When man set foot on the Earth time had already been separated into day and night. This sounds rather reasonable as long as man can complete everything he needs to do during the day. But in most cases it just doesn’t work out that way and for eons man stumbled in the darkness. Then came television and man was content in sitting around at night doing nothing. But have you seen television lately? Most men with half a brain are back to coming up with a way to see in the dark. Apparently I am not the only one to have this belief. All you have to do is to check out the number of new flashlights coming into the marketplace each year and you would be overwhelmed.
I have often wondered how big the demand for flashlights could be if all of these companies are vying for a market share. There is an advantage with this market boom. Companies are really investing in product development in an effort to outdo each other and that leads to a broad array of lights for the purchaser to choose from. But there is a disadvantage. Many of these new companies don’t have a track record as to customer service and reliability. However those are two factors I don’t have to worry about while testing the latest offering from GerberGear. After all, GerberGear and Gerber Legendary Blades are all part of the same company and their reputation is impeccable.
Most companies will increase their product line by offering one or two lights, but Gerber has taken a full dive into the market by listing 50 different models on their web site. Ideally, we would have all 50 in the studio and could do a side by side comparison to find just the right light to fit every need. The drawback would be that by the time I tested each light, Gerber would probably have another 25 to 50 lights being offered. However, I did get what I considered to be a good general purpose light in the studio for photographs and testing.
The Expert Military is a straight forward hand held light of the size and design that has become the modern day replacement for the old 2 “D” cell lights we knew as kids. In the 1950’s and 60’s we had two types of flashlights. One was called a lantern that was nothing more than a bulb and a nine volt dry cell that would give you ample light for an hour or two before converting itself in a good boat anchor. They where heavy, bulky, and generally the best we had at the time. The second flashlight was a model that used 2 “D” cell batteries and this light became the standard by which all other lights were judged. It would work for about an hour while gradually fading to total darkness. A well prepared family always kept extra batteries around the house because you knew that every time you pulled out the light it would fail to work. I don’t know what that flashlight was doing in that cabinet but it would wear itself out just sitting there. You knew that should the power fail you could always grab your flashlight. Then you could stumble around in the dark trying to find the spare batteries. If the light then worked, it usually required a few slaps in the palm of your hand to keep it going. Fortunately we have made a gradual progression from that point to the lights we use today. In fact, go camping with a group and try to find one of the old “D” cell lights still in use. In this modern time, the standard is still a two cell light but those batteries are now the Lithium CR123 batteries. The Gerber Expert Military is a classic example of the modern flashlight.
The Expert is machined of aircraft aluminum and comes with a Type III hard anodize black finish. Overall length is 5 3/8 inches and the Expert is 1 5/16 inches at it’s widest diameter. Output is rated 100 lumens for over 60 minutes and the light has regulated circuitry to maintain a constant out of light during it’s entire run time. The bulb is a high output true white LED and as mentioned, operates off of 2 CR123 batteries. The tail cap is a twist on-off affair that also has a tail cap button for momentary use. The expert is supplied with a reversible clip for pocket carry that is large enough to be used with MOLLE webbing. Gerber claims a waterproof rating of 3 meters but the best part is that the Gerber Expert Military is made right here in the USA.
To borrow a line from the movie, A Few Good Men, “Those are the facts and they are undisputed.” However, I want the truth and yes, I can take it. The basic specs of this light is similar to several other lights on the market and the only way to judge it’s true value is to put it to the test. After playing with the light in the studio I decided to get serious and replaced the batteries with new Energizer Lithium cells. I then turned it on and set it on top of a filing cabinet in sight of my desk so I could check it every few minutes. The power out put was a steady beam for about 75 minutes. At that point I noticed a slight flicker every few seconds and the output decreased. However, the beam was still rather bright and usable. Then at around the four hour mark the light switched off. This was not a gradual decline. You had a good useable amount of light until the end. If one test was good, two would be better and I repeated the process with similar results. To most, this one to four hours of run time may seem short for use in a situation where you loose power for an extended time. But remember, this light is designed to give you a high output of light for a set period of time. Very seldom will you need extended light and if you do, pick a light with an extended run time and less output.
Gerber claims a waterproof rating of three meters but I was not about to dive down nine plus feet and sit on the bottom of a lake to test a flashlight. I did pull out a plastic container and place the Expert under water for the second run time test. The light was sealed tight and the water had no effect what so ever. I did notice that Gerber uses two rubber “O” rings in it’s construction instead of the standard one used by other companies.
The twist on and off tail cap is similar to other brands and give you a positive on and off point. However, this is the one feature where I found a complaint. The momentary push cap required a decent amount of force to be activated. This may be a safety feature to prevent accidental use, but I prefer a click on, click off type of switch.
It was difficult to make a direct comparison of the light output of the Expert to other lights. The lens of the bezel is faceted to spread the beam of light to a wider extend than most lights. This may limit the distance of the beam over a light such as the Surefire E2L but it covers a wider area giving you the impression of a greater amount of light. In my test at night, the Expert would light up my entire back yard assuring anything out there could be seen. With this lens there are no dark spots or halos anywhere in the beam.