I don’t usually need to drive nails with my flashlight. I rarely find myself in a helicopter in danger of dropping my light 250 feet to the ground. I don’t make a habit of disassembling and reassembling my flashlight under water. However, I have to admit that it is nice to know that my Elzetta ZFL-M60 can handle all of those things.
The Elzetta ZFL-M60 is a modular, 2 cell tactical flashlight that can be ordered in a number of different configurations thanks to an entire suite of various tailcap and bezel options. It utilizes a Malkoff Devices M60 LED module to provide “235” lumens of regulated output for 1.5 hours and then an additional 6.5 hours of useful, diminishing output. It features a 1” diameter body (.99”) that is machined from 6061-T6 aluminum that is then hard anodized for durability.
The Little Things
The small, hardly noticeable, details are what really set Elzetta lights apart. It is impressive that they can survive hammering thousands of nails, 250 foot drops from helicopters, and still function even when they are full of water but it is even more impressive when you start to dig into the details that make this type of performance possible. Some of these details can be found in the genius of Gene Malkoff and his M60 LED Modules which are the heart of the Elzetta ZFL-M60. Some of the details can be found in the design of the Elzetta flashlight body that is designed specifically to work with the module. The real beauty though, is how these details work together.
The M60 modules are machined from a brass slug which makes them extremely durable and allows them to shed heat very well (heat is the enemy of LEDs). The entire module is assembled and then potted with epoxy. This turns it into a single piece with no moving parts and completely sealed from the outside environment. The entire module is coated with thermal grease that further enhances its contact with the aluminum body and thus the ability to shed heat.
The M60 module has its own lens which is why the Elzetta bezel lacks one. Instead, the bezel uses an o-ring to seal against the module. The o-ring also serves to isolate the module from some impact to the bezel. I recently dropped a fairly expensive light from another maker on a concrete floor from waist height which put a large dent in the bezel and a chip in the lens. The ZFL-M60 shrugs off this type of impact.
Even the aluminum alloy that Elzetta chose for the main components of the light, 6061-T6, was chosen for specific properties. According to Elzetta, 6061-T6 has better thermal properties than other aluminum alloys so it sheds heat better while still being light in weight and more than tough enough for the application.
There are even details in the springs that make contact with the batteries! The ZFL-M60 has springs that act as both the positive and negative battery contacts (meaning there is one at each end of the light for a total of two). This type of spring set up is not necessary but it is best for lights that may find themselves mounted to firearms. The spring pressure at both ends ensures that battery contact will be maintained throughout the stages of recoil. If you have ever seen a “weapon light” that blinked under recoil, you will understand why Elzetta designed their lights this way.
Observations from Use
Let’s get something out of the way. Elzetta and Malkoff Devices are yanking your chain when it comes to output. Saying that the ZFL-M60 puts out 235 lumens is kind of like saying the Bugatti Veyron is a kind of fast. I don’t have an integrating sphere available to me to do actual measurements but this light definitely puts out more than 235 lumens. All those lumens, however many there actually may be, are put to good use in a very usable beam profile. There is a bright hotspot with very good throw and a fairly bright spill beam. It is very well balanced. I found it to be pretty ideal in actual use though it is a bit “ringy” if you are shining it at white walls.
The particular ZFL-M60 that I have is the LS2D model with the low profile bezel, 2 cell body, and High/Low Tailcap. This is a versatile combination that can handle a number of different applications from EDC to being mounted on a carbine thanks in large part to Elzetta’s insistence on keeping their switches simple. The High/Low Tailcap is one of the better designed switching systems available for a “tactical” flashlight. The tailcap allows the light to operate at full brightness when it is fully tightened (which is generally going to be the default position) and 15 lumens when it is loosened about a quarter turn. There are no double or triple presses or clicks to activate different levels. You press the tailcap switch, you get light. Easy, just like it should be.
Speaking of the tailcap switch, this is one of the better ones that I have tried. In my experience, if an LED light is going to fail in some way other than dead batteries, it is usually the switch. Imported lights often use small diameter springs and parts that have cheap plating. Elzetta uses components that have an obvious element of quality over some imported lights. The Elzetta switch has a reassuring click that is both quiet and positive feeling with good resistance.
The low profile bezel is a very welcome addition to the Elzetta ZFL-M60 line, at least it is to me. The other bezels are larger and have a pretty over-the-top appearance. The low profile bezel keeps the weight down, is snag-free, and will still hurt like the dickens if you find yourself rapidly and repeatedly applying it to the forehead of some ne’er-do-well who is probably trying to steal your really cool Elzetta flashlight.
The body of the light is a masterwork as far as I am concerned. Other “tactical” flashlight makers should buy an Elzetta and learn a thing or two. Instead of relying on pocket shredding checkering to generate grip, Elzetta uses a more sensible 3 pronged approach: the hard anodized finish itself provides a bit of micro texture, there are circumferential grooves that provide some grip and they can be enhanced with rubber o-rings, and there is some fine checkering between the grooves. These features together provide more than enough grip and do it without destroying your clothing when you carry the light.
One thing that I think is missing from the Elzetta line up is a pocket clip. I like to carry my light clipped in my weak side pocket. Every time I carry my ZFL-M60, I find myself wishing that Elzetta would offer a spring steel pocket clip that allowed for bezel down carry. Dark Sucks currently makes a Ti clip that people seem to like, but I would prefer a steel version direct from Elzetta. This is the one issue that I have with this light and, to me, it is significant.
If it sounds like I am gushing, it’s because I am. These lights offer a level of durability and reliability that I am not sure can be equaled by any other flashlight that is available. The various torture tests that these lights have endured are impressive, but you won’t really understand how impressive these lights are until you actually pull one apart to see why it survives these tests. If only there was a pocket clip! This light is missing out on pocket time just because it lacks a clip. Please, Elzetta, give us a clip!
Configure your own ZFL-M60 at Elzetta.com.