Sunday, April 25, 2010

UTG Swatforce LED Tactical Flashlight (200 Lumens) LT-EL338 Review

UTG Flashlight Review, UTB Swatforce Review, UTG Light Review, 200 Lumens Review
This review will actually have two main components.  The first will be the mechanical and functional aspects of the flashlight.  The second will be the illumination and battery life aspects of the flashlight.  I'm really looking forward to this review because over the years I have purchased a couple of Inova rechargeables (and rail mounts) and also a Streamlight TLR-1, plus some other no-name-brand LEDs.  I'm not saying I'm an expert in LED flashlights, but I have formed an opinion of what I like.  When I discovered that UTG has a 200 Lumens weapons mounted flashlight, I was excited to get one and checkout it out.  I ended up getting a Leapers UTG Swatforce LED Tactical Flashlight Model LT-EL338.

My first positive impression of the product was based on the packaging.  I would have to give UTG an A+ on the packaging.  I know that the quality of the package has nothing to do with the quality of the product, but it does give you a first impression on the product.

After you open the box, the flashlight and accessories are neatly packaged in a custom foam tray as shown below.

Inside the box is the flashlight, replaceable rail mount housing, three CR123A batteries, pressure switch and owner's manual.

The basic flashlight is made up of the following pieces.  After further study, I missed removing a rubber seal that is in the cap on the right in this photo.

The reflector and led unit is UTG's replaceable 37mm Integrated Reflector Bulb (IRB).  I prefer the texture of this type of reflector compared to the smooth reflectors.  They seem to give a more even spread of light within the beam area.

The portion that holds the reflector is made of aluminum.  Notice the o-rings at both end of the threaded areas.  With the lens holder and body of the flashlight attached, I would expect these to be very protected against moisture and dust.  I'm a little surprised that they do not make any claim about being water proof or resistant.  I'm sure they didn't for a reason, so I'm not going to do a water test.

The main body can be switched for either a hand held or integrated rail mounted body.  You choose one or the other.  For my purposes, I plan to keep it in the rail mounted main body configuration most of the time.  That way it is ready to mount on a rifle and is still usable as a handheld flashlight.  Basically I'm just paying a weight penalty for using it as a handheld.


One thing you need to understand is that this flashlight is solid.  As you can see in the photo below, the wall thickness is over 0.1" think.  This is great for ruggedness, but bad for weight.


The flashlight weighs in at the following weights (batteries installed) for the three basic configurations.

Hand Held Body and Push Button Switch was 9.47 ounces.  The Leapers website listed a weight of 9.8 ounces.  I would think they are referring to this configuration because the rail mount body is well over the 9.8 ounces.

Rail Mount Body and Push Button Switch, 12.24 ounces

Rail Mount Body and Pressure Switch, 12.83 ounces

The pressure switch and button switch make contact at the battery (copper plunger or spring) and the outside bare aluminum rings (silver looking area).  I think the reason they don't make any claims about water proof/resistance is that when you press the button switch, you break the seal protective seal in the end cap.

Pressure Switch                         Button Switch

I decided to include the operation instructions from the owners manual.  Basically when the button switch is installed, you can screw the end cap on tightly and it will turn the light on continuously.  With the end cap slightly lose, you can press the button switch to provide instant on and off capability.  If you remove the button switch and install the pressure switch, it operates by pushing on the pressure switch pad.  When I first started using the flashlight, it was not clear how tight the end cap would need to be for these to work properly.  With the pressure switch, you need to make sure the end cap is very tight so that it makes contact with the body.  The o-rings may make you think it is tight enough, but I found I had to really get it tight.  If you play around with it I think you will see what I'm talking about.  This was the same when you need to screw in the end cap for the button switch when trying to turn it on for the constant mode.

The next two photos show the flashlight in the rail mounted body configuration and then the rail mounted body along with the pressure switch installed.

One thing I really liked about this flashlight is that it becomes a relatively low profile light when mounted on a rail.  You can see in the photo below that there is very little room between the lens portion of the flashlight and the rail when mounted.  Up until now, I have been using my Inova lights with a separate light mount that causes the light to be further offset from the rail.

This concludes my first component of the review which was the mechanical and functional part.  So far this flashlight seems to be very rugged and protected from the elements.  I'm not a big fan of having to screw the end cap to turn the light to a continuous on state and would have preferred that feature to somehow be integrated into the push button part.  On the other hand, keeping the push button as a single mode of operations keeps things simple and sometimes simple is better.  I like the way the flashlight mounts to the rail with the thumb nuts and it being low profile.  So far, I'm believing it is worthy of the $60 price tag.

