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Thread: Surefire UB3T Invictus (XM-L, 3xCR123A) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, ANALYSIS + more!

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    Party Surefire UB3T Invictus (XM-L, 3xCR123A) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, ANALYSIS + more!

    Warning: a LOT more pic heavy than usual.

    Out of the night that covers me,
    Black as the pit from pole to pole,
    I thank whatever gods may be
    For my unconquerable soul.


    Invictus, by W.E. Henley.



    Although I’ve included runtime data from some of my personal Surefire lights in other reviews, this is the first sponsored full review that I have done of a Surefire light. And this is certainly a whopper to begin with - the UB3T "Invictus".

    Manufacturer's Specifications:
    • LED: XM-L (presumed)
    • Output/Runtimes:
    • Stage 11: Strobe
    • Stage 10 (Tactical/High/Max): 800 lumens, 1.75 hrs (time to 50 lumens)
    • Stage 9: 325 lumens, 3.5 hrs runtime (time to 10%)
    • Stage 8: 160 lumens, 7 hrs runtime (time to 10%)
    • Stage 7: 80 lumens, 14 hrs runtime (time to 10%)
    • Stage 6: 30 lumens, 25 hrs runtime (time to 10%)
    • Stage 5: 15 lumens, 27.5 hrs runtime (time to 10%)
    • Stage 4: 8 lumens, 48.5 hrs (time to 10%)
    • Stage 3 (Low/Min): 2 lumens, 84 hrs (time to 10%)
    • Stage 2: SOS
    • Stage 1: Off
    • Weight (w/batteries): 12 oz (340 g)
    • Length: 8.9" (22.6 cm)
    • Bezel Diameter: 2.5" (6.4 cm)
    • Batteries: 3 x CR123A Lithium Batteries
    • MSRP: ~$400 (as of Feb 2012)






    The light is securely packaged, and comes with a removable lanyard ring (attached), good quality wrist lanyard and clip, manual, three Surefire-branded CR123As (inside the light) and various product inserts. As typical on Surefire lights, there is no holster (although various after-market solutions are available).

    Here are some close-ups of the box.






    From left to right: Surefire CR123A, UB3T Invictus, JetBeam M1X V2 (with extender), Olight M31 (no extender), Thrunite Catapult V3, JetBeam BC40.

    All dimensions are given with no batteries installed:

    Surefire UB3T: Weight: 311.1g, Length 229mm, Width (bezel): 63.1 mm
    Skilhunt X3 (no extender): Weight: 251.8g, Length: 193mm, Width (bezel): 44.1mm
    Olight M31 (no extender): Weight: 258.1g, Length 209mm, Width (bezel): 62.3mm
    Lumintop TD-15X (no extender): Weight 150.3g, Length 147.3mm, Width (bezel) 37.8mm
    JetBeam BC40: Weight: 226.3g, Length: 224mm, Width (bezel): 48.5mm
    Thrunite Catapult V3: Weight: 434.8g, Length: 254mm, Width (bezel) 58.0mm, Width (tailcap) 35.1mm.

    The UB3T is definitely longer and heavier than other 3xCR123A lights (e.g. the X3, M31 and TD-15X listed above). It is closer to a compact 4xCR123A light (e.g. BC40).








    The overall body design of the UB3T Invictus is similar to the classic Surefire M4 Devastator, although modernized for the new control ring and LED and optic.

    The body is a matte black finish with bright white labels, similar to Surefire E1B Backup, but with a more stylized font. Although the body is smooth, I find the anodizing gives it a somewhat "grippy" feel. I noticed something similar on the Armytek Predator (i.e. anodizing almost feels like it is slightly rubberized). The net effect is fairly good grip, especially with the grip ring and other design elements.

    Screw threads are square-cut, and the light can be locked out at the tailcap. I believe Surefire now uses a clear "chemfilm" for tailcap lockout, as opposed to traditional anodizing.

    Tailswitch is not a clicky switch – rather, it a two-stage screw/press-style tactical switch. Something similar is used on the Surefire L2-series lights, but this switch is a lot deeper and has a lot more screw threads. The main difference here is that the "Lo" state (i.e., partially connected) actually allows you to use all the output modes on the control ring. As with the L2-series lights, fully tighten for Max.

    There is a substantial spring in the head.

    The control ring has a solid feel, and is labeled (clockwise, holding the light in your hand pointed away from you): OFF > SOS > MIN > (bar stage 3) > (bar stage 4) > (bar stage 5) > (bar stage 6) > (bar stage 7) > (bar stage 8) > (bar stage 9) > MAX > STROBE.

    There are definite detents at all levels, and the control ring feels firm and reasonably stiff. I believe the ring uses the Hall effect with magnetic sensors to switch modes, but have not directly tested this. Note the additional OFF mode on the ring - no light is produced here, no matter what state the tailcap is in.

    There is a battery indicator LED over the SOS label. More on this later.

