The Viper X-11 and Striker-6, from FNH USA, have a glass-smashing ring in front that gives the pair a much more formidable look than your average tactical flashlight. The X-11 has a rotatable switch on back that allows momemtary and constant activation, as well as locking the unit off for transportation or storage. Both produce 150 lumens and are waterproof and dustproof.
More often than not it was a last-minute decision as you suffered through the hardware store's sluggish checkout line. It's never a bad idea to have spare flashlights, but those plastic pretenders usually have the lifespan of an irradiated fruit fly.
When law enforcement recognized the fact that it's a losing proposition to gamble your life on an impulse buy and began adopting a whole new generation of rough-and-tumble flashlights several decades ago, it wasn't long until the general public was purchasing them as well. The early models were built to last—some had a half-life rivaling uranium 235—and usually powered by a row of oversized D-cell batteries whose housing conveniently provided Billy club-like leverage.
But lighting and battery technology have moved light years ahead. What was once little more than a reflector is now a mathematically true parabolic element, tuned to the light source in such a way that it minimizes those dimly lit areas that plague cheap imitations. The lights are brighter, small enough for a pocket, tough enough to handle recoil, and now from FNH USA, a multi-tool, of sorts.
Cosmetically, the most noticeable feature on FNH USA's Striker-6 and Viper X-11 tactical flashlights is the case-hardened smasher ring encircling the lens. It may be designed to break glass for emergency extrication from a vehicle, but the four-pronged ring gives them a distinctive, almost menacing look.
The Striker-6 has a selectable switch on back allowing the user to change the light from momentary activation to constant illumination. The switch, which is large enough to be easily worked with gloves, can also be fully disabled with a counterclockwise turn.The Viper X-11's pressure-sensitive switch is also in back, but recessed to prevent inadvertent activation. To disable the unit for storage or transportation—thus preventing battery drain—the lamp retainer cap, located just behind the lens assembly, is simply rotated counterclockwise. Unlike the Striker, there is no momentary activation option.
Power source for both lights is a pair of readily available lithium CR-123A batteries and light output is 150 lumens. The bodies are constructed from a solid billet of aircraft-grade aluminum alloy and O-rings ensure a watertight and dustproof seal. If you need to replace the bulb, all the tools necessary are on the lights—simply unscrew the lamp assembly, place the mace-resembling glass smasher onto the main battery housing, and you have enough leverage to remove the lens.
The Viper X-11, which has an MSRP of $229.69, measures 6 3/4 x 1 1/2 inches cylindrically and weighs 10.9 ounces. The MSRP for the Striker-6 is $259.38. It measures 7 3/8 x 1 1/2 inches and tips the scales at 11.1 ounces. Both of these U.S.-designed and -manufactured lights have machined lanyard retention bores.
Although switching was far from intuitive with the Striker-6, I grew accustomed to it quickly. These lights are quite a bit heavier than other versions available today but, considering their dual function as a glass-breaking tool, the heft will be welcome in an emergency situation. Both flashlights worked well, came through an overnight freezer test with flying colors and convinced me they're the kind of long-term investment that'll pay big dividends down the line.