Warning: pic heavy, as usual.
The SX25L3 is a new 3x186500 class light from Eagletac that combines many of the features of the AA-based GX25A3/SX25A6 and Li-ion-based GX/SX/MX25L2.
The light comes with a choice of a single XM-L2 emitter, or the new high-output MT-G2. In this review, I will be examining the MT-G2 version, and comparing it to a number of other lights that use this new emitter.
Manufacturer Reported Specifications:
(note: as always, these are simply what the manufacturer provides – scroll down to see my actual testing results).
- LED: CREE MT-G2 P0 Neutral White
- Four brightness levels (Regular mode): ANSI FL-1 lumen: 2375-2006/1057/175/28
- Runtime: 1.5/3.3/21/350 hours
- Two brightness levels (Tactical mode): ANSI lumen: 2375-2006/243/Strobe I/Strobe II
- Runtime: 1.5/19 hours
- Center lux: 25,100 lux
- Center spot angle: 10.3°
- Spill light angle: 57.6°
- Beam distance: 347 yards / 317 meters
- Battery Type: 3x18650 3.7V li-ion, 6xCR123A 3.0V
- Operating voltage: 5.4V -19V (note, do NOT use 6x 3.7V RCR)
- Compatible 18650 battery diameter/length: Diameter: 18-18.8mm, Length: 67-68.5mm
- Lens: Waterwhite glass lens w/ harden treatment, Anti-reflective (AR) coating on both side (96% transparency)
- Reflector: Light orange peel aluminum reflector
- Material: HAIII hard anodization aerospace aluminum
- Waterproof: IPX-8 standard
- Innovative slot load design, No battery tray or battery magazine needed
- Seven hidden auxiliary outputs: Strobe/Strobe(Var)/Flash(Hi)/S.O.S.(Fast)/S.O.S./Becaon/Flash(Lo)
- Dimensions: Head Dia. 1.85 inches (47 mm), Body Dia. 1.8 inches (45.5 mm), Length: 5.7 inches (144 mm)
- Weight: 10.9 ounces (309 grams)
- Base model: includes flashlight, Spare o-rings, User Manual, Mil-Spec Para-cord Lanyard w/ quick attachment clip, Flat tailcap
- YRGB kit version: Includes all of the base model, and extra signal connection through the body tube for rear accessories add-on, Extra tailcap w/ switch and tail-standing ability, Flashlight head come with front-mount thread for bezel and filter attachment, Stainless steel bezel, Heavy Duty Nylon Holster w/ self-retention device and open-top design, ET47 diffuser filter, ET47 yellow filter, ET47 red filter, ET47 green filter, ET47 blue filter.
- MSRP: ~$135 (base version), ~$175 (kit version)
The SX25L3 comes securely packaged in the new Eagletac cardboard box packaging. The lights come in a soft fabric pouch with a drawstring. Included accessories are extra o-rings, manual, warranty card and standard Eagletac wrist lanyard. A three-pack of anti-rattle holders for CR123As is included.
My sample came as "kit version", which includes the YRGB accessory kit. Here, you get a belt holster in addition to a set of yellow, red, green and blue optical glass filters and diffuser cover (which replace the stainless steel bezel by screwing onto the head of the light). Note that my review sample was missing the extra tailcap with secondary switch, although this is part of the kit package. They will send one with the next batch of lights for review - in the meantime, please see my GX25A3 and SX25A6 reviews for examples of one.
From left to right: Eagletac Protected 18650 3400mAh, SX25L3; Niwalker BK-FA02; Crelant 7G10.
From left to right: Eagletac Protected 18650 3400mAh, SX25L3, GX25A3; Duracell NiMH AA.