    Of course, one of the most distinctive aspects of the light is the head – instead of a standard reflector, the UB3T uses a distinctive large TIR (total internal reflector) optic:





    The UB3T is presumed to use a Cree XM-L emitter (obviously hard to see under that optic to confirm ). The optic is most interesting – it has at least two clearly demarcated concentric ring areas. As with all optics, I would expect excellent throw with little-to-no side-spill (i.e. this is not like a reflector). Scroll down to my beamshots section later in this review for a comparison.

    Before I move on, I also picked up the standard Surefire FM24 2.5-inch diffuser cap. This allows you rapidly switch between a diffused state and max throw:

    UPDATE SEPT 12, 2011: I have been advised that the FM24 diffuser has been discontinued by Surefire. So you may have trouble finding one (a few Canadian dealers may still have inventory, at the the time of this writing). A pity, as it does a great job of diffusing the UB3T's beam, as you will see later in this review.






    Beamshots will also include the effect of the diffuser.

    Video Overview

    NEW: Normally at this point in the review, I like to show the beamshots. But I’m trying something new - video reviews showing both the basic build and user interface. Beamshots will follow after the user interface and circuit discussion.

    Because there is a lot to say about this light, I have broken the video into two components, as described below.

    Part I - Build, Beam and Circuit Performance



    Part II - Control Ring and Battery Indicator



    Videos were recorded in 720p HD, but YouTube defaults to 360p. Once the video is running, you can click on the 360p icon in the lower right-hand corner, and select the higher 480p or 720p options, or even run full-screen.

    User Interface

    Output Control

    Simply put, you partially tighten the tailcap to access all the output modes of the control ring, fully tighten to activate Max output.

    When the tailcap is partially screwed on (i.e. in your desired output mode as set by the ring), you can press the tailcap button to jump to momentary Max. When you release the button, the light returns to your set level.

    If you unscrew the tailcap just enough to completely turn off the light, a soft-press will give you your set level, and a harder press will give you Max output.

    Unscrew the tailcap further, and a press will only give you the set level mode.

    Unscrew even further, and a press will not activate the light (i.e. the light is locked out). Don’t worry – there are a LOT of screw threads left, even when the light is locked out.

    If that is not clear, I recommend you refer back to the videos above for a more thorough discussion of the interface.

    Standby Current

    The OFF state of the control ring prevents any light from coming out (even when the tailcap is fully tightened). Given the design of the light, this clearly requires some sort of stand-by/parasitic current (i.e., in this mode only, and only when the tailswitch is tightened past the lock out).

    Measuring tailcap current draw is a little tricky, since without the tailcap in place, connecting the batteries to the body tube gives you Max output (which I measured at 1.6A on 3xCR123A). I can’t measure any of the other output modes, since you need to have the tailcap partially connected for that.

    But I can measure the standby current in the Off mode. My DMM oscillated between 66uA, 76uA, and 86uA in a regular pattern (i.e. about ~1 sec at each current, repeating). If I take the average 76uA, that means for three CR123A batteries in series (1500mAh capacity), you would get 2.25 years before depleting the cells.

    This is not a worry, but as always, you can easily break this low current by loosening the tailcap to lock-out the light.

    PWM/Strobe

    Ok, this is going to take some explaining.

    Let’s start with Strobe:



    The UB3T uses a 8.8 Hz tactical strobe mode. But wait – what are those extra trains of spikes every ~350 msecs? That’s where things get interesting. Let us start at the lowest constant output level and work our way up.

    Min output, 2 lumens (stage 3 on the ring):



    The UB3T clearly shows a PWM signal, at just over 2 kHz. This is considered to be a not-visually-detectable PWM frequency, although you can just barely see it if you shine the light at rapidly moving fan blades. In practical terms, you won’t notice it.

    8 lumens (stage 4 on the ring):



    Still showing 2 kHz PWM. Perfectly acceptable.

    15 lumens (stage 5 on the ring):



    There is a very weak signal showing up at 126 Hz now. This would be plainly visible if it were actual PWM, but I can see no evidence of PWM by eye. Similarly, shinning the light on a moving fan shows no evidence of PWM.

    But it gets more interesting, as there are other repeating circuit blips at different timescales now:





    As you can see above, there are triplet signals (31 Hz apart), that show up every 150 msecs or so (i.e. 6.6 Hz). Whatever these circuit blips are, they are absolutely not visible by eye, or by shinning on a fan.

    30 lumens (stage 6 on the ring):



    Ok, this signal is VERY visible now. At this level, there is a very definite PWM-like effect going on, which I would say visually matches up with the 126 Hz signal shown above.

    Note that the 126 Hz signal pattern looks rather unusual at this level (i.e., not a clear single spike). This may be contributing the visible PWM-like effect.

    Also, there are still additional circuit signals present at lower frequencies. Let me skip ahead to 160 lumens (stage 8 on the ring) to show you some clear examples:







    As you can see, you still get the main 126 Hz signal (although again, it doesn’t look like any PWM trace that I’ve seen before). There are also other repeating signals at 6.2 Hz and 0.54 Hz. These sorts of multiple signals are present all the way up to and including the Max mode.

