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Thread: Eagletac M3C4 Cree XM-L (2x18650) Review: COMPARISONS, BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, etc.

  1. #1

    Thumbs up Eagletac M3C4 Cree XM-L (2x18650) Review: COMPARISONS, BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, etc.

    Warning: even more pic heavy than usual

    Eagletac has recently released a new member of the M3C4 family – one containing the new Cree high-output XM-L emitter. For a comparison to other M3C4 lights, please see my original M3C4 review here or the revised M3C4 SST-50 review.



    Common Specs for M3C4 Series:
    • New one-piece flashlight head design (from the top of the knurling area to the battery contact point behind the head). This allows optimal LED heatsink capability and operational reliability. The flashlight head is not sealed and user can gain access to the inside of the lens and reflector.
    • New durable hard anodization coating in HA (type III) finish (40 μm in thickness and 350-380 HV in hardness).
    • New Reflector design in L.O.P. finish
    • The tail-stand tail-cap receives a new durable protective coating. The package also come with a para-cord lanyard with darken holding clip that fits in the tail-cap lanyard hole. The controller ring also receives the new durable protective coating.
    • The Flashlight head and the body are o-rings and square-rings sealed for operating in harsh and wet environments. Reverse battery polarity protection has been implemented on the battery tray for each battery channel. The water-proof tail-cap now uses stainless steel 304 mounting screws with hex heads.
    • Included accessories:
    • CNC machined 304 Stainless steel bezel
    • Included diffuser filter. YRGB filter kit (yellow for fog and rain) is optional.
    • Paracord lanyard with darken pocket clips and split ring
    • M series nylon holster
    • Optional YRGB filter kit

    M3C4 XM-L Specifics:
    • Cree XM-L LED
    • O.T.F. lumen output: 5/65/192/404/748
    • LED lumen output: 20/70/215/470/930
    • Battery: two 18650 rechargeable or four CR123A primary
    • Runtime: 1.5/3.5/8/28/100+ hours
    • Estimated MSRP: ~$140





    The light hasn’t changed appreciably on the outside. Packaging also hasn't changed from my earlier reviews. Included with the light are extra o-rings, wrist lanyard, warranty card and manual, primary battery holders, clicky-switch battery carrier, diffuser (swappable with the removable bezel ring) and a good quality nylon case that fits the light well.


    From left to right: AW Protected 18650, M3C4 XM-L, M3C4 SST-50 (OP), Thrunite Catapult V2 XM-L, Sunwayman M40C, JetBeam M1X V2.

    M3C4 XM-L: Length: 164mm, Width: 61mm (bezel), Weight: 348.0g
    M3C4 SST-50 SMO-Deep: Length: 165mm, Width: 61mm (bezel), Weight: 354.2g
    M3C4 SST-50 OP: Length: 158mm, Width: 61mm (bezel), Weight: 334.7g

    Bezel diameter has not changed - the bundled diffuser and optional colored filters still fit as before. The M3C4 XM-L has basically the same dimensions as the newer M3C4 SST-50 with the deep and smooth reflector, although the XM-L version is slightly lighter.

    The body internals are the same, so please see my original M3C4 review for additional detailed pics, and a more thorough discussion of the build.





    Like other members of the M3C4 family, the light features anodized screw threads, allowing for head lock-out.

    The lights come in the two types of type III anodizing (dark gray or black – black shown here). Regardless, the plastic control ring and tailcap cover are made of black plastic. Anodizing quality is top-notch on my samples. There is plenty of ridge detail to help with grip, plus some decent knurling on the head. Lettering is sharp and clear, bright-white against the dark background.

    As before, the top of the battery handle still has four Phillips-head screws holding it to the battery tube portion. I would prefer that this were a single piece of aluminum – I recommend you periodically check these screws to make sure they don’t loosen up and compromise water-resistance of the battery handle.

    No changes to the battery carrier. Note that flat-top high-capacity cells may not work in the carrier, as the plastic contact ring around the positive terminal is slightly raised. You can use CR123A cells with or without the included plastic holder.

    The M3C4 series lights use small hex screws at the tail end of the battery tube. The included Allen key may be a bit small for some of the screws (i.e. you may need to find another similarly sized tool). Be very careful not to strip any of these screws when changing the tailcap - it can happen easily. If you encounter any resistance at all, back off and try again, or try a different screw (there are extras included).

    For more on this potential issue, see my original M3C4 review and the discussion threads that followed.




    (M3C3 SST-50 SMO-Deep on the left, M3C4 XM-L on the right)

    As you can see, the new XM-L has a similar depth reflector as the SST-50 SMO-Deep. However, the XM-L version seems to be very slightly textured. I guess you could call it Light-Orange-Peel (LOP), but it really just looks like a slight haze over a SMO reflector (VLOP? ).

    The opening is the same, so the smaller die-size of the XM-L is very apparent. The white plastic disc surrounding the die is being reflected in most of the reflector shots above.

    For examples of what the optional YRGB colored filter kit (yellow, red, green, blue) and bundled diffuser look like on the earlier M3C4 lights, please see my original M3C4 review.

    Beamshots

    Here are some up-close shots comparing to other relevant lights. All lights are on 2xAW protected 18650, about ~0.75 meter from a white wall (with the camera ~1.25 meters back from the wall). Automatic white balance on the camera, to minimize tint differences.

    The revised SST-50 SMO-Deep version is listed as "Rev" in the beamshots below.













    Ok, so the M3C4 XM-L definitely throws furthers than the M3C4 SST-50 SMO-Deep. This is not surprising, given the smaller die size of the XM-L (i.e. easier to focus to a point). Scroll down for more detailed output/runtime comparisons.

    Tint on my XM-L sample seems slightly on the warm (yellow-green) side of Cool White.

    I've recently updated my 100-Yard Outdoor Beamshot Round-up, including the latest XM-L lights. Check out that round-up thread for more details on the testing method, plus higher quality JPEG images of all lights. For now, here is an animated GIF of relevant XM-L/SST-50 comparisons:




    Key point above is that the M3C4 XM-L throws further than the M3C4 SST-50. It actually throws similar to the Olight M31 SST-50 (which has a much larger reflector). The new Thrunite Catapult V2 XM-L is more focused for throw, though.