All dimensions directly measured, and given with no batteries installed (unless indicated):
Eagletac SX25L3 3x18650: Weight: 315.9g, Length: 150.2mm, Weight (bezel): 47.0mm
Eagletac GX25A3 3xAA: Weight: 151.4g, Length: 109.2mm, Weight (bezel): 38.6mm
Eagletac SX25A6 6xAA: Weight: 279.8g, Length: 183mm, Weight (bezel): 47.0mm
Eagletac GX25L2: Weight: 198.3g (with battery pack: 290.1g), Length: 224mm, Width (bezel): 39.5mm
Eagletac SX25L2: Weight: 279.4g (with battery pack: 470.3g), Length: 239mm, Width (bezel): 47.0mm
Crelant 7G9: Weight: 482.2g (634g with 3x18650), Length: 188mm, Width (bezel): 64.0mm, Width (tailcap): 46.7mm
Crelant 7G10: Weight 643.4g (827g with 4x18650), Length: 198mm, Width (bezel): 79.0mm
Fenix TK75: Weight: 516.0g (700g with 4x18650), Length: 184mm, Width (bezel): 87.5mm
Nitecore TM15: Weight: 450.6g (634g with 4x18650). Length 158mm, Width (bezel): 59.5mm
Niwalker BK-FA01 (shipping): Weight: 687.6g (870g with 4x18650), Length: 209mm, Width (bezel): 80.0mm, Width (tailcap): 50.3mm
Eagletac MX25L2 (standard head):Weight: 468.7g (with battery pack: 744.2g), Length: 266mm, Width (bezel): 62.0mm
The SX25L3 is clearly a wider and heavier light than Eagletac's recent multi-AA offerings in this space (consistent with its 3x18650 design). That said, it is actually one of the most compact 3x18650 lights I've handled.
Hand feel is good (for all size hands), thanks to the relatively compact build. Although a bit heavier than the AA models, the light is comfortable to hold and use. Grip is reasonably good, thanks to all the build elements. Knurling is somewhat mild, but is present over the entire battery tube/handle. As with the SX25A6, there are also finger well cut-outs on three sides of the battery tube.
Anodizing is glossy black, hard anodized (i.e., type III), but there were a couple of chips on my sample (note that my sample was an early review sample, so it may have already seen some handling). Labels are bright and clear (i.e., sharp white against the black background).
Like the recent GX25A3/SX25A6, the SX25L2 doesn't use a battery carrier, but instead has cut-out wells for the cells. The cells are arranged in continuous series, with connection being made by contacts on a connector piece in the tailcap. This connector can spin freely, and locks in place to a couple of holes in the body that line up with rods in the tailcap.
Screw threading on the tailcap is traditional triangular cut, and is anodized. This actually allows you to lock out the light, as there is a signal that carries through the tailcap (at least in the kit version tested here). On most other lights with this sort of battery arrangement, tension on the springs determines the contact, and hence no lock-out is usually possible. Thread feel is very smooth on my sample. Note that the kit version comes with an extra signal path for the secondary tailswitch to operate (i.e., I presume the extra metal tail connector pin is missing on the base model).
As with other recent Eagletac lights that use a head switching mechanism, there are a series of spring-mounted pins in the head that are required to interpret the output state of the light. The thickness and quality of these pins look improved on the SX25L3, compared to earlier models I've seen (although all have worked fine in my testing to date).
The SX25L3 can tailstand, and there is a wrist lanyard strap attachment point on the side. Note there is no real anti-roll feature, and the light can roll easily when on its side.
Screw threads are square-cut (and thick) in the head region where mode switching occurs, as with the other recent Eagletac lights
The electronic switch controls on-off when the tailcap is connected, with output mode selection and programming controlled by head twist. This is the same as the other recent GX/SX/MX/TX25xx-series lights, although the design of the contact points in the head can vary somewhat (scroll down for a UI discussion). Side-switch feel is good for an electronic switch – there is a reasonable traverse, and the action is firm. Grip is good with the texturized rubber button cover.
The SX25L3 comes with either a XM-L2 emitter, or the high output MT-G2 shown above. The reflector (on my sample) is textured, and fairly deep. The large MT-G2 emitter seemed well centered.
The MT-G2 is relatively new in the flashlight world (see the Cree MT-G2 spec sheet for more info). As you can probably tell, the MT-G2 is a remarkably large emitter, with a dome diameter of almost 8.9mm (vs. 5mm on the XM-L2). Of course, what really matters is the surface area of the die underneath, which is only 2x2mm on the XM-L2. I am not sure of the actual die dimensions on the MT-G2, but there appears to be a grid of 72 distinct segments on it.
Note that the MT-G2 only comes in a variety of relatively neutral-warm tint bins (i.e., the coolest one available is 5000K). All the MT-G2 samples I've seen have certainly been in the typical "Neutral White" range, and this one is no exception.
Scroll down for beamshot comparisons.
The kit version of the light has a screw-on stainless steel bezel (I believe the regular version lacks a threaded bezel). This unscrews and can be replaced with YRGB filters and diffuser covers.
The interface is basically the same at the GX25A3/SX26A6, but with a fourth head twist mode (explained below). Turn the light on/off by the electronic switch. Press and hold for momentary, press-release (i.e. click) for locked-on.
