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Thread: Object/Subject Review: Bronte RC25S

  1. #1

    Default Object/Subject Review: Bronte RC25S

    Review in Progress

    Bronte is a newer name in the flashlight arena, but they've already got several offerings available. Recently I did reviews of a few of their lower-end models with XP-G emitters running on NiMH and alkaline only. While they were solid, reliable lights, there was nothing to really make them stand out. Now, I've got my hands on two of their XM-L models that run off of lithium primaries or lithium ion rechargeables, and these models are in a different league. Both the X20 and the RC25S use a side switch built into the tail cap, which if you haven't tried it, allows for a UI that gives the user much more control over their flashlight.

    Thanks to Bryan at Shiningbeam for providing the RC25S for review.

    Iíll be reviewing the RC25S in two sections: first, Iíll discuss the light objectively (the facts about the light itself), then Iíll discuss the light subjectively (my impressions about the light's performance when used for specific applications). This is a compact, powerful light geared for mid-range use. Bronte advertises it as being useful for outdoor and tactical situations, so I'll be reviewing it as such. If you have any other specific applications you'd like the light tested for, let me know and I'll see what I can do.

    4-Minute Overview

    Below is a video "quick review" you can watch in just a few minutes, if you're not up for reading the full review right now:


    Manufacturer's Specifications

    MSRP: $78


    The RC25S comes packaged in a cardboard box with a magnetic flap. The specs are printed on the box, and no instruction card/manual was included in my review sample. The light and accessories were nestled in a foam cutout.

    Construction Quality

    The RC25S is a compact, high power light. It can run from 1x18650 lithium ion rechargeable battery, or 2xCR123 primary batteries. Some of the specs I've read on it say it can hand 2x16340 lions, some say it can't, and I have not yet ventured to try.

    The finish on the light is a solid black hard anodizing (HA III), which will resist scratches and chips to the aluminum body. Overall, it has a very "sharp" look and feel, given by the pointed bezel and grip ring.

    Now, we'll take a closer look, starting at the head and working back.

    The RC25S has a stainless steel bezel ring that protects the head, lens, and emitter in case of a front-end impact. The bezel itself is pointed, and Bronte claims it as an "attack bezel". It certainly has an intimidating look. The emitter is a CREE XM-L U2, which is currently (6/15/12) the most efficient high-brightness LED available. The reflector is very smooth, which maximizes the distance the light can throw. This isn't a huge reflector, so it's not designed to be any sort of super-thrower, but it does lean more to throw than flood.

    The head has a few sections flattened out to give the light a bit of anti-roll, and just behind the head are the heat dissipation fins. The light produces significant heat when running on high, and these help move that heat away from the emitter and into the air. The body had Bronte's logo and the model number on the side printed clearly in white, and this is the only thing printed on the light. Between the body and tail, the clip is held down by the grip ring. You can see this in more detail in the "Accessories" section below, but this design makes it easy to take the clip on and off without tools, but it is still very secure when installed. The tail features two separate switches, the rear switch and the side switch.

    Hear you can see close-ups of the heat dissipation fins, the clip profile, and the grip ring.

    The side switch has the letter "S" on it, and the switch is set back into the tail section so that it does not protrude. This should help it not to accidentally get pressed in a pocket. This is an electronic switch which recognizes clicks and holds.

    The rear switch protrudes beyond the slightly crenelated tail, which means this light is not able to tail stand, but it is easy to reach the switch. This is a mechanical forward-click switch, which recognizes half-presses and full-presses.

    Now, it's time to take the light apart.

    The RC25S comes apart into three sections without the use of tools: the head, body, and tail.

    Inside the head, a small spring is used to make contact with the positive battery terminal, so the RC25S can accept both flat-top and button-top cells. (I've successfully used AW, Callies' Kustoms, and Trustfire.) The threads between the head and body are square-cut and non-anodized. The square threads will hold up to more abuse without wearing down that triangle-cut threads. Anodizing would also make them last longer, but it would require the light to be fully tightened. As it is, the head will make an electrical connection with the body even if the head is a little loose.

