Weapon light operation needs to be intuitive and second nature. For these reasons, a tape switch / pressure pad is hard to beat. However, poor mounting solutions and cable management solutions have led many to avoid them despite their advantages in many applications.
Cloud Defensive recognized that a weapon light needs to be built around the gun and the end-user’s needs and set out to solve the problems with existing weapon light options. Cloud Defensive was founded in 2012 by Sean McCauley with that purpose in mind.
Sean had lost a cousin in Iraq (SPC Ryan M. McCauley, KIA Sadr City, 2004) and he was determined to honor his life and provide professionals and responsible citizens with the tools they need to prevail in a fight. During their own training years, it quickly became apparent to the Cloud Defensive team that weapon lights needed to be addressed. And that’s how it all started.
The ground-breaking Cloud Defensive Light Control System (LCS) with integrated cable channels was the company’s first product. The LCS provides users with an integrated mounting and cable management solution in a single product. It’s available with a variety of mounting options (Picatinny, M-LOK®, Key-Mod™. If you’re running a SureFire® or Streamlight® weapon light, the LCS is definitely the way to go.
Although the LCS is outstanding, Cloud Defensive always viewed the LCS as a solution to a problem that should not exist in the first place. They realized retrofitting traditional lights to a gun is not the solution as it does not address the issues that shooters run into with their lights. They decided to rethink the weapon light in its entirety. The new Cloud Defensive Optimized Weapon Light™ (OWL™) is the result.
The OWL was designed to eliminate the drawbacks that are associated with conventional weapon light. The OWL has a unique combination of features that set it apart from other weapon lights currently on the market.
The OWL features an integral offset mount with integrated switch. It’s a one piece solution with no pressure pad to mount or cables to snag. The OWL is designed to mount on a Picatinny top rail with the light in either the 10 o’clock or 1 o’clock position.
The switch is designed to work with weak/transition side shooting, regardless of your dominant hand. The full length of the switch is usable for this reason.
The OWL has a proprietary electrical system that provides both a momentary-on and constant-on capability in the same pressure switch. Momentary is the default mode.
To activate the constant-on mode you simply tap the switch a second time in less than 0.23 seconds, which is less than the time you would realistically “strobe” a light. It’s simple and fool-proof.
Another really cool feature of the OWL is its quick disconnect head and tail cap. There are no threaded components. It uses Cloud Defensive’s patented lug system. It only requires a few degrees of rotation to disconnect the head or tail. The head and tail are reversible. This allows the OWL to be completely ambidextrous, mission configurable and able to be easily upgraded as technology advances.
The OWL has an integrated mounting tool built into the tail cap. The tools has been designed to provide the perfect amount of torque to ensure that the OWL is secured “hand tight” to your weapon.
Another great feature of the OWL is that the lens is designed to be “Field-Serviceable”. Historically, is your lens breaks, that becomes a warranty issue. With the OWL however, that is different. The glass is nearly 3mm thick to begin with (and thus very strong) but if it does become damaged, the user can simply unscrew the heat-treated S7 tool steel bezel ring and replace the glass themselves. What used to involve sending the light in for warranty now takes about 60 seconds of your time to fix.
The OWL has a CREE emitter (LED) and produces 50,000+ candela and 1,200+ lumens. Think of lumens as raw output. Lumens provide the potential for performance. High lumen counts, while a great selling point, do not tell the whole story. Without the proper focus, lumens are not at all useful on a weapon mounted light. Candela is the number that shooters should be concerned with. As such, it was the focus of Cloud Defensive during the development process on the OWL. Candela is a measurement of concentrated light. Think of candela as light on the target, not at the LED. Candela is the result of lumens being focused and thrown down range. And the OWL has about twice as many candela as the competitors.
The OWL is designed to provide more light (throw) on a target at a distance while still providing a bright peripheral beam (spill) or situational awareness. Beam quality on the sample provided to me on loan for evaluation was outstanding with no artifacts.
Power is provided by a single 18650 rechargeable lithium battery. Runtime is 85-120 minutes (battery dependent), although the OWL will produce usable light for at least 8 hours. The OWL is only rated for 18650 batteries. CR123 batters must never be used in the OWL as they will cause catastrophic electrical failure and void the warranty. Samsung®, Panasonic®, LG®, Sanyo®, and Sony® are approved battery manufacturers.
Another unique feature of the OWL is that it allows you to control both output and run time to best match your mission. Battery selection dictates output and run time. If you use higher output 18650 batteries you will get more power. If you use lower output batteries you will get more runtime. You choose what works best for you.
The OWL ships with two batteries — one for maximum output (Samsung 18630 30Q) and one for maximum runtime (Sanyo 18650 GA). A professional-grade charger is also included. The Samsung 18630 30Q gives you the highest output and a runtime of 85-90 minutes. The Sanyo 18650 GA has a little less output but a runtime of 105-110 minutes. A professional-grade charger is included with the OWL.
The OWL is built like a tank and is literally bomb-proof. It meets or exceeds all ANSI/PLATO FL-1 Standards. The OWL has been subject to brutal testing. It’s shockproof, dust-proof, and waterproof to IPX8- 200 feet for 24 hours. The OWL has an isolated electrical system that’s sealed from water, with a fully potted head and tail as well. It’s completely environmentally protected. As a weapon light should be.
The body, head and tail cap of the OWL are machined on Hass equipment from 6061-T6 aluminum. The OWL features a hard coat anodizing, black nitride plating on all steel components and has gold plating on conductive surfaces. It’s available in black, Flat Dark Earth (FDE), OD green, Urban Grey, and MultiCam®. According to Cloud Defensive, the OWL has the highest corrosion resistance of any light on the market.
The OWL measures 2.76 inches (w) x 1.26 inches (h) x 5.255 inches (l). It weighs 11.00 ounces with battery. While it’s not a small or lightweight light, in comparison to say a SureFire® ScoutLight®, it’s by no means overly large and performance more than makes up for any additional size and weight.
The OWL is designed for a specific purpose. As a standalone weapon light it excels, providing a presently unmatched combination of features and performance.
The OWL has a MSRP of $399.99. It comes in a padded fitted hard case and has a lifetime warranty. It’s made in the USA.
Overall Rating: 18/20
CLOUD DEFENSIVE OPTIMIZED WEAPON LIGHT (OWL)
MANUFACTURER: Cloud Defensive, LLC
MODEL: Optimized Weapon Light (OWL)
TYPE: Weapon light
RUNTIME: 85-120 minutes (battery dependent)
WIDTH: 2.76 inches
HEIGHT: 1.26 inches
LENGTH: 5.255 inches
WEIGHT: 11 ounces (with batteries)
WATERPROOF: IPX8 – 200 feet for 24 hours
TEST STANDARDS: Meets or exceeds all ANSI/PLATO FL-1 Standards
ORIGIN: Made in USA
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I was provided with this product on loan as a courtesy from the manufacturer so I could test it and give my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give this product a good review. All opinions are my own and are based off my personal experience with the product.
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