Sun. Sep 15th, 2019

Spotter Up

In Depth Tactical Solutions

Scott Wolf

OLIGHT PL-2 VALKYRIE

OLIGHT PL-2 VALKYRIE

When it comes to pistol mounted weapons light these days there are many to choose from. Unfortunately, that isn’t necessarily as good a thing as one might think. You can go to just about any gun forum out there and get a cornucopia of bad recommendations from the  “it works for me” masses that base their recommendation on their single data point of the one sample they purchased. It’s called Cognitive Dissonance and isn’t limited to just weapon mounted lights, but I digress. 

For myself and other professional trainers who do this for a living, we have the opportunity to see which products fail and which ones that work, across a large cross section of samples that students bring to classes. We also use these items ourselves either at work and or in our personal time in what would be considered extreme or “Duty” conditions and use. Because of that, you will find that there tends to be a consensus among trainers, sponsored or not, that have a usually small list of items that they personally recommend to students or coworkers. I’ll add a link below to a podcast that I and several other professional trainers did specifically on weapon mounted lights for Primary & Secondary that expounds on the subject even more.

So what does “Duty grade” mean? This means that the product can with stand harsh use, be it for law enforcement or military use or even use by an avid shooter who attends training classes, who uses their gear at a higher round count or on a daily basis, more so than the guy who shoots occasionally at the range.  In other words, you can depend on it working reliably in what could be a life or death situation when you need it.

OLIGHT LOGO

In the pistol mounted weapons light category, as of late, there have been basically two companies and specific models of lights from those companies that are considered “Duty grade”. However, that is changing and there is another company that is producing a weapon mounted light (WML) for pistols that everyone should be considering when shopping for a duty grade WML. That company is Olight and the WML in question is the PL-2 Valkyrie.

OLIGHT PL-2 VALKYRIE

When I first came across the PL-2 I was highly skeptical, as Olight is a new player on the field when it comes to weapon specific lights. The 1200 Lumens (13800 candella) that Olight stated that the PL-2 produces was a significantly large jump up in lumens from the 600 lumens that the other duty grade WMLs bring to the table.  With double the lumen capability of what has been the industry standard, I was expecting an astronomical price and was also expecting its performance to be snake oil. I can now report that both are not true. Its performance is not snake oil and the price is very reasonable compared to the other duty grade WMLs currently available. Double the lumens and half the price of the current industry standard WML, who wouldn’t want that? So lets take a look at what the Olight PL-2 brings to the table in terms of Specifications.

SPECIFICATIONS

The PL-2 utilizes 2ea CR123A batteries but can also use rechargeable ones as well. Olight has a listed time of 2.5 hours time for battery life. I found this to be fairly accurate, although I would say it depends on your use and the charge on the batteries used. There is another variable at play here that I will cover more below when I discuss the throw of the PL-2.  The battery compartment consists of a metal latch on the topside of the enclosure that securely clicks shut when the lid is in the down position against the body of the light. This places it against the frame of the pistol when mounted and alleviates the chances of bumping it and having the compartment accidentally open.

The PL-2 also has an IPX6 waterproof rating which means it is resistant to water projected in powerful jets (12.5 mm nozzle) against the enclosure from any direction and shall have no harmful effects.

OLIGHT PL-2 VALKYRIE RIGHT SIDE

With those impressive specification claims made by Olight, I set out to obtain two of the PL-2 Valkyrie WMLs and see for myself what they were capable of. My intention was to use them on my CZ P-07 and CZ P-10C, both of which I would be shooting on a daily basis for a month and a half, in low light/no light conditions.

OLIGHT PL-2 VALKYRIE LEFT AND RIGHT SIDES

Looking back now, I shot an average daily round count of 750 rounds. That was around mid October 2017 and as of this article neither of the two PL-2 WMLs have failed and are now permanent fixtures on my CZs. I also shot them on several of my Glocks and both of the PL-2 WMLs have continued to perform reliably after 10 plus months of rigorous use.  The only variable is changing of the batteries as needed from a maintenance and use requirement to be expected with any electronic device.

CZ P-07 AND CZ P-10C

So lets talk about some of my observations and impressions of the PL-2 and what you can expect from it. Some of the things I bring up may fall into the “personal preferences” category, and I will try to make those clear to you, as something I like may be a dislike for you, based on your personal preference, but not necessarily a CON or negative about the PL-2 itself. 

BATTERY COMPARTMENT AND SWITCHES

SWITCHES

This is one of those areas where I have found personal preferences to come into play with regards to the PL-2. The PL-2 uses electronic switches that can be pressed from either the side or forward, from the end, to activate the light. These switches are present on both sides allowing for ambidextrous use.

PL-2 SWITCH DETAIL

Chances are, most shooters are familiar with the toggle or paddle switches found on other WMLs out there. Some people prefer these kinds of switches on their WMLs. If you are one of these people, you may not like the switches on the PL-2, as it is different from what you are accustomed to using. You will either like it, dislike or adjust to it; only you can be the judge of that.

