Amazing Laulima Metal Craft Aluminum Ion

run4jc

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These are truly the good old days of flashlights/torches. And it’s a tough space for the builders, as mass-produced, imported lights capture the attention of the masses, and make it tough for custom builders in the US and other countries.

For custom builders to differentiate themselves, they must carve out some sort of niche. Most of you can name a few custom builders who have done that. I don’t want to leave anyone out, but for example – Don McLeish, with his McGizmos, is a long-time icon in the custom world. Oveready and Okluma both make amazing lights, and it’s their customer service that really sets them apart. Jeff Hanko makes works of art – beautiful, handmade pieces that are as rare as they are beautiful. Henry and HDS have been around forever, and HDS lights are known for their build quality and longevity. Dave Livingston and Cool Fall – some of the most beautiful and technologically amazing lights out there.

I know, I know – I’m leaving others out who belong in the mentions. You can add to them if you like!

But a relatively ‘new’ choice is Laulima Metal Craft. If you don’t know, Mitch Lum and Joshua Dawson are building some very cool lights. Maybe you’ve seen the Malihini, Todai, Starfall, Hoku. And the newest edition, the Ion.

I was fortunate to win a bronze Ion in a sign-up sale. It has simple, clean, and appealing lines – much like the classic Haiku and the McLux PD series. It has my favorite driver, the Dr. Jones H17Fx. It has emitters from my favorite ‘family’, the Nichia 219C at 4000k. My favorite button, the McClicky – forward click with momentary. Very reasonably priced at $380 shipped. My only reservations were that it’s too pretty to carry, and it’s kinda heavy.

On July 18 – that’s just over a month ago – I reached out to Mitch and said, “Mitch, I’m loving the Ion. Did you ever consider making them in aluminum?” Mitch didn’t blow me off or dismiss the idea – we carried on a conversation about it. I even asked that, should such a light be created, could I get my favorite emitter, the Nichia 219B, R9080, in the SW40 (4000k) tint.

Yesterday, after just over month (August 23, to be exact), that very light showed up at my door. (And oh, he has others to sell!) I love it. It’s perfect. Seriously, it’s perfect.

Oh, sure, flashaholics can be fickle. (Remember Doug the Dog in the movie, “Up?” “Squirrel!” If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll understand…. if not, go watch it.) But after 12 years where I have owned/bought/sold (literally) hundreds of custom and mass-produced lights, I know what I like. And I like this Ion.

Sure, titanium is pretty, tough, and light weight. Bronze, copper, brass – they all have their fans. But often, I have an aluminum light in my pocket.

There are many cool drivers out there. I love the Lux RC 5.1 in my 2 BOSSes. There are many other drivers that I’m not so fond of, but YMMV.

Yes, there are other great emitters. That’s a matter of personal choice, but my 2 favorites of all time are the Nichia 219B R9080 SW35 and SW40 (thank you, Andy Zhu!) Love a McClicky. Oh, sure, all these other fancy buttons are cool, but the dependable old McClicky is hard to beat.

Then make the light good-looking, and get great customer service and responsiveness, and here you go. The aluminum Ion. An amazing light.

And it’s a BARGAIN at $325 with the stock 219C, and I paid only $10 more for the emitter upgrade to the 219B R9080 SW40.

Mitch and Josh ought to sell all of these they can build. And if they ever make a Hoku in aluminum, I’ll be on it right away. (I have a brass Hoku and love it.)

Here are some random photos for comparison and such. First up is a chart showing weights of some of my lights, which happen to be popular custom lights. All the weights include a battery. Even though Venom DD discontinued the Orion, I included it because it’s one of my favorites.

