Light Review: NITECORE Headlamps – T-360, HA20 and HC30

With the launch of three new headlamps from NITECORE, the T-360, HA20 and HC30, I’ve had the opportunity to compare them. Each one is very different and fits a different requirement. Have a look and see which one would be right for you.

 photo 02 NITECORE headlamps group red P1160494.jpg

Taking a more detailed look at the T-360:

Before diving into the detail here are the three boxed lights together.
 photo 01 NITECORE headlamps boxed P1160364.jpg

For the T-360, as it has a built-in USB rechargeable cell, there is simply the T-360, a headband and the instructions in the box.
 photo 11 T-360 unboxed P1150736.jpg

Giving it its unique versatility, the T-360 has a ball joint around which the entire light head swivels and rotates.
 photo 12 T-360 angle head P1150739.jpg

Just slipping in a gratuitous shot of several T-360s lined up.
 photo 13 T-360 lineup P1150757.jpg

Being so small and light, you can keep a spare one on the same headband!
 photo 14 T-360 backup P1150795.jpg

Shown here in its head-mounted configuration with the spare T-360 as well.
 photo 15 T-360 on head P1160352.jpg

Taking a more detailed look at the HA20:

For the HA20, as well as the light unit, there is the headband (with top strap) a special square-shaped O-ring and the instructions.
 photo 20 HA20 contents P1160368.jpg

Fitting the strap is very easy.
 photo 21 HA20 strap fitted P1160376.jpg

You can’t get to the battery compartment with the light unit rotated normally.
 photo 23 HA20 battery01 P1160387.jpg

First you need to rotate the unit forwards to expose the plastic tab.
 photo 24 HA20 battery02 P1160389.jpg

Then you can pop the cover open.
 photo 25 HA20 battery03 P1160390.jpg

Finally you can rotate the light unit all the way back round to allow the door to come off.
 photo 26 HA20 battery04 P1160394.jpg

Each end of the battery compartment has a set of sturdy terminals.
 photo 27 HA20 terminals P1160398.jpg

You have to fit the rear cell first then the front one.
 photo 28 HA20 cells fitted P1160405.jpg

The HA20 has three LEDs, an XP-G2 LED and two F5 red LEDs.
 photo 29 HA20 LEDs P1160414.jpg

A closer look at the main beam XP-G2 and its reflector.
 photo 30 HA20 main LED P1160419.jpg

The elastic strap for the main headband is routed through the mount as shown.
 photo 31 HA20 mount back P1160422.jpg

The top strap gives extra stability when wearing the headlamp.
 photo 22 HA20 on head P1160382.jpg

Taking a more detailed look at the HC30:

Of these three headlamps, the HC30 has more accessories as it includes two spare O-rings, a spare switch boot and clip as well as the HC30 itself, headband and instructions.
 photo 40 HC30 contents P1160425.jpg

A very sleek design.
 photo 41 HC30 angle P1160431.jpg

On the head of the HC30 is a low profile rubber click switch.
 photo 42 HC30 switch P1160435.jpg

When looking side on you can see the deeply cut heat-sink fins.
 photo 43 HC30 fins P1160441.jpg

The battery tube cap has been laser engraved with NITECORE’s logo.
 photo 44 HC30 tailcap P1160443.jpg

Inside the tail-cap is a spring contact which has been tucked into a groove, removing the need for any circuit board and allowing the depth of the cap to be as shallow as possible.
 photo 45 HC30 tailcap contact P1160446.jpg

The threads are Acme (trapezoid) in form, well lubricated and fully anodised (allowing lockout).
 photo 46 HC30 tailcap threads P1160451.jpg

Inside the battery tube you can see the physical reverse polarity protection (also requiring the use of button top cells).
 photo 47 HC30 inside P1160455.jpg

Thanks to a well thought-out design, the HC30 is not much larger than the cell it uses. A very nice compact design.
 photo 48 HC30 with cell P1160456.jpg

An XM-L2 LED is used.
 photo 49 HC30 LED P1160463.jpg

For such a compact design, the reflector is relatively deep.
 photo 50 HC30 reflector P1160465.jpg

You can fit the optional clip into either groove giving an up or down position. With the clip fitted it does not fit into the headband mount properly.
 photo 51 HC30 clip P1160471.jpg

With the strap sitting against your head, and the mount being low profile, you have maximum comfort.
 photo 55 HC30 mount back P1160487.jpg

The fully assembled headlight.
 photo 52 HC30 in mount P1160473.jpg

On the head, the HC30 is very comfortable, light and stable.
 photo 53 HC30 on head P1160479.jpg

The LED on the Ultra Low mode showing the dots on the phosphor surface – just because…
 photo 54 HC30 LED close low P1160485.jpg

The beam

Please be careful not to judge tint based on images you see on a computer screen. Unless properly calibrated, the screen itself will change the perceived tint.

The indoor beamshot is intended to give an idea of the beam shape/quality rather than tint. All beamshots are taken using daylight white balance. The woodwork (stairs and skirting) are painted Farrow & Ball “Off-White”, and the walls are a light sandy colour called ‘String’ again by Farrow & Ball. I don’t actually have a ‘white wall’ in the house to use for this, and the wife won’t have one!

Being a comparison review, we have the opportunity for some side-by-side (or top-to-bottom) comparisons using the same exposures. However BEFORE we start that comparison, as the T-360 is a tiny lightweight low powered light, to just get an idea of the beam, this first photo is at an exposure to give the best impression of the beam.
 photo 16 T-360 indoor beam P1170378.jpg

Now we start the comparison and the exposure has been set for the HA20 and HC30 to show correctly so the T-360 appears rather dim in comparison.
 photo 17 T-360 indoor beam exposure comparison P1170380.jpg

On the same exposure, the HA20 – there is a very defined hot-spot and a wide smooth spill.
 photo 32 HA20 indoor beam exposure comparison P1170355.jpg

Again on the same exposure, the HC30 shows its power. It has a broad hot-spot and bright spill, but the spill is narrower than the HA20.
 photo 57 HC30 indoor beam exposure comparison P1170351.jpg

For the outdoor beamshots, the T-360 did not have enough power to show, so is not included.
As before the exposure has been fixed to allow the HA20 and HC30 to be directly compared. Starting here with the HA20. The purpose of it hot-spot becomes clear as the lower power of the HA20 needs this to extend the range.
 photo 33 HA20 outdoor beam exposure comparison P1170273.jpg

The HC30, of course, has much more power and this is very clear in this direct comparison.
 photo 56 HC30 outdoor beam exposure comparison P1170270.jpg

Modes and User Interface:

Three different headlamps, and three very different interfaces.

