Flashlight Review: Brownells BVL-530 “Versatile Light”

    Many of us have done business with Brownells through the years. When they notified TFB of their new flashlight, it seemed only natural to give it a look.

    The light should look familiar to those of you who are familiar with the classic old Surefire C2 – the body of the BVL530 is similar in appearance.

    VL ProfileThe specifications from the Brownells web site (and the included owner’s manual):

    “Emitter: CREE XM-L2, v6. Runtimes: (approx). High (530 lumens) 2.5 Hours. Low (175 Lumens) 9 Hours. Ultra-Low (13 Lumens) 150 Hours. Strobe (530 Lumens) 7 Hours. Battery Source: CR123x2 or 18650×1 Li-ion rechargable (not included).”

    Although Brownells does not specific country of origin, I believe (based on the name stamped inside the head) that it is most likely China.

    VL XenoledIf this is the company that manufactured it, I have positive prior experiences that give me comfort  that Brownells chose well when choosing a manufacturer for a light that will carry the Brownells name.

    The light comes packaged in a simple cardboard box with a snugly fitting foam insert.  Included with the light are instructions and 2 lanyards…no batteries are included.

    VL with box

    VL LanyardsActivation is simple.  The light resets to the high level whenever it is off for more than a few seconds.  To change levels, simply ‘half press’ the button (do not ‘click’ it fully to the locked on position) to cycle through high, medium, low and strobe.  When you are at the level you desire, fully press the button and it will click/lock on.   The half press is useful for momentary light activation.  The button is recessed allowing for tail standing.

    VL tail capAs mentioned, 2 lanyards are included and there is a solid lanyard ring just forward of the tail cap.  If you do not want to use a lanyard, this ring is easily removed when the tail cap is removed.

    VL parts

    A grip ring just forward of the tail cap and under the (removable) pocket clip.  I find the grip ring to be easy to grasp and it helps make the light comfortable to hold.

    VL Grip Ring

    A nice touch is a glow ring installed just under the lens in the bezel.  Brownells touts this as a “Blackout” or “Stranded” light to be used at home or in the car.  My experience is that the glow ring can ease in locating the light in the event of a blackout.

    VL strike bezel

    Construction and machining look good – better than most Chinese manufactured lights that I have seen.

    VL Body Machining

    VL ProfileBrownells rates the 3 output levels as 530, 175 and 13 lumen with run times of 2.5, 9 and 150 hours.  While I did not test run times, I did test the output in my integrating sphere and the results were 443, 157 and 10…close enough.  Most of us can’t see any real difference in output unless it is at least 50% higher/lower.  The light was used for my early morning dog walk and it was PLENTY bright on medium – useful on low – and bright enough to really get ‘out there’ on high.  I am not a big fan of strobe, but if you need it / use it the strobe on this light is very bright, rapid and disorienting.  The tint of the XML2 (v6) emitter doesn’t show any of the sickly green color that early XML emitters had – it seems to be a nice off white tint, and the shape of the beam is useful with good spill and throw.

    VL BeamThe light uses either 2 CR123 batteries or 1 rechargeable 18650.  I used an a18650 with my test light – use of 2 rechargeable 3.7V batteries was not mentioned, so you should probably avoid such batteries.

    The good news?  The light is only $79.99 on Brownells web site.  Since Brownells offers a “100% Satisfaction Guarantee” on everything they sell, I would not hesitate to pick up one of these lights.  Bright, well made and inexpensive with the Brownells guarantee.  What’s not to like?

    Dan M

    Love firearms and flashlights – and they go well together. I’ve been admiring and writing about quality flashlights for about 10 years…built my own integrating sphere….done a few mods. Proof positive that a 60 year old can still love toys!