This is the first of a series of four detailed reviews of a selection of lights making up the ‘Totally Fenix Hunting Line-Up’. Included in the series will be the TK22, TK15 S2, HL30, and the TK75, all of which provide a rounded set of capabilities covering everything you would need while out hunting.
Of course each of these lights stands perfectly well on their own, so this review will be covering the light in its own right, and following the individual reviews there will be a follow-up review covering the hunting applications.
In this review I will be looking at the TK22. The TK22 is the successor of the TK21, and although the TK21 was a good light, it has matured and now grown-up into the TK22.
This is the first Fenix light I’ve handled with a stainless bezel, and it does imbue the TK22 with a sense of menace. The beefed up head and new bezel design combined with the overall length, which is slightly shorter than many similar lights, gives the TK22 a chunky appearance which certainly lives up to the Fenix Tank series ethos.
Despite already having seen various photos of the TK22, its character was a really pleasant surprise in the flesh.
Fit, finish and quality are all good first impressions for the TK22.
What is in the box:
The TK22 arrives in the typical Fenix packaging, a very good standard of presentation.
Included are the TK22 with pocket clip and tactical grip ring fitted, nylon holster, instructions, lanyard, two spare o-rings and a spare rubber switch boot.
Taking a closer look and looking inside:
Let’s look into the business end of the TK22 and the first ‘lossless orange peel’ reflector.
The XM-L U2 LED sits in the quite different orange peel reflector. The surface is almost matt, rather than textured as most OP reflectors are. Fenix claim this is a ‘lossless’ reflector, and based on the good output figures for this light it must be close to lossless.
A closer look at the LED and reflector surface.
Both the head and tail-cap unscrew, showing the quality threads and single o-ring at each end of the battery tube.
The negative terminal in the tail-cap is a spring.
The switch boot protrudes, precluding tail-standing.
In the head, the positive contact is also a spring, providing excellent shock protection and ensures reliable terminal contact for the battery. The negative terminal ring appears to be a metal contact ring to give better resilience compared to a simple PCB contact.
The trademark trapezoid threads used in most Fenix lights are cut precisely and fully anodised.
The bezel is precisely cut and all edges eased to prevent them being too sharp.
One optional accessory is a thread cover to use if you decide to take the tactical grip ring off. This has been fitted to the TK22 for the group testing as it allows the TK22 to slide into the Fenix gun mount…..
A small line-up to compare the size of the TK22 with a few of its peers (including the TK15 S2).
Modes and User Interface:
To control the TK22 there is the forward-clicky tail switch, and the mode selection switch just behind the head.
Click on (or half press for momentary action) the tail switch to access the last used mode. With the tail switch on, press the mode button to cycle though the modes.
The standard modes are Low, Medium, High and Turbo (Turbo automatically goes back to High after 22 minutes).
There is a hidden Strobe mode accessed by holding the modes selection switch in for 1s.
Batteries and output:
The TK22 can run on 2xCR123 or 1x 18650.
For the purpose of keeping this review, and the other reviews in this series ‘Totally Fenix’, the TK22 is being powered by the Fenix ARB-L2 protected 18650 battery, charged using the Fenix ARE-C1 charger.
The ARE-C1 has both mains and 12V power options. The mains lead supplied in the UK was the European rather than UK plug.
The ARB-L2 is a flat top design.
The negative terminal, has a raised ring to ensure a good contact if cells are used in series.
The testing was carried out with Fenix ARB-L2 18650 cells and CR123 primary cells.
To measure actual output, I built an integrating sphere. See here for more detail. The sensor registers visible light only (so Infra-Red and Ultra-Violet will not be measured).
Please note, all quoted lumen figures are from a DIY integrating sphere, and according to ANSI standards. Although every effort is made to give as accurate a result as possible, they should be taken as an estimate only. The results can be used to compare outputs in this review and others I have published.
Fenix Tk22 using ARB-L2 I.S. measured ANSI output Lumens PWM frequency (Hz) Turbo 682 0 High 276 0 Medium 84 0 Low 8 0
Strobe is a dual frequency swapping between 5.88Hz and 14Hz
(Turbo on CR123 was 674lm)
All output modes are free of any sign of PWM.
The runtime graph was intended to capture the maximum output. This meant having to babysit the test as every 22 minutes (so I discovered on the first attempt) it switches down to High and needs to be nudged back up to Turbo. After doing this, the following output trace is the result.
