Looking to upgrade from a Maglite, what do you use?

Mike G

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Hi guys,

I've had my old-model 2D LED Maglite for a long time, and it's served me well as a general purpose, go anywhere, do anything flashlight. Brightness, distance, spill, runtime, all good - wouldn't mind having more at all, but all good, especially for the size. Built like a tank too. But I'm done with primary cells, I wanna switch to something rechargeable. What do you guys have/recommend in this form factor? Something with that "sweet spot" combination of brightness/distance/spill. The Maglite rechargeable looks alright but I've heard it runs outta charge fast if you let it sit, and that it's not built as well as the old ones. Not good if true. Needs to be reliable!
 

bridgman

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I run low self discharge NiMH C and D cells in my stock Maglites and find they work very well:


Personally I hate primary cells - not just because of the waste and the leaks, but because when you really do need them they're typically half dead because of previous use. That said, one good alkaleak is enough to get you changing battery chemistry anyways.

Most of my non-stock Maglites have NiMH cells as well, but usually 6 or 9 AA Eneloops rather than 2 or 3 C/D cells... although a 6D full of NiMH D cells makes a great hotwire host.

The really annoying thing is that I finally put up enough shelves and bins to get all the junk in my house organized - and I found that I have somewhere close to 100 Duracells in unopened packaging. That's enough to last me about 50 years.
 
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Mike G

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I'm not looking to put batteries into adapters into my Maglite - I'm looking to upgrade. The new ones Maglite makes are brighter with longer throw but still run on primary cells. Putting NiMH in will underdrive the emitter, I certainly don't need less light.
 

Dave D

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Have a look at the Streamlight ProTac HL5-X, same head diameter as the Maglight and similar body length, it runs on two 18650 batteries and has 250, 1000 or 3500 lumens!

I'd recommend buying one with the 4 x CR123's, keep them for back-up and source your own higher capacity 18650's, Keep Power 18650 3600mAh ones are suitable.
 

bykfixer

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If you want to stick with a Maglite product an ML25 running off of 2 eneloops with C size adapters is one option. It's a larger sized minimag in essence and acts a lot brighter than the numbers suggest.

They have upgraded the 2D classic LED (not the ML300) so it has better throw and runs 17 hours on D cells so again using 2 eneloops in D size adapters is a viable option. Classic Maglite feel with an optional low that is also pretty bright.

The smaller sized rechargeables like ML150 have a lot of brightness. The 2C sized ML150LRS is pretty bright for a 2C sized light.

I own all three and have no issues with any of them.
 

:)>

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Maglites are great lights. The newer LED ones do a great job and using NiMH batteries will not under power them. Also, Malkoff makes P60-style adapters for the incandescent models so that you can run any of the P60 style modules he makes and this work great in NiMH batteries also🤪

I’m not aware of too many lights by the popular manufacturers that are in the same form factor that you are using.

Now, Dave’s recommendation of the Streamlight HL5-X is on the money. That light is pretty fantastic and it will more than satisfy if high output is what you want.
 

bykfixer

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I'm not looking to put batteries into adapters into my Maglite - I'm looking to upgrade. The new ones Maglite makes are brighter with longer throw but still run on primary cells. Putting NiMH in will underdrive the emitter, I certainly don't need less light.
So if you were to use an alkaline in your Maglite, say 3 of them end to end, each one runs at about 1.2 volts under load (1.5 resting). Total 3.6 volts. Now 3 eneloops or other NiMH batteries in supplied adapters will also run at about that same combined voltage of 3.6. Or....

You can purchase NiMH in C or D size and use those. They are pricey but pay for themselves over time so if you use up batteries often they are a good investment quicker. If you don't use the light often or for extended periods eneloop batteries are a good pick.
Most here shy away from alkaline batteries because they have a reputation for leaking. If you prefer alkalines that's cool. I keep a stockpile handy for times I don't have ability to recharge.
 

bridgman

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What bykfixer said... under flashlight-type loads an NiMH cell is going to put out the same or higher voltage than an alkaline would.

