Signal mirrors have proven their worth as survival gear time and time again. A well made signal mirror can literally save your life, but even the best survival gear is of no use to you if you leave it at home.
The patent pending SAR Global Tool Eclipse Signal System (ESS) is a signal mirror that is the size of a dog tag and weighs less than 1/2 of an ounce. It is small enough to slip into a single section of MOLLE webbing or the coin pocket of your jeans. It can be laced into your boots or clipped in the business card slot of your briefcase. It can be seamlessly integrated into whatever gear you are carrying. This is the kind of tool that you will actually have with you when you need it.
The ESS is a cleverly designed stack of dog tags that have been riveted together. The top dog tag has the SAR Global Tool logo, an aiming hole, and a ring of highly reflective SOLAS (USCG approved, Safety Of Life At Sea) tape around the aiming hole.
The next dog tag down in the stack is a mirror polished reflective surface. It is protected from scratching by the top dog tag. The top dog tag has a slight bend in it that allows it to be close over the top of the polished tag without contacting anything but the rolled edge of the tag. It is an ingenious way to protect the mirror polished surface.
The basic model only has the two above dog tags. SAR also offers a model with a third dog tag in the stack. The third dog tag is bent into a clip that allows you to clip the tag to fabric, webbing, paper, or any other relatively thin material.
There is an additional model that has a fourth dog tag. The fourth tag is made from titanium and has a sharpened carbide knife edge. The edge is small but it is enough for dressing small game, cutting cordage, or other survival tasks.
In this review, I will be looking at the basic model and the model with the clip.
To aim the ESS in the daytime the user holds the ESS up to their eye with one hand so that they can look through the aiming hole. The user extends the other hand in the direction that they wish to signal. The user forms a “V” with the index and middle finger of the extended hand and then brackets the intended target in the center of the “V”. Finally, the user moves the ESS so that the sun’s reflection is visible on the fingers that are forming the “V”. You can wiggle the ESS so that the reflection is passing back and forth from finger to finger in order to create an attention getting flash effect. The sighting hole acts a rear sight and your fingers act as a front sight. It is easy to do but it should be practiced.
You do not need to be as exact when aiming the ESS at night. The SOLAS tape is extremely reflective and, while it will appear brighter when it is aimed completely square to the light it is reflecting, it is very forgiving. I found that the easiest way to aim it was to just look though the aiming hole at my intended target, trying to keep the ESS square to that target. Just like during daytime use, a slight wiggle of the ESS can create an attention getting flash.
I have been able to test the ESS in a variety of conditions. SAR has tested the ESS all the way out to 10 miles. I have tested it as far as 300 yards with excellent results. At 300 meters the flash is very attention getting. If someone was looking for you, they would certainly see you. The ESS performed as advertised.
At night, the ESS will amaze you. It is so simple to use. I was able to test it all the way out to 100 feet. At that distance, an 80 lumen Surefire G2L lit up the SOLAS tape like a beacon. The real test however came when I used a 4 lumen green CMG Infinity. The CMG Infinity is a very early 5mm LED light. Even with just 4 lumens of green light, I was able to illuminate the SOLAS tape plainly. I replicated the same test with a 4 lumen white LED and 4 lumen red LED as well. That is incredible performance.
Signal mirrors can be used for more than signaling rescue. The ESS can do even more than the typical signal mirror.
If you have ever tried to use a sighting compass at night and in tree cover, you know how difficult it can be. It is extremely difficult to take an azimuth when you can’t see any landmarks. If you have at least 2 people in your party, the ESS can be used as a night time navigation aid. Send one person ahead with the ESS while another person stays on the known azimuth. The mobile person points the ESS at the stationary person while the stationary person aims a compass and light at the ESS. Once the azimuth is established, the stationary person can walk to the reflection of the ESS and then repeat the process until the destination is reached. This is exactly the same technique that many people use during the daytime in dense foliage that doesn’t allow the compass user to view a distant landmark.
Thanks to the extreme reflectiveness of the SOLAS tape, this can be done relatively discreetly using a small red colored LED. I have tested a 4 lumen red LED out to 100 feet and I am sure it would reflect further. The actual effective distance will vary based on terrain and foliage.
The patent pending Eclipse Signal System is a life saving tool that is very easy to live with and extremely versatile. It is small enough that you can forget that you are carrying it until you need it. The reflective surface is protected from scratches that can reduce its performance (unlike most signal mirrors). On top of all of that, it is usable at night. Amazing.
You can find more pictures and information at SAR Global Tool’s website.