Most reliable: Fenix, Nitecore, Olight, or other?

markr6

markr6

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I wonder if they will repost that thread. I don't want to start a new one and steal their thunder.

I love the comments so far on reddit, BLF and elsewhere though. Mostly negative, and I would have to agree.
 
S

specv510

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I have two Nitecore, six Olight and a couple Fenix. No issues with any of them.
 
CelticCross74

CelticCross74

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I FINALLY got some Surefire lights after over 20 years of collecting and despite being built as tough as a framing hammer I just cannot really put a reliability number on Surefire yet as I have only had mine a few months now. Why the HECK does SF NOT list basic info like emitter type and other BASIC info like near all other makes anyways? They sure are EXPENSIVE. Then again my 1500 lumen Duel Fuel Fury and my near impossible to find 1500 lumen and Intellibeam Duel Fuel version of this Fury are AMAZING! But...they cost THAT much and ...not even a HOLSTER??? COME ON MAN!! Still when SF says 1500 lumens BOY do they mean it..the design of the 1500 lumen Furys is one of the BEST mid size high output LED designs I have ever seen or had. It is very specific to the top dog duel fuel 1500 lumen retina blaster. I have yet to mix them up with my other Furys lol. Everything is supposedly fully potted as well....

But of course they do not mention it gosh darn it!
 
Nimitz68

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I FINALLY got some Surefire lights after over 20 years of collecting and despite being built as tough as a framing hammer I just cannot really put a reliability number on Surefire yet as I have only had mine a few months now. Why the HECK does SF NOT list basic info like emitter type and other BASIC info like near all other makes anyways? They sure are EXPENSIVE. Then again my 1500 lumen Duel Fuel Fury and my near impossible to find 1500 lumen and Intellibeam Duel Fuel version of this Fury are AMAZING! But...they cost THAT much and ...not even a HOLSTER??? COME ON MAN!! Still when SF says 1500 lumens BOY do they mean it..the design of the 1500 lumen Furys is one of the BEST mid size high output LED designs I have ever seen or had. It is very specific to the top dog duel fuel 1500 lumen retina blaster. I have yet to mix them up with my other Furys lol. Everything is supposedly fully potted as well....

But of course they do not mention it gosh darn it!
I understand your pain. I have been using/collecting Surefires for more than 20 years (back to the original 6P/3P/9P) and Surefire has never published that kind of information. Perhaps they consider it proprietary, and the fact they have been the industry leader for so many years has ingrained this in their minds. The one thing you will ALWAYS get from Surefire is accurate outputs. If anything, they have the tendency to undervalue/underestimate the performance of their lights. That is the major reason I have used them for so long. And you're correct - the new Fury DFT is a beast. I am very impressed with mine. Good buy at about $150 for 1500 lumens.
 
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CelticCross74

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Industry leader due to MASSIVE US Gvt. Contracts and crates upon crates of SF brand CR123 cells of course. I am VERY impressed with my Surefires thus far. Lets see here 4 Fury's, 3 have the Intellibeam feature. I will go ahead and say it...the Intellibeam feature, which is basically a very small light collecting tube connecting to a sensor, built in like that is one of the most impressive features I have ever seen in any light. It actually works for my eyes at least. My DF IB Fury. The only way it does NOT devour fresh cells like the NON IB DF Fury I have is BECAUSE of the IB feature. Thus far it is worth the slight shadow the light collecting tube cast in the beam profiles. Gosh darn it! They are VERY well built wow! This Fall and Winter will see their use a lot. They HAVE to be using the Cree XHP35HD emitter...

I have so MANY lights I have holsters from other brands that fit all I have perfectly but still. Lets see I have 7 Surefires now...I will hold at that for a good while. Maglite is made in the USA too..
 
Nimitz68

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I'm glad you like the Intellibeam feature so much. I do not, as I do not want my flashlight deciding how much light it's going to put out. I have recently started buying and using Malkoff products. These are excellent and made in the USA as well. However, they do not come with holsters either. I think the only lights that come with holsters are those made overseas. If that is the choice I would have to make in order to get a free holster, then no thanks. I am very happy and satisfied with my Surefires (50+) and Malkoffs (8).
 
