Warning: pic heavy as usual.
By my count, this is the sixth review I've done of a 1x18650 light that includes a built-in charging feature (or seventh, if you count one 1x26650). I've been glad to see the maturing of this approach over time – the P25 has one of the best implementations yet (more on that in a moment).
Although having a lot in common with the MH25 and EC25 by Nitecore, this first "Precise" series P25 light also has a few new adaptations – many of which seem to be designed for the "tactical" crowd. Let's go through them all in detail, and see how the P25 "Smilodon" compares to the competition.
Oh, and for those of you who were wondering - the Smilodon is an extinct genus of sabre-tooth cat. Something that has been gone for over 10,000 years wouldn't be my first choice for a model name … but I guess they figured it sounded fierce.
Manufacturer Reported Specifications:
Note: as always, these are only what the manufacturer reports. To see my actual testing results, scroll down the review.
- Premium CREE XM-L U2 LED
- Output: Turbo: 860 lumens, High: 550 lumens, Mid: 180 lumens, Low: 50 lumens, Lower: 2 lumens
- 1x18650 Runtimes: Turbo: 1hr 45min, High: 2hr, Mid: 7hr, Low: 30hr, Lower: 325hr
- 2xCR123A Runtimes: Turbo: 1hr 15min, High: 1hr 30min, Mid: 5hr 15min, Low: 21hr, Lower: 200hr
- Supports 1x18650 (3.7V) Li-ion battery, 2xRCR123A (3.7V) Li-ion batteries, and 2xCR123A (3V) batteries. WARNING: USB cable/charging function is for use with rechargeable 18650 Li-ion only. Do not attempt to charge non-rechargeable CR123A or other types of rechargeable cells such as RCR123A.
- Integrated “Precision Digital Optics Technology” provides extreme reflector performance
- Boasts a peak beam intensity of 20,000cd and a throw distance of up to 283 meters
- High efficiency circuit board provides up to 325 hours runtime
- Integrated dual Picatinny connectors / rails provide a huge variety of mounting options
- Innovative single button two-stage switch offers a user-friendly interface (patented)
- Intelligent charging circuit with voltage detection charges safely and rapidly
- Integrated micro USB charging port is water, dust and impact resistant
- Eight rapidly switchable brightness levels to select from
- Integrated power indicator light displays remaining battery power (patented)
- Power indicator’s secondary function displays battery voltage (accurate to 0.1V)
- Intelligent charging circuit with voltage detection charges rapidly and safely
- Intelligent memory function stores preferred brightness setting
- Integrated spring-loaded impact absorption mechanism featuring reverse polarity protection (patented)
- Stainless steel titanium-plated two-way clip
- Stainless steel retaining ring protects the core components from damage
- Toughened ultra-clear mineral glass with anti-reflective coating
- Constructed from aero grade aluminum alloy
- Sturdy HAIII military grade hard-anodized
- Waterproof in accordance with IPX-8 (two meters submersible)
- Impact resistant to 1.5 meters
- Tail stand capability
- Dimensions: Length: 160mm, Head diameter: 40 mm, Tube diameter: 25.4mm
- Weight: 171g (without battery)
- Accessories: Quality holster, clip, tactical ring, lanyard, USB cable, spare tail cap and spare O-ring
- MSRP: ~$100
Mt P25 is a review sample, and didn't come in retail packaging. Form the spec description, it sounds pretty similar to what I saw on the MH25 – with the exception of Nitecore 18650 Li-ion battery, which seems to be lacking here. Otherwise, expect to see the typical extra o-rings and boot cover, removable pocket clip, grip ring, basic belt holster with Velcro closing flap, manual and warranty card, and standard USB charging cable (with a micro USB connector for the light).
From left to right: AW protected 18650; Nitecore MH25, P25; Klarus RS11; Crelant 7G6CS; Rofis TR31C; Fenix TK15.
All dimensions are given with no batteries installed:
Nitecore P25: Weight: 171.3g, Length: 160mm, Width (bezel): 40.0m
Nitecore MH25: Weight: 145.4g, Length: 160mm, Width (bezel): 40.0m
Eagletac D25LC2: Weight: 50.0g, Length: 116.3mm, Width (bezel): 22.5mm
Klarus RS11: Weight 158.0g, Length: 160mm, Width (bezel) 34.9mm
Klarus XT11: Weight 133.0g, Length: 148.8, Width (bezel) 35.0mm
Rofis TR31C: Weight: 180.7g, Length: 153.0mm, Width (bezel): 39.8mm
Thrunite TN10: Weight: 154.7g, Length: 145.5mm, Width (bezel): 35.1mm
Zebralight SC600: Weight 87.2g, Length: 107.8mm, Width (bezel) 29.7mm
The P25 is the same dimensions overall as the MH25, but heavier.
