Eagletac has recently updated their series of high-output lights, bringing several new classes to the fold. Late last year, I reviewed the MX25L4 Turbo, and today have the "compact" 3x18650 MX25L3C (6x Nichia 219 version) on hand for review.
Note that this light comes in a couple of forms – the 6x Nichia 219 reviewed here, and a higher output 6x XP-G2 S2 cool version. But I'm partial to neutral white tints, and so requested the lower output Hi-CRI Nicha 219 model for review.
Manufacturer Reported Specifications:
(note: as always, these are simply what the manufacturer provides – scroll down to see my actual testing results).
- Cool White: 6x Cree XP-G2 S2 LED (CRI 70) 6500K
- Neutral White: 6x Nichia 219 D220 SW45 LED (CRI 92) 4500K (Reviewer's note - at least one dealer describes these as "B11")
- ANSI FL-1 for 6x Cree XP-G2: Regular mode 2450-2065/1010/180/23 lumens, Runtime 1.6/3.5/22/350 hours – Tactical mode 2450-2065/230/Strobe I/II, Runtime 1.6/20 hours
- ANSI FL-1 for 6x Nichia 219: 1810-1545/760/145/19 lumens, Runtime 1.4/3.2/21/350 hours – Tactical mode 1810-1545/175/Strobe I/II, Runtime 1.4/19 hours
- Beam Intensity (6x Cree XP-G2 version): 42,000 lux
- Beam Distance (6x Cree XP-G2 version): 448 yards / 410 meters
- Center spot angle (6x Cree XP-G2 version): 7.4°, Spill light angle: 63.6°
- Beam Intensity (6x Nichia 219 version): 25,000 lux
- Beam Distance (6x Nichia 219 version): 347 yards / 317 meters
- Center spot angle (6x Nichia 219 version): 7.2°, Spill light angle: 63.9°
- Powered by 3x18650 Li-ion or 6xCR123A (do not use 6x RCR123A)
- Voltage range: 5.4V – 19V
- Two groups of basic output modes, Regular mode (100% / 45% / 8% / 1%) and Tactical mode (100% / 10% / Strobe I / Strobe II) - user selectable
- Brightness level selected by loosening/tightening head/bezel
- Four levels brightness (user selectable sets) and seven hidden auxillary modes – Strobe I / Strobe II (Var) / Flash (Hi) / S.O.S. I (Fast) / S.O.S. II (Slow) / Beacon / Flash (Lo)
- Waterwhite glass lens w/ harden treatment
- Anti-reflective (AR) coating on both sides (96% transparency)
- HA III hard anodization aerospace aluminum (black)
- Smooth aluminum reflector
- Waterproof IPX-8 standard
- Warranty: Ten years performance guaranteed warranty
- Dimensions: Head Diameter 2.5 inches (62 mm), Body Diameter 1.8 inches (45.5 mm), Length: 5.6 inches (141 mm), Weight: 11.6 ounces (330 grams)
- Included Accessories: Spare o-rings, User Manual, Mil-Spec Para-cord Lanyard w/ quick attachment clip, Flat tail-cap (tail-stand), 3xCR123A Battery Magazines,
- Include with kit version: Extra signal connection through the body tube for rear accessories add-on, extra tailcap w/ switch and tail-standing ability, stainless steel bezel, heavy duty Nylon holster w/ self-retention devices and open-top design, ET54 diffuser and color filters
- MSRP: ~$155 (~190 in full kit form)
As with other recent Eagletac models, the MX25L3C comes securely packaged in an Eagletac cardboard box. Included accessories are a paracord wrist lanyard, extra o-rings, three CR123A anti-rattle magazine holders, tailcap with secondary switch (kit version only), rigid belt holster (kit version only), manual, and warranty card.
Although mine is the basic kit form, I didn't get the diffuser or colored filter set to review.
From left to right: Keeppower protected 18650 3100mAh; Eagletac MX25L3C Compact, SX25L3, MX25L4 Turbo; L3 Illumination X40; Fenix TK75; Supbeam X60.
