Debuted at SHOT Show in 2018, the Optimized Weapon Light (OWL) by Cloud Defensive represents a dynamic step in weapon illumination, technology, and design. Combined the OWL provides superior performance through materials that ensure it is nearly bomb-proof.
Consisting of a three-part chassis, the OWL is made from certified 6061-T6 aluminum and then machined to meet precise specifications. Each module (light emitter, body, and tail cap) is then anodized to meet MIL Standard hard coat with a black nitride exterior. Additionally, the internal connections are gold-plated to maximize connectivity between each module. The result is a chassis with the highest degree of corrosion resistance and exceeds the ANSI/PLATO FL-1 impact resistance standards.
Both endcap modules (light emitter and tail cap) are interchangeable to the body to provide ambidextrous mounting of the weapon light to the left or right of the rail. The patented lug design provides for no threaded components and provide for a secure seal that gives the OAL a submersion rating of up to 200 feet for up to 24 continuous hours (the specifications necessary to meet IPX8 water resistance ratings). But to advance the weapon light’s design further, Cloud Defensive isolated the electrical system to be an independent sealed design so even if moisture does penetrate the main chassis, it will have no effect on the light’s performance.
The tail cap module has an integrated mounting tool that allows the OWL to be “hand tightened” to the ideal amount of torque. This same integrated tool can be used to change the lens on the light emitter. Editor Note: As will be noted later, replacement of the lens in the event of damage should be done by removal of the bezel using the endcap tool, and using compressed air to clear the LED bell of debris. Never touch the internal LED bell with the fingertips.
The enclosed pressure switch on the main body module provides for a cable free, remote free design that gives Momentary and Constant-ON capabilities.
In regards to light output, the OWL provides an emission of 50,000 candela and 1,250 lumens thanks to its electroformed reflector, power supply, and warmer LED emission. The important thing to remember is that lumens are a measure of the potential light during performance. However, without an efficient focal point to concentrate the beam, lumens quickly disperse over an ever widening range. In contrast, candela is the measure of light that is focused sufficiently to reach the target at a specific distance. As such, while the OWL does have an impressive 1,250 lumens, the 50,000 candela has almost three times as the leading market competitor and thus enables the user to see targets at a significant distance.
Each OWL comes with a professional-grade battery charger, one SAMSUNG 18650 30Q, and one SANYO 18650 GA rechargeable battery. This gives the user to opt between one power source for maximum power output (the blue SAMSUNG battery with 85-90 minutes of continual run time per charge), and another for maximum run time (the red SANYO battery with 105-110 minutes of continual run time per charge).
All of these items; the weapon light, the charger, and two batteries, come in a plastic protective storage case with customized open-cell foam for proper protection of the overall product.
- Length… 5.255″
The OWL is available in Black (featured), OD Green, Flat Dark Earth, and Multi-Cam Black.
Several of the videos Cloud Defensive did highlighting the durability and function of the Optimized Weapon Light include:
- Highlights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ah4g8rncD2g
- Function: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5iWdy5kF5E
- Waterproofing: https://www.facebook.com/CloudDefensive/videos/214949919405103/
- Submersion Testing: https://www.facebook.com/CloudDefensive/videos/388234188409569/
- Durability Testing 1: https://www.facebook.com/435368629876602/videos/259109081474110/
- Durability Testing 2: https://www.facebook.com/CloudDefensive/videos/329020727935001/
- Durability Testing 3: https://www.facebook.com/435368629876602/videos/287555061887813/
- MilSim Impact to Glass: https://www.facebook.com/CloudDefensive/videos/2329790417251176/
Product Evaluation Scores:
- Cost – Good (4/5): At an MSRP of $369.99, the OWL is in a market of diverse pricing, design, function, and material. For its content; made from a high-grade aluminum, sealed circuitry, and a very robust light module the OWL’s price point is well worth its value. The closest market comparison would be Surefire’s Duel Fuel Scout Light Pro (1500 lumens @ $319) or its M600 w/Tail Switch (1,000 lumens @ $389). Other notable alternatives would be Streamlight’s Rail Mounted ProTac HL-X (1,000 lumens @ $129) and Inforce’s WML (Rifle) (400 lumen @ $119). Given the OWL’s extreme durability and design over most of its competitors, and ability of the OWL to project candela over lumen, the OWL stands at the top of the overall market, giving it a good Cost score.
