When it comes to commercial off-the-shelf accessories such as tactical gunlights, picking a choice is all but easy.
The market is literally overflowed by dozens of products, pretty much all very similar with one another, but prospective buyers will hardly find a product that meets most, if not all, their needs − power, versatility, ease of use, and cost, not to mention the reliability: when you're choosing a tactical flashlight for your personal defense, home protection, service or tactical firearm, that's something you will be betting your life on.
Despite having been launched in north America in the year 2014, the MFT Torch Backup tactical gunlight is somewhat of a newcomer on the European market. Largely disregarded and less than widely known, this gunlight − manufactured by Priceton Tec for Mission First Tactical − would definitely deserve more success on this side of the Big Pond. It is indeed, plain and simply, a small jewel.
First of all, let's talk about size: the MFT Torch Backup is berely 5.5cm/2.1" long, 3cm/1.1" wide, and about 1.2cm/0.4" high; not only it is unobtrusive, but being totally manufactured out of polymer, it is also extremely light at 22 grams (0.77 oz.), battery included.
One of the smallest and lightest tactical gunlights, it is also a perfect fit for those firearms whose handling or maneuverability would be hindered by the use of a larger device.
We tried it by testing an MFT Torch Backup gunlight on a Sino Defense Manufacturing SMG-9 short-barrel carbine, whose cocking handle is located on the left side of the handguard, right above the barrel, just like on a Heckler & Koch MP5 sub-machine gun.
When installed right under the cocking handle, the MFT Torch Backup will not obstruct handling and cocking of the gun, and will be easy for a right-handed shooter to reach and operate with the thumb of the support hand.
The MFT Torch Backup tactical gunlight is powered through a single "Button"-style CR2016 commercial battery, hosted in a sealed compartment on top. A flat-nose screwdriver is all it takes to access the battery van for replacement through a round, quarter-turn removable polymer door.
The same flat-headed screwdriver would be required to loosen or tighten the screw that secures the MIL-STD-1913 interface of the MFT Torch Backup to any Picatinny rail.
The MFT Torch Backup is available in three versions
The MFT Torch Backup tactical gunlight is available in three different versions, each with a different LED configuration: the TBLW model sports two twin 10-Lumen white visible light LEDs; the TBLWR features a single 10-lumen visible white light LED and an adjustable low-output (5 to 10 Lumen) red light navigation LED; last, the TBLIR version − mostly conceived for professional operators, but also available commercially − comes with an adjustable low-output (5 to 10 Lumen) red light navigation LED and an infrared LED for night vision viewing.
In any case, the MFT Torch Backup tactical gunlight is IPX7 waterproof rated and offers a 10-years storage lifespan and a 24-hours burn time.
The rubberized button located on the rear portion of the gunlight allows the operator to switch among the two available LEDs: the power button is clicked once to activate the secondary LED on a low-output mode for signature reduction during patrol, stealth structure search and approach to target, and twice for a higher output, for breaching operation. Holding it for two seconts will activate the primary LED (white visible light) illumination functionality, and holding it again for two seconds will switch the light off.
Uses and prices
Such a low output is an advantage, and not a handicap, for the intended uses of the MFT Torch Backup gunlight: both the white light and the navigation LEDs will still provide enough illumination to navigate or illuminate clearly the close quarters of a corridor or a room, while at the same time reducing the negative effects on the user's natural night visions − while a more powerful light could disorient the user as well as the intended target if suddenly turned on in close quarters and in a total darkness situation, and leave the user totally blind if suddenly turned off.
Price is definitely another factor that may turn the choice of many categories of users − civilian gun owners, professional operators, MIL-SIM players, and so on − towards the MFT Torch Backup gunlight.
In the United States of America, all three variants of the MFT Torch Backup carry a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $49.99; in Europe, the Tactical73 company makes the TBLW and TBLWR models available for €67,54, while the TBLIR model featuring an IR LED goes for €90,08.
There is indeed a remarkable variation between the original MSRP and the European street price, but that's due to export procedures and transport dues, custom fees, VAT and other taxes; when it comes to the TBLIR model, the variation is even higher due to the ITAR restrictions imposed by the U.S. Department of State over the export and international commerce of infrared technologies generating from the United States.
And still, even with that markup, the MFT Torch Backup is still a pretty cheap choice in the field of COTS tactical gunlight: a heavy-duty certified gunlight sold almost at "airsoft price", the MFT Torch Backup will make the difference when required without leaving you penniless.