    But oddly enough, the PWM-like effect diminishes as you increase in output beyond the 30 lumen mode (where it is the most visible). So even though this 126 Hz signal persists, it becomes less and less noticeable with higher outputs.

    Here is a summary of what I actually see by eye:

    • 2 lumens (stage 3) and 8 lumens (stage 4) have a high-frequency PWM effect that is not readily visible at 2 kHz (i.e. can only faintly see it by shinning on fast fan blades). This will not bother you at all.
    • 15 lumens (stage 5) has no visible evidence of PWM, despite a variety of re-occurring circuit blips at different low frequencies.
    • 30 lumens (stage 6) has a very noticeable PWM-like effect that I would estimate matches 126 Hz re-occurring signal. The lower level frequencies are still present, but have shifted somewhat.
    • 80 lumens (stage 7) also has a PWM-like effect, but it is not as noticeable as the 30 lumen level. There is a still a strong 126 Hz signal, but it is less noticeable somehow. The lower frequency circuit signals again shift somewhat.
    • 160 lumens (stage 8) and 325 lumens (stage 9) – again, the PWM-like effect is increasingly less noticeable as you go up in output, despite the persistent 126 Hz signal (i.e. I can’t notice it at all at these levels). The lower frequency signals vary at each stage.
    • 800 lumens (stage 10, Max) – no visible sign of PWM that I can see, yet the 126 Hz (and lower frequency) signals are still present.

    I honestly don’t know what to make of all that, but my best guess is the extra signals are involved in helping filter the PWM effect, making it less visually noticeable. The take home message is that only the 30 lumen mode is annoying, for those of us who are sensitive to PWM.

    I have tried to capture all of the above info in a visual way in Part I of my video review. Check it out to hear additional commentary, and see exactly what the effect looks like on fan blades.

    Battery Indicator

    Many battery indicators simply provide a static indicator of relative battery capacity. That doesn’t tell you much about what runtime to expect at different outputs modes (and may not even be very inaccurate to start with ).

    In this case, I am happy to report the UB3T’s battery indicator is contextual – that is, it tells you how much relative battery life you should expect at your current output level.

    So if the light is green, you can rest assured you have a lot of runtime left at the current level. Orange indicates you should switch down to a lower level to maintain decent runtime (i.e. the light goes green again, as you switch down in output). Red means you are at imminent risk of the batteries dying on you, and need to switch down immediately.

    Note that at the higher output levels, output will have begun decreasing by the time you are in the orange warning level. At such, red warning is almost superfluous at higher outputs (i.e., you can tell from the greatly reduced output before it even turns red).

    Beamshots:

    And now the part you’ve all been waiting for.

    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.













    As expected, the UB3T’s TIR optic gives you a very focused beam, with something of a square-shaped hotspot. As with all optics, there is very little side spill. Throw is quite good - certainly in the same class as my Thrunite Catapult V3 (although the hotspot/corona looks quite different). Scroll down to my outdoor 100-yard beamshots for a greater comparison.

    But first, here’s how things look with the FM24 diffuser:









    I have now done 100-yard outdoor beamshots, in the style of my earlier 100-yard round-up reviews:





    As you can tell, the UB3T has the perfect beam if you plan to impersonate a UFO landing spotlight.

    Seriously, it is clearly designed for maximum throw with little spill. The main application would be for when you wanted as little blowback as possible from surrounding near field illumination.

    In real life, it seemed to me that the UB3T threw further than the Catapult. But it is hard to tell, since the UB3T has a broad (yet even) central hotspot, whereas the Catapult has a traditional bright center hotspot with much dimmer corona. Still, these beamshots match my visual experience more than what my throw @ 1m numbers indicate in the table below (actually measured at @ 5 meter, and converted back to 1 meter – see below for a discussion).



    The FM24 diffuser does a nice job of turning this narrow spotlight into a wide-range illuminator.

    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.



    The UB3T clearly outclasses 2xCR123A-type lights, both for throw and overall output.

    A better comparison is thus to the high-output class of 2x18650 lights:



    A word about the throw values. Consistent with FL-1, all my throw values are based on actual measurements at 5 meters, and converted back to 1 meter. Normally, 5 meters is far enough to allow a reflectored beam to fully converge. But with the TIR optic on the UB3T, I was getting a lot of variability in light meter readings in the hotspot at this distance - from 1300 to 1600 lux (i.e. 32,500 to 40,000 lux @ 1m equivalent). So, I have given the max as ~40,000 lux @1m in the table above.

    See my outdoor 100-yard beamshots earlier in this review for a picture comparison, which I think gives a better feel for what the beams really look like.

    Output spec is believable at 800 FL-1 lumens.

    Output/Runtime Comparison:



    Max output is higher than any of my 2xCR123A lights, and runtime is considerably increased at all levels (thanks to the extra CR123A).

    Note that Max = 800 lumen mode, S9 = 325 lumen mode, and S8 = 160 lumen mode, in all graphs.





    Max output is comparable to my other heavily-driven high-output XM-L lights (in fact, a bit higher initially). Overall efficiency seems excellent at all levels tested. Regulation is perfectly flat at all levels below Max.

