Fenix has come a long way from the old days of one or two models of simple AA powered lights to arrive at the agressive multistage weaponlight that is the TA30. Years of research and development seem to be culminating in this first model of what appears to be a new line of Fenix products.
Meat and Potatoes
The Fenix TA30 is a rugged, beefy torch billeted as a recoil/impact resistant, weapon mountable, personal flashlight. How this plays out is through a thick walled, aggressively styled light with a very toothy strike bezel. From the moment you pick up the TA30, you sense the designers intent for it to be used as a cudgel. No portion of this light gives any impression of fragility, rather it appears to be almost bulletproof. From its relatively heavy weight, to its exaggerated size, it possesses an overbearing presence that is immediately noticed.
The technological superiority of this light comes in the form of a selector ring used to set the level of light output independently from the actual power switch in the tail. This is a very similar method to those used by Surefire in the U2 and Kroma, but it is a first for Fenix. Gone on this model are the soft “half” clicks of the switch in order to cycle through modes to reach your optimum choice. Instead, your desired light level can even be pre-selected prior to activation, only ever giving you the mode you need at that particular juncture. Fenix has even provided easily deciphered symbols denoting the various modes and an obvious indicator as to the current level. Also, the ring provides enough tactile and audible feedback when selecting output and is just stiff enough that accidental mode changes are virtually impossible. The resultant user interface is simple and intuitive, requiring no complex instruction to use; even to a non-connoisseur.
The three levels of light seem to be very adequately chosen, providing either a noticeable bump in output or a significant increase in runtime depending on direction of travel. The beam of the TA30 is tightly focused for long range illumination and is relatively smooth, though the typical dark ring surrounding the hotspot, common to most XR-E based lights, can still be seen. I personally have been leaning toward more flood-beam lights as of late, however in this specific instance I believe the designers made a very wise decision. It would be an injustice to this light’s intended purpose to do otherwise.
Throughout their development, Fenix has become increasingly complex with the machining that each light utilizes, and the TA30 is definitely a continuation of this trend. The machine work that has gone into the TA30 is far more intricate than anything they produced a mere 2-3 years ago but yet manages to not appear gaudy or unnecessary. The knurling that covers the majority of the body is uniform and grippy without converting the light into some form of file or rasp.
Whatever else the TA30 may be, it is no featherweight. There’s no way around it, it is big even for its three cell form factor. I don’t necessarily think that its intimidating structure could be preserved if the construction were made less chunky. Rather I am at a loss as to how it is intended to be carried. The included lanyard is, at best, a joke. I fear that due to the increased heft of the TA30, it would only require a single casual drop to cause the lanyard and light to part ways. What is needed is a holster or clip specifically designed to work with the duty belt worn by those in law enforcement or the military. Something injected with the same quality and durability that the light itself appears to exude. As it stands, the TA30 will likely find itself relegated to storage around the house or in the car to be called upon when needed rather than carried around, ready for instant action.
One of my personal pet peeves with flashlight manufacturers lately is when they attempt to make a light be everything to everyone. This is most often apparent, as is the case here, with the tailcap. The growing trend lately is to produce a tailcap switch that is both protruding for easy access in a tactical scenario while at the same time being recessed to allow tailstanding in “candle mode”. While the TA30 is more adept at this than other attempts have been, it still manages to be unnecessarily uncomfortable for urgent use whilst not providing a genuinely stable base for standing. I implore all manufacturers the same thing. Pick ONE, please! In this case I feel justified recommending that since it is designed as a tactical light, it really should have a truly protruding switch and that tailstanding will not likely be necessary with this particular piece of equipment.
Improvements notwithstanding, this is an excellent light seemingly designed to primarily shed light on the mysteries of “things that go bump in the night”. Whether it is your duty to seek them out, or you are merely insuring that they are not seeking you out, it will get the job done well. Just don’t expect it to be a pocketable Every Day Carry tool in the mean time.