    User Interface

    UI is unchanged. To turn the light on, turn the control ring clockwise (with the light pointed away from you). The light will proceed out of Standby and through Moonlight, Lo, Med, Hi and Turbo in sequence.

    To access strobe, rapidly switch from Turbo to Standby and back to Turbo again. This will replace Turbo with Strobe. Do this switch again to advance to Beacon, and again for SOS (note the manual has Beacon/SOS order reversed). Do it once more to return to standard output modes with Turbo.

    Alternatively, you can loosen the head (or click off the optional clicky switch) to break the connection to the battery carrier and fully shut off the light. This also restores the standard output modes upon re-activation.

    Note that the light moves through the output levels in a gradual fade into each level over ~1sec or so as you turn the ring (i.e. you don’t see a sharp jump/drop in output).

    With the forward clicky switch module installed, the light can be turned on in any mode by the switch (with the control ring controlling the output level as before). There is no standby current with the clicky switch in the off position.

    Parasitic Standby Drain

    The M3-series lights have a parasitic standby drain. I measured it on my M3C4 XM-L at 1200uA, which is very similar to what I got on the original M3C4 SST-50 (i.e. 1170uA). That would translate into 76 days before two fully charged 2200mAh batteries would be completely drained. I therefore recommend you store the lights with the head locked-out, or use the optional clicky switch battery carrier. There is no standby current with the switched clicked in the off position.

    No PWM

    All M3C4 lights appear to be fully current-controlled at all levels (so no PWM).

    Strobe/SOS/Beacon



    Strobe is unchanged at ~7.8Hz.



    Beacon is a slow strobe, again unchanged at ~1.8Hz freq.

    Testing Method: All my output numbers are relative for my home-made light box setup, a la Quickbeam's flashlightreviews.com method. You can directly compare all my relative output values from different reviews - i.e. an output value of "10" in one graph is the same as "10" in another. All runtimes are done under a cooling fan, except for any extended run Lo/Min modes (i.e. >12 hours) which are done without cooling.

    I have recently devised a method for converting my lightbox relative output values (ROV) to estimated Lumens. See my How to convert Selfbuilt's Lighbox values to Lumens thread for more info.

    Throw/Output Summary Chart:

    Effective November 2010, I have revised my summary tables to match with the current ANSI FL-1 standard for flashlight testing. Please see http://www.sliderule.ca/FL1.htm for a description of the terms used in these tables.



    As you can see, the M3C4 XM-L’s peak center-beam throw has increased considerably from the earlier SST-50 model (even the SMO-Deep).

    Note that the lowest output level (Moonlight) is about typical on my XM-L sample. My M3C4 SST-50 SMO-Deep was abnormally low, and has been sent back in for re-tuning

    Output/Runtime Comparison

    Note: Effective January 2010, all CR123A runtimes are now performed on Titanium Innovations batteries. You can compare the performance of these CR123A cells relative to the Duracell/Surefire cells used in my earlier reviews here.

    Here’s how the new M3C4 XM-L compares to the earlier SST-50 SMO-Deep and SST-50 OP versions:



    As you can see, output has increased at all levels on the XM-L version, and there's typically a slight runtime advantage as well. Clearly, the M3C4 XM-L’s emitter is more efficient than the two SST-50 samples.

    And here’s how it compares to other lights in its class: (note the M3C4 XM-L is in red in the runtimes below).







    The new XM-L lights seem to have an advantage over the earlier SST-50 and MC-E-based lights in terms of overall output and runtime efficiency.

    Note that I do not recommend running high-output lights on Max output with 4xCR123A. The batteries can quite hot in this arrangement.

    Potential Issues

    The same issues from my earlier M3C4 reviews apply. The tailcap hex screws seem somewhat variable in size, and may be stripped when trying to screw down. Use extreme caution when switching to or from the clicky tailswitch.

    Standby parasitic drain is still very high for the whole M3C4 series – enough to fully drain a pair of 2200mAh 18650s in less than 3 months. I recommend you store the lights with the head locked out (or with optional clicky battery carrier in the clicked off position).

    Flat-top 18650 cells may not work in the battery carrier, due to the raised plastic ring around the positive contact plate.

    As with many lights of this class, the light is heavily driven on Max - so I recommend you run it in 2x18650 configuration in this mode. 4xCR123A is possible on Max, but not recommended for long periods of time (i.e. the batteries can overheat).

    Preliminary Observations

    As mentioned in my original M3C4 review and the revised M3C4 SST-50 review, the M3C4 build represents a number of nice upgrades from the earlier M2-series lights. The Cree XM-L emitter adds yet another powerhouse model to the line-up.

    I think it was a smart move for Eagletac to revise the M3-series with a deeper smooth reflector for the SST-50 and XM-L models (the XM-L reflector seems ever so slightly textured, but could generally be considered smooth). To put it simply, the move to XM-L adds an extra ~25% max overall output (estimated lumens) and ~30% more throw (as measured by beam distance), as compared to the SST-50 version with the smooth deep reflector.

    Most users here seem to prefer more throw in these high-output lights, and the M3C4 XM-L certainly does an admirable job in that department (i.e. it slightly out-throws the larger-reflector M31 SST-50). Plus you always have the bundled diffuser if you want more flood. As an aside, don’t get fooled by raw lux at 1m values. Center-beam lux is a non-linear scale (i.e. drops with distance according to an inverse square law). Beam distance is the appropriate measure to compare the “throw” of lights.

    Along with greater output, the XM-L also seems to be more efficient than the SST-50 emitters used in the other M3C4 samples. As you can see in the runtimes above, at all levels the XM-L consistently exceeds both in output and/or runtime.

    Everything else about the build remains consistent with the revised M3C4 SST-50 I reviewed a few months ago. Please see that review, and my original M3C4 review for a greater discussion of the build design.

    I expect these new XM-L-based lights to be quite popular in the high-output, 2x18650 class of lights.