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M

maglite mike

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I have a bunch of Malkoffs and a fe elzettas for weapon mounts. For my daily beaters , night stand , vehicles, and edcs I use Maglites. All made in USA. That's a must for me.
 
B

Boris74

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I FINALLY got some Surefire lights after over 20 years of collecting and despite being built as tough as a framing hammer I just cannot really put a reliability number on Surefire yet as I have only had mine a few months now. Why the HECK does SF NOT list basic info like emitter type and other BASIC info like near all other makes anyways? They sure are EXPENSIVE. Then again my 1500 lumen Duel Fuel Fury and my near impossible to find 1500 lumen and Intellibeam Duel Fuel version of this Fury are AMAZING! But...they cost THAT much and ...not even a HOLSTER??? COME ON MAN!! Still when SF says 1500 lumens BOY do they mean it..the design of the 1500 lumen Furys is one of the BEST mid size high output LED designs I have ever seen or had. It is very specific to the top dog duel fuel 1500 lumen retina blaster. I have yet to mix them up with my other Furys lol. Everything is supposedly fully potted as well....

But of course they do not mention it gosh darn it!

They are great lights. I was a surefire user (not a collector) for just over 20 years and I never got more than 5-6 years of use from any of them. When my Backup took a dump, that was it, can’t spend money like that every 5-6 years no matter how much I pay for a warranty, and that’s what it felt like.

When the backup died and got tossed an olight S1R replaced it. The original cell has over 200 to dead to full charge cycles of in light charging. Put in a spare cell and stored it with another S1R spare cell for a few months. Two days ago I checked both. 4.17V on both. So the original cell will be tested again when it hits 400-500 charge cycles from completely drained to completely full. It’s a fraction of the back ups price and destroys it in function and reliability. In just over a year it’s saved me about $400.00 in battery cost too. Just that one light alone. Looking back on the backups use hours, the S1R has equaled it and more than likely has surpassed it with hours being run.

Good lights they are, not at the price point. Yup, R&D, USA made and the rest of the list, but I’m not too thrilled when I hear “oh but that warranty”. Yup, I used to be one of them and I have come to realize I want to buy flashlights, not a warranty. My nitecore MT10A is 10x the light the backup was at a fraction of the cost and is about the same size and it’s taken the same abuse the backup did.

When olight released the M1T that was it. Just like the backup and all the other surefire I owned it’s going to be used (not collected) until it breaks. Going by how well the S1R holds up, it’s going to be much longer than 5-6 years.
 
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mickb

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I'll never own enough flashlights to be a great judge on quality as I use the same few for work and hunting and don't collect. This industry is an arms race at the moment, which usually means technological possibilities are often outrunning workplace practicalities, being another thing that the market is dominated by light enthusiasts over work users, and battery capacity advances are a bit behind everything else. On the above brands my take is Fenix seem to be popular here for everyday and mainstream use and in performance/hunting lights olight is well represented. Of course malkoff, elzetta etc are a different level but their rarity in the volume of camping, remote work and night hunting done is a fairly good endorsement for the chinese lights being 'not too bad'. Australians tend to be very critical of gear performance , you will even see it on youtube reviews. its a cultural necessity with our weaker dollar, distance and lesser product support options we can't afford to ship things if they don't work. North Americans have the most experts and detailed analysis but you will have to pick the good unbiased reports.
 
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X

XR6Toggie

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I'm glad you like the Intellibeam feature so much. I do not, as I do not want my flashlight deciding how much light it's going to put out. I have recently started buying and using Malkoff products. These are excellent and made in the USA as well. However, they do not come with holsters either. I think the only lights that come with holsters are those made overseas. If that is the choice I would have to make in order to get a free holster, then no thanks. I am very happy and satisfied with my Surefires (50+) and Malkoffs (8).

