ArmyTek Barracuda (XM-L2 U3, 2x18650/4xCR123A) Thrower Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES+

selfbuilt

selfbuilt

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Warning: pic heavy, as usual. :whistle:

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ArmyTek has sent me the latest version of their high-output thrower light, the Barracuda (XM-L2 U3, in the "Limited Edition"). I don't usually go in for cutesy names, but this one as a distinctive ring to it. ;)

Let's see how that extra "oomph" of the XM-L2 U3 helps it, compared to other 2x18650, 4xCR123A throwers. :whistle:

Manufacturer Reported Specifications:
(note: as always, these are simply what the manufacturer provides – scroll down to see my actual testing results).

  • Limited Edition with Cree XM-L2 U3 LED
  • Excellent throw for more than 540 meters
  • Maximal light output 1450 LED lumen
  • CONSTANT brightness in all modes
  • 50 meters waterproof
  • Record runtimes in all modes
  • Powered by two 18650 Li-Ion or four CR123A batteries
  • Volrage range 5-17V
  • The reflector is modeled and calculated in computer software for the design of optical systems that enables to produce a flawless light beam for a distance more than 520 meters.
  • Ultra-transparent and tempered glass with anti-reflective and lens coating normally used in photo equipment only. The transparency of the glass is 98-99%.
  • FLAT runtime technology.
  • Advanced electronic protection from incorrect battery installation, without reducing the efficiency of the driver.
  • Excellent runtimes for all modes due to high efficient electronics.
  • The ability to use batteries with a flat contact. Protection from switching on accidentally (special turn of the tailcap).
  • The flashlight has a strong, difficult to break body, which iincludes element design specifically to prevent the flashlight from rolling.
  • Impact-resistant bezels from both sides. In the Gold and Black version the steel bezels are also covered by titanium coating with a hardness of 2000-3000HV.
  • The electronic driver is placed in a special aluminum capsule and has been completely covered with durable compound. This actually protects it from both the environment and from mechanical damage.
  • Body cover: matte, anodized. Hardness: 350-400HV. Resistant to scratches and impacts.
  • Body material: aviation-grade aluminum T6061-T6.
  • Water resistance standard: IPX-8 (the highest)
  • An О-ring has been used to increase glass sealing, and well as an extra L-ring of a specific shape.
  • All threads, rubber parts and other parts of the flashlight that experience friction or contact with water are lubricated with a special dense grease NyoGel 760G.
  • Included: Plastic Box, Holster, Rubber Button, 2 spare O-rings
  • MSRP: ~$150
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The Barracuda comes in a presentation-style plastic carrying case, in the trademark ArmyTek yellow (actually, more of an orangey-yellow). Inside everything is firmly secured in cut-out foam. You will find the light, manual, spare o-rings and tailcap boot cover, and belt holster. Note the box is just wide enough for the light - there is no padding in front or behind of the light.

Note that like all ArmyTek lights, there are several bezel and emitter choices available for this model. The bundled options are detailed on a sticker on the back of the package. One interesting feature – they even give you a date of manufacture (05/2013 in my case above).

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From left to right: AW Protected 18650; ArmyTek Barracuda; Olight M3X; Crelant 7G5CS; Klarus XT-30; Eagletac GX25L2.

All dimensions directly measured, and given with no batteries installed:

ArmyTek Barracuda: Weight 400.8g, Length 264mm, Width (bezel): 64.0mm
Crelant 7G5CS: Weight: 334.5g, Length: 247mm Width (bezel): 64.0mm
Eagletac GX25L2 Turbo: Weight: 320.7g (with battery pack: 412.5g), Length: 251mm, Width (bezel): 62.0mm
Eagletac SX25L2 Turbo: Weight: 343.4g (with battery pack: 534.3g), Length: 255mm, Width (bezel): 62.0mm
Klarus XT30: Weight: 283.1g, Length: 247mm, Width (bezel): 58.0mm
Niwalker 750N1: Weight: 408.0g, Length: 269mm, Width (bezel): 58.6mm
Olight M3X with Extender: Weight 277.8g, Length 244mm, Width (bezel): 62.3mm
Sunwayman T40CS: Weight: 296.7g, Length 227, Width (bezel): 63.5mm
Surefire UB3T: Weight: 311.1g, Length 229mm, Width (bezel): 63.1 mm
Thrunite Catapult V3: Weight: 434.8g, Length: 254mm, Width (bezel) 58.0mm, Width (tailcap) 35.1mm.

