Review: KelTec CL43 flashlight

One of the things I picked up at the NRAAM was one of KelTec’s CL43 flashlights.  The folks at the KelTec booth were nice enough to give me one for review.  This particular one was used as a demo by one of the guys working the booth.  When I received it, the batteries were pretty much already dead and needed replacing.


The CL43 is the larger of the two flashlights KelTec makes (the smaller being the CL-42).  Both are rated at 420 lumens, but the CL-43 holds 3 CR-123A batteries, while the CL-42 holds 2.  This obviously causes the CL-43 to have a longer run time (listed at 3 hours 35 minutes vs 2 hours 25 minutes).  Neither of these flashlights have adjustable brightness modes.  You can purchase a gun mount kit from KelTec that will work for both lights.

KelTec went with a rather unique design of having the third battery next to the other two and the power button on that extra lump facing the same direction as the lens.  This means that you end up holding the light like a pistol.  At first, I thought this might be a bit awkward, but it works well.  It makes for a compact package that is pretty comfortable in the hand.  The button is in a convenient place, more so than the traditional end cap button.  It also means that you can hold it comfortably even after the light has been on for a while and the actual lamp has heated up (standard with high powered LEDs).

KelTec claims that the design also allows you to hold the light and your pistol in the standard double handed pistol grip while operating both.  I tried this out briefly.  While it sort of works, I would think you’d need a lot of practice for it to be comfortable and effective.

Of course, this thing is ultimately supposed to do one thing, and it does it pretty well.  The 420 lumen lamp is sufficiently bright for most situations.  For those (like me) that are a little fuzzy on how bright that is, your average 40watt incandescent bulb is 450.  In a small room, it’s bright enough to substitute for the ceiling light if you shine it against the ceiling.

Unfortunately, not everything is wonderful with this flashlight.  First off, the switch for the flashlight appears to be mechanical.  This means that there can only be two modes: on and off.  For a $140 flashlight, I would really expect an electronic switch with multiple modes.

Oh… and then there’s the killer issue with me.  I carried this flashlight in my pocket for a couple of months when this happened:


That’s a penny firmly stuck in the lens of the flashlight.  Apparently the lens is exactly the same diameter.  I’ve tried to pry it out, but so far I’ve only succeeded in gouging the penny.  At this point, I’m thinking it’s either dig through the penny or replace the lamp, since the lamp appears to be a sealed unit (not uncommon).

So… unfortunately, I’d really like to recommend this light, but I just can’t.  As WizardPC stated when I showed him the issue “wow, a $140 flashlight defeated by a penny.”  $140 is also a bit much to drop on a pocket flashlight putting out 420 lumens, but not out of line for a weapons light.

4 comments to Review: KelTec CL43 flashlight

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