In my experience a lot of belt holsters that come with flashlights are all very similar and don’t stand up to much wear and tear. Any pouch that is velcro fastened is no good to me. You are much better off sourcing a pouch/holster from someone like Bianchi or 5.11 anyway.
 
markr6

markr6

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In my experience a lot of belt holsters that come with flashlights are all very similar and don’t stand up to much wear and tear. Any pouch that is velcro fastened is no good to me. You are much better off sourcing a pouch/holster from someone like Bianchi or 5.11 anyway.

They're literally just scratch protectors to me. For throwing a bunch of flashlights in the same bag and not coming out looking like they went thru a tumbler.

The only exception I've seen was from Eagletac. Some of them I had in the past were very beefy holsters with a snap.
 
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XR6Toggie

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They're literally just scratch protectors to me. For throwing a bunch of flashlights in the same bag and not coming out looking like they went thru a tumbler.

The only exception I've seen was from Eagletac. Some of them I had in the past were very beefy holsters with a snap.

That’s a good use for them. I only use belt holsters in a work context and every velcro-fastened belt pouch I’ve used has become useless after a few months due to being ripped open and rubbed against the car seat as I get in and out all the time.
 
N

NH Lumens

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Just like any other consumer item, "reliability" is governed primarily by design, build quality and quality control of production.

Products are designed for specific kinds of use. For example, a power hand drill designed for full time professional contractors is going to be designed differently than one intended for occasional home owner use;

  • The build quality of the professional-use drill is going to use heavier, more durable parts (metal gears instead of plastic) and those parts will be housed in a more robust case to hold the parts in proper alignment during hard use
  • The pro-use drill will also have stricter QC measures in place during production and post-production inspection to ensure reliability
  • Of course, the price point between the two will be different as well

So how about flashlights?

The same applies: those designed for hard use, especially those used in life-threatening situations such as fire fighting and LE, are going to be designed and constructed differently than those intended for hobby/enthusiast expectations and those intended for more casual use.

Design and build quality are observable. Once way for a consumer to observe these qualities is to disassemble the item and take a look. Here is the tale of two lights;

mdcvme-6.jpg


A Foursevens Quark on the left, a Malkoff VME/MDC on the right. The Quark weighs 2.4 ounces, the Malkoff 4.0 ounces (both with battery inserted).


mdcvme-7.jpg



The Quark disassembled as far as I care to without risk of damaging it (I still carry this light in the glove box of my car). I can observe the following;

  • The circuit board is "tacky-glued" to a plastic disc in the bezel and be easily lifted off
  • There is little-to-no heat sinking, the aluminum reflector has minimal contact with the PC board
  • Not seen in the photo, the flip side of the PC board (with contact spring) is exposed on the battery side
  • Overall construction is very light and feels more fragile


mdcvme-8.jpg


The Malkoff disassembled as far as it can be (other than the McGizmo clicky switch and carry clip);


  • [*=left]The "drop-in" is a single piece with a heavy brass housing that encases the PC and reflector
    [*=left]The PC is potted inside the brass housing for shock resistance and thermal transfer to the brass casing (heat sink)
    [*=left]The PC is fully protected on the battery side
    [*=left]​Overall construction is heavier and more robust

Another view;

mdcvme-9.jpg


If the light is dropped bezel first, the cell will impact the potting, not the PC board. The larger the cell, the more inertia it will have when it impacts. Without a mechanical stop in the body, an 18650 cell slamming into an unprotected PC board will result in damage to the PC board pretty quickly.

So in terms of flashlight reliability, with a little disassembly one can usually observe how the light was designed and constructed. Quality of construction is generally a good indicator of how well the light will hold up over time to being left on and getting really hot, repeatedly dropped on hard surfaces, being subjected to the shock of using the light as an impact tool, exposure to heat, cold and moisture, etc. I would also expect that lights with more moving parts (multiple switches, flood-to-spot adjustable bevels, pivoting heads, etc.) and complexity of operation are going to be more prone to failure than those with fewer parts and simpler user interfaces.

