Remember those ugly olive green Fulton Industries flashlights from your stint in the Army?
Well, they're back - but with a twist. Instead of a regular bulb, this light has been outfitted with three brilliant white LEDs mounted in a PR-style bulb base.
True to tradition, this flashlight has several color filters in a compartment on its base: deep blue, red, transparent (prismatic) and milky diffusion.
Also found in the base is a standard incandescent lamp in the spare bulb holder.
Rubber "O" rings help keep the outside where it belongs. They even managed to get one on the switch; which is not something you see everyday with
flashlights using this kind of switch.
This flashlight is used as you would your standard Army issue model: a three-position slide switch selects between off, signal, and steady-on.
Slide the switch to the middle position, and you can turn the light on and off at will with the signalling button; sliding it all the way forward allows it to burn
continuously and hands-free, sliding it all the way back turns it off.
A sturdy switch guard helps prevent accidental turn-ons and pulls double-duty as an anti-roll fin. (as you know, round flashlights have a tendency to roll off flat surfaces).
The Millennium III can be stood up on its tail and left unattended to illuminate a room; it also has a sturdy tail ring that allows it to be hung from a hook or nail.
If you hang it from the high center of a tent, it should light up the entire tent quite nicely.
Before you can use it though, you will need to install three alkaline "D" cells (see below).
To use the color filters, hold onto the flashlight's tail cap right near the "O" ring, and unscrew the second tailcap from that.
Four filters should be in this compartment. Choose one and close the bottom back up. Now, unscrew the business end, remove the bulb/reflector assembly if it didn't already
fall out, turn the flashlight head upside-down, and simply drop the filter flat against the inside of the existing lens. Lay the reflector on top of that (still holding the head
upside-down) and carefully screw the body of the light back on. Like many procedures involving flashlights, it really is a lot simpler than it sounds.
A filter change should take well under a minute even under bad conditions.
A little about the filters themselves:
RED: Universal distress color. Use it for signalling. Also useful where visibility must be maintained but without wrecking your night vision.
BLUE: I'm not certain what this signifies in the armed forces, but this color stands out well against normal nighttime city lights, and should do well
for signalling. Also makes this a good party light.
PRISMATIC: Diffuses the beam slightly without sacrificing brightness. Useful when you want to use the Millennium III as a general-purpose walking around flashlight. I keep this filter on full-time.
MILKY: Heavily dims the flashlight and allows it to be used in confined spaces without disturbing night vision.
A good filter for reading at night, once your eyes have adapted to darkness. No well-defined beam is produced; you pretty much get a 170 degree dispersion.
FLASHLIGHT (flash'lit) n. A container used for storing dead batteries.
That won't happen with the Millennium III. The battery life is in the hundreds of hours. But when it finally is time for a change, do this:
Unlike most muzzle-loaders, you change the batteries in the Millennium from the tailcap. Unscrew the tailcap by gripping it close to the "O" ring.
If you grip it too close to the end, you will probably end up opening the filter compartment instead.
Holding the body of the flashlight horizontally, carefully slide in three "D" cells, button-side first. Don't hold the light vertically and drop the batteries straight down,
as doing that can damage this and most other breech loading flashlights. I managed to break a Mag Lite by doing this a number of years ago - lesson learned.
Screw the tailcap back on, and you're good to go.
You can forget about having to do this very often, as the batteries should last for at least several hundred hours.
A spare incandescent lamp resides in the tailcap, however it is highly unlikely you will ever need it.
This is a fairly sturdy flashlight, as flashlights go.
Testing is currently underway to determine strength and water resistance - stay tuned for the results.
A very basic observation did show that this flashlight has the possibility of exploding into hundreds of little pieces all over the floor if it is dropped from ceiling height
or if it rolls off your home's roof onto a hard surface such as the sidewalk or driveway.
However, this cannot be determined until I have completed its operational tests and started doing things like kicking it and throwing it around the house.
If you do manage to destroy one of these, you can easily take out the LED module and stick it into virtually any other 3-cell PR-bulb flashlight. So not all would be lost.
UPDATE July 25 2000:
Early drop tests have shown this light really does hold up, however it has begun to flicker in the manner typical of many slide-switch flashlights as they age.
Ordinarily, this might not even be noticed, but since the LED switches off instantly, even a slight interruption of power will be visible as flickering or flashing. Setting the light firmly on its tail while it's lit will
also cause the LED to turn off briefly as the heavy batteries compress the spring and momentarily break the connection inside.
With an ordinary bulb, the filament will still glow for a time even with a brief power loss, so the intermittent connection can become pretty severe before it is actually noticed.
The finish on the Millennium III seems to be holding up well; it is not visibly marred despite numerous incidences of being knocked over, tossed, and dropped onto
a hard linoleum floor. In addition, the switch guard works very well as an anti-roll fin, stopping the light from rolling far even if dropped while its user is still in motion.
The flashlight was beaten against a steel pole with light to moderate force and that didn't hurt it a bit. Even when struck mid-barrel, it simply bounced off. Had this been an ordinary flashlight,
the bulb would have become broken long ago, the head would shatter or pop off, and the barrel would have probably split open, ruining the flashlight.
