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The Olight Baldr Mini RL Weapon Light: A Glimpse of the Future
The adaptations of the weapon light has evolved from initial design, to availability, to light output, to runtime, to features, to size, and now has emerged squarely in the realm of existentialism. If there is only one weapon light option, we don’t question beyond its obvious debatable characteristics. But now that there is an evolutionary explosion of weapon light options, designs and features, we must look inward and be honest about our actual needs. The one size fits all model is extinct.
So as we watch the behemoth Weaponslightasaurs die off and be replaced quickly by more nimble, smarter, and stronger competitors, it’s time to reclassify the weapons lights using both broader and narrower definitions. To answer the “what is life” question, a weapons light is a self-powered light that is designed to attach directly and securely to a firearm. After that, all bets are off.
At its foundation, there are four components to a weapon light to consider and compare; the mount, the light in a reflector, the switch, and the power source. Each component is essential, but each one can also be one of a myriad of options. And that’s where the existential aspect is applied. In the old days, a weapon light provided light. Beyond that was just details in the weeds. But then the catastrophic impact of LEDs killed off all but a few hardy incandescents. Then new food sources sprouted up, mainly the CR123 and CR2 batteries. Runtimes grew to ridiculous proportions as one, two and even three high power battery cells were stuffed into tubes and chambers. Reflectors grew to shotgun barrel diameters, and switches and levers sprung out from every nook and cranny not already occupied by hinges, doors, and mounting platforms. With no evolutionary end in sight, the weapons light was yet another disciple of Moore’s Law making obsolete last years model with a refresh of internet listings.
Enter the Olight Baldr Mini RL
So enter the mini weapon lights including the Olight Baldr Mini. Not that they are designed for mini weapons, but rather like the tiny house movement, less can be more, and more is good. The Baldr Mini is indistinguishable on paper from most other weapon lights across many important criteria. But the Olight Baldr Mini also changes the game if one is honest about their actual needs.
For some reason with tactical gear, the latest and best seems to be the minimum threshold of quality and performance for most of us. My old weapons lights are relegated to various shelves in the man cave, but back in their day, they were trophies of preparedness prowess. So what happened? Just ask the Olight Baldr Mini. That’s what happened.
In a form factor about a third of my Surefire x300 Ultra, the Olight Baldr Mini pumps out more lumens, grabs the gun faster, tighter and stronger, has better light color, better beam spread, and even a better power management system. That’s not to mention the included laser on the Olight Baldr Mini that would have added another hundred dollars to push the x300 to the x400 back in the day. So let’s take a closer look at the Olight Baldr Mini to see just how advanced and paradigm shifting it is.
Also Read Doc Montana’s review of the Olight Baldr Pro HERE
Starting with the light, since that’s the point, the Olight Baldr Mini can sprint at 600 lumens. Not for miles, but vastly longer than the average gun fight lasts. In other words, about a minute. The spec sheet suggests a 40 minute runtime of light only, but that includes a drop over time of those precious lumens from the brief full blast of 600 down to about 100 a few minutes later where will pace itself around the track for half an hour until it collapses in a heap – hopefully just over your finish line. But for perspective, the Olight Baldr Mini finally dies, still pushing out more photons per second than the best weapon light I had 20 years ago. And that old light, for some reason seemed to work fine then. Further, the LED reflector makes a graceful but deadly blast of white light spilling over a wide area to noticeable center concentration. Everything in the Olight Baldr Mini’s path gets lit. And that’s the point of a weapon light. To light it up before you light it up.
Charging The Olight Baldr Mini’s Lumens
Feeding the Olight Baldr Mini’s hungry LED is a 3.7v 230 milliamp hour rechargeable battery. And like your MacBook, the battery is built in offering more performance in less space. And like your MacBook, you don’t miss carrying around more batteries for those long flights. Because the Olight Baldr Mini recharges easily and quickly, you can head out with a full tank anytime the sun goes down. And just in case you are one of those who drives until the low gas light comes on, the Olight Baldr Mini has one of those too.