Even if that were not the case, the flashlights are regulated based on LED current and temperature.

We're not saying that you absolutely have to keep your Maglite, just trying to make sure it's clear how well the rechargeable options for it work these days. At 1/2 amp draw an alkaline D has quite a bit less capacity than an NiMH D, and at a 1 amp draw I believe it goes below even an NiMH C cell.

fuel.jpeg


In terms of newer flashlights there are a huge range of options, and AFAICS your choice will largely depend on what form factor you would most like to have. In general newer flashlights are smaller than they used to be, but "smaller" can go in a few different directions.

The smallest are based on 18xxx cells, with a single 18650 being the sweet spot IMO. Something like a Convoy S2+ would be a great entry point:


Going up a bit in size there is a relatively stubby form factor option, typically with 2 18650 or 21700 cells. I don't like that form factor much but after playing with a new Mag ML25 2C I might reconsider that. The stubby lights are all over the map in terms of price and power/features so I'm kinda picking one at random but this gives you a good idea:


I have had good luck with more traditional styles, eg 2AA format, although they do tend to "walk off" more frequently. I believe my last light in this format was an earlier version of the LD22 running on NiMH AA cells. Fenix now sells it with a single rechargeable lithium cell, but you can use 2 NiMH or alkaline cells instead if you want. Performance is limited with alkalines but IIRC not with NiMH cells:


I talked about 2AA flashlights above but the same applies for 2 x 18650 "in line" - they're just longer, more like a 2D flashlight but much narrower.

There are larger flashlights (like your 2D Mag) but they tend to only be designed for higher power output (thousands of lumens) and so tend to be fairly expensive. Most of the flashlights you'll find these days are fairly compact but can still out-shine your Maglite... but I find that I really don't like using tiny flashlights because (a) they're too easy to lose and (b) they are too skinny to stand up safely.
 
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Lynx_Arc

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My advice is to abandon the C/D size form factor and go to 18650 or 21700 lights.

A single cell lithium ion 18650/21700 light has the highest capacity/volume of any rechargeable battery today. The best nimh batteries (AA) are around 2500mah and it takes 3 of them in series to equal the voltage of a single lithium ion battery. A single 18650 can have up to 3500mah which equals about 4.2 AAs and is lighter and smaller and only needs a single slot on a charger with some cells can be bought with built in USB charging ports even and some lights have the charger built into it with USB input so all you need is a charging cable on these and not a separate charger.

It will take getting used to a smaller light that you likely won't use as a weapon or a hammer but it can fit in a pocket and small spaces that a 2D mag won't fit so you can carry it around easily and even a spare battery or two with it.
 

bridgman

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One more thought... IMO part of the reason you find people looking at upgrading older lights rather than buying new is that many of the new lights are awkward to use. Things to watch out for:

- too many modes, even with a memory function, unless the UI is hugely customizable (build your own mode set) and you are willing to spend the time learning and customizing... two well chosen brightness levels (one for indoors or short range outdoors, another for longer range outdoors or lighting up an area indoors) works better for me than a bunch of levels

- more power than you need - not because power is bad but because it takes a lot of modes to cover dim to OMG bright

- sequence of modes - tactical / firefighting lights come on at full power, great for blinding an attacker but otherwise it just blinds you, while general purpose lights come on at low... you'll find this makes a huge difference after a while

- designed to be held vs designed to be clipped / stood / magnet-stuck... one of my two most used lights is a Streamlight Dualie 3AA, with a big clip, two different magnets (end and side), and two different LEDs/reflectors (flood out the side, spot out the front)

- having a shroud around the tail switch allows tail standing when you need it but gets in the way of your thumb the other 99% of the time

- all too often "tactical" ends up meaning "aggressive looking and uncomfortable to hold" - my other most used light is a Surefire G2X Pro... unshrouded tail switch but with good lockout, two light levels that always seem just right, momentary or clicky with easy UI for brightness selection (forward clicky)

I am not a fan of reverse clicky switches despite them being more and more common these days. There may be a "killer use case" for them but I haven't found it yet.