It is my opinion that you would have
to act violently and purposefully to destroy this flashlight; common flashlight mishaps like falls or rattling around in a car trunk just aren't enough to do it in.
This flashlight should hold up OK in foul weather, but it isn't entirely submersible. When it was drowned in the sink for about ten minutes (turning it on and off underwater several times),
dried off and then examined, a small amount of water appeared on the underside of the reflector. It apparently sprang a leak through the lens-end. None of the other seals
leaked, and both the battery compartment & switch area and the filter carrier remained dry. So although this shouldn't be used as a diving light, it should hold up fine as a camping
& survival light under most any conditions.
Beam photo, taken at 16" from the target.
The Millennium III is easily the brightest LED flashlight you can buy for under fifty dollars. It is nearly as bright as a 7-LED model I tried last spring, but should have double or triple the usable battery life.
When stood on its tail, it will easily illuminate a full-sized room to visibility if your eyes are at least partially adapted to darkness; a small room like a bathroom
is lighted brightly enough that your eyes don't even need time to adapt. If you are plunged into instant darkness, this is one flashlight you can depend on
to be useful immediately.
Because it is so heavy, it might be a little unwieldy for some uses; but it does make up for it somewhat by its low need for batteries - you need not bring a lot of extras along
if you take this guy camping with you. This is also a good flashlight to keep in the car (remember those colored filters?) and in your household disaster preparedness canister.
I've been keeping mine next to the bed for those nighttime excursions, and because I live in earthquake country - in case of earthquake. I can easily find it by feel and get my ass out of bed in time.
Being economical to operate is also a plus. You need not worry about using this flashlight often and not being able to afford batteries, since it will work for such a long time on a single set.
I read some literature that said you could use this flashlight for 1 hour a night for a whole year on the same batteries! Now that's economical.
I find myself liking this light, and you might too, if you don't mind the fact that it weighs about as much as a traditional flashlight.
All testing was done with the prismatic filter installed.
Water tests conducted in a sink with cool water; all threaded connections were tightened firmly beforehand.
Drop tests conducted by throwing the flashlight against both bare linoleum and low-pile carpeting until the downstairs neighbor started beating on his ceiling with a toilet plunger handle.
Any updates related to this review will be posted as they happen.
UPDATE July 28 2000:
Late last night, the flashlight mysteriously quit working. It's been days since it was last punished, and it seems to feel that now is a good time for retribution.
When the flashlight is turned on, nothing happens. It's simply dead.
Analysis has determined the problem to lie in the connection between the lamp and the lamp holder; my best guess
so far is that the solder blobs on top of the lamp's flange have oxidized, creating an electrically intermittent contact between the top of the bulb flange and the inner surface of the
bulb receptacle. Exchanging lamps seems to have cured the problem temporarily; and a long-term solution is being worked on.
One possible solution involves using a very thin stainless steel washer to fit between the lamp and the lamp holder; the other involves carefully bending up the flange in three places,
to allow a brass-to-brass fit inside the lamp receptacle and avoiding the soldered-to areas altogether.
UPDATE August 13 2000:
Another fix suggested by the manufacturer (WD-40) was tried, and so far, seems to be helping.
Do not spray the WD-40 directly on the bulb or in the socket; instead spray it on a Q-tip and rub it around the surface of the bulb flange and on the lip at the bottom
of the bulb socket where the two pieces make contact. Additionally, I also rubbed the nipple of the bulb (the silvery thing at the very bottom) with the WD-40 swab, and then reassembled
the flashlight. I gave the Coast Guard model flashlight this same treatment.
Although there is some variation in the light when the switch is touched or moved, this is normal with any slide switch style flashlight and should not be a concern
unless it gets much worse.
UPDATE August 15 2000:
A second red filter was found adhereing perfectly to the first one. I believe this to be a mistake, but one in my favor.
The flashlight produces a slightly pinkish-tinted red color with a single filter; and a nearly pure red with both together.
Also, the filters are incredibly easy to scratch, so you should handle them carefully, and always mount them so they are inside the flashlight, protected by the transparent
flashlight lens on the outside. Following the installation instructions earlier in this review will ensure this to be the case.
The only LED flashlight available that changes colors (white, blue and red) without extensive modification, is brighter than expected, works exceptionally
well as a full-room illuminator.
Dull olive green color could make it easy to lose or misplace outdoors, easily the heaviest light tested to date, leaks slightly when submerged.
MANUFACTURER: Fulton Industries
PRODUCT TYPE: Large Handheld Flashlight
LAMP TYPE: LED, White, 5mm
No. OF LAMPS: 3
BEAM TYPE: Central hot area with soft fall off
SWITCH TYPE: Slide action with seperate momentary button
BEZEL: Ribbed bezel with interchangeable lens/filters
BATTERY: 3 D cells
CURRENT CONSUMPTION: Unknown
WATER RESISTANT: Yes
SUBMERSIBLE: No, but will survive accidental dunkings and stay dry
ACCESSORIES: Prismatic lens, milky diffuser, red & blue filters, spare incandescent bulb; all included in the two-piece tail assembly
SPECIAL: LED lamp can be replaced with incandescent lamp if desired
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