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Kitchen table review:The Streamlight Sidewinder *Update:1/18/08: Reflectorized!

us Offline Spoonrobot

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Or the longest thread title ever.

Links to other information on this light:
-Streamlight's product page.
-Small AR15.com review.
-CPF thread on the light.
-Press release from FlashlightNews.

Since the actual specifications of this light are available in the links above I shall move directly into the user review of this light. I purchased the light from Bass Pro Shops in Lawrenceville, GA for 59.99$ plus tax. The light is also available from a number of online retailers and prices generally hover from 49.99-79.99$ The light came with 2 AA batteries and a small instruction pamphlet. Directly out of the box fit and finish were excellent, the light head rotates smoothly and the spring action of the rotating LED selector is equally smooth and functional. The body is injection molded plastic and shows very few manufacturing indicators, the lines are crisp and clean.

Front/Back of the packaging.



Using the best clampack tool ever to open the light.


Functionally the light takes a second or two to get used to. Assuming the batteries are loaded and you are ready to operate the light the first thing you must do is think about which LED you want to activate. This is decided based on the position of the rotating ring on the head of the light.

I have had the light for two days and have already memorized the color locations so it does not take long at all to become familiar with the light. Having decided what color you want you then press the center button, the light will illuminate at the lowest of four possible levels. If you want to change the level simply hold down the button and watch as the brightness clicks over to each higher level and then back down to the lowest level, releasing said button when desired brightness is achieved. To activate the strobe, from off, quickly click the button twice.

Switching to a different color can be done at any time and is accomplished by simply pulling out the ring and rotating to the next position. When not in use the ring is locked into place by spring tension and must be lifted before it will rotate. Oddly enough the light does not feature a lock-out feature but so far has shown resistance to activiation in the pocket or pack. The button is also recessed to help discourage activation when unintended.

So, you now know how to work the light, how well does it work? So far, very well. As you can see below the main LED is behind a collimating lens that provides a good balance of flood and throw and works well out to short/medium range. The perceived tint of the main LED varies based on other light sources; when used alone it appears a crisp white color but when compared to other LEDs or Incandescent lighting it appears slightly blue. This is typical of 1/2 watt lights and not generally an issue. The beam shape is round with slight squaring up close. The brightness is going to be disappointing to a lot of people because so many are currently dazzled by the Chinese CREE lights making the rounds. However, in actual use the LED is bright enough for 98% of all the tasks encountered by the average user. It won't light up an auditiorium when the power fails but it can be clipped to your pocket, the head tilt adjusted for maximum utility and then used to guide you and others around. Different and better in a lot of ways than most lights on the market now.


From 3 feet.



Moving on to the 5mm LEDs; in order of brightest to dimmest at any given setting: Blue, Green, Red. The beams of each LED has several artifacts and is generally pretty ugly. The blue reminds me of Doom 3 without the monster closets and poor pacing.




The Blue/Green LEDs are a good balance of flood and throw while the red is almost entirely throw.

The tailcap is sealed with an o-ring and features a tether to prevent loss in the darkness, this combined with the tactile posts on the body for correct battery orientation make for very intuitive function when maintaining the light in the dark. The light is stated as being waterproof (see below) to a certain mil-spec rating, I took mine in the shower, it passed with flying colors since the blue LED made my shampoo iridescent.




As stated earlier I am of the opinion that this light is the best light for the average user to carry around as an EDC item. In actuality the different color LEDs are superfluous to this opinion, the real cause is the clip and the 185-degree rotating head.



These two features make this light the most functional light I have ever used. The light can be set down and positioned in the most useful way but can also be clipped to the belt/bag/pocket/body and carried. This light basically bridges the gap between round, slippery flashlights and awkward headlamps, and it does it well.

How does it carry?


Compared to a D-mini the light is larger and more bulky but is fairly light and thin. Carrying the light in the pocket in not a problem and creates less lines than a round-body light. The clip does not work like a typical pocket clip and is not designed as such, if clipped to the pocket almost half the light sticks above the pocket, the clip is designed more to function during use and not carrying. The clip also has a small tab that helps prevent the light from slipping off it's clipped position, it does make clipping the light a little more difficult in the first place but it worth the tradeoff.

Here's a look inside for you modification people. It's been such a while since I hobbyed with flashlights I have no idea what the main 1/2 watt LED is nor if it is even replaceable.



I do find it odd that Streamlight only offers a 1-year warranty on the product, I am used to seeing much better warranties from this company.

