Back in the early ’70s, an ex-cop gave Tony Maglica a hot tip. He told Maglica—a machinist who churned out artillery shells—that police had a beef with their flashlights. The torches, usually plastic, broke too easily. The former deputy sheriff wondered if Maglica could make something solid, maybe out of aluminum. Maglica delivered a product so sturdy, it did double duty as a billy club. Patented in 1979, the rugged light anticipated needs that cops didn’t know they had—and made the inventor’s company hundreds of millions of dollars. A twist of the head could adjust the beam from flooding a crime scene to narrowing in on a suspicious bootprint. And there was the ingenious mechanism that rotated the battery contact, scraping away corrosion whenever the user clicked the power button. By the ’80s, the Maglite was standard gear for first responders. And a scaled-down version—powered by AA batteries instead of burly D-cells—made Maglite a hit with consumers. Newer models often use LEDs instead of incandescent bulbs. But most cops stick with the Maglite they got as a rookie. The dents are a kind of semaphore, signifying that the officer is as experienced as their knurled aluminum flashlight.

Maglite ML300L

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