Original article published at https://wildsafety.com/fenix-pd35tac-review/
I was sent this product at no charge, with the expectation of writing a product review.
Product Description from the manufacturer:
The Fenix PD35TAC (Tactical Edition) remains a pocket-size tactical flashlight but has a higher performance and focuses on tactical employment, compared to its predecessor the Fenix PD35. Fenix has taken the all-time bestselling PD35 LED flashlight and added some innovative user features to enhance its tactical capabilities. Measured at less than 5.51 inches, the Fenix PD35TAC flashlight features a 1000-lumen maximum output and has an impressive beam distance of up to 656 feet. The Fenix PD35TAC operates using a single 18650 battery or two CR123A batteries.
The Fenix PD35TAC features two general modes: Tactical Mode and Outdoor Mode. In the Outdoor Mode, the Fenix PD35 Tactical Edition delivers up to 6 output modes for maximum functionality. However, the Tactical Mode strengthens the PD35TAC with a simplified and faster operation. Perfect for outdoor use, professional use, security, & law enforcement, you can count on the PD35TAC to deliver reliable, powerful lighting for a wide range of situations.
The packaging of the PD35TAC is on par with similar products – easy to open, without needing the Jaws of Life to extract the product from 500 layers of skin-shredding hardened plastic. Included in the box are the operating instructions, a belt clip, two CR123A non-rechargeable batteries, a nylon holster, spare O-rings, and a lanyard.
After inserting the included batteries, I immediately noticed how much this light defies the gravitational pull of the Universe. Weighing in at a mere 3.1 ounces (before batteries) meant I could skip arm days at the gym for awhile, and would still be able to hold it in position to light up a pasture for a few weeks.
Operation is simple and intuitive, with minimal time needed to figure out the two buttons: the main (rear) ON/OFF press-type button, and a smaller button near the front of the light for cycling through the five illumination levels. Compared to the discontinued Fenix UC40, which I’ve had for years and love (minus the power button location and operation), the PD35TAC quickly became my GO-TO light for several applications. The manufacturer explains the two different operating modes in exquisite detail, but “PRESS THE BUTTON AND THERE IS LIGHT” worked well enough for me to begin an hour-long experiment on discovering how quickly I could cause instant migraine-level headaches on everyone within a 1-mile radius of my back door – mainly because…
This thing is bright – and by bright, I’m talking ONE THOUSAND LUMENS. I remember re-reading the specifications on the manufacturer’s website because I thought there was a misprint in the included instructions, and my brain refused to cooperate. After doing the stupidest thing imaginable with this mini light saber – yes, I looked right at it and lost track of several days – I immediately became a believer upon my return to consciousness.
OK, so the thing is light, and super bright. That’s nice and all, but how well does it actually work for real-world applications? I wanted to find out, so I beat it up for several weeks in the Texas heat, and was very pleased with how well it held up. Honestly, it held up so well it still looks like I just took it out of the box.
Initially, I used it around the house for a few days to test the brightness selector. There’s nothing worse than needing a little bit of extra illumination to check what temperature the thermostat is set to, and getting an instant migraine because you turned on the sun a few inches from your eyes. If you don’t want a migraine from this thing, re-read the instructions when your sight returns so you don’t get confused with the two operating modes. Once you realize how easy that is, you’re set.
Once I was used to switching the brightness level quickly, which isn’t difficult at all, I took it out to the ranch for some lengthy real-world testing. I have a 900 lumen Surefire X300 rifle light mounted to my Smith & Wesson AR-10 to help with feral pig eradication on a 200-acre ranch, and I wanted to see how it compared to a $300 Surefire at lighting up the dark Texas nights – I was not disappointed. Not only was the PD35TAC brighter, but it didn’t burn my hand after having on full brightness for 15 minutes – something I’m used to with the older UC40 I mentioned earlier. Halfway through the night’s activities, it started to rain, first at a slow drizzle, soon turning into a massive downpour. At no point was I ever worried that I would drop the light due to it or my hand being wet. While there is no rubber or other non-metal material for offering a secure grip, none is needed. Compared to other flashlights I’ve used over the years that have a check-marked grip that usually fail to do anything other than look impressive, the way the body of this light is designed offers a sure grip with and without gloves under wet conditions.
Luckily the PD35TAC is waterproof to IPX-8 standard (underwater up to 6 1/2 feet for 30 minutes), since it was accidentally dropped in a muddy cow pasture during a downpour a few times. Feeling adventurous after the first few accidental drops, I tossed it into the air a few times to see how it would handle a drop into mud from roughly 30 feet in the air. After fishing it out of a large puddle, it looked at me with a sneer as if to tell me I hadn’t begun to test its limitations – so I dropped it into a cow paddy and stepped on it a few times to show I wasn’t messing around this time. After I found it and wiped it off, it behaved as though I just removed it from the box for the first time (minus the added aroma, which was more than likely emanating from my hand, not the flashlight.)
A few hours before daylight, I decided to test the strobe function, and I was very impressed to discover that the strobe operates at 1,000 lumens, and is quite noticeable from at least a mile away. I know this because I drove an exact mile after setting down on the top of a fence post. Some flashlights that offer a strobe function limit the brightness in an effort to save on power consumption, but not the PD35TAC.
As a side note, the manufacturer lists a “low-voltage reminder” in the product specifications, and for the third time that night, I was made aware that it was time again to change the batteries. Having kept the setting on the brightest lumen mode throughout multiple nights of romping through cow patties, this feature proved invaluable. The stated time of 1 hour, 10 minutes for continuous use on the highest output if fairly accurate.
The Fenix PD35TAC now has a permanent place in my pocket, field pack, and truck (once I purchase a few more of these bad boys.) For an MSRP of
$94.00 $71.95, this flashlight is worth every penny. I’m also ordering a few accessories
The only change I would consider suggesting, provided it wouldn’t interfere with its otherwise very impressive performance, is adding a USB charging port for when using the rechargeable 18650 battery. Although that isn’t a show-stopper, I would consider it icing on the proverbial cake.
Do yourself a favor and get one of these before they’re sold out.