For Almost Any Situation: Maglite 3 D cell
Jun 27, 2004 (Updated Apr 17, 2011)
Review by Alan Lake
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Reliable, durable, bright, and they can hurt.
Cons:Too heavy for backpacking, not indestructible.
The Bottom Line: This is a great brand and the 3 D cell is probably the best for the average user. It is bright enough for every day tasks and not too unwieldy.
This is a good alternative for people that want a reliable flashlight in their car or home. It is sturdy, somewhat large, and reliable. And if necessary, you can hit your husband over the head with it. Why? So he can make breakfast for you in the morning.
Recommend this product?
Why I own this.
I have 3 of these models, one of them is dead. The most recent one was a gift from my dad for Christmas. Guess we can never have enough. So that one is in my wife’s car. The other one wanders around the house and really does not have a home. Two of these 3 flashlights I bought at Costco over the years, the one that came in the two pack with the AA version. I bought these kits because I needed a flashlight for car camping, backpacking (AA flashlight), and general use around the house.
How it works
This flashlight has a button near the head that turns on and off the flashlight. It runs on 3 D cell batteries and a 4.5 volt light bulb. But a 6 volt bulb can work in emergency situations (just not the 3v bulb, it will glow bright then blow.)
The head of the flashlight twists that focuses the beam if you wish. It really does not do a good job of focusing.
The head of this flashlight does not screw off like the AA models do. This just means you cannot use it as a cheap lamp.
How do you change batteries
All you do is unscrew the back of the flashlight, tilt the flashlight down, and let the batteries slide out. You then put in fresh batteries, positive side first. Screw back on the end and turn it on. It will take 15-30 seconds.
How do you change the light bulb
This process will take 1-2 minutes. You unscrew the top part containing the lens and set it aside. Then take out the reflector and set it aside. The battery is not screwed in but held in place with a type of nut. Simple unscrew that and the bulb comes out with the nut. Put the new bulb in the hole, screw the nut back in so it holds in the bulb, replace the reflector, and screw back in the lid and lens.
The process is very easy and anyone can do it.
Is there a spare light bulb? How much do spares cost?
Yes most Maglights have spare bulbs in the bottom end. They are wrapped in a protective spongy material and held in by the spring at the bottom. In order to retrieve it you take off the spring and take out the battery.
The problem I have with this is if the flashlight falls, or you hit too many people with it, then the bulb WILL break. That is the problem I had with this flash before the review. The glass from the bulb is all over the inside casing. I will need to take the entire flashlight apart and wash out the metal parts so that all of the glass flakes can be removed.
I know Rayovac and Maglite make bulbs for these flashlights. I have not had any problems with either brand. Maglite brand bulbs for this flashlight list at $2.50 for 2 bulbs. But they do have higher quality bulbs for $3.95.
How long will it last?
The flashlight will last indefinitely if you take care of it properly. I do not. So I have had one flashlight die in under 1 years (the other 3 died in around 5 years), and another flashlight I have had for 14 years (it still works.)
The bulbs last for several years, just depends on usage. The ones I keep for emergency purposes have the original bulb and have been around for 6 plus years.
The batteries will last around 8 hours, depending on the type of battery and bulb you use. More than enough for a week of camping. If you use your flashlight non-stop, then you may have problems.
What I use it for.
Car camping, Emergency gear, Household usage.
How good is the quality of the light
First, if you are a police officer or a security guard, you will not have this light. It is too expensive to keep replacing batteries and the brightness is not high enough. There are some really nice flashlight (ex. Stinger) that cost around 100 dollars and are well worth the investment. (Maglite has come out with a rechargeable system that I know nothing about.)
With that in mind, the light is adequate for every day needs. The quality and focus of the light is not great, just average. In fact you will notice that since the focus is not perfect you will figure out what part of the light is the best and focus the flashlight there. In other words the overall brightness of the light varies across the circle it creates and is not consistent. This is true for all Maglites that I have used.
How bright is it?
Sorry I don’t have any scientific equipment so the assessment will be strictly qualitative.
The flashlight is bright enough to read a map, book, or items near your eyes. It will help you see almost every object on the ground. It will not see objects clearly across a big campsite and it will not simulate daylight. It is also a poor substitute for a flash. Some of the trick photography I have done has not been very effective.
Durability and my tendency to break things
I own about 8 maglites that work and in the past 14 years I have destroyed 4 of them. For me nothing is indestructible and if it can be broken I will find a way. But for the normal individual these are about as indestructible as any flashlight out there.
Out of the flashlights I have destroyed, 2 are the mini-maglite version. What usually brakes for me is the plastic piece that is at the top of the flashlight, between the light bulb and the battery. This is just a result of me throwing the flashlight around so much and not caring about it’s safety. The 3 D cell version that broke just stopped working. I did not bother to figure our why. The 6 D cell version that broke had a problem with the current flowing through it properly, this one died in 1 year.
Out of the Maglites I have owned for a while, only the paint has worn down on the edges and the textured surfaces revealing the silver metal underneath. The plastic lense is very scratched up but does not affect the light in any noticeable fashion. Just aesthetics, nothing major.
Mounting Bracket- Holds the flashlight in a fixed position so you do not have to.
Leather belt holder- So you can carry it on your belt. This can be a little annoying.
Colored lenses- Clear, blue, and red colors.
IR and NVG lenses- These come with holders and are listed at $158 and $141 respectively.
Traffic cone- Just a simple traffic cone for directing traffic in low light situations.
Size and weight
Flashlight length:12.5 inches.
Flashlight width: 1.5 inches at bottom and 2.25 inches at the top.
Weight of flashlight with batteries: 1 pound, 14.75 ounces.
Who is this for?
The average user that needs a cheap yet reliable flashlight.
About the Warranty and parts
Maglite have a limited lifetime warranty. If you have a problem they will replace it for you. The warranty does not cover battery exhaustion, battery leakage, lamp burnout, or damage caused by alteration, misuse, battery leakage or lack of maintenance. This is an awesome warranty, maybe I’ll get a clue and take advantage of it.
Maglite has all of the spare parts you need to repair any of their flashlights. I personally have not gone that route, but it is a good option. Most companies do not allow you to do this because they just want you to buy a new product. The website has a detailed pdf with all the information you need.
If you need a reliable flashlight that will not break the bank, this is a great option.
It is not as bright as a lamp and too big for most camping applications, but it is one of the best flashlights out there. And if you find yourself in a dangerous situation, it can be used as a weapon.
© Alan Lake's Kitchen 2011
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