I've purchased several small, powerful flashlights in the past few years and although their performance renders obsolete (except as clubs) large, bulky, filament-bulb D cell flashlights, Ive found some to be wanting in this area or that. The main problem Ive had with other quality led lights is the switching. Some start at the same low or high setting every time the light is turned on and need to be cycled (some with difficulty) through the various outputs to get to the one youre looking for. Some dont feature momentary on.
This light (and its sibling, the PD22) got it right. The tailcap switch is for off-on-momentary on, and the gray rubber switch near the head is for setting the different light levels and functions. Use the tailcap switch to turn the light on, then employ the gray switch to set the output.
The PD32 has four useful general output settings as well as strobe and SOS settings and a memory feature. The low general setting is perfect for reading a map or looking for something in the car without sacrificing your night vision. The second and third higher settings provide plenty of light for most daily household and workplace tasks, such as searching for the source of that putrid stench coming from the crawl space. And they dont draw down the batteries as fast as the nuclear highest setting, which might be employed for blinding a person in self-defense, or for a large area search. The memory feature is welcome in that the light returns to the setting it was last turned off in when again switched onno need to cycle through several settings to get to the one you most commonly use. The PD32s strobe function (for security/personal protection) alternates between faster and slower rates, which is even more disorienting to a would-be attacker than a single rate would be. It also features an SOS flash setting that takes 11 to 12 seconds to cycle one SOS. In comparing that to the time it takes for one SOS cycle to be executed on a telegraph key (as in old movies,) it seems painfully long. But, looking at it from another perspective, say you had been forced, slid or swerved off the road avoiding something and ended up down an embankment trapped in the car. If you had the light in your pocket, could get to it, set it on SOS and aimed it at the trees above, most likely someone is going notice the light and investigate, regardless of what its flashing. And the slow SOS cycle is going to draw current at a slower rate, thereby preserving battery power.
The PD32 fits perfectly in my hand. Its substantial and robust, but not too heavy, and could be used as a striking weapon in self-defense. For my taste its a little too bulky for every day carry (EDC) in a pocket, but it comes with a nice nylon sheath with belt loop and a ring should one want to wear it on a belt or hook it to a sturdily-mounted snap ring. The pocket clip on the PD32 is mounted low on the flashlight, so one and a quarter inches of the tail end will stick out of your pocket, if thats how you carry it, making it more susceptible to being pickpocketed.
If you want something a little smaller, lighter and more EDC pocket-friendly, I cant recommend highly enough the Fenix PD22. Its the one cell version of the PD32, and although its not quite as candle-powerful and possesses a slightly thinner body-wall thickness than that of the PD32, it functions the same. Some may find it a little small in the hand, but for me this isnt a problem. Its size and function are what make the PD22 EDC for me. Its carried without notice until needed, and the pocket clip on the 22 is mounted flush with the tailcap, positioning the light flush with the top of the pocket, which makes it less conspicuous and, maybe, a little less likely to be pickpocketed than the 32. I got my brother-in-law a PD22 and its always with him.
Do your research (goinggear.com does nice flashlight reviews with video comparisons, and BatteryJunction.com is worth a visit, as well of course, as the always dependable Optics Planet.) I dont think youll be disappointed with either of these fine, versatile flashlights--they are now my go-tos.
Pros: size; power; functionality; quality; durability; can use 18650 rechargeble battery; sexy appearance; comfortable in hand
Cons: can't stand on end; pocket clip mounted low; bulky for pocket carry
This review was written in the old system and had content requirements that are different than reviews written today.