Image 8-24-21 at 8.24 AM.jpeg


Here’s a glam shot of all the lights to show the relative size comparison. Left to right, the aluminum Ion (I left the bronze one in my safe – it’s up for sale), Aluminum BOSS 35, Aluminum BOSS 70, Haiku (with upgraded clip), HDS Rotary, the Orion, an old classic aluminum McGizmo PD, and another of my favorites, an aluminum Okluma DC1. This DC1 was upgraded to an R9080 SW35 and a copper pill, so it’s a bit heavier than the stock DC1.
IMG_1739.jpeg

Such a nice looking light! I’m not a big clip fan, but I really like this clip. Simple and clean and I really like the logo.
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You see the logo on the switch boot, too.
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Sapphire lens and Carclo optics covering those 3 sweet Nichia LEDs.
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I know you have no frame of reference, but I assure you - these colors are on point.
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Buttery smooth threads, and a reveal of the copper pill and H17Fx. You know, you can get the H17Fx with a spring or the solid contact – I prefer the solid contact.
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The light engine and optic.
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The specs.
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It’s a great light. I’m not saying it’s the only great light – but it’s a great light that deserves a lot of attention. And whether they are raw, tumbled, etched, coated, whatever – they ought to be able to sell all they can produce. I personally love the simplicity of the machine finish.

By the way, I took all these glam shots before I put it where it is now – in my right pocket alongside my keys and pocket change. Let the ‘used’ look begin to form!

Great job, Mitch and Joshua!
 
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scout24

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Dec 23, 2008
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Guilty as charged... Mine showed up today, it's a beauty. I went SW45, and swapped in a narrow frosted optic. A little bit more diffused but still plenty of punch up on high. Beautiful machining, great attention to detail, a home run for Mitch and Joshua... 👍
(Was outside doing yardwork when it arrived. Yes, I normally have clean hands. 🤣)
20210824_132617.jpg
 

GoVegan

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For me, Laulima Metal Craft came to my attention when I saw the PDW Mandalorian Todai, which looked really sweet (and practical too).

However, I don't see why so many of the these custom lights, don't have small cutouts in the bezel like the Todai or BOSS do, or even more crenelated like a HDS.
This new AL Ion, and the Okluma's all have the flat bezel design flaw, and I just don't see any advantage to having a completely flat bezel, only disadvantages, like not being able to find the light in a dark room that you just placed down on a table for a few bit. I know it's a small thing but when you are forever trying to find the perfect light, these things matter. Maybe time for a new CPF movement, "CBM"? ;)

Maybe it's difficult to machine, or much more expensive to do. However both of these reasons shouldn't really matter for a high end custom.
 

scout24

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I find that putting a light down bezel first (for me) hearkens back to the days of wanting to mask output due to no true moonlight mode, less than stellar anti roll properties, or lack of stable tailstanding capabilities. The Ion has all three of those things addressed beautifully. Two of my absolute favorite older lights are an E2e with smooth bezel, and an A2 with a smooth bezel. I don't find the lack of a scalloped bezel to be a design flaw. My 2 cents...
 

jon_slider

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Mar 31, 2015
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very informative writeup, and great photos.. thanks

question about UI

what is the default configuration, how many modes, what lumen levels?
 

run4jc

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very informative writeup, and great photos.. thanks

question about UI

what is the default configuration, how many modes, what lumen levels?
@jon_slider, I'm not even sure about the lumen levels. My guess is that it tops out at around 800-900, based on other H17Fx/Nichia 219B lights out there. There are 2 banks of programming - mine showed up with 2 levels in one bank - looked to be around 30%/100%, then the other bank had 4 levels, which looked to be moonlight, low, medium and high. I immediately reprogrammed it to my liking. The H17Fx driver is my favorite because it's so easy to program.

I also changed my 3 mode bank to hybrid memory. Last position at turn on, then cycles back to low, then cycles through.

You are probably familiar with the driver, but if it's of any interest, Mountain Electronics has great info, including programming instructions, HERE

Hope that helps. And thank you for the nice words!
 

thaugen

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Thank you for this helpful review! This looks like a great light I am excited to get my hands on.
 
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