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Thread: Sunwayman M40A (XM-L) review

  1. #1
    *Flashaholic* gunga's Avatar
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    Default Sunwayman M40A (XM-L) review

    It's been a while, so time for a new review!



    Sunwayman M40A review


    The M40A is a very powerful new light by Sunwayman, an intriguing new company with quite a niche in lighting.

    Sunwayman specializes in lights that have variable output based on magnetic ring controls (MCS or Magnetic Control System). The ring is used to dial the light level, from a mere glow to a blinding burst of light, depending on the model. It makes their models intuitive and easy to use. While they do have other lights with different interfaces, the magnetic control ring is a distinctive feature on most of their line.

    Their V series of lights has continuously variable levels for maximum flexibility and control, while the M series has preset levels for speed and ease of use.

    The M40A, based on Sunwayman naming convention, has preset levels, and takes 4 AA batteries.

    This is an extremely powerful and easy-to-use light that definitely pushes the boundaries of what one can do with 4AA batteries.

    The light itself is a medium throw light, with a bright but broad spot and wide spill. It is not optimized for long distance projection, but still throws well due to its sheer output.

    The light can run on any common AA cell, but performs best with cells that can handle high current loads.

    This light was provided to me by Sunwayman.ca, the Canadian distributor for Sunwayman. I’ll do a thorough examination and see how it performs.



    Specs and Information

    The M40A is a three-mode 4x AA cell light that can be set from 35 to 600 lumens, or high frequency strobe. These are ANSI lumens as provided by Sunwayman.


    The specifications are as follows:

    LED: Cree XM-L LED, T6 flux, Cool white tint

    Outputs and Runtimes (provided by Sunwayman):

    Max: 600 lumens, 1.5 hours, to 10% of initial output (ANSI)
    Mid: 200 lumens, 6 hours
    Min: 35 lumens, 35 hours (see level selection section below)
    Strobe: 600 lumens


    - Fully regulated for constant output
    - Aerospace-grade aluminum, Hard Anodized
    - Double sided AR-coated lens (toughened glass)
    - Magnetic Ring control (no tail switch)
    - Integrated Heat sinking fins
    - Tail stand capable
    - Waterproof (as per IPX-8 standard)


    Standard Dimensions:
    Overall length: 144 mm
    Body Diameter: 57 mm
    Head Diameter: 40 mm
    Weight: 237.8 gm (excluding batteries)

    The included accessory kit is quite sparse and consists only of a couple spare o-rings and a wrist lanyard. This is a bit disappointing as a holster would be quite useful for a light of this size.

    Retail price for the M40A is about $133.95.





    First Impression: Very Powerful and well made

    The M40A is nicely constructed with an attractive dark gray finish.



    The parts are well matched and the finish is very well done with no noticeable flaws. All lettering is clear and crisp, as well as being suitably subdued (no garish advertising). The threads are very broad and square-cut, ensuring a very solid and reliable connection.



    The head of the light has minor detailing that can provide very minor anti-roll characteristics and some very pronounced heat sink ridges that are quite striking as well as functional.



    The control ring is subtle, too subtle. In fact, initially, I thought the heat sink fins were the control ring! While the ring turns smoothly and easily, with solid detents; it blends into the body and is not easy to find. While the subtle detailing provides some grip, a solid band of knurling or ridges would make the design more ergonomic. Also, the ring is not marked in any way; some indication that this is a switch would be useful. There is no real issue in use, but these minor changes would make the light a bit more pleasant to use (especially with gloves on).




    There is some knurling on the body, but it is a tad smooth. Making the knurling a bit more aggressive would be beneficial because the light can be quite a hefty handful when loaded with batteries.



    There is no clip on the light, but the size, shape, and weight of the light wouldn’t work well with a clip anyways.

    The 4AA battery carrier is very solid, and reversible, so there is no worry of putting it in backwards.





    Battery availability and compatibility

    The M40A is compatible with standard AA cells, the most common battery on the planet, so battery availability should rarely be an issue. However, the light does draw a lot of power from the cells, so it is best to use batteries that are able to handle high current drain.

