Gear, Parts and Accessories

Product Review: Kel-Tec CL-42, CL-43

Kel-Tec CL 42 flashlight

Though not on the same scale as creating the Universe, Kel-Tec CNC industries (aka Kel-Tec) has stepped into the business of dividing the darkness with light. Known for making original, unique high-performance firearms, Kel-tec is now offering a pair of precision LED hand torches, the CL-42 and CL-43. By Gordon Meehl

Kel-Tec CL 42 flashlight
Your favorite gun manufacturer can also be your favorite accessory manufacturer thanks to Kel-Tec.

The sibling pair of flashlights share a number of common features. Both CNC machined from 6061 aluminum and checkered in a distinctive Kel-tec pattern found on their firearms. Because of this, the lights are perfect additions to any one the company’s weapons. But you needn’t be a Kel-tec owner to reap the benefits of this duo. Just pick the color that best fits your style, get the optional picatinny mount and throw it on your favorite roscoe. Buyers can choose Hard Coat anodized or Cerakote colors In tactical colors (Black, OD Green, Desert Tan) or safety colors (Orange, yellow).

The aluminum housing means the flashlights are light weight and durable. Having held my fair share of “tac-lights”, I can confirm first hand these are some of the lightest I’ve hand in hand. Though I didn’t test the claim, the company states that each of the CL brothers can survive a 3.5 foot drop and keep functioning under water equally as deep for up to 30 minutes.

The user brings forth 420 lumens at 6400 candelas via a press of a knurled rubberized button. A gentle press for momentary activation and a slightly more vigorous mashing of the button past the detent keeps the light on til you give it another click. As a quick primer, Lumens measure the quantity of light being emitted while candelas measure the intensity of that light. Simply put more lumens mean a brighter light, more candelas mean that light can go farther; in Kelt-tec’s case just shy of 525 feet.

All familial similarities end here. The CL-42 takes a more traditional form. A straight shot tube housing two CR123 batteries. A rear mounted push forward button energizes the LED. Left on the user will will get 420 lumens for about an hour and 15 minutes. After this, the light diminishes to 42 lumens at the two hour and twenty-minute mark. Unscrewing the front cap gives access to switching out spent batteries for fresh ones.

The CL-43 takes a more unique shape yielding an even more unique hand feel. Looking like a traditional flashlight folded over on itself, the CL-43 has a mid-mounted, forward facing, rearward clicking button.

The odd shape may seem counterintuitive but is not without reason. The light is purpose built to be used in conjunction with a weapon. Working through a flat learning curve, the user can effortlessly keep the CL-43 parallel to a pistol’s barrel either with one hand or in the support hand when using a traditional two hand grip.

After very little practice the author was able to master both a one hand and two hand pistol grip. As with the CL-42 the CL-43 can be mounted to a picatinny rail with Kel-tec’s optional mount. The only complaint (if you can call it that) is that changing the batteries on the CL-43 requires an allen key to remove the rear cover plate. Although this adds to the overall toughness of the rig it may pose difficulties changing out the three CR123’s in the the field.

At $140 for the CL-43 and $85 for the CL-42, these compact tactical illuminators are a good value to throw in your go bag or mount on the end of your KSG.


Lumens: 420 Batteries: (2) CR123 batteries Run time: 2 hours 25 Mins Beam distance: 160 Meters Peak beam intensity: 6400 candela Impact resistance: 1 meter Water resistance: 1 meter depth


Lumens: 420 Batteries: (3) CR123 batteries Run time: 3 hours 35 Mins Beam distance: 160 Meters Peak beam intensity: 6400 candela Impact resistance: 1 meter Water resistance: 1 meter depth for 30 mins

What’s your favorite torch or tactical light technique? Share it in the comment section.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (2)

  1. They sound pretty good. To be honest, though, the market is flooded with flashlights like it is with ARs and 1911s.

  2. I purchased a Kel-Tech sub 2000 40 cal. With glock mags. I was able to purchase this as a pistol because it didn’t have the but pad. Are you going to start selling the two different versions. If it doesn’t have the extra but plate it is sold as a pistol and if it does have the but plate it is sold as a rifle.

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