A light report — the UTG Compact Defense LED light

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

UTG Compact Defense light
UTG Compact Defense light.

This report covers:

  • 2017 SHOT Show
  • Let’s get real
  • Description
  • Main power
  • Lower power
  • L.I.B.R.E.
  • Runtime
  • Defense
  • Come on, BB — a light?
  • Side clip
  • Where to get one

The power went out in my neighborhood last evening, about 11:30 p.m. This time it was serious, because it’s now 7:10 a.m. the next morning and there is still no sign of restoration. [Note: the power was restored at 7:50 a.m.]

Power here in Texas is pretty reliable because this state is off the national power grid, but when I lived in Maryland that wasn’t the case. Power on the Eastern seaboard is iffy at best. So the Pelletier household was always well-stocked with alternative sources of illumination. I became a flashlight fanatic and now own more than 50 sources of portable light, including the Victorinox Midnight Manager pocket knife that is my constant companion.

2017 SHOT Show

While in the Leapers booth at this years’ SHOT Show I saw something so remarkable that I knew I had to share it with you. I will take this whole report to describe the new UTG Defense Light in detail, but let me say right now — this is the one to get! It’s a tactical light that throws out 400 lumens in a number of user-programable ways. But with all that, It fits in the palm of a medium-sized hand!

UTG Compact Defense light hand
Few defense lights are so small.

About 10 years ago flashlight technology was nowhere near where it is today. I was so thrilled to pay $80 for a 225 lumen LED light called the Fenix TK10. It is housed in a rugged metal body that’s tough enough to withstand an armored personnel carrier running over it. I watched a video of the TK10 withstanding more than 20,000 lbs. of force that was trying to crush it, and it was still functioning. Okay, sez I. That’s a lot of money for a flashlight, but that’s a lot of flashlight. In fact, it is a non-lethal weapon!

APC
The M113A1 is an 11-ton armored personnel carrier.

Let’s get real

We all talk about what handgun or shotgun we would use to dispatch an intruder, but the truth is, for most of us that situation will thankfully never happen. I have pulled a gun on intruders, only to discover they were some friends of a neighbor, trying to play a practical joke on his car at night. Bad move on both sides! If I had a tactical flashlight (they didn’t exist at the time) I could have startled them at no risk, and if the threat had been real, they would have been incapacitated long enough for me to do something, including running away. So the Fenix was not just a lark. It was something I was serious about. Even Edith saw the sense in that reasoning, and she wanted one for herself.

Well, tactical lights have gotten better by an order of magnitude in the decade since I bought the Fenix. And, when David Ding of Leapers showed me the new EL 223HL-A, I was ready for it! I had hoped that Pyramyd Air would carry this light, but as of this time they haven’t decided to.

Let’s face it — this is a specialized light that is really far afield for airgunners. So, why am I bothering to report on it? Because many of you readers need something like this, and many of you live in states where the options for self defense are highly restricted. I don’t think this light will offend any state’s regulations, but it’s up to you to determine your local laws.

Description

The light has two buttons. The one on top is the main power button and the one on the rear is the lumen control pad and secondary power button. So, how does it work?

UTG Compact Defense light buttonology
The botton on top is the main power, and at the rear, the secondary power.

Main power

If you want a bright light, just press the top main power button and instantly 400 lumens are shining. There are other lights on the market with the same and even greater power, but none of them come in a package as compact and convenient as this.

Lower power

The lumen control pad/secondary power button is where all the magic lives. First, if you hold that button down with the light on, it will dim from 400 lumens to 20 lumens over about 5 seconds. If you stop dimming at any point, the light will shine at that level as long as it is on. If you then click the secondary power button again the light turns off. But here is the neat thing. If you turn the light on with the secondary power button again, it will go to the preset power instead of going to 400 lumens. So, if you need to use a low-level flashlight for some time, this button give you that. Obviously the 2 CR123 batteries will last longer at the lower power than at the maximum.

L.I.B.R.E.

The technology that does this UTG calls a Light with Integrated Brightness and Regulated Emitter, or L.I.B.R.E. It’s a high-intensity LED, which is where the long runtime comes from.

Compare all this to the Fenix. All it does is turn on and off. No strobe. No dimmer switch. You get just 1.5 hours at 225 lumens with two 123 batteries.

Runtime

On full power the UTG light gives about 2 hours of runtime. On the lowest power the runtime is about 24 hours.

Defense

To activate the strobe, turn on the light with the main power button, then press the secondary power button twice in quick succession. The strobe is dazzlingly bright, and at night will startle someone not expecting it. Even in full daylight it will have a person seeing purple spots instantly.

