by Dr. Jim and Mary Clary
Like most folks, we have drawers full of flashlights that we’ve accumulated over the years. Some work and some don’t. Most commonly the non-functioning ones have broken bulbs, which was the major shortcoming of all flashlights prior to the advent of the LED (light emitting diode). It is hard to argue against the brightness of halogen or xenon bulbs in modern flashlights, except that the bulbs commonly fracture if you drop the flashlight. If you are on a hunting trip and moving around in the dark, it is easy to trip and fall, and the last thing you need to have happen is for your flashlight to malfunction. That is the most significant benefit of LED lights. You can drop them, submerge the good ones in water, sit on them and they still work.
The Stone River Gear flashlights are among the best on the market and if you take into consideration their price, they are likely the best for the buck. The high performance SRG3TAFS produces a discrete beam reaching beyond forty feet. There are significant differences in the LED's used in flashlights. The cheap LED lights sold in big box stores and at flea markets may have 9-11 LED's, yet their candlepower is measured in micro candelas. They average about 90,000 micro candelas (1,000,000 micro candelas =1 lumen) and their beams become diffuse and useless after a short distance. Whereas, the CREE LED's in the SRG flashlights produce illumination that is measured in lumens.
There is a sliding adjustable focus function that adjusts the beam from wide (flood) to a pinpoint beam (spot). The SRG3TAFS features three functions/output settings, producing 150 lumens on its 3-Watt setting, 80 lumens on its 1-Watt power-saving setting and 150 lumens on its strobe mode. If you are venturing into the woods at night, you want to see where you are going, what is up ahead and on occasion where you came from. Additionally, the head and barrel of SRG lights are machined from aircraft aluminum, rather than the thin-walled aluminum tubing found in knock-offs.
Features and Specifications
• Model: SRG3TAFS
• Telescopic focus adjusts beam from wide (flood) to pinpoint beam
• Positive three position push button switch
• 150 lumens high; 80 lumens low; 150 lumens strobe
• Cree LED technology
• Machined aircraft aluminum slider head and barrel
• Water resistant O ring seal construction
• 50,000 hour average LED life
• Operates on 3 AAA alkaline batteries (included)
• Extra Red and Green accessory lenses for Night vision and Sportsman that store in flashlight
• Formed nylon Belt sheath with pouch for spare batteries – lanyard included
• 10 year Limited warranty
• Length: 5"
• Bezel diameter: 1.25"
• Weight: 6 ounces (with batteries)
• 2012 MSRP: $34.95
We took an earlier model of this flashlight (SRG3TAF) with us on Jim’s Ibex hunt and asked each of the guides and our outfitter to give them a try. Because the guides frequently bring the hunters off the mountain at night, they need reliable flashlights. Prior to our arrival, all of the guides were using either the Surefire or small Maglights. While reliable, the guides didn’t like the expensive lithium batteries required for the Surefire and they all wished that they put out more light. They liked the Maglights for their tough construction and standard alkaline batteries, but complained about the Krypton bulbs breaking when dropped on the rocks, a common occurrence in the mountains. (Mini Maglights are also available with an LED light source that provides about 80 lumens output. -Editor.)
Neither of these problems exists with the Stone River Gear LED flashlights. They produce more lumens than either the Surefire or Mini Maglight and use standard AAA alkaline batteries. In addition, the guides loved the strobe function of the SRG, which made it easier for them to locate each other at night. By the second night, every one of the five professional guides and our outfitter were using the SRG lights to come off the mountain. Suffice it to say, when we asked them if they wanted to return the lights after the nine-day hunt was over, they declined and offered to pay us for the lights. We refused the money and James Economos of Stone River agreed to let them keep the lights. Since that hunt, the outfitter has ordered several dozen lights to give to his future clients.
As good as the SRG3TAF was, the folks at Stone River decided to improve it. The SRG3TAFS package includes a nylon belt sheath with a pouch for extra batteries. It also include red and green lenses for nighttime use that store under the lanyard cap at the back of the light. A red lens, of course, is required for astronomers in the field to preserve night vision. The SRG3TAFS is a bit longer than the SRG3TAF, with the on/off switch located just behind the slider head for convenient thumb access. Yet, with these improvements, the MSRP of the SRG3TAFS flashlight is still only $34.95 (2012 MSRP). It carries a 10-year warranty and costs about half the price of a comparable Surefire. If you can’t find SRG flashlights in your area, you can buy directly from their website at http://www.stoneriveroutdoors.com