All dimensions are directly measured, and given with no batteries installed:
Eagletac MX25L3C 3x18650: Weight: 345.9g, 352.0g with kit tailcap (485-491g with 4x18650), Length: 141.9mm, 143.6mm with kit tailcap, Width (bezel): 61.9mm
Eagletac MX25L4 Turbo 4x18650: Weight: 741.0g (926g with 4x18650), Length: 203mm, Width (bezel): 92.7mm
Eagletac MX25L2 2x18650: Weight: 468.7g (with battery pack: 744g), Length: 266mm, Width (bezel): 62.0mm
Eagletac SX25L3 3x18650: Weight: 315.9g, Length: 150.2mm, Weight (bezel): 47.0mm
Fenix TK61: Weight: 605.7g (791g with 4x18650), Length: 218mm, Width (bezel): 96.0mm
Fenix TK75: Weight: 516.0g (701g with 4x18650), Length: 184mm, Width (bezel): 87.5mm
Nitecore TM06: Weight: 276.4g (464g with 4x18650), Length 123.9mm, Width (bezel): 50.0mm
Nitecore TM15: Weight: 450.6g (639g with 4x18650). Length 158mm, Width (bezel): 59.5mm
Niwalker BK-FA01: Weight: 682.3g (865g with 4x18650), Length: 209mm, Width (bezel): 80.0mm, Width (tailcap): 50.3mm
Thrunite TN36: Weight: 390.4g (578g with 4x18650), Length: 125.4mm, Width (bezel): 64.0mm
SupBeam K50: Weight: 645.0g (828g with 4x18650), Length: 230mm, Width (bezel): 90.1mm
SupBeam X60: Weight: 920.7g (1201g with 6x18650) Length: 277mm, Width (bezel): 108.0mm
The MX25L3C series carries on the robust tradition of the larger MX25 and SX25 series lights. The MX25L3C is a solid model, with good weight and decent hand ergonomics. The enlarged head of this "compact" version is still quite reasonable (i.e., not as unwieldy as the Turbo heads on some models).
Unlike some of the other Eagletac lights I've handled, knurling is of mild aggressiveness on the MX25L3C. Anodizing is glossy black, hard anodized (i.e., type III). There were no chips in the anodizing on my sample (although that is not uncommon on find on some samples. There are a reasonable number of labels, and all are bright and clear (sharp white against the black background).
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 looks similar to my MX25L4, which were improved compared to some of the earlier MX25L2 models I tested.
The electronic switch in the head 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 SX25/MX25xx-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.
Screw threads in the head region are square-cut (and thick). This is where mode switching occurs, as with the other recent Eagletac lights, so you need to keep the contact surfaces here scrupulously clean.
Similar to the recent SX25L3, the MX25L3C doesn't use a battery carrier, but instead has cut-out wells for the cells. And like the SX25L3, the cells are arranged in continuous series (i.e. 1p3s). Connection is made by contacts on a connector piece in the tailcap. The tailcap connector can spin freely, and locks in place to a set of holes in the body that line up with rods in the tailcap. With the optional kit tailcap, you get a slightly raised base and a secondary switch that functions exactly the same as the main switch in the head (i.e., switch function is identical).
The MX25L3C can tailstand with either tailcap, and there is a wrist lanyard strap attachment point on the side of the body.
Screw threading on the tailcap is traditional triangular cut, and is anodized. Lock-out is possible, with a quick twist of the tailcap (works on both the regulator tailcap, and the kit version). Thread feel is very smooth on my sample.
The MX25L4 Turbo reflector is composed of six separate wells, each smooth and shiny (and relatively deep for the small size). At the base of each reflector is a Nichia 219 neutral white emitter (XP-G2 cool white also available).
Scroll down for beamshots and output measures.
The MX25L3C interface is very similar to other SX25/MX25xx series lights. Turn the light on/off by the electronic switch. Press and hold for momentary, press-release (i.e. click) for locked-on.
There are four output levels controlled by how loose/tight the head is (i.e., the four levels are accessed in sequence from head fully tight).
Note that as with other Eagletac lights that use this interface, the physical turning distance between the levels is not equidistant. As soon as you loosen past fully tight, you drop down to the second level. You drop down again to the third level quickly after a partial turn, and similarly again for the fourth level after another turn. By ~100 degree turn on my sample, you are into the fourth mode. This means that you can jump to the lower modes very quickly. The light remains in the lowest mode until you complete almost a full turn from fully tight (at which point the light shuts off).
There are two possible groups of output modes available - Regular (100% > 45% > 8% > 1%, in sequence from fully tight) and Tactical (100% > 10% > Strobe I > Strobe II, 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 five times in five seconds.
You can 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). Strobe is accessible even from Off with this maneuver. 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 or fourth level and back again). Repeat this twist to advance through the modes. Mode sequence is: Strobe I > Strobe II > Hi-Flash > SOS I (fast) > SOS II (slow) > Beacon > Lo-Flash, in repeating sequence. Turn off the light or loosen the head to quit the hidden modes. FYI, I have found that they have relaxed the timings for these maneuvers, compared to earlier lights. You no longer have to frantically twist the head – an even motion will do the trick. In fact, it works more consistently if you take your time.