    The threads between the tail and the body are square cut and anodized. Because these are anodized, you can loosen the tail a bit to put the light in lock-out when you won't be using it for a while. However, I still recommend removing the batteries for storage or transport. In the tail, this negative contact is spring loaded to help make a good connection with the batteries. The spring is not stiff enough to help protect the batteries during an impact, it's just to make a good electrical connection.

    As you can see, a loaded battery sits back into the body just a bit.

    Now, I'm going to disassemble the light a little further using some tools. I recommend not doing doing this, as it may void your warranty.

    Inside the tail, a metal ring holds a plastic guide down over the switch. You can see that a second small spring makes electrical connection between the switch and tail threads. A groove in the bottom of the left picture makes sure the switch is in place to line up with the button for the side switch. You can see the inside of the button in the picture on the right.

    This is the mechanism that combines the two switches, side and rear, in one piece. The side switch is an electronic switch, and the rear switch is mechanical. In the picture on the right, you can see the small notch that fits into the guide groove in the tail.

    When you unscrew the bezel, you can see it's actually a large heat sink that also holds the reflector and lens.

    The emitter is held in center by this white plastic piece, and it appears to be surrounded by a large heat sink. It has holes to be removed if you desire, but I didn't venture this far myself, because my hands are clumsy and it's too near the LED for my comfort .


    The RC25S comes with a lanyard, a spare rear switch cove, some o-rings, a grip ring and smooth ring, a clip, and a holster.

    You have two options for a ring between the tail and body, a grip ring or a smooth ring. The grip ring has a place to attach the lanyard, but if you choose the smooth ring you can still attach the lanyard to a hole in the tail. Whichever ring you choose will hold down the clip. As you can see, the clip is held down under the ring and comes out up through a notch in the body. This keeps the clip very secure while attached, but it's easily removed without tools.

    Here you can see the various options with the grip ring or smooth ring, with or without the clip.

    The lanyard attaches with a small split ring to either the grip ring or tail cap. The lobster claw does not fit into the holes on it's own, the split ring is required.

    The light fit's into the holster bezel up, and a velcro flap folds over to protect the lens. The Bronte logo is pressed into the flap. The holster is held on to a belt (or whatever else) by a both velcro and a snap.


    User Interface

    The RC25S has a two-switch UI, using the rear forward-click mechanical switch and the side electronic switch. The rear switch turns the light on and off, and the side switch controls the modes.

    When the light is off, a quick press of the side switch does nothing, but holding it down for a little more than a second activates a momentary strobe, which will stop as soon as you release the side switch.

    A half-press to the rear switch will momentarily turn the light on in the last used brightness mode, and it will turn back off when you release the rear switch. Pressing and releasing quickly will not change the mode, it will stay the same until you use the side switch. A full press to the rear switch will turn the light on, and it will stay on until you give another full press to the rear switch.

    When the light is on, a quick press of the side switch will cycle through the three brightness levels, Low, Medium, and High. Holding down the side switch for a little more than a second will activate the strobe. When the strobe is on, a press to the side switch will take you back to the last used brightness mode, or a click of the rear switch will turn the light off. The strobe mode is not memorized, so if you turn the light off by the rear switch during strobe mode, the next press of the rear switch will bring the light on in the last used brightness mode.

    -------Interface Summary-------

    (Light Off)
    Side Hold - Strobe until released
    Rear Half-press - Last used brightness until released
    Rear Full-press - Last used brightness

    (Light On)
    Side Click - Advance to next brightness in cycle (Low -> Medium -> High)
    Side Hold - Strobe
    Rear Full-press - Off

    (Light Strobing)
    Side Click - Last used brightness
    Rear Full-press - Off

    Action Shots

    Light in Hand

    White Wall (Low, Medium, High)
    ISO 100, f/3.3, 1/20"



    Indoor Shots (Low, Medium, High)
    ISO 100, f/3.3, 1/4"

    Outdoor Shots (Control, Low, Medium, High)
    ISO 100, f/3.3, 1"


    Submersion: I submerged the RC25S under about a foot of water, turned it on and off (using both switches) and let it sit for a while. I could find no evidence of water entering the light, and it continues to function normally.

