So, I bought a Gladius a few weeks ago to play around with... I've found it to be a nice little learning experience for myself, and those unfortunate enough to call themselves my friends and family.
I've been interested in the development of this light ever since I heard Ken Good was going to market his own lights under the Strategos name. Ken has been a pioneer in the art of low-light fighting for as long as I can remember, and I thought that if anyone could turn out an innovative hard-use light to compete with SF, it would be him.
After reading the initial specs and capabilities of the Gladius about a year ago, I became even more intrigued. I checked out the demo video and read the SHOT Show reviews... But I just couldn't throw $250 down for another light when my SF M3 and E2D were doing so darned well.
I eventually broke down. My favorite tactical gear pimp had one on hand, and I just had to check it out. As I was handling it, the offending gear dealer was trying to show me a new Kimber Warrior. I just couldn't put the light down, however. It was that neat. Needless to say, I bought it. It wasn't the color I wanted, and I really couldn't afford to spend that much cash on a light at that point, but I threw caution to the wind and bought it.
For the next week or so, I made it a point to strobe the piss out of all of my friends, family, pets, and anything else that I could point the Gladius at. Yes, it is fun. The other modes of the Gladius are nice, but nothing gets used like the strobe.
The constant on/dimming mode is also very thoughtful. The tailcap is very intuitive, and I've grown to love the long throw of the activation button.
It wasn't as complicated as everyone had made it seem. Once I got used to the controls, it was easy to go from mode to mode without going to the wrong setting. The tailcap gives you a nice tactile "click" when changing modes, which I prefer to the SF style lockout. Did I mention that I like the long push of the button?
White Light NDs are pretty hard to come by with the Gladius, even when using less than traditional grips on the flashlight. While being more difficult to ND with, it's still a breeze to activate the light when needed.
As to what the beam is like... It's damn bright. The corona is nice and even, and the throw is respectable. The Gladius easily has the best throw of any LED I've ever used. It's not quite as good as an incandescent, but it's good enough to ID objects and people from 35-40M (the furthest I've tested).
The strobe is a godsend. I can guarantee it has to be one of the biggest steps in less-lethal history. I've only used it to deter my 80 lb poo dog when crossing my yard, but people have mentioned that it would definately make them want to increase their distance from it.
The lanyard is pretty sweet. It's very similar to that of higher end camera lanyards, and it appears to be very high quality. The lanyard attachment points are in the bat wings on the body, and looks like it was designed with lanyard use in mind. The lanyard attachment is very secure, unlike the newer SF style lanyards (I'm a big fan of the older ones).
The large size is nice if you plan on using your light as an impact weapon, and it feels nice in the hands.
The hard case is a nice touch... What else can I say, its a hard case with fitted foam, and I like it.
Being just a serf with public schooling and a little college under my belt, I felt that the manual wasn't all that clear on how to reassemble the tailcap to the body after battery changes. Why do I say this? Yes, I stripped out the tailcap the first day I had it. Call it ham-handedness, lack of coordination, or just plain dumb, I managed to screw it up. It still works, but battery changes have become a two-man operation. Enter my life with a crew served flashlight.
I don't feel that the tailcap attachment method is exactly idiot proof, but I'm sure it's more than adequate when you have a more qualified end user. I don't break things for a living, but I'm pretty good at doing it recreationally.
The light, although it packs a lot of light into a small-ish package, dwarfs even my 6P. It's pretty large. Not M3 large, but pretty damn big. It's not unmanagable by any means, but it limits carry options a tad. I'm running it in a Spec-Ops Brand bezel down pouch, and it's not too bad.
People make really goofy faces when you strobe them for ne reason... I usually make a much worse one as I'm running away to escape retaliation.
The inside of the body is pretty nasty where I stripped the tailcap thing out.
Geez the Gladius is big.
Was it worth $250? I think so. I like it. I would like it a lot more if there was a version w/ a crenelated bezel that was closer in size to my E2D, but that's just me.
I like the OD CeraKote (sp?) finish, but I would have been a lot happier with Dark Earth. I don't really like the "tan" color, as it's too light for me.
I would love a weaponlight version, especially with an integral LaRue mount (hint, hint) like the LaRue Battlelight. I would even settle for a 1" straight body version, without the bat wings.
Sorry for the poor pic quality, it's so humid right now that the lens fogs almost immediately when exposed to the air.
