I've been a Maglite man since I was in college. They are built to be dropped, don't die under most rain conditions and the beam-focus feature has always been useful, especially for tasks like finding a black screw dropped on a dark-colored floor under an equipment rack. I just did a big transfer job of microcassettes (yeah, it was as lo-fi as it sounds, but every word was made audible), so I had a pile of left over, half-used AA batteries and I decided to spring for a two AA battery Maglite, noting that they've upped the lumens game on the Mini LED model in recent times (now 272 lumens), with a 163-meter throw distance (that's 534 feet). On the package, it also boasts 2.5 hours of on-time per battery pair (less than that from my half-dead pile). It's shatterproof up to a one meter drop onto a hard surface. Like previous Mini Maglite models, it's designed to balance on its end and shine upward, in "hands-free candle mode" as it's called on the package. Maglite is too old-school to call this thing "tactical," but I will (especially since this model is offered in a modern "digital" camo color scheme).

Holy moly, is this thing bright for its size and weight! Yep, it's LED so you can't really see the colors on resistors correctly, but for anything else it's the cat's meow. I also noted in the Amazon user reviews that Maglite uses built-in circuitry so the LED burns full strength until there's not enough amperage in the batteries – meaning it doesn't fade out over months like the typical cheapo LED light. Given the battery life, and the fact that it came with a pair of brand-new alkaline AA batteries, it's going to take me a long time to use up that pile of half-dead ones. I just put fresh AAs in my old Maglite incandescent version, and shined both into a dark room. It's literally like dusk and midday levels of light, dusk being the Edison legacy bulb and midday being the modern LED. BTW, Maglites are still made in California, including the belt holster.

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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