Output levels controlled by how loose/tight the head is (i.e., the three levels are accessed in sequence from head fully tight). As soon as you loosen past fully tight, you drop down to the second level. You drop down again to the third level after a ~60 degree, and to fourth and final level by ~120 degree turn. This is like the G25C2 and GX/SX/MX25L2 series lights (that also offer four modes), but differs from the GX25A3/SX25A6 that only off 3 modes. You need to do at least one full head turn from tight to get the light to shut off (but you can easily lock out the light at the tailcap).
There are two possible groups of output modes available - Regular (100% > 45% > 8% > 1%, in sequence) and Tactical (100% > 12% > Strobe I > Strobe 2, in sequence). You can switch between the two groups by turning the light on max (fully tight) and loosening the head to the second level and then back to tight, repeating this sequence ten times in five seconds.
A new feature on these recent tactical lights is the ability to rapidly access a momentary Turbo from any head position by a press-and-hold of the switch when On. You can similarly access strobe at any time by a double press and hold (i.e. click and press-hold). Simply release the switch to return to your previous head-set level.
To access the hidden auxiliary modes, do a quick loosen-tighten twist of the head (from first level tight to third level and back again). Repeat this twist to advance through the modes. Mode sequence is: Strobe I > Strobe II > Hi-Flash > SOS I > SOS II > Beacon > Lo-Flash, in repeating sequence. Turn off the light or loosen the head to quit the hidden modes. I will describe these modes in more detail below.
There is an "energy saving feature" where the light reduces output by 25% after 200 seconds in Turbo. You can toggle this feature "off", which results in a 10% step-down instead. See my runtime results below for more information. To toggle this feature off or on, turn the light on at the third level, and switch back and forth to the second level for ten times in five seconds.
For more information on the overall build and user interface, please see my video overview:
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.
As with all my videos, I recommend you have annotations turned on. I commonly update the commentary with additional information or clarifications before publicly releasing the video.
There is no sign of PWM that I can see, at any output level – I believe the light is current-controlled.
The SX25L3 is again identical to my GX25A3/SX25A6, TX25C2 and GX/SX25L2 series in terms of the auxiliary blinking modes.
The main strobe is standard high frequency strobe, measured at 9.1 Hz on my SX25L3.
The second strobe mode is an alternating or "oscillating" strobe, switching between 6.2Hz and 14.5Hz every 2 seconds.
Hi-Flash is basically a full power slow strobe/beacon mode. Frequency was a reasonable ~1.6Hz. Note that the deflection spikes you see above are just the on and off signals of the pulse (i.e., it spends roughly half the time on, half the time off, with each pulse).
The "fast" SOS signals the full SOS sequence (dot-dot-dot, dash-dash-dash, dot-dot-dot) in just under 3 secs. Note again that the traces above refer to both the on- and off-signal for each pulse of light.
In contrast, the "slow" SOS takes just under 3 seconds just do the "S" (i.e. dot-dot-dot), and about 4 second to do the "O" (i.e., dash-dash-dash), with a good 3 seconds in-between each Morse code letter. Personally, this seems far more useful than the rather frenetic initial SOS mode.
Beacon is a slow full output flash (almost 2 secs long), re-occurring approximately every ~14 secs (i.e., a very slow beacon)
A standby current drain is inevitable on this light, due to the electronic switch in the head (and/or tailcap). I have measured it on my SX25L3 to be 167uA. Given the serial cell arrangement, would translate into a little over 21 months on 2600mAh 18650, which is quite reasonable.
If you are concerned about this relatively minute drain, you can easily lock-out the SX25L3 by a quick twist of the tailcap.
And now, what you have all been waiting for. All lights are on their standard battery, or AW protected 18650 2200mAh for the multi-18650 lights. 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.
Note: Again, don't be fooled by relative tint differences for the MT-G2s above – the automatic color balance used by the camera introduces distortions in tint. In real life, I find my MT-G2 lights to be relatively neutral white.
The SX25L3 is clearly not as heavier a thower as the larger lights in my collection. But the beam profile is well balanced and pleasing to the eye.
UPDATE OCTOBER 4, 2013:
For outdoor beamshots, these are all 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). I think this batch of outdoor beamshots looks fairly good, due to all the Fall colors in the trees.
The SX25L3 clearly has the lowest throw for the MT-G2 class so far. But you can also see how much brighter the spillbeam is (i.e., look at the bushes on the side of the path). It goes to show you the impact reflector design has on relative beam appearance.
