TK26R – The Red Green Show
Ambassador Alex G.
The TK26R has intrigued me ever since it was released and I’ve been happy to now have owned it for the past month. After carrying it on my hip (in its included holster) for a week as my EDC, I think I have figured out what makes this light tick. I have affectionately come to call this light, the red green show.
First and foremost, this light has a bright, 1,500 lumen, white LED and the reflector’s size and shape makes this light more of a spot beam pattern, rather than a flood. Flanking the white LED are the red and green LEDs which have their own little cylindrical cut outs for their reflectors. The TK26R has two buttons on the tail, one for power and one for a mode selector. There is also a brass button on the side which switches between the red and green light modes. On the opposite side of the flashlight from the brass button, there is a USB C port which recharges the included 3500 mAh 18650 battery.
The mode controls are simple to understand once you know what they are. The large power button on the rear turns it on and off and can be momentarily pressed if needed. The rear mode button cycles the white LED brightness levels and also enables the strobe feature. Finally, the side brass button is a single click to cycle between the red or green LEDs, with no other modes or brightness levels. The best tactical feature of this light is that when the light is off, pressing the white mode button instantly turns on the strobe for as long as you hold it – no power button or mode changes are needed.
The buttons on the rear do give me a little trouble at times because, with the mode and power button so close to each other, you are very apt to hit both buttons at the same time with your thumb and that may cause some weird strobe flashes or brightness levels to change unexpectedly. If your thumb is on the correct side of the light, you will likely not encounter any issues, but if it’s on the wrong side of the light, it is very likely that you will accidentally hit the strobe button while tuning it on. With a little bit of a learning curve, you can get around it but it’s good to know ahead of time.
The white light is more of a spot than flood and the deep reflector can throw the light much farther that the smaller lights can. It’s a great beam for long-distance use, or lighting up outdoor fields and back yards. Up close, the white light does have some artifacts in its beam caused by the red and green LED cutouts in the reflector, but under normal use you won’t notice these, and it doesn’t really affect the flashlight’s function. The lumen outputs of the different modes are well selected for a broad range – from dim to extremely bright. The high mode is especially useful not only in being bright enough to use for most situations but also by having almost 5 hours of runtime for those long projects. The strobe mode is extremely discombobulating, being bright and fast, which is exactly what you want in a tactical light. The instant strobe from the secondary tail button is quickly accessed and is one of the best features of this two, tail-button flashlight. It is definitely great to have for anyone in tactical situations.
The red and green LEDs are both extremely bright for a colored LED and can be very handy for certain applications. Due to the odd cutout within the main reflector, there are some very noticeable circular artifacts in the light. The red and green beams don’t throw very far, but they are plenty bright enough for close situations. One thing I love about these red and green lights is the ability to pair this flashlight with the AOT-02 traffic wand, making it truly the best signaling light you could own. With white, red, or green options, you have a color and brightness level for any use case and you are definitely sure to be noticed. The large diffuser cap shines extremely brightly with the red and green LEDs, and it is incredible to use for broad diffusion or signaling purposes. Seriously, I could land a plane with this light – it is that effective. If you deal with traffic in any capacity, the AOT-02 is a must-have accessory for the TK26R. If you don’t deal with traffic – get it anyway, just for fun.
The USB C charging port is out of the way and, because it is flush to the flashlight’s body, I forget it’s even there at times. It is convenient, easy to use, and the dust cover stays closed very well. The included 18650 battery lasts a good while, especially considering it’s a 3500 mAh, and I’m glad to see it included with the light.
The body of the light is very similar in size to the TK22 and TK22 UE, but those lights both fit a 5000 mAh 21700 battery. After dissecting the TK26R, I believe the difference in battery size is a by-product of a design choice in this model. There is a second, electrically conductive sleeve within the main tube of the TK26R that I am pretty sure is used to send a separate signal through the body of the light for the white mode button. The main power button is connected electrically to the body of the light and the white mode button is connected electrically to the extra, internal tube. This means that the extra tube takes up space that could have been used for a larger battery and is instead using it for an additional button for extra light modes. The reason it has two buttons on the tail cap is because the typical white-mode button near the head of the light is reserved for the red and green modes. Since the TK22 variants do not have the extra LED colors, they don’t need the extra tail button which frees up the internal space in the body for a larger battery. So if red and green lights aren’t something you would use, the TK22 or TK22 UE may be a better option.
After using this light for a few weeks, I have to say it reminds me of my Leatherman pocket knife. It’s not the best knife I own, it’s not the best set of pliers, and it is not the best screwdriver – but having all of those tools in one package is why I carry it. Due to having three LEDs that all have different functions, it leaves a little to be desired on each front. Some compromises had to be made to make everything fit and work correctly. But if you need the red or green LEDs for hunting, safety, or any other reason, this is a great, well-built light and you’ll be glad to have it – just like my Leatherman. If you just need a white LED and red and green lights aren’t something you would use, the TK22 or TK22 UE may be a better option for you. But whatever you do, pick up the AOT-02 traffic cone with any of those lights, you will definitely not regret it.