Warning: even more pic heavy than usual!
The 7G9 is a new offering from Crelant in the 3x18650 high-output thrower class of flashlights. Let's see how it compares to other recent lights in this class ...
Note: as always, these are just what is reported by the manufacturer/dealer. Scroll down for the actual testing results of my sample.
- LED: CREE XM-L U2 bin LED
- Maximum output: 1020 lumens
- High efficient constant current circuit and output-luminance
- Microcontroller drive circuit
- Tactical High Mode
- Working voltage: 2.8 - 6 VDC
- Battery Types Supported: 3 x 18650
- High output at 3A: 1020 lumen max for 145 minutes.
- Mid output at 2A: 700 lumen max for 220 minutes.
- Low output at 0.3A: 138 lumen max for 21 hours
- Mil. Spec. Type 3 hard anodized aircraft grade 7075 aluminum alloy
- Color: Black
- Ergonomic grip with anti-roll design
- Tactical forward tail cap switch
- High performance aluminum smooth reflector with concentrated beam shot
- Waterproof: IPX-8 Standard
- Lens: Toughened ultra-clear coated and anti-abrasion glass
- Candle function with ability to stand on tail cap
- Dimensions: Length 187mm, Head Diameter 65mm
- Weight: 475g excluding battery
- Accessories: Lanyard, spare o-ring
- MSRP: ~$140 (may be substantially less with coupon codes)
The 7G9 comes in a simple thin cardboard box with minimal packing foam. Crelant may want to consider more sturdy packaging - my box came a bit banged up through a courier company, but the light inside was still fine. Along with the light, you get a decent wrist lanyard, extra o-rings and a manual. Crelant claims in the specs to include an extra rubber boot cover, but mine didn't come with one. I was unable to open the tail of my sample in any case (likely Loctite-sealed).
From left to right: AW Protected 18650; Crelant 7G9, 7G5V2 (1x18650 body); Thrunite TN31; Xtar S1.
All dimensions are directly measured, and given with no batteries installed:
Crelant 7G9: Weight: 482.2g (est 634g with 3x18650), Length: 188mm, Width (bezel): 64.0mm, Width (tailcap): 46.7mm
Crelant 7G5-V2: Weight: 282.6g, Length: 251mm, Width (bezel): 61.4mm
Thrunite TN30: Weight: 468.2g (est 620g with 3x18650), Length: 179mm, Width (bezel): 64.3mm, Width (tailcap): 49.0mm
Thrunite TN31: Weight: 572.1g, Length: 203mm, Width (bezel): 79.0mm, Width (tailcap): 49.0mm
Olight SR51: Weight: 405g, Length: 190mm, Width (bezel) 62.0mm
Xtar S1 Production: Weight: 876.0g (est. 1028g with 3x18650 protected), Length: 240mm, Width (bezel): 83.4mm
While fairly compact, the SG9 is still a substantial light - comparable in overall size and weight to the multiple-emitter Thrunite TN30 (although it is clearly meant to compete with the larger single-emitter TN31).
Anodizing is a glossy black, and seems to be good quality – no chips or damage on my sample. Labels were sharp and bright white against the black background. Note the voltage range printed on the light is incorrect – Crelant confirms that the light can only handle ~2.6-6.0V DC (i.e., so only 3x18650 in parallel is supported, NOT 6xCR123A).
Knurling is rather weak (i.e. smooth), but the additional build elements help with grip. Overall, I would rate overall grip as reasonable.
Screw threads are nearly square-cut (i.e., looks like triangular cut, but significantly flattened at the ends). Unfortunately – like on the earlier 7G5V2 - they not anodized for head lock-out.
Light has a scalloped stainless steel aluminum bezel ring. For more details on the reflector, scroll down to the beamshot section of the review.
The light can tailstand stably, and the tailcap cut-outs facilitate access to the switch. The light uses a forward tailcap clicky switch. The switch has a longer traverse than typical (i.e., you have to press a fair amount before activation occurs – and further for clicked on). I was unable to open the sealed tailcap, so I don't know if the switch uses a powered assist (as the Thrunite TN30/31 do).
The 7G9 doesn't use a battery carrier, but instead has cut-outs in the handle for the 3x18650 cells. At the base of the wells, there three springs connected together on a circuit board. One issue here – not all of my high-capacity 3100mAh cells would fit comfortably into the light. My Xtar 3100mAh cells were too wide to fit in the holes (although you might be able to squeeze them in if you remove the identification labels). In contrast, my label-free 4GREER 3100mAh cells all fit fine.