And here is the very good news. If you turn off the strobe by pressing the secondary power button one time quickly, the light will turn off. The next time you turn the light on with the secondary power button, the 400-lumen strobe will be on! To carry the light for defense, this is the way to set it up. As long as you turn it on and off with the secondary button, the strobe comes on at full power every time!

Come on, BB — a light?

I read about guys who say their self defense weapon is a Smith & Wesson model 19 .357 magnum revolver with a 2.5-inch barrel. When I read that I know I’m reading the musings of mall rangers and couch commandos. Come on — tell me you carry a sidearm like that into a movie theater!

But this light is something you can carry anywhere. You can even carry it into a federal building, where firearms are not permitted. So, drop it into your pocket or purse and it’s there when you need it. That is self-defense! Not talking, but doing. Having what you need when you need it.

Side clip

The light does have a powerful side clip that I cannot see a use for. It doesn’t rotate and it clips at 90 degrees to the direction of the light. If it was 180 degrees I could clip it onto some field gear to have a light in front of me — the way we used to mount those big old OD elbow flashlights we had in the Army.

Where to get one

I searched the internet by looking for UTG EL223HL-A and found several sources. One that’s nearby was priced deceptively low until they added almost $14 to ship it just 20 miles!!! Sorry, guys, but I know that old trick. I found one for less (more for the light, a lot less for shipping) on Amazon. The total came to $53 and change.

This light is not for everybody, but if you have been looking for a good defense light, I don’t think there is a better one to be found.

51 thoughts on “A light report — the UTG Compact Defense LED light

  1. B.B.

    This article is very timely for me. I just thought about getting a supper flashlight.
    I do not see what kind of battery it has. Rechargeable? Plastic or aluminium body?
    I wish it was just a little bit larger, I would break my hand if I used it to strike someone! 200 more lumens would be nice too…
    But it is a nice little package. So what is the cost?
    Thanks,
    -Yogi

    PS don’t throw out the candles just yet.


  2. Regarding the Wildfire, elsewhere (link below), there was mention made of the instructions for degassing the Wildfire being incorrect. Now, I have no idea if that’s correct, nor do I know if this is in any way related to what was being discussed above regarding the bleed/fill issues w/this gun and/or supply tank. But I’d appreciate an opinion on whether there’s anything to the claim of the instructions being wrong.

    Link: http://www.network54.com/Forum/79537/thread/1490751416/last-1490844129/Expand+Thread


    • Cobalt327,

      I can not speak to the instruction, but the method of de-gassing is a bit unique. The M-rod and the Maximus use a screw to force the hammer/striker forward to unseat the valve. By this being under, it must use a different method. As to your question, I think that this has only to do with degassing for storage (if one chooses, which I would not) or,.. disassembly. This would be different issue than the one being discussed yesterday.

      Nice catch though and good info for a Wildfire owner.




  3. B.B.,

    Very nice. I like it. The price is good as well for that # of Lumens. I have a bit flashlight “thing” myself, and have 2 Coast brand. They are in the 180 and 220 Lumen range though if memory serves me correctly. I like the size of this one. The 90* head is more ergonomic for being hand held in a self defense situation.

    I am partial to the standard AAA battery type, simply for the convenience. My understanding of the high end batteries are that they maintain full power up and until the very end of their life,… then “poof”. Yes, LED’s have come a long, long way in just a few years.

    Nice item,… Good Day all,…. Chris


  4. One more thing on LED’s and rated Lumens,… they do not all translate into the same light, despite identical ratings. I believe a lot of that has to do with the lens itself. I also like the ability to focus the beam. This again will produce different qualities of focused light depending on lens design. 2 more factors to consider when paying up for a quality flashlight.


  5. These make great tactical lights and this one looks like a nice pocket or vest light, but most of these eat 123 batteries fast.
    I have some high power programed flashlights, one even has an SOS signal built in and most have strobes but I stick them in cars, camping gear and on firearms. Don’t even think about looking into a 500 or higher lumen light.

    I carry and use a small cheep ‘rechargeable’ one daily because the only light I get outside is the moon and stars and some days it’s pitch black. I picked up 4 SWAT I-Zoom flashlights for under $10 ea. Recharge by wall or car with a triple AAA battery carrier option, even a glow wand attachment. Everything you need in the box. High, low and strobe, 120 lumen with a button right under your thumb like old times. I use the zoom ring constantly as I move around and save a ton on batteries. The chargers plug right into the flashlight, no battery removal and they even have a charge indicator light, Amazing for the cost.
    You really need to decide what you want to use each flashlight for these days.


  6. Hello, all,
    I must admit to being a flashaholic. I have too many to count. Long ago, I used a Surefire with two CR-123’s that would last about half an hour burning an incandescent lamp. But it was bright!

