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Thread: SureFire M6 rechargeable options – SHOOTOUT (Part 1)

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    Default SureFire M6 rechargeable options – SHOOTOUT (Part 1)

    SureFire M6 rechargeable options – SHOOTOUT

    At long last, I have managed to get around to doing a series of shots of some of the various possible M6 rechargeable options. I have been planning to do this for a while, but something always seemed to get in the way.

    Just getting all the gear together took some time.






    Bulb options

    The bulbs/LAs can be split into 2 groups: those that work with two Li-Ion cells in series (2s) and those that work with three Li-Ion cells in series (3s).

    2s Li-Ions:
    · MN15
    · MN16
    · MN20
    · MN21
    · Osram 64250
    · WA 1111
    · Philips 5761

    3s Li-Ions:
    · MN61
    · HO-M6R
    · WA 1185

    The MNxx bulbs:




    The 64250, 1111, 1185 and 5761 bulbs require a Fivemega MN bi-pin socket for the M6.
    3 bi-pin bulbs in FM holders are shown here, together with the Lumens Factory HO-M6R:



    Below is a closer look at the bi-pin bulbs. The physical size of the glass envelope is important, as it determines whether or not the bulbs will actually fit through the reflector hole in the KT4 turbohead. The WA bulbs are small and compact, whereas the Philips and Osram bulbs are much larger. My 5761 did fit OK, but the Osram 64250 did not fit, so it could not be tested (I tried 3 of them, but they were all the same). With 5761 bulbs, there have been reports of variations in bulb sizes between one batch and another, so some may fit and some may not. The same may be true for 64250s.


    Those filaments are interesting too. If you compare the WA1111 and WA1185, you can immediately tell which is the higher-voltage 1185 – the filament coil is longer. The 64250 and 1111 filaments are almost exactly the same size and configuration, indicating very similar performance. The 5761 filament is a larger-diameter coil of thicker-gauge wire, and you can tell just by looking at it that it is going to absorb a lot more current than the others.


    Battery options

    The stock battery configuration for the M6 is 3s2p (3 series, 2 parallel) CR123A primary cells in the MB20 holder.
    Rechargeable battery options available are as follows:

    2s Li-Ion cell packs:
    · 2s 18650 (mdocod’s 2x18650 holder)
    · 2s2p 14670 (Fivemega black (7.4V) 4x14670 holder + plastic insulator cap needed)
    · 2s ‘C’ Li-Ions (with Fivemega 2C extender)

    2s2p 14670 and 2s 18650 should in theory perform identically, having the same capacity, although the 2s 18650 will be a cheaper and better option. 2s ‘C’ gives increased capacity. However there is the disadvantage of the 2C extender lengthening the light by ~17 mm. The 5761 (and the MN21 Li-Ion option) should be used only with 2x ‘C’, as the current draw at ~5A is too much for 2s 18650 except in short bursts.

    However, the increased discharge loads possible with Lithium Manganese (Emoli) cells, available in 18650 size, present a workable solution for M6 owners who want to use the 5761 and are not worried about short run-times.

    3s Li-Ion cell packs:
    · 3s2p RCR123 (in the SF stock MB20 holder)
    · 3s 17670 (Fivemega 3x17670 holder)

    The 3s 17670 set-up will out-perform the 3s2p RCR123s.

    Here are the battery packs:



    Please note in the above pic: there is a home-made plastic cap (made by me) that fits over the +ve end of the 4x14670 holder. This is needed to prevent the +ve terminal shorting on the M6 body. It can be seen that the 3x17670 holder already has an insulating disc fitted.

    The Fivemega 2C extender comes with a plastic sleeve to take the 2x ‘C’ Li-Ion cells, pictured above. Here is a photo of an M6 body fitted with the Fivemega 2C extender, next to a stock M6 body:




    One problem with comparison shots is trying to make sure the lights are all pointing at exactly the same spot in each successive photo. I decided I needed a solid cradle, similar in concept to a shooter’s bench-rest, to hold the lights.

