OK, so just to be clear, Fenix has not started to manufacture firearms. In this overview review I am looking at a single brand lighting solution for hunting. Fenix have a wide range of lights and accessories, so I have put together a set of lights to make up the 'Totally Fenix Hunting Line-up'.
Hunting is a very varied activity, the majority of which makes use of natural light, but there is one category of hunting that relies on portable lighting – Lamping (the hunting of nocturnal quarry).
For a single activity, 'lamping' has one of the most varied set of lighting requirements. Consider that you have a choice of rifle for static and long range targets, and shotgun for close range moving targets. Each of these needs different lighting, and the challenge is to cover as much functionality as possible in the most efficient way.
Taking the single brand approach, in this case Fenix, the following lights were chosen. (If you click on the name of each light you will find the individual detailed reviews of each of these lights).
A dual beam red/white headlamp – the HL30
A compact gun mountable thrower with several accessories – the TK15 S2
A compact gun mountable flood light – the TK22
A high power search light – the TK75 (including Extended Runtime Kits)
With Fenix also offering gun mounts, coloured filter sets, batteries and charger and remote switches, the single brand solution, really is just that.
The full kit:
With many years (more than I like to think about) of active vermin control under my belt, in which time I have covered the many aspects of night time hunting, when 'lamping' I consistently have the following needs:
Low/coloured output to maintain dark adaption while stalking and doing equipment checks.
Coloured light to be less visible to the quarry and prevent startling static quarry (rifle).
Extended beam range –Throw - for long distance shots (rifle).
High output to confuse the quarry when there are multiple targets (shotgun).
Wide flood beams for area lighting and keeping sight of running quarry (shotgun).
(There are more specific requirements for extreme range shots, but as this is not something I will cover here.)
Each light in this line-up was carefully chosen to provide a range of capabilities to cover all of these needs. This is clearly illustrated when you see the set of beam range profiles side by side. Starting with the lowest power light, the HL30 (a headlamp), which has a flood beam ideally suited to manual tasks, moving up to the TK15 S2 which has narrow beam with good range, then the similarly sized TK22 with much greater output but with a very wide beam, and finally the monster search light TK75 with its hugely impressive mix of flood and throw.
As well as the lights listed previously (HL30, TK15 S2, TK22 and TK75), it is the Fenix range of accessories really makes this hunting kit complete.
Shown here are (from front to back); AR102 Remote switch (compatible with the TK15 S2 and TK22), AD302-R, AD302-G and AD302-B coloured filters for the TK15, TK15 S2 light, HL30 headlamp, TK22 light, ALG-01 picatinny mount, ARB-L2 18650 protected batteries, ARE-C1 18650 mains charger, TK75 light and AER-TK75 extended runtime kits.
So that is the kit, and remember there is significantly more detail on each light in the individual reviews, but now it's time to get ready to put it to good use. The workhorses in my vermin control armoury are a .22LR Ruger K10/22RP with KIDD trigger kit, synthetic recoil buffer, compact 3-9x40 scope and SAK sound moderator which when used with subsonic ammunition is virtually silent, and next up is the Hatsan Escort Magnum 12g shotgun with magazine extension giving it a 7+1 capacity.
The TK15 S2, which is better suited to the rifle due to its more focussed beam, is mounted using the ALG-01 to a barrel-mount picatinny rail. This very forward position is to reduce the amount of spill light which falls onto the rifle, and is my preferred option over scope mounting a light. The AR102 remote switch is then held in place using rubber rings cut from bicycle inner tubes (as the inner tube rubber resists perishing very well). The switch pressure pad is positioned to fall under my thumb. Also fitted here is the AD302-R red filter.
For the 12g shotgun, as this is used for running targets, the broader beam of the TK22 is an ideal choice for gun mounting. In this instance there is a picatinny rail fitted to the magazine extension tube on which the TK22 is mounted. Due to the far greater recoil a remote switch has not been fitted in case of accidentally releasing the pressure pad. It is very quick to switch on the light and shoulder the gun.
The HL30 will be head-mounted for the entire hunting trip, and the TK75 more frequently than not will be wielded by an assistant for spotting and area lighting.
A closer view of the TK15 S2 mounted to the picatinny rail.
And the rubber bands holding the cable and pressure pad in place.
Out in the field:
Taking these lights out into the field, and you are certainly not left wanting more.
As an essential foundation, I would not be without a headlamp. The HL30 gives you hands-free illumination for preparing/checking equipment, walking and checking the kills.
With the dual beam giving you a choice of red or white light, the HL30 gives you fantastic flexibility. Using red helps preserve your dark adaption (mainly because it is a low output rather than due to being red), but allows you to keep the light on without attracting the attention of most quarry who struggle to see red.
If you need better clarity, the low white output is a click away. Here the exact same exposure shows the red output and lowest white output level for comparison.
Starting off with the rifle, you can see the spill light that hits the bottom of the sound moderator, but does not otherwise light up the shooter.
Moving behind the shooter shows the brightly illuminate hotspot area which correlates very well with the 3-9x scope I use.
Popping the red filter on does drastically reduce the overall output, but still provides plenty of light for targets within 50m. Using red light it is possible to get incredibly close to the quarry without seeming to notice you at all. A very useful addition. The lens in the filter is of excellent quality and colour. Of course there is the green and blue filter if you prefer these.
Coming across an infestation, the 12g shotgun becomes the better choice (unfortunately due to the activity of the photo shoot, the quarry are nowhere to be seen here as they all took cover!). Here the shooting assistant is lighting up the killing field allowing the shooter free reign to acquire multiple targets and work efficiently.
As an alternative, the 12g is fitted out with the TK22. Its broader beam (which you can see lighting up the underneath of the barrel) providing a wide enough view to easily track running targets.
Moving behind the shooter to show the wide field of view. The TK22 has over twice the output of the TK15, so is actually brighter than it appears here.
Working with the shooting assistant (with TK75), the shooter also uses the gun mounted TK22 for added flexibility.
Scanning the fields with the TK75.
How did they perform:
The individual reviews have a lot of feedback about each light, but what we are looking at here is how all of the lights perform together as a Totally Fenix solution for hunters.
When partnered with all of the accessories the lights seem to simply become an extension of the hunter. On the rifle, the mount keeps the light rock steady, the pressure switch operates reliably for momentary operation, but the AR102 also has a latching clicky switch allowing you to put the light on permanently without needing to swap back to a standard tail-switch. I frequently use this feature with the red filter fitted.
On the shotgun, the recoil becomes significant and again the long mount provides great stability and the dual sprung contacts seemed very effective at eliminating any recoil related issues.
The TK75 really does provide the 'deer in the headlights' effect with quarry being disoriented and confused. Being a power hungry light, the TK75 tests the ARB-L2 18650s and finds them to be excellent performers for demanding lights. For longer periods of lamping with the TK75, the extension kits give you increased efficiency and plenty of runtime.
This line-up of Fenix lights and accessories provides everything I need during my various hunting trips. Build quality gives you confidence that these lights will serve you reliably, and so far performance has been flawless.
Test samples provided by Fenix and MyFenix (previously The Photon Shop) for review