    ------

    All M3C4 lights were provided for review by Eagletac.
    Last edited by selfbuilt; 03-10-2011 at 06:13 PM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Eagletac M3C4 Cree XM-L (2x18650) Review: COMPARISONS, BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, etc.

    Written by tybo22 on 01-03-2011 03:21 PM GMT

    Selfbuilt......I have been a longtime lurker of CPF and just recently joined. Thank you for this wonderful review. You beam shots are just incredible. You reviews are always spot on and very informative. I just ordered this light and now I cant wait to try it out. I am a bit surprised that the XM-L surpasses the other models and is also 30 dollars cheaper. Any way thank your for all of your hard work and insightful reviews. Keep up the good work and have a great New Year!
    Written by DLite57 on 01-03-2011 05:44 PM GMT

    selfbuild, posted on your other thread before noticing your new one was up. Now, I'm calling EagleTac to see when more are coming in (XM-Ls)! Am very impressed with the beamshots. Thought for sure the SST-50 would be a better thrower, and I'm looking for a torch with more than just 2 outputs (V2).

    The closeup shots look better, tighter, on some with the SST-50. Long distance, the XM-L seems to beat it!

    Thanks again for the help & all of the work that goes into your reviews. I'm 53, need a new hobby, now just need one more light (for now!)

    J
    Written by DLite57 on 01-03-2011 06:20 PM GMT

    selfbuilt, just spoke to the supplier for the EagleTac on *mazon. Has the new XM-L version, just hadn't posted it. Was going to do it now! EagleTac was closed, so no news when they're getting more of the XM-L versions in. Same price on both sites, so can't wait any longer.

    As is normal for me, have done WAY too much reviewing before buying. Told the wifee "an informed consumer is a smart one"! Guess I'm not as dopey as she says!!

    I'll wait a couple of hours & see if it's on there. Having limited funds, what batteries & charger can all suggest? I'm going for the 2200mAh 18650s (4), so any suggestions would be great from all. Around $30-$40 tops?

    Thanks again!

    J
    Written by coolperl on 01-04-2011 03:50 AM GMT

    As always, it's a pleasure to read your reviews selfbuilt

    What I don't understand, is why the runtime is so low? Taking into account overall progress in LED technology, we should receive such brightness and power with the SAME runtime as older models. Instead, with the greater performance, the runtime dropped also significantly, so the overall efficiency stayed on the same level as with lights from 2008. Well, only Fenix still makes good efficient circuits (TK45 and TK35)...
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Outdoor 100-yard Beamshots 2011. Latest: Zebralight SC62.
    Gratefully accepting donations to my battery fund.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Eagletac M3C4 Cree XM-L (2x18650) Review: COMPARISONS, BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, etc.

    Written by selfbuilt on 01-04-2011 11:31 AM GMT

    Quote Originally Posted by tybo22
    I am a bit surprised that the XM-L surpasses the other models and is also 30 dollars cheaper.
    I typically try to avoid commenting on price (especially since it can fluctuate a lot over time). But I agree it does seem to stand out here - greater throw and output, for a lower cost. I typically try to avoid commenting on price (especially since it can fluctuate a lot over time). But I agree it does seem to stand out here - greater throw and output, for a lower cost.

    I believe the reason for it is the cost of the XM-L emitter itself - Cree seems to have kept there very low (i.e. just a few dollars more than the typical single-die XP-G). The MC-E and Luminus SST-50s were more expensive, AFAIK. Of course, that could just be to get the XM-L's in the market place - I wouldn't want to try and predict what future price fluctuations may come.

    Quote Originally Posted by DLite57
    Having limited funds, what batteries & charger can all suggest? I'm going for the 2200mAh 18650s (4), so any suggestions would be great from all. Around $30-$40 tops?
    Probably best to ask in the "Flashlight Electronics - Batteries Included" sub-forum. There's a lot to consider in that space, but I definitely think 18650 is the way to go. Probably best to ask in the "Flashlight Electronics - Batteries Included" sub-forum. There's a lot to consider in that space, but I definitely think 18650 is the way to go.

    Quote Originally Posted by coolperl
    What I don't understand, is why the runtime is so low? Taking into account overall progress in LED technology, we should receive such brightness and power with the SAME runtime as older models. Instead, with the greater performance, the runtime dropped also significantly, so the overall efficiency stayed on the same level as with lights from 2008.
    Well, I wouldn't say that exactly. A couple of points:
    • My lightbox's relative output scale is not linear, so the magnitude of the increase in output is greater than it would appear on the runtime charts
    • The newer lights seem to be driven at higher levels than some the older ones, which reduces overall efficiency on max (i.e. emitters are more efficient at lower outputs)
    • Many of the newer lights are fully regulated on 18650, which is less efficient than the semi-regulated pattern seen on some of the older lights.
    • Some of the ~2 year old lights were not included in this review (e.g. SSC P7) - and they were indeed less efficient than the SST50/MC-E lights.
    However, I do take your point that we haven't really seen a huge increase in efficiency in the high-output emitter category over the last year or so (i.e. MC-Es and SST-50s don't seem to have increased much in output bin). These XM-L lights are first noticeable bump in output/efficiency I've noticed.

    Also, I haven't included the multi-emitter setups in this review (i.e. 3xXP-G R5 light), but those typically outperform the MC-E/SST-50 lights.
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Outdoor 100-yard Beamshots 2011. Latest: Zebralight SC62.
    Gratefully accepting donations to my battery fund.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Eagletac M3C4 Cree XM-L (2x18650) Review: COMPARISONS, BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, etc.

    Written by vinhnguyen54 on 01-04-2011 11:47 AM GMT

    Selfbuilt,

    I know that the Cat V2 XML and the M3C4 XML are great in their own ways....but...which one would you pick if you have to pick just one between the two...IE...is there one you like just a tad more than the other? Thank You for answer this tough question.
    Written by jvarn81 on 01-04-2011 05:34 PM GMT

    Quote Originally Posted by vinhnguyen54
    Selfbuilt,

    I know that the Cat V2 XML and the M3C4 XML are great in their own ways....but...which one would you pick if you have to pick just one between the two...IE...is there one you like just a tad more than the other? Thank You for answer this tough question.
    Yeah selfbuilt, this is a good question. Yeah selfbuilt, this is a good question.
    Written by 2manypigs on 01-04-2011 08:48 PM GMT

    Great review selfbuilt!!! I really like my new M3C4.
    Written by Flight_Deck on 01-04-2011 10:05 PM GMT

    Fantastic review!

