POLL: Do you prefer flashlights with a side switch or a tail switch or both?

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SoCalTiger
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POLL: Do you prefer flashlights with a side switch or a tail switch or both?
Tail switch only
22% (15 votes)
Tail + Side switch
45% (31 votes)
Side switch only
33% (23 votes)
Total votes: 69
SoCalTiger
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I’m curious about everyone’s preferred UI for a flashlight. If you could build your perfect flashlight, would it have a tail switch, side switch or both? And what would be your “perfect” UI?

 

For me, my ideal flashlight has both switches. The one flashlight that I own that comes closest to having the perfect UI is the Nitecore EA81. Although this does not have a tail switch, it has 2 side buttons and a lot of functionality, shortcuts and electronic lock-out. I guess if I’m really looking to create something “perfect”, technically I’d have a tail-switch for lockout and 2 electronic side switches for modes and programming.

 

IMO, this is how the UI would work on my perfect Tail+Side switch flashlight:

  • Tail Switch - Reverse-clicky for physical lock-out only. I don’t care about momentary on but if someone wanted it, it could be a forward-clicky.
  • Side Switch - Change Modes
    • Normal Press: Off > Moon (1-8 lum) > Low 1-3% > Med 10-15% > High 35-50% > Turbo 100% (5 modes plus off, starting at the lowest. Spacing may need to be adjusted depending on max output and Moon level also depends on max output and size of light).
      • Example spacing for 1000 lumen light: 2 > 20 > 150 > 400 > 1000
      • Example spacing for 4000 lumen light: 8 > 80 > 450 > 1600 > 4000
    • Long Press: Hidden Strobe and cycle through: Strobe > SOS > Bike Strobe. Long Presses to cycle. Normal Press to Exit.
    • Double Press: Shortcut to Turbo. (Shortcut to Turbo would work even if the user configured Turbo to be turned Off from normal rotation).
    • Hidden Programming Mode (10 quick presses).
      • Allow user to turn Mode Memory On/Off
      • Allow user to turn Moon Mode On/Off
      • Allow user to turn Turbo Mode On/Off

On a flashlight with 2 side switches:

  • The top button could increase the brightness and the bottom button could decrease the brightness.
  • Long-press-top would jump to Turbo if off or jump to Strobe if on.
  • Long-press-bottom would jump to Moon if Off or turn off if already on.
Mike C
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Personally I prefer dual switch (both), but I’m still only just developing my E-switch only firmware, so maybe that will change, but I doubt it. Dual switch with multiple interfaces allows a wide range of uses. I have specific interfaces depending on what I am doing (caving, climbing, photography or simple “normal” usage).

richbuff
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I get to post my humble views on this perennial topic repeatedly, because this topic comes up anew regularly.

Tail switch: I know exactly where it is, but my finger tips are not located near where it is.

Side switch: My finger tips are near it, but I don't know exactly its precise location.

For me, switch style, type, location and the UI are a compromise.

There are so many people with many years of expert experience with switch types/locations/UIs that offer their wishes to the manufacturers, that I don't offer my humble thoughts to the manufacturers

I select lights based primarily on size/power ratio and beam performance; the UI and switch type/location is just something that comes along with the light. .

If a manufacturer came out with the perfect light for a decent size group of flashlight users, would the remaining population of users hate it?

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desmondkun
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For me, single or multi switch will not hard to use if they’re in the same place. Feel like I have seen a post like this before?

Take care of your flashlight and your flashlight will take care of you.

L4M4
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I never understood, why people favor dual-switches.
Turn the flashlight on, then turn it around to switch modes – ? That’s not convenient

Single Side or Tail Switch – for smaller 1*18650 I prefer tail Switch, for bigger ones (3-4 18650 / 26650) Side-Switch.



Edit: apparently someone thaught that this post was “rude” and pressed the “rude!” button.

SoCalTiger
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L4M4 wrote:
I never understood, why people favor dual-switches. Turn the flashlight on, then turn it around to switch modes – ? That’s not convenient

I consider the tail switch to be the physical lockout in my ideal case. You could theoretically just leave the tail switch “on” if you didn’t care to use it.

You’d really only need the side switch for normal operation.

I do agree that I don’t like lights with two switches where the only way to turn it off is to use the tail switch. You should be able to turn the light off using the side switch alone.

Jack Kellar
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Depends. Mostly for me and the form factors I use, it’s tailcap switch only because my biggest so far is 1×18650 and 2xAA and using only the thumb is practical, plus I tend to hold all my non-mini (read: 1xAAA) torches in reverse grip because of shadow play. For tail and side switch models, it’s gotta be one that I can fully operate with one hand, and that means reaching the side switch with my ring or pinky finger.

That said, I can easily see the merits of bigger or tinier lights being purely side-switch (if the Ultratac K18 and the Lumintop Ant were “quick press to turn off”, I’d be drooling over them).

Phlogiston
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I’m legally blind, so I need a single switch that’s easy to find by touch, even when wearing impact gloves. That way I can control everything the light does without having to shift my grip and risk dropping it.

In practice, that’s always a tail switch. There’s no intrinsic reason it has to be a tail switch, but in my experience, side switches are always smaller and less distinct from the light body in a tactile sense.

If someone ever makes a side switch light with what amounts to a tail switch mounted sideways, I’d be interested.

To give you an idea of what I’m thinking about here, you’d need a tube with a smaller hole bored in the side where the switch boot would be, and a larger threaded hole in the other side to assemble the switch parts through.