    Mrs DM51 very kindly made an involuntary donation of a redundant chopping board for this purpose. When I realised the tremendous scientific (non-culinary) potential of this chopping board, I pointed out to her at some length that it had lethally unhygienic cracks in it, suggesting that from now on she should instead use one of her other boards, as they looked very much less conducive to salmonella, botulism, or other alarming and gruesome gastro-intestinal afflictions. Anyway, she has not said anything so far about the board going missing, and with a bit of luck she won’t notice.

    I glued a 45° wedge to it, and a right-angle join from a box to that, to act as a channel to lay the lights in. This is the result:



    Anchored firmly in place, it ensures each light points at the same spot.


    Location

    Adamlau did an excellent series of shots in an urban setting, so I chose a rural one.




    The target here is the large integrating tree on the right in the main photo. As marked on the photo, it is 135 yards (400 feet) from the “firing point”. That is a good distance away, and it takes a powerful light to throw that far to any useful effect.




    BEAMSHOTS

    First, here are pics of the MNxx bulbs that were tested. These are small versions of the photos, for ease of comparison side by side. Larger copies (600 x 460 pixels) can be found in post #2 – they may be useful for making “gif” rotating shots.

    On the left in each case the bulb is running on primaries, and on the right you see the same bulb running on Li-Ions.

    MN15


    MN20


    MN16


    MN61


    MN21



    In each case above, the primaries were 3s2p in the stock MB20 holder, with the exception of the MN61, which was running on 4s in a 2x18650-size Leef body. The rechargeable configurations were as shown.

    Note that the MN16 seems brighter than the MN61 – this should not be the case. It is mostly because the MN16 is designed to run of 3 primaries, not 3s2p. With 2 banks of CR123As, there is far less voltage sag, so the MN16 is being overdriven. I also have to confess that the 4 cells used for the shot of the MN61 may not have been quite as fresh as the ones in the M6 bodies. That MN61 on primaries is the 1 shot in this series which is possibly suspect. All I can say is that it looked pretty bright; but the MN16 was brighter. See how the MN61 performed on Li-Ions, though!

    Now it gets more interesting, as we add in some other bulbs. Time to settle a few scores!
    Here are a few pairs that make interesting comparisons:

    HO-M6R vs. MN20 (primaries)



    HO-M6R vs. MN16 (2x 18650)



    HO-M6R vs. MN21 (primaries)



    MN21 (primaries) vs. WA 1111



    MN21 (primaries) vs. MN61 (3x Li-Ions)



    MN21 (2x ‘C’ Li-Ions) vs. 5761 (2x ‘C’ Li-Ions)



    WA 1111 vs. WA 1185



    5761 vs. WA 1185



    Before finishing with the beamshots, I would stress again that the target is a very large tree, about 80 feet high, and it is a fair distance away – 135 yards, or 400 feet! All the photos above are with the camera on ~2x zoom. Just to illustrate this, here is what the WA 1185 beam actually looked like without the zoom:




    Comments

    You may already have formed your own conclusions from the photos above. Below are some of my thoughts.

    The first thing that must be realised is that the high-output (HOLA) Surefire MN-series bulbs used with Li-Ion batteries will suffer a reduced life.

    As you can see from the comparison shots above of the MN16, MN61 and MN21, they are much brighter when running on Li-Ions than they are on primaries.

    This is nice, but unfortunately it comes at a cost, which is a shorter bulb life. The greater the increase in brightness, the more drastic the effect on bulb life. The MN15 and MN20 will probably do OK as they aren’t driven so hard, but those 3 HOLAs are not going to last very long at all. The cost of running your M6R on Li-Ions with Surefire HOLAs at around $30 a pop may end up being as expensive as feeding it with primaries. Sorry guys, but there’s no way round that one.

    The lifetime of bi-pin bulbs is better documented. When over-driven, as here, these bulbs will have a lifespan in the region of ~10 hours, but they are a lot cheaper - $9 for a WA1111, and only $5 for a WA1185. And a mere $3 for a 64250 - if you can find one that fits!