    These include rechargeable metal hydride batteries (nimh) or lithium primary cells (1.5 V). Alkaline batteries can be used, but expect very short runtimes. Do not attempt to use 14500 Lithium ion batteries (3.7V nominal), they will destroy the light.



    User interface: easy to use, intuitive

    The M40A uses the magnetic control ring to control the levels of the light.

    When the ring is turned fully counter-clockwise, the light is off. Turning the ring clockwise takes one through the 3 levels (35 – 200 – 600 lumens), then to strobe.

    Using the light is simple and can be done with one hand. The ring runs from off to strobe in 180 degrees (or 1/2 a full rotation) so it is easy to select any mode. It would be nice if the detent before strobe could be made a bit firmer to prevent accidental activation, as is, it’s easy to accidentally go into strobe mode if one is unaware of the levels of the light (especially since they are not marked in any way!).



    Level Selection: Lots of output, but could use more even spread and an extra mode

    The M40A offers a fairly good set of modes, but with such a high max output, it would be more practical to add an extra mode to better distribute the differing levels.

    As is, the modes are fairly widely spaced, offering a fairly useful selection of levels.

    The interesting thing is that the low mode seems much lower than the specified 35 lumens. When compared to known sources, the low level seems more like 15-20 lumens. It is possible that there was a change in the design of the light after the specifications were printed. The previous model (using a lower output MC-E LED), was rated at 15 – 500 lumens. The current model seems to be running at 18 – 600 lumens. Whether or not the low-mode runtime has also changed (from 35 hours to the previous model’s 60 hours) is unknown.

    The current model seems to have levels at 18 – 200 – 600 lumens. The spread from low to medium seems pretty extreme. I would suggest adding an extra level and re-spacing them to say 8 – 40 – 150 – 600 lumens to increase max runtimes and to provide a more practical spread of levels, with good visual spacing.

    I did not detect any PWM flickering in any mode. This is impressive for such a wide range of output.



    Size, ergonomics

    The M40A is a medium sized light that fits well in the hand, and is reasonably balanced.

    Here is the light compared to the 18650 powered ArmyTek Predator and the common minimag, as well as an eneloop AA battery.






    The ergonomics are quite good, but not ideal. When using the control ring, the light is a bit short for my medium sized hands.




    When I re-adjust my grip, my fingers rest on the heat sink fins; not allowing me to control the light. I have to re-position the light to change levels.




    The handle diameter of the light is quite large (40 mm, similar to a Maglite D cell light) so those with small hands may find the light a bit unwieldy.




    As stated before, the control ring and body could use some aggressive knurling to improve grip.

    The light became quite warm on maximum output levels, but was not uncomfortable in use.



    Beam, tint quality

    The M40A uses the Cree XM-L LED (T6 flux, Cool white tint) for max output. The tint is a pure white with a mildly warm corona; the spill is a touch cooler. While the output is stark and impressive, it is a bit cold for my tastes (of course my tastes are for warmer/neutral tints and are purely subjective).



    I did not notice any tint shift through the different levels.

    The M40A uses a fairly deep textured reflector that provides an intense spot that blends into a bright corona. The spill beam is quite wide and a bit dimmer.

    This light is not as focused as my dedicated throw lights (like an Armytek Predator for instance) but still produces an impressive beam due to its sheer power (600 lumens) and actually out throws the Predator. The Predator uses an XP-G LED for a more focused, narrow beam, but the massive output from the M40A overpowers it.

    The beam was smooth, with a very well blended corona, and few beam issues (there is a fairly distinct donut in the beam at distances less than two feet). This beam is good for medium to long range use but, as expected, is not well suited for any close range use.



    The emitter was well centered.



    Upgradability, other Notes

    The M40A’s crenulated bezel is not glued, allowing access to the lens and reflector (for cleaning etc). Unfortunately, the LED is hidden under a plastic insulating shield, as is the driver. I was unable to disassemble the light to fully access the LED or driver.

