ASP Guardian AA DF Review

Preface

Armament Systems and Procedures (ASP) might not have much presence in the civilian flashlight community but it is a rather well-known brand among law enforcement professionals.

The Guardian AA DF is part of their new dual fuel (AA/14500) every day carry series of lights; whilst focusing more on tactical backup usage. With that in mind, let’s see what this new Guardian AA DF has to offer.

Packaging & First Impressions

This is what the light will come with as shown below.

  • Comes in a simple plastic clam shell packaging.
  • The threads and o-rings were lightly lubricated. Threads were rather smooth and clean (no gritty feeling).
  • Knurling is extremely well-done; very “grippy” but not overly aggressive (i.e. fabric and pockets-friendly).
  • Battery can only be accessed from the tail portion of the battery tube. The front portion of the battery tube is for the charging interface only.
  • No clip and/or lanyard is provided.
  • The tail switch is extremely responsive to momentary activation and requiring a further “travel” before the switch is fully engaged.
  • Anodizing of the light is uniform without any missing specs.
  • Battery compartment holds Sanyo/Panasonic Eneloops, Energiser Ultimate Lithium (L91) and (Energiser and Duracell) alkaline batteries without any fitment issues.
  • The included proprietary 14500 battery can only be used in this light. However, other Button Top 14500 batteries can be used as well.

Front:

Back:

Box Contents:

Quick Overview (Manufacturer Specifications)

  • Body Material: Matte Black HAIII Aluminium
  • LED: XP-G3
  • Battery Format: 1 x AA / 14500 (3.7V rechargeable/1.2V NiMH rechargeable/1.5V lithium primary batteries/1.5V alkaline [not recommended]) ONLY
  • Output & Runtime (with ASP 14500 800mAh / AA battery):
    • Low (15 lumens – 80h / 72h)
    • High on AA (115 lumens –  2h 45min)
    • High on 14500 (430 lumens –  50min)
  • Max Beam Distance: 80m (14500) / 48m (AA)
  • Waterproofness: IPX-4
  • Impact Resistance: 2m
  • Dimension: 109mm (length) x 20mm (diameter)
  • Weight: 57g (including batteries)
  • Battery reverse polarity protection
  • Accessories Included:
    • 1*proprietary ASP 14500 800mAh Battery
    • 1*Keychain Carrier (Micro-USB Cable)
  • MSRP: ~$75

Click HERE to view ASP’s full color brochure for the Guardian AA DF.

UI (User Interface)

UI for this light is perfect for Every Day Carry (EDC) as it is extremely simple and straightforward to use.

Switching ON and OFF is done by the main switch at the TAIL of the light. It is a forward clicky switch which also enables half press for momentary activation where necessary.

From OFF:

  • 1/2 Press – Direct access to MOMENTARY HIGH; depress switch entirely (1 Click) to get HIGH.
  • 2 * 1/2 Press – Direct access to MOMENTARY LOW; depress switch entirely (1 Click) to get LOW.
  • 1 Click – Direct access to HIGH.

From ON:

  • 1 Click – Light will switch OFF.

There is no mode memory for this flashlight, it will always switch on in HIGH then LOW. However, if the light is ON in LOW mode for more than ~3min and then switched OFF, immediate re-activation of the light will be in LOW mode only. After ~1 sec, re-activation will be back to the default HIGH mode.

Since this is a tactical backup EDC light, the choice behind this rather unique UI could possibly be that it can be especially useful to prevent accidental loss of night vision when one’s vision is already accustomed to the LOW mode.

There is also no blinky modes (STROBE and/or SOS) available.

Form Factor

For flashlights that are intended to use on a daily basis (EDC) and for possibly a long period of time, form factor is extremely important.

This light fits a medium sized hand easily. Switching between overhand and underhand holding method wasn’t an issue and its (lack thereof) weight certainly helped in it feeling rather well-balanced on hand. The knurling on the light enables the light to be extremely “grippy”, even with wet hands/gloves.

The light is unable to tail-stand by itself due to the protrusion of the tail switch.

Charging Process

By fluke luck, this review sample had a bad Micro-USB cable that could not be connected into the flashlight’s Micro-USB port. A check with Michael Hess (VP, Marketing at ASP), lead to the confirmation that it is indeed an isolated case (all other Micro-USB worked fine).

