U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- “Hoot, hoot,” y’all. I appreciate intelligent marketing, and Cloud Defensive naming the OWL was one of those smart moves. The Cloud Defensive OWL stands for Optimized Weapon Light, and it rules the roost as far as weapon lights go. Owls see at night and with an OWL, so will you. Cloud Defensive is one of two major companies that are pushing weapon light technology forward. Cloud Defensive made a light that stands out in both its performance and its design.
Cloud Defensive OWL – All The Light
Who doesn’t love lumens? Every light manufacturer out there uses their lumen count to advertise their light; that has to be what matters, right? Well, lumens matter, but candela matters more. The OWL brings both a high lumen count and a high candela count into the conversation.
Lumens are the raw power of the light, but candela is how that light is utilized. When you focus lumens, you get candela, and when you get a higher candela, you get a more powerful light. Let’s talk numbers. The OWL packs 1,250 lumens backed by 50,000 candela.
That combination of power and focus extends your max range at night by a reasonable degree. Out at the range at night, I started at 25 yards and laughed when I saw how the OWL lit the targets up. I planned to move 25 yards downrange until I ran out of range. Seeing the performance at 25 yards, I fast-forwarded to 100 yards.
At this range, I paired my OWL with a 3X prism optic, and to be honest, if you want to take advantage of the OWL, get a magnified optic. At 100 yards, I could see multicolor steel targets hanging downrange in great detail. I could tell you their shapes, color, and size as if it was daylight.
Back to 150 yards and then 200 yards proven the OWL can hang. At these ranges, I looked for a green polymer target I decorated with a t-shirt and toy gun and found it without issue. I can see the target, recognize the shirt in decent detail and identify that he was armed and ready to throw down with me. I top out at my range at 200 yards, so we couldn’t take the light further than that.
Breaking Down The Light
To give me this enhanced range, the OWL focuses more on throw and less on spill. Inside a room, the hotspot is not super wide, but the peripheral light is more than enough for CQB use. Outside, the hotspot is relatively large but remains focused. On anything other than a rifle, the OWL would be wasted.
A warm yellow glow best describes the beam. It’s warm and warm is good. Warm beams are less likely to distort colors, tend to be more blinding to bad guys and overcome photonic barriers better. The OWL rips through photonic barriers, be it another flashlight or the high beams of my Honda.
The OWL Design
As you can see, the OWL roosts on top of the rail in a 12 O’Clock position. Due to the design, this is your only way to mount the light. The activation button sits along the top of the rail and is positioned perfectly to be thumb activated. Reaching the button is easy due to its massive size and design. You can’t miss it.
No cords or wires are required with the OWL, which does lend itself well to ease of use and plug-and-play design. I like the format because I’m not too fond of managing cables. Users can remove the tail cap and front lens and reverse them to swap which side the light runs on. It’s easily reversible.
Additionally, it’s pretty dang easy to use with either hand. If you have to switch shoulders, you most certainly don’t have the time to break the light down and switch sides. Instead, just run your thumb between the light and the switch and hit the button.
The tail cap serves as a wrench that makes it easy to detach and attach the light to your weapon as well. The field-serviceable lens also makes it easy to keep the light functioning with some spare parts here and there.
In terms of durability, the OWL is well tested and proven by Cloud Defensive. It’s waterproof to an absurd degree and can be submerged to 200 feet for 24 hours. I couldn’t test durability better than Cloud Defensive. Check their Instagram to see them beat the hell out of an OWL. They use it to drive nails at one point, and it still works.
Downsides of the OWL
There is no such thing as a free lunch, guys, and gals. I have a few complaints about the OWL. First, the 12 O’Clock design doesn’t lend itself well to working with laser aiming devices like PEQ 15s. Second, it’s a hefty 11 ounces with a battery. Speaking of batteries, you can only use the 18650 rechargeable batteries.
Do not use CR123 batteries, and if you void the warranty. If you prefer using disposable batteries, then this isn’t the light for you.
Own the Night
Cloud Defensive built one helluva fine weapon light in the OWL. This little flightless bird lights up the night with a whole lot of white light. This professional-grade light allows you to use your rifle at rifle ranges at night with confidence. It might be a little heavy, but the power it delivers is well worth the cost as far as I’m concerned when it comes time to own the night the OWL delivers.
About Travis Pike
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner, a lifelong firearms enthusiast, and now a regular guy who likes to shoot, write, and find ways to combine the two. He holds an NRA certification as a Basic Pistol Instructor and is the world’s Okayest firearm’s instructor.