Warning: pic heavy, as usual.
Foursevens has sent me the new "Burst mode" version of their Maelstrom MMX (XM-L2). I previously reviewed the inaugural XM-L version of this light (back when it was known as the X7), so I was curious to see how this new max output version compares.
Note that this review (and the availability of this model) was delayed a bit while Foursevens worked to resolve an issue I had discovered on the initial launch of the MMX Burst. More on that later in the review.
As always, let's see what the official specs have to say ...
Manufacturer Reported Specifications:
(note: as always, these are simply what the manufacturer provides – scroll down to see my actual testing results).
- LED: Cree XM-L2 LED Cool White
- Four brightness levels (Moonlight-Low-Medium-High).
- Special modes: Strobe (10hz, 1hr), SOS (4.5hrs), Beacon (12hrs)
- Output/Runtime: Hi Burst at 900lm 1 min then 450lm (4hr), Med 250lm (3.7hr), Low 32lm (21hr); Moonlight 0.5lm (25 days)
- Operating range: 2.7V-8.4V
- Power sources: 2xCR123A, 2xRCR (16340), 1x18650
- Spot Beam Angle: 8 degrees, Diameter at 3 meters: 430mm
- Flood Beam Angle: 60 degrees, Diameter at 3 meters: 3.45 meters
- Reflector: Smooth
- Body Material: Type-III hard-anodized aircraft-grade aluminum
- Bezel Material: Stainless steel strike-bezel
- Lens Material: Optical-grade glass lens, sapphire coating, antireflective coating
- Current Regulation
- Shock-isolated Battery Compartment
- Weapon Mountable
- Smart Circuit for Rechargeable Batteries
- Reverse-Polarity Protection
- Burst Mode
- Dimensions: Length 6in, Head diameter 1.5in, Body diameter 1.0in
- Weight: 5.1 oz (without battery)
- Included Accessories: Batteries, lanyard, spare o-ring, holster, non-crenated spare bezel, flat grip-ring spacer
- MSRP: ~$120
Packaging has certainly been updated across the Foursevens line. Designed to show off the light, you can see the key characteristics are presented on the top half of the box. Inside, included with the light are spare O-rings, good quality lanyard, holster, two Foursevens-brand CR123A batteries, flat-top black bezel, flat grip-ring spacer, and manual.
From left to right: Eagletac Protected 18650 3400mAh; Foursevens 2xCR123A; Foursevens MMX Burst, Maelstrom X7; Nitecore SRT7; Eagletac G25C2 Mark II; ArmyTek Viking Pro; Olight M22.
All dimensions directly measured, and given with no batteries installed:
Foursevens MMX: Weight 145.8g, Length: 153.3mm, Width (bezel): 38.7mm
Foursevens X7: Weight 146.9g, Length: 151.5mm, Width (bezel): 38.7mm
Skilhunt S2: Weight: 133.0g, Length 153.0mm, Width: 36.0mm
Olight M22: Weight: 148.4g, Length: 144.8mm, Width: 41.2mm (bezel)
Olight M21: Weight 119.5g, Length 145.2mm, Width 38.5mm (bezel)
Eagletac G25C2-II (stock): Weight 141.0g, Length: 150.6mm, Width: 39.6mm
Eagletac TX25C2: Weight 93.6g, Length: 120.4mm, Width (bezel): 31.6mm
Klarus XT11: Weight 133.0g, Length: 148.8, Width (bezel) 35.0mm
Nitecore MH25: Weight: 145.4g, Length: 160mm, Width (bezel): 40.0m
The appearance of the MMX hasn't really changed much from the early X7 – except for the labels, the lights appear identical.
As before, anodizing is a shiny black finish, hard anodized (i.e., type III). Body labels are minimal, but bright white and clear. Knurling is of reasonable aggressive, and helps with grip. Clip is removable, with a ring cover to hide the attachment point.
Tailcap screw threads are traditional triangular cut and anodized on the body, allowing for tailcap lock-out. Note the tailcap screw threads are no longer anodized, resulting in a potentially less secure lockout (i.e., only one set of the threads are anodized now). This is common on a number of makers these days, and likely reflects patent issues. Double o-rings for extra waterproofness.
