Barrel Flashlights are expensive and hard to get. They are ‘dropped’ on their website in themed drops. They also do collaborations with Triple Aught Design — should Barrel’s standard base price be too low for your interests. They make some of the sexiest looking lights I have seen, with a lot of the design being about the coloring of their ‘Rail’ designed lights, or materials in the ‘Brake’ design.
My light was bought secondhand off a member, and is the Rail 3 Picatinny setup with a white cerakote for extra bling. I use this light a ton but mostly because it ‘sparks joy’ and not so much because it is the best. It is, however, quite a good light.
LED & Power
This light uses a Dragon Driver and thus is a 3x LED setup, and in this case all three are Samsung’s excellent LH351D at 5000k — high CRI and all around great performing LED. The Dragon Driver is one of the few out there with auxiliary LEDs on it, and those come in a selection of colors — mine has red aux lights on it, which nicely completes the stormtrooper vibe.
The lights utilize a standard optic, and thus you can easily swap out the optic to get a different effect. It comes with a narrow spot by default which mimics a TIR type of light — though a little more spill. I’ve replaced my optic with a wide frosted optic which gives you a very floody light with almost no hotspot — more to my liking.
All of this is powered by a single 16340 rechargeable battery, which is the size of a CR123, but the light will not run off that primary. This is one of the larger downsides, because the light is quite thick for only having 16340 due to the design of the outer frame and inner sleeve to seal the battery compartment. I wish this were an 18350, but alas it is not. (If you want a Barrel, but demand an 18350, I will direct you to the Triple Aught Design editions of the light.)
To recap: excellent LEDs, swappable optics, aux lights, and an ok battery choice — all fine here, nothing to divisive.
Use & Carry
I don’t like flashlights I can’t carry with me. As soon as I have to struggle to carry something, I want to get rid of it — I like to use my stuff. Luckily, this light carries very well. The clip is really well done, and although it’s not a deep carry clip, it checks all the other boxes and remains low profile.
It’s not as chunky in hand or pocket as you might assume from the images and the switch is well recessed to keep from accidentally triggering the light. The cerakote is smooth and has proven very durable so far.
This light uses a Dragon Driver which is programmable in the sense that you can pick from a variety of preset modes. All of these presets are slightly annoying to me — none of them hit the perfect spot. There’s two levels for the Aux lights: low and high. And there is both a moonlight and a low for the primary LED. But you’ll never find the right combination of modes in the standard Dragon Driver setup, which drives me a little mad whenever I think about it.
What’s missing for me is that all options which have a low Aux and moonlight, also have too many other steps to move through the modes. It drives me nuts. Oh, and now is a good time to mention that the low Aux is way too bright. All of the photos you see in this post with the red lights on, those are running on low. The low is bright, and the high Aux is very bright. This is good if you want to use the light in larger areas, but for using it around the house, office, and car, the light is just bright all around.
Ok, but the switch is McClicky and very satisfying. In fact, in hand this light is very satisfying to hold and use. I quibble with the modes when I am trying to preserve night vision in the middle of the night, or to make sure I don’t step on the odd Lego — but those are minor quibbles on this light (and can be somewhat remedied).
In my hand, this light feels amazing, and looks amazing. Barrel really hit the sweet spot with how light yet durable feeling the light is. There’s angular edges on the light, but none of them dig in. It’s easy to carry. The pocket clip is robust, with good retention, but easy to use and offers good depth for thicker pants pockets.
All of that easily offsets what I find to be a somewhat average UI from the Dragon Driver.
A Few Tweaks
I have, however, already made a few tweaks to the light. The first is the switch boot cover, which I changed from the standard grippy black that comes on it, to this white option from Prometheus Lights. I think it looks killer with this setup:
As I mentioned above I also swapped the optic to a wide frosted optic, giving the light a lot of spill with very little hotspot. This sacrifices throw from the light, but makes it very useable for everything I do.
The last thing I did was add a turbo glow disk below the optic. This is basically a red glow in the dark piece of plastic which has been cut to fit around all the lights.
With that in place, I can run the light on 100% for about 20 seconds before bed, and it will offer enough glow I can locate the light all night (only because my room is near pitch black). These upgrades were pretty inexpensive, and really made the light work how I wanted it.
The only other upgrade I am looking at, is changing from a Dragon Driver to the H17f engine, so that I can have a UI I like better, but I would lose the Aux lights in this swap.
That Hawt Factor
Here’s the deal with this light: it’s just hawt. It looks amazing, here look at it again.
Just look at this thing.
It sets a bar for me, on what you can really get out of the looks of a flashlight. And it does all this without any durability issues at all (outside the standard ones, it’s not an HDS, but it’s not fragile at all). It’s easy to dismiss this light as just something that looks good, but that’s selling it short, because if this was the only light I had, I would be very happy with it.
I love this light. They are hard to get, sell for a lot secondhand, and the Dragon Drivers are the right choice, but annoying at times. That said, this is an extremely good light, and well worth the money.
You can sometimes find them here.