T-360
–Control:
Single click button

–Modes:
High, Mid, Low and Flash/Strobe at 1Hz, 2Hz and 10Hz

–UI:
From OFF, press-and-hold the switch for over 1s to turn ON to Low. Press briefly to cycle through Mid, High, Low etc.
Press-and-hold again for 1s to turn OFF.
From OFF double-click the switch to enter flashing mode at 1Hz. Press briefly to cycle through 2Hz, 10Hz, 1Hz etc.
Press-and-hold for 1s to turn OFF.
There is no memory for constant of flashing modes. Both will always start from Low or 1Hz.

HA20
–Control:
Two-stage switch

–White Modes:
Turbo, High, Mid, Low, Ultra Low and ‘Special Modes’ (Police Warning/Location Beacon/SOS)
(Police Warning is a slow flashing mode at approximately 1Hz)

–Red Modes:
Constant, Flashing and Power Indicator.

–White UI:
From OFF press the switch fully until it clicks to turn ON.
While ON, half-press the switch to cycle through Low, Mid, High, Turbo, Ultra Low etc.
To switch OFF, press the switch fully until it clicks.
While ON, half-press the switch for over 1s to enter Special modes. Half-Press the switch to cycle through Police Warning, Location Beacon, SOS, Police Warning etc
To Exit Special modes and switch OFF, press the switch fully until it clicks.

–Red UI:
From OFF, half-press the switch for over 1s to turn on the Constant Red output.
To swap between constant and flashing Red output, half-press the switch.
To switch OFF, press the switch fully until it clicks.

–Power Indicator:
On first inserting cells into the HA20, the Red LEDs flash to indicate the battery voltage, first whole Volts, then after a pause 0.1V.
From OFF, half-press the switch briefly to indicate power level with one (<10%), two (<50%) or three (>50%) flashes.

HC30
–Control:
Single click button

–White Modes:
Turbo, High, Mid, Low, Lower and ‘Special Modes’ (Strobe/SOS/Location Beacon)
UI: From OFF press the switch to turn directly ON to Lower mode (regardless of the previously used mode).
From OFF, press-and-hold the switch for over 1s to turn ON to ‘Last used constant mode’.
From OFF, press-and-hold the switch for over 2s to turn ON to Turbo.
While ON press the switch briefly to cycle through Lower, Low, Mid, High, Turbo, Lower etc.
To turn OFF press-and-hold the switch for over 1s.
From OFF, double-click the switch to enter Strobe. While ON Strobe, press the switch briefly to cycle through SOS, Location Beacon, Strobe etc. To turn OFF, press-and-hold the switch for over 1s.

Batteries and output:

The T-360 runs on its built-in cell.
The HA20 runs on 2xAA (Alkaline, NiMh or L91).
The HC30 runs on 1×18650 (button top), 2xCR123 or 2xRCR123.

To measure actual output, I built an integrating sphere. See here for more detail. The sensor registers visible light only (so Infra-Red and Ultra-Violet will not be measured).

Please note, all quoted lumen figures are from a DIY integrating sphere, and according to ANSI standards. Although every effort is made to give as accurate a result as possible, they should be taken as an estimate only. The results can be used to compare outputs in this review and others I have published.

___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
Model/Mode using specified cell I.S. measured ANSI output Lumens PWM frequency or Strobe frequency (Hz)
___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
T-360/High – Built-in 62 0
T-360/Medium – Built-in 24 0
T-360/Low – Built-in 2 0
HA20/Turbo – AA Eneloop 342 0
HA20/High – AA Eneloop 202 0
HA20/Medium – AA Eneloop 106 0
HA20/Low – AA Eneloop 39 0
HA20/Ultra Low – AA Eneloop 2 0
HC30/Turbo – 18650 1058 0
HC30/High – 18650 503 0
HC30/Medium – 18650 245 0
HC30/Low – 18650 82 0
HC30/Ultra Low – 18650 2 0

Peak Beam intensity for the T-360 was not measured.
Peak Beam intensity for the HA20 measured 2800 lx @1m giving a beam range of 106 m.
Peak Beam intensity for the HC30 measured 6800 lx @1m giving a beam range of 165 m.

There is parasitic drain in the T-360 but this was not measured due to the built-in cell.
There is parasitic drain in the HA20; the drain was 194uA (1.23 years to drain the cells).
There is parasitic drain in the HC30; the drain was 51.5uA (6.87 years to drain the cell).

All shown on the same graph, the performance of each of these light is very different on maximum output.
The T-360 is very consistent for 30 minutes and then tails off to the point of being no use by 45 minutes.
The HA20 drops from maximum after around 10 minutes, and after stabilising again, remains consistent up to the last part of the run.
The HC30 however, has a strange behaviour which is only really noticeable using measuring equipment. After the initial drop after 5-6 minutes, the output rises, stabilises, then rises again before starting a gradual decline. Having a wide input voltage range from 3V to 8.4V, this will be a consequence of having to manage the quite different cell characteristics. Remember this is the maximum output, so it is testing the limits of the cell as well as the HC30. To the naked eye this behaviour doesn’t stand out.
 photo NITECORE Headlamps HC30 HA20 T360 runtime.jpg

Troubleshooting

This section is included to mention any minor niggles I come across during testing, in case the information helps anyone else.

No issues were encountered during testing.

As per the description of this section, this information is provided in case anyone else finds a similar ‘issue’ that might be fixed in the same way.

The T-360, HA20 and HC30 in use

Do I have a favourite? Yes, but more on that later, as each of these headlamps gives you different benefits and capabilities.
—–
You are probably familiar with the NITECORE TUBE key-chain light. The T-360 is a spin off of this USB rechargeable featherweight light and gives you a featherweight headlamp. As I showed earlier it is so lightweight you can install two (or even three) on the same headband so you have hot-spares ready for when the cell becomes depleted. The T-360 means anyone can EDC a headlamp. Of course it is not just a headlamp as when you take it off the strap it will stand by itself, or can be clipped over a cap peak or pocket edge. Unlike the TUBE, the T-360 does not use any PWM so is superbly good to use on any level.