Assembly procedure would be: insert switch boot, insert lozenge shaped switch board with Omten 1288 on it, route wire forward to driver board, route wire backward to positive spring in battery compartment, screw plug into assembly hole.

The plug would be machined with a post which kept the switch board pressed correctly into place where the switch boot could act on it.

Newlumen
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It’s all depend. Tactical or smaller light, I prefer tail switch.

Big light such as Fenix rc40, I prefer side switch..

bguy
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While I voted both, I think the answer depends on the light and the purpose of it. My favorite light is still the VB-16, with a forward tail clicky for on/off, and up and down buttons on the side for brightness level.

I like being able to quickly use a flashlight one handed, and I think having only a side switch makes it hard. You have to roll the light to find the switch. This is the main problem I see with the EA11 and SRK type of light. It also allowed the EA11 to turn on easily in my pocket. The only side clicky I have liked is the Nitecore tube, but it’s real easy to find the switch.

Tail clickies are easy to find and use. All my favorite go to lights have tail clickies. I currently EDC a Acebeam M10.

As far as UI, I normally like simple. I don’t need strobe modes. I will take a single mode over a light with a bunch of modes you have to toggle through.

patmurris
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I voted for the side switch… because i like to hold my lights that way and find it very inconvenient to go for the tail switch to interact.

I have one light with a magnetic ring and to me that’s way better then any switch. There is a physical motion that results in a mode – always the same. The ring is easy to find. Turn it one way or the other. Can be used with ramping, easy to figure out… But it costs more to get it right i guess.

A slider would do well too.

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My faves tend to be 1-mode tail-clickies with forward-clicky (momentary-on) switches. I hold lights icepick style (vs sword style), so a tail-clicky is the easiest way to turn it on/off while aiming the light at eye-index or neck-index, depending.

1 mode means a simple on/off, no accidentally putting it into firefly mode when you want to daylight up what you’re looking at. There are no mistakes. And momentary-on means being able to flash’n‘dash without a noisy click giving away your position.

My EDC is a (RC, unfortunately) ’502 with 5000K XP-L. Simple, does what I need, end of story. When I eventually put together a “dream” drop-in, I’ll toss that into an L2M with FC switch and see how that works out.

For variable light output, my DV-S9 works beautifully with a magnetic slider. Moonlight to full-tilt in a simple slider, just like a wall-mounted dimmer switch. Plus off, of course. Physical lockout with ¼-turn to eliminate parasitic drain.

If I needed the flexibility of modes, I’d love the way my Quark 2AA-X does it with the twisty-head. Snug means turbo (and nasty strobe, so eliminate that), and loosened means moon/low/med/high. Alas, it takes AAs, so brightness falls as the cell(s) wear. Hate that more than the green tint from its AR-coated glass. Silly

With a single tailswitch, something like 10 quick baps on the switch to go into “programming mode” to toggle features, whether turbo-only for “tactical” mode, or f/l/m/h cycling through with each switch bap. Maybe as you point out above, selectable options for memory on/off and possibly doubleclick-for-turbo on/off.

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Lightbringer
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patmurris wrote:
I have one light with a magnetic ring and to me that’s way better then any switch. There is a physical motion that results in a mode – always the same. The ring is easy to find. Turn it one way or the other. Can be used with ramping, easy to figure out… But it costs more to get it right i guess.

DV-S9! DV-S9! DV-S9! Big Smile

patmurris wrote:
A slider would do well too.

DV-S9! DV-S9! DV-S9! Big Smile

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tekwyzrd
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I’m very satisfied with the momentary side switch / forward clicky tail switch / TA srk w/ narsil in my chimera.

WillyD
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I voted both, but for the most part I like one or the other…not both at the same time. What I really want is an 18650 host with side switch only. I have a Lumintop SD26 with side e-switch. Removable tailcap so it can be locked out. Also, the Convoy BD06 is another great example using side switch only, but with a mechanical switch. However, both are 26650. I just don’t see the point in turning on/off at tail and then switching modes on the side.

Lexel
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The Klarus lights with sideswitch and 2 tailswitches is pretty much almost the perfect light

tekwyzrd
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WillyD wrote:
I voted both, but for the most part I like one or the other…not both at the same time. What I really want is an 18650 host with side switch only. I have a Lumintop SD26 with side e-switch. Removable tailcap so it can be locked out. Also, the Convoy BD06 is another great example using side switch only, but with a mechanical switch. However, both are 26650. I just don’t see the point in turning on/off at tail and then switching modes on the side.

Momentary use or signalling. A forward clicky tail is good although a double side switch (foreward clicky and momentary) providing an effect similar to the push button momentary and slide switch on some older lights would be better. The old angle head military flashlights with a side button and switch (I have one in near perfect condition purchased from clothing sales during annual training in 1991) are an example. With the switch on pressing the momentary button provided a ‘turbo’ equivalent. Modern hardware and firmware make it possible to far surpass this old standard. Momentary turbo by half pressing the forward clicky while in any mode selected by the momentary switch is one example although many other benefits are possible (my 2018 blf/ol contest entry – not enough time to design and test hw and fw for the current contest).

SoCalTiger
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Lightbringer wrote:
And momentary-on means being able to flash’n‘dash without a noisy click giving away your position.

I just pictured you being involved in some shady night ops sneaking in a darkly lit alley of NYC.

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Tail switch only on lights (preferably with a SS bezel) just long enough to stick out of my closed hand on both sides.

I always think long and hard before I say something really stupid.