Elzetta has long been a go-to brand around the house to be ready for when disaster strikes. What happens though if you want a smaller, more pocketable torch in case the ensuing crapstorm occurs away from home?
Meat and Potatoes
Anyone who knows me outside of this blog can easily tell you about my love of Elzetta products. The ZFL-M60 that I reviewed years ago is still to this day one of my all-time favorite lights. Since then, technology had continued its inexorable march of advancement bringing more powerful and more efficient LEDs to market. Tint has shifted away from the stark, cool white that defines that early model. No light I’ve tested yet, however, holds a candle to the durability and reliability offered by that one torch. Elzetta has become synonymous in my mind with rugged dependability. The ZFL-M60 has long occupied the coveted position beside my bed as the one light I reach for anytime something seems amiss.
Right from the start, I began trying to plant the seed that a single cell, EDC variant should be produced alongside the existing 2 and 3 cell options. I can only assume that my voice wasn’t alone in this endeavor as now the Elzetta Alpha has entered the picture. Cribbing notes from the older model, the youngster has inherited much of what made the ZFL-M60 great, while adding some new twists of its own. Since that first review, Elzetta has been steadily adding available options to their modular concept, so that now you are capable of building exactly the light you want to carry. 3 bezel options, 2 beam shapes, and several switch options exist allowing more variants than I can calculate by memory. This model is the A313, denoting Alpha body, crenellated bezel, standard focus, and a high/low clicky tailcap. While this wouldn’t necessarily have been the model I choose for myself (most notably because of the pocket shredder bezel) it’s still no less of an amazing performer.
Cranking 315 lumens out of its emitter, which my untrained, but experienced eye believes to be a Cree XM-L2, the Alpha technically bests the companies patriarch model in raw output. The larger diode however causes even the standard focus lens to act more floody than the old XR-E was capable of attaining. A direct comparison however does nothing but highlight how drastically improved the beam has been over the intervening years. Gone is the ringy doughnut and in it’s place is a shining example of what a lens collimated beam is supposed to look like. I’ve been a proponent of using lensing over reflectors for a long time. It might not achieve absolute perfection, but this is honestly one of the best that I’ve reviewed. The high/low clicky tailcap is also one of my favorite options. This is the only way to get a second output mode from an Elzetta flashlight. Loosening the cap slightly gives you access to a 7 lumen low mode using the incredible smooth, silent, Elzetta forward clicky.
Fit and finish has not suffered during their time of growth either. The signature Elzetta matte black anodizing is as amazing as ever. I’ve literally never seen its equal. The closest I’ve found covers the offerings of ArmyTek’s products, but this still feels more durable. Even after weeks of rattling around in my pocket next to some not-so-gentle EDC companions (in copper and titanium for both ends of the spectrum, no less) the exterior still looks nearly pristine. I can’t say the same for the other items. Though the light does disassemble further than the old Malkoff drop-in would allow, so you have the option of changing your lensing, it still appears that it will easily be as durable as I’ve come to expect from the Elzetta name.
Lest you are concerned that my view of this light is nothing but sunshine on daisies, let me reassure you that this review is not above finding fault. Shortly after I received the Alpha, I noticed something I completely did not expect given my history with Elzetta products. Any time I had the light on low (High/low tailcap, remember?) I noticed an almost imperceptible flicker. It wasn’t going dark for moments at a time, but rather it had an unusual, but regular pulse of slightly brighter light. This was flashing ever so slightly faster than once a second, and only for extremely brief moments each time. At first I thought I was seeing things, but as time passed, it either became more pronounced, or I became more aware of it. After convincing myself it wasn’t, in fact, all in my head, I contacted Elzetta and shipped the light back to them to check it over. Thankfully I wasn’t separated from it long before it came home wearing a note saying the tailcap had some kind of faulty electronics and everything was good now. This coincided with my own observations and it has lived in my pocket ever since. A problem existed, but thankfully the warranty repair took care of it. If I really wanted to avoid that, I could have just used my rotary tailcap and it wouldn’t have been an issue.
My other complaint is something less correctable. That was an individual flaw, this next issue is a design decision. The durability of the Elzetta Alpha comes at a price. There is simply much more metal involved in the light than you would find in other single cell EDC models. This makes for a large, heavy torch that I sometimes find myself wondering if I really want to carry it today. It really doesn’t compare with many of the other options out there in terms of ease of carry. I know that Elzetta now stocks a modular clip that will help with carry options, but I think I’d rather find a quality holster and just wear it that way. I’ve never been much of a clip guy, and their new product looks bulky to me.
I like it. Oh? You could tell? Well, I genuinely think this is one of the most reliable lights available on the market today. Elzetta’s products are about the only flashlights I own that I would call truly tactical, especially with the rotary style tailcap. If you want modes, colors, and blinky lights, Elzetta isn’t your cup of tea. If you need dead-solid durability and light-every-time reliability, look no further.
Provided for review by the kind folks at Elzetta.
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