The MMX uses the same protruding forward tactical clicky switch as before (i.e. press for momentary on, click for lock-on). All mode switching is done with the head, and the MMX retains the novel 4-contact-point design of the G5/X7 (scroll down for a UI discussion). Also as before, the head's positive contact lacks a spring and has a physical reverse polarity feature. This means that newer high-capacity flat-top 18650 batteries will not work.
The front of the bezel easily opens and you can directly access the reflector and the front of the emitter.
Note that due to the protruding forward switch, the light cannot tailstand.
The MMX comes with a crenalated shiny stainless steel bezel. For those who prefer a less flashy look, a flat black bezel is included in the package.
Reflector is smooth, and fairly deep. Coupled with the XM-L2 cool white emitter (which was well centered on my sample), I would expect reasonably strong throw. Scroll down for beamshots.
Something new for me is the holster, although I understand Foursevens has been using these for some time:
This design reminds me a lot of the Eagletac holsters, although I understand the Foursevens version predates. Note that the light is meant to fit into the holster in a bezel down configuration.
Foursevens supplies a set of their own brand CR123A batteries for use in the light. I plan to add these to my most CR123A round review performance thread, when time permits.
The MMX has the same interface as the X7 that preceded it. Turn the light on/off by the tailcap switch (press for momentary, click for locked-on).
As before, the 4-point switch engagement in the head of the flashlight allows you to select the different outputs by simply loosening or tightening the head.
The MMX has 8 modes in total, split into two sets of 4 (referred to as Regular and Special modes). Unchanged from the X7, in order from tight to loose you get the following:
Regular: Hi, Med, Lo, Moonlight
Special: Hi, Strobe, SOS, Beacon
The Primary (Hi) mode is fully tight – loosen slightly to get the second level. The third and fourth levels are accessed after a further ~90 degree turn or so.
Switching between Regular/Special mode sets is done by quickly loosening and tightening the head from tight 4 times rapidly (i.e. quickly switching between Primary and Secondary 4 times in a row). You have to do this pretty fast, or you won’t switch between mode sets. You also need to make sure you do the full quarter turn each time, or the switch won’t register (i.e. need to see the secondary mode).
Also, note that the position just below where a level switch occurs can be a bit unstable (i.e. light might flicker or jump back and forth from the lower to higher level if shaken). Best to make sure you are well within a given level’s position for stable operation.
The new "Burst" mode version of the MMX features higher output initially on HI – but the light steps-down to a lower Hi after 1 min of continuous runtime. See my lumen estimates later in this review. You can re-activate the Burst level by cycling through modes, or turning off-on in Hi
For information on the light, including the build and user interface, please see my video overview:
Video was 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.
As before, the MMX is current-controlled. There is no PWM, on any level.
The strobe is a fairly typical fast "tactical" strobe, of 10Hz frequency.
Beacon is a one second flash of Hi output, repeated every 10 secs.
SOS mode is a fairly typical SOS sequence.
For white-wall beamshots below, all lights are on Max output on an AW protected 18650 battery. 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 and overall output are very similar to the Olight M22 and Eagletac G25C2-II XM-L2 – both of which share a similarly sized reflector. Output is greatly increased from the original X7 (not show above, but scroll down to my output tables below for measures).
For outdoor beamshots, these were done earlier this year on my original MMX Burst sample (when the weather was nicer). That sample had issues on 2xRCR and was replaced for the final review, but performance on 1x18650 was comparable to the final release version. Please see my earlier 100-yard round-up review 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 previously mentioned, the MMX Burst has the same overall output and throw as many of the recent tactical lights in this class (e.g., Nitecore SRT7, Eagletac G25C2-II, Olight M22, ArmyTek Viking V2.5, etc.). In the case above, you can see the similar performance to the SRT7. The Thrunite Lynx with Turbohead option (shown above) slightly out-throws all of these lights (while the standard head Lynx slightly under-throws). Again, scroll down for a table of direct output and throw measures.