    Star ratings given below for practicality are awarded for various reasons, the principal one being anticipated bulb life.


    Bulb performance and ratings

    The MN15 confirmed its value and utility. It draws an economical 1.15 amps. I have been using it quite a lot, but until now I had not done a comparison at distance, and it is at distance that quality shows up. You only have to look at the photos above to see how well it performed. As can be seen here, and contrary to reports made elsewhere, it works well on 2x Li-Ions. Either way, with primaries or rechargeables, the MN15 is a very good option for anyone requiring a working light with long run-time. It only gets 1 star here for output, but that tree is a long way off, and the standard in this shootout is very high indeed. There can be no doubt that this is an extremely useful bulb.
    Output………….. đ
    Run-time……….. đđđđđ
    Practicality……. đđđđ
    Overall…………...


    The MN20 is a fine all-round bulb, drawing 2.45 amps. It is a good general purpose bulb for the M6 for both primaries and Li-Ions. With this bulb, you have enough light for almost all uses.
    Output………….. đđ
    Run-time…….…. đđđđ
    Practicality……. đđđ
    Overall…………...


    The MN16 gives a startlingly better performance than the MN20, beating it on output. It draws 2.6 amps, so it can be expected to be brighter, and it is. However, it is clearly over-driven on 2x Li-Ions, and its life will suffer severely.
    Output………….. đđđ
    Run-time……….. đđđđ
    Practicality……. đđ
    Overall…………...


    The MN21 is an amazing bulb, but unless you have an endless supply of CR123A primaries, it really isn’t very practical. It draws 4.9 amps. People probably fire it up from time to time to amaze their friends, but even for that purpose there are more impressive options. Using it with the FM extension and 2x ‘C’ Li-Ions was spectacular. However this is over-driving it hard, and bulb life is likely to be very short. From cold, I found it required double or triple-clicking to start it. For all these reasons I do not consider it a practical option.
    Output………….. đđđđđ
    Run-time……….. đđ
    Practicality……. đ
    Overall…………...


    The Philips 5761, like the MN21, is a high-current bulb, drawing 5.4 amps. It needs the FM 2C extension, as it should not be used with smaller Li-Ion cells than ‘C’ size. There are reports of some batches of 5761s being too large to fit through the KT4 reflector hole; certainly, it is a close fit. The filament sits up higher than the WA lamps, so ~1mm of shims are required on the base of the bi-pin holder. As if all that wasn’t enough, it needs several clicks to start. Unless you intend to use LiMn (Emoli) cells in a 2x18650 holder and you don’t mind extremely short run-times, it is not worth considering this bulb for the M6 (in my opinion, anyway).
    Output………….. đđđđđ
    Run-time……….. đđ
    Practicality……. đ
    Overall…………...


    The MN61 is dazzling. On 3x Li-Ions it outperforms the MN21 on primaries. However, it is seriously over-driven in this configuration (3 amps measured) and there have been several reports of it instaflashing. Even where this does not happen, bulb life is going to be short and consequently expensive. Sadly, it does not seem to be a very realistic or reliable option. On output it is really 4˝ stars, above 4 but not up to 5.
    Output………….. đđđđđ
    Run-time……….. đđđ
    Practicality……. đ
    Overall…………...


    The WA 1111 is a great bulb. With 2x Li-Ions I measured it drawing 3.6 amps. Its output is very similar to the MN21 on primaries, as I have shown in another thread, and it uses less (and free) power. It is a very good option indeed, with useful run-time on 2x18650. It is no surprise how good this is. It is a very fine combination for the M6.
    Output………….. đđđđ
    Run-time….……. đđđđ
    Practicality……. đđđđ
    Overall…………...


    Some people are lucky enough to have an Osram 64250 that will fit into a KT4; however mine did not. I would expect it to perform almost identically to the WA 1111 (cheaper, too – it is $3 instead of $9). If you are really skilled at grinding glass down with a dremel, you might be able to shave the sides of these bulbs down just enough to fit, and then you will be in business!