    I am hoping that Sunwayman plans a neutral tint run at some point as I find that tint much more pleasant and easy on the eyes.

    The threads in the head are anodized allowing switch lockout if the head is partially unscrewed from the body. This can prevent accidental activation when the light is carried in a pack etc.



    Summary

    Sunwayman has made an intriguing model that allows one to achieve max output using common AA batteries. The M40A can put out an amazing 600 lumens, or a long running 18 lumen mode.

    The magnetic control ring interface is both intuitive and reliable, offering easy access to the light’s three modes (and strobe). An extra level and perhaps some adjustments in level selection would provide more even spacing and increase the utility of the light.

    Overall construction is very good, with well-machined parts that are nicely finished in a durable, attractive, dark grey anodizing. While the light is well made, it would be improved by some knurling or other features to improve handling and access to the control ring.

    Based on all the qualities of the M40A, I look forward to what Sunwayman has in store for future models. I find their magnetic control ring interface to be ingenious and innovative. Good job!
    Last edited by gunga; 07-22-2011 at 01:25 AM.

  2. #2
    *Flashaholic* gunga's Avatar
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    Default Re: >> In Progress << Sunwayman M40A (XM-L) review

    Reserved.
    Last edited by gunga; 07-12-2011 at 03:04 AM.

  3. #3
    *Flashaholic* gunga's Avatar
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    Default Re: >> In Progress << Sunwayman M40A (XM-L) review

    Okay, photos posted!

  4. #4

    Default Re: >> In Progress << Sunwayman M40A (XM-L) review

    Thank you for the thorough review! That's a very cool light, and I hadn't looked into it before. I might have to pick one up sometime!

  5. #5
    Flashaholic* Incidentalist's Avatar
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    Default Re: >> Photos posted << Sunwayman M40A (XM-L) review

    Thanks for the review.

    I have the MC-E version and am really happy with it. I was thinking about picking up another one of those at some point, but I think I'll upgrade to this version instead. I'd love to see a V variant of this light, assuming they wouldn't screw it up like they did with the V20C. I'd also like a neutral version, but I'm not going to hold my breath on that one either.

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    Flashaholic Acid87's Avatar
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    Default

    I love your reviews Gunga buddy. Really in depth but if your lazy like I am tonight you can skip to the summary and everything is there. Good job.

  7. #7
    *Flashaholic* gunga's Avatar
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    Default Re: >> Photos posted << Sunwayman M40A (XM-L) review

    Thanks guys, I appreciate the feedback! I have a few upcoming reviews, so stay tuned!

  8. #8
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    Default Re: >> Photos posted << Sunwayman M40A (XM-L) review

    Very nice light! Was thinking about getting one, but seeing how it fits in your hands I am not so sure now.

    That is a well designed battery holder and one of the coolest lights out IMO.

  9. #9
    Flashaholic* Incidentalist's Avatar
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    Default Re: >> Photos posted << Sunwayman M40A (XM-L) review

    My hands are on the smaller side for men and I find the size quite comfortable to carry for long periods of time.

  10. #10

    Default Re: >> Photos posted << Sunwayman M40A (XM-L) review

    Nice review. Looks like a nicely built light. Great pictures.

  11. #11

    Default Re: >> Photos posted << Sunwayman M40A (XM-L) review

    Thanks Gunga for another very well done review! I always look forward to them. Any hints on which ones you are working on now or will be done with shortly?
    The M40A looks like a very nice light. I do like the different color that Sunwayman uses instead of the normal black.
    Now I need to figure out if I should get this or wait till Zebralight releases their 4 AA Q50! Decisions, decisions!

  12. #12
    Flashaholic Lighteous's Avatar
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    Default Re: >> Photos posted << Sunwayman M40A (XM-L) review

    Well done review gunga! The M40A looks great. I really like control ring type lights and this one looks well designed and built. However, the size of the light concerns me, but it cannot be avoided as the 4 AA cells have to go somewhere. I also wish it had a lower minimum level. I use firefly level quite a bit and 18 lumens as a low is too bright for some uses. Thanks for your efforts!