    Potential Issues

    The light has a visible PWM-like effect on the 30 lumen and higher output modes, although it is really only noticeable or distracting at the actual 30 lumen level.

    Like most Surefire lights, the UB3T is not rated for Li-ion rechargeables. 2x 3.7V Li-ion should work safely in the light (e.g. 17500), but I have not tested this. Note the body tube is quite narrow, so I am not sure if protected 17500 would fit in the light (18500 certainly won’t). And note that 3x 3.7V RCR would likely blow the circuit.

    SOS and Strobe are located at opposite ends of the ring, meaning you need to go through SOS to reach the ring’s OFF mode (and there is nothing between Max output and Strobe). You can avoid seeing these modes by controlling on/off at the tailcap, but it does seem a peculiar arrangement on the control ring to me.

    The light lacks knurling as such, although the various build elements do help with grip. I found overall grip reasonable.

    While the battery indicator is contextual for a given mode, I find there is relatively little battery life left at the higher output modes by the time the indicator turns orange (i.e., decreased output can be observed long before the indicator turns red in these modes).

    There are a lot of screw threads on the tailcap, requiring you to turn more times than typical to lock-out the light.

    Preliminary Observations

    The UB3T in an impressive light, sporting a number of interesting innovations.

    The dual-control tailcap is an update from the two-stage Surefire L2 tailcap, here allowing you to access the ring-controlled output level in the partially-tightened state. As always, fully tighten for Max output. This is my preferred "tactical" tailcap design, as it allows constant-output (twisty) or momentary (press) – including access to multiple levels directly from Off.

    The control ring has a good number of outputs, clearly labeled on the body of the light. Feel of the ring is good, with definite detents (although note it can be hard to turn single-handed while holding the light). Personally, I would prefer to see flashing modes bundled together (preferably with a Standby/Off mode between them and the constant output modes). But thanks to the dual-control tailcap, you can easily skip seeing the flashing modes (i.e. just turn off-on by the tailcap).

    The TIR optic is one of the largest I’ve seen, and one of the most visually distinctive. It works very well to throw an even (if somewhat square) center beam a good distance. As with all optics, there is relatively little side-spill with the light. This can be advantageous in crowded environments, if you want to minimize light reflections from the surrounding area. And of course, the optional 2.5-inch Surefire diffuser does a great job of turning the UB3T into a flood light.

    The relative battery-life indicator is good, showing contextual information for each output mode. This is far more useful than typical indicators.

    Max output and throw are top-of-class for a XM-L light. Runtime and circuit regulation patterns are excellent at all levels tested. My only disappointment with the circuit is the clearly visible PWM-like effect at the 30 lumens level (and to a lesser extent at the immediately higher outputs). Still, there are plenty of other output levels to choose from, and I can easily forgo this 30 lumen one.

    Overall build quality is excellent. Hand feel is good, and the light isn’t as front heavy as I expected. Grip is acceptable, although you may want to consider carrying with the wrist lanyard in place.

    Given the size and hefty price tag, this light clearly isn’t meant to be your every-day carry. Although the well-executed control ring and dual-function tailcap are probably the features that attract the most initial attention, at the end of the day I believe it is the beam pattern that really distinguishes this light. With its heavily-focused narrow beam (with minimal spill), the UB3T will likely appeal to those seeking a high-output light that can punch far into the distance.

    ----

    Surefire UB3T provided by Battery Junction for review.
    Last edited by selfbuilt; 02-13-2012 at 08:47 AM.
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Outdoor 100-yard Beamshots 2011. Latest: Orcatorch D500.
    Gratefully accepting donations to my battery fund.

  2. #2
    Flashaholic* iapyx's Avatar
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    Default Re: Surefire UB3T Invictus (XM-L, 3xCR123A) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, ANALYSIS + m

    All I can say is wow, you took a lot of time to make this excellent review. Thanks!!!!!

    Edit:
    I had a closer look at all the info you gathered. From your review I learn that the max mode can be considered a 'turbo mode' for the occasional high. Conclusion (correct me if I'm wrong): If you want the light to run longer with a constant output (flat regulation) it's best to set it to S9, which is 325 lumen for 3 hrs 4 minutes. Now that is really interesting.

    PS. If I am not mistaken the serial# is A00075
    BJ had an early batch
    Last edited by iapyx; 09-10-2011 at 10:10 AM.
    Last edited by DM51; 25 years ago at 11:54 PM. Reason: because I can
    Post your UB3T serial# here: http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/...try&highlight=

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    Default Re: Surefire UB3T Invictus (XM-L, 3xCR123A) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, ANALYSIS + m

    Been waiting for an Invictus review and who better to do it than Selfbuilt.

    Awesome!!

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    Flashaholic* iapyx's Avatar
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    Default Re: Surefire UB3T Invictus (XM-L, 3xCR123A) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, ANALYSIS + m

    Quote Originally Posted by werdnawee View Post
    Been waiting for an Invictus review and who better to do it than Selfbuilt.