    The Lumens Factory HO-M6R was the best surprise of this shootout. It draws 2.1 amps from 3x Li-Ions – that is Lumens Factory’s own figure, and it proved accurate on measurement. This means it can be used safely with 3s2p RCR123 Li-Ions in the stock MB20 holder; however it will perform better with 3x17670s. The HO-M6R has always been described as being “somewhere between the MN20 and MN21 in output”. Well, we can now officially scratch that description as inadequate. It stomped the MN20, and it gave the MN21 a very good run for its money. It was a far closer thing than I thought it would be. It has a tighter beam, and I think it actually out-throws the MN21. Throw is a feature of Lumens Factory bulbs, and this is a superb thrower. I knew it was good, but it took this comparison to show just how good it really is.
    Output………….. đđđ
    Run-time……….. đđđđ
    Practicality……. đđđđđ
    Overall…………...


    Finally, as expected, and as can be seen from the photos, the WA 1185 with 3x17670 was the winner in the power contest. Drawing 3.3 amps, it matches the 5761 for output, and is a much more practical alternative if sheer power is what you want.
    Output………….. đđđđđ
    Run-time……….. đđ
    Practicality……. đđđđ
    Overall…………...


    I hope this thread is some help to those deciding what to run in their own M6.
    Resistance is futile...

  2. #2
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    Default Re: SureFire M6 rechargeable options – SHOOTOUT

    Larger-size copies of the photos in post #1

    Rotating "gif" image, courtesy of JetskiMark:




    Still photos:



























    Last edited by DM51; 07-31-2008 at 05:12 PM. Reason: Add JetskiMark's gif
    Resistance is futile...

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    Default Re: SureFire M6 rechargeable options – SHOOTOUT



    Well done! I can't even imagine how long it took to do all this. Make it a sticky! You have the power...

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    Default Re: SureFire M6 rechargeable options – SHOOTOUT



    Nicely done! I've been wanting an M6 for some time but didn't want to burn through that many primaries. This is certainly making me rethink the M6!

    Where's the best place to get the WA 1111 bulb??
    Last edited by lightsandknives; 07-31-2008 at 01:33 PM.

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    Flashaholic* brighterisbetter's Avatar
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    Default Re: SureFire M6 rechargeable options – SHOOTOUT

    This will be a big help for not only myself but for many others who bug the old-school members for free advice. Just saved yourself a whole bunch of PM replies by creating this DM51. Excellent work as always. STICKY!!!!!

    EDIT- BTW, that's quite a collection you've got there too!!!
    Last edited by brighterisbetter; 07-31-2008 at 01:35 PM. Reason: WOW

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    Default Re: SureFire M6 rechargeable options – SHOOTOUT

    Awesome! Thanks for sharing!
    LUX'Ottica

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    Default Re: SureFire M6 rechargeable options – SHOOTOUT



    That must have taken you forever to put together!

    Totally amazing thread for all the M6 options. I'm still flabbergasted.

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    Default Re: SureFire M6 rechargeable options – SHOOTOUT

    You Sir...Is my hero...

    Thank you for the awesome comparison...

    I already have the 3x17670 / MN61 combo..now I cant wait to get the 1185's I ordered...

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    Default Re: SureFire M6 rechargeable options – SHOOTOUT

    I´m stunned..

    That first pic just made my day. A wild guess, a Peli 1500 case...?

    And the rest then...omg...

    I don´t have enough words so I´m just using these silly smileys.


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    Default Re: SureFire M6 rechargeable options – SHOOTOUT

    Awsome post! Thanks!

    Look what ya made me do, put my name down for a FiveMega holder!
    Last edited by gallagho; 07-31-2008 at 02:18 PM.
    People remember the quality long after they’ve forgotten the price. Unless you try to rip them off.

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    Flashaholic* mwaldron's Avatar
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    Default Re: SureFire M6 rechargeable options – SHOOTOUT

    Awesome Job DM51! You have consolidated a lot of useful information into 1 great and wonderfully illustrated post!

    The 2x18650 + MN15 and 3x17670's + WA1185 seems to be the tools I'll have in my box depending on the situation.

