Tactical Flashlight Comparison: The eGear XT-130 vs. The Fenix TK12
Let me state for the record up front that I have absolutely no credentials in, or really any business doing a flashlight review. I really only got interested in tactical flashlights due to the “Tactical Training Tuesday” (T3) gun league I’m involved with at Sim-Trainer. Some of the competitive training scenarios we do are low-light, and require proficiency with a hand-held, tactical flashlight. It’s a handy skill to have when you think about it – if you experience a home invasion, chances are it will be at night.
A tactical flashlight offers three important offensive and defensive capabilities. Firstly, it allows you to better see your target in a low-light situation. Second, it allows you the ability to temporarily blind and/or stun your attacker. Third, it provides the option to use it as a melee weapon in a hand-to-hand engagement.
When I first joined the T3 League and found out we’d be doing the occasional low-light scenario, I found myself in need of a tactical flashlight. The eGear XT-130 was recommended to me by a friend:
The eGear XT-130 has a list price of $45.00 – a price which seemed unconscionable to me for a mere flashlight. Little did I know that the eGear XT-130 was among the most inexpensive options out there in the tactical flashlight market. And for the price, it has pretty impressive features and is perfectly adequate for tactical use. The LED runs off two Lithium 123 A batteries (a set are included) and puts out a manufacturer stated 130 lumens – certainly enough see what you’re shooting at in a dark room or hallway, and to temporarily blind an unaware attacker. I used the XT-130 in a low-light exercise in the T3 league, and found that it performed admirably.
Seeing the utility of the tool, I soon ran into a bit of a problem in how best to use it. Where to keep it? Keeping it in my bedside table drawer with my pistol seemed to be the logical choice if I needed to use it for self-defense at home. But the scenario-of-the-night at the T3 League is always a surprise – you never know ahead of time when you’ll need to have your flashlight with you. So I had taken to keeping the XT-130 in my gun bag so I wouldn’t forget it. Subsequently, it wasn’t doing me much good other than on league night. Many people always keep their tactical flashlight with them – clipped to their belt or shirt pocket. I wear a suit most days, and didn’t think the XT-130 would go so well in my shirt pocket next to my Montblanc pen, so I don’t see carrying the flashlight during the week in the office. So I came to the conclusion that having two tactical flashlights would be ideal – one to keep in my car, and one for the bedside table drawer.
I began doing a little more research into the tactical flashlight, and quickly determined that the manufacturer Surefire is the recognized leader in this product segment. Accordingly, their price points are considerably higher than the eGear XT-130…most of their products seem to run between $150.00 to over $300.00. Considering the fact that I had some sticker shock when I purchased the eGear XT-130, I didn’t see myself spending that much for a second flashlight. Then a friend recommended I check out the Fenix brand. Fenix is a Chinese manufacturer which has gained a reputation of manufacturing flashlight products of comparable quality to Surefire, at a much lower price point. When I trolled the flashlight discussion forums (I was as surprised as you are that there are discussion forums for flashlights….) I discovered many positive testimonies to the Fenix tactical flashlights. In researching their website, I determined the Fenix TK12 would likely suit my needs very well. I then did a search on eBay, and found several listings for the TK12 from reputable sellers, and placed an order which came in just over $70.00 with shipping. The price was about double of what I paid for the eGear XT-130, but less than half the price of comparable offerings from Surefire.
Since the eGear XT-130 was my only real frame of reference for judging a tactical flashlight, I decided a comparison with the Fenix TK12 was in order.
From a form factor standpoint, the Fenix TK12 fairly similar to the eGear XT-130 – the TK12 is a bit longer, and it’s head is slightly larger in diameter:
The heads of both units are designed with “teeth” which make them useful as a stabbing weapon in hand-to-hand self-defense:
The XT-130 is comprised of a composite plastic material which makes it light weight. The TK12 however is constructed from airplane grade aluminum and is heavier, with a much sturdier feel. You could probobly hurt someone with the XT-130, but you could really do some serious damage if need be with the TK12.
From an output standpoint, the TK12 is listed as having a maximum output of 280 lumens, and claims to throw a beam over 200 meters. John Q. Public doesn’t have a real good way to measure “lumens” so I imagine manufacturers may take some liberties with these numbers. What I can tell you is, the TK12 is quite a bit more powerful and brighter than the XT-130 as the below photo attempts to convey:
So in real world terms, how much brighter is the TK12? Let me put it this way – used correctly the XT-130 is perfectly capable of temporarily blinding an attacker. The TK12 however, will blind both your attacker, and two generations of your attacker’s offspring. It’s really quite powerful. The TK12 has some nifty programmable modes of operation too. My favorite is the strobe effect, which would also be extremely effective in disorienting a would-be assailant.
The TK12 also comes packaged with some nice accessory items – a stark contrast from the eGear XT-130 package which only included batteries. The TK12 comes with a very nice and usable holster, an attachable clip, a lanyard, an orange replacement button fro the rear of the light, and two spare “O” rings. I’m not sure why I need spare “O” rings, but the TK12 comes with not just one, but two!
If you’re looking to spend the least amount of money possible, the eGear XT-130 is a perfectly good option, and I plan to keep mine in my bedside table drawer. But in most every respect, the Fenix TK12 is a superior performing product, and arguably a better value given the accessories which are included. I plan on keeping it in my car so I can grab it when I have to make those dark walks in and out of restaurants, movies, etc. And of course so I’ll always have it for T3 League. 🙂
John B. Holbrook, II
John B. Holbrook, II is a freelance writer, photographer, and author of ThruMyLens.org, as well as LuxuryTyme.com and TheSeamasterReferencePage.com. *All text and images contained in this web site are the original work of the author, John B. Holbrook, II and are copyright protected. Use of any of the information or images without the permission of the author is prohibited.