Fenix PD36 TAC Tactical Flashlight | Review

For the past umpteen years, I’ve enjoyed using flashlights from Fenix because they perform so well and can be had at reasonable prices. Beyond that, their durability makes them all the more attractive.

When I received the PD36 TAC for evaluation, I was elated to try yet another tactical flashlight from Fenix. In this review, I will try to give the reader a realistic look at the good, the bad, and the ugly. Let’s get started!

Fenix PD Tactical Flashlight with S&W 642-2 and Emerson Roadhouse folding knife
A quality tactical flashlight paired with a concealed carry package. The Fenix PD36 TAC goes well with the S&W 642-2 and Emerson Roadhouse.
Fenix PD36 tactical flashlight with nylon belt holster and charger calbe.
A nylon belt holster and charger cable come with the PD36, along with a manual (you will definitely want to read that manual!).

The PD36 has two basic modes of operation.

Tactical Mode and Duty Mode. If the user enjoys many options for light output, then he or she is in for a treat.

On the tailcap, there is a three position switch that can be rotated to Tactical Mode, an “Off” position, and Duty Mode, and is very easy and fast to operate.

Tactical Mode

The light output in Tactical Mode is 2000 lumens, which is plenty of light to get things done. Things such as blinding an assailant or suspect, as well as flooding a large area with lots of light. The beam of this light reaches out over 200 yards but also throws a wide flood. The flood factor is nice because it gives
the user more peripheral vision at night.

The amazing thing with this 2000 lumen output is that the run time for the light is three hours, ten minutes! In my opinion, that is a spectacular amount of run time at such a high output.

Another option in Tactical Mode is the strobe mode, which also runs at 2000 lumens.

Fenix PD36 TAC  tail cap  three positions: Duty, Off, and Tactical.
The tail cap has three positions: Duty, Off, and Tactical. Shown here in the Tactical position.

Duty Mode

There are six levels of light output in Duty Mode: Strobe (2000 Lumens), Eco (30 lumens for 160 hours), Low (150 lumens for 18 hours, 45 minutes), Medium (350 lumens for 10 hours, 10 minutes), High (1000 lumens for 3 hours, 15 minutes), and Turbo (3,000 lumens for 1 hour, 30 minutes).

Each time the tailcap switch is pushed, it cycles through the various light outputs. If the user pushes the tailcap in all the way, the light stays on. Another push turns the light off. A light touch of the tailcap activates the light but when pressure is removed, it turns off. Very simple. The switch is easy to use and
has a positive action.

One down side of lights with very high outputs is heat; They generate quite a bit of it. The PD36 will automatically reduce the lumen output if the light reaches a certain temperature to protect it from damage.

Since one generally does not need 2,000 lumens of output for normal, everyday tasks, the lesser output modes come in handy for the majority of users. 30 lumens is great for walking around without blinding our night vision while still giving us an incredibly long run time.

Speaking of run time, a word about the battery. It is a 21700 rechargeable Lithium ion battery that comes with a charger. The charger (included) is a standard plug in model like your cell phone uses. In fact, I just use my cell phone charger, which plugs into the battery, to charge it. Upon being plugged in, a red LED lights up on the battery, letting the user know that it is charging. Upon being fully charged, the light turns green and you are good to go! It took roughly an hour to charge a partially charged battery for my light, but the factory advises that a full charge will require about four hours.

To charge the battery, it needs to be removed from the light (as easy as unscrewing the tail cap) and there’s a small port for the charger to plug into.

The PD36’s body is very durable, being composed of A6061-T6 aluminum. Aside from the durability, this also means that the light is extremely light, weighing 3.24 ounces without the battery. The battery adds the majority of weight to this light. As an added bonus, the light is also waterproof and comes with a spare O-ring in the event the original one wears out.

Dimensions are as follows: 5.51 inches long x 1.04 inches. This is not a large, heavy tactical flashlight. On the other hand, it is a bit larger than I’d care for to carry in my pocket. It’s not one of those items that you forget about until you need it; you’ll know you’re carrying a light with this one in the pocket. Could it be done? Absolutely! But there are smaller lights on the market for pocket carry.

