Warning – too many junk reviews are promoted on the Internet
One of the things you start to notice when reviewing on the Internet is that there are legitimate and illegitimate reviews.
How do you tell the difference?
Most illegitimate reviews have the following characteristics (AKA “dead giveaways”):
- All the images are from the manufacturer, and none show the reviewer holding or otherwise displaying the product being reviewed. Why? Because they don't own the product.
- Over saturation with links to affiliate sales pages like Amazon. Although there's nothing wrong with affiliate relationships, illegitimate reviewers overdo this.
- All comments like pros and cons, come not from the reviewer, but from published reviews like Amazon. You can read the Amazon reviews yourself. Why do you need them?
- There is no other content other than review, review, review. No advice. No how to…just reviews.
- There are often arbitrary results presented – the top 3, the best 10, etc., as if results exist in a bubble or there were some review god who sanctioned the results. What about 3 great EDC models, or 2 gun mounts that protect the family?
- Finally, at least with respect to tactical flashlights, there are a few models which are actually the same model but appear under a dozen or so different names, all with various options. Some even rank the same light, under different names and come up with first, second and third place winners. How can that be? They're the same.
How about legitimate reviews on the Internet
- First of all, just reverse all the characteristics discussed above – they have their own images, provide affiliate links without overdoing it, submit their own comments, cover other advice, and avoid arbitrary results.
- What I consider to be the most distinguishing characteristic, is that legitimate reviews cover a theme, to which products are simply a part of the picture. TactBright, for examples, examines the concept of preparedness. Although much of that is outdoor situations, such as backpacking, and landscape photography, it also covers home preparedness. The tools, of course, for this are often tactical in nature, lights, watches, knives etc., and carry over to every day carry (EDC). That frees me to discuss articles that provide insights without selling anything, as well as articles that cover tactical gear used in preparedness.
Of course, the purpose of Google's algorithm is to distinguish between the quality of content, and in most respects, they do an excellent job. That's not to say, however, that a junk review won't appear on the first page of Google's search results. They do, unfortunately. So, as they say, buyer beware.
What are some characteristics of junk tactical flashlights
Funny you should ask. Here goes:
- Price – Yes, you do get what you pay for, and $10 for a tactical flashlight should be a huge clue. Actually, really good lights probably start at around the $30 plus range – just a rule of thumb.
- Lumens – There is no Federal Agency who regulates lumen ratings so many unscrupulous products either exaggerates or even omits the lumen ratings. Bigger is not always better but many judge by this because they don't know what else to judge on.
- Warranty – Either no warranty or a phony warranty with no contact information. That's correct, they realize no one is going to get a $10 light repaired. It's a throwaway item, so why offer a warranty.
- Build Quality – Cheap aluminum which easily scratches with little regard to the quality of the tail button and features like roll resistance.
- Power – There is a ton of lights that use three AAA batteries in a plastic container or a, 18650 battery in a plastic tube. Really? Why all the extra? Good lights don't have this extra plastic junk.
- Useless features – Try zoomable. Wow. Talk about something you don't need.
- Twins, triplets, and quadruplets – That's right, they're everywhere. Someone has manufactured the same lights with different names for virtually nothing and is saturating the market with them. My recommendations, avoid cheap lights like the plague. You're better off sticking with name brands like Klarus, Fenix, Streamlight, SureFire, Nitecore, etc.
Characteristics of a best, affordable tactical flashlight
Let's explore the above factors with a best quality tactical flashlight, the Fenix PD25. Certainly, this isn't the only alternative but it's good to use as a comparison.
Here we go.
Price – the Fenix PD25 sells on Amazon for $56.99. Not cheap by any means but do you really do get what you pay for? Let's see.
Lumens – The PD25 shows from a low of 5 lumens for 100 hours of run time, to 550 lumens with a 35-minute runtime. The 5 modes are 5, 50, 150 and 400 or 550 (depending on battery) plus instant strobe. By instant strobe, I mean push the side button and hold for an amazing strobe light show. Definitely designed to disable a perp. Push again, and it's off. How easy is that?
Warranty – Fenix guarantees all products and provides a lifetime warranty against defects in material and workmanship and will repair or replace when returned to the contact address they provide online and on all their products.
Build Quality – Made of aircraft-grade aluminum which is hard-anodized with an anti-abrasive finish. Includes an ultra-clear glass lens with anti-reflective coating. The Fenix has an anti-roll design, a low-voltage warning function as well as reverse polarity protection. It also is waterproof to IPX-8 rating for up to 2 meters for 30 minutes. I can go on but I believe you get the picture.
Power – The PD25 uses either a CR123A or the rechargeable Li-ion 16340. There are no additional plastic holders needed.
Useless features – It's not zoomable and there are no other useless features.
Here's another “best” Tactical Flashlight – the Klarus XT2cr
The Klarus XT2CR uses two CR123A batteries or one 18650 battery. The power levels range from 1600 to 400, 100 and 10 with a runtime of 1.2 hours to 200 hours. The light is 5.47 inches long and weighs in at 3.12 ounces without battery.
The battery is chargeable via USB directly in the light. There is also a battery capacity indicator light with the expected more than 70%, 30-70%, and less than 30% power levels. Finally, there is an option to program the light settings, however, the functionality of the tactical mode is actually optimal out of the box.
What's great about this light is the dual tail controls. The button controls momentary and permanent on and off, while a paddle switch controls instant strobe and when on, changes the light brightness levels.
So there you have it. An analysis of legitimate and illegitimate reviews and how to recognize the difference. As well as an analysis of the differences between the all too common cheap flashlights and an example of a really quality tactical light.
Why is this so important. I guess it's my small battle to inform others that there really are some great products out there, that you can truly rely upon. And…that there are some junk products that are sold on the basis of cheap price and useless features.
Make an informed decision. You won't be sorry.
Unfortunately the Internet is littered with bad reviews. Do your part and understand what good reviews are by supporting good reviewers.