On the MX25L3C (like some of the SXX25/MX25xx series lights), there is an option to reduce the "energy saving feature" of Turbo output. By default, the light will drop 25% in output from Turbo when 200 secs is reached. If you turn this feature off, the light will only drop 10% in output. As always, you can turn the light off-on to restart the max output mode.
The secondary tailswitch from the kit version functions exactly the same as the main switch in the head.
For more detailed information, including general build and user interface, please see my video overview:
For 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 an aside, if you want to get an instant notification for every new review that I post, you can subscribe to my YouTube channel. The vids go public at the same time as the reviews here on CPF.
As before, there is no sign of PWM at any output level on the MX25L3C – I presume all levels are current-controlled. Shown below are the auxillary modes of from my MX25L4T review, which are exactly the same as my MX25L3C sample.
The main strobe is a high frequency strobe, measured at 13.7 Hz on my MX25L4.
The second strobe mode is an alternating or "oscillating" strobe, switching between 8.3Hz and 15.9Hz every 2 seconds. Here is a blow-up of the two frequencies:
Hi-Flash is basically a full power slow strobe/beacon mode. Frequency was a reasonable 2.3Hz in my testing.
The "fast" SOS signals the full SOS sequence (dot-dot-dot, dash-dash-dash, dot-dot-dot) in just over 2 secs. These seems unusually quick to me.
In contrast, the "slow" SOS takes just under 2 seconds just do the "S" (i.e. dot-dot-dot), and about 2.5 seconds to do the "O" (i.e., dash-dash-dash), with >5 secs in-between each sequence. Personally, this seems far more useful than the rather frenetic initial SOS mode.
Beacon is a slow full output burst that is 2 secs long, re-occurring every 20 secs (i.e., a very slow beacon).
Lo-Flash is a lower output, slower frequency strobe/beacon than Hi-Flash. It's hard to see on the traces above (due to the relatively low output), but I measured a frequency of ~0.6 Hz.
A standby current drain is inevitable on these types of lights, due to the electronic switch in the head/tail.
On my MX25L3C, I measured the drain as 635uA. For 3400mAh 18650 batteries (assuming a 3s1p arrangement), that would translate into ~7.5 months before they would be fully drained. This is higher than my other Eagletac lights (which typically would give you 2-3 years before fully draining cells). As such, recommend you lock out the light at the tailcap when not in use - to block this drain, and to prevent accidental activation.
And now, what you have all been waiting for. All lights are on their respective battery sources, about ~0.75 meter from a white wall (with the camera ~1.25 meters back from the wall). Automatic white balance used on the cool white lights (to minimize tint differences), and Daylight white balance used on the neutral white lights (i.e., MT-G2 and Nichia 219).
Let's start with a comparison of the MX25L3C to some other recent high-output Eagletac lights.
And now some competing lights in this class.
As always, it's hard to tell much about peak intensity throw at such ridiculously close distances. But the above does give you an idea of the what the relative beam pattern looks like, compared to the competition (i.e., it is not as floody as the MT-G2 lights, with their wider hotspots and wider spillbeams).
You also really can't say much about tint from a single white balance. However, you can see that while the Nichia 219 does produce a Neutral White tint, it "rosier" than the usual neutral white MT-G2s.
Outdoors beam shots are not feasible with the mounds of snow everywhere here right now. So here are some shots from my basement. For your reference, the back of the couch is about 7 feet away (~2.3m) from the opening of the light, and the far wall is about 18 feet away (~5.9m). Below I am showing a couple of exposures, to allow you to better compare hotspot and spill. The camera is set to a Daylight white balance for all lights below. All lights on Turbo.
Again, the Nicha 219 produces a "rosier" tint than a typical neutral white emitter, like the MT-G2. The multi-emitter MX25L3C is also a lot more "throwy" compared the the single/dual MT-G2 lights. Overall spillbeam with is about typical for a standard light (i.e., the MX25L3C is not a particularly "floody" specimen).
Scroll down for direct beam measurements.
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).
To better compare output levels, here is a comparison table.
My lumen estimates generally correlate pretty well with the Eagletac ANSI FL-1 specs.
Note the step-down on Turbo shown above is for the default step-down (rated at 25%, which seems accurate in my testing). See runtimes for an example with this feature turned "off" (i.e., 10% step-down).
All runtimes in my recent reviews are done with protected 3100mAh 18650 batteries, based on the NCR18650A core.
