We live in a world where we are in low light conditions for greater than 50% of our lifetime, whether by natural darkness or by the dark haunts created by man.
The Novatac 120E
By Mike Brown
We are not blessed with good night vision capabilities that other creatures on this planet have. Daily carry of a decent portable lighting device only makes good sense and is a great first step in promoting one’s personal safety in the event of an emergency. Eleanor Roosevelt was spot on correct when she once said, “It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.”
Enter the model 120E Every Day Carry high performance LED flashlight, made in the USA by NovaTac. I have been carrying the 120E for nearly two months in preparation for this review. Here are the 120E product specs as stated by NovaTac:
Battery Type: (1) CR123 Primary Lithium or RCR123
Light Source: White LED
• Primary setting: 10 Lumens (14 hrs. runtime*)
• Secondary setting: 42 lumens (2.5 hrs. runtime*)
• Minimum setting: 10 lumens (14 hrs. runtime*)
• Maximum setting: 120 Lumens (30 min. runtime*)
Lens: Polycarbonate w/Anti-Reflective Coatings
Dimensions: 1 inch x 3.3 inches
Weight: 3.1 Ounces (including battery)
Waterproof: 66 Ft.
Materials: Aerospace Grade Aluminum
Finish: Type III Hard Anodized
Warranty: Limited Lifetime Warranty
The 120E arrived in a heavy protective clamshell package and I was immediately impressed by noting that even the packaging was made and printed in the US. Opening the package, I was really impressed. The NovaTac 120e is built like a tank, capable of withstanding the daily use that it’s designed for. It came complete with battery and a removable pocket clip. I had some issues with the pocket clip and NovaTec assured me they would make it right. I couldn’t part with the light to send it back yet. It has been carried daily at work and has been with me on a tidewaters fishing trip and a camping trip to Gettysburg, PA.
Since my tactical days are long over, I really like the fact that the 120E is designed to initially turn on to the low power setting. At low power, the 120E emits 10 lumens of light. 10 lumens is sufficient for most chores, reading in the tent or camper, and moving about camp without stumbling over or into something. The 10 lumens emit a white center spot without the bluish tint that a lot of other lights seem to have. For what it’s worth, those 10 lumens are a whole lot brighter than any of the small flashlights that I had as a Boy Scout emitted. The side spill wasn’t excessive, but sufficiently wide enough to accommodate good peripheral vision.
At the 42 lumen secondary setting, maneuvering the trails was very easy. Any creature in the path would have been easy to spot at a safe distance. 42 lumens was sufficiently bright enough to be disruptive to other persons sleeping in the camper.
At 120 lumens, who needs sun? The 120 lumen setting really blasts out the light, reaching out to find the causes of those bumps and howls in the night. The 120 lumen setting really "shined" at work. A good deal of my job requires that I perform fire safety inspections in the nearly 300 businesses in our township. When doing those inspections, I take along a facility representative to point out any violations observed. The NovaTac 120E is now my go to light for performing those inspections. The lower light settings were ample for most of my inspection needs, which really extends battery life. However, in more than a few instances, the 120 lumen center spot was necessarily shone directly on the violation so that the facility rep couldn’t miss what I was citing.
What the specs above fail to point out is that the 120E is equipped with an emergency strobe feature. The strobe is easily activated and very bright. I believe that the strobe operates at or near the 120 lumen range. Regardless, our night time run up to Connecticut Hills to test the strobe proved that the strobe is not only easy to spot but hard to miss at the longest straight distance we could find – 1.2 miles from point a to point b.
What didn’t I like? Nothing really. I still have an unresolved issue with the pocket clip. That’s on me, as I couldn’t part with the light long enough to get the issue resolved. NovaTac has assured me quick turnaround whenever I get the light to them. Admittedly, I had a hard time getting used to the push/press circuitry interface to change the light from one setting to another. Again, that’s on me, NovaTac’s instructions were clear and concise. I’m just a bull in a China shop when it comes to such things. I got it now. Push on to 10 lumens. Press once again quickly for 120 lumens OR Press twice again quickly for 42 lumens OR Press three times quickly for strobe.
