What is your most useful _________ (complete the description – pistol, knife, flashlight)?
- The one that is the most powerful?
- The coolest looking?
- The most expensive?
- The one that you are most likely to have with you when you need it?
If you are like most people, the undeniable answer is #4. I own many nice firearms – but when out for an early morning walk with my dog I usually am carrying a Kel Tec P3AT. Why? Because it’s easy to carry and I trust it to get the job done. Similar situation with knives. With Hinderer, Spyderco and Benchmade – among many others – available, I typically carry a very small $40 Russell’s carbon fiber folder. It’s there when I need it.
When it comes to flashlights, there are many in my collection to choose from, but the one I am most likely to carry is one of several versions of one of Malkoff Designs latest offerings – a family of lights known as the MDC, for “Malkoff Daily Carry.”
As the flashlight reviewer for TFB, the norm will be for me to review lights that are sent to me specifically FOR review, but in this case I am providing the readers with an assessment of the family of lights that I actually purchased and find most useful, and out of this “MDC family” the MOST useful to me is the MDC HA AA, or Malkoff Daily Carry Hard Anodized AA Battery.
If you are not familiar with Malkoff Devices you might enjoy visiting their corporate web site – HERE. This is a classic American Small Business success story. Gene and Cathy Malkoff are two of the nicest and most customer service oriented people you’ll ever run across. And while they have a loyal following amongst flashlight enthusiasts and hobbyists, they also are a supplier to law enforcement and government agencies.
What’s special about the Malkoff MDC HA AA?
Form and function. The light is made of strong but lightweight aluminum with finishes in choices of several colors, or for just a bit more, my choice, hard anodizing. This is a strong and durable finish that has consistent coating/color head to tail. The colored versions have a fantastic finish as well.
The light fits nicely in the hand and will also slip unobtrusively into your pocket, whether a pair of jeans, khakis or even dress pants.
The business end is from the well-known and reliable “M61” family of light engines. These light engines are often used in duty lights for replacing the incandescent engine in an older Surefire light, or in another form factor in Streamlight or Maglite. Elzetta Flashlights utilize another in the family of Malkoff light engines. Malkoff light engines are well known for being bright but just as important, for being robust enough to stand up to long, hard use. Electronics are fully potted.
The UI is the ubiquitous and familiar “clicky” tail switch. Robust and long lasting, yet easy to replace. In this particular light you can choose from 3 modes – high, low or strobe. Output is dependent on battery type/voltage.
The light can be activated with a light momentary press and each subsequent press engages the next mode. Or you can press until the switch “clicks” – click again, off; click, next mode; click, off; click, next mode. Etc. If you leave the light in the “off” position for more than 5 seconds it will always reset to the high setting at turn on.
According to Malkoff, the strobe is not meant to be a disorienting tactical strobe, but can be quite useful for signaling. I have never been a huge fan of strobe, but certainly some people can find uses for it.
There is a sturdy clip attached with Torx screws. I am not a huge fan of clips, but this one is nice for carrying the light in your pocket, bezel down, and clipped. That way it won’t drop all the way into your pocket. The clip is nice looking and very strong. It prevents a stable tail stand, but the light will stand slightly tilted.
We need not concern ourselves too much with lumen ratings. Having stated that, the light can range from around 25 all the way up to 500 lumen depending on battery. Herein lies one of the more useful attributes of the light.
With the common AA battery – alkaline or whatever – you can expect 25 lumen on low, 110 on high (plenty for most uses) and a 110 lumen strobe. My light ran for 4 hours and 5 minutes on low with a standard alkaline battery, and although I haven’t tested it, others have seen run times of around an hour on high. When the battery is almost exhausted the light begins to flash intermittently. No taper – it runs fully regulated until the battery can no longer supply enough voltage, then it steps down to low, begins to flash, and will finally just turn itself off.
In a SHTF scenario most expect that AA batteries would be among the most plentiful, and 4 hours of run time could easily translate into DAYS of run time with sporadic use.
But the fun begins when you use a 14500 series lithium ion cell. Malkoff strongly recommends protected batteries. My personal light produces 400 lumen with a freshly charged 14500 protected cell (high) and 325 lumen on low. Strobe function is odd with that battery. Run times may be a bit shorter – I have not tested run time with these cells. OR, although Malkoff recommends against it, I have tried an “IMR” 14500 cell and with that cell the light registered 500 lumen! Remember, these batteries are not recommended as they are not protected and are capable of supplying high levels of amperage to the light hence draining the battery to the point that the battery is potentially damaged.
The shape of the beam contributes to the utility. The beam has a long throw with a defined center spot, yet still provides plenty of spill to light the areas of peripheral vision. The tint is pleasant (to me) with a nice, creamy color.
So let’s recap: Rugged, reliable, bright, light and easy to carry, uses common batteries and runs for a long time. American made. And very reasonably priced – between $89 and $99. All those attributes add up to a light that is very easy to acquire, very likely to be carried, and virtually always will produce light when you need it. And that, my friends, is the definition of “every day carry”, or in this case, “Malkoff Daily Carry.”