    Awesome!!
    What about DimeRazorback's review?
    Last edited by DM51; 25 years ago at 11:54 PM. Reason: because I can
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    Default Re: Surefire UB3T Invictus (XM-L, 3xCR123A) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, ANALYSIS + m

    Awesome review. I especially like the video additions you've added to your reviews. It gives a much more personal feel to it.

    After seeing the comparison beamshots between the UB3T and the SR90 and S18, it's pretty evident the advantages of having a TIR lens with no side spill. In a SAR scenario, you want to be able to see the details from far away and not the details close to you. Super bright lights, even if they were designed for throw, will illuminate your immediate surroundings due to the sheer amount of light and that will inhibit your night adjusted eyes and so you won't be able to focus on the details in the distance.
    Who needs to see the light at the end of the tunnel when you have friends on CPF?
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  6. #6

    Default Re: Surefire UB3T Invictus (XM-L, 3xCR123A) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, ANALYSIS + m

    Quote Originally Posted by iapyx View Post
    Conclusion (correct me if I'm wrong): If you want the light to run longer with a constant output (flat regulation) it's best to set it to S9, which is 325 lumen for 3 hrs 4 minutes. Now that is really interesting.
    That's a fair assessment. And it's not uncommon - most lights are usually heavily driven on max, so it's one level down where you will often see the fully regulated pattern appear. And the UB3T is definitely well regulated.

    PS. If I am not mistaken the serial# is A00075. BJ had an early batch
    I hadn't even noticed. I guess I've got a collector's edition now.

    Quote Originally Posted by iapyx View Post
    What about DimeRazorback's review?
    Quite true - DimeRazorBack did an excellent review. There's a lot of great commentary and discussion in that thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by badtziscool View Post
    After seeing the comparison beamshots between the UB3T and the SR90 and S18, it's pretty evident the advantages of having a TIR lens with no side spill. In a SAR scenario, you want to be able to see the details from far away and not the details close to you. Super bright lights, even if they were designed for throw, will illuminate your immediate surroundings due to the sheer amount of light and that will inhibit your night adjusted eyes and so you won't be able to focus on the details in the distance.
    I agree - that's why I wanted to show those outdoor comparisons.

    Even though the SR90 and S18 have nearly twice the max output (and both are focused for throw), the UB3T has a completely different beam. It's uniqueness among this class has distinct advantages in certain circumstances, like S&R. Although my abandoned service road locale is great for pics, I don't imagine a lot of missing people/animals are found at the end of open roads.

    Combine it with the FM24 diffuser cap, and you can easily switch back forth between a great flooder and tight thrower.
    Last edited by selfbuilt; 09-10-2011 at 12:55 PM.
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Outdoor 100-yard Beamshots 2011. Latest: Orcatorch D500.
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    Flashaholic* iapyx's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by selfbuilt
    That's a fair assessment. And it's not uncommon - most lights are usually heavily driven on max, so it's one level down where you will often see the fully regulated pattern appear. And the UB3T is definitely well regulated.
    I've been waiting for a surprise like this. A lot of us were initially disappointed when we learned the UB3T would not be regulated. Well maybe regulated but not flat. It was Size15 who told us to have more faith in Surefire's engineering. (not his exact words). So this testing/reviewing you did learns us so much about the technical design of this superb flashlight. I am really thrilled with your results. I will probably start using the UB3T in different way now I guess. At least my view on it will change. It's more genious than I thought.

    Edit: we have our flat regulated light after all, just not at the max level.
    Last edited by iapyx; 09-10-2011 at 03:21 PM.
    Last edited by DM51; 25 years ago at 11:54 PM. Reason: because I can
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    Default Re: Surefire UB3T Invictus (XM-L, 3xCR123A) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, ANALYSIS + m

    Man what a surprise, never thought I'd see the king of reviewers take on a Surefire, and the UB3T none the less!
    I'm very impressed by the runtimes on those two high levels. Level 9 (~325 lumens) for 3 hrs is awesome. The highest level is not to shabby either.
    Great beamshot and runtime comparisons, love the poem in the beginning, just an excellent thorough review.

    Now you making me want an M6LT all over again and after all that therapy I took to stop drooling over it in the first place.

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    Default Re: Surefire UB3T Invictus (XM-L, 3xCR123A) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, ANALYSIS + m

    Great review! The videos bring it to life, and I want one even more now than I did before...

    It is going to be hard to beat as a search-and-rescue light, IMO. That beam is very impressive. With all the different levels and the diffuser fitted, it will probably be the most versatile all-purpose light on the market.
    Resistance is futile...

  10. #10

    Default Re: Surefire UB3T Invictus (XM-L, 3xCR123A) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, ANALYSIS + m

    OUTSTANDING REVIEW!!! (then again, which of yours isn't?). However, this was truly superb with excellent details all around and I like the poem at the beginning too. I just wish I could justify the price of a new one but who knows, maybe some will eventually turn up on MP for a resonable price.

