Unfortunately, for me mainly, this review of the Fenix PD30 comes to you from a tragedy. I lost my beloved Fenix Tk10 flashlight at some point this summer. Although a bit heavier and wider than the PD30, I loved my Fenix Tk11 for its simplicity and the fact that it was my first “real” flashlight. That thing came with me everywhere I went, oh the memories…
But since I lost it, I needed a new one and one that addressed some of the gripes I had about the Tk11. I looked at the E1L Outdoorsman Flashlight by SureFire, which my friend owns. Although being very compact and well-built, it just didn’t have all the features that I was looking for, especially in the way of brightness. Which is very surprising given the Surefire name and price tag and the PD30 being half the price. I’ll probably still get a E1L someday because they do look pretty damn cool.
What is the brightness of the PD30 R5? A whopping 257 lumens at max. This is much brighter than my previous Tk10 which topped out at 225 lumens. Similar to the TK10, the PD30 has two brightness modes which can be selected by turning the front bezel. Fully tight is turbo, slightly loosened is general. The “turbo” mode puts out a beam at 257 lumens, and “general” at 10 lumens (TK10 has a general mode at 60 lumens). However, unlike the TK10, the general mode can be stepped up by just softly pressing (not a click) the tail cap switch. First on, 10 lumens. Soft press and you bump up to 67 lumens, another soft press and you bump up to 124 lumens. One more and you activate an integrated S.O.S. signal. And yes, it’s actually S.O.S, not just a strobe. The turbo mode does have a high speed strobe which can be activated by a soft press after clicking on at turbo mode. All due to the XPG-Cree R5 bulb with an over 50,000 hour lifespan, this is an improvement from the previous iteration using the XR-E bulb.
I personally don’t care for a strobe mode that much, as its touted as much more “tactical” option. But I suppose it has its merits of disorienting a potential assailant, in case a 257 lumen flood lamp in their face doesn’t? I just worry the strobe would disorient me just as much as it would an attacker.
Did I mention the crenulated bezel and lightweight aluminum housing? Crenulated = face smasher. I chose the PD30 for it’s 4.65 inch length because it protrudes an inch out of my hand while holding it Jason-style. That’s what I like to call it, I suppose other people would call it reverse grip. But that just doesn’t have the same ring to it, now does it?
The aluminum housing weighs in at a scant 1.87 oz, more with the not-included 2 CR123 Li-ion batteries. The coating is a non-abrasive Type III hard-anodizing. This is a finish much harder and wear resistant than other electrolyte based anodizing, and is used for coating pistons, gears, hinges, and blast shields. (Insert Tim Allen har-har-har)
The PD30 is IPX-8 waterproof rated for 3 meter (12ft) submersion for 24 hours. Something you don’t have to worry about dropping off a dock per se, but not something you want to take diving.
This light makes a great outdoor light for all the features I listed above. The multiple modes lets you find tune your brightness needs. Whether map reading at night or checking gear in a tent, shining out on the trail but not blinding yourself in the process, or going turbo to reach out and identify things that go bump in the night.
Included with the packaging is a fold out instruction manual, info cards, a nylon sheath with belt loop, wrist lanyard, and a couple of spare gaskets. It comes mounted with a pocket clip that has very good tension and looks to be pretty solid. The pocket clip is well placed and it rides well in the pocket. Very differently than the TK10, which due to its wide and varying diameter could hardly fit. The PD30’s pretty much uniform tubular shape (the head is a bit wider) lets it slip in and out very easily…. that’s what she said.
One thing I would’ve liked is an orange color tail cap switch and the option to remove the pocket clip and replace it with a spacer. My TK10 came with all of those, including a gold color spacer, pocket clip, or tactical grip ring. Although the grip ring and spacers aren’t totally necessary for an outdoor oriented light, but an orange tail-cap option should be a must have. It’s a little extra something to help you out should you drop it out there in the stink. Fortunately, Fenix offers a wide lineup of accessories for almost all of their flashlights. Pretty specialized adapters like diffusing tips with the Fenix Accessory Kit – LD and PD Series (4 Piece Kit), if you ever wanted to be a traffic cop. But they also offer color filter adapters, bike mounts, weapon mounts, and other stuff. Check them out at Fenix’s website.
All in all, I’m very happy with this purchase and would definitely recommend it to a friend looking for a more powerful outdoor light or a low-profile EDC light.
And if my TK10 ever shows up, I’ll be sure to review that in comparison too!