The first observation above is that the Barracuda is heavier than most lights in this class (although not quite as heavy as the Thrunite Catapult). It is also slightly longer than most models.

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As always with ArmyTek, build quality is very high – and the light has a very robust/substantial feel.

The ArmyTek finish is fairly unique - the body has a very thick matte finish anodizing that feels almost molded or rubberized somehow. :eek:oo: According to ArmyTek, this coating is much thicker (with harder anodizing) than most lights. Although the light lacks knurling, grip is actually quite decent – much better than you would expect, thanks to the unique finish. And there are some ridge detail elements to help further with grip.

Note the grippier finish may show dirt, hand oil, etc, more easily than traditional glossy knurling. There are also no anti-roll features – the light can roll easily on its side.

Lettering is very bright and clear, and exceptionally legible. In additional to model information on the body tube and bezel, the voltage range and supported cells are printed right on the light.

Screw threads are thick square-cut (trapezoidal), and anodized at the tail region of the battery tube and in the tailcap (for lock-out). :thumbsup:

The tailcap switch is a forward clicky, with good feel. The spring is thicker and longer than typical on these sorts of lights, with a flat connector piece (so as not to scratch your batteries). The Barracuda cannot tailstand

Note the spring in the head, so high capacity flat-top batteries can be used. Another nice touch here – the head spring is flattened down in the middle, so it again won't scratch your cells. All my 18650 cells fit – there is quite a generous amount of cell length space.

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The smooth reflector is extremely deep on the ArmyTek Barracuda – deeper than most lights of this class. I would expect excellent throw, but at the expense of spillbeam width. XM-L2 emitter was perfectly centered, with some sort of surrounding mask.

There is a noticeable anti-glare coating on the lens, but this has a different tint to it than most others I've seen (i.e., more green, as you will find on some camera lens and personal glasses). Most flashlight lens anti-glare coatings tend to have a purple fringe. ArmyTek informs me that this is a higher grade anti-glare than commonly used.

There is a black stainless steel bezel ring on my sample (flat), but I believe other bezel styles are available.

User Interface

User interface of the Barracuda is very straight-forward. Turn the light on/off by the tailcap forward clicky switch (press for momentary, click for locked-on).

You choose output mode by the position of the head – tight for Max, loose for the user-controlled level.

With the head loosened, there are three levels set by soft-pressing or clicking off/on rapidly: Lo > Med > Hi, in repeating loop. Note that Hi a slightly lower output than Max.

There is no permanent mode memory in the head-loosened state - after being off for a few seconds, the light reverts to Lo. However, if you switch from head loose/tight, it remembers the head-loose state (as long as you don't turn it off).

And that's it – no blinky modes. ;)

Video:

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.

PWM/Strobe

As always, there is no sign of PWM at any output level – the Barracuda is current-controlled at all levels. :)

And again, no blinky modes.

Beamshots:

For white-wall beamshots below, all lights are on Max output on 2x AW protected 18650 batteries. 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.

Barracuda-Beam001.jpg
M3X-XML2--Beam001.jpg

7G5CS-Beam001.jpg
XT30-Beam001.jpg


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7G5CS-Beam002.jpg
XT30-Beam002.jpg


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As expected, the Barracuda has outstanding throw – and a much more greatly restricted spillbeam compared to most of the competition. It all really comes down to the reflector design – you can get throw a number of ways with a large reflector.

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).

