It is a simple rule of mine: if you carry a gun, carry a light! The reason behind this is that no matter what the lighting conditions are during a use of force encounter, you can still properly identify a threat, backstop and beyond. In fact, identifying your treat is a requirement. Flashlights also allow you to control the light in a dark environment; when you control the light - you control the environment. In addition, lights can disorient an adversary or illuminate your way out of a danger. Knowing all this, which light is worth consideration?
There are hundreds of manufactures of flashlights but only a few are trusted by law enforcement and military operators around the world. The clear king of the market is Surefire. They earned the title by producing reliable lights with operator driven features and backing them with a very strong customer service department. I have no argument with Surefire, in fact I own a few myself. However there is a relatively new comer to the market: Novatac. I suspect you will be hearing their name a lot more in the future. Novatac’s Tactical Series (T) is designed for the defensive user and the topic of this review.
After some pretty heavy peer pressure from some friends I placed my order for my olive drab 120T. When it arrived I was impressed by the knurling that covers the light. It makes for a “glue like” grip in most conditions, but isn’t so rough that it will ruin your pocket in one day. Also included with the light is a very robust removable clip and an O-ring that can be placed on the rear end cap for additional grip. The O-ring worked so well, I added them to some of my Surefire’s. The finish is very durable and it feels solid in your hand. The rubber switch is textured and easy to activate, in some cases too easy which I will explain later.
The light is 3.3 inches long and 1 inch wide barely hitting the scale at 3.1 oz. It is available in different color finishes; all type III anodized aluminum, which allows the light to withstand impacts and extreme weather and temperatures. Although belt holders are available, I have pocketed mine for several months and had no visible wear to the light. The LED light output options are: Primary 120 lumens, secondary 10 lumens, minimum .3 lumens and disorientating strobe at 120 lumens. And let’s not forget the momentary on feature. The light uses a 1xCR123A battery or Li-ion (4.2V) rechargeable battery.
The Novatac 120T is a multi output light. This means that there are different output options to fit your task of the moment. This is a great feature, but most lights like this are somewhat complicated to operate. Complicated is the enemy when we are dealing with defensive items. The 120T was able to keep it simple enough that if you totally forget how the different modes work, it functions like a normal tactical light with the momentary on feature: lightly push and hold; the light comes on. When you release the switch, the light goes off. The light’s features are useful when needed. The reason that multi-output light is important is that technology is driving handheld lights to be brighter and brighter. Bright is great when you are using the light in a defensive situation, but sometimes too bright when navigating a dark hallway, or looking at paperwork.
Once the light is in hand it is easy to cycle through the output modes. Think of the back button like a mouse button. If you click and hold, the light is full power, momentary, meaning once you release it the light goes off. If you click the switch and let go, the light stays on, click it again and it goes off. If the light is on, and you press and hold the switch, it goes into strobe mode. From the constant on mode, you can also double click the button and the light lowers to 10 lumens. This mode is great for normal flashlight tasks, like lighting up a path or hallway. If you triple click it, it lowers to .3 lumens. This is pretty dim, but in the dark, it is perfect for looking at maps and paperwork. If your battery gets low, the light still works, but dims to indicate that it is time to replace your battery.
Within a couple of weeks of having mine, the clip got pretty loose. I called the Novatac home office and a live person answered. To me this is always a good sign of good customer service and support. Within two minutes they stated that the loose clip sounded out of spec. They sent me a new clip and it fixed the problem. The only other minor glitch I discovered is with the light switch: it activates very easily. A couple of times the switch activated while it was in my pocket, giving me the feeling of having spilled hot coffee on my leg. In your pocket you would notice it pretty quick; in a gear bag you may not; so make sure you lock out the switch before storing it.
All in all I think the Novatac 120T is a solid piece of defensive gear. I don’t know if it will bump the Surefire out of my pocket full time, but it is earning its fair share of carry time. I am looking forward to what the company has to offer in the future. If you’re in the market for a new light, make sure to check out what Novatac has to offer. The light is in the $100 to $150 range and is available from many sources.