Also, please ignore any tint differences above – they are mainly due to the automatic white balance setting on the camera. In real life, the MT-G2 lights are consistently Neutral white.
All my output numbers are relative for my home-made light box setup, as described on my flashlightreviews.ca website. 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. Effective July 2012, I have updated all my Peak Intensity/Beam Distance measures with a NIST-certified Extech EA31 lightmeter (orange highlights).
The MT-G2 is certainly capable of decent output – upon initial activation, I estimate over 2500 lumens. This puts it well within the class of other MT-G2 lights, as well as typical Luminus SST-90 lights and many of the 3xXM-L lights.
One of the advantages of the MT-G2 is a much smoother beam profile than multi-emitter setups, but at the expense of throw (due to the large emitter die). As expected, SX25L3 throw is not as high as some of the other MT-G2 lights with larger reflectors.. But it is still quite reasonable for general usage.
Let's see how the rest of the output levels compare:
On the whole, I find pretty good concordance of my measures with Eagletac's ANSI FL-1 throw and output specs
Let's start by comparing some 18650 results:
As you would expect, the higher capacity 3100mAh cells give longer runtime. Like the other Eagletac models, you can reduce the default ~25% step-down to just ~10% if you want (which will lead to reduced runtime).
The regulation pattern is interesting, as both Turbo and the 45% Hi level show a mild oscillating pattern. Not to worry, this is completely unnoticeable by eye – the light will look completely flat regulated in use.
Let's see how it compares to other lights:
One interesting thing here is what happens at the lower 12% Med level – the S25A3 no longer shows a full regulation pattern, and the light looks more like direct-drive. This is again not an issue though – the timescale is so long above that the light will look completely flat regulated to the eye.
The overall efficiency seems quite good at all levels – keep in mind, the SX25L3 is running on only 3x18650 cells, not 4x like most of the competition.
As with other Eagletac models where the output mode is set by the degree the head is tightened, you need to keep all contact surfaces in the head clean. Long-term reliability of the switching mechanism and pins is unknown, but I note that the spring-mounted pins are thicker and more robust looking than on other recent Eagletac models.
Due to the electronic switch in the head, there is a standby current when the tailcap is fully connected. This is relatively small however (i.e., would take nearly 2 years to completely drain most 18650 cells).
Light lacks any sort of anti-roll feature, and can roll fairly easily (unless you have a lanyard installed).
Flat-top 18650 cells may not work in the light, due to the physical reverse polarity feature.
Eagletac has been busy launching new series lately, and I like the continued evolution into the SX25L3. The 3x18650 configuration makes this a substantial light, yet it is still quite compact and reasonably comfortable in the hand. I am always interested in seeing another MT-G2 light, although I should note that the SX25L3 is also available with XM-L2 for more throw.
Build-wise, the light has a lot in common with the smaller 3xAA GX25A3 and 6xAA SX25A6. But there are some differences in the head design, and I am glad to see that four output modes per set have been restored to this series (e.g., like the GX/SX/MX25L2 and G25C2 series lights).
Aside from the extra fourth mode, user interface is basically the same as the GX25A3/SX25A6. I personally find this interface intuitive and easy to use (i.e., side-switch for Off/On, head loosen to change output levels). This gives you the advantage of being able to predict the output level before turning on. Like the GX25A3/SX25A6, an alternate tailcap with a secondary On/Off switch is available as part of the kit (which functions the same as the main switch).
The SX25L3 appears to share the same kind of excellent output/runtime efficiency as other members of the Eagletac family, although I don't have many MT-G2 lights to compare to. Regulation pattern is distinctive on the highest two levels, and the light seems to be mainly direct drive at lower ones. None of this is visible to the eye, however – output will appear perfectly flat in use, and you will benefit from the efficiency gains (although keep in mind only 3x 18650 are used here, unlike some of the larger competition).
Beam pattern is very smooth, with an even beam and wide spill. Don't expect a lot of relative throw with the MT-G2 emitter, but I certainly found it fine for general use. I personally like that the MT-G2 series only comes in a range of warm-neutral tints - every light sample I've seen to date has had a pleasing neutral white.
Like the other compact members of the GX/SX family of lights, I can see the SX25L3 being a popular model. While it won't be a huge thrower in this size, it is a very portable light with a very impressive amount of power.
SX25L3 was provided by Eagletac for review.