Being that I have several WMLs with paddles, I found the switches on the PL-2 to be an adjustment that I had to learn to make when drawing and presenting the pistol and activating the light. Not a huge thing to adjust to, just different. At this point in life, I can utilize either one just as efficiently, so I don’t see it as a detractor. However, some people abhor these kinds of switches and that alone could be a showstopper for them in choosing the PL-2.

While we are on switches, another feature that bears mentioning is activation methods of the switches on the PL-2. A quick press on the PL-2 switch will turn the light on; a press and hold on the switch will give you momentary on, and lastly, pressing both switches simultaneous will activate the strobe function. This seems counterintuitive to me and some other shooters, as a quick press or tap on most paddle switch lights gets you a momentary on and a long press or rotation gets you constant on.

These two quirks with the PL-2 switch aside, I still find the PL-2 to be well worth making the adjustments to, if electronic switches were not your personal preference in the past.  

PL-2 SWITCH FUNCTION

THROW

The PL-2 utilizes a Cree XHP 35 HI LED and TIR optic with a listed distance of 235 meters (770 feet). I found the beam of the PL-2 to be a clean focused beam with an adequate field of view; you won’t confuse the PL-2 with a flood pattern by any means. The color of light the PL-2 emits is a clean and clear white light with no noticeable discolorations or yellow/blue tints you sometimes find in other WMLs.   

PL-2 Cree XHP 35 HI LED and TIR optic

As for the listed 235 meters distance, I found in the open desert on a dark night (scotopic) that it will illuminate a ¼ scale steel E type target enough to PID, but it is working at its maximum.  In situations where the environment is more Mesopic , where lighting is low(natural or manmade) but not quite dark conditions, I found that the PL-2s throw is not as pronounced, but is still adequately strong enough to punch through and illuminate targets out to the 200 meter range. Over all, I would say it is good for 175-200 meters, terrain and conditions permitting. Why the variance?

PL-2 LIGHT THROW

Earlier in the article I mentioned I would talk more about battery life and this is where is has an impact on the PL-2s performance. The PL-2 has a listed 1200 lumens rating and while this is an accurate statement, what is not mentioned unless you look at the specs closely is that the PL-2 will automatically reduce power out put and lumens to 600 Lumens around a minute to a minute and a half of constant on use, until it cools down enough and then it will return to a full 1200 lumens.

Some may consider this a negative, however, I consider it a limitation to the device based on science and knowing your equipment and its capabilities.  The PL-2 reduces power so that it can cool off enough to not harm its components from the heat build up from being constantly on. With that said, even at a reduced 600 lumens, it is still putting out the maximum lumens listed for all of the other WMLs in the “Duty grade” light category. So while I don’t consider that a negative for the PL-2, some users may take umbrage with the PL-2s limitation for what I consider a personal preference reason. Based on this limitation of the PL-2, the battery life and the maximum throw distance may vary based on the shooters use at that moment in time than what Olight lists. In my use of the PL-2, I didn’t find a markedly huge enough difference to feel like I should call it a negative or inaccurate on Olight’s part. In the Olight produced video below, you can see the PL-2s performance at an indoor range with the lights on, both at the gun and down range at the target, to get an idea of the power and throw of the PL-2.

ATTACHMENT METHOD

This is one of those features that you look at and have to wonder why other companies haven’t done it yet; it’s truly a forehead smacking moment. Finally, someone has made a pistol WML that uses a quick throw lever and it is Olight. Of the two WMLs that Olight sells, they each use quick throw levers as a means of attaching the light to the pistol.

PL-2 THROW LEVER

The PL-2 attaches and detaches from the pistol rail cleanly and quickly without tools. I won’t insult anyone’s intelligence and attempt to explain how a quick throw lever works. But I will address questions I’ve come to hear from others when they see this feature.

“Is the throw lever durable and or does it loosen with repeated use? “

Yes, it is durable and it has yet to loosen in the 10 months I’ve been using it and taking the PL-2 off and putting it on repeatedly.

“Does the throw lever snag or open up accidently during use? “

No, it’s a snug, flush fit when closed and it has the right amount of tension to make it resistant to anything but a deliberate attempt to remove it

Those are the two questions most have about the throw lever and I’ll say any other questions about it are unwarranted; it works extremely well. Hopefully other companies will catch on and start making pistol WMLs with throw levers in the future (hint hint, we call this a foot stomp in SF flashlight manufactures).

Olight includes inserts with the PL-2 for Glocks and 1913 rails and a tool to change it out if you require it. I found that out of the box, the PL-2 comes with the Glock insert installed and it locks up tight on all of my Glocks. On my CZ pistols I had a small amount of back and forth play, so I replaced the insert with the 1913 insert provided and it eliminated all movement.