    Fenix is a good brand. My favorite battery type for years was the Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) rechargeable in AA. The Sanyo/Panasonic “Eneloop” batteries are still great, they self-discharge very slowly and have good capacity.

    The CR123 primary lithium batteries this UTG uses are a good alternative, available now with lower cost, and more efficient LED’s, they are fine portable power. But I have made the leap to using 18650 lithium ion rechargeable batteries. They are the size of two CR123’s and are nominally 3.7V. The better ones (I like the Samsung INR18650-30Q) store well over 10 Watt hours – about four times the capacity of an AA – and are rechargeable. 18650 batteries have inherent concerns – they use an unstable electrolyte. If they are poorly constructed, or abused, they can burn or explode. However, the better ones are pretty safe, especially if properly charged and handled. With the better LED emitters (Cree semiconductor XML, for instance), a small light using one 18650 (>100 lumens per watt) will have operational limits due to heat dissipation. A simple tube light can give you >1,000 lumens, but only long enough for it to get hot and step back (if the light is properly designed) to more like 500 lumens.

    Suggest you look at online sources for two very high performing lights. The Skilhunt HO3 is a headlamp, and the BLF-A6 is a “tube light”. Both are amazing at full power, and usually less than $30. If you want, you can use two CR-123 primary batteries instead of the 18650 in either one. The 1,000 lumen level is about the same total output as a conventional auto headlight. Most people are amazed to see how bright these lights can be. i certainly agree, with a strobe option, it is enough to disorient someone in the beam, even in daytime.

    Glad your power is back. My power in the far N Dallas area was not exactly rock solid, seems like the transformers in my substation were overloaded. I tell all my friends to keep a good battery light ready.


  7. While this light sounds great, the use of cr123 batteries is a no-go for me. I have used several lights powered by cr123. The high cost (Surefire was the best supplier when purchased by the dozen.) and the fast shut off are the problem.
    I haven’t found my perfect light yet but it will use 3A batteries. I have been pleased by several UTG products, hopefully they will produce a 3A model.

    P.S.
    I carried a 2.5″ model 66 for 25+ years. Now that I’m old and feeble, a Ruger lcp is my constant companion.



    • It was my ccw. It went where I went as long as it was legal. I very rarely go to a movie theater. If I went to a theater, I had it. I do know that I saw “the Alamo” in Florida and had it then.
      What is the problem with a movie? I don’t get excited and shoot at the screen.



  8. This question is regarding the Wildfire degassing instructions.

    “I haven’t tried it so I don’t know. It does sound right, though.”
    As in, the official instructions sounds right, or the opinion the instructions are incorrect sounds right? Maybe I need another coffee… haha

    If there will be another part to the Wildfire review, is there any chance you could degas it to clarify what procedure is right? I don’t own one but have considered getting one- and if I do, I will surely be going inside it, so knowing it was verified by an expert would go a long ways towards giving peace of mind.



    • The problem i have with all these flashlights is, in my experience, the switches go bad and the whole thing has to be pitched. 🙁 They seem to have cheaped out on the circuitry mean time between failures. jmo.


      • John,
        I’ve had the same experience,the switch is always the weak link. The sad thing ,though, is I know this going in and I’m such a junkie I don’t care. I love LED flashlights to the point that my friends try to guess how many I have on me at any given time. Before I retired I was in industrial maintenance and struggled to get enough light to where I needed it. Compact, high output LED flashlights were the answer and I’ve had an unhealthy love affair with them since the time I discovered their charms. Can’t say I was ever willing to trust one to protect me though.


        • Yes, Halfstep, my 70-something eyes have lost a lot of night vision so i need flashlights even if they disappoint me. In fact I’ve ordered one of these UTG’s yesterday – ~$55 from smileDotamazon. Crossing my fingers. 🙂


  9. BB, a Light you might like is the Fenix UC30. It’s about the same size as a Mini-Mag but is 800 Lumens on high power. It has a strobe setting too. The base has a striking surface. It cones with a rechargeable battery and charger cord. It recharges off of you computer port.

    Mike


  10. To All
    Does anyone own a Weihrauch HW30S? I am very interested in one but am very confused. The reviews on Pyramyd show 60 reviews, 55 are 5 star. However, there are many reviews elsewhere on the net, that mention numerous times a problem with the jointed cocking arm rubbing on the receiver, galling and eroding the metal on the bottom of the receiver. If this was mentioned just a few times, I would not be too concerned but it is a very popular complaint. As a solution, some have installed a piece of delrin to the cocking arm. I have not found any videos or pictures or even good verbal instructions on exactly how to do this. Does anyone know if this problem is real or just internet babble? Thanks

    Ken


    • Pelletpopper….