FYI, any "streaks" you see across the images are bug-trails. Flying insects are often attracted to the bright lights, and their flight trails get captured as swirly streaks due to the long exposure time. :)

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As you can see, the Barracuda does indeed have a much narrower spillbeam in real life. Throw is top-of-class for 2x18650 family at the moment, although the M3X XM-L2 is pretty close. Again, ignore any tint differences above – they are mainly due to the automatic white balance setting on the camera.

Testing Method:

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).

Barracuda-FL1-Summary.gif


The Barracuda is currently the best throwing 2x18650 reflectored light in my collection at the moment. :) It is also one of the brightest.

On that front, please be aware that a number of high-output lights appear to be consistently under-reported somewhat in my estimated lumen scale. As always, I recommend you use my estimated lumens as a relative guide to comparing lights in my collection, not as an absolute accuracy indicator. But if it helps, here are my estimated lumens at all levels:

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The Barracuda has a good range of output levels available.

Output/Runtime Graphs:

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Barracuda-Hi18650.gif

Barracuda-Med18650.gif


Barracuda-MaxCR123A.gif


The closest Max output and throw comparable to the Barracuda is the Olight M3X XM-L2 (T6 bin). The extra potential of the U3 bin used here translates basically into extended runtime on Max – otherwise, the output/runtime curves looks pretty similar.

That said, ArmyTek is clearly using a very efficient current-controlled driver – the runtimes at all levels are very impressive for this class. :thumbsup: It also has a reasonable spacing of levels.

Potential Issues

Like the Olight M3X, the Barracuda is heavily driven on Max, with no automatic step-down feature. As such, I recommend you do not run the light on Max for extended periods of time on primary CR123As.

There is no bundled diffuser with the Barracuda, and it throws a relatively narrower beam than most lights of this class.

There are no anti-roll features for the light, and no place to thread a lanyard. The light cannot tailstand either.

Preliminary Observations

And we have a new champion – the ArmyTek Barracuda takes the crown for the furthest throwing reflector-based 2x18650 light in my collection at the moment. :wave:

It is an outstanding showing, taking us well into the range of some aspherics I've seen in this size. This is about as far my original 6x18650 Olight SR90 was able to throw. :eek:oo:

More than that, I'm happy to report that ArmyTek is using an excellent current-controlled circuit. Runtimes are impressively flat-regulated, at all levels. Personally, I would like to see a timed step-down feature for Max, but I imagine many here will be happy with this regulation pattern. And output/runtime efficiency is top-of-class – the Barracuda has some impressive runtimes, at all levels (note my testing is done on lower capacity 18650s). :thumbsup:

The build of the Barracuda is very robust. This is a substantial light, and is clearly meant to inspire confidence in its long-term survivability and use. I personally quite like the "grippy" texture of the thick matte ArmyTek anodizing – I've seen plenty of lights with mild knurling that had much poorer grip. Careful care and attention to detail is also evident throughout the light (e.g., I particularly like the robust head and tail springs, flattened or covered to prevent any possible scratching). Although it is odd that no wrist lanyard option is available.

If you are looking for massive throw, I don't think the Barracuda will disappoint. :rolleyes: And as with all the high-output throwers, as long as you use appropriate common-sense about battery configurations on Max, I think you will find this light will meet all your throw cravings.

----

Barracuda was provided by ArmyTek for this review.
 
Last edited:
kj2

kj2

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Thanks for the review :)
Armytek should make that yellow box just a bit wider, so they can put some padding against the head and tail.
I like those long threads on the Armytek lights :)
 
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MichaelW

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Is there another way to ballpark the approximate angle of the reflector? besides holding a protractor aligned where the LED sits, and measuring up to the maximum extent of the reflector.

A little hard to perform with small lights, but my trusty Fenix P3D rb100 is about 45 degrees at the reflector's edge, and 50 at the bezel. It would be easier with a complete disassembly of the head...

Is it feasible to construct a light that gets to 75 degrees? or a practicable limit about 60?
 