Using a proprietary magnetic charging cord, the Olight Baldr Mini’s internal battery drinks in the electrons to capacity in under an hour even if completely empty. And speaking of empty, when 10% of battery life is left, a red light turns on indicating you better get on with your gunfight before things go dark on your end. Oh, and have you ever seen anyone swap batteries in their weapon light in the middle of a gun fight? Being able to doesn’t not mean you will. Friedrich Nietzsche made that clear long ago, speaking of existentialism.
Now I know what you’re saying, “But Doc, what about being prepared for when the EMP knocks out the power, or you have to bug out and charging the light is not possible?” Well, remember when I said that stuff about existentialism? The Olight Baldr Mini is a workhorse for actual today work, not imaginary scenarios in the future. The Olight Baldr Mini does the job you need now, and like your cell phone, will continue to serve your needs until you have bigger problems. What you have with the Olight Baldr Mini is a light that has “a very particular set of skills; skills [it has] acquired over a very long career. Skills that make [it] a nightmare for people like you.” In other words, the Olight Baldr Mini can and will turn night into day and day into a nightmare for your quarry. But you have to have it with you, so enter the next feature.
In a shockingly small package, the Olight Baldr Mini blends into most handguns and all rifles to the point of being a curiously small appendage rather than a bolted-on component. In fact, like cell phone keyboards, the Olight Baldr Mini could be smaller, but our fat fingers and hands might have trouble operating it. Literally, the Olight Baldr Mini is near the edge of current ergonomic technology. And personally, until LED-Laser Lighting is a practical thing, the Olight Baldr Mini is a good representative of the limits of current technology. So much for Moore’s Law.
Controlling the Output with Input
The Olight Baldr Mini’s manual of arms consists of on and off. Subdividing that binary choice is momentary on vs full on. And on means that either the light, laser or both are turned on. So yes, there is a horizontal sliding switch to choose between those three choices. Just remember, when mounted under the barrel, right is light, and left is laser. For me, I just leave it in the middle.
The Olight Baldr Mini has ambidextrous momentary-on and constant-on. The switch is not the same as brand S companies. In Olight’s case, there are two tabs, one at 3 o’clock and one at 9 o’clock. They activate with a downward pressure preventing most accidentally light discharges. If the tab is held down, the switch is in momentary mode and immediately turns everything off when released. If tapped down and released, the light remains in constant on, with another tap turning it off.
At 87 grams, or barely three ounces in America (of course including the battery since it is built-in), the Olight Baldr Mini adds less than 10% additional weight to a loaded Glock. Or in more understandable terms, that’s about the same as six rounds of 9mm. Hardly a deal breaker.
And speaking of mounts, the Olight Baldr Mini has one of the most advanced weapon mounting systems on the block. Not only does a mounting platform grab the rail with an iron grip, the positioning of the light on the rail is also possible independent of the rail clamp. So the Olight Baldr Mini can move fore and aft in order to be placed optimally for operation and melting into the firearm. Some weapon lights don’t play well with rail sections and hang out well in front of the trigger like a forward grip. Not the Olight Baldr Mini. It nearly disappears, nestling into its trigger guard ready to spring into action at the twitch of a finger like a trapdoor spider.
The Olight Baldr Mini mount has another trick up its sleeve in that not only does the light slide on the mount, but it can slide off the mount resulting in a palm- sized powerhouse package. That fast dual action answers the question: Weapon mounted light or handheld light? The answer now is “Both.”
Care and feeding of the Olight Baldr Mini is simple. An included wireless charging cord is included allowing an induction charge to move between 5v USB power source to Olight Baldr Mini battery with nothing more than a magnetically connected disc. Like most of our portable electronics these days, there is no reason to roll out without a full charge. Imagine if in the old days your cell phone took CR123 batteries. You would run them down to get your money’s work, but literally you would always have a partially charged phone. And a pocket full of spare batteries. Yes, when the Olight Baldr Mini’s battery dies, the light is off until more electrons are injected. But there is always a trade off. What you will notice is that you are quick to use the light and slow to turn it off because you don’t feel the dollars of battery slipping away any more than you feel the need to shut off your cell phone to save power. Like driving your truck, just fill up at the next available gas station whether in your home, vehicle, work, or using that spare battery charger you carry for the cell phone, you know, just in case.