    I may need more M6 to play with, 1 doesn't seem to be enough...
    New Years Resolution 2010: I will neither purchase nor recommend any LED light that is not at least neutral, preferably warm.

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    *Flashaholic* greenLED's Avatar
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    Default Re: SureFire M6 rechargeable options – SHOOTOUT

    Dooood!! Excellent work.
    (I see I'm not the only Lock'nLock fan around, BTW.)

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    Flashaholic Nos's Avatar
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    Default Re: SureFire M6 rechargeable options – SHOOTOUT

    what a great post, details, overview..... WOW!


    proud Fenix T1 aspheric R2 owner

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    Default Re: SureFire M6 rechargeable options – SHOOTOUT

    Excellent overview of the awesome light.

    Having the guilt free comparison is very useful.
    TWO is ONE and ONE is NONE, but THREE is more FUN.
    My beamshot gallery


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    Default Re: SureFire M6 rechargeable options – SHOOTOUT

    Great review! This is just the thing I was looking for! Thank you very much for your time and effort in compiling this info. I was thinking I might go with the 3x17670 HO-M6R set-up, but now it is certain I will be going this route. Well, that's if we get the 50 pre-orders

    If this review wasn't enough for every M6 owner to get on FM's list, I don't know what is.

    BTW what would your guesstimate on runtime be with the 3x17670 HO-M6R?
    CLICK_HERE to get your hands on some serious Surefire *BLING*

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    Default Re: SureFire M6 rechargeable options – SHOOTOUT

    Well done!

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    Default Re: SureFire M6 rechargeable options – SHOOTOUT

    Epic thread and effort. Thank you for your time.

    Quote Originally Posted by DM51 View Post
    ....Mrs DM51 very kindly made an involuntary donation of a redundant chopping board for this purpose. When I realised the tremendous scientific (non-culinary) potential of this chopping board, I pointed out to her at some length that it had lethally unhygienic cracks in it, suggesting that from now on she should instead use one of her other boards, as they looked very much less conducive to salmonella, botulism, or other alarming and gruesome gastro-intestinal afflictions. Anyway, she has not said anything so far about the board going missing, and with a bit of luck she won’t notice.....
    That was funny.

    Quote Originally Posted by DM51 View Post
    ....The target here is the large integrating tree on the right in the main photo...
    Was that IT recently calibrated?

    Quote Originally Posted by DM51 View Post
    I hope this thread is some help to those deciding what to run in their own M6.
    That was a major understatement.

    HyperBlitz Beam Shots: One, Two, Three

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    Default Re: SureFire M6 rechargeable options – SHOOTOUT

    DM51

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    Default Re: SureFire M6 rechargeable options – SHOOTOUT

    Great job! Must bookmark this thread now .

    I was bored at work the other day and made a spreadsheet of all the options with current draw, run time and output on various cells and developed a ranking system combining RT and output. My conclusion was identical to yours - the WA111 or 64250 (mine fit) may be the best all around option for an M6. And I need another M6 to keep everything set up and ready to go.

    But I still love the 1185 in any host
    Will work for lights.

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    Default Re: SureFire M6 rechargeable options – SHOOTOUT

    I made an animated gif. The images are in the same order as they were posted. I made each frame 2.5 seconds which seems to be what most viewers prefer.

    Edit: Removed image to reduce page load time since it is now copied in the second post.
    Last edited by JetskiMark; 07-31-2008 at 07:27 PM. Reason: Removed image to reduce page load time since it is now copied in the second post.

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    Default Re: SureFire M6 rechargeable options – SHOOTOUT

    Now that I've gotten past the shock & awe of DM51's thread, I was able to slow down and start absorbing some of the information. I was satisfied to see how well the HO-M6R and 1185 performed during these tests because I've always gravitated to these two set-ups. 2 of my M6's are permanently set-up in this configuration. It's been my wish for some time now that FM would make another run of HA extensions to be used in conjunction with 2 X AW C cells. This is because I'm a big WA1111 fan and would prefer running it on 2 x C's vs 2 x 18650s. Given that we may never see the FM extensions again, I'm eagerly awaiting mdocod's battery holder so that I can easily run 1111's in one of my M6's.

