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Thread: ArmyTek Barracuda XM-L2 U3 Review (2x 18650 or 4x CR123)

  1. #1
    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default ArmyTek Barracuda XM-L2 U3 Review (2x 18650 or 4x CR123)

    Reader's Note: The test sample was provided by ArmyTek for review.

    Though ArmyTek's Predator is an excellent thrower, sometimes you want more, and in the Barracuda you get just that. With a large reflector optimised for the XM-L2 U3 LED that this current version comes with, the Barracuda has a very long reach.





    Initial Impressions:

    The Barracuda sports the signature matt anodised surface of the original Predator and other Armytek lights. This finish feels different to standard smooth anodising and gives Armytek's lights a covert appearance. The finish seems to make the Barracuda feel less cold to touch and has good grip.

    Despite being powered by 18650s, just as the Predator is, the Barracuda's body feels surprisingly slender, yet still strong.

    The square shape of the head belies the true size and depth of the reflector which goes well into the stepped down portion of the head.

    The attention to detail is excellent and extends to touches like the inside of the holster has the metal popper covered so it does not scratch the Barracuda during use. The model and branding engraving is some of the sharpest I've seen, and overall finish is flawless.





    What is in the box:

    The ArmyTek Barracuda arrives in plastic storage/carry case which is only just wide enough to accommodate the Barracuda's long but sleek design.



    The foam lining is cut to fit the Barracuda and holster.



    The Barracuda comes with a spare switch boot, two spare o-rings, a holster and the instructions.





    Taking a closer look and looking inside:

    Let's start by taking a closer look at the business end of the Barracuda. The large anti-reflective coated toughened glass lens is held in place by a Ti coated stainless bezel.



    The very deep reflector.



    The LED sits precisely at the base of the very deep reflector.



    The XM-L2 U3 LED, very precisely centred.



    Moving to the tail-cap, there are what appear to be anti-roll flats, but these do not provide this function. There is a Ti coated stainless ring holding the switch boot in place. The button protrudes making it easy to operate.



    At the head end of the battery tube the threads are bare aluminium. The threads have an almost fully square profile and double o-rings are used to seal the tube.



    At the tail-cap end the same, almost square thread profile is used, but they are anodised. Again double o-rings are used to ensure a very good seal.



    Looking down onto the tube end, the profile looks quite thin, but this is only at the threaded part, the main battery tube is thicker.



    The Barracuda uses a capped spring for the negative, just like the Predator has.



    The positive terminal is a spring, shown here with the battery tube removed. You can also see the circular contact used to detect the battery tube being tightened for mode changes.



    Lastly a quick look at the holster. It is an open bottom design, so it takes up less space when the Barracuda is not in it. Attention to detail is good, with the inside surface of the popper is covered to prevent scratching. Many manufacturers do not bother to do this, but ArmyTek do.



    Looking at the back there is a d-ring and belt loop.





    Modes and User Interface:

    The Barracuda gives you a choice of two main modes, one with the head tightened, and one with it loose. The tail-cap switch is a forward-clicky so provides momentary operation.

    With the head tightened the output is maximum. True momentary operation is possible.

    With the head loosened, by default the output starts on Low. If you rapidly switch the Barracuda on-off-on, you can cycle through Low-Med-High. Once you have chosen the output you want, fully click the switch to select that output. While the Barracuda is on, you can tighten the head to choose maximum output and then loosen the head again to choose whichever mode you have previously selected.

    If the Barracuda is left off for between 4-5 seconds it will default back to the low output in the head-loose mode.



    Batteries and output:

    The Barracuda can run on 4xCR123 or 2x18650 Li-ion batteries.



    Due to this, all 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.

    Barracuda using ARB-L2 I.S. measured ANSI output Lumens PWM frequency (Hz)
    Maximum 1061 0
    High 717 0
    Medium 147 0
    Low 25 0
    Maximum using 4xCR123 1056 0

    The Barracuda uses output stabilisation just like the ArmyTek Predator's FULL stabilisation which maintains the specified output level without dropping at all until the battery can no longer maintain that output. At the end of this trace incredibly flat output trace you can see the Barracuda starts to flash when the battery voltage is getting low.



    When measuring peak beam intensity at 10m and between 30-120s after switch on the Barracuda measures in at 118400cd (lux @ 1m) or a 688m ANSI beam range - very impressive.



    The beam

    Starting indoors, where the Barracuda with its extreme throw is not best suited, this photo shows the narrow spill and very bright hotspot, even with the exposure reduced.



    Before showing the Barracuda, here, a frequently used point of reference is the Fenix TK41. As this is known for its throw, it seemed particularly appropriate to compare to the Barracuda.



    Moving to the Barracuda with identical exposure, the spill is narrow and the hotspot extremely bright.