    Heat: On High, the RC25S heats up enough to be a little uncomfortable after about 15 minutes, but it does not get too hot to hold.

    PWM: The RC25S uses pulse-width modulation on Medium and Low modes. The PWM is noticeable when using a video camera (see the quick video review above) but is not detectable by the naked eye, unless you look at the emitter while using the light very fast. I can hear no whine due to the PWM.

    Drop: I dropped the RC25S from a height of about 1 meter onto several surfaces including grass, carpet, packed dirt, and wood floor. I can find no sign of cosmetic or functional damage to the light.

    Reverse Polarity Protection: I could find no claims by Bronte that this light has any sort of protection in the case of accidentally inserting the battery backwards, so don't do it.

    Over-Discharge Protection: The RC25S does not have any real over-discharge protection, however, it is not regulated, so you'll know to recharge your lithium ion batteries when the light gets dim.

    Spectral Analysis

    All light that we see as white is actually made up of several different colors put together. The relative intensities of the different colors in the mix are what determine the tint of the white we see. For example, cool white LED's have a lot of blue, and warm white LED's have more red or yellow. This measurement was done on a home made spectrometer. Note: the peak in the 900nm region doesn't really exist, it's a piece of the second-order spectrum that's showing up here because of the high intensity of the light source.

    Output, Current Draw and Runtime

    Note: ANSI runtime ratings are the time it takes for a light to fall to 10% of it's original output.

    Note: The vertical axis of the graph below represents a relative brightness measurement using a home made light box. The horizontal axis is time in hours:minutes:seconds. Runtimes are stated in hours:minutes:seconds. These graphs may be truncated to show detail.

    Mode Comparison



    Throwing Distance

    ANSI standard for stating a light's throwing distance is the distance at which the peak beam intensity (usually at the center of the beam) is 0.25 lux. I calculate throwing distance and candela (lux at 1 meter) by measuring peak beam intensity at five different distances and using the formula lux*distance^2=constant.

    Peak Beam Intensity: 11691cd
    Throw Distance: 216m

    Subjective Review


    Quick break down:

    +"Attack-head with imported stainless steel, presents wilder tactical style"
    +Side switch is a pleasure
    +Strobe mode only activates when you want it
    +Accepts both primaries and rechargeables
    +Good grip
    +Good general purpose beam pattern
    +Both switches accessible by same grip.

    -No regulation on 18650
    -Clip hard to use
    -400m throw claim is exaggerated
    -A little sharp to hold

    I'll say right off that this light has been a real pleasure to use. Having the two-button UI is a huge step forward from using the same button to turn the light on/off and change modes, and it's hard to describe how great that is until you've tried it for yourself. I also just really like the style of this light, summed up in this statement from Bronte: "Attack-head with imported stainless steel, presents wilder tactical style." When I use the RC25S, I feel that wilder tactical style

    Over the past week, I've found this light to be one of my first choices for general use to grab when I leave the house at night. It's head is about the right size that it keeps it a good balance between throw at flood for close to mid range use, and it's also small enough to fit in a pocket and not be a pain.

    I really only have two substantial disappointments with this light. The first is that it isn't regulated when using 1x18650. I know this is the norm for lights that accept both 18650 and 2xCR123, but I still don't like it. The second thing is that the clip is practically unusable. The end of the clip sits just next to the base of the head, which is thicker than the body. This means that the gap to fit the clip over your pocket or whatever else is very small, and it requires some real effort to do, instead of just sliding it in.