In this next section of the review, I plan to look at the illumination and battery life aspects of the flashlight.  For the illumination review, I'm going to compare the UTG flashlight against the Inova T4 and the Streamlight TLR-1.  Since they are not all the same lumens, what I'm looking for is to compare beam characteristics and overall releative brightness against each other.  Inova and Streamlight make some excelent products and this should give you an idea on how the UTG stacks up.  The flashlights being compared are shown in the next photos and lumens rating of each is shown below.

  • Streamlight TLR-1 - 135 Lumens

  • Inova T4 - 175 Lumens

  • UTG Swatforce - 200 Lumens

The next three photos were taken with my camera set to manual mode, ISO 1600, F3.5, 1/160s at 64" from a block wall painted white.  The actual brightness on the wall seen with your eyes is much brighter than that shown in the photos, but I needed to reduce the amount of light getting to the camera so that the photos didn't over saturate with white in the full area similarly to the center spot.

Streamlight TLR-1

Inova T4

UTG Swatforce

Since the center spots in the photos above was so saturated with light, I decided to reduce the light further so that we may be able to compare the intensity of the center spots against each other.  I changed the effective film speed from ISO1600 to ISO100 and took these next three photos.

Streamlight TLR-1

Inova T4

UTG Swatforce

From the two groups of photos above, I think the first group shows that the UTG has a brighter larger flood area of light.  The second group shows that it has a brighter more focused center spot area.  I have been extremely pleased with both my Streamlight and Inova because of the their illumination characteristics (flood and spot).  The UTG being a 200 lumen flashlight does appear brighter than the 175 lumen Inova and is clearly brighter than the 135 Lumen Streamlight.  The photo below shows how the UTG looks when you shine it on the wall (camera was in automatic mode).  At 64" from the wall, the beam diameter was 77".

For the battery life test, I replaced the batteries with a fresh set Rayovac batteries.  I placed the camera 64" from the wall and set the exposure to manual mode.  I used the same setting used in the first group above, ISO 1600, F3.5, 1/160s.  Remember this camera setting is with the exposure reduced to keep the photo from washing out.  The actual wall looked much brighter.  I started out taking photos every 15 minutes for the first hour then every 5 minutes thereafter.  The photos below show the data.

Light turned on - 0 minutes

90 minutes

120 minutes

150 minutes

180 minutes

190 minutes

200 minutes

210 minutes

220 minutes

230 minutes

240 minutes - the actual light at this point was about as much as you would get from a key chain LED.

UTG states this flashlight is good for 90 minutes.  I'm not sure what battery they used to rate the flashlight, but the Rayovacs I used made it double that (190 minutes) before showing any noticeable reduction in intensity.  In my mind, UTG could have rated the flashlight longer than 90 minutes.

Bottom Line: 
The UTG Swatforce 200 Lumens Flashlight delivers as advertised.  I prefer a push button switch that will turn the flashlight to a continuous on beam, but I'm getting used to the screw in cap.  This flashlight has a good beam quality (my preference) and is brighter than a comparable 175 lumen flashlight (which it should be).  The battery run time seemed great at over double the advertised time.  Would I recommend this flashlight?  Yes.  I'm actually going to put my Inova to the side and start carrying this light on my rifle for those night hunts due to the increased lumens.
Update 10/22/13:
The light held up well on a 12 gauge shotgun when shooting 00 buckshot.  Unfortunately, over this past year, the LED has shown a significant decrease in brightness.  My guess is that the total output of the LED with new batteries is less than 75 lumens.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Leapers UTG Foldable Foregrip Review

Leapers Review, UTG Review, Foregrip Review, RB-FGRP170 Review
It will be hard not to be biased with this review considering I own three of these foregrips.  Originally my son purchased a foregrip for his Ruger 10/22.  After shooting his rifle, I liked the feel of the grip and am always looking to add some bling to my rifles.  So, I started looking for a foregrip for my rifle.  The issue I had with my son's first grip was that it was not a foldable grip and caused his rifle to no longer fit in our current gun cases with the foregrip installed.  While we were at a gun show, I checked out the UTG Foldable Foregrip and made my purchase.  I think the price I paid for my first foregrip at the gun show was $25.  You can buy them now at for $16.95 plus S&H or for $15 plus S&H.  The photo below is the grip inside the packaging.