After the initial drop, it stabilises at 673lm until after 15 minutes this level of output cannot be maintained by the 18650 cell. After 1 hour the output is still 554lm. At 1 hr 13m the output reaches 500lm and then gradually declines further until 1hr 27m when the output drop to 84lm and drops to low at 1hr 40m. Low is then maintained for some time.
In The Lab
NEW for Winter 2012 ANSI standards include maximum beam range. This is the distance at which the intensity of light from an emitter falls to 0.25lux (roughly the same as the lux from a full moon). This standard refers only to the peak beam range (a one dimensional quantity), so I am expanding on this and applying the same methodology across the entire width of the beam. From this data it is possible to plot a two-dimensional ‘beam range profile’ diagram which represents the shape of the illuminated area.
In order to accurately capture this information a test rig was constructed which allows a lux meter to be positioned 1m from the lens and a series of readings to be taken at various angles out from the centre line of the beam. As the rig defines a quadrant of a circle with a radius of 1m, all the readings are taken 1m from the lens, so measuring the true spherical light intensity. The rig was designed to minimise its influence on the readings with baffles added to shield the lux meter from possible reflections off the support members.
The distance of 1m was chosen as at this distance 1lux = 1 candela and the maximum beam range is then calculated as the SQRT(Candela/0.25) for each angle of emission.
In this plot, the calculated ANSI beam ranges are plotted as if viewed from above (for some lights there may also be a side view produced) using a CAD package to give the precise 'shape' of the beam.
Starting with the 5m range grid, the TK22’s beam profile. The ‘lossless’ OP reflector diffusing the light into a broad spill.
Zooming out to the 50m grid and here, the TK22 is shown with two other Fenix lights that will be part of this series of reivews.
Despite the more diffuse beam, the TK22 still has some punch.
The indoor beamshot shows the wide even spill with broad bright hotspot.
To make a comparison, first is another Fenix light, the TK41.
And at the same exposure the TK22. At close to mid ranges the TK22 is so much easier to see with. The beamshot comparison shows how evenly the garden is lit by the TK22 – very easy on the eyes.
What it is really like to use…
Fenix build quality is clearly evident, and easy to take for granted. Finish is precise and crisp and it makes the TK22 very enjoyable to handle.
As well as looking tank like the TK22 feels it as well.
The combination of tail switch with mode switch on the side works reasonably well, but can make it awkward if you’ve switched on the light with a tactical grip as you then need to change hand position to change mode. Often you use the TK22 mostly in the one mode you have chosen for the task at hand, so this is not really an issue.
I did however come across one problem while using the TK22 while wearing gloves. Taking a tactical grip with three fingers around the battery tube, and index finger the other side of the grip ring, due to the gloves I could not feel that I was pushing on the mode switch. This meant that after every 1s I had the light on, it would change to strobe. It didn’t really matter how I rotated the TK22, when taking a firm grip I always seemed to press the mode switch.
My hands are a glove size of XL, and to use a tactical grip on the TK22 and still be able to press the tail switch, I was always in danger of unintentionally holding in the mode button and getting the strobe.
If the switch had been slightly recessed this would probably not happen.
Without gloves, I did not have the same issue, but mainly because I could feel the mode button and avoid pressing it.
Taking a more standard grip, or using the cigar grip and this is not a problem at all.
Turbo output looks great with its impressive bright spread of light. The Low output is a realistic and useful low, with each step up in output being obvious and the modes seem well spaced.
In real life use, the step down from Turbo after 22mins is not an issue at all. It is not often that you would really need to use Turbo for extended periods, well I haven’t wanted to.
With every mode being PWM free, they are all very easy on the eye and comfortable to use for long periods.
The tail switch is firm, but not overly so and functions crisply.
Unlike its predecessor (the TK21), that could be fussy about the 18650s used, the TK22 reliably gives Turbo on all cells I’ve tried it with. Output on CR123 is slightly lower (though not noticeable to the eye) so it will run very well on either CR123 if you prefer primaries, or on the more economical 18650 for maximum output.
The Fenix ARB-L2 cell used for testing has proven to be a strong performer and a good match to the TK22.
As you switch the TK22 on and off, it appears to have a soft turn on and off, where the output quickly ramps up to the chosen level and back down again when going off. This is quick and almost imperceptible, but lends the TK22 a more refined feel in its operation. A nice touch if it was intended, or a happy accident if this is merely a ‘feature’ of the output circuit.
The TK22 impresses on many levels – the solid build, aesthetics and that excellent beam. I expected a lot from this light and it didn’t disappoint.
Test sample provided by Fenix for review.