Olight S2R, Fenix PD36, and Surefire 6P Nylon tactical flashlights.
The PD36 is in the middle, flanked by an Olight S2R on the left and a Surefire 6P Nylon on the right.

So what would be a good use for this particular tactical flashlight? In my opinion, duty belt carry on the job would be a perfect use (it does come with a nylon belt pouch). Tactical use would be another great venue for this light, since it gives a dazzling output. It would also be great to have in a vehicle for any number of uses. A pocket clip does come standard on the light, so it can easily enough be placed into the pocket for carry. If you’re wearing cargo pants, this light would certainly be easy enough to slip into a cargo pocket.

The LED that the PD36 uses is rated for 50,000 hours, which is…well, quite a long time.

The finish of the PD36 is a sort of semi-gloss, black color that seems to hold up fairly well to use. The bezel has some cutouts, making it partially crenelated. They aren’t sharp, but should serve adequately for striking, should the user find himself in a position of using this light as a self-defense tool.

Fenix PD36 bezel
The bezel has some cutouts. The LED is rated for 50,000 hours.

I like the fact that the cutouts are not specifically sharpened as they are on some lights because it doesn’t scream, “WEAPON!” as some lights do. These days, with weapons being banned from almost every area we walk into, it’s nice to be able to have a little something along for the ride that can give us an edge. As a striking tool, the tactical flashlight can contribute to our well-being in certain instances.

For storage, it is recommended to at least turn the tailcap to the lockout mode so that the light cannot be activated, which could start a fire because of the heat generated by the light. I would avoid setting the light down with the bezel downward, resting on anything for this reason. Better yet, remove the battery if you’ll not be using the light for any length of time to negate the possibility of a fire.

For a size comparison, this light vaguely resembles the Surefire 6P (it’s a bit longer than the 6P though) in diameter. Unlike the 6P, though, the PD36 offers many more light levels.

Fenix PD36 tactical flashlight.
The light is approximately 5 1/2 inches long, shown in hand.

I was talking with a friend recently, and mentioned that I had to read the manual to figure out exactly how many different light outputs this light has, and how to cycle through all of them. She laughed and had to agree, and commented that it makes her feel “old” to have to figure out how to work a flashlight.

I tend to agree, in that when I was a tactical officer, our lights (Surefires) were a bit simpler; they had one output. Indeed, life was simpler. Honestly, though, the options available today are great, it’s a good thing to be able to use a low output on a light with an extended run time. And putting the light into Tactical Mode ensures that when the tailswitch is pushed, we get a high output, so that simplifies matters in that

What I like about the light:

It’s durable, has many light output options, can serve as a defensive weapon, the light output is seriously dazzling, huge longevity on the LED, extremely long battery life, attractive finish, pocket clip. The fact that the battery is rechargeable is awesome, as it eliminates having to buy new batteries.

Fenix PD36 Tactical flashlight with other tactical gear.
The PD36 TAC is right at home with tactical gear. It is up to the demands of the tactical arena!

This tactical flashlight will fill a few different roles, including EDC, duty, and tactical, as well as hunting and farming, and a host of other venues that I’m not even thinking about.

Some things that I wasn’t thrilled with:

It’s slightly large to carry in the pocket of a pair of jeans, a bit heavier than I’d care to carry in a pocket, and you have to be cognizant of which Mode you have it in for light output. There is a bit of a learning curve until you get the different modes down.

Was there anything that I seriously disliked about the light? No. It does everything that it’s advertised to, and does it very well.

Now on to a factor that dictates whether or not many of us can take advantage of a piece of gear: the price. The PD36 TAC retails for around $99.95 at the time of this writing, making this a good value for what the user gets.

All in all, this tactical flashlight represents a solid choice at a decent price point that meets the needs of a wide variety of users, including military, law enforcement, hunters, and regular folks who just need a reliable, high performance light.

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