As shown in the head mounted photo, I have found the T-360 benefits from rotating the body out, so that it sticks out, when you use it. With the full flood beam, if you leave it flat on your forehead, half the light just goes upwards, so by rotating it as shown you can direct this down and make better us of the available light.
—–
Moving up in size and in power to the HA20. AA power is a significant benefit simply due to the ease of getting AA cells; this is not to be underestimated. This also makes it easier to give as a gift. With the HA20 there is a bit of a trade off in providing one of the features. The head has a really good range of adjustment, including upwards; The result of this is that the HA20 has been placed further from the head to provide the space to be able to rotate so far in the mount. With an aluminium body, this creates a slightly front-heavy design making the HA20 feel heavier on the head than it really is. Once you start moving about more it can become noticeable.

Still on the HA20, the two-stage button has proven to be a little difficult to work with. The half-press is somewhat indistinct so you are not entirely sure you have pressed it enough. The full-press is a substantial press needing the button to be pushed well into the switch boot.

Having Red light as an option in the same headlamp is one of the strong points. When I’m out hunting and using red light on the gun-light, the last thing I want is to then switch on a white light, so the pure red light (not filtered) is just what is needed. Just be aware that this is not ‘Star Party’ friendly red light as it is quite bright.
—–
Finally we have the bright and compact HC30. NITECORE have done really well in keeping the size down, and the HC30 is not much bigger than the 18650 it uses. A single 18650 is a great compromise for a headlamp as it typically has the energy of 3-4 AAs but weighs roughly the same as 2xAA(NiMh) cells and is a single cylinder (so more compact). This allows for greater output or longer runtimes from a smaller lighter headlamp. So as long as you are into li-ions (or happy to burn through CR123s), then it makes an ideal choice.

Even though it has only a single-stage button, the interface is very well thought out. With no delay at all you can click onto ‘Lower’, then cycle up to a level you want. Alternatively you can return straight to a previously used level if you are happy to press-and-hold for 1s. You also still have direct access to Turbo with a slightly longer press-and-hold of 2s. But there is more, as if you are into your flashing modes, a double-click brings them to life.

With all the modes available, I couldn’t have asked for more from this single button interface.

Comfort is top notch as the weight is kept close to your head (increasing stability) and the mount doesn’t touch you at all and has no hard/hot-spots.

For my own uses, I would have preferred a more flood orientated beam, but with its mixed use as a right-angle light and a headlamp the beam’s mix of flood and throw is very good.
—–
So could you spot my favourite? The HC30 has it, if I had to pick one.

Which would you pick?

Review Summary

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
T-360 – Featherweight. T-360 – Limited runtime with built-in cell./td>
T-360 – Easy to EDC. T-360 – Press-and-hold to turn on.
T-360 – MicroUSB rechargeable.
T-360 – Can be used as a clip light.
HA20 – Easy AA power. HA20 – Front heavy.
HA20 – White and Red output HA20 – Switch can be tricky to half-press reliably.
HA20 – Wide range of angle adjustment HA20 – Relatively high parasitic drain.
HA20 – Aluminium body for good heat-sinking.
HC30 – 1000lm output. HC30 – Cannot use flat-top cells.
HC30 – Super compact. HC30 – Ultra-Low mode could be lower.
HC30 – Excellent weight distribution.
HC30 – Can be used as a right-angle hand-held light.
HC30 – Direct access to Turbo, Ultra-Low and Strobe modes.
HC30 – Parasitic drain can be stopped by locking-out the tail-cap.

 photo 03 NITECORE headlamps group white P1160491.jpg

 

Discussing the Review:

Please feel free to add comments to the review, but the ideal place to freely discuss these reviews is on a forum. If you started reading the shorter forum version of the review, but followed the link this full exclusive review, please return to that forum to discuss the review there.
If you read the review entirely on Tactical Reviews, please consider one of the following to join in any discussion.

CandlePowerForums – Flashlight Reviews Section (Largest and Friendliest Flashlight Community Forum)

EdgeMatters – Sponsored Reviews (UK based Forum for Knife Makers and Collectors)

Light Review: ACEBEAM H10 Headlamp

The H10 is ACEBEAM’s most powerful Headlamp with an impressive 2000lm burst mode (using an IMR 18650) and uses the high power MT-G2 LED array.

 photo 06 H10 angle P1150631.jpg

Taking a more detailed look:

Presentation is good with the ACEBEAM packaging. The box is sealed with a tamper evident tape.
 photo 01 H10 boxed P1150612.jpg

Inside there is a foam liner holding the contents in place.
 photo 02 H10 box open P1150614.jpg

In the box there is the H10 (with unlabelled 18650 inside it), spare O-rings, pocket clip, headband and mount, plus the instructions.
 photo 03 H10 box contents P1150621.jpg

The headband is fully assembled and opens out like this.
 photo 04 H10 headband P1150625.jpg

The headband mount has two retaining rings that line up with grooves in the body of the H10.
 photo 05 H10 holder P1150627.jpg

Looking at the back of the H10 you can see the shallow heat sink fins on the head, and the domed switch on top.
 photo 07 H10 tall P1150637.jpg

Surrounding the domed switch button is a rotating selector ring.
 photo 08 H10 switch P1150640.jpg

On the battery tube cap, the make, model and serial number are engraved.
 photo 09 H10 tailcap P1150643.jpg

As we will see further on, there is parasitic drain, so for transit (and to prevent accidental activation) as the supplied 18650 is fitted inside the H10, an insulating disc is included to break the circuit and lock-out the H10. You need to discard that white plastic disc to use the H10.
 photo 10 H10 tailcap off P1150644.jpg

Inside the tail-cap the negative terminal is a spring. The top edge of the battery tube makes contact with the gold ring-terminal on the circuit board.
 photo 11 H10 tailcap P1150648.jpg

Peering inside the battery tube there is a simple positive terminal surrounded by a plastic insulator.
 photo 12 H10 inside P1150652.jpg

The threads are almost square, perfectly cut, fully anodised and well lubricated.
 photo 13 H10 threads P1150655.jpg

