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!

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.


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.


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.


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


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.