Recommend an EDC handheld light


Regular Member
I've historically liked Fenix. Rugged, bright, relatively cheap. But the latest generation doesn't agree with me.

I got the PD35 (handheld w/ 18650 battery) and the tiny key chain one recently. The old key chain light I used to carry from them years ago had a twist-on/off and was simple and never turned on accidentally. This one has a weird "hold the button long enough" switch that is super annoying to trigger on purpose, and kept triggering accidentally in my pocket. So I'd come home to find the light in my pocket on, and eventually the battery would be dead before I'd used it once on purpose. Ugh.

The PD35 has insane brightness on the highest level and insane battery runtime on the lowest level. But they went from big, rubberized mode switches to a tiny, round, recessed metal button. (The on/off is still tailcap and works fine.) When doing a low-light shooting class I would accidentally press this button when gripping the light, and randomly switch the brightness during shooting. Very annoying, and it was still a class setting - wouldn't want this to happen during an actual panic encounter. Plus, it is actually very difficult to locate the tiny/recessed switch on purpose. I usually have to switch my grip and locate it visually. The old one you could just feel the big rubber button with your pinky.

Plus, the PD35 is just a little big for EDC, carrying a 18650 makes it pretty long.

I've looked at the Modlite head w/ handheld, but that's 3x the cost of the Fenix. Plus reviews aren't necessarily universally great to justify the price, it seems.

Are there any favorite EDC lights you have? I think the 18350 format would be good in general, doesn't have to be key chain. Just not quite as long as the PD35.


Regular Member
I've got three modlites and a few heads. They are going to be hard to beat especially in "work" situations. That said they are not cheap and usually only carry them for work or at night in sub-optimal areas.

My daily go to light is a Sofrin Sp31 V2 or Sc31T. Both come with a side or tail switch, have stood up to daily abuse for a year or two, have a decent throw, adjustable intensity and for around 25$ I'm not going to break down in tears if I drop one. They are 18650s so not as short as maybe you are wanting but they fit in a pocket just fine for me.


Not close to the cutting edge of what's available but I like the Streamlight protac 2L-x with an 18650. It is reliable, inexpensive, thin, light and has a good clip. It won't roll off a flat surface and the button is recessed to minimize accidental activation. The only downside is the light output is modest compared to modlite etc.

Barry B

Regular Member
FWIW PD36R here. Plenty of light, 5 brightness levels, rechargable… size is not outrageous. I carry it every day at work cuz I can’t see shit in the dark or under desks where cables are, etc.

Only gripe I have is it has turned on in my pocket. Minor quibble.


Regular Member
Looks like the PD36R is almost the same as the PD35, except you charge through the light instead of the battery itself. Dimensions almost exactly the same. I find I can carry it, but then I basically lose access to that pocket w/ it and a knife sitting on top. I have to take out the flashlight to get to my keys. It also sits pretty high and so about an inch sticks out due to the placement of the clip.

Pat Tarrant

Custom testicles
Staff member
I've had both the Cloud MCH High Candela and Modlite PLHv2 18350 lights, and from an output standpoint, I don't see much real world difference. Inside a normal size home or office building, it's a toss up between them. I do slightly prefer the Modlite tailcap, and the Cloud head gets hotter faster. However, the Cloud Defensive MCH is less expensive and has several output options. My preference is the HC single output on the MCH. On the Modlite, I could go for either the OKW head or the PLHv2 depending on environment.

Another option if you don't need the 18350 compatibility is the Surefire Stiletto series of lights.


Regular Member
So I ended up just not EDCing a light for a while, but as I found myself going for walks in dark parks at night, I felt stupid. So I got a Streamlight pen light (Microstream) that you can charge via USB.

Pro: it's so small and light that you immediately forget it's in your pocket, and I EDC'd it for a week or two.

Con: it's not really useful flashlight. You could presumably find your keys, and you can light up a room, but not well. Completely useless outdoors, especially if there is ambient lighting like from cars.

I ended up buying a Thyrm thingy to put on my PD35. The Thyrm kind of wedges the PD35 into my pocket so it can't slosh around. It's a bit too heavy to completely disappear like the Microstream, but I've basically stopped noticing it except when I brush against it by accident. I've been EDC'ing it for about a week and it's just fine.

The Thyrm also helps get it out of the pocket faster, and it absolutely feels more solid in my hand with the finger ring. Really enjoying it.

Performance-wise, although the most recent cigar-sized lights have doubled (!) its output in both lumen and candela, the PD35 is still vastly overpowered. Fenix makes good quality products with insane performance, it's just that their UX sucks. They clearly build for hobbyists and aren't flashlight users themselves.

For example, the PD35 has 5 levels of brightness. You switch them by pressing a tiny, hard to locate metal button on a metal frame. The button is both terribly easy to press by accident, and really hard to find on purpose when you need it. I've accidentally switched the PD35 from very bright to 5 lumen reading mode when gripping it hard during low-light practice on the range. Ugh! I've also failed to set it to the desired light mode for 20-30s at a time, even without being under stress. For this reason I basically just leave it in mode 4 (very bright but not turbo) and never touch it, because it takes forever to get it back into the desired brightness level.

Now Fenix has come out with new lights since then, and all have interesting concepts, but CLEARLY none of them have ever been used on duty. One has a twist cap at the front. But you also have to turn it on, and there's no "tactical" button on the tail cap. I want to set my brightness via a twist cap, but I want to turn it on/off via tail button.

Then another one has TWO DIFFERENT buttons on the tail cap, one for on/off and one for brightness modes. At least that one will be easier to find, I imagine.

Still, compared to Streamlight/Surefire/some of the other brands, it seems like Fenix is just flailing and building random shit, instead of honing in on a great, usable-under-stress design.

In other news, the newest releases of lights are just nuts. I thought the PD35 was crazy. Even on level 4, which is only 600 lumen/11k candela, I'm lighting up the entire park including across the lake. It's almost embarrassing to use because you know everybody in line of sight is now staring in your direction. And turbo mode is 1,700 lumen/30k candela! I haven't even dared used that.

The new Surefire ProTac has 2,000 lumens. The Fenix PD40R has 3,000. Both are re-chargeable via USB-C, which seems to be the new hotness.

We truly live in the golden era of flashlights. These things are way stronger than car lights, I think. Maybe even high beams.
Been using this cheap light for months now, absolutely loving the hi-cri 2700k tint. Are there other pocket lights with this warm of a tint? I'm not a light nerd and dont know anything other than p60 drop ins.. wurkkos Pocket LED Flashlight, High 90CRI Ultra Bright Max 1300 Lumen Mini Flashlight