    Even with those two drawbacks, this light is a huge step forward from the previous Bronte's I've seen, and the RC25S is definitely a legitimate entry into the high-class lighting arena, while still at a price that's lower than average for it's class.


    Bronte claimed the RC25S to be useful as an outdoor light, so I payed special attention to it's usefulness outdoors as I reviewed it.

    In general, a light used outdoors often is going to need to be more rugged than others, and also generally needs more grip. I have yet to do any damage to the RC25S, and it seems pretty rugged to me. My only concern is that an impact in just the wrong place might be able to damage the side switch, as it's just a piece of rubber over an electronic switch. As for grip, the RC25S is going to be pretty hard to drop.

    In my use, I found the beam pattern to be very useful for close to mid range work outside. If that's your main need for outside work, this light will be great. If you need to work more at longer distances, you should probably look into something else (Bronte has an X20 model that might work well for you).


    Everyone has their own idea of what a "tactical" light should be, and how it should work. In general, I think of a tactical light as one that you can depend on to behave in a predictable way each time you use it, such that it can be incorporated into a plan (tactics) that is at least partially dependent on the light's operation. By that definition, a lot of lights can be tactical, but also a lot can't.

    For the RC25S, there are a few things really going in it's favor, the biggest being that the modes are changed by a separate switch than the one that turns the light on and off. Another tactical advantage is that you can quickly access strobe (even when the light is off), but it's very unlikely that you will access it by accident. Also, the fact that both switches can be reached without switching your grip is huge. These things give you greater control over the light's operation, and in general, that's going to be helpful in tactical situations.

    For the drawbacks, the only significant one in my mind is that the light doesn't always start on the same mode, but rather starts on the last used mode. This is nice if I want to set it to a certain mode and only use that one during an operation, but it can be a hindrance if I go to pick up my light and don't remember the mode I used last, thus I don't know what will happen when I turn it on (not good). Thankfully, strobe is not remembered by the mode memory.

    These are some things to keep in mind when considering this light for tactical use. Consider what you need the light to do, then you can decide if this would be a good light for your tactics.

    Long Term Impressions

    I'll fill this part in after carrying the light for a while. If nothing get's added here, either I find nothing else worth noting about the light, or I end up not using it often.
    Last edited by Bigmac_79; 06-19-2012 at 06:25 PM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Object/Subject Review: Bronte RC25S

    Objective review complete!

  3. #3

    Default Re: Object/Subject Review: Bronte RC25S

    Subjective review complete! This one's done

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Re: Object/Subject Review: Bronte RC25S

    I just love your excellent reviews, Bigmac_79, very informative!
    Regarding the input voltage, I did try 2x TF18350 cells (larger and longer than 16340 cells) in my RC25S today, they fit tightly.
    The light worked fine on all modes and I got almost flat regulation with this power option, it was 31 mins on Hi, same runtime as my TK30 on the same 2 batteries.
    You can check out Brontelight website, they also state you can use 2x16340 batteries.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Object/Subject Review: Bronte RC25S

    Quote Originally Posted by dudu84 View Post
    I just love your excellent reviews, Bigmac_79, very informative!
    Regarding the input voltage, I did try 2x TF18350 cells (larger and longer than 16340 cells) in my RC25S today, they fit tightly.
    The light worked fine on all modes and I got almost flat regulation with this power option, it was 31 mins on Hi, same runtime as my TK30 on the same 2 batteries.
    You can check out Brontelight website, they also state you can use 2x16340 batteries.
    Thanks for that info! I'll put the 2x16340 configuration back on my list of tests to run.

  6. #6
    Unenlightened Larzon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011

    Default Re: Object/Subject Review: Bronte RC25S

    Excellent reviews, Bigmac_79, thanks!

    And itīs a
    lovely flashlight ;-)

  7. #7

    Default Re: Object/Subject Review: Bronte RC25S

    Thanks for the compliment

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