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


Regular Member
Really enjoying the recent Modcast on defensive flashlights. Halfway through.

So far, really happy to learn about Nitecore. They were just not on my radar much. Their tailcap button design is indeed great! Looking at the p23i as a replacement for my Fenix PD35.

Chuck (IIRC?) mentions he likes his PD35 but hates the little side button - so do I. They have since come out with the PD36R, which has a similar tailcap design to Nitecore. That might fix his issue if he's otherwise happy with the light. The TK20R has a similar tailcap switch design now.


Regular Member
Short experience report, I finally got to use my EDC light (Fenix PD35 v3) for real for the first time today in somewhat duty-ish use. Interestingly enough, nearly all of the issues mentioned in that recent Modcast came to light (<-haha, light, see what I did there?)

- The 1,700 lumen turbo mode was great for 2 minutes, then it began to overheat. I tuned it down to regular "high" before it deregulated the voltage because it got too hot.
- I accidentally clicked the light permanent-on one time when I didn't intend to. Not a big deal as this wasn't a gunfight, but just like described in the Modcast.
- It has too many modes (5) and switching from where you are to where you want to be is annoying and takes forever

What happened? On my regular night-time walk through a local park with a big lake, I got stopped by a fire truck. You know you done messed up when you get stopped by the fire truck :) They were looking for 2 little kids that had gone missing in the park. Police helicopter was on scene, as were 20-30 EMTs, fire trucks, police cruisers... and tons of personnel combing through the park.

I just tagged along as this was my usual route through the park anyway and they didn't seem to mind. Last I heard the kids hadn't been found. I left after about an hour after a few laps around the lake. Even went into a storm drain.

Overall I think the Fenix did great, although the "normal high" mode is significantly less bright than turbo. So you have 1,700 lumen/30k candela for a minute, and then you have 600/11k. Massive difference when you're trying to peek at the other end of a large soccer field. Still, I had more light output than any of the EMTs/cops/firefighters on site. I think I even outshone the police cruiser spotlight, at least on turbo :)

The Thyrm switchback was also great. Just gives you a much better grip on the light. When I went into that storm drain the floor was pretty slick and I almost fell. Pretty sure I would've dropped the light had it not been for the Thyrm.

Fenix says the battery life for 600 lumen mode is 2h. I was only there for a little over an hour and didn't have it on the whole time, maybe 20 minutes or so, and the battery life was fine. But if I was one of those cops and was going to spend the rest of the night lighting up that park, I'd sure be thinking about the 2h already and what to do then.

The 600 lumen / 11k candela after 2 minutes honestly makes me think about more. They say that you can't come close enough to the power of the sun, and I guess they're not wrong. 600 lumen / 11k candela is really bright and then you're staring into some trees a couple hundred yards away, or a storm drain under a bridge. And you sure wish that turbo mode would last a little longer.

Also the mode switch on the PD35 v3 is just terrible. I knew this and it's actually one of the main reasons I'm wanting to upgrade. When the light got too hot I wanted to turn it down 1 notch, from turbo to the next highest level. How do you do that? You click the mode button 4 times. First you have to remember that it's 4 times, because it has 5 modes. Then you have to turn the light toward you and locate the little button on the side, which is difficult to find. It felt like performing a reload because I had to bring the light into my workspace to visually press the button. Most newer Fenix lights have a double tail switch, kind of like the Nitecores. I think that might be a much better design.

Well, statistically this is probably the most use I'll ever get out of an EDC flashlight :) I was glad to be carrying it. Had I not brought it, I would've felt like an idiot for sure, even if I didn't find anyone or anything.

Barry B

Regular Member
I’m a harry homeowner type. I have a PD 36R, probably same functions. When I carry it at work (office) I have it on the low or 2nd setting. When I carry it out and about, I make sure it’s on the highest setting, and don’t worry about the strobe setting. I just want one button to give me the most amount of light for a defensive use - which is to blind someone to give me time to do whatever is next.


Regular Member
The PD36R has the newer 2-button tail switch setup. Do you like it? Looks much more usable to me than the tiny side button on mine.
I'd prefer to use mine like you say - but switching from one mode to the other takes me 20-30 seconds of looking at the light. Just super annoying, so I leave it on turbo at all times just in case.

Barry B

Regular Member
I read the specs on the pro. 1200 more lumen on the turbo mode, and no side switch. If my 36R dies I’d replace it with the pro just for those two reasons.


Regular Member
Still reading up on lights and watching reviews, lol. I think I just really want to replace that PD35.
Today I saw a comparison video by Werkz Holsters where he tests the runtime of various popular tactical-style flashlights (Modlite, Surefire, Cloud Defensive, Streamlight). On both the Cloud and the Modlite, they can only maintain their advertised brightness levels for a handful of minutes or less.
So essentially, although these don't have "modes" they are still subject to the same overheating "turbo mode" phenomenon. Not better than e.g. the Fenix lights. The Cloud was also measured at nearly 25% beneath advertised values in both lumen and candela.

I do own the Modlite PLHV2 pistol light, and when I compare it against my PD35, it just loses in every way. The spill is much better and brighter on the Fenix. But also the bright hotspot seems better on the Fenix! The Modlite is advertised as 54k candela, the Fenix only at 32k. Even when I turn the Fenix from turbo to high mode, which is advertised as only 11k candela or so, the Modlite isn't significantly (if at all) outperforming the Fenix.

Since I don't have access to a candela sensor, I tried holding them at different angles over an edge and see which one washes the other out more. Seemed to me the Fenix did much better there, at least on turbo, even though it's supposed to have half the candela!

Not sure what to make of that.

Very interested in the new Streamlight Protac 2.0 with 2000 constant lumens. No turbo, allegedly, though I haven't seen long-term tests. Quite a bit larger than the PD35/Modlite but has USB-C charging. But only 17k candela.

Sigh! Why is there no goldilocks light out there? Maybe I'll just upgrade to the PD36 Pro with tailcap mode switch and USB-C and a bit more output.

Barry B

Regular Member
Based on my experience (not LEO) with the PD36R, I don’t think you’d find the PRO lacking… but I don’t know what your use case is. I watched a video Active Self Protection did, and different lumens/candelas, and beem patters, made seeing things/people at night very different, or very easy…. One of the big things I’m not super focused on is on the high setting, how much does the light splash back on me. My use is to see when I need light, and have the luxury of time. OR, defensively to hit someone in the face with a assload of light in order to surprise and blind them, and give me options. Run time is not a huge concern, I don’t use it for long. If I needed to I’d use a low setting to up the runtime.

Good luck with whatever you purchase.


Regular Member
Just got the new Nitecore P23i. It's a little bigger than the 18650 light cause it uses a 21700 battery and the head is quite a bit wider, too. But its "high" setting is almost as bright/goes as far as the PD35's turbo-setting. I think the bigger head helps with heat dissipation and focusing the beam. Heat seems the #1 these LED lights struggle with.
Took it out for a test today and it seems nice. Spot is noticeably wider than the PD35 with what seems like the same intensity. I also much prefer the mode switch on the tail. It is easy to accidentally hit it, though, already happened that I accidentally turned the light down when turning it off, which lead to a surprise when next turning it on.
Interestingly though it has 2 modes - admin and tactical. In tactical mode, it doesn't remember your last light setting, it always starts off high. So accidentally changing the mode upon turning it off/pocketing wouldn't matter.
Also admin goes from low to high whereas tactical goes from high to low.
In admin mode, holding mode will turbo it. In tactical, it will strobe.
Too bad the Thyrm doesn't fit on it!