up to five hours on eight AA batteries and uses a xenon bulb to produce a wide, 115-lumen beam that can be focused for width.
The Surge is a great light to have in a waterborne environment because not only is it waterproof, it also can be used as a rescue aid even when the batteries are dead. When four of its eight batteries are removed, the light will float, reflector up, as a waterborne location marker.
It’s also a great light on dry land. I packed the Surge up and down the hills of southwestern Pennsylvania during eight weeks of early archery season. The light provided ample illumination to trek in and out of the woods, and it was accidentally dropped down a hill with me on top of it. The Surge survived to light the way back up that hill and out of the woods.
Another Princeton Tec light that I had the opportunity to put through its paces is the Impact XL. Like the Surge, the Impact XL runs on AA batteries, but it also uses a highly efficient 1-watt LED bulb. This means you will get about 50 hours of run time from a set of batteries, and the bulb should last for 10,000 hours.
The Impact XL is designed to fit the hand comfortably, something that many lights don’t do. Granted, its textured rubber coating probably contributes to its comfortable feel, but this coating is not just a cushion. It gives the operator a positive grip surface no matter the weather conditions.
Light output of the Impact is more than enough to search a room or search under a vehicle, but it won’t “blind” the operator should the light be used to search a small area such as a vehicle trunk or under a seat. This small light is versatile and is easily carried since it only weighs five ounces.
A couple of reasons that I really like the Surge and the Impact XL are that they are both easily operated with one hand and they run on standard batteries.
The Surge uses a positive lever-type switch. The lever must be pushed, not simply “flicked” on, preventing it from being turned on by a light bump or simply by removing it from your gear bag. The Impact XL uses a twist on/off switch. I found it easy to rotate between my thumb and forefinger.
And I really love that both of these lights operate on standard AA batteries. This is great. If you need more juice on the job, all you have to do is pop into the local “stop and rob” and buy some Duracells. Try that with most cop lights.
Are the Surge and Impact XL “tactical” lights? No; not if you follow conventional wisdom. But these Princeton Tec models are designed to survive the harshest environments and are more than capable of holding up to a day on the streets.
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.