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).
Consistent with what you saw in the beamshots, the MMX Burst is very high output light in this class (at least initially), with comparable throw to the similarly sized Eagletac, Olight, ArmyTek, Nitecore and Skilhunt lights. Output has increased significantly from the original X7.
As you'll also note above, the MMX Burst is not as bright on 1x18650 as it is on 2xRCR or 2xCR123A initially. You won't be able to tell that by eye though – it's only detectable with a lightbox.
Here are how all the levels compare to the official specs, on both 1x and 2x Li-ion (3.7V) sources:
As you can see, there is a significant step-down after the 1 min "Burst" mode on Hi. You can re-activate the Burst level by cycling through modes, or turning off-on.
Note: "Turbo" in the runtimes below refers to the MMX Hi mode, and "Hi" refers to the MMX Med mode.
Again, "Turbo" in the runtimes above refers to the MMX Hi mode, and "Hi" refers to the MMX Med mode.
As mentioned, the MMX has a significant step-down after 60 secs on Hi, on all cells. Overall output/runtime efficiency remains excellent however, and the light has very good flat regulation (as before). On 1x18650, the light maintains regulation for as long as it can after the step-down, and then drops into direct-drive as the battery nears exhaustion (i.e., a fairly typical pattern). The light is fully flat-regulated on 1x18650 on the lower levels (as well as on all levels on 2x battery sources).
Like a few other lights that use a head-twist state to set the output level, you'll need to keep the contact points in the head scrupulously clean to ensure reliable operation. The rapid switching mechanism between for Regular/Special mode sets can be a bit tricky to perform reliably (although you aren't likely to need to do this frequently).
With the reverse polarity protection feature of the head, none of my newer high-capacity flat-top protected 18650 cells would work.
The light can't tailstand.
My original MMX Burst sample had issues running on Hi on 2xRCR. The circuit seemed to inappropriately drain 2xRCR at a very high current, triggering early protection circuit shut-down within seconds on protected ICR RCRs (and a small melt-down on unprotected IMR RCRs). Foursevens pulled the initial production run of the light off the shelves due to my testing results, while they looked into the issue. I am happy to report the final shipping version of the MMX Burst mode (tested here) works normally on 2xRCR, as expected.
The Maelstrom line has been popular here since their initial launch. So it's nice to see the update to the MMX model (1x18650 2xCR123A/RCR) – now with max output "Burst" mode and an XM-L2 emitter.
It's hard to believe, but the new MMX Burst has nearly twice the initial max output of the original X7 of just a couple of years ago (at least on 2x sources). This output bump keeps the MMX competitive with other recent high-output lights in this class. As you will see in the tables above, output and throw of the MMX Burst is very consistent with other heavily-driven and similarly-sized lights from ArmyTek, Eagletac, Olight, Skilhunt, Nitecore and others. One minor comment here is that max output on the MMX Burst is slightly lower on 1x sources than 2x – but you would only notice that with a lightmeter.
Aside from the new initial Burst mode (that steps down to a more typical Hi level after 60 secs), not much has changed on this model over time: the user-interface and build remain remarkably consistent. Even the parts seem generally interchangeable with the earlier editions. And that's not necessarily a bad thing – I've always liked this design and UI (which I find intuitive and easy to use), and there is something to be said for inter-operability and consistency.
Output/runtime efficiency is excellent, as usual for a current-controlled Foursevens light. No surprises here, the final shipping MMX Burst performs as expected on all battery sources.
As an aside, I was glad to see Foursevens' quick response to my discovery of the circuit problem on 2xRCR on the initial batch of lights. These were all pulled from the shelves while they awaited replacement samples (which performed as expected in the tests above). Circuit component/manufacturing issues can happen to any maker, and it's nice to see the commitment to quality control and customer service here.
At the end of the day, the MMX Burst model brings the Foursevens Maelstrom series in-line with the output and throw of other "tactical" offerings in the 1x18650, 2xCR123A/RCR space. A strong contender, I hope this review will help you make an informed choice in this class.
MMX Burst was provided by Foursevens for this review.