CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - When you need a flashlight, you want it to reliably light your way, but one flashlight on the market makes some pretty wild claims.
The Atomic Beam USA claims to be a tactical light that's tough enough to be tossed out of a helicopter, or even boiled in hot oil, but does it work?
The commercial claims Atomic Beam USA is an "ultra-bright, tough grade flashlight that features tactical technology used by U.S. Special Forces."
The advertisement further claims the flashlight is "tough enough" to withstand being run over by a 36 ton fire truck, being thrown out of a helicopter hovering hundreds of feet in the air, being boiled in hot oil, and frozen in a block of ice.
In terms of the product's basic function as a flashlight, Cape Girardeau police patrolman Tanner Hiett said he liked the Atomic Beam's telescopic focus feature that either narrows the beam to brightly illuminate a small area, or widens out to light a larger area.
"This is a very good flashlight for focusing on distance," said officer Hiett. "I would say the one I carry is a lot brighter, but I think this could be a good backup light."
Can the Atomic Beam really survive being run over by a fire truck?
"Our engine is 25 tons, I think the commercial had a ladder that ran over it and they were 36 tons, so it should hold up to our," said Cape Girardeau master firefighter Chris Venable.
Firefighter Venable turned the key on the department's full pumper truck and slowly rolled over the Atomic Beam with the truck's front tire. When his fellow firefighters saw the glow of the flashlight remained, they encouraged him to run it over with the back wheel too – and still the Atomic Beam shined on.
"Seeing is believing," said firefighter Venable. "It didn't flatten out and it still works."
Next, we tested whether or not Atomic Beam could survive a fall.
"We've thrown several things out of the helicopter like Easter eggs, golf balls and candy at Halloween, but never a flashlight," said Cape Copters helicopter pilot Dean Houseman.
Houseman brought the helicopter up to hover about 120 feet over the tarmac and we dropped the Atomic Beam.
The flashlight was on the strop setting when dropped, and when we landed we discovered the light was not shining.
We told the company about our failed helicopter test, and they shipped us a new one Priority Mail to continue our destructive tests.
We froze the second Atomic Beam in a block of ice over the weekend.
On Monday, we smashed the ice with a sledge hammer and flashlight immediately turned right on.
In addition to the flashlight's resistance to extreme temperatures, the test revealed one other fact: Atomic Beam is not waterproof. We discovered water and ice inside the flashlight.
The final test was to dunk the Atomic Beam in hot oil.
Cape Girardeau Fire Captain Lucas Simmons measured the temperature of the oil at 356 degrees using the department's thermal imaging tool.
Captain Simmons dropped the Atomic Beam into the oil and we waited 40 seconds and then pulled it out. This time, the flashlight was dark.
Not willing to lose another flashlight on his watch, KFVS Photojournalist Don Frazier did some tinkering.
"I think we're going to make it work," said Frazier. "I think it's the switch that's bad, the flashlight's still functional."
With a little jiggling and cleaning of the switch, the Atomic Beam turned back on.
Our testers collectively gave Atomic Beam 3.5 stars on this Does it Work test.