Let's start with a comparison of the main levels:
As previously mentioned, on most Eagletac lights you have the option to control the degree of step-down on Turbo (occurs after 200 secs of continuous runtime). By default the light steps down by 25%, but you can switch this to a 10% step down.
Runtime patterns are about what you would expect. Note that are some subtle fluctuations in output over time (i.e., not perfectly flat-regulated). But these are too small and gradual for you to be able to notice by eye. In practice, the output will seem rock-solid flat.
As the batteries near exhaustion, warning flashes will start in the main beam. You can see evidence of these in a couple of cases above. Since the flashes are quick, and my sampling rate is long (30 secs), you wouldn't expect to see to many obvious examples of it in the runtime graphs.
Let's see how the MX25L3C compares to the competition.
Overall regulation patterns are very similar to the SX25L3. However, as you can see, the 6x Nichia emitters are not as efficient as the 1xMT-G2 on the SX25L3. Basically, this means that you get the same runtime as the SX25L3, but somewhat less output for each level. I suspect the 6xXP-G2 S2 version would give noticeably higher output, and be quite competitive for this class (i.e., at least as good as the 1xMT-G2).
Previously, I used to use AW 2200mAh protected cells in my 18650 testing – so data for many of my older lights are only available in this format. Here is a comparison of how the MX25L3C performs on 2200mAh cells. Note that I won't be providing these sorts of comparisons for new lights any more.
Again, not to belabor the point, but you can expect reduced output on the 6x Nichia, compared to equivalent runtime with 3x/4x XM-L2 or 1x/2x MT-G2 emitters.
The CR123A runtime above requires a bit of explaining. I used my standard Rayovac (made-in-the-USA) CR123As for this test. Judging from the pattern, it looks like the built-in PTC feature kicked in to limit output and heat. I've seen this on a number of heavily driven multi-cell lights. Please see my CR123A battery round-up thread for a discussion. It looks like the PTC current limitation triggered the low voltage feature early as well.
As with other Eagletac models where output mode is set by the degree the head is tightened, you need to keep all contact surfaces in the head scrupulously clean. Otherwise, you may experience mode switching problems due to contact surface issues.
Output/runtime efficiency of the Nichia 219 version is not as high as competing as cool white XP-G2/XM-L2/MK-R-based lights, or the neutral white MT-G2 based lights. Basically, with the Nichia 219 you get less output – but equivalent runtime – compared to other Eagletac offerings. However, the Nichia 219 emitters do have a higher color rendition index (Hi CRI) than other emitter types.
The MX25L3C is heavily-driven on max, so primary CR123As are not recommended for extended runs (i.e., you may trip the built-in PTC thermal safety feature on made-in-the-USA brands).
The MX25L3 Compact is another nice addition to the Eagletac line of high-output, throw-style lights. I particularly like the Nichia 219 option, with their high color rendering ability (i.e., Hi CRI).
I always liked the build and interface of these MX/SX series lights, and the MX25L3C is very similar to its predecessors. The handle looks the same as the regular MX25L3 (or SX25L3), and you get a relatively short and stubby head (compared to the large Turbo models). The MX25L3C is certainly more portable than many of the MX-series lights. Note there is still the slim lined SX25L3 to consider, if you want a single emitter model.
As before, you have the ability to use both 18650 Li-ion and primary CR123A - although I recommend sticking with 18650, for their higher capacity and ability to handle high heat better.
What is really distinctive here is the beam pattern – especially in this Nichia 219 form. I'm glad to see this option, as it produces one of the highest levels of color rendition. Note the Nichia 219 produces a more "rosy" tint neutral white than you might expect (i.e., makes most Cree neutral white tints look positively green in comparison). With whatever emitter choice you go with, expect a relatively balanced beam profile, with a fairly typical spillbeam width. The MX25L3C is neither a "thrower" nor a "flooder" really - it's something in-between, like a lot of high-output multi-emitter lights.
There have been a few minor tweaks to the classic Eagletac interface over time, but nothing major. The MX25L3C seems to be identical in its features and timings to the MX25L4T that I reviewed last year. Overall output/runtime efficiency is still quite reasonable – but you do take an output hit with the Nichia 219 version. This is to be expected, as the warmer Nichia 219 doesn't produce as much as light as a typical cool white Cree emitter.
The MX25L3C is certainly another option to consider in an (admittedly) increasingly crowded high-output landscape. To me, it is the Nichia 219 version that really sets this model apart from the crowd – you just don't typically see this level of color rendition in a high-output light.
MX25L3C Nichia 219 was provided by Eagletac for review.