A

AngryFish

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Is there any place that currently has the U3 in stock?
 
selfbuilt

selfbuilt

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Armytek should make that yellow box just a bit wider, so they can put some padding against the head and tail.
I like those long threads on the Armytek lights :)
Yes, I agree - on both fronts. :)

Is there another way to ballpark the approximate angle of the reflector? besides holding a protractor aligned where the LED sits, and measuring up to the maximum extent of the reflector.
I don't know an easy way to figure out the angle, but as you can tell from the beamshots, the spill is comparatively narrowed on the Barracuda. It is certainly a "steeper" angle than other lights in this class.

Is there any place that currently has the U3 in stock?
Have you tried the ArmyTek website?
 
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AngryFish

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Yes. that is the first place I looked but apparently they are sold out of the u3 bin version.


great review by the way. very thorough as usual.
 
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Eagle 1

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thanks for the in-depth and great review as always! these reviews of yours on the newest and brightest always make my bank account weep a little bit, but alas they are tears of such sweet sorrow:). gotta add this to my pack light rotation!
 
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whatswrongwithmee

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This light is pure awesomeness and so are you selfbuilt, my "go to" for flashlight reviews. Only problem is nowhere to buy one right now.
 
selfbuilt

selfbuilt

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Just revised the UI section, based on a comment from subwoofer.

To clarify, there is no permanent mode memory in the head-loosened state - after being off for a few seconds, the light reverts to Lo. However, if you switch from head loose/tight, it remembers the head-loose state (as long as you don't turn it off). :wave:
 
tobrien

tobrien

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dang I want one!

so this XM-L2 U3 basically matches the Crelant with a collimator?? that's incredible engineering imo.

so for $10 less on Armytek's site, they offer the XM-L2 U2 Barracuda. I'm assuming that's a no-brainer on which to get then huh?

thanks again for the spectacular review, as usual Selfbuilt.
 
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whatswrongwithmee

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I noticed on Armytek's website that the light is limited edition? Are they going to make more for me to buy?
 
selfbuilt

selfbuilt

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so for $10 less on Armytek's site, they offer the XM-L2 U2 Barracuda. I'm assuming that's a no-brainer on which to get then huh?
I noticed on Armytek's website that the light is limited edition? Are they going to make more for me to buy?
I presume it comes down to the availability of U3 bin emitters ... I don't imagine they are available is large quantities yet.

But in any case, I wouldn't worry about getting the U2 instead - performance would be expected to be within 1-7% of each other. You won't be able to see that kind of difference. I personally would never upgrade anything for less than 2 (or more) output bin steps up, and would be fine with purchasing down a bin.
 
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MBentz

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Does anyone know if there is a brightness difference between two 18650s and four RCR123/IMR 18350s?
 
selfbuilt

selfbuilt

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Does anyone know if there is a brightness difference between two 18650s and four RCR123/IMR 18350s?
Given that 4xCR123A was no brighter than 2x18650, I suspect that the circuit is consistently regulated for all supported battery sources. Note however that the specs do not mention explicit support for 4xRCR (although the given voltage range would apparently support it). I recommend you check with ArmyTek before trying that configuration.
 
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MBentz

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Given that 4xCR123A was no brighter than 2x18650, I suspect that the circuit is consistently regulated for all supported battery sources. Note however that the specs do not mention explicit support for 4xRCR (although the given voltage range would apparently support it). I recommend you check with ArmyTek before trying that configuration.

I just snagged an older XM-L model I intend to let vinh work his magic on, and the instructions state four RCR are good to go.
 
Wiggle

Wiggle

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I was looking at your beamshots of the Barracuda versus the Predator 2.5. Obviously these are different lights with differents roles (a 2 x 18650 high-output thrower versus a 1 x 18650 compact thrower) but are my eyes correct in saying that they actually have nearly the same beam pattern? They look very similar (except obviously the Barracuda having 2-2.5 times the output).
 
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whatswrongwithmee

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Are there any filters/diffusers that fit this light?
 
degarb

degarb

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8-10 hour, the main useful setting for work, is missing.
 
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