    Thank you,

    John C.
    Written by brightnorm on 01-05-2011 12:38 AM GMT


    Originally Posted by vinhnguyen54http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/....png[/img]

    Selfbuilt,

    I know that the Cat V2 XML and the M3C4 XML are great in their own ways....but...which one would you pick if you have to pick just one between the two...IE...is there one you like just a tad more than the other? Thank You for answer this tough question.

    I can't guess what Selfbuilt's response will be, but from my experience of these lights the biggest difference is in the physical configuration: Short bodied Eagletac enabled by side-by-side 2x18650's, or Catapult with conventional long body. After that it's a matter of beam, UI and runtimes. Selfbuilt's photos show Catapult XM-L with an edge in throw. For ease of belt-carry (in a modified holster) I prefer the Eagletac, after that it's my Olight M3X- XM-L because it is so light. The Catapult is a bit of a heavy clunker but it may be the best light of all in terms of beam and rock-solid build.

    Brightnorm
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Outdoor 100-yard Beamshots 2011. Latest: Zebralight SC62.
    Gratefully accepting donations to my battery fund.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Eagletac M3C4 Cree XM-L (2x18650) Review: COMPARISONS, BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, etc.

    Written by selfbuilt on 01-05-2011 08:59 AM GMT

    Quote Originally Posted by vinhnguyen54
    I know that the Cat V2 XML and the M3C4 XML are great in their own ways....but...which one would you pick if you have to pick just one between the two...IE...is there one you like just a tad more than the other? Thank You for answer this tough question.
    Quote Originally Posted by brightnorm
    I can't guess what Selfbuilt's response will be, but from my experience of these lights the biggest difference is in the physical configuration: Short bodied Eagletac enabled by side-by-side 2x18650's, or Catapult with conventional long body. After that it's a matter of beam, UI and runtimes. Selfbuilt's photos show Catapult XM-L with an edge in throw. For ease of belt-carry (in a modified holster) I prefer the Eagletac, after that it's my Olight M3X- XM-L because it is so light. The Catapult is a bit of a heavy clunker but it may be the best light of all in terms of beam and rock-solid build.
    As regular readers of my reviews know, I try to avoid answering these sorts of questions. As regular readers of my reviews know, I try to avoid answering these sorts of questions. It does come down a lot to personal preference, and my opinion should carry no more weight than anyone else's who has handled the same lights. I prefer to let results speak for themselves ...

    That being said, I think Brightnorm makes a lot of good points in his response. Easy of carry is important to many, and I like the bundled holster of the M3C4 in that regard. And although I don't have the M3X, I do like the lighter build of the M31 (which has similar throw and output to the two XM-L lights discussed here). For some, the thicker build of the Catapult may be a bonus (it makes the M31's body tube look like a junior model!). But M31 is more than solid enough to do the job in my books, so the M31/M3X and M3C4 would have the edge in terms of ease of carry.

    Another point is range of output levels (and concomitant runtimes) - the M3C4 certainly has the edge for its selection of lower outputs and hidden strobe/beacon modes. Again, I don't have the M3X, but I suspect all the XM-L lights would be equivalent runtime performers at comparable output levels.

    The M3C4 also comes with a bundled diffuser, which the M31/M3X lacks (and I understand Thrunite will be providing soon for the Catapult). Never underestimate the value of a good flood light - this tends to be a high value item for me personally. If the M31/M3X came with one, that would probably be my first choice to grab going out the door (especially in smaller 2x18500 configuration).

    Of course, many here seem to be throw freaks , and the Catapult definitely has the lead there. It also has the simplest interface - just head tight or loose. On those grounds alone, I can tell you my wife would prefer the Catapult (she's a fan of simple two-mode lights, accessed by head twist). But I happen to know she also specifically likes the heft of the Catapult - she figures it would take a good chunk out of someone if necessary.

    As an aside on that point, Mrs Selfbuilt doesn't like the hand-feel of the M3C4 (she is petite with small hands, and finds the double-battery tube of the M3C4 awkward for hand-carry). Ironically, she'd rather swing the Catapult (hopefully not in my direction!).

    Hope those subjective impressions help ...
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Outdoor 100-yard Beamshots 2011. Latest: Zebralight SC62.
    Gratefully accepting donations to my battery fund.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Eagletac M3C4 Cree XM-L (2x18650) Review: COMPARISONS, BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, etc.

    Written by vinhnguyen54 on 01-05-2011 10:17 AM GMT

    Thanks for the insightful reply. I think I got the hint on which one u prefer ;-). Thanks again!

    Quote Originally Posted by selfbuilt
    As regular readers of my reviews know, I try to avoid answering these sorts of questions. It does come down a lot to personal preference, and my opinion should carry no more weight than anyone else's who has handled the same lights. I prefer to let results speak for themselves ...

    That being said, I think Brightnorm makes a lot of good points in his response. Easy of carry is important to many, and I like the bundled holster of the M3C4 in that regard. And although I don't have the M3X, I do like the lighter build of the M31 (which has similar throw and output to the two XM-L lights discussed here). For some, the thicker build of the Catapult may be a bonus (it makes the M31's body tube look like a junior model!). But M31 is more than solid enough to do the job in my books, so the M31/M3X and M3C4 would have the edge in terms of ease of carry.

    Another point is range of output levels (and concomitant runtimes) - the M3C4 certainly has the edge for its selection of lower outputs and hidden strobe/beacon modes. Again, I don't have the M3X, but I suspect all the XM-L lights would be equivalent runtime performers at comparable output levels.

    The M3C4 also comes with a bundled diffuser, which the M31/M3X lacks (and I understand Thrunite will be providing soon for the Catapult). Never underestimate the value of a good flood light - this tends to be a high value item for me personally. If the M31/M3X came with one, that would probably be my first choice to grab going out the door (especially in smaller 2x18500 configuration).