Finally, the Olight Baldr Mini is a durable unit with an IPX4 rating. That means that it is rated to a water splash resistance like rain or a squirting artery. If you get in a firefight with a firehose (I’m sure there’s a joke in there somewhere) then you might have problems. And avoid swimming with the Olight Baldr Mini. There are better lights for that.
The existential aspect of the Olight Baldr Mini begs the question, “Why not mount it on a rifle?” And the answer is a meditative “Why not?” Many of us run one-to-something optics on our long guns with the 1x a completely viable and practical option for objects of interest in the sub-50 meter range. And given that the Olight Baldr Mini throws out to 130 meters, it makes more sense than you might think. Often the assumption of rifle-bases lighting systems is akin to stadium lighting. If it doesn’t pack at least four digits of lumens, don’t bother. But in reality, the difference between 600 lumens of the Olight Baldr Mini and 1000 lumens of larger lights is nearly imperceptible to the human eye. And anything within 50m is game on. So then there’s the bird-like weight, and the insect-like size. Why not put one on your rifle? If you have no weapon light on it now, then the benefit is infinite. And if you have a larger more obtrusive light on your bangstick but rarely or never use it, then dump some weight, gain some real estate, and slim the lines of your long gun. When you need it, it’s there. And just throw your old heavy light back on the rail when the zombies come knocking.
Also Entertaining for Cats
Oh, yeah. I almost forgot. This tiny package of lumen goodness also has a laser embedded within the LED reflector. Imagine that? You get all the initial performance of the big lights with the Olight Baldr Mini as well as a proven sighting system that works in day and night conditions allowing for off-hand shots, simple target acquisition, shooting with goggles/dirty glasses, and a backup to those other sighting options. And for you rifle fans, while the light is good to over 100 meters, the laser is good to about forever. Certainly farther than a standard bullet can go.
This little powerhouse uses a red LED laser. Why not green, you ask? Two reasons: choice and battery life. Green lasers have both advantages and disadvantages. While green is often easier to see since human eyes are especially sensitive to bright green light, green lasers also require more power, a gain, in this case, of eight minutes of runtime compared to the green laser version. Additionally, green laser light interacts with water vapor in the air creating that Hollywood effect of a laser line leading directly to the source which might be you. Finally, under 10 or 20 yards, the red laser provides a reasonable illumination level whereas a green laser can be so bright on target that it can wash out on certain surfaces. Somewhat similar to having too bright a weapon light in close quarters.
Runtime is always the inflatable elephant in the room. Everyone wants maximum lumens with unlimited runtime. Someday maybe, when our lights are nuclear powered and we can just swap out their plutonium cells every 500 years for the next latest and greatest power source, but for now, there is a distinct tradeoff and rather vicious physics controlling the numbers. The Olight Baldr Mini in particular pumps out a full 600 lumens for maybe 60 seconds before starting the throttle down to darkness at over 40 minutes (in my tests) later. And that’s with the laser running as well so that number should only go up.
An observation here is that the Olight Baldr Mini made absolutely no discernible rise in external temperature during its full run. Many other lights heat up which indicates two things. First, all that heat is lost energy that could go towards something else, and second, we have room to improve our designs and materials to capture more of what we want. The old school incandescent bulbs used up to 80% of their electricity making heat instead of light. LEDs are much much better, but still not perfect. And since I view heat sinks as a form of failure, the near zero rise in thermal output of the Olight Baldr Mini is impressive.
Wrapping it All Up
This light has a sweet spot or rather sweet spots in weapon lighting which for me include for bedside home defense, for emergency weapon lighting (as opposed to a daily night driver light), and get this, as a rifle-mounted weapon light. Yes, I said that. Now for those of you who have followed me across different websites, you might know that I also advocated the 9mm as a viable bear defense handgun. So from some points of view, a micro light/laser on your AR15 makes a whole lot of sense, especially if 1) you don’t already have a better light, 2) you want a near-nonexistent feature that actually has a solid purpose (compared to your three extra rounds shoved into the pistol grip, or that extra firing pin taped to your buttstock, and 3) the Olight Baldr Mini has exactly the same benefits to the rifle as it does to the handgun. So rather than, or in addition to, your hand held EDC flashlight, you could snap on the Olight Baldr Mini and call it good.