Sunday, August 28, 2016

First Light USA Tomahawk LE

By David De La Torre

When I first saw the First Light USA line of Tomahawks flashlights advertised in early 2010, I had a deep-down feeling that I would one day own one. I have always owned some sort of tube flashlight in my repertoire for EDC or keeping in the drawer for normal use but there was something about this particular light that made me want to experiment with a different shape. Unfortunately, the lack of related product reviews and information made me skip it for the time being and go with a Fenix instead. It wasn’t until my friend attended SHOT Show 2011 that really allowed me to check out the flashlight for myself and purchase one.

Since that day, my Tomahawk and I have been inseparable. I have carried this flashlight with me on a daily basis as part of my everyday carry gear, used it for hunting small game, going on grunion runs and have even used it for patient assessments during my job as an EMT-B. Ironically, I've only used at one time to go handgun shooting at night. I need to fix that!

In the months that I have owned this flashlight, it has been knocked around, dropped against the pavement, exposed to marine conditions and everything in between and has been nothing but the light of Earendil, ever ready to light the way. Mind you, I'm not a "tactical operator” or anything like that and certainly haven’t pushed this flashlight to its maximum limit but like everything else I own it has gotten him knocked around quite a bit.. I'm often said to be a “bull in a China shop” about many things and this usually narrows down what gear sticks with me for the long haul.

Right out of the box, I noticed that construction of this flashlight has a refined feel to it. The anodizing is Mil-spec Type III, the housing is aerospace-grade aluminum, the threads at both ends of the Tomahawk’s 2x CR123A battery tube are very smooth and require little effort to manipulate while the buttons on top are rubbery without being sticky. It is a compact 3.4” H x 2.4” L x 1.5” W and has a finger loop for either middle or index finger insertion, essentially allowing the flashlight to become part of the hand.

The head is well-designed with a central lamp and a ring 12 alternating red/green LEDs around the edge. The max output for the central lamp is 120 lumens but I usually use the lowest lumen setting as that satisfies my every day needs without burning up my batteries (batteries last 2hr on the high setting, 60hrs on the low setting). The light thrown has a solid center with no annoying “dead spot” and a generous peripheral halo. I haven’t done any formal beam distance testing but I do know that spotlighting rabbits at 60 yards and shooting them from 25 yards with a pellet gun or a .22 is a rather easy proposition.

The buttons on the Tomahawk take a few minutes to get used to but quickly become second nature and provide for a wide variety of options to tailor to the situation at hand. The left button is constant on, the right button sets intensity and alternate colors and the center button is for momentary white. Here are the possible button combinations.

-Press left and right buttons together to lock or unlock the light.
-Press the central “Momentary White” for 120 lumens of light (any time, any setting)
-Press Momentary White and the right intensity/color button for a white strobe
-Press the intensity/color button multiple times to cycle through the color LED options or hold for momentary use of a colored light.
-Press the left constant-on button for constant colored light (selected previously by the intensity/color button on the right) and adjust the intensity with the intensity/color button
-Press and hold the constant-on to get a constant white beam and adjust the intensity with the intensity/color button
-Press and hold the constant-on even longer to get a multi-colored strobe.

The odd shape of the Tomahawk light is its only real detractor since without a mount of some sort (belt, MOLLE, etc) it is difficult to carry the flashlight around as carrying such an odd shape in the pocket is a little weird. Luckily, the MOLLE mount I have for it fits perfectly on my Maxpedition Versipack Fatboy S-type but when my bag is on the front seat of the rig or hanging in my room and I need my light, it gets annoying. I will probably get a belt mount for it in a little while.

Given the great ergonomics, build quality, battery life and plethora of features packed into a small package, this flashlight has taken first string in my EDC repertoire and I will be hard pressed to change that. However, its overall versatility is hampered slightly by its shape and those used to the normal tube light will need some time to get used to it.

For more information, check out First Light USA 

Until next time

-David De La Torre

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