Klarus XT1A Tactical Flashlight
Photo by John Boch
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Dan tasked me with doing the Everyday Carry posts a few months ago, and seeing what people carry affords me a chance to learn from others. Two lights grabbed my attention, but one has quickly become a favorite – the Klarus XT1A. In short, not only does it not suck, but it’s done well for me.

Yes, this remains The Truth About Guns, but for a moment let’s talk flashlights. Why? Because if you carry a gun for self-defense, you should carry a light, too. After all, bad guys prefer to do their thing in low-light environments.

And legally, if you can’t identify your target with reasonable certainty, you can’t justifiably use deadly force.  Furthermore, nothing has more jury appeal than testifying that you used a powerful flashlight to remove any doubt about the target’s identity and the threat he (or she) posed to you or your family.

Klarus XT1A Tactical Flashlight
Image via klaruslight.com

Enter the Klarus light. It provides a broad, diffuse beam without any hot spots and plenty of horsepower as well. What’s more, you can pick one up without breaking the bank at about $50 from Amazon. It’s also about the same price at Sam Walton’s online place, but I don’t buy anything there any longer.

The light runs much brighter — it’s rated at 1000 lumens — when powered with a rechargeable Lithium Ion 14500 (AA-sized) batteries. In fact, the light ships with a LiIon battery that has a built-in USB charge slot. However, those electronics take up a fair bit of room in that already small cell, reducing the USB-chargeable battery capacity to about 800mAh. So I swapped that for a more traditional Lithium Ion battery with three times more gas inside.

When LiIon batteries or charging are unavailable, the Klarus XT1A will also accept ubiquitous alkaline AA-cells as well. Despite a much tamer performance with an alkaline battery, it will emit about 300 lumens with your favorite brand of AA battery.

Aside from a fairly broad beam and bright output, it brings all the key features I want in a tactical light: a pocket clip, a momentary switch, and at least two brightness levels. After all, I don’t need enough light to signal the International Space Station to look under a table at a restaurant for a pacifier or a dropped credit card.

Klarus hits all the requirements I need with a few pleasant bonus features as well.

The deep carry pocket clip allows the light to ride in my support-side rear pocket clipped to the side securely. Virtually the entire light rides below the top of the pocket.

Klarus XT1A Tactical Flashlight
Image via klaruslight.com.

The momentary switch: the Klarus has not one, but two momentary switches on the tailcap. One, a big rubber button, fires it up at an eye-searing, 1000-lumen turbo mode.  That serves as both a bad-guy repellent and long-distance search mode.

The metal paddle-style momentary switch (with obviously a significant tactile difference) lights it up on a low-power setting of about 5 lumens, very handy in most situations. Otherwise known as “can you find that pacifier for me” mode.

The big rubber button acts as a click-y switch. And holding the paddle switch down for more than a second or two leaves the light on when it’s released.  From there, touching that paddle switch again takes it to the 80-lumen medium setting and from there to the 1000-lumen max power mode.

I admit that I’m less than faithful about regularly charging the battery in my carry lights, but the Klarus has me covered. On top, it has a little multi-colored LED that will show the remaining charge on the battery.

Klarus XT1A Tactical Flashlight
Photo by John Boch

Green means 70% capacity remaining. Orange is “time to top off the charge.”  A red indicator shows less than 30% capacity remaining. And for me, “charging” simply means swapping out the battery with a fully charged spare from my glovebox or nightstand.

Another bonus: The light doesn’t weigh much or take up much room in your pocket. It rides very unobtrusively, as it should. You don’t even realize it’s there until you need it.

I have carried this light for a couple of months now and find myself using it daily. In short, it works well.

If you want a versatile light for everyday carry, the Klarus unit provides great performance at an affordable price.

In other words, it definitely doesn’t suck.

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  1. Yes! Klarus!

    We have two XT11s. Kept at home primarily, we have other lights in vehicles. The strobe frequency and the trigger paddle is what sold me on the performance. Getting hit even for a second by the strobe in the eyes causes dizziness and disorientation. It will screw your vision up. I would not hesitate to use it against an assailant to break their OODA. Perfect for that.

    Keep the ‘suck not’ articles coming!

  2. Why so many lumens? I carry a light with 300. I’m not going to be firing on someone at night at 25 yards. I’m going to be seeking shelter.

    Educate me here.

    • Exactly. I took a nighttime handgun defense course earlier this year, and the instructors specifically recommended that any of us who had multi-lumen options switch our lights to a lower setting instead of the max. They were right, as I quickly found out that “lighting up” an adversary from a pitch black hallway also wreaks havoc on your own vision and not only causes you to squint (a jury doesn’t want to hear that you squinted), but also wrecks your vision when the light is turned off (you don’t want to paint your location for another baddie with a gun pointed in your direction).

      My Olight’s lower setting is 300 lumens, which is perfect, and is now my default setting. The higher beam is good for lighting up an entire room during a search.

    • So there’s two major things here, generally speaking.

      1) Physics. The power of the light is not equal to what you see. Percieved brightness is less than the luminosity. So doubling the lumens does not double what you see. Also, brightness drops as the square of the distance. So, in both regards it’s a function of intended use.

