Ok. So it’s a torch.
Not the most exciting piece of spy kit you are ever going to come across, but everyone has to start somewhere. And bear in mind that much of the kit that a spy carries will be off the shelf material. If you need to take photos of a nuclear base, why not just take a big camera and pretend to be a tourist? If you start snapping with a Minox hidden in your shoe, it can be hard to talk your way out of and the next thing you know you are in a concrete basement belonging to the local security service having your nether regions re-arranged with a cattle prod.
Besides you would be amazed at the number of times you need a torch but don’t have one. Also, spies have slightly different requirements than most flashlight users. We need to see where we are going, but we also need to know that we can kill someone with it if we have to (just kidding … but, read on).
Since the words ‘tactical flashlight’ became sexy, the market has been flooded with cheap Chinese torches claiming anywhere up to 2500 lumen for under £20. With that kind of power you should be able light up the moon. Given how dodgy some of these Chinese ratings are you could be lucky to light up next door’s cat. We have chosen the Ledeak not because it is the best, but because it was in the office and we have used it operationally.
In summary, it does the job. The construction is robust. It is water resistant, made of aluminium and the fact that it uses LEDs means that (in our tests) you can drop it and it still works. Being able to use either AAA batteries or the rechargeable pack that comes with it is also a bonus.
For espionage use it ticks several boxes:
1) It is small enough to keep in an overcoat pocket so it is likely to be there when you need it. It is probably too heavy for a dinner jacket, but that’s what mobile phone torches are for.
2) It has one button operation. This means that you can operate it with one hand while reaching for your knife, gun or white flag of surrender with the other. You don’t have to twist a focus ring to operate it as you do with some flashlights. On the other hand, that single button is also used to cycle through the five light modes (high /medium /low /strobe and SOS). The button is so sensitive that getting the right setting can be a right pain in the a*se. And if you plan on using the strobe function for defence (see below) you need to be sure that you can be both quick and right.
3) Self-defence. Of course the best self-defence flashlight is a ten pound, quadruple D Maglite with a twelve inch handle that you can wield like a Viking battleaxe. But that kind of hardware is kind of hard to slip into the pocket of a gabardine macintosh (look it up) and in the meantime this flashlight has three (minor) combat advantages:
a) it is small enough to fit in your fist if you are going to punch someone and need that extra bit of heft;
b) it has a strobe function (hands up those who have seen Kick Ass). The light is strong enough to disorientate an attacker if shone directly in their face, but with the strobe it works even better;
c) it has a sharply ridged focus ring so if you jab it in someone’s face there is a good chance of “collecting some DNA” as a US Marine Corps combat instructor once told me. This raises an interesting point. You can buy some flashlights where this type of edged focus ring is an optional extra. Now, you can be charged with carrying anything as an offensive weapon if a police officer believes that you could make use of it. It really doesn’t matter what it is. In the UK, police officers have seized face paints and rubber balloons from protestors as offensive weapons and the courts have upheld their decision. Go figure. So you still might face attention from this. But if it is a built-in part of a legally purchased item then you probably have a far better chance of talking your way out of trouble than if it is a special attachment you have just screwed on the end so you can whack someone on the schnoz.
This flashlight isn’t going to settle a fight, but it does give you some options and possibly some confidence which is the next best thing.
Price: £15.99 in the UK or $16.99 for two in the US (for some strange reason)
Rating: 3* out of 5 which means it does the job, but it’s nothing special.
PS Can we do jet packs or something next time?