Actual use: Wonderful!
Here's the light being used in it's hidden "Hoover" mode to clean my keyboard.

But seriously;

While driving home I stopped to indulge myself in a tasty Rootbeer Big-Gulp. Unbeknownst to myself the massive preponderance of change accumulating in my cupholders prevented a solid seat for the large cup and caused it to capsize the first turn I made out of the gas station, showering my leg with freezing Rootbeer. Most flashalics know the drill: shine light on leg and assess damage, acquire paper towels, place flashlight in mouth and pray the lithium batteries don't go nuclear while wiping of pants. It's kind of awkward to have a flashlight in your mouth for any length of time, and slightly more awkward to hold it between neck and shoulder. Since I had my new light I merely angled the head to the appropriate angle, placed it on the seat and cleaned up.


So, the negatives?

It seems expensive but if you take into account all the features it has it's actually priced quite nicely. No lock-out tailcap, switching between brightness levels is a little slow, there is no instant high feature, 5mm LEDs are really ugly.

Nothing too bad to say about the light, and certainly nothing that isn't outweighed by it's general utility. I would recommend this light for everyone and anyone, put it in your bag, trunk or pocket. It's so amazingly useful, really no more putting lights in your mouth or trying to balance them on something when trying to do repairs in the dark.

The waterproofness: According to the Streamlight page this light meets the following standard: MIL-STD-810F, Method 512.4. From what I could find this standard basically states that the object can  be immersed in 3 feet of water for a half-hour with no leakage.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2008, 05:02:59 AM by Spoonrobot »


gb Offline Mike, Lord of the Spammers!

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Now that was a very very good review :cheers:

Thanks for taking the time to compose it :)

btw nice see a fellow ''boy from the dwarf'' ;) ;D
Give in, buy several Farmer's!!!!!!


us Offline J-sews

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Thanks for the review Spoon! (I'd never even heard of this light before.) Looks like it would make a great camp light.
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Offline Anthony

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Great review.  A bit pricey for me but looks like a great utility light.
[


us Offline Spoonrobot

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Great review.  A bit pricey for me but looks like a great utility light.

That was my initial problem with the light too. I checked around trying to find a comprable light but the closest I could find was some of the angle head Pelican lights and the Pentagonlight MOLLE light, neither of which have rotating heads. It was hard dropping 60$ on a light that has a max of maybe 25 lumens but after some use I feel it is worth it in every way. I mean, I have no problem spending the same amount on a slightly brighter LED light every 6 months so I may as well splurge on a light that does a bunch of stuff nothing else does or can.

It really is one of the best lights to compliment a multi-tool, throw in the EDC bag or keep in the trunk. Good job Streamlight.

I feel the body and overall package would make a great platform for other light engines. Imagine a double CREE high output version, all flood. It'd have a lot shorter runtime but would be most excellent in place of a head lamp or trouble light. Or a UV LED in place of one of the color LEDs. Or a colored main LED and peripheral white LEDs. Soon as I save some money I'm going to buy a few more and see if I can commision some serious modding by someone on CPF.

Quote
btw nice see a fellow ''boy from the dwarf'' 

Smeghead all the way, I just finished reading all four novels again. Interesting to see how the two authors diverged from each other but still had some pretty dark ideas in the last two books. So good, it's one of the few series I really wish had continued on.
« Last Edit: September 08, 2007, 08:00:30 AM by Spoonrobot »


gb Offline Mike, Lord of the Spammers!

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Quote
btw nice see a fellow ''boy from the dwarf'' 

Smeghead all the way, I just finished reading all four novels again. Interesting to see how the two authors diverged from each other but still had some pretty dark ideas in the last two books. So good, it's one of the few series I really wish had continued on.
Me too and not just coz I fancied kachansky ;)

Still at least the series got a decent run, not like other show's ie firefly :'(
Give in, buy several Farmer's!!!!!!


us Offline Spoonrobot

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Beamshots! Beamshots! Pictures! Pictures!

Since it's Friday night before a home college football game I required to stay awake for most of the night listening to sirens and sporadic bursts of loud music. It's actually quite interesting since this is the first year I've lived so close to the center of town. But I digress.

Test scene 9/9/07: My kitchen, light is located 3 yards from the cabinet.

Test scene illuminated by the stock lighting. Poor brightness, dirty floor, generally dingy, really needs an upgrade.


White

Note how the medium and high are indistinguishable in flood and perceived brightness. In this case high adds little to the flood but much to the throw, I shall try to illustrate this with outdoor shots later. Note just how dim the low is, compared to a typical "fauxton" keychain below it is much much dimmer, a very nice setting.