      2) In reality having “all da lumenz” helps when the reflector technology of the light isn’t there. The price of a quality light isn’t in the diode/lamp. It’s in the reflector. BUT a lack of high quality reflector can, in some ways, be made up for with a brighter emitter. It doesn’t smooth the beam or eliminate hot/dark spots or help with the edges of the beam diffusing in ways you don’t want but it can make the light acceptable for a given use.

      The effect of 2) is that for many intended applications you can manufacture a light that’s nearly as good and do so comparatively cheaply. So that 300 lumen Surefire is great, but for many applications (red dots and WML’s not withstanding) a 1000 lumen light may be about equal and half the price or less because the company didnt invest in making a nice, high-end reflector.

      People tend to fixate on lumens because it’s a major component in advertising lights, but it’s not the end-all-be-all. As such, some of the lumen stuff is a workaround for other faults and some of it is pure advertising.

    • “Why so many lumens? I carry a light with 300.”

      It’s a bit like the old saying “No such thing as a man who wished he brought less ammo to a gun fight.”

      Once you see what it can do for you, you’ll use it more and more.

      This *particular* light has a function I think I’m *really* gonna like – The lever-switch that gets you 5 lumens.

      Look, it’s like this – 30 years ago, I wondered why anyone would wear a quick-opening (in this case, a Spyderco) pocket knife clipped to my front pocket. The ‘Old-Timer’ lockback at the bottom of my pocket worked just fine. Lo and behold, I found myself suddenly using that Spyderco many more times a day than the lockback, simply because it was handy to get to.

      Flashlights are like Spydercos – you’ll use ’em more than you thought you would…

  3. Geez Boch you think Amazon is pro-2A?!? And Jeff Bezos doesn’t hate you? And Amazon isn’t worse for local economies than WallyWorld? Dunno about way downstate but the swarm of Amazon delivery drones are dangerous. Very dangerous…ok light.

    • For those that do use Amazon.com, you can elect to use their charity funcrion. I use CRPA (California Rifle and Pistol Association) through AmazonSmiles.

      • I selected the Second Amendment Foundation as the charity on AmazonSmile. It adds up. Amazon says as of August, the donations to the Second Amendment Foundation total $121,999.68.

        • Didn’t know that…thanks for the heads up.


          Nice to know that I can trickle $$ into the SAF. No great fan of Amazon, however, out here in the boonies it is easier (and quicker) to get small parts, specialty items, etc from them as opposed to having to order the stuff from a local vendor and it taking a random time (sometimes measured in weeks) to arrive…then having to drive into town to pick it up.

  4. But is this light durable; will it work after being dropped on the concrete a few times? I had a few Coast flashlights that would flicker after a few drops. My Streamlight has been dropped many times on various hard surfaces and still works like a champ, same with my olight.
    As for this light’s beam, no hot spot, just an evenly difused beam. I have found the hotspot with some spill to be more useful scanning an area and focus on an object. I also use the hotspot like a laser pointer if I need someone to get eyes trained on what I see.

    • Any company can put out a high lumen light. Durability is the difference between a good tactical light and junk. Thats what you pay for in a quality light

    • Made in China. I knew it was the moment I saw the product price was $50. Then I checked the product page on the Klarus website and the word “Specifications” was misspelled as “Speficications.” Then I checked the PDF copy of the product manual, and SURPRISE! it’s printed in English and Chinese (no Spanish or French at least, so +1 for that), and says “Made in China” on the final page. To be very specific, it’s from 5/F No. 28 Building, Niulanqian Industrial Park, Longhua District, in Shenzhen, China. And confirmed Klarus is indeed a 100% Chinese company from the moment it was founded in 2011, they’re not an American brand outsourcing over there.

      Wonder if the PLA battalion stationed in Shenzhen about to enter Hong Kong is giving them good business.

      • Rather something with directions in Spanish then support the Red Chinese. Buying Chinese is like sin it can’t be avoided but shouldn’t be given to in excess.

  5. Gear porn for the emasculated office worker who buys knives, flashlights, and even sometimes fireames hoping to regain some of the masculinity he has surrendered to make a living in a feminist, politically correct office/corporate environment.

  6. Question- can you reverse the pocket clip? As it sits, the clip is set up for head-down pocket carry. If you want to clip it to the brim of your baseball cap for hands-free use you need to be able to reverse the clip. For almost any flashlight these days this is the deal-killer for me. Thanks for the info.

  7. nope. i bought this light on the recommendation of this review. it sucks, a complete waste of money. the light oscillates on the brightest mode, and is nowhere near 1000 lumens. i have a fenix that has a true 1000L and this ain’t it

  8. Purchased 2ea. xg11a. Both suck!!!! problem, the usb charger doesn’t work and i refuse to send them to be repaired. Contacted klarus and got a generic response to send them to bum f… egypt. sorry, not gonna do that with a 3 month old flashlight that i have had problems with charging since day one. they know of this problem and have a list of fixes to try that an idiot only wouldn’t have already tried. I just received a charger i bought that will charge the crap klarus sent me. this company is horrible and impossible to get a hold of. why publish pages of excuses why their junk won’t charge. i will bash this company the rest of my life and let people know what a crap product they make in china. better to pay extra from a tool guy who will back up his product. ending opinion- junk product crap company. they should be refunding everyone who paid for this crap


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