I am a collector of many things, as a police officer flashlights are one of those “things”. There is no worse circumstance than to be clearing an objective, or your home with a suspected intruder and your light go out. I have seen it happen and the resulting “Oh shit” moment that strikes the user. I usually have at least 3 lights on me, a primary, a backup and a weapon mounted light.  The Response CR1 from 5.11 Tactical has earned a spot as my permanent backup, and is becoming a serious contender as my primary.

At First Glance

I actually prefer a smaller flashlight and the Response CR 1 is definitely that.  Stretching just less than 6 inches, this lightweight powerhouse is easy to carry and performs well for its size. While I own the famous MagLite, or what I like to call “the glowing baseball bat”, I never grew accustomed to such a large light and have always preferred a smaller model. I feel they are more functional and easy to handle. There is knurling at the front and rear of this design giving you a solid grip even in slippery conditions.

The pocket clip and anti-roll ring are appreciated, I can’t tell you how many times I have set my light on my hood, only to watch it roll off and bounce on the ground.  Machined aerospace grade aluminum adds impact resistance and durability along with water resistance to the stack of features.


Three settings are at your disposal-high, low and strobe. The strobe feature is a must have for me. I have seen people become so disoriented from a strobe effect that they begin to vomit. To have a light of this size with a strobe feature is excellent. The industry standard now seems to have the operating switch on the end cap, which this light does.  At 549 lumens with a 4HR 25MIN run time on high, I find little opportunity where this model will fail you as long as you ensure it is fully charged. I have been on man hunts that lasted days and still have not needed to run a light for over 4 hours combined time.

The USB charging station has an indicator light to easily tell when the battery is at full capacity. It even comes with a backup cell holder (accepts 2 CR123 batteries) just in case you happen to forget to charge. The Low setting is only 45 lumens, which I like. If I am trying to be stealthy, I want to be just that-stealthy. If I happen to need a light, I don’t want it to be bright. I have seen some lights where the low setting is still very bright. This eliminates the value of an option with a “low” setting. Although 45 lumens will still need a hand to cover the bulb, 5.11 seems to be on the right track here.

Overall Impression

Overall I am pleased with the Response CR1. So pleased that this light is becoming a serious contender as my primary, I have noticed myself using it more and more. However, as a law enforcement professional I still need access to a model with a little more “umph” for clearing large areas. But those circumstances present themselves less than the needs which the Response CR1 is perfect for. If you are concerned with clearing your home, small buildings, using this light for outdoors, or performing other tasks where 500 plus lumens and a beam distance of 133 meters will serve you well; this model could be the only one you need. I will say the Response CR1 is priced higher (MSRP $139.99) than some other lights its size, but most lights of this size do not boast the same performance capabilities. Check out the video to see it in action and let us know what you think in the comments. What kind of light do you run with?

Author – Matt Walker is a Texas Law Enforcement Officer of 10 years and serves as a SWAT Operator for his department. He is also the head defensive tactics instructor and holds various instructor certificates such as Krav Maga Force Division Instructor, FBI Defensive Tactics Instructor, Tactical Breaching Instructor and various others. Mr. Walker holds and undefeated Mixed Martial Arts record and is a practitioner of Muay Thai Kickboxing, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and Olympic weightlifting.