Malkoff MDC Bodyguard

A one trick pony, but it’s a hell of a good trick.

After I reviewed the Malkoff MDC HA 123, I started to have ups and downs with that light. And I ended up parting ways with it, as I found the weird on-time based memory system to produce a mostly inconsistent experience. Then I was asked if I would be interested in a group buy for a custom 519a run of the MDC Bodyguard — I mean of course I would be interested.

That’s how I came to own this light, which is incredibly useful — something I use every morning when I ruck in the dark — but I’ll be the first to admit that the utility of this light is going to to be an acquired taste.

Power & Emitter

The baseline power on this light, if you buy the off the rack model is listed at 800 lumens burst. This light is a single mode light, so each time you hit the power, it is going to 100% output. If you keep the power running it steps down. First, rather rapidly, it steps down to 700 lumens, and seconds after that down to 200 lumens.

In practice you only see the step down to the lowest output. You can immediately get back to high by turning it on and off, otherwise you don’t need to worry about destroying the light by keeping it on, 200 lumens isn’t much heat output here. This light can also run off an CR123 (at a lower output) or a 16340 for the higher output — it’s a noticeable change between the two power sources. It’s a neat trick, if you find the light too bright, run it off a CR123 instead.

As I mentioned, I snagged a group buy run, which puts a 519a SM453 dedomed into the light giving a rather nice and warm beam with a decent throw to it. I’m a big fan, but I am going to leave out much about the emitter going forward since it’s not something you can easily source/get yourself. Suffice to say, Nichia’s 519a emitters are my gold standard at the time of publishing.

Handling, Use & Carry

The Bodyguard, as far as I can tell, is essentially the same body as the previous MDC with an addition of a grip ring. This ring made the light nearly impossible for me to cleanly remove it from something it was clipped to — and then I found out you can remove that without issue. Without that grip ring, the light is substantially better to use.

The light is a tail switch, with a slightly raised button. I’ve had few issues with this, but again I generally only carry this light in times where I need a light to reliably come on at 100% whenever I use it. So an accidental blip as my hand hits the light is of little consequence here. And I think the UI (always on to 100%) plays a big part in this not being an issue for the light generally.

The pocket clip, as with the other MDC, is robust and really nicely done. The switch is clean and easy to locate and use, even with gloves on. And the size and body texturing is excellent to keep the light smooth and small, while having enough grip with wet hands to activate and control the light.

On the few EDC trips I have carried this light, I found myself shying away from using it. Hitting something with that much light instantly is very jarring, and almost always too much light. On the flip side, carrying it for security and safety when working out pre-sunrise — this is the exact kind of light you want to have.

The cleverness about this light is in the step down. You don’t need to worry about anything with this light, because it essentially does just one thing. But at the same time, you also don’t need to worry about it scalding your hands from you running it too long, as the light aggressively steps down. In use, this is something you don’t even need to think about, and for that reason I think this is a better implementation of a SureFire styled tactical light than I have ever used before. It’s what you might want/expect from SureFire, but basically cannot get from them.

The body is a better design than any other Tactical light I’ve used as well. A real gem to use this light, and carry it. No one will expect the burst of light you get from this if they see it in your hand. And it’s small enough you can keep it in a quick access spot and drop something like a Beta QRv2 in your pocket for lower light uses. A nice setup there.


It’s a one trick pony, but it does that trick exceptionally well. I am a huge fan, and am glad to have picked this up — and slightly kicking myself for not picking up the second color temp that was on offer as well.

Find here ($160).

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