The P25 has a distinctive look, as befits its "tactical" focus. Let's start with the anodizing, which is a departure from the recent Nitecores I've reviewed – shown above is the medium gray "natural" finish of old. I understand however that Nitecore will also be making these available in their standard black as well. Anodizing seems excellent on my sample, with no chips despite all the raised surfaces. Labels are bright white and clear, even for the smallest writing.
The P25 has a lot of grip elements, starting with bands of knurling over the tailcap and body tube (I would describe this knurling as medium aggressiveness). Combined with all the ridge detail, overall grip is good. I understand a grip ring and small pocket clip will also be included with shipping samples, which would enhance grip further.
Those extra ridges below the head are actually standard Picatinny weapon mounts. This is not an area of expertise of mine, so I will leave it to others to discuss how practical or useful these are for that purpose. But they should also serve well as additional cooling fins for the light.
Also in keeping with its "tactical" focus, the P25 features both head and tail springs (i.e., to be able to handle weapon recoil without momentary breaking of battery contact). Nitecore has mounted a physical reverse-polarity ring on the positive contact spring in the head, so only small button-top cells will work in this light. The battery tube is wide enough to take higher-capacity protected 18650 cells.
Tail screw threads are standard triangular cut, and seem of good quality. They are also anodized at the tail for lock-out. Interestingly, there are square-cut (or more precisely, trapezoidal) threads in the head region.
Tail switch is a forward clicky, with traditional feel. Lights can tailstand, and there raised areas for the lanyard attachment. I found my sample a bit wobbly when tailstanding, but loosening of the tailcap retaining ring may help.
There is a secondary electronic switch in the head, which looks and feels very similar to the TM15's switch. It is a two-stage (two-pressure) electronic switch, which Nitecore likens to a camera shutter button (i.e., partial press for one effect, full press for another). As with the TM15, there is a blue LED ring surrounding it, which is used to signal the state of the light (i.e., battery charging status, battery power remaining). Scroll down for an explanation of the interface, which is different from the TM15.
The reflector appears identical to the MH25 that I reviewed previously, which is larger than most of the Nitecore line in this size or battery class. As with the MH25, there's a cool white XM-L emitter used here. Reflectors remain smooth finish, and fairly deep – so I would expect equivalent throw to the MH25, if drive levels are unaltered. Note that centering is good on my sample, but I noticed some variability on the MH-series samples I was sent for review. The P25 also has a flat stainless steel bezel ring.
What's most distinctive about the P25 is its charging dock and cover. Like the MH25, the P25 uses a micro-USB connector near the head of the light. Unlike the MH25 – which used a metal cover with o-rings for waterproofness – the P25 uses a more traditional rubber plug. This plug is fairly wide and seemingly well-made (i.e., it fits snuggly in place, as illustrated below).
While this plug worked well in my testing, I am a little surprised that the light could pass the fairly stringent ANSI FL-1 submersible testing (which allows for absolutely no water ingress for at least 4 hours immersed at a depth of 2m). Note that I do not do waterproofness testing on my samples. Certainly, with the plug fully inserted, I would not be worried about the light meeting the usual rain-proof/splash-proof level of waterproofness most of us require.
The blue LED indicator around switch tells you the charging status when the charger is attached (see User Interface discussion below for more info).
The charging dock uses a standard micro USB connector. Note that standard USB 2.0 specs limit you to a max 500mA charging current. In my testing of the MH25, it took ~5.5 hours to fully charge a depleted AW 2200mAh 18650 cell. This is similar to other USB-based 18650 charger lights I've tested that claim a CC/CV algorithm. Resting voltage after a charge was a ~4.18V on my sample, which is appropriate.
User interface is different from the recent MH- or TM-series lights I've reviewed recently.
Turn the light on/off by pressing the tailcap clicky (press for momentary on, click for locked on).
Constant output modes
You control the output level of the light by the 2-stage electronic switch near the head. Switch feel is similar to my TM15, but the user interface is different. Partially press-and-release the switch to change constant output modes. Mode sequence is Moonlight > Lo > Med > Hi > Turbo, in repeated sequence. Note that you can jump to Turbo at any point in the sequence by press-and-holding the switch at this partial level.
The light has mode memory, and saves the last setting used – even when you turn the light off-on at the tailcap.
There is a Standby mode that can be triggered by a rapid full-press-and-release of the side switch. When is this mode, the light will be drawing a small standby current (see below for measures). Note that all modes are immediately available from the light in this state – simply press the side switch to access the full range of modes.
Note that there is a battery voltage read-out on the P25, but it is "hidden". Despite what the manual says, the light does NOT read out the voltage when changing a cell or entering into Standby. Instead, when you are in Standby, do a quick half-press-release of the switch to have it read out the voltage.