    I really like the beam profile that these TIR produce. I recall a few criticizing it when I first did beamshots of the M3LT but as I had mentioned, it's horses for courses and really depends on what your needs are. In my case, I'm in the suburbs with neighbors within arms length from me. With my TIR's, I need not worry about the spill shining into their rooms and getting them all paranoid thinking they're being burglarized and calling the cops on me when I'm out testing lights in my backyard.

    Once again, thanks for the fantastic review!

    Cheers,
    Tim

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Surefire UB3T Invictus (XM-L, 3xCR123A) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, ANALYSIS + m

    Quote Originally Posted by DM51 View Post
    it will probably be the most versatile all-purpose light on the market.
    It will be for sure the most expensive xm-l flashlight! :lol:


    Nice work selfbuilt, good job on the PWM effect!

  12. #12

    Default Re: Surefire UB3T Invictus (XM-L, 3xCR123A) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, ANALYSIS + m

    Fantastic review as usual. I only wish you never showed the FM24 diffusor - I have to go shopping now! Had my UB3T for a while now and find it useful at all levels. Highly recommended.

    Bummer - I see the FM24 diffusor is discontinued.
    Last edited by sledhead; 09-10-2011 at 06:34 PM.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Surefire UB3T Invictus (XM-L, 3xCR123A) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, ANALYSIS + m

    Quote Originally Posted by THE_dAY View Post
    Man what a surprise, never thought I'd see the king of reviewers take on a Surefire, and the UB3T none the less!
    Just needed to have someone send me one for review.

    love the poem in the beginning, just an excellent thorough review.
    Quote Originally Posted by turboBB View Post
    and I like the poem at the beginning too.
    Surefire is certainly inventive in their choice of names. I thought folks might be interested to see the opening lines of the poem that bears its name, given the obviously relevant theme. Although many may not recognize it by its opening, it does have a famous closing couplet (see the wiki page for full text, and its history).

    I'm something of a fan of victorian-era english poets, and Henley's Invictus has long been a favourite. It's also much quicker to recite by heart at cocktail parties than Tennyson's Ullysses, another favourite (and yes, I do know them both by heart ).

    Quote Originally Posted by DM51 View Post
    It is going to be hard to beat as a search-and-rescue light, IMO. That beam is very impressive. With all the different levels and the diffuser fitted, it will probably be the most versatile all-purpose light on the market.
    Quote Originally Posted by turboBB View Post
    I really like the beam profile that these TIR produce. I recall a few criticizing it when I first did beamshots of the M3LT but as I had mentioned, it's horses for courses and really depends on what your needs are.
    Yes, it really is unique in the market. Once I saw the beam pattern at a distance, I could instantly see its utility for certain situations (i.e. thicker brush, etc.). Of course, I routinely use only ~100 lumens with a diffuser cap when walking around outside in suburbia ...

    Quote Originally Posted by sledhead View Post
    Bummer - I see the FM24 diffusor is discontinued.
    Hmmm, so it is. Sorry guys, I didn't realize ths would be so hard to get. I picked mine up from a Canadian dealer (who still seems to have inventory, PM if you need the name). I wonder why they would discontinue such a useful item?
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    Default Re: Surefire UB3T Invictus (XM-L, 3xCR123A) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, ANALYSIS + m

    selfbuilt,

    Thanks for the great review! Anyway to confirm the LED is a XM-L?

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    Default Re: Surefire UB3T Invictus (XM-L, 3xCR123A) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, ANALYSIS + m

    What a great & awesome review. Selfbuilt!

    The beam profile is very impressive and looks so nice. It is very similar to zoomable light, but gives a very nice(clean) focused beam.

    I think you can separate the tailcap from the body only? ie., Can't do head from the body.

    It's just a shame that (un)protected 18500s will not fit in the light. I hope Surefire make the light to fit more Li-ion cell as well as CR123A.

    Thanks for the cool reveiw again.
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    Default Re: Surefire UB3T Invictus (XM-L, 3xCR123A) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, ANALYSIS + m

    Excellent review.

    Just really wish it didn't look like a Salvation Army bell.
    "The World is insane. With tiny spots of sanity, here and there... Not the other way around!" - John Cleese.

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    Default Re: Surefire UB3T Invictus (XM-L, 3xCR123A) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, ANALYSIS + m

    Excellent review and great videos. This light does get pretty expensive once you add in the diffuser cost on top of the light to make it an all around player.
    -- CUE

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    Default Re: Surefire UB3T Invictus (XM-L, 3xCR123A) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, ANALYSIS + m

    awesome review selfbuilt!! and big props to matt for providing you with a light to review. just need to talk him into supplying a M6LT now.
    quick question, is there not a ring of light on your sample that goes around the outer edge of the "spill"?

  19. #19

    Default Re: Surefire UB3T Invictus (XM-L, 3xCR123A) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, ANALYSIS + m

    Quote Originally Posted by candle lamp View Post
    I think you can separate the tailcap from the body only? ie., Can't do head from the body.
    It's just a shame that (un)protected 18500s will not fit in the light. I hope Surefire make the light to fit more Li-ion cell as well as CR123A.
    That's right, only the tailcap opens - you can't remove the head from the body (I'm guessing some sort of loctite).

