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Where The Cloud Defensive OWL Rules the Roost

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For years, weapon lights on long guns evaded the spotlight. It wasn't that they weren't being used, rather, adding one to a home defense tool felt almost like a chore. You knew you should do it, but it wasn't as exciting as a new trigger or optic. Since the “two is one, one is none” years, most rifles seemed to rock a light from one of three companies. The Surefire-Streamlight-Inforce hegemony didn't have to be challenged, but when the Cloud Defensive OWL entered the scene, it brought that kind of disruption that refreshed the market of ideas on what makes a great light. 

Construction, Design, and Ergonomics 

The OWL is shockproof to exceed ANSI-PLATO FL-1 standards. It's IPX8 rated and can be submerged to 200 feet for 24 hours, and yep, it's dustproof. The robust light doesn't just claim to be shock and waterproof, but rather uses established testing procedures to prove it. 

By incorporating the switch into the mount of the light, there's no need for additional hardware such as tape switches or cables. As the large vertical foregrips gave way to a more C-clamp method, as rails got longer and barrels, shorter, the pressure pad migrated from that broom-handle of a foregrip to the top of the rail. So often was this the case, that Cloud Defensive designed their OWL for the modern shooter.

The OWL fits over the top rail on your rifle and can be set up for left or right-handed use by swapping the light and tail cap with each other. With the pressure switch securing firmly there is no need to buy a light, then buy a new tail switch, a mount, and all that jazz. The OWL is everything you need, including batteries and a charger. 

The ergonomics are fantastic and work naturally with a forward grip technique. The large switch makes it momentary and constant engagement simple and straightforward. The design is brilliantly simple, and simple is often useful. 

The Big Boy

At first glance, the OWL looked like a hefty light, and compared to most competitors, it is. Lengthwise it's roughly the same as most full Surefire and Streamlight choices. It's a bit wider, and it is 11 ounces. That 11 ounces includes the battery, mount, and switch. The Surefire Pro Dual Fuel weighs half that at 5.50 ounces with battery. 

The 12 o'clock design presents one problem in that it takes up with the most common location to mount a laser aiming device such as a PEQ15 or B.E. Meyers MAWL for use with Night Vision. The design choice, though, makes sense for those not looking to make the expensive leap into NODS. Some lasers can be mounted at the 3 or 9 o'clock, and as Night Vision becomes more and more affordable, we'll see how Cloud Defensive advances their design.

For home defense use, the Cloud Defensive OWL just makes sense. Size isn't always commensurate with power, but when it comes to the OWL, the big light delivers significant power. 

The OWL and Lumens Versus Candela 

The OWL packs 1,250 lumens with 50,000 candela. Those are big numbers that sound great, but what does it mean for the end-user? Let's go ahead and say lumens versus candela is the wrong way to view it. Lumens and candela have to work together. 

Lumens is the raw output of a light, and this is the most popular means to measure and advertise the power of weapon-mounted lights. As the weapon light industry grows, candela is becoming a prominent focus by both companies and end-users. Lumens are power, and candela is how that power is used and focused.

Using the metaphor of ballistics, lumens acts like energy, while candela can be represented as part foot-pounds of force, and part minute of angle. One without the other is useless. A cartridge can explode, but without a barrel to direct the gas and projectile downrange nothing of value is accomplished. If 1,000 lumens is a 357 Magnum cartridge, a low candela count is like shooting it out of a snub nose revolver. The real potential can't be realized without popper barrel length for the cartridge, and proper candela for a light. 

Lumens versus candela debates comes into play because there is some push/pull in play with choosing between a higher amount of lumens, or a higher candela level. However, that push/pull effect is vastly misunderstood and overstated compared to how important it is for lumens and candela to work together. 

What the OWL Does Differently

The Cloud Defensive OWL upsets the weapon-mounted light industry by drastically increasing the candela count of their lights without necessarily reducing the lumens. In the battle for the best weapon light, the inclusion of candela does feel like adding a new type of measurement in order to argue that your product is the best at it, but candela was ratified by the General Conference of Weights and Measures in 1948, only to be redefined in 2018, in an attempts to standardize the intensity of light. The equation being lumens divided by surface area represents the intensity of the visible wavelength of the light emitted.

It is only appropriate to compare it the Cloud Defense OWL to the longstanding industry leader in military and law enforcement: the Surefire Scout. The Surfire's frontrunner comes in various configurations and sizes, but the most potent packs 1,500 lumens with 16,000 candela. The Streamlight HLX is another impressive light with 1,000 lumens and 27,600 candela. 

The only WML that competes with the Cloud Defensive OWL is the Modlite PLHv2 with its stunning 1,350 lumens and 54,000 candela. It's also a more traditional design if one was to desire that.

Optics On

The Cloud Defensive OWL strikes a middle ground that gives you both a relatively higher lumen count and a relatively high candela count. The combination of 1,250 lumens with 50,000 candela gives you a bright and powerful beam that cuts through darkness and delivers an incredible effective range. 

The OWL's effective range gives you a powerful beam to start incorporating a low powered magnified optic of one kind or another.  A high candela rating isn't all about range. A higher candela level allows the light to defeat visual obstructions like fog, smoke, mist, and even the floating carbon and smoke that is often present during a gunfight inside a building. 

The OWL also casts a warmer beam, albeit unusual as most modern weapon lights cast a colder, cleaner LED projection more directed towards arid or purely urban environments. This is true of Surefire, Streamlight, Modlite, and pretty much every major player in the WML world. The OWL gains a uniqueness in it's warmer beam design. Depending on the environment, a light source that doesn't wash out in the reds and tans of the desert, or conversely the greens and blues of woodland and foliage will be a factor determined by the environment. 

The value of a warmer beam combined with the high candela allows you to defeat photogenic barriers. A photogenic barrier is another source of light shining in your direction and obscuring your vision. If you can overcome it, you can see the target and reduce the effect the target's light has on your vision. 

Hoot Hoot 

The OWL outpowers most high-quality weapon lights currently on the market. That power of coordinated candela and lumens does create a blinding effect on anyone hit by the beam, again adding to the value in a personal defense situation. Further, the sheer reliability and ruggedness, combined with the simplicity of use, makes for a great tool to hand off to a loved one, in the event of an emergency. Intuitive for those not incorporating the light into a Night Vision setup, the Cloud Defensive OWL offers a simplistic, powerful, and cord-free weapon light design. 

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1 Comment

  • Matt says:

    The old version of the Streamlight TLR1 HPL produced 775 lumens and 48,000 candela. I can’t find a candela rating on the new 1000 lumen version but as the reflector design hasn’t changed I’d suspect it’s 50,000 + candela. The OWL is almost certainly a tougher light since it literally weighs twice as much. It looks like you could drive nails with it.

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  • The old version of the Streamlight TLR1 HPL produced 775 lumens and 48,000 candela. I can't find a candela rating on the new 1000 lumen version but as the reflector design hasn't changed I'd suspect it's 50,000 + candela. The OWL is almost certainly a tougher light since it literally weighs twice as much. It looks like you could drive nails with it.

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