- Comfort – Good (4/5): From a comfort aspect, the ability of the OWL to be both ambidextrous and reversible and gave it an almost “mount anywhere/grab anywhere” ability regardless if you were a left or right side shooter. The high lumen/candela output was a bit overwhelming indoors (esp. in a while-wall interior) but manageable. Outdoors the output performed well to reach targets at a much further distance than other popular brands tested—clearly where it was designed to excel. The rubberized switch module performed well and provided an audible click for activation and deactivation. Unlocking the lugs to the light module and tail cap proved a little difficult, in that the internal tension springs needed to be sufficiently compressed before turning the endcaps. Failing to do so made unlocking the lugs a little difficult. It did however, give evidence at the tight tolerances all three modules hold together as a single unit. Perhaps a consideration for Cloud Defensive would be to offer different light modules, as an accessory, and at varying outputs to let the user find a preferred balance for their needs, such as 500 lumen light module for indoor work, and the 1,250 lumen light module for outdoor.
- Durability – Good (4/5): The aluminum housing of the OWL’s body lent itself to an excellent level of durability. While Cloud Defensive did a good job documenting its testing efforts to meet ANSI/PLATO FL-1 shock testing and IPX8 waterproofing, it really is more than most civilians can do to replicate that level of durability testing. What we did was basically maul the unit with a 2”x4” piece of lumber, with multiple strikes to the housing, switch, and front light emitter. The result was merely superficial marks. Then we performed five drop tests from approximately 6’ above raw concrete. The goal was to evaluate the OWL against impacts it may encounter in the field. The glass protecting the LED was described by Cloud Defensive as a 3mm low-iron glass, with 98% light transmission that was 40% thicker than other market competitors. Despite this, the glass proved to be the sacrificial element to the OWL design, and on the third drop test a direct strike to the bezel resulted in completely cracking the light emitter glass. The drop test was completed without further damage and without the glass falling out of the bezel. The housing sustained further exterior marring as the result of contact with the concrete, but none of that penetrated the sub-surface of the aluminum and the OWL continued to function without issue. Both batteries held up well during use, and the charging unit took approximately 6.5 hours to fully recharge during each iteration. There are some instances of known problems around the switch module (dead spaces or failures to correctly operate) however the OWL does come with a lifetime warrantee, which in each case Cloud Defensive readily addressed the issue. A single recommendation to Cloud Defensive would be include a spare glass lens within each OWL case in the event the initial becomes damaged. Cloud Defensive does offer spare lenses in its Armorer’s Pack for unit sales, as well as on its website for individual sale ($8/per).
- Functionality – Good (4/5): From a functional aspect, the OWL outperformed all other tested competitors (Streamlight HL-X/Inforce WML/SureFire M952) in output (lumen) and also useable light at the point of the target (candela). Evaluated distances were at 15 yards for overall dispersal, and 20/30/60 yards for use in target identification. In all aspects the OWL performed at the top of the evaluation group and provided the most useable about of light at greater distances. The only negative aspect observed was the OWL had no strobe programming with only a momentary or constant ON/OFF switch control. It is presumed this feature may be included in its forthcoming REIN model. Disassembly and cleaning of the module was simple as well as reversing the configuration between left and right hand shooting. The included tool in the tail cap was a usable function by simply increasing the overall diameter of control for the user on the picatinny screw that avoided slippage. It should be noted the T&E module received came with a note from Cloud Defensive that this specific OWL had a “Spot on LED” and that was accounted for during evaluation. This would undoubtedly fall under the company’s warrantee program for the consumer. It should be noted that Cloud Defensive also offers the Cloud Optimized Rail which integrates with the OWL and gives the overall switch a much lower profile off of the rail.
- Weight – Average (3/5): At 9.9 ounces (w/o battery), the OWL was one of the more beefier weapon lights evaluated. This weight wasn’t really noticeable in comparison to the weight overall rifle, nor did not make the front end of the rifle unbalanced. But the Streamlight ProTac HL-X (5 ounces), Inforce (Rifle) WML (3 ounces), and the SureFire M952 (7.4 ounces) were all below the weight of the OWL. Even the Surefire Duel Fuel Scout Light Pro (5.5 ounces) and the M600 (4.8 ounces) were lower. The difference would be directly attributable to the use of an all-aluminum body, at a thicker and heavy lug design over nearly all others that ensured the unit’s high degree of durability. So, it’s a tradeoff between a heavier weapon light, and having one of the most robust on the market. Overall that gave the OWL an appropriate (or average) scoring in overall weight.
Overall Rating – Above Average (19/25)
Product Link: https://www.clouddefensive.com/product/owl/
I am reviewing this product as a courtesy to the manufacturer and via STL Shooting Enthusiasts, so that I can evaluate it and provide my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give positive reviews. All views are my own, and based off my personal experience with the product.
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