    Surefire has never been keen on rechargeable Li-ion technology, and specifically optimizes its circuitry for primary lithium CR123A. But as a general rule, 2x 3.7V Li-ion usually works in 3x 3V CR123A lights, if you are willing to chance it. Also assuming you can find cells that fit within the bore diameter.

    Quote Originally Posted by tab665 View Post
    quick question, is there not a ring of light on your sample that goes around the outer edge of the "spill"?
    Yes, a good point - this is also a common feature of TIR optics, and is present on my sample as well. However, it is not distracting in use - it is actually less than I expected in this case. I normally find the outside bright ring annoying on optic-based lights, but it surprisingly (and happily) toned down on the UB3T.

    Quote Originally Posted by tab665 View Post
    just need to talk him into supplying a M6LT now.
    Well, I do have something to compare it to now ...
    Last edited by selfbuilt; 09-11-2011 at 10:20 AM.
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  20. #20

    Default Re: Surefire UB3T Invictus (XM-L, 3xCR123A) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, ANALYSIS + m

    Just really wish it didn't look like a Salvation Army bell.
    Oh no. Here we go again...

    I was about to reply to a comment on the design aesthetics of the light on another thread but they had a meltdown on the subject. I'll just say that the UB3T has a utilitarian form factor comparable to the other lights in the great selfbuilt review.

    Simply put, you partially tighten the tailcap to access all the output modes of the control ring, fully tighten to activate Max output.
    And just to clarify, you don't get Max when you tighten the tailcap if the selector ring is in Off (as you mentioned elsewhere), SOS or Strobe.

    There are definite detents at all levels, and the control ring feels firm and reasonably stiff. I believe the ring uses the Hall effect with magnetic sensors to switch modes, but have not directly tested this.
    Since you measured some residual current flow in the Off selector ring position I guess it is indeed electronic switching with a Hall Effect sensor. The detents do feel quite different from those on other SF Hall Effect switched lights like the U2's (no detents actually) and a Kroma Mil-Spec that I have.

    A coin sized strong rare earth magnet passed around the UB3T selector ring will cause the light to change modes even in the Off position. The fuel guage LED will come on whenever the main LED does, again, even with the selector ring in the Off position. The modes seem to transition in the same order as with the selector ring, i.e. SOS to Min, but the selector doesn't 'forget' its position when the external magnet is removed and the light returns to what the selector ring commands. Also, you can induce 'hidden modes' like a combination of Strobe or SOS and a low power setting if you play with the external magnet a little. Does the selector ring use four magnets and a Gray code perhaps?

    The light has a visible PWM-like effect on the 30 lumen and higher output modes, although it is really only noticeable or distracting at the actual 30 lumen level.
    I found the same thing with my light as I commented on another thread. Thanks for your detailed analysis, other SF lights that I have don't seem to have visible PWM or PWM-like visual artifacts. The electronic switching on the voltage converters on other SF's is usually a high enough frequency to require FCC approval.

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    Default Re: Surefire UB3T Invictus (XM-L, 3xCR123A) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, ANALYSIS + m

    I agree with the positive opinions about this review.
    But around 30minutes runtime until the drop I consider too short runtime at the highest mode. So I think I will pass in this case...
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    Default Re: Surefire UB3T Invictus (XM-L, 3xCR123A) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, ANALYSIS + m

    Quote Originally Posted by Swedpat View Post
    I agree with the positive opinions about this review.
    But around 30minutes runtime until the drop I consider too short runtime at the highest mode. So I think I will pass in this case...
    actually i was a bit suprised to see some regulation on this light. these high output lights running on just 3 primaries have had a hard time of getting any regulation at all. the only light with better regulation than the UB3T in the 3xCR123 graph is the skillhunt X3 which puts out 250 less lumens on max.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Surefire UB3T Invictus (XM-L, 3xCR123A) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, ANALYSIS + m

    Do you happen to have any spacers?
    I'd like to see if 2 spacers + 1 new cr123A gives you anything besides red.
    1 spacer + 2 new cr123A gives green up to what level?

    and Surefire should change their pricing to, 'If you have to ask, you can't afford it'

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Surefire UB3T Invictus (XM-L, 3xCR123A) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, ANALYSIS + m

    Quote Originally Posted by tab665 View Post
    actually i was a bit suprised to see some regulation on this light. these high output lights running on just 3 primaries have had a hard time of getting any regulation at all. the only light with better regulation than the UB3T in the 3xCR123 graph is the skillhunt X3 which puts out 250 less lumens on max.
    I could be wrong but i think the Malkoff Hound Dog XM-L does 750 OTF for around 60 minutes on three CR123.

  25. #25

    Default Re: Surefire UB3T Invictus (XM-L, 3xCR123A) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, ANALYSIS + m

    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelW View Post
    Do you happen to have any spacers?
    Sorry, don't have spacers of the right size for a CR123A. But I know from experience on AA-sized spacers that they can introduce some unusual effects, so can be hard to interpret the results.

