Gear Review: The Flashlight to End All Flashlights?

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This is it. The bad boy. The big mamma-jamma.

"In the red corner… at over 17" long and more than three pounds with batteries… stands COAST's flagship, the HP314!"

(Sound like a monster? That's because it is.)

Remember the HP14 that I reviewed a while back? Well, this is his ridiculously powerful brother. The bad boy. The big mamma-jamma. And yes, the announcer's specs are correct. With a maximum of 1132 lumens of light output (to put that into perspective, the first ever halogen headlight put out 1200 lumens on high-beam mode) and an ability to run at that high level for 4 hours and 15 minutes, you shouldn't ever come up shorthanded in the illumination department. The light is reported to throw some serious photons over 2,200 feet away when focused into a tight beam.

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Speaking of focusing, the mechanism felt familiar—it shares the same push/pull focusing technology, but without the locking mechanism of the HP14 (twisting the lens head just doesn't do anything). 

Weight: 1458g / 3lb. 3oz., by my measure with the necessary four D-cell batteries. It's hefty enough to be used as a weapon, and I imagine would hurt like hell if used for a quick defensive tap when held up by the neck. 

Length: Anywhere from 43.5cm (17 1/8") to 45.5cm (17 3/4"), depending on the slide-focus position.

Price: MSRP is $349.99, however Amazon has it for $174.25 with Prime shipping.

Material/case: Aluminum casing with a rubberized O-ring for water resistance. The lanyard again serves as an anti-roll device, but comes with a rubber butt cap that covers it up. If you'd like to carry the flashlight slung with the shoulder strap (included), there's two plastic rings with connection points that slide over the handle itself. (Maybe COAST took my advice—remember how I really wanted a shoulder strap, so I just made one myself?)

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Batteries: 4 D-cells, slid in through the end cap. There's high-, low-, and strobe-modes for this light, toggled with the switch they've (thankfully) moved up to the neck of the light, exactly where you have to hold it because of its weight. Battery life is given as almost 4.25 hours on "high," 192 hours on "low."

Light output and beam distance: High-output: 1132 lumens, with a max reach of 683m / 2240ft. Low-output is 95 lumens, with a max reach of 185m / 607ft.

Pros: Durability—consistent with the HP14's ruggedness—and the fact that they've included some rubber baby buggy bumpers for the front and rear of the light. You don't have to keep them on there, but it's a nice bit of insurance against the thumps and bumps of everyday life. Plus, if you keep it on a nightstand or something, it won't scratch your furniture. The beam output is unbelievable—I took this thing camping a while back, and the close-focused beam aimed into the night sky looked like a lightsaber. The "wide" focus is incredibly spread out, and can be used to illuminate a quite large area (if I held it above my head, I could light up the whole campsite we were using with more light than we could ever need. Its truly impressive once you see it, and proved very useful for us to find some lost equipment that night.) I'm glad they moved the on/off switch up to the neck, as well—you'd need two hands to turn the thing on if it was still a rear push-button.

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Cons: The size and weight of this flashlight is unbelievable. It's far too bulky for a regular carry, and would be best served as a light for your car or in your home in case of a power outage. COAST says that it's marketed to search-and-rescue workers and law enforcement, so I suppose it could find a niche there, but I found it too cumbersome to carry around regularly (let alone slung over my shoulder on a fire. I'd get stuck trying to walk through a doorway!) I did bring it to work a few times, and while I wouldn't carry it in on everything, it came in handy a few times. Car accidents, poorly lit buildings while searching for fire alarm panels, sloshing through water-filled basements with no lights trying to shut off a sprinkler pump… a few situations come to mind. I had fun beating it up.)

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And although I praised the new button placement, the front plastic ring that the shoulder strap clips to snugs right up to the button and makes it hard to find or actuate when fumbling in the dark (see photo). Also, since these two rings are plastic, I'm not sure how durable they'll be compared to the rest of the materials. My biggest complaint, however? Is that the head of the flashlight is so heavy that it tends to re-focus itself if you're not holding it perfectly level. Aim it downward, and it slides itself to a close-focus beam when I wanted the wide spot. Aim it up at something, and it goes wide when I needed a concentrated beam. The twist-lock function of the HP14 might come in handy here. One more thing about the focusing: even if I'm actually trying to focus it, the weather sealing on it is a little too airtight. As in, if I try to move the beam head forward or back too fast, you can feel either a vacuum or a springy bit of pressure returning the focus back to where it was. It's hard to explain, but basically you have to focus slowly and deliberately, othewise it plays games with you. A small issue, but an annoying one nonetheless.

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If you're looking for the biggest, baddest, most window-smashingly awesome light out there, you'd probably be very happy with the HP314. If you're someone who has drooled over the Fenix TK70, consider the HP314. It's a great light in a great, durable package, if you're willing to sacrifice weight and size. 

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P.S. – I forgot to mention that it comes in the most awesome padded ballistic nylon case. The package looks like it should hold firearms, or something. Sorry for the crappy cell phone picture, but I was so excited when I first got the HP314 that I just HAD to take a picture, and I didn't have my usual camera. 

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Alex Capece

Washington, D.C. Firefighter and Paramedic
Comments
stephen miller
St. Baldrick’ Support a Fellow Brother Fighting Pediatric Cancer!
Great job, brethren ... be bald (bold) even off the fire ground.
2014-02-22 09:33:24
John Struve
St. Baldrick’ Support a Fellow Brother Fighting Pediatric Cancer!
As I read all the above I wondered "How does it work?" Are fire personnel asking for pledges from the public to be paid to this charity when the personnel have their heads shaved? The ad above was not clear to me. I will read it again. The charity is certainly a very worthwhile cause.…
2014-02-22 06:20:28
“Social Media Policy”how does it affect the bloggers? | Raising Ladders
A word of caution for the chronic Facebook addicts.
[…] over three years ago, I penned a post regarding how firefighters and EMS providers were landing themselves in hot water by using various […]
2014-01-07 17:55:57
Jonny Hope
Farewell, brother.
So very well said Brother. Mike was such an awesome guy. Sure am gonna miss him and his stories. Mike touch so many people on and off the job. Mike will continue to live on in so many of us. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful tribute with us about Mike. 
2013-12-04 21:49:48
Scott Jones
Farewell, brother.
A Very toching tribute from a true brother. Thoughts and prayers to his family and his brothers and sisters in DC.  Scott Jones, BC Springfield, MO
2013-12-04 19:38:25

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