UTG Tactical ZL168 Review

So a couple three months ago, I asked for suggestions for weapon lights for my home defense AR. I got a lot of good responses!

I decided to go with this guy for now:

That would be a cheapie UTG Defender Series Tactical Xenon Flashlight. It was $35 shipped and I got it in about two days (Amazon Prime FTW!)

It’s inexpensive, bright, AND has tons of 4 and 5 star reviews on Amazon. The light is also clean, unlike some other cheap lights. I’d prefer an LED version, but apparently I can get a drop-in replacement reflector to convert it if I decide I really want to. If the xenon bulb doesn’t survive the first range trip, I’ll try that.

More details and gigantic pics below the fold…

So the first thing I noticed is that the box is actually nice.

I wasn’t expecting that. I’ve ordered cheap Chinese crap before and they all come in the same cheap blue cardboard box with grey foam. This looks like a premium item. Attention to detail.

Something else I wasn’t expecting?

Isn’t Leapers an American optics maker? Did I dream that up somewhere? Did they just have really good marketers pre-internet? I didn’t know, or had completely forgotten, that they were associated at all with UTG.

Now, that’s more like it. That’s the familiar “generic chinese gray foam” I was expecting. This is a $35 light. I’m not expecting it to be awesome. I’m expecting it to be tacticool, and hopeful that it doesn’t suck. What you see is everything that’s included: Light, batteries (CR123A), rail mount, and remote pressure switch.

Everything out of the box.

Xenon bulb, reflector, and crenulated bezel for stabbing ninja action!

Here it is completely disassembled. I’m actually quite impressed. The aluminium body and parts feel kind of substantial, and the threads don’t feel like they were hand made by an 11 year old slave laborer (I have a laser sight where that’s not the case). The ends have rubber o-rings and the threads actually had a little petroleum jelly on them for waterproofing. More than I was expecting, for sure.

One quick note about the construction. I bought this to mount on my AR, so this isnt a problem for me, but the pushbutton endcap isn’t what I’d call standard. You can tighten the cap and it turns the light on constantly, or you can loosen the cap a little bit and turn the endcap into a momentary switch. I don’t see that ending well if you planned on using this for EDC.

Assembled and ready for mounting on the rifle.

I’ve mounted it on the right side of my rifle as far forward as I can. The pressure switch is temporarily held in place by friction approximately where my ring finger can actuate it. I haven’t decided if I want to permanantly mount the switch there or or the other side where my thumb can get it. I’m a little worried about that whole sympathetic muscle twitch thing where “squeezing” the fingers in my left hand to actuate the light might cause me to squeeze the fingers in my right hand and actuate the freaking trigger. I’ll have to work that out.

Switch location–for now.

The other issue I’m going to have to work out: the coiled lead. I’m thinking zip-ties (ok not really, but maybe velcro strap around the handguard? Help me out here.)

All in all, I’m pretty satsified. I haven’t taken it to the range to make sure the light isn’t going to explode after three rounds, so we’ll see how that works out. I’m not an operator who operates in operations, so the likelihood of me needing to use the gun and the light at the same time are pretty small. I’m not exactly betting my life on this equipment, but for my purposes it seems like it’s going to work out.

Oh, and if I do find myself in a situation where:

  1. I’ve used the light to illuminate a bad guy
  2. I’ve shot at the bad guy
  3. The light breaks
  4. I need to shoot the bad guy, or his buddies, again, and
  5. I can’t see him because it’s dark….

I still have my Glock 23 with the Insight M6 light and laser.

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