Fenix PD36 TAC | Expert Review by Koen van der Jagt
My first impressions:
Nice and compact light with nice proportions. For the current generation the body is a little thicker, this is the result of the larger 21700 battery which has more capacity and power than a 18650 battery. Not surprising: it is as large as its brother, the PD36R. The PD36 TAC feels nice and robust and can handle its own. The angular shapes underneath the head of the light ensure it won't roll away. The reflector is not that deep and the Luminus SST70 LED light is relatively large: as such you have enough light up close and far away! The most remarkable feature is the back with the mechanic tactical switch. With this button you can 'pre-program' the desired mode within seconds. The Fenix PD36 TAC comes with a holster, charging cable and USB-rechargeable 21700 battery. The scope of delivery and construction quality are great.
When and how:
Even though you can also use it inside, the PD36 TAC is a light that will mostly feel at home in the hands of security or law enforcement officers. All thanks to the tactical mode that enables you to quickly have a lot of light and a blinding stroboscope mode at your disposal. With such a large switch you don't have to be afraid you won't be able to find it. In the 'Duty mode' you can also use the PD36 TAC for the more common situations. I carried it in my pocket for multiple weeks and enjoyed it during walks, a search in the barn or as a piece of safety and visibility in a dark forest. Despite its compact size you still have 3000 lumens at your disposal!
How is the PD36 TAC in terms of controls and comfort:
Lights of this size are often very manageable; not too small, so they will slip from your hands, but also not that large they become too heavy. The design of the PD36 TAC ensures that the light feels great in hand and that you have enough control over the functions. Compared to the PD36R the TAC is not enhanced with a battery indicator. A feature I do miss. There is, however, a low battery indicator: the light will switch back to the lowest mode and flash to indicate that the battery is running low.
The control concept is completely new and produced as such that the PD36TAC can quickly be used as a tactical light. The large mechanic switch is enhanced with a ring (with ridge structure for enough grip). Via this ring you can select three modes: Duty, Lockout or Tactical. In reality, you can do this with your eyes closed; I have a 'mnemonic' that these modes are in alphabetical order from left to right. The switch is a little bigger than that of the PD36R but smoother, so you have less grip over it. Pressing it is easier than with the PD36R, while securing the mode requires a little more force. If you press it halfway you end up in the momentary-on mode (light as long as you hold the button) and pressing it further keeps the light on even when you release the button. Works well, a security officer or AT member won't be bothered by the fact that you need to apply a little more pressure to press the button. In the Duty mode you have access to all light options, so five modes plus the stroboscope. The light remembers the mode last used, provided you do not turn it on again within 2 seconds. The tactical mode only had one light output (2000 lumens) and stroboscope. You can always use the stroboscope mode in both modes, when the light is on or off. You do this by holding the light for more than 0.8 seconds. The stroboscope mode is always immediately 'secured'; I think this is a great option, it offers you more security in unexpected situations. The lockout mode speaks for itself; you use it to protect the light from accidentally turning on. It works mechanically, so you cannot press the switch.
I like the control concept of the PD36 TAC, they clearly thought it through. The light immediately does what you ask of it, you don't have to doubt whether you end up with the right light mode.
This is what I love about the PD36 TAC:
I like the tactical switch. If you can control the light with your eyes closed (I recommend trying it yourself!) you know the manufacturer did something right. The light output is also great, but more about that later.
This could be better:
I do miss the battery indicator. This is a great feature you often see on most Fenix models. You now need to recharge your battery or keep a multimeter close to see how much capacity the battery has left.
Value for money?
The PD36 TAC stays just below 100 euros which, for me, is kind of the limit for a medium-sized light. Because the light is complete and Fenix has proven itself to produce products that will last for years I don't think the light is overpriced. In addition, it costs the same as its less powerful brother, the PD36R.
The PD36 TAC is a great light to keep close. Changing between the modes is easy and so is using the transport lock: the light output is excellent and the light can handle its own. As mentioned before I do miss the battery indicator.
Also: Next season Fenix will introduce more tactical versions that are based on other popular models. Perhaps worth the wait if you are looking for more output.
Last, but not least. The beamshots:
The location is a narrow road up the hill, surrounded by trees. The broad profile of the light and the green hotspot stand out: the light produces a lot of light at short and medium distances. Below I will show the five light modes of the 'Duty Mode'.
Another couple shots while holding the PD36 TAC in hand. Here you also notice the large and bright hotspot and the broad profile of the light. As such you are always in control of the situation because you can immediately highlight a large surface.
As mentioned before there is a difference between the maximum output of the Duty and Tactical mode. You can, of course, see this difference, but I don't expect you will notice it when you actually use it. Check out the shots below!
Koen van der Jagt
Ever since he could walk Koen has been interested in lights, wires and batteries. As a child he was always working with dyno torches, bike lights and electrical boxes. The krypton and halogen lights were replaced by LED lights. A couple of years ago he discovered the ‘professional’ stuff. His first brands were Led Lenser and Fenix. Photography is also one of his hobbies. In addition to nature and meteorology Koen loves to show others what a light can do and what its beam looks like at night. Koen’s reviews can often be found on forums such as candlepowerforums.com and taschenlampen-forum.de. Throughout the years Koen has collected lights in practically any category: from small and compact to enormous powerhouses.