These two photos are of the front and back of the cardboard backer and show UTG's basic advertising information.  You can get this same information at their website.

This foregrip comes fully assembled and included is an Allen wrench for installation.

When you remove the bottom cap, you can remove the two sides to install a pressure switch housing on either side of the grip.

The compartment in the grip holds two 123A batteries.

The end cap spring keeps the two batteries from rattling and the o-ring makes the compartment water tight.  It is difficult to get the cap back on with two batteries because you have to apply pressure to compress the spring and then screw it in at the same time.  Make sure you start the threads properly because the plastic threads are easy to get cross threaded.

The next photo shows the foregrip in it's basic vertical configuration.

By pressing the button at the pivot, the foregrip can rotate about 45 degrees in either direction.

It can also rotate to what I 'm going to call a fully collapsed position in either direction.

The grip weighs in at 5.47 ounces.

I have shown the grip installed on my Ruger 10/22.  Also in the photo the is UTG Tactical OP-1 Bipod that I reviewed last week.  You will probably also notice that I have the UTG quad rail on this rifle.  Don't worry, I don't work for UTG.  I just believe that UTG offers some great value items and have purchased them over the years.

These are my three UTG Foldable Foregrips installed on my AR-15, my son's 10/22, and my 10/22.

Bottom Line: 
I believe that the UTG Foldable Foregrip offers quality, features, and value.  Would I recommend this foregrip?  Yes, I already own three.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Command Arms Accessories (CAA) Pistol Grip Review Model UPG16

CAA Review,  Pistol Grip Review, Command Arms Review, UPG16 Review
As with many AR-15 owners, I have been in the process of adding accessories.  Since my AR-15 is an older A-2 Sporter II, it comes with the standard pistol grip.  I have been admiring the looks and feel of the aftermarket pistol grips and decided to give the CAA Pistol Grip Model UPG16 a try.  One of the things I liked most about this grip is that you can customize it to what feels best in your hand.  You can purchase them now at for 29.95 plus S&H.  When you purchase the grip it comes in a very simple bag as shown below and has no installation instructions.  Since installing it is not rocket science, that is not a big deal.

The following photo shows what you get inside the bag.  I took all the pieces apart so the individual parts were clear.  I used a small Phillips screwdriver to push out the retaining pins.  Basically there is the main grip handle, three different size finger inserts, three different size palm inserts, two retaining pins and a cap for the bottom of the grip.

The photo below shows the shape of the three finger grips (left to right, large, medium and small).  The sizes are marked on the inside of the grip.  Also notice that the tab on top of the insert slips under a lip on the main grip handle and the tab on the bottom of the insert nests in a space at the bottom.

The photo below shows the shape of the three palm grips (left to right, small, medium and large). The sizes are also marked on the inside of the grip.

The first thing I needed to do was take off my old grip.  To do this, you take a screw driver and remove the bolt holding the grip to the lower receiver.  Be careful because there is a small spring that is retained by the grip as seen in the second photo below.  When it pops out, just make sure you find it and put it back in place when installing the new grip.

Since I had the old grip off and am replacing it with a new grip, I wondered if there was any weight penalty.  The old grip weighed in at 2.55 ounces.  The new basic configuration of the grips (small finger & small palm insert, then medium, then large) were 3.25, 3.36 & 3.46 ounces.  So basically you are adding somewhere between 0.70 and 0.91 ounces, which is not very much.

Original Grip, 2.55 ounces

Grip with Small Inserts, 3.25 ounces

Grip with Medium Inserts, 3.36 ounces

Grip with Large Inserts, 3.46 ounces

I installed the main grip handle and then tried a bunch of variations of inserts.  I chose the large finger insert because I like the feel of the ridges between my fingers.  I then decided on the medium palm grip.  Once you decide on the inserts that feel best, then you push the retaining pins back in place (which takes quite a bit of effort).

Last you put the lower grip cap back in place.  You could use this area to store some items because the cap is very secure when in place.

Photo of the other side of my rifle.

Bottom Line: 
I like the look and feel of the CAA Model UPG16 Pistol Grip. With it's multiple configurations (up to 9 different configurations), I think nearly anyone could find a configuration that fits their hand.  The grip installed on the rifle easily and there is very little weight penalty for swapping to this grip.  Would I recommend this grip?  Yes.