EDIT - forgot to mention that both of the lights I mentioned are designed for use with primary cells. The SF G2X Pro definitely works well on rechargeables - a single 16650 seems to be anecdotally the best and is what I use, although SF recommends their rechargeable LiFePO4 cells - but I haven't tested the SL Dualie on NiMH cells yet. It definitely works well with Lithium AA primary cells though.

MORE EDIT - I happened to have 3 Eneloops in the kitchen drawer so did a bit of quick testing with the Dualie 3AA. As far as I can tell it runs just as well on NiMH cells as it did on alkalines, which seems to be the case for pretty much all 3 cell LED lights.

I guess the main thing I am trying to say is that there are a huge number of capable lights out now but you may find that you don't like most of them for some reason or another... so in many ways flashlight shopping is harder today than it was 10 years ago.

If someone makes a light that is otherwise like a G2X Pro but 18650 or even 21700 size that would be my first choice, but I haven't found that yet.
 
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xxo

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If someone makes a light that is otherwise like a G2X Pro but 18650 or even 21700 size that would be my first choice, but I haven't found that yet.
The Streamlight Polytac X is pretty much that, runs on CR123A's or a single protected 18650.

I find 2x CR123A/18650 tactical lights to be not all that comfortable to hold/use and they are a bit too bulky for casualyear round EDC,, though they are great as a backup light on a duty belt.

For casual EDC, I much prefer 1 or 2X AAA, 1 X AA or single CR123A lights.

For general use, I really like the C cell light form factor. Sure some of the smaller tactical lights put out more lumens, but very few throw as far unless they have very big reflectors which moves them out of the pocketable category completely. If you stay away from alkalines, C cell lights are great! Not too big or too small with a very comfortable grip with good throw and run time running high capacity NIMH's or protected 18650/21700 Li-Ions. Plus they can run on eneloops or L91 Energizer lithium AA's.
 

bridgman

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The Streamlight Polytac X is pretty much that, runs on CR123A's or a single protected 18650.
Interesting... I hadn't made the connection that their "USB rechargeable battery pack" was just a USB 18650. D'oh !

I probably would end up cutting the tailstanding semi-shroud away from the switch though :)
If you stay away from alkalines, C cell lights are great! Not too big or too small with a very comfortable grip with good throw and run time running high capacity NIMH's or protected 18650/21700 Li-Ions. Plus they can run on eneloops or L91 Energizer lithium AA's.
Agreed - I have an ML25LT that I am really starting to like. I keep looking at it and thinking about how nice it would be with a good tailcap switch... it's one of the first Maglites where the balance and size would really work well with a tail switch.
 

aznsx

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Interesting... I hadn't made the connection that their "USB rechargeable battery pack" was just a USB 18650. D'oh !

I probably would end up cutting the tailstanding semi-shroud away from the switch though :)

re: PolyTac X: Yep. Runs standard 18650s, offers standard functional (but removable) clip for clip folks, glass lens (not sure about the G2XP, but I like it), 3-meter FL1 impact rating (G2XP?), simple and persistent interface options (TenTap) that fit several user preferences, 'assembled in USA' (like the G2XP), but does not use a metal bezel like the G2XP (which is good for us sparky types) - all for $46USD out the door. The only reason I know is because I just got one recently, and I dig it!
 

xxo

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Yeah, the Poly Tac X will run on typical protected button top 18650's, if you would rather use your own, you can get it with CR123A's instead of Streamlight's USB 18650.