The head of the light has a raised circular ring to make contact with the positive battery terminals. One issue I've noticed is that the gold/brass-coloring of the ring wears off quickly after successive battery changes. Here is a comparison of the 7G9 after a few weeks of testing to a light that I have had for over 7 months now that uses a similar mechanism, the Nitecore TM11:
As you can see, after just a few weeks of testing with small button-top cells, a lot of this gold-coloring has worn off on the Crelant. I don't know if this is a long-term issue, or simply a cosmetic one.
UPDATE JULY 24, 2012: My replacement 7G9 was much easier to open at the tailcap than my original sample (which was well sealed). Here's what I found inside:
It's a pretty simple arangement, with a white plastic insert providing the necessary gap between the board-mounted clicky switch and boot cover in the tailcap.
There is no obvious circuity on the board - so unlike the TN30/31, there is no electronic switch boost with the 7G9.
Note the 3 screws holding the board to the battery handle base were already largely stripped upon arrival.
It took a little doing, but I managed to get them all out to examine the full board.
As you can see, the 3 screws hold the board directly to the battery handle tube (with battery springs on the other side of the board).
It's a very straight-forward arrangement, and easily user-modifiable (assuming you can the tailcap off, of course).
Turn the light off/on by the tailcap clicky – press for momentary, press and release (i.e., click) for constant on.
Change output modes by repeatedly soft-pressing the clicky, or turn off-on quickly. Mode sequence is Hi > Med > Lo. There are no strobe/SOS modes.
Light doesn't have mode memory, and always advances to the next mode no matter how long you left it off. This is rather frustrating – I would have preferred to see the mode memory of the 7G5 (or at least, always have it default to Hi).
Note that this differs from the 7G5 V2, which had strobe instead of SOS, and a memory mode.
For information on the light, including the build and user interface, please see my new video overview:
As always, videos were recorded in 720p, but YouTube typically defaults to 360p. Once the video is running, you can click on the configuration settings icon and select the higher 480p to 720p options. You can also run full-screen.
7G9 Lo mode:
7G9 Med mode:
The 7G9 uses PWM for Lo/Med, and a consistent 3.9 kHz. This is high enough that you will not notice it in use.
Note there was also small oscilloscope deflection detectable on the Hi mode as well.
7G9 Hi mode:
This is not PWM per se, but likely some sort of left-over circuit filtering used to ameliorate the perception of PWM on the lower modes.
There was also some detectable high-frequency noise on the Lo mode, but this is not perceptible to the eye either.
7G9 Lo mode signal pattern:
The emitter was well-centered at the base of a very large and deep reflector. The reflector is smooth finished, and should provide excellent throw. The overall impression is similar to the 7G5 V2, but the 7G9 actually has a slightly larger reflector. There is a definite anti-glare coating visible to the lens (I didn't notice one on the 7G5V2)
And now, what you have all been waiting for. All lights are on their respective max battery sources (3xAW protected 18650 for then 7G9), 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.
Overall throw on the 7G9 is excellent for the output. The hotspot is slightly smaller than the 7G5V2, but shows a similar pattern of a distinct corona around the primary hotspot.
Overall output and throw are higher than my 7G5V2, but not as high as the heavily-driven Thrunite TN31.
For outdoor beamshots, these are done in the style of my earlier 100-yard round-up review. Please see that thread for a discussion of the topography (i.e. the road dips in the distance, to better show you the corona in the mid-ground).
As you can see, the 7G9 is intermediate to my 7G5 V2 and Thrunite TN31.
Here is a zoomed-in area of the hotspots of the 7G9 and TN31:
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 devised a method for converting my lightbox relative output values (ROV) to estimated Lumens. See my How to convert Selfbuilt's Lightbox values to Lumens thread for more info.
Throw/Output Summary Chart:
My summary tables are reported in a manner consistent with the ANSI FL-1 standard for flashlight testing. Please see http://www.flashlightreviews.ca/FL1.htm for a discussion, and a description of all the terms used in these tables.
Note: I have long known that my standard lux lightmeter tends to under-report throw values, compared to most meters out there. I recently picked up a second meter, which reports much higher values. In the case of the 7G9, I get 64,000 lux @1m on this second meter. I have recently ordered a NIST-calibrated Extech meter, and will update all my findings once it arrives. In the meantime, I suspect the second meter values are likely more accurate than the default meter presented in these tables.
As the beamshots indicated, the 7G9 out-throws pretty much all the 2x18650, 1xXM-L lights in my collection at the moment. Output is comparable to some of the heaviest-driven members of this class.
I don't have much to compare to in the 3x18650, 1xXM-L class, but you'll see the 7G9 doesn't reach the Thrunite TM31 on either output or throw.
The reported 7G9 lumen output specs for each level seem somewhat higher than my testing would indicate (see comments later in this review).
On Hi, the 7G9 is initially stably flat regulated on 3x18650, then slowly drops down in output in a quasi-regulated state. Note the protection circuit kicks in once the light reaches ~10% of initial output.