  13. #13
    *Flashaholic* gunga's Avatar
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    Default Re: >> Photos posted << Sunwayman M40A (XM-L) review

    Thanks guys, appreciate the feedback. Yes, 4 AA cells have to go somewhere, and 18 lumens is too high for me too. I'd prefer a M40A, but done right, like the earlier Sunwaymans (V10R etc).

    As for upcoming reviews, I feel a Klarus coming down... plus a few other exciting new choices.


  14. #14

    Default Re: >> Photos posted << Sunwayman M40A (XM-L) review

    Good review - thorough details - beautiful photos.
    Their V10R, M20, 30, 40 and 60 series are some of the most beautiful lights on the market.
    An M60R that takes 3x18650's would add nicely...

  15. #15
    Flashaholic* tre's Avatar
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    Default Re: >> Photos posted << Sunwayman M40A (XM-L) review

    Nice review. I'm surprised that it does not out-throw the ArmyTek given the 40mm head. The big throwers (M3C4, Catapult V3, etc) have heads that are about 3/4" larger so I knew it would not be a big thrower but I thought it would be better than that. I guess that huge emitter needs a really big head to get any throw. How far away from the ArmyTek was it? (in terms of throw).

  16. #16

    Default Re: >> Photos posted << Sunwayman M40A (XM-L) review

    Could it be because the M40A's head is not that deep? So that's y it doesn't throw that far?
    The Catapult has a very deep head, though both heads are roughly the same at 57mm M40A, and 58mm Catapult.
    However, I guess the Catapult has a lot more lumens than the M40A?

  17. #17

    Default Re: >> Photos posted << Sunwayman M40A (XM-L) review

    144mm long and will run at 600 lumen for 1.5 hours on cells you can buy at any gas station. Damn. Did SWM mention the formulation of the batteries used for runtimes? If it's alkalines I'm really impressed (just looked, says 2600mAh Ni-MH).....still those are easy enough to track down at supermarkets.
    I seem to have misplaced my occipital lobe, and as such cannot search for it. Do you see my dilemma?

  18. #18
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    Default Re: >> Photos posted << Sunwayman M40A (XM-L) review

    Gunga, can you do a quick experiment. Look at the beam color while you increase distance. At very close distances (10 cm guys, nothing usable) I notice that different parts of the led die (or something like that) are focused in different parts of the beam, to the extent that very close I can see an yellow ring surrounding a blue center. However as you increase distance they blend better and at more than 5 meters it looks white.

    Also I notice that the beam is tighter than other XM-Ls I have (I'd say tighter than my XP-Gs). Interesting reflector. Does your sample behave in a similar way?

    I concur to your finding that the light is better suited for medium to long distances.

    Nap.

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    *Flashaholic* gunga's Avatar
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    Default Re: >> Photos posted << Sunwayman M40A (XM-L) review

    I'm working on other reviews so will have to get back to you. I don't see a blue centre, sometimes I see a bit of minor donut effecy im the centre, I have seen this on most if not all the XM-L lights I have been trying lately... 4-5 different ones with different reflectors (smooth and OP), from different manufacturers at medium to closer range. All have minor tint graduation. I see a yellowish corona on all, (some larger than others) with a bluer spill and a minor darkening in the hot spot centre. I think no one has th foccusing just right yet...

    At more than 5 meters, I'm not looking at a white wall, so I don't notice tint variations or many minor beam artifacts. That's the funny thing, no matter how good or bad a beam is on the wall (ringyness, not really BAD artifacts) it's usually not too noticable in normal use. That's the beauty of it.

    The beam has a very intense centre hotspot, broad hotspot overall, small corona, cool spill.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: >> Photos posted << Sunwayman M40A (XM-L) review

    Quote Originally Posted by gunga View Post
    I see a yellowish corona on all, (some larger than others) with a bluer spill and a minor darkening in the hot spot centre.
    Yes that's it at short distance. The blending gradually improves with the distance and at about 5 meters it becomes this:

    Quote Originally Posted by gunga View Post
    The beam has a very intense centre hotspot, broad hotspot overall, small corona, cool spill.
    ...which makes it very nice for medium-long distances.

