Energizer Hardcase Tactical Tango Light

 

Background

Energizer Hard Case Tactical series lights are multi-functional, lightweight, personal lighting systems that use the latest in LED technology, infrared and strobing IR for IFF, and are designed specifically for use by military personnel in non-permissive environments.

Tango Helmet Light is described as a compact, and lightweight personal lighting system built to withstand the rigors of military use. It features six light sources, four visible (White plus Red, Green or Blue) and two night vision infrared (IR + IR IFF), with the added option of a high output flash mode in each of the visible spectrums

I came across the Tango while in search for a light that could be attached to the rails on my helmet that was capable of providing more of a longer range illumination than the MPLS which I primarily use for map reading and close proximity illumination. I was initially considering picking up an M-AX mount from S&S Precision, particularly since I already carry a Surefire E19 on a regular basis. Another consideration I had however was that I needed something that provided some IR illumination to enhance target discrimination while working under NODs. For this I was going to go with an M300V Scout, that was until I came across the Hardcase Tactical Tango.

Feature Highlights

  • 2 overt light sources – Primary white light plus a unique feature that allows the user to preprogram the secondary light in either red, green, blue, or red each with 3 variable brightness level settings from high, medium and low)
  • Field Programable Primary white with 3 variable brightness settings high medium and low – the simple programming function allows the user to customize the intensity cycle.
  • Fleid progaramble IR/IFF – Three blink rate settings allows all team members to sync their individual IFFs as needed.
  • Mounts: helmet picatinny, molle/OTV/MTV, ballcap, headstrap, (ARC rail mount sold separetly)
  • IR and Lockout modes prevent other light sources from operating – A great feature to save battery life when not in use, and to prevent accidently activating the overt lights when light discipline is of utmost importance.
  • Mounts to either side of helmet with a standard screwdriver
  • Four light modes: BRIGHT WHITE – High-intensity LED, 35 lumens on high. Dedicated On/Off switch
  • IR – Infrared light for use with night-vision devices.
  • 880 nanometer rating IR STROBE – for Identifying Friend or Foe (IFF),  has a variable Blink rate which can be used to synchronized with teammates.
  • Switchable to flashing mode in each visible spectrum – can be used as a marker beacon or tactical strobe
  • Splash proof design and drop tested to 3m on hard ground
  • Integrated IR Illuminator and IR IFF beacon (3 output options) with lockout switch
  • Waterproof construction (1 metre for 30 minutes) for harsh and wet weather applications
  • User can choose high, medium, low or low, medium, high output modes in the visible spectrum
  • LEDs are switchable between high (25m+ range in White), medium and low (close up read/write) intensities in visible spectrum modes
  • 6 light sources, 4 visible (White plus Red, Green or Blue) and 2 night vision compatible (IR + IR IFF)

Manufacturer Specifications

  • Infra Red : Lumens 41 High / 18 Medium
  • Light Sources: 4x Visible and 2x Infrared
  • Visible light: 37 Lumens
  • Battery: 1xAA Lithium or Alkaline Battery
  • Run Time: 7.5hrs
  • IPX7 Waterproof Rating: 1 meter
  • Dimensions: 75x32x26 mm
  • Weight: 48g
  • Available colors: Black and Tan

Operation and Insights

The basic operation of the Hardcase Tactical Tango is fairly intuitive; there is a raised push button on both sides of the light that, when the center toggle switch is in the center position, will operate both the primary and secondary overt lights. The push button in the middle operates the primary light while the one at the rear operates the secondary colored light. An easy way to remember which is which is to remember, “back is blue”. Each push of the button will cycle through the high, medium, and low intensity settings on the corresponding light, the order of which is customizable. A fourth press on each of these buttons will activate the strobe feature.

The Tango utilises a simple programming system that allows you to select the intensity sequence of both the primary and secondary overt lights, as well as choose from any of the four colors (Red, Green, Blue) for the secondary light.

Choosing the color of the secondary light:

  1. Set operational Toggle Switch (TS) to center position.
  2. Press the (P) button and
  3. hold for 5 seconds until
  4. you see three (3x) RED flashes from the right secondary LED.
  5. To select the color, simply press the (P) button
    • 1X (once) WHITE Primary
    • 2X (twice) RED Secondary
    • 3X (three) GREEN Secondary
    • 4X (four) BLUE Secondary
  6. The selection will illuminate to indicate which color you are programming.

The push button that activates the primary light also turns the IR omni-directional light on and off when the TS is set to the IR position.

On all the light modes, after three seconds of turning the light on, a second push of the button will turn the light off.