With a large MT-G2 LED the reflector is relatively small and is textured to further smooth the beam.
 photo 14 H10 reflector P1150660.jpg

Looking straight at the MT-G2 LED.
 photo 15 H10 LED P1150662.jpg

Of course the H10 can be used as a right-angle light, but it is intended as a headlamp. Here it is fitted in the headband mount.
 photo 16 H10 mounted P1150666.jpg

At the back, the top strap fits into the headband adjustment loop to help keep it centred.
 photo 17 H10 strap detail back P1150669.jpg

Though the mount is a soft rubber, the strap is threaded through the mount to keep the elastic strap itself against the user’s head. This provides maximum comfort.
 photo 18 H10 mount detail back P1150673.jpg

Some of the detail in the rubber mount’s moulding.
 photo 19 H10 mount detail front P1150682.jpg

A pocket clip is provided for when the H10 is used out of the headband mount. It clips into either one of the grooves that are used for the headband mount. You cannot leave the clip on and fit it back into the headband mount properly. The clip is stiff to fit and has already marked the anodising.
 photo 20 H10 clip P1150687.jpg

The beam

Please be careful not to judge tint based on images you see on a computer screen. Unless properly calibrated, the screen itself will change the perceived tint.

The indoor beamshot is intended to give an idea of the beam shape/quality rather than tint. All beamshots are taken using daylight white balance. The woodwork (stairs and skirting) are painted Farrow & Ball “Off-White”, and the walls are a light sandy colour called ‘String’ again by Farrow & Ball. I don’t actually have a ‘white wall’ in the house to use for this, and the wife won’t have one!

For most purposes, a headlamp benefits from a flood beam, as it is generally used as task light. The H10, with its large LED and small reflector doesn’t disappoint, with a wide and even flood beam.
 photo 22 H10 indoor beam P1170359.jpg

Moving outdoors, this headlamp does have enough power to give it some range despite the flood beam and the area is evenly lit.
 photo 21 H10 outdoor beam P1170276.jpg

Modes and User Interface:

The H10 has a two-stage domed button switch, and surrounding this a selector ring. The selector ring has four tactile stops for the four normal modes (1000lm, 500lm, 200lm, 30lm).

At any time (either from OFF or from any normal mode) a full press of the button gives you the maximum output 2000 lm Burst mode. When the button is released, the H10 returns to the previous state (either from OFF or any normal mode).

To turn onto a normal mode, half-press the button and hold for 2s. The H10 will then come onto the mode set by the selector ring. The mode can be pre-selected before turning on, or selected once the H10 is on.
To turn OFF, half-press the button and hold for 2s.

Batteries and output:

The runs on a supplied LG18650HE2 20A 2500mAh IMR 18650 cell, but can use any button top 18650 or 2xCR123, both of which will limit the maximum output.

To measure actual output, I built an integrating sphere. See here for more detail. The sensor registers visible light only (so Infra-Red and Ultra-Violet will not be measured).

Please note, all quoted lumen figures are from a DIY integrating sphere, and according to ANSI standards. Although every effort is made to give as accurate a result as possible, they should be taken as an estimate only. The results can be used to compare outputs in this review and others I have published.

___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
ACEBEAM H10 using supplied 20A IMR cell I.S. measured ANSI output Lumens PWM frequency or Strobe frequency (Hz)
___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
Burst 1940 0
High 998 0
Medium 481 0
Low 211 0
Firefly 31 0

Peak Beam intensity measured 6800 lx @1m giving a beam range of 165 m.

There is parasitic drain at and average of approximately 62uA (it varies between 32 and 93uA) which would mean a fully charged 2500mAh cell will take 4.6 years to drain.

Due to the extreme nature of the 2000lm Burst mode and the requirement to keep the button pressed, the runtime was not measured for this output level. Instead the runtime was for the highest constant output level the 1000lm high mode. This 1000lm output is well regulated for as long as the cell can maintain it; a very good performance.
 photo ACEBEAM H10 runtime.jpg

Troubleshooting

This section is included to mention any minor niggles I come across during testing, in case the information helps anyone else.

No issues were encountered during testing.

As per the description of this section, this information is provided in case anyone else finds a similar ‘issue’ that might be fixed in the same way.

The ACEBEAM H10 in use

Two highlights of the H10 are its lovely smooth flood beam and the neutral/warm tint of the MT-G2 LED. These features allow you to focus entirely on the task you are doing and not even think about the headlamp.

A single 18650 makes for a comfortable weight to have head mounted, and thanks to the use of a top-strap as well, you don’t need to have the headband very tight for it to stay securely in place. A top-strap really does improve comfort. With the strap routed through the mount so that it is the strap itself that is against your forehead, again comfort is very good.

What I don’t like are interfaces that make you wait for the light to come on or go off, and unfortunately, the H10 requires a half-press, wait, and 2s later the light comes on (with the same for off). If you fully press the button by mistake you get the full 2000lm burst output, which is not a nice surprise, and you have to try again to get the H10 to come on. For every day use, I’d much prefer the on/off to be controlled by a simple click, and the burst to require a longer hold, but perhaps only 1s before it activates.

With gloves on, or with cold hands, I found the half-press unreliable, or at least my ability to find the half-press position. 2000lm when you wanted 30lm is not good.
Still, that beam is worth the wait when you are not rushing to do anything, and once on and running, the H10 melts away and you just have light.

Depending on how many lights you use, you might also not hit the right mode first time. There are no marks on the selector ring to indicate which mode you have chosen. A few simple marks would make the pre-selection of modes so much easier. If this was your main light you would quickly learn the positions, and there is a stop at each end of the selections, so you can simply turn it all the way one way until it stops, then count the clicks back to the mode you want.

Parasitic drain is acceptable, but with fully anodised threads you can lock-out the H10 easily.

The optional clip can be fitted into either groove on the body to give up or down positioning. Fitting is very stiff and does mark the anodising, so depending on if this bothers you, you may choose to make it a dedicated right-angle light or leave it as a headlamp. Swapping between the two will scratch the H10.

The H10 gives its specified outputs effortlessly including the impressive 2000lm burst mode (as long as you use IMR), and has not had any issues with heat. In normal use and for indoor jobs, I find the 1000 lm output too high so use it on 500lm or below. When outdoors I have ramped up to the 1000 lm mode but the added airflow seems to cope with the extra heat easily.

