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Old September 11th, 2008, 11:44   #1
Drake's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Montreal, QC
EB Replica HL1-A-TN

So I got my two HL1-A-TN knockoffs from EB just a little while ago (from the $19 sale); one OD and one Tan.

First impression, the construction quality is so-so; everything looks very solid, but the finish is mediocre in terms of rubber bits being glued on a bit crooked on one, lots of seams on the plastic, etc. Basically what you'd expect for the $20 price tag.

In terms of color, the "tan" one is a shade darker than Khaki/Tan Maxpedition Grimloc while the "OD" version resembles Magpul's Flat Dark Earth. The difference between the two is minimal unless you're holding them side by side.

They each came with a helmet mount and a RIS mount.

They're powered by one CR123A battery (not included).

Performance wise (this had been the big question) they operate like the real deal, proving 3x White LED or 2x Blue LED illumination, with three intensity levels each, plus an IR IFF strobe.

No instructions come with it, and I was honestly initially a bit baffled at how to get them to work (I had to look up a review of the real one). So to save anyone else the trouble: the switches at the rear of the unit are actually flip switches not push switches (d'oh!): Top one is a 3-position switch which controls White LED illumination (up), Off (middle) and Blue LED illumination (down). The bottom switch is a 2-position on/off switch for the IR strobe (up = on, down = off). On the top surface of the unit, above the IR LED, is a simple push button which cycles through intensity levels. Intensity levels are linked between colors.

The lowest setting is pretty discrete in pitch darkness, with no real difference between white and blue asides from the color. The mid and high settings provide a bit more light, the highest white setting being similar in intensity to a Maglight Solitaire -- however this was easily washed out by a mini LED keychain light running on a watch battery.

Based on the review of the real Surefire unit, it seems to be how it's supposed to work rather than an issue of it being a poor copy; this really seems to be intended as a small lightsource for your immediate work area rather than an illumination device like a tac light. If you have (or have ever seen) one of those LED lamps that plug into your computer's USB port -- it's along those lines.

I don't have any NVGs, so no telling how bright/visible the strobe is.

All in all, for $20 shipped, it's a neat gadget to add to a helmet for looks and will provide some useful functionality in low/no light situations, such as being able to see your radio's dials, reading a map, checking to see if an AEG mag is empty or full, etc. The inclusion of the rail mount seems slightly overkill since the light is just too weak to function as a tac light. I honestly would have preferred some kind of small clip to allow me to attach it to MOLLE so that I have a way to carry it around when I'm not using a helmet (or to attach it to the loops on a boonie).

Not sure I'd wanna pay the usual $35+ pricetag for it, however.

Review of the real item for comparison:
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