Although not shown above, I have run the light on higher capacity 18650 cells (3100mAh), and get the same pattern – just with a longer quasi-regulated period.
On Medium, I don't see any sign of flat regulation – the light appears quasi-regulated over the length of the run. Although it is blocked by the legend above, the protection circuits again cut-in at around ~10% of initial output.
Here is how the 7G9 compares to some of my other very high-output, multi-emitter lights:
As you can see, the quasi-regulated pattern of the 7G9 is somewhat similar to the Xtar S1 – except that the 7G9 Hi mode looks like the production S1, and the 7G9 Med looks like the pre-production S1.
The output and runtime results in this review are from a second sample Crelant sent me. The initial sample shipped was barely brighter than the 7G5V2, although seemed to behave normally for most of the testing (i.e., proportional runtimes, etc.). Eventually, this unit developed flickering issues on all modes, and then the circuit failed (leaving only ultra-low output with no mode control).
The 7G9 is typically only quasi-stabilized on 3x18650. The overall output/runtime regulation pattern looks somewhat similar to the Xtar S1.
Only 3x 318650 Li-ion cells may be used in the light (i.e., doesn't support multiple CR123A primary cells)
Light doesn't use a battery carrier, but instead has cut-outs in the solid metal handle. Some of my newer high-capacity 3100mAs cells fit fine, but some didn't want to go in (you may be able to get them in by removing the identification labels). Note that true flat-top cells won't work in the light, as you need to have at least a slightly raised positive contact to reach the raised plate in the head.
The positive contact disc shows noticeable signs of wear after a couple of weeks of testing.
The light doesn't have a memory mode, and always advances to the next output level after turning off/on (even with an extended time delay). I would have preferred mode memory, or at least always coming on in a defined mode (like Hi).
Med mode is very bright for a three-mode light. The relative output levels could best be described as Lo, Hi, and Turbo.
Like my earlier 7G5 V2, the 7G9 lacks anodizing on the screw threads (so no lock-out is possible).
Crelant has distinguished itself lately as high-quality "budget" maker. Actually, I don't think that label really fits – their lights are typically fairly high build quality, but missing some of the bells and whistles of their higher-end competitors (especially in terms circuit features/UI).
Crelant has certainly been focusing on lights with impressive beams lately (at lower price points than their mainstream competitors). They have followed on from their popular 2x18650 7G5 V2 thrower light (which had among the best throw in this class), to the slightly larger reflector and more heavily-driven 3x18650 7G9 model reviewed here.
As you would expect, max output and throw have both increased from the 7G5 V2 (though not as much as the reported specs would indicate, at least on my sample). There seems to be some variability among review samples out there. On this point, there may be an issue with consistency - the first 7G9 sample I received was barely brighter than my 7G5V2 (although the circuit on that sample eventually proved to be defective).
My replacement 7G9 has a very impressive beam for the size, with considerable throw for the output. It out-throws all my 2x18650 lights, although it doesn't match my larger 3x18650 Thrunite TN31 on either throw or output.
As before, the user interface is fairly basic – although I am glad to see there is no strobe mode on the sequence. But there is also no memory mode now – the 7G9 always advances to the next output level when you turn off/on.
The 7G9 uses PWM for its low modes, but at a not-visually noticeable level of 3.9 kHz. While I know high frequency PWM can affect efficiency, I personally like to avoid any possible hint of visual flicker (i.e., I am more than willing to sacrifice a nominal degree of efficiency, as done here).
That said, overall output/runtime efficiency was actually good for a PWM-based light, at all levels tested. However, the light is also only quasi-stabilized at all levels. In fact, the output/runtime pattern on Med is somewhat similar to my original pre-production Xtar S1 (whereas the Hi mode is similar to the production S1). But at least the PWM frequency is much higher on the 7G9 (i.e., both S1 samples had a very noticeable 486 Hz PWM).
But again, the quasi-regulated pattern is not a problem – you will not notice the very slow drop-off over time, and it is actually more efficient this way. Plus this way there is no sudden shutting off of the light when the protection circuits are reached.
I'm not sure why Crelant continues to skip anodizing on the screw threads, as that is something I always like to see. But the deeper than typical traverse of the physical clicky switch, and the raised tailcap ridges around it, should help lower the relative risk of accidental activation.
There is no doubt that you get a lot of light here for the money. Although I have a few concerns outlined under the Potential Issues section above, build quality is acceptable and higher than the so-called "budget" builds I've tested and handled. That said, you may miss some of the additional touches included with the more expensive competitor models (especially in regards to UI). As always, it comes down to what features you are looking for in a light, and at what price point.
7G9 was provided by Crelant for review.