HOLSTERS

This is something I had a hard time finding for a time, not only for the P-10C, but for the P-07 as well. However, there are plenty of kydex benders out there these days and it wasn’t long before I found a holster manufacturer that not only made holsters for CZs, but for CZs with both of the Olight WMLs. HolsterCo not only makes holsters for a wide range of CZ model pistols but also offers just about all the WML combinations out there. So whatever pistol your run, chances are HolsterCo makes a holster for it to include a long list of pistol lights to choose from. I’ll be doing a separate follow up article to this one that will review the HolsterCo holster I’ve been using with the PL-2 WML for those interested in this combination.

HolsterCo CZ holster for the PL-2 VALKYRIE WML

Since getting my HolsterCo holster, several other kydex holster makers have added the PL-2 to their list of WMLs you can choose from, so finding a holster for the PL-2 shouldn’t be that hard anymore.

Something I found myself doing since initially getting the PL-2 that I think is worth mentioning is how I carried my CZs and the PL-2 before I had a PL-2 WML compatible holster. The PL-2 is relatively small and fit in my pocket comfortably and I found that I was carrying it as my EDC pocket light and that by itself, the PL-2 fits those 1200 lumens in the palm of the hand nicely. When I’d get to the range I would quickly put it on my CZ and shoot and then I’d take it off and holster up when done.

For those who don’t want to conceal carry with a WML mounted yet still want to carry a handheld light, I found that the PL-2 can fill both those roles. The beauty is that if the situation dictated, a user could go from simply hand holding it initially (searching, admin use), to drawing and then mounting the PL-2 to the pistol quickly with the throw lever. It might not be an ideal configuration for some, but it is an option or alternate technique to keep in mind for future use if a WML compatible holster isn’t available to you.

DURABILITY

The PL-2 body is constructed using 6061-T6 Aluminum Alloy with a type II hard-anodized finish. I used both PL-2s on my pistols as most people who carry a gun for a living would and they were subjected to the typical abuse that could be expected. But to go a few steps further, I also drop tested the lights starting from shoulder height onto concrete and then from 10 feet on to concrete. I did this un-mounted and mounted to a blue gun. In total, each light was dropped approximately 45-50 times and both lights continue to function as designed. The only noticeable damage was cosmetic scratches and scrapes, none of which affected the PL-2s performance.

PRICE

This is another feature I was initially surprised by, as most duty grade WMLs are several hundred dollars and from listening to shooters on gun forums, that price is what has kept most people from buying a duty grade WML. With the Olight PL-2, price isn’t going to be a reason not to get one. At $99.95 the PL-2 is about half of what some of the other duty grade WMLs cost. So double the lumens at half the price without sacrificing quality or performance is hard to pass up. While the PL-2 retails for $99.95, it is possible to get it on sale from Olight direct when they have their flash sales. When I picked the two I have up during an Olight sale, I believe I paid $59.97 each for them.  While some people will no doubt remain brand loyal to those higher priced, lower lumen WMLs, I think Olight’s contribution to the WML choices available to shooters will bring those who were once deterred by the high price of a duty grade WML to the table.   

Final Thoughts and Rating

 I can honestly say that when I went into this, I was fully expecting the PL-2 to fail to deliver on several fronts and in a very short amount of time. To my surprise, I was proven wrong on all of those fronts.

The PL-2 delivers and is a “Duty Grade” pistol light as far as I am concerned. Given its performance and durability, short of intentionally destroying it, it has lived up to or surpassed all the other duty grade WMLs that I and other industry professionals and trainers recommend to people. I know that statement is sure to wrinkle more than a few people’s panties, and they will be forced to resolve the cognitive dissonance it creates for them in one way or another. But at the end of the day, there is now another choice for people looking for duty grade WMLs to choose from and at a competitive price. If there were one thing I could change about the PL-2, it would be to the switches, in my opinion, it would be received better by the shooting community if it used the paddle type switches used on other WMLs on the market.

Lastly, WMLs and the use of light and the ongoing “Lumen Wars” that can be found on the interwebs is never ending and there is a plethora of misinformation and ignorance on how to use a WML correctly that gets repeated more than informed and correct information is repeated. Because of that, as I mentioned in the beginning of the article, here is the podcast that discusses a substantial amount of useful information from several industry professionals in one spot, that people typically have to pay for by attending a class. No matter how knowledgeable you think you are on the topics of WMLs, give it a listen and I guarantee you will come away a bit smart on the subject.

 

RATING

Cost: 5
Size: 4
Durability: 4
Functionality: 5
Weight: 5
Overall Rating: 4.6/5

The scale is defined as:

(1): Poor/unacceptable. Worse than expected, or desirable; of a low or inferior standard or quality.

(2): Fair. In conformity with reasonable expectations, but in comparison to competitors is may be deficient

(3): Average. Common item; item neither lacks from or is superior than a competitors item.

(4): Good. The item is desirable and has qualities that excel in comparison to a competitors item

(5): Excellent. Outstanding, possesses superior quality; remarkably good

 

 

Material Disclosure

I purchased this product with my own money so I could evaluate it and give my honest feedback on it. 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.

*The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Spotter Up Magazine, the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

 

 

 

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