The lowest mode is named ‘firefly’…I would not want to meet the firefly that provides 31 lm! that 31 lm output with the flood beam is a great mode, and one I use a lot, but I’d prefer it if there was a 1lm or lower mode as a true firefly level.

Review Summary

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
2000 lm Burst mode. Half-Press-and-Hold for 2s to turn on and off.
Smooth flood beam. ‘Firefly’ mode a bit bright at 31 lm.
Secure and comfortable to wear. Mode selector ring has no markings.
Well regulated output. Pocket clip scratches the anodising.
Nice tint from the MT-G2 LED. Needs IMR for best performance.
20A IMR cell supplied.
Well spaced modes.

See ACEBEAM’s Website for more of the manufacturer’s specifications

 

Discussing the Review:

Please feel free to add comments to the review, but the ideal place to freely discuss these reviews is on a forum. If you started reading the shorter forum version of the review, but followed the link this full exclusive review, please return to that forum to discuss the review there.
If you read the review entirely on Tactical Reviews, please consider one of the following to join in any discussion.

CandlePowerForums – Flashlight Reviews Section (Largest and Friendliest Flashlight Community Forum)

EdgeMatters – Sponsored Reviews (UK based Forum for Knife Makers and Collectors)

Light Review: FOURSEVENS Knight and Paladin

First revealed at SHOT Show 2015, FOURSEVENS have collaborated with PK (Paul Kim aka the Photon King) to produce these two exciting, fun and altogether usable lights – The Knight and Paladin. These are effectively the same light but the Knight is an Aluminium version and the Paladin is Titanium.

 photo 27 KnightPaladin plain P1170178.jpg

Taking a more detailed look:

FOURSEVENS’ packaging is ideal for showing off the design. Available separately are two versions of the strike bezel (a red one is shown here).
 photo 01 KnightPaladin Boxed P1170036.jpg

In the box you find the light itself, a spare O-ring, a CR123 cell and the front bezel ring which comes separately and not fitted to the light.
 photo 02 KnightPaladin unBoxed P1170053.jpg

So as it comes out of the package, the front bezel threads are exposed. Here the beautiful blue tones of the Paladin’s PVD finish can be seen clearly.
 photo 03 KnightPaladin bezel thread P1170058.jpg

While we are looking at the front, both these lights use a curious lens holder where the edges of the lens are exposed in three places. Once the bezel ring is in place this becomes less noticeable. Also note the small notches through the bezel threads; these allow the pocket clip to be fitted to the front of the light and held in place by the bezel ring.
 photo 04 KnightPaladin lens edge P1170060.jpg

Fitting the bezel ring completes the initial assembly.
 photo 05 KnightPaladin P angle P1170065.jpg

The same goes for the Knight.
 photo 06 KnightPaladin K angle bezel P1170071.jpg

Being all black, the bezel ring blends in more on the Knight.
 photo 07 KnightPaladin K angle P1170079.jpg

The positive and negative terminals in the head are gold plated. Despite the bare threads, these are not used as an electrical path. Physical reverse polarity protection is also included.
 photo 08 KnightPaladin K head P1170083.jpg

The threads are square cut and of a asymmetrical design with the grooves being much wider. This introduces ‘backlash’ into the threads and I suspect this relates to the special tailcap switch, but more on that later…
 photo 09 KnightPaladin K thread P1170086.jpg

A gold plated spring is used for the negative contact.
 photo 10 KnightPaladin K inside P1170087.jpg

Part of the design of the Knight and Paladin is that the light breaks down into several parts which can be swapped around in a Lego-like way to achieve different configurations.
 photo 11 KnightPaladin K apart P1170094.jpg

Swapping the bezel ring and the strike bezel components around creates a very different looking light!
 photo 12 KnightPaladin K crown P1170101.jpg

For the Paladin, the internals are the same in the head.
 photo 13 KnightPaladin P head P1170106.jpg

And when looking into the battery tube.
 photo 14 KnightPaladin P inside P1170111.jpg

As on the Knight, the threads are square and thin in profile.
 photo 15 KnightPaladin P thread P1170115.jpg

Taking the Paladin apart.
 photo 16 KnightPaladin P apart P1170118.jpg

Swapping the bezel ring and the strike bezel components and the Paladin too becomes a very different looking light!
 photo 17 KnightPaladin P crown P1170123.jpg

A couple of the options (not showing the clip fitted to the bezel), with the strike bezel on the front and along the battery tube, as well as the optional red strike bezel substituting the original black one on the Knight.
 photo 18 KnightPaladin configurations P1170134.jpg

Every part of these lights has had a great deal of attention paid to it. A special Tact-O-Click switch is used (more on that in the UI section).
 photo 19 KnightPaladin P Switch P1170138.jpg

The Paladin especially, deserves to be viewed from every angle to take in all the details.
 photo 23 KnightPaladin P reverse P1170154.jpg

A mid-depth reflector is used.
 photo 24 KnightPaladin P reflector P1170164.jpg

The reflector is the same on both models.
 photo 25 KnightPaladin K reflector P1170167.jpg

With an XM-L2 LED for the emitter.
 photo 25 KnightPaladin P LED P1170172.jpg

And the same again for the Knight.
 photo 26 KnightPaladin K LED P1170176.jpg

Though not the smallest of 1 x CR123 lights (with FOURSEVENS own Mini ML and Atom AL lights being smaller), but they are compact enough to be very easy to carry.
 photo 28 KnightPaladin size P1170190.jpg

The beam

Please be careful not to judge tint based on images you see on a computer screen. Unless properly calibrated, the screen itself will change the perceived tint.

The indoor beamshot is intended to give an idea of the beam shape/quality rather than tint. All beamshots are taken using daylight white balance. The woodwork (stairs and skirting) are painted Farrow & Ball “Off-White”, and the walls are a light sandy colour called ‘String’ again by Farrow & Ball. I don’t actually have a ‘white wall’ in the house to use for this, and the wife won’t have one!