Bykfixer came up with a neat trick that allows the standard ML25 tail cap to function as a switch by turning the light on and loosening the cap until the light turns off - pressing on the cap works like a momentary tail switch. A Mag factory ML25 tail switch would be cool, but don't hold your breath - Mag still hasn't come out with a tail switch for the Mini Mag, though there have been numerous aftermarket ones over the years.
 

bridgman

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Bykfixer came up with a neat trick that allows the standard ML25 tail cap to function as a switch by turning the light on and loosening the cap until the light turns off
I read and understood this part...
- pressing on the cap works like a momentary tail switch.
... but managed to complete miss this part. I read bykfixer's comment as giving you a twisty switch only.

Just tried it on my ML25 2C and it works well. Thanks !
 

xxo

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Glad you were able to decipher what I was trying to say. I probably should have left it to Byk to explain it properly.

Anyway.....

The 2C dual mode ML25 Mag still amazes me for value. Don't know why it's not more popular – everyone should own one. As long as you don't ruin it running alkalines, it should last a lifetime.

The Poly Tac X is a very good light too, the removable S clip is real nice and is something you don't get with the G2X Surefire. Same thing with the glass lens.

I would have preferred a lower lumen, more throwy LED with a more neutral tint like the have on the 1L-1AA (great EDC light BTW). And Streamlight needs to use a stronger spring that snaps firmly in place to make electrical contact between the body and the head as the spring they have now can fall off and get lost when changing batteries. A metal head would be nice too, but not a big deal.

Streamlight's hard plastic sheath is pretty slick if you want to carry a polytac X on a duty rig.
 

Mike G

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Sorry I haven't been keeping up with this thread, guys - frankly I thought it was dead! Just noticed the notification for it tonight...

I've seen a lotta people recommending small flashlights. Folks, that's not what I'm after - I've got plenty of tiny lights. I just want a modern solution to the Maglite question. Something roughly the same size as a 2D or 3D, and built just as tough, but with more modern performance, and rechargeable. I suppose that very well could be another Maglite - specification wise, an ML300 3D with (theoretically good) NiMH cells would be just about exactly what I want - but I heard on the grapevine that they aren't made to the same standards that they used to be, that stuff like the ML300 and Magcharger can't hold up to abuse, wear out fast, and suffer from bad parasitic drain. If that's not the case please by all means correct me, but the whole reason I bought the Maglite I have right now was precisely because it didn't have any of those problems.

My other concern was using Chinese NiMH cells in a D flashlight - again correct me if I'm wrong but I've heard horrible things about EBL, Tenergy, Powerex, and AmazonBasics rechargeables. Bad self-discharge, cycle life, quality control, capacity way under-spec... the works. Not confidence-inspiring. Again, correct me if I'm wrong. I could put Eneloops in a D adapter but even with a three-in-one adapter it's still coming in way under-capacity... what's the point of that, I figure. One of the things I like about my Maglite is that it'll run from sundown till sun up no problem, even in the dead of a Canadian winter.

Li-ion seems to be the way to go given all that, which circles back to the main question - what looks and quacks like a Maglite of yore, but isn't over a decade out of date and runs on Li-ion?

If, if, if. There's just a lot of things I've heard, but don't know definitively. I think the only things I know for sure are the size and runtime I want!

I had a look at the HL5-X, that's kinda closeish to what I want. Runtime isn't really as good as I'd like though, even on low... and what's the point of having 3,500 lumens if you can only use 'em for an hour and a quarter? Cool parlour trick but I'm not into those. 18650s seem to be the standard, but what's wrong with other cell sizes? There's stuff like the 32650, 32600, 26650, etc. that are about the size of a D, are there any good lights that use those?

I also had a look at the Malkoff stuff but it seems that's made for bringing old incandescent models up to speed, bit redundant since I already have an LED model. Unless I'm missing something?

Musing on upgrade features a little, I also would like a lens that doesn't have the "dead" spot in the middle of the beam when zoomed out like my Maglite has - I hate it, I rarely ever use it unfocused because of it. An orange peel reflector for softer spill would also be nice. Warm or neutral white colour would be nice too but now we're just getting wishful eh...

Bit of a long post but hey, it's been over half a month! Hope you guys will get the notification for this one, unlike me...
 
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