The OD Gladius with lanyard attached
OD Gladius (center) next to a rattlecan-tan 6P (top) and an M3 (bottom).
OD Gladius in factory hard case with lanyard and manual
OD Gladius with Glock 34, for scale
nice review..... thanks...
i think i'll look into them more as more versions come out.... i believe that its electronics are better than the surefire's... as well as their beam from their LED... but when its comes to materials i think they fall short... once they fix some of the following problems i will gladly pic up one...
to me... it seems that the company is cutting corners a little.. and i would rather see it in anodizing instead of their ceramic coating.... i have dropped my SF L2 a few times straight on concreate and i don't ANY wear marks on it... and the plastic tail cap doesn't seem to have any purpose to it rather than its cheaper to machine(mold) and manufacture...
to me when you spend a quarter of a grand on a flashlight... these corners should not be cut...
I participate in this board to primarily to hear what you all have to say, unfiltered. As a development group we are listening.
The Cerakote has been reported/perceived as less scratch resistant than HA. So we are switching to Type III Hard Ano as of this week in Black & I believe OD is right behind.
It is not a pricing issue at all. It was a materials choice.
We liked the absolute color control and texture along with some of the chemical, UV, and salt-water resistance properties.
We also simply wanted to differentiate ourselves from the other guys as far as we could. We did not want the also ran, knock-off, or they “stole” that from us syndrome assigned to us. I don’t think we can be fairly labeled any of these things.
We have the MilSpec numbers for the Dark Earth tone color in HA as well (Tabled this color addition a few months ago after seeing the new FN rifle). It will not happen immediately, but it is something I hope we will do sooner than later.
Plastic tailcap....It actually has excellent shock resistance as opposed to metal which will not give when dropped on concrete. We have noted many want metal. It is up for constant debate with us! Customer wants metal....Metal will directly transfer forces to the rotary mechanism and definitely damage the function of the light.
When we initially threw a prototype Gladius 50' into the air, the first time it did not sustain any real damage. The second throw ended up orienting the light so it landed on its tailcap. The rotary dial shattered and the tailcap button dislodged. But the light still functioned perfectly as the exposed internal shaft still allowed for function change and activation in all modes.
I am awaiting the approval to post the results of drop testing on concrete from an notable independent test lab…..The Gladius kicked the stuffing out of the other guys light in those tests, it was ugly in fact.
So the question is, do you go to metal (and raise the cost of an already expensive light) to alleviate perceived customer weakness or do you stay with plastic which has so far proven to work quite well. Function over perception is where we go right now.
I have some other ideas, I will table to our engineers…maybe we can have the best of both.
The 2 main issues other than that have been the battery replacement/threading and the coating. We fell on our sword in terms of really addressing the battery installation issues and have updated the instruction manual to hopefully alleviate many of the issues. Coating issue is going away.
Ken J. Good
Night-Ops Illumination Tools
I saw one of these lights on JTAC's table while I was picking up some stuff from him at the Tulsa, Oklahoma show today and I have to say that I was extremely impressed. The strobe feature was quite novel to me and I'd like to work with that more and see what all it's capable of.
There is definetly one of these items in my near future. I'd like to see this light in a dedicated weapon mount version, most likely for my MP5 RAS. I'd want the capabilities of an IR tip off filter akin to Surefire's FM13 unit that could be put on it for NV use. And the potential for weapon mounted strobe use when desired would be something I'd appreciate working with and trying out.
Correct me if I'm wrong but my understanding is that IR filters do not work with LED lights.
I believe you are correct.
I've had my gladius for maybe 3 months now. I had planned on using it as my duty light, but, instead I leave it in my personal vehicle and carry some type of Surefire at work (FLEO). I like the light. It's readily apparent that it's great quality, but it's just large enough that the carrier I ordered with the light doesn't fit. Therefore I can't pull it out, I have to wiggle and twist, a definite no-no in my job.
Other than that, I like it!! The beam is actually nicer than my Surefire 8x.
Ken, the carrying case definitely needs some work, its the "only" downside to a GREAT flashlight..
I believe you are correct at that.
My experience as well. Are you using Blackhawk's pouch? I found, through Ken's postings on another board a link to another poster who found a partial fix for this. Make a very small incision at the end of the plastic stiffener at the top lip of the carrying pouch. Pull out the plastic stiffener. The pouch is better with the stiffener removed. Still not perfect, but definitely much better. Hopefully Bianchi will come out with a suitable carry pouch at some point.
