5.11 Tactical ATAC A1 Flashlight

Posted on 12 March 2012

5.11 Tactical has long been a name recognized for excellence in the industry. First known for their “Royal Robbins” line of pants, their product lines now include pants, shirts, coats/jackets, boots, knives, lights and more. I used to be of the opinion that a company should stick to what it’s good at – but that’s not the business way, and if they pay attention, the company can be good at more than one thing. 5.11 Tactical is doing it right – at least where this little light is concerned.

The ATAC A1 is a handheld, not much bigger than palm size, “tactical” flashlight. I put the “tactical” in quotes for two reasons: first, it means different things to different people; second, I consider this an excellent off-duty/civilian light and too many people don’t consider a “tactical” light for such. The design characteristics that would make it a tactical light (in my opinion) are:

  • the output: 103 lumens on high power
  • the multi-function capability: high, low, strobe
  • the tailcap pressure switch
  • the breakaway lanyard

The design characteristics that I feel make it good for off-duty/civilian use are:

  • the output: 103 lumens on high power
  • the lower power output to time relationship: 11 lumens for 28 hours
  • the pocket clip
  • overall length just over four inches
  • weighs less than 1/4 pound
  • the breakaway lanyard

Perhaps the greatest strength of this light, though, is its power source:  a single AA battery.  Let me explain why I say that…

After Hurricane Katrina had ripped through the gulf states and people traveled from all over the country to go and help the recovery effort, a harsh lesson was very quickly learned:  without electricity there is no light.  Flashlights require batteries and most of the lights used by the military, law enforcement and security personnel who responded used the CR123 3V lithium batteries.  The 3Vs are both harder to find and more costly than the common AA battery.  For the price of a pair of 3Vs at WalMart (about $13) you can get a dozen or more AA batteries at damned near any convenience store, drug store or grocery store you can find.  More, you can salvage usable AA batteries out of a plethora of other electronics which are convenience and/or comfort items – and therefore expendable in an emergency situation.

The ATAC A1 reportedly runs for 50 minutes on full power. My test unit ran almost 70 before I noticed any power loss.

On “ultra” low power (low power), pushing 11 lumens, my test unit stayed lit for almost 30 hours (published material says 28 hours).

I didn’t test the unit on strobe mode, but the published material says it will last more than two hours on strobe mode. That’s all well and good but I certainly don’t want to use it on strobe mode for two hours at a time.  That would hurt the user’s eyes I think (not injure; just make it uncomfortable to look at – probably more mental than anything else).

MSRP on the 5.11 Tactical website is $54.99 but a Google search for “5.11 Tactical ATAC A1″ found several for under $45.

This is the light New American Truth chose to include in its Urban Survival Bag.  It would be a good choice for a bug out bag, go bag or similar.  If you carry a light in your pocket, briefcase or purse, check this one out.  Having it run on one AA battery makes it a better choice as compared to those lights requiring 3V batteries – unless you need the performance for duty use.

Happy Trails!

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One Response to “5.11 Tactical ATAC A1 Flashlight”


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  1. [...] March 2012 Not long ago I tested and wrote a review of the 5.11 Tactical ATAC A1 Flashlight. In that review I pointed out that the “A1″ part of the named showed that it ran on one AA battery. In [...]

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