As depressing as I find it, I’m now old enough to remember my nighttime varmint hunting being hampered by battery life, weight, and fragility of an impressively large Q Beam spotlight. My hunting buddies and I would drive around with a spotlight plugged into the the 12V cigarette outlet of my 1988 Isuzu Trooper while a battery-powered version waited in reserve until we spotted a critter that needed shooting. Once we’d identified our target, we’d hop out and light up the Eveready fueled unit so we could shoot. The problem was that the battery on that thing lasted maybe 20 minutes . . .
Once the battery died, we had two options. We could continue on with the car-tethered light or drive back to the house to plug the big Q Beam in on the wall charger for the requisite 90 minutes it took to recharge. Inevitably, we’d abandon the plan to return home and hunt until we busted a lamp on the car-tethered light or burned ourselves on the seemingly red hot lamp.
That usually took less than one hour. Oh and forget red lenses. They probably offered them, but they were too expensive and the dawn of my predator hunting in small town Texas predates online shopping or high speed internet. We made due with pieces of red plastic duct taped to the housing (they always melted) or coloring the glass with a red Sharpie. And we liked it.
Weapons-mounted lights? Fuggetaboutit. There was precisely one gun I’d ever seen with a light affixed to it. A bolt gun of some variety chambered in .22-250 with a HUGE red light on the scope body in a now long gone gun shop in Kerrville, Texas. I believe it had a remote wire that went to a battery pack you wore somewhere on your body. And boy howdy, did I want that. Where was I?
Right, the miracles of technology. I get all nostalgic when I open a box and a piece of gear falls out that just blows away stuff I used as a teenager. The ramblings and rantings above are what had me standing in my kitchen, knife in one hand, light in the other when my wife walked in to find me staring absentmindedly out the window.
“You OK?”, she asked.
“I’m getting old”, I declared.
“Okay honey. Let me know if you need anything”, she responded.
Its this damn Cyclops Sirius 500 light that’s got me talking like an old fogey. First, I’ve dropped it about a dozen times now, and it still keeps working. No more broken bulbs for me. Second, it is powered by SUPER efficient LEDs so it lasts forever on a charge. And no burns when I accidentally touch the lens. Third, it has two modes, a low light flood mode for navigating the woods, and then a crystal clear spot mode that could probably do double duty performing eye surgery. It peters out around 600 yards on a moonless night in the country. Solid target identification is a breeze at up to a quarter mile. Last, it has a red lens cover that locks into place, perfect for varmint hunting.
Controls are dead simple to operate. There’s a switch on the back that switches between flood and spot and the trigger with conveniently located lock that allows you to turn it on and keep it there. Recharging takes very little time and the light can be used while on charge so if your spotlighting activities have you near a 12V outlet, you can keep using it while the battery gets more juice.
Here’s the thing though. Short of leaving the light on overnight, I haven’t been able to outlast the battery. See my commentary above on getting older, but I just can’t hunt from dusk to dawn anymore. The more likely scenario is that around 2:00 AM, this light is still working great, and I’m bushed. If you’ve got more stamina than me, be smart about your usage of flood and spot, and you should be able to make this thing last all night.
If I’d had this light at age sixteen, there’d be a lot more varmint carcasses piled up at the Kee ranch. This light is so good that my parents tried to steal it the last time I came home. And when I finally managed to wrestle it away, my dad ended up buying one as a Christmas present for my mom. He was extra pleased that you can pick it up at your local Walmart or on Amazon for less than $50.
Specifications: Cyclops Sirius 500
- Output: 500 Lumens on spot /45 Lumens on flood
- Lighting Type: 3 Cree Hi-Power LED’s for spot, 6 LED’s for flood
- Charge Type: AC/DC adapter or 12V DC car adapter (both included)
- Light Color: White with Detachable red lens included
- Advertised Burn Time: spot = 4+ hours / flood = 40+ hours
- MSRP: $89.95 available in the wild for less than $50
Overall Rating * * * * *
I can’t think of a single way to improve this light. It is compact enough to get stashed in a backpack or go bag, bright enough to light up whatever needs lighting up, and so energy efficient that the battery lasts longer that darkness. The lens cap allows you to use red light for varmint hunting or navigation to preserve night vision and firmly locks in place with a twist of the wrist. Where was this thing when I was hunting in high school?