The IFF strobe is activated (when the TS switch is set to the IFF position) by pushing the same push button that operates the secondary light. The user then has 3 IFF blink rates to choose from. The flashing by default starts in the ‘high flash’ mode, one more push of this button with set it to ‘low flash’ mode and another push of the button will set it to “S.O.S” mode. After 3 seconds, another push of this button will revert the mode back to ‘high flash’. Flip the toggle switch to the center position to turn the IFF off.

Thoughts and Insights

What the Tango lacks in overall power it, makes up for in added features. I found it to be brighter and more comfortable in the pocket compared to my E19 with less printing due to its flatter profile. I like the fact that it has variable intensity levels and find the visible spectrum great for times when the white light would be unpleasant, like when rummaging through the contents of my pack while in my tent in the middle of the night. The IR light and IFF strobe plus fact that the user is able to customise the visible spectrum light makes the tango adaptable to a variety of mission profiles. The blue light is great for casualty care and allows you to see things like blood and injuries much easier than with the more common red LED on many headlamps.

The purpose of a strobing light in a tactical situation is primarily to disorient and diminish the targets’ ability is to determine things like, size, and track the exact location of the user. This allows the operator to change location or close the gap to the target without detection. Unfortunately, while the Tango is equipped with a ‘strobe’ feature on both primary and secondary overt light sources, the light isn’t bright enough to really be effective.

With a mount/adapter for nearly every application,  the Tango is a great all around light. The included Helmet Mount allows the light to rotate through 360° in 18° increments and locks into desired position. An ARC rail mount is also available but does not come with the standard package. Personally, I found that the ARC rail adapter made it so that the light sticks out to the side more than I would have liked, and since I already have an MPLS mounted to the other side  of my helmet, and my primary use for the Tango would be as an IR illuminator and helmet light, I was willing to sacrifice the rotation for a bit of a lower profile by mounting it directly on to the helmet rails. I was able to accomplish this by taking a dremel and shaving about 2mm off the rails on the back of the Tango. I is worth noting that doing so did not affect its ability to still mount on to the various adapter plates.

One thing I noticed while carrying the Tango in my pocket it would often switch on, this is where the “lockout” feature comes in handy, which consists of simply turning the rear battery tail cap counter-clockwise a quarter turn, this effectively prevents the unit from being accidentally turned on.  To deactivate the “lockout”, simply turn the tail cap a quarter turn in the clockwise direction. Note that the unit maintains its waterproof rating even while in “lockout”. The tail cap has raised thumb catches which allows you to do engage and disengage the ‘”lockout” even while wearing gloves. I would also recommend that when wearing this as a helmet light,  if not using the “Lockout”, that you flip the Toggle Switch to IR mode to prevent accidently activating the overt light.

When mounted to the side of your helmet, with the exception of the toggle switch, the Tango is designed in such a way that it can be easily operated using tactile sensory perception. The tension fitted toggle switch that operates the IR is quite flat but with some practice it is possible to learn to operate this as well while wearing gloves.

(below are two photos I took using my iPhone looking through the ‘tubes’ to give you an idea on the quality of the IR illuminator. Please excuse the poor quality of the photo, as I was having a hard time getting the camera on my iPhone 5 to focus. In both images I am standing in an unlit hallway, where nothing can be seen with the naked eye. I am standing about 18ft away from the far wall.)


Conclusion

In my opinion, the main downfall of the Tango is that at only 37 Lumens, it is less than half as bright as many of the Tactical lights out there. That said, if you are looking for a light weight, low profile, medium powered light, particularly if you need it to be compatible with a variety of applications, the Tactical TANGO Helmet Light is a great option to consider.  The manufacturer claims that the Tango is waterproof rated for up to 30 minutes in 1m of water and is able to survive impacts equivalent to being dropped from 3m on to hard ground. At a retail of only about $100 users will appreciate that the Tango comes with an array of mounts,  such as an elasticated rotatable Head Strap for simple attachment to head; a rotatable Helmet Mount which allows the light to rotate through 360° in 18° increments and locks into desired position, a Picatinny Mount to attach it to a compatible rail; a Mollé/Vest Mount with integrated magnets to attach it securely to Mollé webbing or a ferromagnetic metallic surface such as a vehicle; and a Cap/Clip Mount which attaches to the brim of a cap or to a tactical vest, pocket, epaulette or belt.  When not clipped into anything, the Tango also works nicely as a hand held flash light.

In addition to military operations the Tango is also suitable for search and rescue, hiking, camping, hunting and other outdoor applications. The fact that it is powered by a single AA battery means that finding replacement batteries should be relatively easy compared to units that take CR123’s. And should you manage to break the Tango, Energizer’s lifetime warranty says a lot about the quality of this product as well.

Manufactured for Energizer by: ReMAPP International Corp. Old Lyme, CT 06371

You can find the users manual PDF right here

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