This flashlight is a weapon

Back in August, I bought a tiny keychain flashlight and conducted a geeky comparison of it with like-sized flashlights in our house. (For the record, I am still in love with the Streamlight Nano.)

On Christmas, a new flashlight appeared under our tree. This one isn’t mine. I bought it for my wife out of self-defense, because she keeps stealing my Maglite. That problem has been solved, and a new one introduced in its place: I might have to steal her flashlight.

It’s a Fenix E21, and it’s a marvel. Coming in at just 1.5 centimeters longer than the Maglite, it uses the same two AA batteries and somehow manages to parlay that into a ridiculous amount of light. Seriously, this flashlight could be a weapon. If anyone broke into the house at night, all we’d need to do is shine the Fenix into his face and he’d be blinded for several seconds.

Flashlight comparison

As before, I took the two flashlights into the bathroom for a light test. First up is the Maglite, which I focused down to its spotlight setting for maximum brightness.


I had to photograph it by itself, because once the Fenix is fired up, you can no longer see the full light cone of the Maglite.

Low light

The Fenix overwhelms the Maglite with a gigantic and perfectly circular cone of light. Unlike the Maglite, it doesn’t have a focusing mechanism to change from spotlight to flood. It simply gives you both simultaneously — a massive flood with a brilliant spotlight at the center.

In place of the focusing mechanism, the Fenix E21 offers two light settings, low and high. The above photo is…the low setting.

Ready for the high one?

High light

This is the one that could be weaponized. Seriously, if you shine it on the back of your hand, the reflected light is so strong that it’s hard to look at — and will leave a retina afterimage that lasts for several seconds. I can’t imagine how blinding it would be to look directly into this thing.

For those who want the stats: the low setting is 54 lumens, while the high is 170 lumens. Fenix claims a battery life of 11 hours at the low setting, and 2 hours 15 minutes at the high one. It also claims that the light beam will reach a maximum of 145 meters (475 feet). I haven’t tested that yet, but based on how it turns our darkened apartment into near-daylight, I believe it.

Here is a “shine it on the celiing” comparison of the two light cones, with the Fenix on its low setting.

Light cone

It really shows the remarkable evenness of the Fenix’s illumination. The Maglite, on the other hand, has very uneven illumination with a dark spot in its center, which can’t be eliminated no matter how much you focus it down to the spotlight setting. In the flood setting, of course, it’s much worse. The Fenix has no dark spots anywhere, and I can’t get over the perfect dual circle of its light cone.

With its rough exterior and pleasant balance, the Fenix is very easy to hold. One of my favorite features is the tail switch. No twisting this way or that to turn it on, and no fumbling for a side switch. Just press the bottom and you’ve got a floodlight. It also remembers the brightness setting you left it at, which is a nice touch.

Did I mention that it’s waterproof to two meters?

Did I also mention that I might steal it from my wife?


About Fletcher DeLancey

Socialist heathen and Mac-using author of the Chronicles of Alsea, who enjoys pondering science, politics, well-honed satire (though sarcastic humor can work, too) and all things geeky.
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17 Responses to This flashlight is a weapon

  1. iamlongmire says:

    Wow. That is really impressive. I would steal it from your wife but it would be less expensive and safer to buy my own. Is it widely available?
    And Merry Christmas you and the family

  2. Cathy White says:

    Okaaaay, you have got way to much time on your hands lol. Question , do all maglites have the black spot? Mine does and I always thought it was a fault, but maybe they are all like that ?

    • oregon expat says:

      Every Maglite I’ve ever had is like that, so I think it’s just part of the design. My guess is that the dark spot is a shadow from the base of the bulb. The Fenix has somehow eliminated that with its reflector.

    • xenatuba says:

      I used a nicad rechargeable maglight (halogen bulb) for 25 years and had both a 3 cell and 4 cell maglite as back ups, and carried a mini mag as well ( all with regular bulbs). Yes, they all had the “dark spot” because the reflective shield has the hole for the bulb to come through, and the bulb casts a shadow on the edge of the hole. The 4 cell (4 D cell batteries in the tube) was a great weapon in the traditional sense…

      • oregon expat says:

        Ha, I carried one of those 4 D-cell battery Maglites back in the day, too! The thing was basically a truncheon. My parents used to leave it in an easily accessible part of the house not for its handiness in power outages, but for its defensive potential.

        For the record, this little Fenix would make that giant old Maglite look like a Sterno.

  3. xenatuba says:

    I am intrigued by the flashlight. Could you post a picture of the bulb/reflector layout, because in addition to maglight, the sure-fire lights also had the dark spot, as did another popular rechargeable whose name escapes me at the moment.

    I won’t stoop to steal the flashlight, although I would love to be in position to try…

    • oregon expat says:

      I can’t take apart the lamp head, because it’s sealed (for waterproofing and shockproofing) and messing with it will void the warranty. But here’s a photo:


      The bulb itself is practically invisible to the camera, but you can see it as the translucent circle around the greenish square in the very center. Here is a closer shot, as magnified as I can get it:

      lamp closeup

      No hole, thus no shadow/dark spot in the light cone. But also: no replacing the lamp. Fenix claims a lifespan of 50,000 hours, though, so I don’t think we’ll need to replace it anytime soon.

      • iamlongmire says:

        I have never seen flashlights so thoroughky explained. I am so getting one at some point this next year.

      • xenatuba says:

        That really does serve to explain why there is no dark spot. In all of my mag lights, the bulb sticks up at least a 1/2 inch (forgive my American inability to translate that into the proper universal unit of measure) and in the case of the non-halogen bulbs, has a huge diameter to contend with as well. Thanks for posting those. Must…get…one!!!

  4. blast. blast and drat.

    now i need ANOTHER light.

  5. Ana_ñ says:

    Wow, amazing for power outages, but clearly not a good idea for visiting stealthily the bathroom without disturbing your bed partner. Don’t you have something more discreet in your collection? 🙂

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