The Rayovac Sportsman Extreme brand of lights is a new low end line of lights that begin to bring some of the higher end features and qualities to a wider variety of customers. There were some very surprising moments that were experienced during this review.
Meat and Potatoes
At first handling this light seems to be a bit of a mix of the top end and lower class lights. For one, it is made of anodized aluminum, and appears to be fairly durable. I didn’t have the highest expectations when I first got to use this light, but at the same time, it does offer a Cree LED (XR-E I believe, though I don’t know for certain) and thereby it should at least offer decent output or efficiency (and if it is well enough designed, both are possible). I was also impressed to notice that this light uses an optic instead of the standard reflector that is tried and true in so many lights from bargain bin to extremely elite. It is kind of my personal opinion (read that again, opinion!) that these are the focusing mechanism of the future. These will allow better customization to each specific brand / style of LEDs output pattern. Cree lights have shown the necessity of this with their propensity for creating a dark ring around the central hotspot when using a reflector, due to their unique emission pattern.
Speaking of the central hotspot, that seems to be the place where this light genuinely shines (pun intended). I took the light outside after loading up a fresh set of alkalines and aimed it at the stop sign down the road about 45 yards away and– HOLY WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION! This light turned the stop sign into a neon glowing octagon of fire! With a subtle flick of the wrist, I am illuminating the tops of the pine trees 70-ish yards away with ease. Mind you, I live in the city in a location rampant with light pollution. To say that I was impressed would drastically understate the situation. This is likely a lower bin code LED and not one of the premium Q5 models that are cranking out mega lumens. This is just an extremely well focused light allowing for fantastic throw.
Though this light has quite a few good things to be said about it, I am subjecting it to the same standards I give to all lights. That being said, there are a number of areas where I think that this light could show some improvement.
While it is true that this light is constructed of aluminum, I also need to point out that there are a number of places on the body of the light that show a heavy scoring of tool marks. The rough edges aren’t too terrible on the hand, but they do definitely detract from the overall appearance of the light.
Along the same line as the machining marks, the rubber grip over the midsection of the light really seems to fit poorly and allows for a large amount of slippage around the barrel of the light. Again, this doesn’t seem to be something that detracts from the usefulness of the light in any way, but as one who is beginning to get used to the higher quality offered by the other manufacturers. Even other major production run lights don’t seem to have this level of difficulty producing a clean final product.
Yes, the hotspot of this light is extremely tight and also completely artifact free, the focusing lens still leaves a few various and sundry rings throughout the spillbeam. These are so completely light in contrast however that I have had absolutely not ever noticed them during any outdoor excursions however. I just wish that I could say that the beam is completely flawless and add more weight to my theories about optics verses reflectors.
My final gripe about this light is more inferred than experienced as of yet. Since this light utilizes the classic 3×1.5v battery methodology, I am assuming that the DC-DC conversion that was spoken of on the packaging consists mostly of a resistored drop in voltage to line up better with the ~3.6v that these LEDs use. I suspect that this will end up causing the characteristic decline in brightness over the life of the batteries that lights like this generally suffer.
In all, this is a fantastic light for the money. The retail price on this is less than $30! Even with the shopping list of improvements, I still recommend this light to my friends who are less initiated into finer illumination tools. I personally am very pleased with this lights overall performance and intend to give it a long service life. It’s nice to have a light that you are not afraid to use as a rugged tool due to a steep replacement cost. While it may not be the best light on the market, it is definitely one of the best for the money.