      It is a real problem . I heard they have started installing the strip from the factory, but do not know for sure .
      Both of my R7s had this problem . I polished down the underside of the cocking link to conform more with the shape of the compression tube and slapped moly on it .
      The link is very rough on the tube side as comes from HW .

      tt





  11. BB

    Thank you for that ! I am glad I asked. Pretty sure it was a product I bought for my springers ,though. Was it ever a recommended product for air guns? It was in a box with an empty can of RWS “Air Compression Chamber Lube” . The cap came off and it looked like a moly type powder was left when it dried. Also , I just remembered that I found a can of Sprayon brand Graphite lube. I’ve never washed or lubed my pellets in the past but I see it discussed on the web. Would this product be good for that purpose? (don’t know what I used it for, either, back then)


  12. Camshaft break-in lube for flat tappet cams has an abundance of moly- if you look for the black grease type lube. There are lubes sold for that purpose that are a thinner liquid preparation that’s not suitable, so if you go this route, look for the black grease. What I use is linked to below. I have a large container but it’s unnecessarily expensive for the average airgunner. The link is to a smaller amount. This isn’t the only high quality moly grease but it is good and it protects during uber high pressure metal-to-metal contact under conditions far more severe than an airgun will ever encounter.



  13. GF1 mentioned a tightly focused light with a link above. I know adjustable focus lights can cast a bright narrow beam but I think a dedicated narrow spot light is something else for relatively long distance night shooting. Don’t hear much talk about them.

    I purchased one of this type, an Evanix tactical, without really knowing what it was. Wanted the 300 lumens really and it had a built in SOS option. The beam is extremely concentrated, tight and sharp, and really works well with a scope at night for longer shots. Almost too narrow for general close up household work. Its a dedicated long range narrow light. A Linear Optical Collimator is used.

    If you want your rifle to be aiming very close to your target when you spot something with this type of light they cant be beat. Probably the next best thing to a really costly BSA Laser Genetics ND 3 or 5 that can land you in jail if you point it at an aircraft.


    • Bob M
      We use ours for basically a flashlight. But also can sweep the feild out in my back yard if the dog goes crazy at night. I have about 500 yards to the first tree line so the flashlight I have has been a big help. The wife uses it around the house inside at different times for short intervals. But also takes it with her when she takes the dog out. We have flood lights around the house. But she has grown to like having it with her just incase she wants to see something in a spot that the flood lights don’t light up. As it goes pretty happy with it.


    • Bob M
      I have a NC Star green laser that is like the one your talking about with the aircraft. I will never get rid of that laser. It’s on my .22 rimfire Savage right now. Amazingly accurate point and aim gun with that laser.


      • GF1
        Is that NC Star green laser a dot like unit or more like a flashlight ? The Laser Genetics will light up the entire target like a flashlight. It’s not really a sighting device, more like a night vision device.
        A low cost version of it would be nice.


  14. Nice comments on flash lights guys! 🙂 Way up top , I mentioned the Coast brand. The 2 I have are the HP7 and the PX45. I like the PX45 the best. Smaller and focuses a beam better. I had one for well past 6 years and the tail switch finally started acting up. I saved the card that it came on, sent it back, paid shipping, and included 5$, as asked. 2 weeks later I received a brand new one. It was a 55$ when I bought it. This thing looked like it had been through World War 3. Dropped from 15+ feet,.. multiple times on concrete, dinged, cracked lens, etc.. I would recommend either to anyone and more than most will ever need. I have given several as gifts. Both use std. AAA.


    • I just looked up the Coast site. The HP& does 410 lumens. The PX45 must have been around 350+. However, I do not see the PX45 offered anymore. So sorry, I was off on my 180/220 lumens comment. They make some nice knives too,… another addiction,…. ;(


    • Chris U
      There is kind of a flash light war going on between the other maintenance guys I work with. And yes I’m just laying back and listening to and watching what they say.

      But a lot of the guys are swearing by the triple A and believe the double A powered lights too. I do know they are bright. And they say they​ last longer than the 123 battery’s. I will have to find out more.


  15. GF1,

    Yes, there is many choices as is evidenced from all of the comments here. For me, the AAA’s are fine. Both have the “bubble” lens in that the center looks like 1/2 of a marble. That is what I was talking about when I brought up lens design and means that 500 Lumens from one light will not look the same as 500 Lumens from another. Both have that single square LED chip that you can see from the front,.. not the traditional multi-lamp LED’s.


  16. A popular rechargeable battery size for EDC flashlights is the 18650. I use a C6 size single cell light myself, it’s a Convoy. Uses an authentic Cree emitter- which is often counterfeited by unscrupulous venders, so research things before buying just any LED light.


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