    It's my opinion that the LF EO-M6R is the star of this review. Although great on 6 x RCR123's, it really stands out on 3 x 17670's. I recently sacrificed my permanent 1185 M6, and dropped its FM holder in my EO-M6R light, until I can get another from FM. It's been one of my most used configurations to date and I'm glad to see that DM51 had a similar appreciation for it.


    Thanks a bunch David for this awesome thread!

    P.S. Hopefully this will be a sticky or at least a reference thread?

  22. #22
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    Default Re: SureFire M6 rechargeable options – SHOOTOUT

    Thank you all for your kind comments. It was an interesting project and I had been meaning to do it for quite a while.
    ________

    Mark, thanks very much for the gif! I have uploaded it and copied it into post #2, at the top of the post.
    ________

    Quote Originally Posted by lightsandknives View Post
    Where's the best place to get the WA 1111 bulb??
    CPFer Litho123 has a sales thread in the MarketPlace selling popular bi-pin bulb sizes.

    ________

    Quote Originally Posted by Team Member View Post
    That first pic just made my day. A wild guess, a Peli 1500 case...?
    Close! It's a 1520.

    ________

    Quote Originally Posted by generic808 View Post
    what would your guesstimate on runtime be with the 3x17670 HO-M6R?
    In theory, ~43 minutes; but to be safe, no more than 30-35 mins. Li-Ions should never be drained to empty (if you do happen to drain them empty by accident, recharge them as soon as possible afterwards.)

    ________

    BSBG: very interesting about our different experiences with variations in bulb sizes. I think it may have been Petrev who ground an oversized bulb down with a dremel to make it fit. Not sure about that.
    ________

    Paul: Like everyone else, I had just accepted the line that the HO-M6R was “somewhere between the MN20 and MN21 in output.” That is no longer an adequate description. You are right that it was the star surprise of the review - it amazed me that it showed up so strongly against such stiff competition. It will be also be very reliable compared to the others, as bulb life will be longer.
    Resistance is futile...

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    Flashaholic* FrogmanM's Avatar
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    Buttrock Re: SureFire M6 rechargeable options – SHOOTOUT

    Most Excellent! Jeeze I'd better start looking for a used M6 for HO-M6R duty! Sticky material imo

    Mayo

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    Default Re: SureFire M6 rechargeable options – SHOOTOUT

    The HO-M6R definitely is a suprise. No bi-pin adapter needed, long bulb life and not that expensive. The bulb might be also more reliable and shock resistant than the WA1111/WA1185 + bi-pin setup.
    I recently tried the FM bi-pin adapter, but the two springs seem to be too long - there is too much tension and the shock-absorbing neoprene inside the M6 head is fully compressed...

    Thank you David for this excellent review.
    Surefire A2 Aviator . If you like this place, you can donate to CPF here

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    Default Re: SureFire M6 rechargeable options – SHOOTOUT

    sticky

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    Default Re: SureFire M6 rechargeable options – SHOOTOUT

    Great thread, thanks for this!

    I think im gunna splash out for a M6 now.


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    Default Re: SureFire M6 rechargeable options – SHOOTOUT

    Awesome review. Bookmarked.

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    Default Re: SureFire M6 rechargeable options – SHOOTOUT

    Thanks for this DM51 This is all the information I've always wanted to know about incan M6 mods. Hopefully this will get some people interested in the latest run of Fivemega 3 x 17670 holders.

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    Default Re: SureFire M6 rechargeable options – SHOOTOUT

    Fantastic!

    Nicely done DM51. That couldn't have been easy but it was super well done.
    -Goatee

  30. #30

    Default Re: SureFire M6 rechargeable options – SHOOTOUT

    Just fantastic DM51!! Thanks for taking the time. I've been running the MN61 with no problems, but after seeing this I think I'll try the HO-M6R next. Seems like it may throw farther than the MN61?

    BOOKMARKED!

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