The flashlight world has been rampant with newcomers as of late. All of them are trying to make their name in a cutthroat industry. Only some of them succeed in doing so.
Meat and Potatoes
Balder has chosen to follow what has become the most tread path in this crowd. The duty light sized torch using 2xCR123A cells or a single 18650 is a very good place to start if you want to make yourself known. Quite honestly Balder is doing quite a good job of it as well. Aesthetically, the BD-2 really makes quite a statement. Its duo-tone anodizing and recessed heat-sink fins create a unique appearance that is extremely attractive. It comes with either the standard crenelated stainless steel bezel or a flat black one if that is more to your liking. I definitely left the SS one in place because of both the increased drop protection against dings and how it matches furthers the duo-tone look of the light. Some of the edges and ridges of the BD-2 (such as around the bezel) are just a little sharp and I wish they had just a little more attention paid to them, however it doesn’t really feel like neglect, but rather design decisions that were made.
The BD-2 isn’t just about looks though. It’s Cree XM-L LEDis driven to output a brilliant 300 lumens of light on High and does so with panache. This torch uses a very lightly textured reflector to project one of the smoothest looking beams I have seen in a while. It has a fairly tight focus to the center spot, however it has a very large and gradual transitional corona into a bright spill that turns it into an extremely adept general illumination spread. There are simply no defects to be found in this beam.
If that beam isn’t quite smooth or well spread enough for you, there is one more feature where this light really shines. The front of the light including the reflector can be unscrewed from the heat sink exposing the bare LED and in effect creating what I believe the enthusiast crowd terms a “mule” light. The output in this form is completely unrestrained, near 180° full flood beam. This is the raw emission from the XM-L in its natural dispersal pattern and it makes for some of the most useful short range illumination you can imagine. The problem with doing this too often however is that like I said, the LED is fully exposed at this point so it is far more susceptible to accidental damage. Also when you are reattaching the reflector you want to be very careful not to have it angled or cross threaded at all because it feels like the narrow hole in its base could easily scratch the LEDs dome if it was to come into contact.
In fact this light is quite rampant with undocumented extras. A tiny line in the User Manual mentions something along the lines of Low Voltage protection. I wasn’t sure what exactly that stood for until I started to run a little low on the 18650 I was using. At one point when I activated the light, it began to slowly fade from bright to dim and back again, almost like it was breathing light. Apparently this is what Balder has chosen as a low voltage warning flash. A simple off and on and I was back to using the light as advertised, but it was a little startling to discover initially.
Balder has given the BD-2 a basic 3 mode high-medium-low output with mode memory. This seems straight forward enough on the surface, however in spite of the documentation saying there are no strobe or SOS modes to interfere with operation I have discovered them. if you leave the light in low mode for a few seconds it will briefly blink off and back on giving you an indication that you now have a revised H-M-L-Strobe-SOS mode selection instead of the default. The primary intent of this is to have the blinkey modes hidden out of the way, which is a good thing, however unfortunately in my experience it isn’t always out of the way enough. I have occasionally found myself accidentally running into strobe mode when I am not intending to and even worse have found a little frustration reliably getting back to the default UI. Once you are aware though of how it is activated, it is a little less of a surprise and a little more predictable.
Balder has chosen to try and blur the line between protruding tailcap and a recessed tailstanding one. Many of you here know that this is one of my biggest pet peeves since it generally hinders the usefulness of one or both of these functions. The BD-2 is no exception to this. The way the protrusions are machined to supposedly allow better access to the switch actually leaves them sharp and uncomfortable. I would far prefer that they be simply removed entirely (preferable) or a full ring be put in their place. One or the other, but not both.
The BD-2 is a quality way to break into a very tough market. It’s unique aesthetics and excellent beam really make quite a good showing for a first generation model. This is definitely a company to keep your eye on.
Provided for review by the kind folks at Balder.