With the Knight’s mid-depth reflector a well defined hotspot is present, but the spill is bright, wide and even until you reach the outer spill, where the lens holder cut-outs become visible.
 photo 30 KnightPaladin K indoor plain P1170343.jpg

Unsurprisingly the Paladin’s beam is the same.
 photo 33 KnightPaladin P indoor plain P1170338.jpg

If you fit the strike bezel to the front, the effect on the beam is just a little noticeable.
 photo 31 KnightPaladin K indoor crown P1170347.jpg

Outdoors (with the Knight) that hotspot gives you some reasonable range, and the bright spill fills in the rest well enough.
 photo 32 KnightPaladin K outdoor P1170267.jpg

Snap! the Paladin’s beam looks the same outdoors.
 photo 34 KnightPaladin P outdoor P1170264.jpg

Modes and User Interface:

A special TACT-O-CLICK switch is used for these lights. It combines a rotary and momentary click-switch into one design. The threads used for the switch have approximately 0.5-1mm play in them, and under this switch cap there is a momentary click switch.
 photo 20 KnightPaladin K Switch P1170143.jpg

If you tighten the switch cap it presses on the switch and turns the light on and keeps it on.
 photo 21 KnightPaladin K SwitchON P1170185.jpg

If you loosen the switch cap about 1/4 of a turn the light will go off, but there is sufficient movement in the switch cap that you can press on it and click the switch to turn the light on. Like this it operates as a non-latching momentary click switch.
Should you click the light on and wish to keep it on, you can then simply keep pressure on the switch and tighten the switch cap.
When loosening the switch cap, at slightly under one full turn, you reach a ‘stop’ where the switch cap is ‘tight’ against that stop. Like this the light is locked out, and pressure on the switch cap will not operate it.
 photo 22 KnightPaladin K SwitchOFF P1170182.jpg

You have two sets of modes available, Regular and Special. The last used mode is remembered if the light is left off for 1s.
Regular: High – Low
Special: Strobe – Medium – SOS – Beacon (High) – Beacon (Low)
To access the special modes you must first cycle through the Regular modes three times within 1.5 seconds
(Last used Regular or Special) – Low/High – High/Low – Low/High – High/Low – Low/High – Strobe – SOS – Medium – Beacon (High) – Beacon (Low) – (back to Low)

If your last used mode was a Special mode, then it counts as a regular mode when you count the clicks to access the special modes (the same number of clicks is used to access each special mode whatever mode was last used).

From OFF this becomes:

Strobe – 6 clicks
SOS – 7 clicks
Medium – 8 clicks
Beacon (High) – 9 clicks
Beacon (Low) – 10 clicks

Batteries and output:

Both the Knight and Paladin run on CR123 and RCR123.

To measure actual output, I built an integrating sphere. See here for more detail. The sensor registers visible light only (so Infra-Red and Ultra-Violet will not be measured).

Please note, all quoted lumen figures are from a DIY integrating sphere, and according to ANSI standards. Although every effort is made to give as accurate a result as possible, they should be taken as an estimate only. The results can be used to compare outputs in this review and others I have published.

___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
Knight/Paladin using specified cell I.S. measured ANSI output Lumens PWM frequency or Strobe frequency (Hz)
___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
Knight – High – CR123 449 0
Knight – Low – CR123 22 0
Knight – High – AW RCR123 585 0
Knight – Low – AW RCR123 22 0
Paladin – High – CR123 443 0
Paladin – Low – CR123 26 0
Paladin – High – AW RCR123 582 0
Paladin – Low – AW RCR123 26 0

* Beacon and Strobe output measurements are only estimates as the brief flashes make it difficult to capture the actual output value.

Peak Beam intensity of the Knight measured 3800 lx @1m giving a beam range of 123 m.
Peak Beam intensity of the Paladin measured 3600 lx @1m giving a beam range of 120 m.

There is no parasitic drain.

The main part of the runtime is almost identical for both lights and both CR123 and RCR123. RCR123 give a higher ‘burst’ part of the output (the initial 3 minutes of higher output). When using RCR123, these lights do not change their voltage response for the tailing off of the output; the result is that when using RCR123 the output will suddenly cut out when the protection activates.
 photo FourSevens Knight Paladin Runtime.jpg

Troubleshooting

This section is included to mention any minor niggles I come across during testing, in case the information helps anyone else.

No issues were encountered during testing.

As per the description of this section, this information is provided in case anyone else finds a similar ‘issue’ that might be fixed in the same way.

The Knight and Paladin in use

Nothing in the design of these lights has just ‘happened’, everything is designed for function or aesthetics.

Take the pocket clip for example. It is a double-action clip so will clip on in either direction without being turned around. Each ‘side’ of the clip will accommodate thicker or thinner material (thicker next to the body and thinner on the outer part). The two points sticking out sideways either side of the clip provide grip on the pocket and also grip for the user when unscrewing the battery tube. The groove cut into each end of the clip allows a lanyard to be threaded through. Finally inside the clip ring which fits over the body of the light are two tabs which fit into corresponding notches on the body or bezel to prevent it rotating. Details.
 photo 23 KnightPaladin P reverse P1170154.jpg

Also highly functional is the TACT-O-CLICK switch. Once you have got used to the ideal positions for the switch cap to click (1/4 turn undone from the fully ON position) or lockout (3/4 turn from fully ON), and swapping between these (so from lock-out to click is a half turn), the UI comes to life and the click or twist of the switch cap just fits the task at hand.

Personally I find the strike bezel to be more of a decorative item than anything practical, due to the length of the crenellations (not to mention the short overall length of the light). They are too long to be strong enough on the aluminium versions, and even the stainless steel strike bezel will bend if used with any real force (as you would if defending yourself). They are also too long to leave fitted all the time as they just stick into things. So are you really going to take the light apart to swap the bezel ring for the strike bezel ‘if’ you feel threatened? Not likely. BUT, who cares?! They Look great! (And you have an executive toy to play with.)

Ignoring the Special modes, the two Regular modes have covered what I need almost entirely. Those two light levels of 25lm and 450lm, though seemingly a long way apart, work perfectly with the beam profile. For my indoor, round-the-house use, the 22lm setting is ideal, especially as it is backed up by the 450lm. Using the Tact-O-Click switch in the momentary press-and-hold approach, with the two modes you can quickly bump it up or down depending on the distance you are looking at. I’ve not personally ever felt the need for the Medium mode (or Strobe or SOS), but have dipped into the Beacon modes for marking a location. What would improve it for me is adding a moonlight mode into the Special modes.