Fauxton keychain light


Blue


Red

This color has almost no flood. On the low setting this color does not readily illuminate objects past 7-8 feet, an excellent setting for upclose work while preserving night vision.

Green


In the pocket (Firehose pants by Duluth Trading Co.)

It becomes apparent that this light is not really meant to be carried clipped to the pocket since so much of it sticks out when carried so. Clipping to the pocket for use works well and functions kind of like a belt light, illuminating one's path.

Pose


A more suitable comparison for us multi-guys




gb Offline Mike, Lord of the Spammers!

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Great beam shot's mate :)

I love the green one's, It make's your kitchen look like it's been over run with borg drone's ;D
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us Offline hawkchucker

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Excellent review, and now thanks to you I have to buy another light ???

But now the real question I got for ya. What will you take in trade for all the  Death land series books ya got there? ;D
S


us Offline Spoonrobot

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I occasionally sell a multi-tool or trade a knife but I never get rid of my books.  :P

I keep my paperbacks doubled up since the shelves are so deep. There are even more behind the Robotech books.


us Offline Spoonrobot

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::EDIT:: Just read the following on the Streamlight product page:
Quote
High-impact, super-tough nylon case; drop-test verified from 30 feet
Not sure if this refers to the actual case or the entire light. I will seek a better answer when I call tomorrow.

A sad update:

This thing is durable.

Today I volunteered to climb into the roof crawlspace and investigate what exactly was causing the leaks in the roof of our kitchen. I had been outside on top of the roof and ascertained that the actual problem was that water was pooling around the entrance for the exhaust fans and dripping through the cracked weatherproofing. The next step was to find out how bad the damage was inside and if there was a stopgap measure so we could make it through service without nasty roof water dripping in someone's Tenderloin.

Our ceilings are about 15' so I had to perform some acrobatics to get myself into the crawlspace through a tiny hatch off the top of a 10' ladder. I managed to get in and inspect with no problem but while organizing my descent I managed to drop the Sidewinder out of my breast pocket when leaned over to direct ladder placement. The stupid thing has a clip and I forgot to use it ( ::)). So I see a brown blur drop from my pocket, hit the floor and bouced 6' back into the air (wow) before coming to a rest on top of our full-size wine cooler. I swear, then sigh and then lower myself like a gymnast on to the ladder and then down to inspect the damage. Physically the light was intact after the @17' fall. Nothing popped off nor broke, there was just a small area on the tailcap that was pushed in. Amazing!

More amazing was that the darn thing still worked. Sort of; the light functions normally except on High mode. On this mode the blue LED will not light fully and flickers in time with the green LED. Also, the light cannot be rotated out of the Green LED once rotated so, it must be turned off and reset and then moved to a different color before activating.

After such a fall I am amazed the light did not explode like a race car and it only lost 4 functions. I plan to call Streamlight to inquire about repair/replacement but may just return it to BassPro if I can wrangle a reason to head 2 hours North to Atlanta this weeked.

Add reasonable durability to the list of features for this light, similar falls have caused catastrophic failure of several of my other lights.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2007, 07:57:03 AM by Spoonrobot »


gb Offline Mike, Lord of the Spammers!

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That's pretty impressive, 17 feet onto a hard serface
Give in, buy several Farmer's!!!!!!


us Offline J-sews

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....So I see a brown blur drop from my pocket, hit the floor and bouced 6' back into the air (wow) before coming to a rest on top of our full-size wine cooler.....

Impressive rebound qualities too!   ;)



(Hope you are able to get it 100% again Spoon)  :-\
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us Offline Spoonrobot

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I decided to go ahead and return the light to BassPro instead of getting an RMA number and sending it back to Streamlight. I opted to exchange my Brown model for the OD Green model, which features white text explaining the different modes under the window. Everything else appears to be the same between the two models.



Let's see if I can remember to use the clip this time!


england Offline Benner

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I've been tempted by one of these recently.  Any more thoughts Spoon?
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england Offline Benner

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Oh, and does anyone know of anywhere that sells these cheap that would ship to the UK? I have found them over here, but £60 is a bit steep! :o
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Offline yellowhammer

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Great review Spoon :D I'm in the same boat as Benner; I really want one but I'll be buggered if I'm paying 60 quid for it. I want one even more now I know they bounce too :D
C


england Offline Benner

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Great review Spoon :D I'm in the same boat as Benner; I really want one but I'll be buggered if I'm paying 60 quid for it. I want one even more now I know they bounce too :D

I've sent out a couple of emails about prices, I'll let you know what happens.
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england Offline Benner

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There's a video for this as well now...
http://www.streamlight.com/sidew-mil_movie.html
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us Offline Spoonrobot

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I've been tempted by one of these recently.  Any more thoughts Spoon?