    What it is really like to use…

    The Barracuda combines two very straight-forward interfaces and this provides a user with a very functional light. I like this no-nonsense approach and find it works very well.

    With the head tight, you have maximum output and can use the momentary switch to flash this full output. With the head loose (and the light being off for at least 4s) it will turn on in Low. The forward clicky means that you flash-the-light to select the output mode you want out of the three levels available. At any time you can tighten the head to get maximum. Considering the practical nature of this light, this user interface provides you with a simple and effective control interface.

    The Barracuda is a relatively specialist light. Super strong throwers are not really suitable for close range or indoor use. However the 25lm Low mode does make the Barracuda comfortable for indoor use, but the beam is very narrow. (Of course any beam profile can be used indoors if you use ceiling bounce, but I prefer the more intuitive approach of directing the beam at what you are looking at).

    Taking the Barracuda outdoors and with a longer range it really comes into its own. The narrow spill helps to underline the extreme range the Barracuda is capable of reaching. Like a hand-held spotlight, at longer ranges the spill fades and the circular hotspot lights up the target.

    With the flat runtime trace shown earlier the output of the Barracuda does not fade. You get full output as long as the batteries can manage it so this means the beam's reach does not become any less effective even if the batteries are only half full.

    All output modes are current controlled so there is absolutely no flickering. This special edition has the XM-L2 U3 emitter which gives a useful boost in performance.

    The ArmyTek Barracuda has made a very strong impression. Although I am not yet able to give long term feedback, the Barracuda gives me no reason to doubt it will provide reliable service. Some extreme throwers are entirely impractical, but the Barracuda has incorporated excellent usable throw in a very practical package.





    CR123 primary cells kindly provided by TORCHDIRECT.
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  2. #2
    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default Re: ArmyTek Barracuda XM-L2 U3 Review (2x 18650 or 4x CR123)

    reserved...
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  3. #3

    Default Re: ArmyTek Barracuda XM-L2 U3 Review (2x 18650 or 4x CR123)

    Great review, that light is quite attractive.

  4. #4
    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default Re: ArmyTek Barracuda XM-L2 U3 Review (2x 18650 or 4x CR123)

    Now that Selfbuilt has published a review of the Barracuda as well:

    http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/...SHOTS-RUNTIMES

    I was interested to note there appears to be a difference in the UI.

    The sample I have on test has no memory on the head loose position (unless you have the light on and are going between head tight and head loose). Otherwise, after 4-5s the head-loose always defaults back to Low. I prefer this as it means you know you will always get Low so can choose head-tight for Maximum, or head-loose for Low.

    If anyone has a Barracuda, what does yours do?
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  5. #5

    Default Re: ArmyTek Barracuda XM-L2 U3 Review (2x 18650 or 4x CR123)

    Quote Originally Posted by subwoofer View Post
    If anyone has a Barracuda, what does yours do?
    Hi subwoofer,

    Sorry, mine does act the same way - I had just tested in the Lo mode. I will revise my description.
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Latest hobby: whiskyanalysis.com. Latest flashlight review: Thrunite TN42.
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  6. #6
    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default Re: ArmyTek Barracuda XM-L2 U3 Review (2x 18650 or 4x CR123)

    Quote Originally Posted by selfbuilt View Post
    Hi subwoofer,

    Sorry, mine does act the same way - I had just tested in the Lo mode. I will revise my description.
    Ok, good to know, and thanks for posting an update
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  7. #7
    Enlightened
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    Default Re: ArmyTek Barracuda XM-L2 U3 Review (2x 18650 or 4x CR123)

    Great review!
    Thanks for your reccomendationin my thread, annoyingly due to being a new member my posts are taking for ever to b approved
    Ive been looking at the modded sunywayman on onestopthrowshop that claims to have 650m range and is only £50 however i do love the look of the armytek

    Ill let you know what i get once i get paid.

    Thanks, Rex

    PS. just realised that at the top of the send a reply page you must do the image verification, never realised this on all my other posts meaning they'll never get posted! what a pain lol

  8. #8

    Default Re: ArmyTek Barracuda XM-L2 U3 Review (2x 18650 or 4x CR123)

    excellent review....
    great job bro

  9. #9
    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default Re: ArmyTek Barracuda XM-L2 U3 Review (2x 18650 or 4x CR123)

    Quote Originally Posted by supremeA View Post
    excellent review....
    great job bro
    Thank you.

    This light is excellent and is my go-to thrower. The beam is versatile enough for general use as well, and coming with a belt holster makes it easy to carry. Like the Predator, this is another winner from ArmyTek.
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  10. #10
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    Default Re: ArmyTek Barracuda XM-L2 U3 Review (2x 18650 or 4x CR123)

    Good review.

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