HDS Executive Clicky Review

by Anthony Sculimbrene

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Editor's Note: This review was written by guest contributor, Anthony Sculimbrene in March, 2014.

HDS Executive Clicky Review

A wise person on Candle Power Forums once wrote that just like you can’t evaluate the quality of scotch by its proof, you can’t judge the quality of a light by its lumens output.  The more HDS stuff I handle the more I realize how true this is. This is my second HDS light and it was provided by Kaufmann Mercantile for this review.  Stay around until the end for a special giveaway where you can win this HDS Clicky from Kaufmann Mercantile.     The first HDS light I got from them (which I purchased with my own money) was the HDS Rotary and that light has gone into my collection as one of my all time favorites.

Here is the review sample of the HDS Executive Clicky:

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Product Description

The HDS Clicky is a medium sized 1xCR123a light.  It is made of lightly knurled aluminum with a stainless steel bezel.   The clicky is a forward clicky covered in a nice rubber boot.  The pocket clip is a black coated steel pocket clip.  It is a washer style clip, and you attach it by unscrewing the tail end, dropping the clip in place, and then screwing the tail end down again.  The light is very stoutly built with a potted (or glued in place) electronics bundle and a significant amount of engineering designed to make this light shock resistant. 

Design

The overall shape of the light comes from a long line of old flashlights, all of which have the fingerprints of HDS’s founder Henry on them.  The heritage of Henry’s designs can be traced back to the first LED light and the first practical LED light.  There are all sorts of take offs on this design, the Arc4, many of the Novatac lights.  The basic shape has been used and copied and used again many, many times and the reason is simple—it is a fantastic shape for a flashlight.  

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With the inclusion of a pocket clip the Executive is one of the best overall shapes and sizes you will find.  Its big, especially for its format, but its a design repeatedly validated by experience.  The narrow section of the body tube allows for the perfect grip.  Here it is next to a Zippo for size comparison:

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The clicky is nice and responsive and the bezel is perfect for leaking out a bit of light when the torch is placed bezel down.  Overall, the light, the clip, and the clicky are simple, proven, and uniformly excellent. 

Build Quality

While the design is conservative and functional, the build quality is unparalleled.  This light crushes the fit and finish on a Surefire.  I don’t write that lightly—I am squarely in the “Surefire Fanboy” camp.  It is not just more robust, it is tuned to the point of graceful perfection.  Take the finish on the bezel.  They are well cut, but not sharp, rounded off like the smooth, proud surfaces on a piece of Greene and Greene furniture.  The emitter is perfectly centered, the threads are acme threads and are smooth as silk. The entire surface finishing is inviting to the touch.

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But its not just a finely made object.  The HDS is the gold standard for flashlight durability.  I have owned or reviewed well over 75 lights, many proclaiming they could survive an EMP blast or some nonsense like that.  I don’t know if the Executive Clicky could survive an EMP blast, but it could survive anything you could reasonably throw at it.  In normal use, this light will last a lifetime if you maintain the threads and o-rings.     

Performance

First, let’s get the “I beat this thing up” out of the way.  I left the flashlight outside, buried in snow during the harshest part of the New England winter (on accident) for two days.  I found the light, covered in a thin sheen of ice, and hit the clicky.  Bang, instant light.  It was as if I just pulled it out of my pocket. After that I took the light with me on my most perilous drives during a period of epic snowstorms this winter knowing full well it could take what nature dished out.  

In terms of things that flashaholics care about—the beam, the tint, and the lumens, the Executive Clicky is something of a mixed bag.  This isn’t a lumens cannon, but again, high lumens count does not equal quality.  At around 120 lumens on high (conservatively measured as HDS is want to do), it will handle almost all of your daily tasks.  Only those that need truly football-field illumination will be disappointed.  The beam itself as a pleasant color and temperature, but it is not a Hi CRI tint.  There are no artifacts, rings, or holes in the beam and unlike most other lights, the beam shape is perfect round.  All of this means that what you see at night will not be distorted or changed by your flashlight, handy if you have to spot a raccoon on the way to garbage or a more nefarious animal lurking around at night.  The mix between spill and hotspot is good, but not as good as I have seen on other lights, such as the McGizmo Haiku.  For 99.999% of the population, the set up is just fine, but seeing as the Executive Clicky runs with the best in every way, it will be compared to the best and here, its just a bit below the apogee of flashlight beam design.

There is one notable deficiency with the Executive Clicky—the UI.  Technology has advanced to the point where the Clicky is no longer state of the art.  Compared to the Rotary (on the right below) it is almost primitive. 

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Despite all of the programmability build into the Executive Clicky, the fact remains that even a practiced flashaholic sometimes misses going into moonlight low.  I also don’t like that you can’t get to moonlight low directly without going into programming mode and changing things around.  Compared to the Rotary, the Executive Clicky falls flat.  Its not even that good of a clicky UI when compared to lights like the McGizmo Haiku.  Again, if you do so many things incredibly well you place yourself in elite company and comparisons can be tough.  

Tailstanding is fine and the clip is good.  It also works well as an antiroll device. 

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I wouldn’t try the Executive Clicky between the teeth, its too big and heavy.  Also, the difference between the Executive and the Tactical is the clicky.  The Executive’s clicky is flush and the Tactical’s is not.  While there are some issues with the clicky relating to tailstanding, I have not experienced them on the Executive Clicky (though I have on the Rotary). 

Conclusion

You can get a brighter light, for sure.  But its hard to find a better light, especially for EDC purposes.  The real thing that makes the Executive Clicky amazing is the price compared to the performance.  The McGizmo Haiku is probably the finest EDC light in the world (though some think its the Lunasol 20 or a variant of the SPY 007).  And it costs about $500 new.  The Executive Clicky falls short of a few things the McGizmo does, but it is easily in the same class.  And it costs 1/5 as much.  There is probably no better value in the flashlight world than the HDS Executive Clicky.  At $99, it will last you a lifetime and perform better than any light you’ll likely encounter.  To put it in car terms your getting Ferrari performance at Nissan prices.  Its hard to call a $99 flashlight a bargain, but the Executive Clicky is absolutely that.

Amazon Score: 5 Stars

20 Point Score: 18/20 (1 off for Output, 1 off for UI)

Contest

Kaufmann Mercantile was kind enough to send this light along for review and they are, to my knowledge, the only place on the Internet that has HDS lights consistently in stock. They have also reached out to the Everyday-Carry team with a proposal. They want to give some stuff away and here is how the contest will work.

1. Sign Up for the giveaway at Kaufmann Mercantile below. http://kaufmann-mercantile.com/giveaway/


2. Submit a Pocket Dump that shows off your favorite gear and comment on this post.

3. On March 21, 2014 we will then pick one of the submissions and that person will win the HDS Clicky from KM. Runner Up will win the KM EDC Keychain Kit that is coming up for review.

Update: The giveaway has concluded – Kaufmann Mercantile has selected winners and will be notifying them directly via e-mail. Please check your inboxes to see if you were selected. Thank you!

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