IT’S USUALLY TRUE TO SAY THAT YOU get what you pay for. Metalsub lamps, made in the Netherlands, are constructed to a US military specification, with hard-anodised marine-grade aluminium as the main material, and as such are quite expensive. The anodising is even impregnated with Teflon.
The company’s larger offerings often remind me of something that might have been taken off an armoured personnel-carrier. However, the XRE 500-R is the smallest Metalsub hand torch and, measuring only 20cm long by 45mm diameter at its widest point, it is could fit in some BC pockets.
It’s a solid lump that weighs 400g out of the water, and about half that when submerged. It’s nicely ribbed for a firm grip, with a soft rubber orange shroud to protect it from knocks. The front part unscrews to allow access to the back of the lamp, although I’m not sure why you’d want that, and it is protected by double O-rings.
This is a product that looks almost unbreakable, and it is pressure-tested to 140m depth.
It’s the sort of lamp that is bought by someone who appreciates precision engineering and is prepared to pay the price for something that appears that little bit better made.

Light Source
A 6W, 500-lumen LED is set in a deep parabolic reflector, and provides a piercingly bright light at comfortable-to-look-at daylight colour temperatures. During the initial moments of firing up, it appears very bright indeed but with a certain flicker, and then it settles down to give a steady if slightly less-bright light.

Power Source
A rechargeable 7.2V ni-mh battery is accessed by unscrewing the rear plastic cap that carries the push-switch. It bears, in addition, an over-pressure release valve that takes care of any gases that might be emitted during charging.
The intelligent charger plugs in, and a full charge from flat takes around five hours. It will run at full power for up to two hours. After that it will give progressively weakening light for up to five more hours. There is also a less expensive version that employs six ordinary AA batteries.

A stainless-steel push-button switch at the rear is pressed in sequence to get full-, half- or quarter-power output. Cutting the output increases the burntime pro rata.
Pressing the button for a fourth time in a row puts it into a repeat SOS-flashing mode. A fifth press of the switch puts it into beacon mode, with a short flash emitted once a second. Holding the push-button in for an extended moment turns it off, with three quick flashes, at any point in the sequence.

The beam produced is exceedingly tightly focused, with little or no peripheral overspill. It’s said to be about 10°, and ideal for penetrating the murky waters found around and inside a wreck. On a night dive in the tropics you’ll find that without a peripheral beam you won’t get to see much of what’s lurking in the darkness – which can lead to some startling moments.

Comparable (but very differently priced) pocket lights to consider:
Intova Compact, £37; Lenser Frogman LED, £49; UK SL3 eLED, £49; Seac Luce LED, £66; Metalsub XRE 1000, £333; L&M Sola Dive 500, £335

PRICE £189 rechargeable (£144 for non-rechargeable)
BATTERIES Rechargeable ni-mh
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