The timing for the mode changes works really well and I’ve not changed mode by mistake so far. Speaking of the Tact-O-Click switch again, the ability to lock the output on while you are using it as a momentary switch, is useful and can be achieved one handed. Also, by simply backing the switch cap off a bit you lock out the light means the lockout is a specific feature of the light and doesn’t require loosening any other parts. Like this, when you come to turn it on, you just twist it on as normal without having to remember to tighten the tailcap first.

A true fusion of function and aesthetics, even if not every feature is entirely practical.

Review Summary

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Tact-O-Click switch (twist/click interface combined). Strike Bezel too long.
Can use CR123 or RCR123 Activates protection circuit when using RCR123.
Excellent all-rounder beam profile. No Moon mode.
Mode-change timing works very well. Strike Bezel strongly affects the beam shape.
Well chosen ‘Regular’ Modes.
Lego-like changes in a single light.

 

Discussing the Review:

Please feel free to add comments to the review, but the ideal place to freely discuss these reviews is on a forum. If you started reading the shorter forum version of the review, but followed the link this full exclusive review, please return to that forum to discuss the review there.
If you read the review entirely on Tactical Reviews, please consider one of the following to join in any discussion.

CandlePowerForums – Flashlight Reviews Section (Largest and Friendliest Flashlight Community Forum)

EdgeMatters – Sponsored Reviews (UK based Forum for Knife Makers and Collectors)

Light Review: FOURSEVENS Bolt-Mini

Following on from the uncompromising design of the original Bolt-Action BLR2 from FOURSEVENS (check the Light Reviews Index for a review of this light), there has been demand for a smaller version running on a common cell. Enter the new AAA powered Bolt-Mini from Foursevens.

 photo 04-BoltMini angle2 P1160890.jpg

FOURSEVENS’ original Bolt-Action light is the product of a three-way collaboration; FOURSEVENS partnering with Fellhoelter (designers of the Bolt-Action pen) and Tuff-Writer. Incorporating the unique bolt-action mechanism into a light required thinking out-of-the-box. Consideration of the overall size, performance and power options, all led to the final specifications of the BLR2 Bolt-Action flashlight, but some of those choices were criticised.

With the new Bolt-Mini, we have a much more pen-sized Bolt-Action light more in keeping with the Bolt-Action Pen.

Taking a more detailed look:

FOURSEVENS’ packaging shows off the light nicely.
 photo 01-BoltMini boxed P1160873.jpg

As well as the Bolt-Mini, two spare O-rings, an Alkaline AAA and the instructions are included.
 photo 02-BoltMini unboxed P1160883.jpg

A very sleek looking light.
 photo 03-BoltMini angle P1160886.jpg

Our first real look at the bolt, as well as the side view of the pocket clip. If you look closely you can see that the top of the pocket clip isn’t quite sitting in the cut out where it is screwed onto the body. This doesn’t affect the function, though it will have increased the clip tension slightly.
 photo 06-BoltMini reverse angle P1160894.jpg

The stainless steel clip is held in place with two screws and has ‘Fellhoelter’ inscribed on it.
 photo 07-BoltMini clip P1160897.jpg

A much closer look at the bolt in the OFF position.
 photo 08-BoltMini bolt off P1160904.jpg

And in the ON position.
 photo 09-BoltMini bolt on P1160907.jpg

To open the Bolt-Mini, the head unscrews.
 photo 12-BoltMini head off P1160920.jpg

It has square cut threads.
 photo 13-BoltMini threads P1160923.jpg

Peering inside you can see the spring terminal for the negative contact.
 photo 14-BoltMini inside P1160924.jpg

Even in this compact light, an XP-L is used with a compact reflector.
 photo 17-BoltMini reflector P1160937.jpg

Looking straight at the XP-L LED.
 photo 18-BoltMini LED P1160942.jpg

Showing the disassembled Bolt-Mini with its AAA cell.
 photo 15-BoltMini apart P1160929.jpg

Comparing the Bolt-Mini to the original Bolt-Action you can see it is much slimmer.
 photo 10-BoltMini bolts P1160911.jpg

Using the AAA cell makes it a much more pocketable pen-light.
 photo 11-BoltMini bolts2 P1160913.jpg

Another comparison with each Bolt-Light’s power source shown as well.
 photo 16-BoltMini bolts with cells P1160932.jpg

The beam

Please be careful not to judge tint based on images you see on a computer screen. Unless properly calibrated, the screen itself will change the perceived tint.

The indoor beamshot is intended to give an idea of the beam shape/quality rather than tint. All beamshots are taken using daylight white balance. The woodwork (stairs and skirting) are painted Farrow & Ball “Off-White”, and the walls are a light sandy colour called ‘String’ again by Farrow & Ball. I don’t actually have a ‘white wall’ in the house to use for this, and the wife won’t have one!

The small reflector and large LED make for a lovely broad beam great for all close range and indoor use. An outdoor beamshot is not shown as the floody beam was too diffuse to show properly.
 photo 19-BoltMini indoor beam P1170367.jpg

Modes and User Interface:

So it is all about this – the Bolt
 photo 08-BoltMini bolt off P1160904.jpg

Operation is simple. Slide the bolt forward and near the end of the travel the light comes on. Quickly releasing and sliding the bolt changes mode, and once you have the output you want, you simply rotate the bolt to lock it on.
 photo 09-BoltMini bolt on P1160907.jpg

Flicking the spring loaded handle sideways knocks it out of the locked position and turns it off.

The Bolt-Mini has 5 configurations with different sets of modes.
Configuration 1: High (factory default)
Configuration 2: ‘Previous’ – High – Low
Configuration 3: ‘Previous’ – High – Strobe
Configuration 4: ‘Previous’ – Low – Medium – High – Strobe
Configuration 5: ‘Previous’ – Low – Medium – High – Strobe – SOS – Beacon (High) – Beacon (Low)

In normal operation (starting from OFF), the Bolt-Mini (if left off for 5-6s) will come onto the ‘Previous’ or last-used mode, then, if cycling through the modes, it will start at the first mode in the configuration mode set.
– ‘Previous’ can be any mode.
– ‘Previous’ only occurs once the first time when cycling rapidly through these modes.
– If the ‘Previous’ mode is the first mode in the current mode set, it will not be repeated. For example if you last used Low in configuration 5, when you turn it on you will get Low, then Medium (not Low then Low).