What would I like to see? I would LOVE to see an AA battery version of the 120E to match up with the other AA powered equipment I have to carry for work.
The NovaTac 120E Every Day Carry flashlight is a great personal light for any non-tactical application and even for some tactical applications. Its American made by true craftsmen and is a solidly built, capable performer.
The Novatac 120T
By Tim Stetzer
Mike did a great job on introducing you to the NovaTac 120 series and much of the specs of the 120E he tested and the 120T I used are the same. What does differ is that the T model has three light levels at 120 lumens, 10 lumens, and 0.3 lumens as well as a disorienting strobe. The key difference though is in how the light comes on when you first tap the button. Whereas the 120E comes on at its lowest power setting the T model defaults to the full 120 lumen level. As an active law enforcement officer I like having lots of light at the push of a button. I don’t mind having the other modes but I don’t want to cycle through them to turn the light off and I don’t want to turn the light on and find myself in a low output or strobe mode when I don’t want to be. I had to read through the manual myself to get the hang of the switching on the 120T but once I did so and worked with it a bit I found it easy to use. I liked being able to move between the full power mode and dimmer modes. 120 lumens are a bit much to sit and read in your car with, or inside your tent at night for that matter. Like Mike I found that the 10 lumen setting worked great for stuff around camp. It was nice though to be able to quickly bounce back to full power when I heard stuff crashing around the woods near camp at night. One time that I did that on a trip it was just a couple of does that I blinded, but it’s nice to be able to reach out with a powerful light and see that it isn’t a raccoon trying to get into your gear or a nosy coyote or bear.
I used the Novatac 120T for a couple of months. I used it steadily at work when on 4-12 and working overnight on call shifts, but I also carried it with me during the day. It isn’t uncommon to run into buildings without power, or with insufficient lighting and the 120T was compact enough to carry on me and have available for when I ran into those situations. It’s about half the size and twice the power of the duty lights I started with nearly 10 years ago. Run time is only listed at 30 minutes in the full power setting but in actual practice this wasn’t much of an issue. I’ve found over the years that typically I only use the high power on a light for short periods at a time by tapping the momentary button rather than giving a full hard press to keep the light on. I still have the original battery in the 120T that I started with a couple months ago. When I was using the light for longer periods of time it was generally on one of the lower power levels which provide substantially longer run times. The 120T’s 120 lumen and 10 lumen settings share the same run times as listed for the E model but the dim 0.3 lumen setting gives you an amazing 240 hours of run time. While 0.3 lumens aren’t tremendously bright I still found that it’s plenty for moving about at night, finding stuff in your text, etc. It’s definitely a lot better than not having any light at all! It’s also handy if you need some light but don’t want to draw attention to yourself or bother a tent mate when you wake up for something at night. Think about it, 240 hours is 10 days straight with the light on constantly. That’s plenty for even an unexpected extended stay in the woods, or for a long caving trip.
I also had some issues getting the clip on my 120T but once I found the instructions on the Novatac’s website FAQ section I got it on with minimal fuss. Mine worked just fine with no issues. It would be nice to have the instructions for installing the clip in the manual though; it did cause some consternation until I found the instructions online. Other than the documentation on the clip about the only other thing I might like to see is the same as Mikes: I’d love to see a AA model! Although some of my other work lights also use CR123 batteries I’ve been transitioning away from those and moving towards AA’s, especially for my woods gear. I can certainly deal with the CR123 with the 120T but a AA version would be excellent as well.
Both lights come in either black or gunmetal finishes. The 120E has an MSRP of $139.00 whereas the 120T is $149.00.Novatac is a newer name on the lighting scene having only been around since 2006 but they’re moving fast and making a name for themselves with folks looking for solid products with great support. If you’re in the market for a quality, American made light with some very innovative features for professional, EDC or field use then look no further than Novatac!
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