For a long time, weapon light technology was frozen. Surefire, a fantastic company, pretty much owned the weapon light market. They made, and still make, awesome lights. However, their tech stalled a bit. That left the market open for Cloud Defensive, a young company, to come in and change the weapon light world. Cloud Defensive has created what it calls the Optimized Weapon Light, or OWL, for short.

OWL is an appropriate acronym because it owns the night, just the famed nocturnal bird of prey. The OWL blows away the competition by combining a high lumen count with a high candela count. Lumens are essential, but they only tell half the story when it comes to weapon lights. Candela is just as important, if not more important, when it comes to weapon lights.

Lumen is a measure of raw power, but raw power means nothing if you can’t focus that power. Candela is how that raw power is concentrated, and without a good level of candela, you have a bright light with almost no range. The OWL packs 1,250 lumens and is backed by 50,000 candela. This rifle grade light is going to be a companion on my next 80 percent lower SPR rifle build Most professional-grade lights have somewhere in the realm of half that. The result of this combination is a light that reaches out hundreds of yards and allows for positive identification of a target when combined with a magnified optic.

The OWL’s Beam

The OWL casts a beam that’s warmer in color than most. The warm beam is excellent for contrasting colors and establishing detail orientated identification. You can see if someone is armed, know if they are packing a firearm or carrying a shovel. That’s an essential distinction than any warfighter may have to make.

The OWL cuts through the darkness, and its beam will punish anyone within 100 yards. It will blind them, making them incapable of aiming and firing. The crystal-clear beam will allow you to identify the threat and temporarily disable their ability to lay down fire.

The beam is full and bright and fills up a room with light and it does an excellent job at lighting up every nook and cranny. At the same time, it’s not too much light for close-quarters combat.

Durability and Design

The OWL is designed to be a rifle light and is set up for easy access and has an ergonomic design. The OWL is a one-piece unit set up to be mounted in a 12 o’clock position. This allows you to reach over the top of the rail and use the built-in switch. This switch integration is unique and brilliant. It’s comfortable to contact when using a modern, forward grip on the gun.

The switch allows for both momentary and constant mode. A quick click turns it on, but if you hold the light down for more than a moment and release it, the light shuts off. It’s simple, and it’s easy to use.

The OWL’s design is reversible. You can take it apart and reverse the tail cap with the head for left-handed use. The tail cap and crown don’t use traditional threading. They instead use a unique lug mounting system that locks the light together tightly and without the need for threads.

Progressive Design

The tail cap end is a tool that allows you to tighten the light to the mount or remove it. It’s quite handy and avoids the risk of stripping a bolt. It’s convenient and perfect for field conditions.

The durability of the OWL is off the chain. It’s made to be beaten up and based and to keep coming. The light is IPX8 rated; that means it can be submerged 200 feet for up to 24 hours and keep on ticking. The light is also rated to ANSI/PLATO FL-1 standard for shockproof design. If you want to see what this means go to Cloud Defensive’s Instagram and watch them beat the hell out of the OWL and have it still function.

This thing is built to last and is a perfect representation of what people mean when they say bombproof design.

The OWL’s Power

The OWL is powered exclusively by 18650 batteries. Do not use CR 123s in this light. The OWL comes with two rechargeable 18650 batteries and a professional-grade charger. The batteries are pink and red — this is important because the batteries deliver different performance levels. The pink battery gives you a higher output at the cost of shorter run time. The red battery provides a lower output with a longer runtime.

Either way, you have a spare battery and 18650 rechargeables are plenty common. Keeping spares in the bag on in your kit is a good idea just in case a patrol becomes a week-long operation. I’m sure more than a few of us have been there before.

The OWL and You

This is a well-made weapon light designed to go to war, defend your home, and survive the end of the world. The OWL is a powerful light. It makes no compromises in its design and power. The OWL shines brightly and lights up the world in front of you. It’s suitable for duty and built for tactical applications. The one-piece design simplifies everything and gives you unbeatable ergonomics.

If you’ve been looking to step up your rifle light game, the OWL by Cloud Defensive is an unbeatable option.