    Quote Originally Posted by Swedpat View Post
    But around 30minutes runtime until the drop I consider too short runtime at the highest mode. So I think I will pass in this case...
    Quote Originally Posted by tab665 View Post
    actually i was a bit suprised to see some regulation on this light. these high output lights running on just 3 primaries have had a hard time of getting any regulation at all. the only light with better regulation than the UB3T in the 3xCR123 graph is the skillhunt X3 which puts out 250 less lumens on max.
    Quote Originally Posted by oldways View Post
    I could be wrong but i think the Malkoff Hound Dog XM-L does 750 OTF for around 60 minutes on three CR123.
    Haven't tested a Hound Dog, but I rather doubt anyone can pull 60 mins of fully regulated ~750 lumens on 3xCR123A with the current XM-L output bins. The UB3T is performing better than any of my other 3xCR123A XM-L lights at its Max level (I'm going to guess U2-bin here - the others were likely T6-bin). But I suppose it's possible Malkoff has a super efficient driver. The cells may also have something do with it - I'll redo my max runtimes here with made-in-the-USA cells, and see if things change.

    BTW, in case it isn't clear on the graphs, the initial output of the UB3T is initially higher, but quickly drops to its quasi-regulated ~800 lumen level. At ignition, I would peg it as ~10% brighter, but it drops down to ~800 lumens within 30 secs to 1 min. But as always, take my actual lumen estimates with a big grain of salt (I don't have a calibrated integrating sphere). Still, the relative comparison of outputs within and between lights is valid.

    EDIT: here is the comparison to Rayovac made-in-the-USA (believed to be same cells as other common USA-brands)

    Last edited by selfbuilt; 09-13-2011 at 07:18 AM.
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    Default

    I just had a discussion at home with my wife about the position of the SOS and strobe on the selector ring and she just came with a very simple solution. Why didn't they use braille so you can feel what level is selected. One small braille dot at each level and two braille dots at both the lowest and highest level. Strobe and SOS don't need a braille dot since those two can be found easilly at the far ends. Of course another dot or stripe at the ring to feel what level is chosen. I think the white stripes that are present now will wear out eventually. I hope SF is listening.
    Last edited by DM51; 25 years ago at 11:54 PM. Reason: because I can
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  27. #27
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    Default Re: Surefire UB3T Invictus (XM-L, 3xCR123A) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, ANALYSIS + m

    Great review Eric ! Absolutely great !
    It seems that the old TIROS INOVA style is back, inside of INVICTUS I can see the same pattern of optics which they used to be in the old INOVAs - T1,T2,T3, XO3 -
    I am wondering if the beam projection is quite similar ... is it ? The throw seems really impressive and the sidespill not too bright . Does it have Saturn rings surrounding the hotspot ?

    I wish INOVA realease a TIROS XM-L XO3 or T3 but those would probably be very floody, you need a large and deep bezel to focus an XM-L .

  28. #28

    Default Re: Surefire UB3T Invictus (XM-L, 3xCR123A) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, ANALYSIS + m

    Just ordered an FM-24 by phone from Surefire. They have about few of them left in stock. You can't order them on line but you can order from customer service. I suppose when they run out they might think of making one the same color at the UB3T.

  29. #29

    Default Re: Surefire UB3T Invictus (XM-L, 3xCR123A) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, ANALYSIS + m

    Quote Originally Posted by iapyx View Post
    Why didn't they use braille so you can feel what level is selected. One small braille dot at each level and two braille dots at both the lowest and highest level.
    I have to admit, that does make a certain amount of sense. Still, there is something inherently ironic around the idea of braille on a flashlight.

    Quote Originally Posted by radu1976 View Post
    I can see the same pattern of optics which they used to be in the old INOVAs - T1,T2,T3, XO3 -I am wondering if the beam projection is quite similar ... is it ? The throw seems really impressive and the sidespill not too bright . Does it have Saturn rings surrounding the hotspot ?
    It's been awhie since I handled one of those Inovas, so can't say for sure. I don't see any evidence of the infamous Saturn rings on the UB3T. And the sidespill is even dimmer than other lights I have that use an optic. They clearly spent some time optimizing the optic for this light.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rotophoto View Post
    Just ordered an FM-24 by phone from Surefire. They have about few of them left in stock. You can't order them on line but you can order from customer service.
    Excellent news, good idea to call them direcly.
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  30. #30
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    Default Re: Surefire UB3T Invictus (XM-L, 3xCR123A) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, ANALYSIS + m

    As far as the old Inova TIROS goes, I for one was very happy when they switched over to a traditional reflector. I still have my old TIROS Inova T2.

    Throw was great! But you ended up playing "follow the bouncing ball," as that was exactly what you got out of the old Inova optic. A beam of light that looked like a narrow ball which you had to move all over the place to see anything that wasn't literally directly in front of the narrow beam.

    When turboBB and I compared his M3LT with my M6, I noticed that the beam from his M3LT actually spread out quite a bit when distance was increased. Basically you got plenty of useful spill that, ironically, was all hotspot that simply spread open over distance.
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