I have reviewed almost a dozen small, EDC-style flashlights over the past couple of years. This review marks a brand-new category of flashlight review for me: the handheld “tactical” flashlight. Today’s topic is the F7 flashlight from LA Police Gear.
This article contains affiliate links.
First, a disclaimer: this light was provided to me by LA Police Gear, with whom I have an affiliate relationship.
Second, this light is a special edition of the F7. The functions are exactly the same as the F7 available on LAPG’s website but the color is different; this is a special-edition with a Cerakote finish.
Right out of the gate I want to talk about the size of the light. The LAPG F7 is quite a bit larger than most of the flashlights I’ve reviewed here. Though LAPG’s literature describes this as a “compact” light, the days of the 4-D-cell Maglite are long gone and I consider this a full-size handheld. I point that out because I misjudged the size of this light. While there’s nothing that says you can’t EDC this light – I did for a few days and I carried it for at least 72 hours at work (two 24-hour shifts and two 12-hour shifts) – I want you to know it’s a little outside of the EDC-sized lights I normally cover here.
I’ll still use the normal flashlight review template, so let’s get into it!
Criteria Y/N Tail Switch Yes Instantly Access High Yes Momentary ON Yes Tail Stand Yes Single Battery Yes, 18650 High Mode 200-300+ lumens Yes, 1,180 Low Mode 20-30 lumens NO, 300/100 Firefly Mode < 1 lumen NO, 5 No/Unobtrusive Strobe Must be deliberately activated Method of Accessing Modes Bezel Switch Form Factor: Size Length: 5.64 inches
Dia: 1.00 inches
Form Factor: Weight 2.2 oz, with 18650 battery Form Factor: Pocket Clip Yes Form Factor: Reversible Pocket Clip NO Form Factor: Crenelated Bezel Yes Form Factor: Knurling/Grip Yes Form Factor: Anti-Roll Flats Yes Durablility/Water Resistance IPx8 Price (LAPG) $39.99
Category 1: Tail Switch
Tail switch actuation is one of the most important factors to me. I find the tail switch easier to operate than bezel switches and twist-tops, and certainly more positive than twist-tops. My preferred “ice pick” grip also works well with a tail switch. Let’s go through all the factors that contribute to a good tail switch.
Tail Switch: The tail switch on this light is fantastic. It is protected by ears, yet is large enough to easily access. The tail switch is rigid enough to ensure good momentary ON use with a very distinct tactile and audible click for constant ON. Most impressively the rubber tail switch cap is replaceable and a second cap is included with the light. That’s not a feature I’ve seen with any other flashlight I’ve reviewed.
Instant Access to HIGH: Yes, via memory. The light comes on in in the mode it was on when last turned off. A lot of lights get finicky if you turn the light on and off in quick succession, especially if the tail switch is used to cycle through modes. That is no the case here – this light is very well thought-out.
Momentary ON: Yes, via a half-press of the tail switch.
Tail Stand: Yes, though the ears are a little minimal for this purpose, so the surface has to be really flat and level, but it will tail-stand.
Category 2: Power & Modes
I’ve complained about the size but big flashlights come with big advantages. Smaller lights try to cram a ton of features into a very small space. Bigger lights have some room to work with, and can have some larger batteries. The power and modes on the F7 are truly impressive, at least to a guy used to working with much smaller lights.
Power: I rarely have very much to say in this section other than what battery the light takes. I have quite a bit to say in this review. One of my favorite features of this light is the versatility in compatible batteries. The F7 can be powered by 1 – 18650, 2 – CR123s, or 2 – 16340s. I used the light with the included 18650, but also verified that it worked with a pair of CR123s.
I’m fairly new to rechargeable flashlights, but I might get more into them soon. Not only is this light flexible with the batteries it uses, but also in how you can charge them. To charge the light up you can either remove the 18650 (or two 16340s) for charging, or charge it directly through the light’s built-in micro-USB port. This port serves another function that I’ll mention later on in the review.
The ability to charge directly through the light is a pretty big deal. First, you don’t have to take the light apart to keep your battery charged. Secondly, you can keep the light charging during downtime, like when you’re sleeping. During the time I used this flashlight I kept it charging on my nightstand, beside my pistol and my phone, every evening as I went to bed.
Another really, really cool feature of the light is the ability to check the remaining power in the battery. In the photo below you can see a green light around the bezel switch. This means the battery is charging. This light is also used to indicate the volts available in the battery. To check the battery’s power you press and hold the bezel switch, then quickly press the tail switch. Each flash of green light indicates a full volt, and each red flash indicates 1/10th of a volt. So, if the light displays 5 green and 7 red flashes you have 5.7 volts left in the battery. This is insanely cool to me.
That’s an awful lot to say about how the light is powered, but I feel it’s important information, and stuff that’s not available on any of the lights I’ve ever reviewed. With that out of the way let’s get into the light’s modes. I think this light does a good job of differentiating between modes – there’s a good jump in power between most of them. I really appreciate that LAPG didn’t neglect to put a very low mode on this light; that’s easy to overlook, but sometimes I need a very dim light to look at something on a patient without blinding them and my partner – it’s really nice to have that low mode available.
