The Gerber Cortex Compact light is an interesting option for a small EDC light. The first thing I noticed about this light, besides its size, is that it can run off either a CR123 or AA battery. A standard CR123 is 3 volts and a AA is 1.5 volts but there’s no loss of lumens using the AA. The only loss is run time. I really like this feature for travel or some sort of social unrest/collapse
scenario. I know I’ll find a battery for it in most structures if I need one.

There are three output settings it cycles through in order. Bright, dim, and strobe. If you don’t touch the tailcap activation switch for about 3 seconds, it automatically goes back to bright. The strobe isn’t too fast or too slow and even the dim setting is still plenty bright. Any setting is more than adequate for searching and could possibly buy you half a second in a fight by temporarily
blinding your opponent. I’ll take whatever time my equipment can buy me in a fight. That’s just me. Maybe you like flirting with disaster more than me. That’s cool. It’s your fight, not mine.

As a light, it does its job boringly well. It’s bright, reliable, has power source options, and a minimalist signature. But, where this thing gets interesting is in its size. It seems about the right diameter to grip comfortably in a fist. Using a lighter or roll of coins as a “fist load” weapon goes back to at least WWI, both in the trenches and on reconnaissance operations behind the enemy front. This thing is the perfect size for giving the small bones of my hand more structural support. Adding a little weight and support to my punch is welcome if I can’t carry a firearm or knife somewhere like a municipal building or on vacation in parts of Europe. With the CR123 inserted, it is about the exact same length of my palm. With the AA inserted, it extends just enough past the bottom of my fist to be an excellent improvised impact weapon used in a hammer fisting motion as well.

My only real complaint is the clip itself. It’s a little weak. But, I haven’t heard a clatter on the ground while doing things yet and I haven’t lost the light so it’s not too terribly weak. It’s also a little sharp when gripped as a fist load. But a little dehorning with a multi-tool fixed that as I’m sure a little tweaking could fix the clip issue as well.

This little light is surprisingly versatile for an approximately $65 light. It’s a welcome piece of travel/EDC kit.

Author – Seth Lewis served as a reconnaissance infantryman in the 82nd Airborne with two deployments to Iraq as well as 18 months in Afghanistan doing High Threat Protection for the Department of State. He has a bachelor’s degree in economics and us currently working as a security contractor for DHS and a firearms instructor.