UPGRADE REVIEW – Night-OPS Gladius_SweeneyMod

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Location: Shenandoah Valley
UPGRADE REVIEW – Night-OPS Gladius_SweeneyMod

UPGRADE REVIEW – Night-OPS Gladius_SweeneyMod

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Back in 2005 I discovered a really neat (at the time) light called the Gladius. At the time it was being manufactured by a new company called Night-Ops, later to become part of Blackhawk. The light had a truly unique interface, several interesting modes, and put out an amazing 80-90 Lumens (yes that was a barn burner for 2005) running on 2xCR123 Lithium Primaries.


I wound up with some very mixed feelings about the demo version of the light (detailed in this thread)

Well apparently that was an early production model because eventually I found a later version one and was impressed enough to purchase it and it did eventually become a favorite of mine and wound up as one of my earliest “Real World Reviews”.

But as we all know, time passes and technologies advance and it didn’t take too long for the Gladius to fall by the wayside as we jumped to 100, 200, 300 or more lumens and shifted from inefficient, expensive, and somewhat wasteful lithium primaries to various types of rechargeable cells. I would frequently look at the Gladius sitting on a shelf and want to use it because I liked the user interface and design, but it just didn’t have enough power compared to newer lights.

Fast forward to a casual conversation at the start of 2008 and forum member Joe Sweeney mentioned that had upgraded some Gladius lights with new XHP50 emitters and a matched reflector. The price was right so I said “why the heck not” and sent Joe the light. Joe stayed in touch through the whole process and what I got back was a very professionally done swap (with one HUGE thumbprint on the outside of the lens… I can ID you now Joe <LOL>). 

Ultimately the light was so nice that I sanded out all the bumps and dings, gave it a good metal based paint job, and re-did the labels on the light to reflect its new personality.

Joe made the following recommendations along with the modification.

  1. CR123 Primary lithium cells (2x 3v = 6v total) will probably be “okay”
  2. Tenergy liFePO4 rechargeable cells (2x 3.2v= 6.4v) were RECOMMENDED.
  3. RCR123A/16340 Li-ion (2x 3.7v = 7.4v) NOT ADVISED-TOO MUCH VOLTAGE.

(I agree completely that running the Li-ION would be too much even though I wish I had the energy capacity to get longer runtime)

Testing bore out these recommendations as running the light on 2x Lithium Primaries produced an output that varied between 180 and 200 Lumens for an amazing run of nearly 9 hours before dropping below 50% of initial output. Unfortunately the severe “sag-and-recover” cycle as the batteries tried to keep up with the XHP50 really confused the regulation circuits of the light. The result wasn’t really apparent to the naked eye, but the testing /runtime graph shows how badly the light kept “fluttering” trying to control the regulation. In short, lithium primaries were useable, and an improvement from stock, but not optimal.

Then I installed the Tenergy liFePO4 rechargeable cells and the mod really came to life pushing out a well-regulated 615 lumens for just short of 30 minutes before tailing off rapidly down to nearly complete exhaustion. NOTE: the short runtime compared to the Lithium Primary cells is a direct reflection on the low overall capacity of the Tenergy liFePO4 cells (only 400 mAh each), not the light.

Later tests at lower levels gave consistent results with a half brightness test running for a full hour, etc.

The Mod does change the light pattern. The new reflector is slightly shallower and the emitter has a slightly larger surface area resulting in a more “flood-biased” beam than the Gladius used to have in its stock configuration. This, combined with the warmer output of the XHP50 turned the Gladius into an even nicer “walk around” light than it used to be with absolutely none of the hated “follow-the-bouncing-ball” effect.

So there are some of the significant improvements to the light, while at the same time you still keep the Ramping UI and the programmability that a Gladius always had including selecting where you want the “always on” mode to start (Low/High/Last used)
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[Programming the Gladius for preferred startup mode]

  1. Turn the dial to Constant on/adjustable (Channel 3).
  2. Press and hold the button until the light runs all the way to the opposite light level (dim in this case), keep holding and the light will blink.
  3. Release the button.
  4. Press and hold the button until the light runs all the way to the opposite light level (bright in this case), keep holding and the light will blink.
  5. Release the button.
  6. Turn the light off and when you turn it back on you will be in the next "Mode".

This method cycles through all the modes.
Mode 1 (default) - Starts bright and can be dimmed
Mode 2 - Starts dim and can be brightened
Mode 3 - Starts at the last brightness you had it at.

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The “Standard evening walk” begins with illuminating 3” circular reflectors and then seeing if I can make out the trees to which they are attached (neutral brown bark). Part Two then takes place over either a 1.5 or a 2.5 mile loop on an unlit and mostly open grassy area with a few trees, and then ends going through a short, steep, uphill/downhill gravel trail surrounded by trees and heavy undergrowth which I call the "confidence course".

Target Test
Target 1: 30ft [10yd/09M].......... Well Illuminated
Target 2: 60ft [20yd/18M].......... Well Illuminated
Target 3: 120ft [40yd/36M].......... Well Illuminated
Target 4: 180ft [60yd/54M].......... Well Illuminated
Target 5: 300ft [100yd/91M]........ illuminated
Target 6: 450ft [150yd/137M]...... Beyond design capabilities
Target 7: 600ft [200yd/182M]...... Beyond design capabilities
Target 8: 750ft [250yd/228M]...... Beyond design capabilities

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The Walk
Because of the relatively short runtimes while on the liFePO4 I didn’t really do the standard evening walk but I can tell you that the beautiful wide beam makes for an excellent walking light with good color rendition. The fact that it now has 600+ lumens on tap gives it plenty of projection even though the light is now on the floody side.

The “SweeneyMOD” was an inexpensive project with really fast turnaround and brought one of my all-time favorite lights back into use. If you have an old Gladius and you’d like to turbo-charge it right into the modern realm I would highly recommend the mod.

Now if I could just find some higher capacity, low resistance, 3.2v cells to run it.

Tonights forecast, 100% chance of dark.

Edited by: zespectre on 02/27/2018 - 12:54