The blue LED indicator will flash briefly once every several seconds when the light is in Standby mode.
To exit Standby mode, fully press and release the switch to return to constant output modes, or fully press and hold to enter blinking modes (Strobe as default), as described below. Alternatively, you can turn the light off/on at the tailcap and it will return to whatever constant output it last memorized.
To access the "hidden" blinking modes, fully-press-and-hold the side switch. Light will enter into tactical strobe mode. You can switch to other blinking modes by a partial-press-and-release, just like you do for the constant output modes. Mode sequence is Strobe > SOS > Beacon, in repeating sequence. Exit the blinking modes by another full-press-and-release of the switch (which will put you into Standby).
The light has only a partial mode memory for the flashing modes – in the sense that if you turn the light off at the tailcap, when you next turn the light back on you will be in the same blinking mode you left. If you exit out of the blinking modes by going into Standby, when next you enter you will be back at tactical Strobe.
In-light battery charging
For charging a 18650 Li-ion battery inside the light, you plug the included micro-USB cable connector into the port at the base of the head of the light (after flipping up the rubber cover). The LED charge indicator will flash very rapidly, indicating the light is NOT charging. Like with my recent MH25, to start a charge cycle you must click the tailcap switch on. The light will not actually come on during charging, but the charge indicator will now show solid blue (for fully charged) or a slow flashing blue (for charging). There is a clear difference in the speed of the slow flash for currently charging, and the rapid flash for not charging.
The LED will also flash during operation to let you know when your battery voltage is dropping. According to the manual, it will blink once every two seconds once the power levels reach 50%, and blink more rapidly when the batteries are nearly drained.
For more 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.
Nitecore claims that the P25 is current controlled, and I believe that is true. There is no sign of PWM on my sample.
The P25 has an interesting "tactical" strobe mode – the individual pulses vary in intensity, frequency, and pulse width. The overall frequency is typically between ~9-12 Hz, so this is quite disorienting – I don't imagine anyone could easily steel themselves against this type of highly-variable, high-frequency strobe.
Beacon mode was a brief full-intensity pulse once every ~2.1 secs of so.
Under most conditions, there is no Standby drain on this light (thanks to the physical clicky switch – when clicked off, it's off). There is a Standby mode available through the side switch, though (i.e., for when clicked on at the tailcap, but in Standby on the side switch).
The Standby mode will always be drawing a small current. I measured this current as typically being 596uA - although it would periodically spike every couple of seconds to ~1.04mA for a fraction of a second (corresponding to when the blue LED Standby signal flash occurred).
If we go with an "average" current estimate of ~750uA, and assuming a 2600mAh 18650 battery, that would give you about 144 days (nearly 5 months) before the battery would be drained. Not unreasonable, given that there's a reoccurring signal warning during this time. But I recommend you use the tailcap switch for full on/off control with no standby.
All lights are on Max output on 1x AW protected 18650 (2200mAh). Lights are 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.
Beam pattern looks pretty much the same as my MH25 – which isn't surprising, as it looks like the lights use the same reflector.
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.
Once again, it looks like P25 is driven to exactly the same max levels as the MH25. Note that this is among the highest I've seen for the 1x18650, 2xCR123A/RCR class. Beam distance measures are also exactly the same, as consistent with manufacturer specs.
One thing – the P25 has a much lower low mode than the MH25 (i.e., closer to a "moonlight" level on the P25).
On Turbo, the P25 looks initially just like the MH25 on all batteries – except the P25 steps-down in multiple steps, at later time points. Like the rest of the MH-series, the MH25 stepped-down abruptly after 3 mins continuous runtime. In contrast, the P25 starts to drop gradually in output after 4 mins, levelling off at 8 mins. This is slow enough that won't you don't notice it by eye. The resulting level is still higher than the "Hi" mode on the P25.
The light maintains this new slightly-reduced Turbo mode until 20 minutes from start-up, at which point the P25 steps down abruptly to level that just a little below the "Hi" mode. It maintains this level until the batteries are nearly exhausted, at which point it behaves like other well-regulated lights - gradually dropping in output (on 1x18650 or 2xCR123A), or abruptly terminating once the protection circuits are tipped on 2xRCR.
To put that in terms of my estimated lumens, on 1x18650, the P25 starts out at ~780 estimated lumens, or ~760 estimated ANSI FL-1 lumens at 30 secs. By 4 mins, the light is now down to ~720 lumens. Note this is perfectly normal for all 18650 lights – it is a feature of the increased heat and resistance in an 18650 battery, and is NOT due to any sort of step down. Starting at 4 mins, the light now begins a programmed step down gradually over 4 mins to ~620 estimated lumens. It maintains this level stably for another 12 mins, at which point it then abruptly steps down to ~450 estimated lumens. It maintains this level in a regulated fashion for as long as the battery can support it. Note that my lumen estimates above are approximate for my setup, as always.