On the rare occasion you can find one on the classifieds section of CPF they are really cheap. I got my second one for 20$.

Other than that, nothing much to report on the light. I've been using it almost everyday with no problems and only minor gripes (want it to be Cree/Rebel). It's still the perfect general purpose illumination device.


england Offline Benner

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Thanks for that. Marc has said he can get hold of them for a good price so I may just get one from him.

It's a shame it's only a years warranty though  :(.  Any ideas what streamlight are like for supplying parts such as o-rings etc for repairs after the warranty?
« Last Edit: January 08, 2008, 05:18:17 PM by Benner »
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Offline Carthas

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I notice there's an IR and green LED model. I wonder if the helmet mount will be made available to the public in the form of a bike mount or something?


england Offline Benner

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So far all I can see that's available is the helmet mount.  It looks like it could be easily modified to attach to a bike though.

I ordered the Green LED one, but to be honest I doubt I will use that colour.  But the IR one would be completely useless to me.
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england Offline Benner

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Does anyone have any ideas why Streamlight have only given a 1 years warranty with this light?  Everything else they sell, including all their new products, has the limited lifetime warranty so why doesn't the Sidewinder?

I have emailed Streamlight to see what they say about it, but anyone here have any thoughts ???
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gb Offline Mike, Lord of the Spammers!

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Does anyone have any ideas why Streamlight have only given a 1 years warranty with this light?  Everything else they sell, including all their new products, has the limited lifetime warranty so why doesn't the Sidewinder?

I have emailed Streamlight to see what they say about it, but anyone here have any thoughts ???
Because at 12 months, 0 hours 0 minutes and 2 seconds it explodes :D
Give in, buy several Farmer's!!!!!!


england Offline Benner

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Does anyone have any ideas why Streamlight have only given a 1 years warranty with this light?  Everything else they sell, including all their new products, has the limited lifetime warranty so why doesn't the Sidewinder?

I have emailed Streamlight to see what they say about it, but anyone here have any thoughts ???
Because at 12 months, 0 hours 0 minutes and 2 seconds it explodes :D

Will have to give it to the wife to hold in a years time then.  :D

It does seem odd though.  Especially as it is supposed to be designed for ruggedness and use in the military.
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gb Offline Mike, Lord of the Spammers!

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Does anyone have any ideas why Streamlight have only given a 1 years warranty with this light?  Everything else they sell, including all their new products, has the limited lifetime warranty so why doesn't the Sidewinder?

I have emailed Streamlight to see what they say about it, but anyone here have any thoughts ???
Because at 12 months, 0 hours 0 minutes and 2 seconds it explodes :D

Will have to give it to the wife to hold in a years time then.  :D

It does seem odd though.  Especially as it is supposed to be designed for ruggedness and use in the military.
And it's just that one in the whole product line ???, that does seem a bit odd :-\
Give in, buy several Farmer's!!!!!!


england Offline Benner

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Does anyone have any ideas why Streamlight have only given a 1 years warranty with this light?  Everything else they sell, including all their new products, has the limited lifetime warranty so why doesn't the Sidewinder?

I have emailed Streamlight to see what they say about it, but anyone here have any thoughts ???
Because at 12 months, 0 hours 0 minutes and 2 seconds it explodes :D

Will have to give it to the wife to hold in a years time then.  :D

It does seem odd though.  Especially as it is supposed to be designed for ruggedness and use in the military.
And it's just that one in the whole product line ???, that does seem a bit odd :-\

Well I flicked through a load and they all had the lifetime warranty yes. 
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england Offline Benner

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Just looked again and as far as I could see every light has a lifetime warranty apart from the Sidewinder and this;
http://www.streamlight.com/product/product.aspx?pid=128  and I have no idea why ???
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gb Offline Mike, Lord of the Spammers!

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Just looked again and as far as I could see every light has a lifetime warranty apart from the Sidewinder and this;
http://www.streamlight.com/product/product.aspx?pid=128  and I have no idea why ???
Well that one I supose you could physically break quite easily, but the sidewinder...hmm :think:
Give in, buy several Farmer's!!!!!!


 

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