    Thanks!

    Nap.

  21. #21
    *Flashaholic* gunga's Avatar
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    Default Re: >> Photos posted << Sunwayman M40A (XM-L) review

    Just a small update, to source of review sample. Sunwayman.ca is the Cdn distributor, Armtac only deals with airsoft guns etc...

  22. #22
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    Default Re: >> Photos posted << Sunwayman M40A (XM-L) review

    Quote Originally Posted by gunga View Post
    Just a small update, to source of review sample. Sunwayman.ca is the Cdn distributor, Armtac only deals with airsoft guns etc...
    Funny you mentioned that. Apparently the only places you can get Sunwaymans in Canada are the airsoft/paintball guys. I've got some from www.milsig.ca .

    Nap.

  23. #23

    Default Re: >> Photos posted << Sunwayman M40A (XM-L) review

    Great review Gunga! This light has intrigued me though I just can't pull the trigger on it. Considering it's length, I would love to see it with a mechanical tail switch just like the Nitecore SR3.
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  24. #24
    Flashaholic* ebow86's Avatar
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    Default Re: >> Photos posted << Sunwayman M40A (XM-L) review

    Nice review, although I have to say the light is deceptively small, it seemed much larger until I saw the pic of it in your hand.
    My Lights Here

  25. #25

    Default Re: >> Photos posted << Sunwayman M40A (XM-L) review

    Very nice write-up gunga, very clear and detailed.

    Nice to see Sunwayman has updated the M40A with the latest emitter XM-L emitter. It is a very nice build, so good to see it get a new lease on life.

    FYI, for those curious, you can see runtimes and output measures of the original MC-E-based M40A in my review. That version was a decent MC-E light for its time, but I would expect increased output and/or increased runtime with this new XM-L version (likely some of both).
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Latest hobby: whiskyanalysis.com. New: Selfbuilt's New Year's Day Sale
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  26. #26
    *Flashaholic* gunga's Avatar
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    Default Re: >> Photos posted << Sunwayman M40A (XM-L) review

    Thanks for the feedback guys.

    Selfbuilt, I leave the detailed runtimes to your stellar reviews! I was not too surprised that Sunwayman seems to have just swapped emitters without many other changes (though I cannot confirm for sure). It's a pretty common practice and does yield an incrementally better product.

    Yes, ebow, I agree, a lot of lights look huge in pictures, but not so much in real life. I find that a lot.

    Thanks Hogo, I think I prefer the switching as is. Why add size and complication? As long as there is no (or minimal) parasitic drain, I prefer not having a tail switch. It does help for signally or "tactical" use though, I can agree on that.

  27. #27

    Default Re: >> Photos posted << Sunwayman M40A (XM-L) review

    Awesomely detailed review gunga, was waiting for an updated XM-L version when I sees this beauty on ebay, can't believe its already here, yes, I'd joined CPF just awhile ago ^^

  28. #28
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    Default Re: >> Photos posted << Sunwayman M40A (XM-L) review

    I have the original 500lm version and still happy with it, especially since it takes any AA in a pinch if I can't charge my NIMH's. As for a case I picked up a spare ACOG optic pouch on EBay after finding the Light and 2 spare magazines fit very nicely in that padded pouch plus its Molle

  29. #29
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    Default Re: >> Photos posted << Sunwayman M40A (XM-L) review

    Picked up this light on a Black Friday deal. To go along with the Sunwayman V60C. Very nice light, feels good in the hand. Love the AA battery format really packs a punch in this light. Wished Sunwayman would come out with a Variable Magnetic Control in this light. Guess if they do I will have to buy another one.

  30. #30

    Default Re: >> Photos posted << Sunwayman M40A (XM-L) review

    Any outdoor beamshots of this? Lux figures or output figures?
    I cant find beamshots with the xm-l outdoors.
    If anyone knows please post them thanks.

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