    Of course, many here seem to be throw freaks , and the Catapult definitely has the lead there. It also has the simplest interface - just head tight or loose. On those grounds alone, I can tell you my wife would prefer the Catapult (she's a fan of simple two-mode lights, accessed by head twist). But I happen to know she also specifically likes the heft of the Catapult - she figures it would take a good chunk out of someone if necessary.

    As an aside on that point, Mrs Selfbuilt doesn't like the hand-feel of the M3C4 (she is petite with small hands, and finds the double-battery tube of the M3C4 awkward for hand-carry). Ironically, she'd rather swing the Catapult (hopefully not in my direction!).

    Hope those subjective impressions help ...
    Written by jvarn81 on 01-05-2011 03:01 PM GMT

    Quote Originally Posted by selfbuilt
    Of course, many here seem to be throw freaks , and the Catapult definitely has the lead there. It also has the simplest interface - just head tight or loose. On those grounds alone, I can tell you my wife would prefer the Catapult (she's a fan of simple two-mode lights, accessed by head twist). But I happen to know she also specifically likes the heft of the Catapult - she figures it would take a good chunk out of someone if necessary.

    As an aside on that point, Mrs Selfbuilt doesn't like the hand-feel of the M3C4 (she is petite with small hands, and finds the double-battery tube of the M3C4 awkward for hand-carry). Ironically, she'd rather swing the Catapult (hopefully not in my direction!).

    Hope those subjective impressions help ...
    Are you saying the catapult is a girl's light?........ Are you saying the catapult is a girl's light?........ just kidding, I got your point though. Thanks for the review, I have a catapult on the way...hopefully I won't regret not getting the M3C4.. or the TK35
    Written by vinhnguyen54 on 01-05-2011 03:32 PM GMT

    Quote Originally Posted by jvarn81
    Are you saying the catapult is a girl's light?........ just kidding, I got your point though. Thanks for the review, I have a catapult on the way...hopefully I won't regret not getting the M3C4.. or the TK35
    You will :-) You will :-)
    Written by infinus on 01-05-2011 05:15 PM GMT

    After much debate (I already have a new Catapult), I decided to order a M3C4 and decide which I like better for myself. Then I'll attempt to sell the loser......

    :-)
    Written by st_burt on 01-05-2011 09:14 PM GMT

    Thank you for this review, and for all your reviews, selfbuilt. I ordered an M3C4 XM-L a couple minutes after I finished reading your review. I had been on the fence about the M3C4 for a while, and I'm glad I waited for the XM-L version. The combination of more output, longer runtime, and lower price is not something I'm used to seeing.
    Written by infinus on 01-08-2011 04:29 PM GMT

    Well, I received the M3C4 XML. I was able to modify the battery holder with a knife and remove the plastic rings to allow for flat top use. I haven't had a chance to really compare with the Catapult yet but initial feel...... man, it's tough. The Catapult is a tank. The M3C4 definitely doesn't feel as thick, but it feels really good in the hand. I'd have to say that just off of feel I like the M3C4 better. It's just easier for me to hold, and I really like the interface. The Catapult though can fill in as a baseball bat if you need it though. You'd have to be pretty rough on your lights to wear it out.
    Written by SCEMan on 01-08-2011 05:39 PM GMT

    Thanks for another very informative review...

    I received a M3C4 XM-L a few days ago and I'm very happy with it's UI, ergonomics, output & tint. Unlike the Catapult XM-L I had, the M3C4's beam is pure white w/no dark spot. Seems to throw as well but with a much larger hotspot. I really appreciate the ability to effortlessly change levels one handed and unlike most, I find the rear tailcap switch very useful. A good value when you consider it includes a nice holster and diffuser. Loaded with RediLast 2900s it makes for a powerful compact package.
    Written by infinus on 01-08-2011 06:05 PM GMT

    The light from the M3C4 is definitely more white then the Catapult. Odd considering it's the same LED. The hotspot is a bit more smooth and bigger on mine too. One oddity is that if I shine it on a wall at a ridiculous distance of just a few inch's is there is a big hole in the middle of the hotspot. Past a foot and it's gone entirely. Must be something with the reflector setup. I'll take it outside later.
    Written by brightnorm on 01-08-2011 07:51 PM GMT

    Quote Originally Posted by SCEMan
    ...Unlike the Catapult XM-L I had, the M3C4's beam is pure white w/no dark spot.


    Quote Originally Posted by infinus
    The light from the M3C4 is definitely more white then the Catapult. Odd considering it's the same LED...
    Strange, my Catapult XM-L is noticeably whiter than my M3C4 XM-L and two Olight M31 XM-L's, all three of which are outstanding but a bit more more bluish/purplish than the Catapult. If I had to rate beam color and quality I would put the Catapult 1st, with the Eagletac and Olight more-or-less tied for second place. For carry I would rate the Eagletac and Olight roughly tied for 1st place with the Cat definitely last. Strange, my Catapult XM-L is noticeably whiter than my M3C4 XM-L and two Olight M31 XM-L's, all three of which are outstanding but a bit more more bluish/purplish than the Catapult. If I had to rate beam color and quality I would put the Catapult 1st, with the Eagletac and Olight more-or-less tied for second place. For carry I would rate the Eagletac and Olight roughly tied for 1st place with the Cat definitely last.

    Brightnorm
    Written by candle lamp on 01-09-2011 02:55 AM GMT

    Excellent review!!!

    Thanks for your detailed review & nice pictures. The beam profile is quite good and very bright as expected.

    Also good regulation in runtime graph. I think M3C4 may compare TK35 in performance.
    Written by infinus on 01-11-2011 09:02 AM GMT

    To follow up on things.... I've used both the M3C4 and the Catapult for a few days now. Performance wise I think I have to give the edge to the Catapult..... but JUST barely. It's so close that only holding the 2 side by side really shows any difference. Flipping between them and it's near impossible to tell.

