Monday, June 25, 2012

The Trouble with Twisties

Tonight I got a lesson in selecting lights for someone else. Michelle has been having cat troubles lately: she brought home a new kitten and her cat is upset about it to the point of running off and hiding for long periods, forcing Michelle to go searching for her at all hours of the night. She started out searching with the E01 I gave her, but that's obviously very limited for outdoor use, so I wanted to help out by loaning her something more powerful in case she has to go through the same thing again. I looked over my lights for an appropriate loaner. Of course I have an abundance of HDSes, but they're inappropriate due to value and complexity. I considered the Inova T1; it's got good power, runs a reasonably long time, has a simple on/off clicky, and the pleasing tint of its K2 TFFC distinguishes it as a torch of serious quality. It would serve well... but, its thick walls of anodized aluminum make it heavy for its size, and Michelle's tiny build makes weight a definite consideration. Also, loaning a light to a non-flashlight-person will always put the light at the greatest risk it will ever see, so I'd rather not send a nice anodized light off to get dinged and scratched up by someone who doesn't appreciate it.

Instead, I settled on the SureFire G2L. It's a little larger, but its plastic body makes it feel light, the plastic will shrug off drops and abusive handling with no lasting damage, it's secure and comfortable to hold even when out in the cold, and it puts out enough light to be pretty impressive to anyone not too jaded, though the tint is a little lacking. Plus its bright yellow color makes it somewhat endearing and difficult to lose. I thought I'd chosen a perfect light to send off to do a good deed.

But I was mistaken.... There was one thing I hadn't taken into account. I realized that a twisty switch is liable to cause initial turn on problems due confusion because many are so accustomed to MiniMags that they can't figure out which direction to twist, but I figured that wouldn't be an issue as long as I gave a quick demonstration of usage. What I didn't realize was the potential for problems with turning it off. When I use a true tactical switch (momentary button, twist for on), I hold the body in my hand and twist the tail between thumb and forefinger. However, someone with much, much smaller and weaker hands isn't going to do that naturally; instead, they'll grip the light with both hands and screw the tail down. This results in the tail getting cranked much harder than it ever would when I'm using it, to the point that it can be difficult to turn the light off if you don't have the necessary hand strength to break it loose again. And this is exactly what happened on the very night I gave her the light. I was on the phone with her while she was out using the light to search for the cat, and when she found, to our mutual dismay, that she wasn't able to unscrew it again. After some failed attempts on her part, I got the problem solved by advising her to gently step on the tailcap to hold it securely in place while she gripped the body of the light and used her weight to break it free, but the incident gave me pause to think about how tricky it can be to figure out what light features would be right and wrong for someone else. Turns out, I should have given her something more like the Inova.

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