Nitecore's ANSI FL-1 runtimes specs seem quite accurate for in my testing (note that I use the lower capacity AW 2200mAh cells in my 18650 testing).
On 1x18650, I found the "50% power remaining" LED indicator typically came on within a few seconds on Turbo, even with a fully charged cell. This feature seemed to more accurately gauge power remaining on the lower modes, making me think it was confused by the high current drain on Turbo.
Although the manufacturer claims ANSI FL-1 "Submersible" rating at 2m, this seems surprising given the simple rubber plug cover for the micro-USB port (unless the electronics are potted, which I am not aware of). In any case, the cover worked well in my testing, and I have no doubt that the P25 is splash/dunk-proof to same level as most other lights (assuming the plug is fully tight against the body).
The light is longer than typical for this class, due to the charging port.
The "memory" feature is a bit complex, as it can depend on whether or not you are turning the light off/on at the clicky switch (in which case it always comes back where you left it), or if going through Standby (in which case, it erases the memory of your blinking mode and always returns to Strobe the next time you access the blinking modes).
You have to remember to click the tail switch on to activate the built-in 18650 charger. The charger terminated at a reasonable voltage on my P25 (~4.18V in my testing),
The P25 is a sophisticated light for this class, with a lot of advanced features. It incorporates some of the build elements of the EC25 (i.e., secondary two-stage electronic switch) with the overall build of the MH25 (i.e., same reflector and max output, similar integrated 18650 charger), and throws in some more "tactical" build and user interface features.
Let me start with the in-light 18650 charger. This performs the same as the MH25, which is one of the better implementations I've seen. The problem with a lot of the early lights that attempted this is they tried to connect the charger to the tailcap. This meant the use of a custom battery with both terminals available in the tail (e.g., the ITP R01 and Olight S80), or a more complicated double-wall arrangement (e.g. Klarus RS11). All the above lights also used a custom or 12V DC pin style connector at the light, requiring the use of a specialized cable. The early Nextorch 18650 used a micro-USB connector in the head, but still had a custom cable and custom 18650 battery. The Rofis TR31C and Nitecore MH25 were the first lights I tested allowing the charging of standard 18650 cells. However, only the Nitecore MH25/P25 lights use a standard micro-USB connector, allowing any standard cable to be used.
The side switch is the other distinctive element – while similar in feel to the TM15, it is combined here with a physical clicky switch in the tailcap. This allows a whole new user interface, which is suitable for both a general audience and the more "tactical" crowd. What "tactical" folks will like is that the light can be set to come on in Max or Strobe by using the memory feature (although some would probably rather not have the memory feature, and require it to always be forced). But this is also potentially useful for general users, who may like a fully-functioning memory mode (that still works with the physical clicky switch). Note that the blinking modes are not on the main sequence, and so can be considered as "hidden" generally.
The number of available modes is good – with a very high-output Max and very low-output "moonlight" mode. I also like seeing the beacon mode (we are not all into disorienting strobes). The side switch feel can take a little getting used to (i.e., is a bit sensitive), but since you control on/off by the forward clicky switch in the tail, there's no real worry about accidental activation.
The P25 fully supports all batteries in this class (i.e., 1x18650, 2xCR123A and 2xRCR). Note that due to high discharge rate on maximum, I do not recommend you run the light for extended periods on Turbo with 2x battery sources. Output on 1x18650 is pretty comparable to 2x sources anyway, and is your best choice for Turbo use.
As with the MH25, the P25 has very good throw for the class.
The other novel "tactical" build features of the P25 are Picatinny mounts and a recoil-resistant dual-spring design. I can't comment on the usefulness of the mount design, but they do double as cooling fins in this case. The dual-spring setup worked fine, but note that the physical reverse polarity protection means than only small button-top cells can be used.
Performance-wise, the P25 shows good current-controlled efficiency. The runtime pattern on Turbo is fairly unique, with the gradual (and imperceptible) step-down from 4-8 mins into the run, followed by the more abrupt step-down at 20 mins. But the various Turbo output levels are still quite bright for the class, and provide a reasonable compromise between high-output and runtime. Note that you can always click off-on (or simply half-press-and-hold the side switch while on) if you want to restore full initial Turbo output. But I certainly don't recommend this on 2x sources, as the discharge rate is already higher than I would prefer.
All the reported manufacturer ANSI FL-1 beam, output and runtime specs seem quite accurate in my testing.
There you have it – it's a fairly advanced light, with a lot features. Hope you found the overview of its performance and features helpful!
P25 provided by Nitecore for review.