    Feature wise, the M3C4 wins by a long shot. I LOVE the one hand use of the M3C4. Adjusting levels, on/off, etc.... And it's so easy to hold. So in terms of asthetics and everyday use I'd have to say the M3C4 clearly wins.

    Overall I'm going with the M3C4. The performance edge of the Catapult isn't enough IMO to outweight all the other benifits of the M3C4.

    The tougher question I'm now facing however is whether to sell the Catapult.... or keep them both! This.... I can't make up my mind on. If I kept the Catapult it would probably go into my truck with some CR123's for emergency use. It's very tempting though to sell the Catapult and get another light....... Just not sure what!
    Written by vinhnguyen54 on 01-11-2011 11:10 AM GMT

    Quote Originally Posted by infinus
    To follow up on things.... I've used both the M3C4 and the Catapult for a few days now. Performance wise I think I have to give the edge to the Catapult..... but JUST barely. It's so close that only holding the 2 side by side really shows any difference. Flipping between them and it's near impossible to tell.

    Feature wise, the M3C4 wins by a long shot. I LOVE the one hand use of the M3C4. Adjusting levels, on/off, etc.... And it's so easy to hold. So in terms of asthetics and everyday use I'd have to say the M3C4 clearly wins.

    Overall I'm going with the M3C4. The performance edge of the Catapult isn't enough IMO to outweight all the other benifits of the M3C4.

    The tougher question I'm now facing however is whether to sell the Catapult.... or keep them both! This.... I can't make up my mind on. If I kept the Catapult it would probably go into my truck with some CR123's for emergency use. It's very tempting though to sell the Catapult and get another light....... Just not sure what!
    Sell it and to get other lights! It's not gonna get used in your truck! :-) Sell it and to get other lights! It's not gonna get used in your truck! :-)
    Written by infinus on 01-11-2011 11:12 AM GMT

    I think that's my first preference.... I'm a little annoyed that I can't post anything for sale yet on the market place though. I haven't really had too much to post on over there so I haven't met the minimum threshold..... Grrrrrrrrr.
    Written by vinhnguyen54 on 01-11-2011 11:34 AM GMT

    Quote Originally Posted by infinus
    I think that's my first preference.... I'm a little annoyed that I can't post anything for sale yet on the market place though. I haven't really had too much to post on over there so I haven't met the minimum threshold..... Grrrrrrrrr.
    How much are you asking. I might have a friend that's interested. How much are you asking. I might have a friend that's interested.
    Written by brightnorm on 01-11-2011 06:16 PM GMT

    Quote Originally Posted by selfbuilt
    [B]...The M3-series lights have a parasitic standby drain. I measured it on my M3C4 XM-L at 1200uA, which is very similar to what I got on the original M3C4 SST-50 (i.e. 1170uA). That would translate into 76 days before two fully charged 2200mAh batteries would be completely drained. I therefore recommend you store the lights with the head locked-out, or use the optional clicky switch battery carrier. There is no standby current with the switched clicked in the off position...
    Is there no way that a true "off" could be incorporated into the rotation ring, perhaps using a micro-switch mechanically triggered by an extreme CC rotation? Failing that, head-rotation-off would be more convenient if it required only the slightest CC head rotation, rather than the current 180° - 270°. Is there no way that a true "off" could be incorporated into the rotation ring, perhaps using a micro-switch mechanically triggered by an extreme CC rotation? Failing that, head-rotation-off would be more convenient if it required only the slightest CC head rotation, rather than the current 180° - 270°.

    Brightnorm
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Outdoor 100-yard Beamshots 2011. Latest: Zebralight SC62.
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  7. #7

    Default Re: Eagletac M3C4 Cree XM-L (2x18650) Review: COMPARISONS, BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, etc.

    Written by selfbuilt on 01-12-2011 08:48 PM GMT

    Quote Originally Posted by brightnorm
    Is there no way that a true "off" could be incorporated into the rotation ring, perhaps using a micro-switch mechanically triggered by an extreme CC rotation? Failing that, head-rotation-off would be more convenient if it required only the slightest CC head rotation, rather than the current 180° - 270°.
    I suppose one simple solution would be to remove the standby mode all together - thus forcing the user to loosen the head to turn off the light (or alternately, install the clicky switch module). At least that way you couldn't accidentally leave it draining your batteries with no light being produced. I suppose one simple solution would be to remove the standby mode all together - thus forcing the user to loosen the head to turn off the light (or alternately, install the clicky switch module). At least that way you couldn't accidentally leave it draining your batteries with no light being produced.

    Written by selfbuilt on 01-14-2011 07:48 AM GMT


    Someone asked me what the initial tailcap current draws were for the Cat2 XM-L and Eagletac M3C4 XM-L on 2x18650:

    Cat2 XM-L: ~1.52A (fluctuated over 1.510-1.535A)

    M3C4 XM-L: ~1.72A (fluctated over 1.710-1.735A)

    Those are consistent with the slightly longer runtime on the Cat2. But as always, I recommend you rely on the actual runtimes for more info.
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  8. #8

    Default Re: Eagletac M3C4 Cree XM-L (2x18650) Review: COMPARISONS, BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, etc.

    Written by recDNA on 01-16-2011 08:17 PM GMT

    I once asked Eagletac if it was safe to run indefinitely in max with 4 X CR123 and they said it was. His amp draw increased? I really prefer to run on primaries so I can leave it in my car during winter. I also feel primaries are a little safer in the car in the heat of summer.
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  9. #9

    Default Re: Eagletac M3C4 Cree XM-L (2x18650) Review: COMPARISONS, BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, etc.

    The main review post has been updated with the final review text.

    The thread discussions have been fully restored from the search engine cache data (thank you tandem!).

    Please carry on!
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  10. #10

    Default Re: Eagletac M3C4 Cree XM-L (2x18650) Review: COMPARISONS, BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, etc.

    I like that I can see myself quoted in there depite losing my account! My account unfortunately got lost since I was fairly new to the forums! I'm working through getting it re-approved.

  11. #11
    Flashaholic
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    Default Re: Eagletac M3C4 Cree XM-L (2x18650) Review: COMPARISONS, BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, etc.