My thoughts exactly. he
The very first thing I noticed also was that darn plastic tail cap. I don't think I would mind the plastic tail cap in "plastic" but maybe I different kind of plastic to make it look and feel a little bulkier or like a stronger polymer. It just didn't look that strong.
I have an idea I think would make for better switching. If you disagree please tell me why.
New or additional settings for the 4 positions:
Lockout - Same as it is
High - press/release quickly and its just like a clicky and stays on, press and hold and when released its like a temp switch and goes off.
Strobe - same as above but strobe
Adjustable - same as above but click on/off/on and it blinks to tell you its ready to program. Press and hold and it cycles down then up till you release, new adjustable level set.
This allows either constant on or temp activation for all levels. A short time to sense the release to act as a clicky means no accidentally left on light when you meant to just get a quick on/off temp activation of any setting. PLEASE consider this switching set up as a no cost additional easy to program add on to the light. It costs NOTHING but would make it MUCH more usefull. You can retain the other set ups and just add as an additional optional setting.
PS: When will the tail cap test be finished?
Interesting review capn,,,
had the same problem with the tail cap stripping out making it impossible to index it without some trial and error - I really liked the light and used it everyday so I can't say having a "crew served" flashlight for battery change out was tolerable
no issue with the coating - I liked it - nice and flat black
I did send it back to Night Ops a couple of weeks ago to get the tail cap straightened out
curious as your comments to the size - I didnt think the light is oversized for its amount of light and purpose - its about the same size as the Surefire U2,,, maybe it needs TID
edited to add quote from Ken Good:
<<We fell on our sword in terms of really addressing the battery installation issues and have updated the instruction manual to hopefully alleviate many of the issues>>
gladius + fell on sword = historic appropriate
Any tapeswitches in the works for this light? Also, how long should I wait to make sure that I will buy the gladius with the HIII black finish instead of the old one?
Would buying straight from the strategos store alleviate my concern?
Jared, I have used pretty much all the various ACOGs and seen dozens more and have never seen this "rubber coating" you speak of on an ACOG. Can you please give more details? Is this something new? I am only aware of black type III hard anodised surfaces which are identical to the finish on our AR15s and is what they (Gladius) are currently switching too for the black color. Rubber coating would hold heat in to the light and reduce life and performance of the LED.
An aluminium body acts as a heat sink for the LED. I am sure carbon fiber wrap could be done but the savings in weight would be VERY small and cost would be VERY high. There would still need to be a substrate thin aluminum bezel and body as those areas are threaded etc. Reduction in weight would be an ounce at most and probably less. Then you have the problem of putting markings/colors on the flash light. Covering CF with a paint reduces its thermal properties. Once painted the coating will still be easily worn/scratched and you gain very little.
A few answers:
We went through quite a few possibilities for the programming scheme. We certainly have other options we can implement.
Now that this thing is out there, there are going to be a larger set of operators thinking about it and tabling concepts. That is a good thing. But we cannot change on a dime, everytime. There are no plans to make any radical turns at this point. We need to get these things produced at a higher quantity level while simultaneously addressing any emerging production issues.
Down the road I can easily see us using other chips/programming plans that would allow the end-user more modifications on their end which is the best way to approach it IMHO.
Type III HA
The first ones in Black are due to hit the distribution facility tomorrow. Since almost everything produced has been sold, I imagine the HA lights in Black should be filtered through in the next 30-60 days.
If you want, get a hold of Grant or Strategos and simply state you want to get a light, but want to ensure that it is a HA version.
I believe the Blackhawk nylon holder that was too snug has been corrected by Blackhawk. The solution tabled above works as well.
I have seen the new prototype molded holder from our design team & I really like it. Hopefully we can see it in production sooner than later.
In the meantime, consider getting a Blade Tech flashlight holder. Fits the Gladius very well.
I have been told 1st of the year. We are on our hands and knees begging for a bump in the priority list. In my opinion it is a must have…yesterday. But I have to be careful not to scream and shout too loud….The team is pedaling as fast as they can already.
Some people like aluminum and some like a polymer for a variety of reasons. If we can make a polymer (or other material) version we will. I.E. cold environments and departments that require flashlights not made out of metal. We have also played with the idea of rubber overlays, insets etc. In time, some of this will bubble to the surface.
User programable flashlights... I would definantely know its really the 21st century if those come to market.