So, from off, this means on repeated switching of the Bolt in Configuration 5 you get:
‘Previous’ – Low – Medium – High – Strobe – SOS – Beacon (High) – Beacon (Low) – Low – Medium – High – Strobe – SOS – Beacon (High) – Beacon (Low) etc

Once you have the desired mode, simply hold and rotate the bolt to lock it in that mode.

Changing configuration:
To change the configuration you need to turn the light ON and OFF 10 times within 2s. On the 10th activation hold the bolt in the ON position without locking it in place. The Bolt-Mini will flash between 1 and 5 times to indicate the current configuration. Quickly turn the light OFF and ON again to change to the next configuration and repeat until you have the one you want. Turn the light OFF for 5s to confirm the setting.

Batteries and output:

The Bolt-Mini runs on one AAA Alkaline or NiMh.

To measure actual output, I built an integrating sphere. See here for more detail. The sensor registers visible light only (so Infra-Red and Ultra-Violet will not be measured).

Please note, all quoted lumen figures are from a DIY integrating sphere, and according to ANSI standards. Although every effort is made to give as accurate a result as possible, they should be taken as an estimate only. The results can be used to compare outputs in this review and others I have published.

___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
Bolt-Mini using AAA Eneloop I.S. measured ANSI output Lumens PWM frequency or Strobe frequency (Hz)
___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
High 142 950
Medium 68 950
Low 7 950
Strobe Not Measured 8
Beacon High Not Measured 0.07
Beacon Low Not Measured 0.07

* Beacon and Strobe output measurements are only estimates as the brief flashes make it difficult to capture the actual output value.

Peak Beam intensity measured 200 lx @1m giving a beam range of 28 m.

As I’m also testing the Preon P1 and P2, I’ve put all three output traces together to allow the AAA lights to be compared. Like the P1, the Bolt-Mini runs on only a single AAA. You can clearly see the ‘Burst’ mode operating, with the initial part of the trace being at 100% output, and then dropping to around 70% after 3 minutes.
 photo Foursevens Bolt mini Preon P1 P2 runtime.jpg

Troubleshooting

This section is included to mention any minor niggles I come across during testing, in case the information helps anyone else.

No issues were encountered during testing.

As per the description of this section, this information is provided in case anyone else finds a similar ‘issue’ that might be fixed in the same way.

The Bolt-Mini in use

When I first heard about the Bolt-Action light I was very sceptical. What was the point? Well actually it is very usable. The bolt-action makes for a great momentary interface and locking on or off is extremely intuitive.

The original Bolt-Action is more powerful and the bolt has an easier action, but it is bigger than a pen, so becomes more noticeable to EDC. Still a great light though (and remember I found it would run on a 14500 as well as the officially supported 2xCR2). However, the Bolt-Mini takes this design into a new league altogether as it now sits in a pocket and alongside pens without standing out.

Unfortunately the action feels quite a bit stiffer and the smaller ball on the lever can dig in a bit on repeated use, making it less comfortable to use than its bigger brother, but you forgive that for the smaller size and with it being much easier to feed with a normal AAA.

Having to wait around 6s from turning it off to turning it back on again if you want to avoid mode changes is a little frustrating. I’d prefer that a much more rapid on/off cycle was needed to change mode.

The ‘Previous’ mode memory is useful, as is the fact that the next mode will then be the first of the current configuration’s mode set. With the interface working in this way, I have chosen configuration 5 (with the most modes), as in general use I never have to cycle through the flashing modes unless I want to use them.

So, some might say that this is a very large single AAA light, and compared to most 1xAAA lights it is much longer. But, and this is an important ‘but’, this is a pen sized EDC light with a unique and satisfying ‘bolt’ interface,… and it happens to use a single AAA for power. Don’t think of it in a simple direct comparison to other single AAA lights, but instead for its distinctive character.

With FOURSEVENS usually not using PWM, I was a little disappointed to find it was utilised in the Low, Medium and High modes, and at 950Hz is on the edge of being noticed. I have high sensitivity to PWM and have found that 1000Hz is the point where the effects start to become less and less noticeable. It means that most of the time I don’t see any effects, but occasionally do. Any effects are most noticeable in Low (as the width of the PWM peaks is the narrowest), much less in Medium and pretty much gone in High.

Generally I don’t like pocket clips as they can be very abrasive and destructive. On the Bolt-Mini, the clip is a polished finish and the tube it sits against is smooth, so it slides on and off a pocket lip nicely. There is plenty of tension in the clip to keep it secure, but as seen early in the review, the pocket clip isn’t quite sitting in the cut-out where it is screwed to the body and this has increased the clip tension. If the clip were sitting flat as it should, the tension will be slightly less.

Another advantage to the bolt-action switch is that you can operate it completely silently. Having previously selected Low, you have a silent operation light to keep by your bed. The Low mode isn’t a moon mode, but again, thanks to the design, you can turn the Bolt-Mini on with the head tucked into your hand or wrist and control how much light can be seen.

The original Bolt-Action light is an interesting concept, if perhaps targeted more at the enthusiast (needing specialist cells), but the Bolt-Mini opens this concept to all. The smaller size is much easier to carry and taking the humble AAA makes it easy to feed. FOURSEVENS have listened to their customers and made the bolt-action design accessible to all.

Review Summary

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Bolt-Action switch interface. The Switch action is stiffer than the original Bolt-Action light.
User selectable configuration. Pocket clip isn’t fitted properly.
Excellent close range beam. Occasionally noticeable PWM.
XP-L LED.
AAA power.

 

Discussing the Review:

Please feel free to add comments to the review, but the ideal place to freely discuss these reviews is on a forum. If you started reading the shorter forum version of the review, but followed the link this full exclusive review, please return to that forum to discuss the review there.
If you read the review entirely on Tactical Reviews, please consider one of the following to join in any discussion.

CandlePowerForums – Flashlight Reviews Section (Largest and Friendliest Flashlight Community Forum)

EdgeMatters – Sponsored Reviews (UK based Forum for Knife Makers and Collectors)

 photo 05-BoltMini angle3 P1160893.jpg