    I just received mine. Two things I have noticed, one being mine has more heatsinking fins and two there is no writing on the ring ( no low to turbo). The one in the review has two or three fins but mine has five. I compared the pic of the led to mine and it appears the same.

    Anyone know if it has been changed up or if I did in fact receive the XML version?

  12. #12

    Default Re: Eagletac M3C4 Cree XM-L (2x18650) Review: COMPARISONS, BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, etc.

    The M3C4 XM-L is such a superb and unique light I'm surprised that there isn't more interest in it.

    Brightnorm

  13. #13
    Flashaholic
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    Default Re: Eagletac M3C4 Cree XM-L (2x18650) Review: COMPARISONS, BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by CDP930 View Post
    I just received mine. Two things I have noticed, one being mine has more heatsinking fins and two there is no writing on the ring ( no low to turbo). The one in the review has two or three fins but mine has five. I compared the pic of the led to mine and it appears the same.

    Anyone know if it has been changed up or if I did in fact receive the XML version?
    I have the XM-L version (bought 2 months ago) and it's identical in appearance to the one in Selfbuilt's pictures.

  14. #14
    Flashaholic
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    Default Re: Eagletac M3C4 Cree XM-L (2x18650) Review: COMPARISONS, BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by CDP930 View Post
    I just received mine. Two things I have noticed, one being mine has more heatsinking fins and two there is no writing on the ring ( no low to turbo). The one in the review has two or three fins but mine has five. I compared the pic of the led to mine and it appears the same.

    Anyone know if it has been changed up or if I did in fact receive the XML version?
    Hi CDP930,

    I've just received mine in the UK today from LEDfiretorches.co.uk (btw excellent service and CPF discount). Mine fits the description you give, and doesn't look the same as the one in Selfbuilt's review either.

    However on the box it states an 800 Lumens output. According to the instruction manual the only other versions with an 800l output are the SST-50 and triple XP-G versions. I've not kept up to date with the latest emitters so a quick search on Google images and my emitter is definitely the XM-L.

    Other than what you describe I'm not sure what the model differences are?

    Just waiting for it to get dark so I can check out the beam

    Terry

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Eagletac M3C4 Cree XM-L (2x18650) Review: COMPARISONS, BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, etc.

    eltel999,

    could you PM me the discount code for the website? Cheers!

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Eagletac M3C4 Cree XM-L (2x18650) Review: COMPARISONS, BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by xed888 View Post
    eltel999,

    could you PM me the discount code for the website? Cheers!
    This code and more in GreenLED's thread:

    http://www.cpfmarketplace.com/mp/sho...=Discount+code

    Regards,

    Eltel999

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Eagletac M3C4 Cree XM-L (2x18650) Review: COMPARISONS, BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, etc.

    Thank you. I didn't know the existence of that thread!

  18. #18
    Enlightened justlux's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eagletac M3C4 Cree XM-L (2x18650) Review: COMPARISONS, BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, etc.

    Am i right in thinking that the Eagletac M3C4 XM-L is the best thrower from the Eagletac M3 series?
    The more you know, the more you know you don't know!

  19. #19

    Default Re: Eagletac M3C4 Cree XM-L (2x18650) Review: COMPARISONS, BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, etc.

    That is correct.

    Brightnorm

  20. #20

    Default Re: Eagletac M3C4 Cree XM-L (2x18650) Review: COMPARISONS, BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, etc.

    With anodized flashlights that I've seen so far you only have to 1/2 turn or less to prevent the light from being turned on. I have the M3C4 triple XML and I have to turn it 1 1/2 turns or so to prevent achieve the same. Is that normal or am I missing something?
    TM-11,M3C4(1+3xml),T20C2MK2, T10C,M6,TN30-31,VoB 1C Mag,47's S12, M30,M21, Signature LX ,Trust 1,Klarus XT 10,Spark SL6-SD6,SWMT60+40CS,C20C, M11R,XTAR A01,ZL SC600,H51F,SC50, L1A,ITP SA1,A1EOS, A2EOS,Fenix MC10, Led Lenser P7-T7,Xeno E03,Jetbeam JetIIIPro,lllM, BC40

  21. #21

    Default Re: Eagletac M3C4 Cree XM-L (2x18650) Review: COMPARISONS, BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by pageyjim View Post
    With anodized flashlights that I've seen so far you only have to 1/2 turn or less to prevent the light from being turned on. I have the M3C4 triple XML and I have to turn it 1 1/2 turns or so to prevent achieve the same. Is that normal or am I missing something?
    The Eagletac M2 and M3 series require more of a CC turn than many other lights. They average about 3/4 to actually turn off and I give mine an extra 1/2 turn to be safe.

    Brightnorm

  22. #22

    Default Re: Eagletac M3C4 Cree XM-L (2x18650) Review: COMPARISONS, BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by pageyjim View Post
    With anodized flashlights that I've seen so far you only have to 1/2 turn or less to prevent the light from being turned on. I have the M3C4 triple XML and I have to turn it 1 1/2 turns or so to prevent achieve the same. Is that normal or am I missing something?
    Hmm, that sounds like a lot.

    It's true to the older M2 series lights required more of a turn (ie. 2/3 to 3/4 of a turn). But all my M3 series lights shut off after ~1/4 turn or so.

    EDIT: note the current is carried entirely by the battery carrier on these lights. So it is a question of the head making contact with positive and negatiive current paths carried by the nub on the carrier - not thread anodizing.
    Last edited by selfbuilt; 04-24-2011 at 10:36 AM.
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  23. #23

    Default Re: Eagletac M3C4 Cree XM-L (2x18650) Review: COMPARISONS, BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by selfbuilt View Post
    Hmm, that sounds like a lot. Is there damage to the anodizing somewhere?

