In the crowded tactical flashlight market, a lot of tricks have been repeated so many times they’ve become routine. Dimming, strobing, tinting, and impressive lumen ratings have come to be expected by both civilians and law enforcement. Illinois-based First-Light USA has introduced the Torq, a radically different light device which stands out in the crowd both in features and construction.
The Torq isn’t shaped like a typical flashlight. It fits inside the fist, when hand-carried, with only the light’s “head,” the lens part, clearing the hand. The head rotates just shy of 360 degrees, so on full brightness of the white light, it can be made to cast a sweeping beam like that of a lighthouse.
Each color setting—white, red, blue, and green—has three brightness levels. The momentary control button, the largest and most intuitive to use of three switches, turns the light on white/brightest mode so long as it’s depressed. This is a sensible feature for tactical use.
The two smaller buttons, called primary with one Braille-style bump and secondary with two tiny bumps, are used to select brightness in the always-on mode, to switch between colors, to strobe, and to place the light in or out of lockout mode, so it can’t be inadvertently turned on.
There’s a finger loop that secures the light in the hand and allows, incredibly, for malfunction-clearing and reloading with the light in hand. The loop rotates naturally with a finger in place, while the hand moves around doing things hands do. The loop is unattached at the bottom and would break free under moderate pressure, a good feature in any tool intended for use in combat or austere conditions. Better to lose a light than a finger.
A textured steel belt clip on one side is made for belt or MOLLE mounting. It provides a tight grip and worked well in testing, which included carrying hay bales. The side panels of the Torq are removable so the clip can be set for right- or left-hand use.
Shooting with the light took a bit of getting used to, but it worked well. The beam is wide, and the Torq lit up secondary targets fairly well. With practice, I was able to maintain a decent support-hand grip while shooting, as well as while manipulating brightness and color settings with a thumb.
The strobe (First-Light USA calls it an emergency beacon) feature on this light is unlike any other. It’s somehow more intense, and marked by irregular flashes of the white beam as well as a dazzling array of color spewing from the colored light lenses which surround the central white one in a circular pattern. This feature should prove very effective for anyone who wishes to buy some time when facing a potential threat. It’s an unexpected, daze-inducing, dazzling display. It surely would be a great signaling tool as well.
The Torq is powered by two AA batteries, which are included and supply a purported 10 hours of on-time at maximum intensity or 152 hours at low intensity—the low setting is quite low, about enough to see where the user’s feet are in total darkness. The battery case is virtually impossible to open unintentionally; it snaps into place and is held shut by a wire that, when in place, is very taut and difficult to move.
Our test light is an attractive coyote brown with contrasting color. Torq also comes in gray. It doesn’t just look hardy—it’s constructed to be waterproof, to operate at temps from -20 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, and is impact resistant.
The only word of caution for a potential consumer is that getting excellent results from any feature-rich light requires practice. This is particularly true of the Torq, which is different from most lights in both handling and features. With three buttons and 13 settings, as I count them, it’d be easy to make a potentially costly mistake while fiddling around in search of the desired setting. That’s avoidable with regular, focused practice.
It’d be easy to impress—or stun—friends, game, or intruders with this little light. Retail price is $99.