High: 1,180 lumens
Medium: 300 lumens
Low: 100 lumens
Firefly: 5 lumens
No/Removable Strobe: The LAPG F7 has both a stroke and a SOS mode. I don’t mind these because accessing them is somewhat difficult and must be done deliberately. To activate the strobe turn the light on and hold the bezel switch for two seconds. To access SOS press the switch a second time and hold for two more seconds. To exit these modes simply press the bezel switch.
Mode Switching: Mode switching on this light is very nice. It is via the bezel switch and only the bezel switch. Modes go from High to Medium to Low to Firefly, then back up to Low, then Medium, then High again. The bezel switch itself is very well done. It is metal, large enough to find by feel, and flat enough to (mostly) avoid unintentional presses.
Category 4: Form Factor
This is a big light. I’ve talked about that already, but I’ll mention it briefly again. I had some difficulty carrying it and won’t be making it an everyday carry light. It’s probably more appropriate for duty use, but if you want to carry it for EDC use you certainly can.
Size: At 5.64″ long and 1 inch in diameter this is the largest light I’ve carried.
Weight: At 5.1 ounces with a 18650 this is also the heaviest light I’ve carried. Most of the lights I’ve reviewed here have come in under half this weight.
Pocket Clip: The pocket clip isn’t too bad. It is very stiff – much stiffer than I’d like on a smaller light. On this light I do feel it is appropriate, though. This clip does a very good job of holding the light in place, and it’s not obnoxiously large. I think the clip is very well executed.
The clip allows the light to sit fairly deep in the pocket, relative to its size. It does leave about an inch sticking out, but that’s probably par for the course when you’re carrying a light this large.
There is an alternative to pocket carry: the belt pouch. A few lights I’ve reviewed have come with a belt pouch but this is the first one that’s any good. The LAGP F7 ships with a belt pouch that actually isn’t half bad. It is nice, rigid nylon with a elastic on the sides, and a nice Velcro closure. I wore the pouch during one 24- and one 12-hour shift at work and actually rather liked it. The pouch is definitely slower to draw the light from, but I found it unobtrusive on my belt beside my radio.
My only complaint with the pouch is the belt loop. The belt loop seems minimally attached to the pouch. It felt like a good tug is all it would take to tear one of the belt loop attachments. The entire time I was wearing it I was very conscious of the light coming into contact with the ambulance, the stretcher, furniture in patients’ houses, etc., for fear of tearing the entire pouch off. If I were going to use the belt pouch I think I would invest a little time in reinforcing it a bit.
Reversible Pocket Clip: Technically yes… but really, no. The pocket clip can be popped off and reversed. However, this puts the clip at the very rear of the light where it is probably not usable. I also found that popping the clip off loosened the clip quite a bit and wouldn’t recommend it.
Crenelated Bezel: Yes. A light this large could be employed as an effective impact weapon, making the bezel maybe a little more useful than those on very small flashlights.
Knurling/Grip Texture: Yes, this light has some very nice texture to it. The lines are very fine and fairly sharp. This is very obvious when putting the light into a pocket – the friction between the grip and the clip is quite a lot.
Anti-Roll Flats: Yes, it has some.
Category 5: Durability & Water Resistance
I did test it for water resistance as per SOP. With an IPx8 rating I expected no problems, and I got none. I let the light sit for 15 minutes, which I thought was fair considering its high rating. The light survived the water test with no problems at all.
After having only carried this light for 72 working hours I can’t attest to its ultimate reliability, but overall I think it’s a very solid light. A little bit of the Cerakote has chipped off and the pocket clip is a little worn but the light still works and I imagine it will for a long time.
Oh…Just One More Thing
This is a feature that is completely unique to this light (at least in my experience). The light comes with a USB adapter that lets’ you plug your phone into the light, allowing your phone to charge from the flashlight’s battery. I wouldn’t want to get in the habit of charging my phone in this fashion, but that is a cool emergency feature. You do have to have the adapter on hand to use that function but then again, I wouldn’t want a light with a regular USB 3.0 port in the side of it. I like when products have a hidden little feature like this.
When I first pulled this light out of the package I was a tad disappointed at its size. However, I’ve come to appreciate all the features it brings to the table. It packs a wallop with 1,180 lumens and the other modes are pretty good, too. The features are thoughtful and well executed. The ability to charge and check battery power without removing the batteries is amazing. Overall, this is an outstanding flashlight if the size works for you.
The LAPG F7 goes for just $40. That’s a really good value for such a full-featured, powerful light. In fact, several of the very compact, AA-powered lights I’ve reviewed here have cost more than that. As a matter of fact, it costs less than what I paid for a replacement LED to upgrade my old Surefire, which doesn’t have 1/10th the functionality of this light. If you’re looking for a handheld light that’s loaded with features and doesn’t cost a fortune, you should definitely check out the LAPG F7. Unfortunately the LAPG F7 is out-of-stock at the time of publication, but keep your eye out.