Using an Olight branded Micro-USB cable instead, the battery was charging at ~1A.

As the head of the light has to be removed to access the charging interface, the light is unable to operate on any modes when charging.

The flashing RED (once every ~1 sec) indicator depicts charging in progress and GREEN indicator depicts charging has completed.

Note: The proprietary Micro-USB charging interface only allows charging of the provided ASP proprietary 14500 battery. All other 14500 batteries cannot be charged in the light. This decision is understandable from a manufacturer’s point of view to ensure that fire hazards due to improper charging is avoided. Nonetheless, 14500 batteries from other brands can still be used in this light.

Beam Style/Beamshots

For this light, the spill, corona and hotspot is somewhat predictable due to the fairly shallow Smooth Reflector. With the XG-G3 used, the beam is still sufficiently “throwy” for most close range duty.

The above beam profile is a rough interpretation of what is seen when white wall hunting. Owing to the more “throwy”-nature of the LED used, the beam has a distinct hotspot with some slight corona and a rather wide usable (almost circular) spill. The beam profile is such that it lights up a room with ease, without having to sweep the light (left to right or vice versa) for target identification. It also helps that the XP-G3 led is perfectly centred in this sample. There are some rings in the beam when white wall hunting but not visible in real world usage.

All of the beamshots taken below are done so with the following camera settings (LOW: 0.62, F3.5, ISO100, 5000K WB and HIGH (14500/AA): 1/2, F3.5, ISO100, 5000K WB).
Some pictures have been adjusted slightly to depict as close as to what is seen in real life. The distance of the light from the door is 4.6m.

Control shot:

LOW (15 lumens):

HIGH AA (115 lumens):

HIGH 14500 (430 lumens):

Mode (Output) Spacing

Mode spacing appears to be progressively brighter to the eye and the modes are well spaced enough to be able to know which mode one is currently in. With that in mind, TLR tend to view mode spacing as battery life indicators (amount of runtime left) rather than the specific output (lumens).

In most tactical lights, LEOs tend to prefer a simple HIGH-LOW interface, especially under duress. With that in mind, the output spacing is exactly as needed with a LOW of 15 lumens for up-close tasks and a substantially higher HIGH for situations such as room clearing.

The ability to use a 14500 battery to get a higher HIGH output whilst retaining the LOW mode level is a great move from ASP.

Tint & CRI

ASP did not disclose the tint (color temperature) and/or the CRI (Color Rendering Index) for the LEDs used in their light. For this light, a guesstimate would be in the 6500K and 70CRI ballpark.

However, due to the emitter used, there are tint shifts throughout the beam profile. The hotspot is cool white whilst the corona possess a slight yellow-green tint; and the spill having a slight purple tint.
This is however, not as noticeable in real life.

Waterproofness

Despite the light being rated for IPX-4 only, we went ahead to test it like as though it was rated for IPX-8 as we felt, a tactical backup light should be able to at least withstand water submersion.

The light was subjected to warm water submersion, followed by cold water submersion and left under room temperature running water tap whilst running on HIGH.

No signs of water intrusion in the head, switches or body was seen.

Lockout Capability

No electronic lockout but mechanical lockout is possible when needed, like during transportation in a bag.

A quarter turn (anti-clockwise) of the head or tail portion of the light will enable mechanical lockout.

Scale Comparison (Ruler)

Summary

To sum up, we believe that the most important part of any review is if given the chance to purchase the same light for our own EDC or to gift to our loved ones out from one’s pocket (wallet), would we still do it?
For this light, it is an absolute YES, if tint and color rendering are not important for your usage.

The flashlight’s extremely straightforward UI and the ability to use both AA and 14500 batteries ensures that it is easy to find replacement batteries when needed; are both major plus points for it. This light makes for an excellent tactical backup EDC light which would fit naturally to what most law enforcement professionals are accustomed to and most civilian usage as well.

We look forward to the day that ASP incorporates another “throwy” LED (e.g. XP-L HI) with less tint shifts and slightly better color rendering.

Here is a bonus size comparison with the Fenix LD12, which is another AA/14500 flashlight.

As with all gears, two is one and one is none.

Stay safe,
The Lite Review


Disclaimer: Light was provided for by ASP (manufacturer) for this review. No other compensation was provided.


Where to Buy Links

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ASP Guardian AA DF

ASP Website: Click Here

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