    It's true to the older M2 series lights required more of a turn (ie. 2/3 to 3/4 of a turn). But all my M3 series lights shut off after ~1/4 turn or so.
    It takes a full 1 1/3 turn. I cannot see any damage. I am getting another M3C4 this coming week. I am a novice at this but it seems that I could switch battery carriers and if it is better on the other one that would say it was the battery carrier and not the head. But the way I see that it works is that the button on the head makes contact with the top of the battery insert. For instance I can turn the light on simply by pressing the battery holder against the button on the head without screwing it together. Forgive my lack of explaining this better. TY for the help.
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  24. #24

    Default Re: Eagletac M3C4 Cree XM-L (2x18650) Review: COMPARISONS, BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by pageyjim View Post
    I am a novice at this but it seems that I could switch battery carriers and if it is better on the other one that would say it was the battery carrier and not the head. But the way I see that it works is that the button on the head makes contact with the top of the battery insert. For instance I can turn the light on simply by pressing the battery holder against the button on the head without screwing it together. Forgive my lack of explaining this better. TY for the help.
    Yes, you are quite correct - I was thinking of another light in my comments. In this case, it is entirely the battery carrier that controls the contact (i.e. both positive and negative paths are carried by the nub in the head).

    I suppose it could just be some variability in design, but it still seems unusual that your sample needs such a longer turn. Hopefully your next one will be better.
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  25. #25

    Default Re: Eagletac M3C4 Cree XM-L (2x18650) Review: COMPARISONS, BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, etc.

    Selfbuilt:

    Thank you for the excellent review.

    You said you do not recommend using 4 CR123A on max for long periods of time on this light. Can you comment on my points below:

    1. Please amplify on "long periods of time." Does it mean using Max for many minutes per use? Does it mean using max beyond the manufacturer's recommended length of time? (But I didn't find anywhere that the manufacturer says Max can/should be used for only a certain length of time.) Does it mean using Max all the time?

    2. What will happen if batteries do get overheat from such usage? What is the worst thing that will happen?

    I am interested in the M3C4 (probably the triple XM-L version) and I only will use CR123A batteries with it.
    I hope my decision to use that kind of batteries and my intention to using it on Max won't prevent me from buying that light.

    Thank you.

  26. #26

    Default Re: Eagletac M3C4 Cree XM-L (2x18650) Review: COMPARISONS, BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by selfbuilt View Post
    ...It's true to the older M2 series lights required more of a turn (ie. 2/3 to 3/4 of a turn). But all my M3 series lights shut off after ~1/4 turn or so...
    I wish mine did. I have four M3s: two XMLs, one XPGx3 and one XREx3. They all require at least 1/2 turn and usually a little more. Maybe I was just unlucky in the"Unscrew Lottery" :-)

    Brightnorm

  27. #27

    Default Re: Eagletac M3C4 Cree XM-L (2x18650) Review: COMPARISONS, BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by lovemylexicon View Post
    What will happen if batteries do get overheat from such usage? What is the worst thing that will happen?
    I try to avoid speculating about what the worse may be (given its rarity), but to my mind that would be "venting with flame" from failure of a defective battery. It is not common or likely, as long as you take reasonable precautions. The most important is to only use quality CR123A cells - and ensuring they are all well balanced for capacity (i.e. don't mix and match used cells, or ones from different manufacturers/batches).

    Relative risk is the point. When running 4xCR123A max on heavily-driven lights, you will find that the internal battery temperature rises rapidly. Personally, I would be relucant to run any light this way longer than 5-10 mins continuously (unless it has a built-in thermal cut-off feature). I don't have any data on this, but I suspect that catastrophic failure of a defective cell is more likely to occur when placed under that kind of stress.

    The other risk is to the light (i.e. excessive heat could damage the circuit or the emitter). Most lights should be designed to handle this heat, but I still prefer lights with thermal sensors to be safe (if planning to run on max on 4xCR123A for extensive periods).

    2x18650 Li-ion is safer in this context, since they don't get as hot as 4xCR123A will (for the same output). The main risk with Li-ions is at the point when you are charging them. I recommend people check in with the battery experts in the batteries subforum for a greater discussion.

    Again, my concern above is largely theoretical (i.e. a safe battery handling perspective). I have no data of failure rates of specific batteries or specific lights.
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  28. #28

    Default Re: Eagletac M3C4 Cree XM-L (2x18650) Review: COMPARISONS, BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, etc.

    I am curious about the reflector because ET said they only have a smooth reflector on this model. I am just wondering because your beamshots seem to be free of donut holes and only a slight ring.
    Last edited by pageyjim; 04-26-2011 at 08:27 AM.
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  29. #29

    Default Re: Eagletac M3C4 Cree XM-L (2x18650) Review: COMPARISONS, BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by selfbuilt View Post
    ...Relative risk is the point. When running 4xCR123A max on heavily-driven lights, you will find that the internal battery temperature rises rapidly. Personally, I would be relucant to run any light this way longer than 5-10 mins continuously (unless it has a built-in thermal cut-off feature). I don't have any data on this, but I suspect that catastrophic failure of a defective cell is more likely to occur when placed under that kind of stress...
    I gave a M3C4 X-ML as an anniversary present to some friends. They preferred non-rechargeables so I sent them 8 Surefire cr123s along with very careful instructions about use and handling. I also advised them to never run the light at Max for more than 10 minutes. Now I'm thinking of revising that down to 5 minutes. This question may be unanswerable, but I'll ask it anyway: If I do my own 5 and 10 minute test to check battery heat should I assume that even if they are "hot", as long as I can still hold them they are probably OK?

    Brightnorm

  30. #30

    Default Re: Eagletac M3C4 Cree XM-L (2x18650) Review: COMPARISONS, BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by brightnorm View Post
    This question may be unanswerable, but I'll ask it anyway: If I do my own 5 and 10 minute test to check battery heat should I assume that even if they are "hot", as long as I can still hold them they are probably OK?
    That's probably a good general guide. I had an engineering sample of one of the first "high-output" lights blow a circuit after 10 mins on high, and the duracell CR123As I was using were too hold to hold coming out of the light. That manufacturer subsequently recommended against running on Hi on CR123As on the shipping version ...

    To be clear, I haven't seen that happen since (i.e. Manufacturers typically know their tolerances well, and don't over-drive them). But I would think too-hot-to-hold cells would be a good time to throttle back the output on any light.
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