For a long time (as far I can remember) torches (or flashlights as some would call them), were for the most time crap (to put it politely). They were either made out of moulded plastic or sheet metal, ran on one, two or three batteries, and used an incandescent bulb. While they were functional, they did have several drawbacks, such as (but not limited to):

  • Low light output.
  • Low battery light.
  • Fragile bulb (prone to blow or break when dropped, or subject to impact).
  • Inefficient (not so much a problem with the torch, just the nature of the technology of the time).
  • Plastic body prone to breakage when dropped.
  • Metal body prone to denting, warping or breakage when dropped.
  • Not very reliable (the old horror cliché of the torch flickering as the bad guy comes near)

(ABOVE) Some older crappy style of torches.

Even the torches used by the military were not that much better either, for a considerable amount of time that was the way things were.

(ABOVE) A World War Two era German Torch.

(ABOVE) An older style US Army and one being used by an US Army soldier by a “Tunnel Rat” (Circa Vietnam War).

Then in around 1979, Maglite introduced their torches to the market, after their introduction, it set a new standard for torches in terms of reliability, durability and power output (however, truth be told this was a combination of the bulbs being used and the number of batteries in the torch, rather than a new design). Upon their introduction, Maglites immediately became popular with police, law enforcement personnel and the military.

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(Above) SAS Troopers with MP-5 smg fitted with Maglites.

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(Above) Stereotypical image of policeman with torch (usually a Maglite)

For a good period of time, Maglites were pretty much the only decent torch you could get. Due to its reliability and durability, Maglites also make very good improvised weapons for self defence due to their strength*. Today, there are many manufacturers who make high quality torches (such as Nitecore, Surefire, Streamlite and LED Lenser to name a few), all coming in different shapes and sizes, different materials, and different types of bulbs. Gone are the days where incandescent bulbs were common, today LED’s are the norm, such as Cree LEDs and COB (Chips on Board) LED to name a few. Some even have outputs as high as 1000 lumens running off a single AA battery. However, I still believe that Maglites still have their place and despite today crowded market, their products are still a high bench mark for other competitors. Even the older models are still good torches, and with an LED upgrade, have the potential to perform just as well.

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(Above) An example of a modern torch

In this blog, I will be reviewing the Maglite D cell models, mainly the 3D and the 4D models. I bought these torches a few years ago at Bunnings warehouse and at Surplus city.

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I first purchased the 4D model back in 2009, from Surplus City if I remember correctly. During the time, I wanted something to carry around while working night shifts and something to use for self defence. I bought the 4D Maglite for around $40.

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The 4D Maglite has the following specifications:

  • LED Bulb
  • Spare Xennon bulb in tail cap
  • Water-Resistant  IPX4
  • Length 14 23/32 in. (375 mm)
  • Beam distance (267m)
  • Color Black
  • Type Full Size
  • Lumens 98 lm
  • Barrel Diameter 1 9/16 in. (39.67 mm)
  • Head Diameter 2.25 in. (57 mm)
  • Batteries Not included
  • Battery Type D Cell Alkaline
  • Battery Quantity 4
  • Weight With Batteries 36 oz. (1043 g)
  • Water Resistant and impact resistant.

My first impression of the torch was generally positive, it was well made, the fit and finish was very good, and overall the torch felt extremely tough (which explains why one of the advertising slogans of Maglite of the time was it could survive getting run over by a 18 wheeler truck). Even though it is advertised as water resistant, I would not use this as a dive or marine light.

According to the Maglite, their torches are made out of “aircraft grade aluminum”, which could mean either 6061 or 7075 grade aluminum. Either way, The Maglite I have is definitely built robustly.

I was most impressed by the light out put of the LED bulb, during the time 98 lumens was extremily good. In all honestly, it was a very good torch and I felt safer travelling at night knowing I had it with me. However, after carrying the 4D Maglite for few months, I found it a little too heavy for my liking. While I do admit it would make a good club, I felt it was too slow to be a good weapon.

Later on, after another trip to Bunnings Warehouse, I picked up another 2 Maglite, but this time I bought the 3D LED version. The 3D version, has the following specs.

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  • Water-Resistant  IPX4
  • Color- Black
  • Drop Resistance 1 m
  • Type -Full Size
  • Technology LED
  • Lumens 130 lumens
  • Length 12 11/32 in. (313 mm)
  • Beam Distance 412 Meters
  • Barrel Diameter 1 9/16 in. (39.67 mm)
  • Run Time High 80h
  • Head Diameter 2.25 in. (57 mm)
  • Batteries Not included
  • Battery Type D Cell Alkaline
  • Battery Quantity 3
  • Power Management No
  • Weight With Batteries 30 oz. (856 g)

Like the 4D version, I was extremely impressed with the overall quality of the two Maglite, furthermore, the 3D models had an even larger light output of 130 lumens. Due to its size and brightness, I found the Maglites to be very useful. I found the combination of its weight and length to be a perfect billy club for self-defence.

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(ABOVE) 4D Maglite mounted in a car

Today in 2018, I have used the Maglites on a daily basis, at home, at work, in a trade environment and I have used them for some emergencies (such as blackouts and chasing an intruder away from my house).

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(ABOVE) The Maglites today, still looking just as good as the day I bought them.

I have dropped them, I have misplaced them, and in one of the, the batteries exploded and leaked battery acid due to the hot weather. Despite all this, the torches are still holding up strong, I have them at home, one at work, and one mounted in my car. I do admit, that when compared to smaller modern lights, the light output is not as good, but the old Maglites can do something that the modern lights can’t, to use as a legal billy club. 

Another advantage I like about the Maglites is their range of after market accessories and availability of spare parts, such as:

  • End caps,
  • Switches,
  • Bulbs (LED upgrades),
  • Carrying straps and etc.

They make it a very good torch, and providing that spare parts are available, one can easily maintain them, and they will last for a long time.

While it may be psychological, I feel more secure with a Maglite when I am investigating a bump in the night or when I am walking around in the dark. Furthermore, they have a good old nostalgic feel to them, and I just feel more confident with them, and that is in my opinion, something the newer lights cannot do.

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(*Disclaimer: all information presented here is for information and entertainment purposes only, all opinions and advice is based on the author’s experience and knowledge. The author is not liable for any damages resulting in the misuse of the information provided. By using this blog, the reader is aware that this article does not constitute any form of legal advice.)

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