I have a tendency to research potential purchases for days before committing on a product. One such purchase was to be my preferred EDC carry flashlight. My requirements were simple. It had to be small and light enough to make me want to carry it everywhere but powerful enough to use for self-defence or emergency signalling purposes. Reliability is another essential characteristic for any EDC item. The final requirement was cost. The small size of these tools makes them easy to loose and I would be hesitant to carry around a £200 titanium ubertorch. This brings me to another critical point. A flashlight is only useful if you are carrying it and as such the size requirement is perhaps the most critical.
An illustration of this is when my girlfriend and I went for a nice seaside walk alongside a marshland nature reserve. As the day moved on we walked further down the beach and over small streams of water returning to the sea. When we started to head back we found these small streams had become river mouths and had blocked our return to the car. Were it not for our camera equipment we would have swum the small distance but instead had to traipse across a few miles of marshland in the dark. In this situation a flashlight would have been pretty useful. At this time my only flashlight was a Surefire G2 and the large size of this flashlight made me less likely to carry it. My lesson was learnt!
When researching the current crop of high output LED torches several brand names come forward with a great reputation. Of these, 4Sevens is one of the most respected enthusiast manufacturers. My EDC requirements meant that my potential purchase must run from a single CR123 or AA battery in order to preserve portability. The Quark 123 stood out to me as an ideal size and design for an ultimate utility torch. Some more tactical flashlights come with edged bezels that are intended to be used as striking points in a self-defence scenario. To me these features are a negative as a police officer may consider it an offensive weapon however absurd an assertion as that may be. I also wanted a “forward clicky” type switch that allows momentary activation. The model of choice for me appeared to be the 4Sevens Quark 123 Tactical. I also wanted to get one of these for my girlfriend so chose a standard Quark 123 for her too. Both were purchased from Flashaholics.co.uk.
Both of these torches are quoted as producing 205 ‘out the front’ lumens but can also reduce their output down to 0.2 lumens or what is often called “moonlight mode”. The body is made of aircraft-grade aluminium that makes them both light and strong. I have had this torch for some time now and the worst thing to have happened to it is some minor scrapes on the paint work. The only potential durability problems I expect are within the LED and power regulation circuits that have to withstand a fairly high operating temperature and current. That said 4Sevens have a great 120 month warranty in place to cover defects in the product should a bad sample make its way through the quality control net.
The pertruding tailcap is the only visual feature to differentiate the tactical model from the rest of the Quark family. This is not the only difference however. The tactical model is programmed with two modes which are accessible via either tightening or loosening the head. On the standard model the various modes are accessed by pressing the tailcap switch multiple times but also twisting the head to change between mode cycles. This is best explained by the following info from the 4Sevens site:
Loosened Bezel: Moonlight -> Low -> Medium -> High -> SOS -> Beacon
Tightened Bezel: Max -> Strobe
This range of settings is ideal for utility purposes with the ability to select maximum power at the twist of the head. I however wanted to have the simple user interface of the tactical model that allows two modes to be programmed by tightening and loosening the head three times then cycling through the different output levels. I usually keep fully tightened as the max output and loose as 22 lumens for a general utility use when running in the dark ect.
Both of these torches have an orange peel type reflector that helps to disperse the light evenly to the cost of a limited amount of throw. The beam itself is remarkably consistent and free from rings or dark spots.
This flashlight has become a part of my every day life and looks to remain as such. I would certainly recommend this flashlight to other people looking for a great EDC torch. Should you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments section below.