I have not had the opportunity to inspect the lights mentioned in the OP, but my guess is that they're all pretty similar based on their advertised specs and feature sets. If ruggedness and long-term reliability were my ultimate concerns, I'd be more inclined to limit my list to lights with known robust build quality, such as Elzetta, Malkoff and HDS.

Just my 2-cents and FWIW...
 
Crazyeddiethefirst

Crazyeddiethefirst

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NH Lumens, a well thought out presentation, with excellent photos, & excellent logic. However, Having used a lot of Four Sevens products over the years, as well as Surefire, Malkoff and all of the lights listed in the OP, the failure rate of Four Sevens is negligible compared to Surefire “in my experience”. This seems to defy logic. Except when you discuss the impact of an 18650 cell into a circuit board as opposed to potting the example is incomplete: the 18650 body by FourSevens has an end piece between the head of the body tube and the head of the light. I agree that a potted light is superior and should be used whenever used in conjunction with a fire arm and known severe conditions. As a Chief Flight Nurse I always carried both Surefire and Four Seven’s lights(usually because of the High CRI LEDs), but the difference in failure rate was negligible. I agree in premise that when in life threatening circumstances the better built light should be primary, I just did not see the end result as it would seem to logically appear to be. The only other comment I would add is that even the best designed light requires maintenance: clean electrodes, well lubed O rings, proper battery care and storage, etc.
 
N

NH Lumens

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However, Having used a lot of Four Sevens products over the years, as well as Surefire, Malkoff and all of the lights listed in the OP, the failure rate of Four Sevens is negligible compared to Surefire “in my experience”.

That is why I did not include SF in my list above. Though I've never had any issues with the ones I've owned, they are not IMO built as well as Malkoff lights.

The original Quarks are an amazing value and great performers. The light shown in the photo of my previous post is run on an IMR 14500 cell and is a rocket considering its form factor. Other than a switch failure, that particular Quark I've had no issues with.

But I did run into other issues with the Quarks. I began buying spare bodies, tail caps, etc. when production came to an end due to the SF lawsuit and I found that some body-head combinations did not function correctly. It seems the contact between the head and body was inadequate in those cases and due to what appears to be dimensional issues, did not allow the head to be programmed. A head that worked fine on one body did not on another. This all goes back to QC which unfortunately is not a strong point of many products made in China...and as you pointed out, an issue with some recent Surefire products as well.

FWIW, over the last few years all I buy is Malkoff and I've had zero issues with them. Add on top of that amazing build quality, the ability to Lego to my heart is content, simple no-nonsense UI and the Malkoff's dedication to customer service, I truly have no reason to look anywhere else. I'm also an advocate of supporting American companies and manufacturing, especially small businesses like Malkoff.

If I could only own one light, it would without a doubt be a Malkoff...the only struggle would be deciding which one.
 
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P

pomah

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Just to chip in. How good or bad the customer support of a certain company is has nothing to do with the reliability of the light, I could not care less if Gene answers the phone they day after my light broke in a life and death situation, reliability is just that, the light will turn on and give you the amount of light you need, always.

It is not told for what the reliability is needed here but as I see it it is more or less for those situations that will endanger you if the light will not function. In those cases it is important to think about the way the light functions. E.g. some situations will require the light to always be turned on in moon-light mode or similar, while others will cause lethal outcome if the light is not turned on i "high" mode. So make sure to choose a light that is designed for rugged use and also has the interface/functions that is required by your user-case.

I have been using foursevens for years, both privately and in LEO work, we have had around 10 lights for several years, Quark tactical turbo 2AA versions, not a single of them broke so that the ligth did not function but we had other issues:

1) On one light the glass broke after it was dropped repeatedly...
2) Leaking alkaline batteries made a few non functional and required cleaning
3) People sit and twist the head and "re-programme" them

I have been using a QT2L-X for over 5 yearrs with 0 issues, it has been dropped and it all beaten up and just beautiful to look at.

But moving forward I will be using something different, I just bought my first Malkoff and I can see the difference, it could be a possible solution and way forward. We will now move away from the programmable lights and go to a single mode lights, high only.
 
N

NH Lumens

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3) People sit and twist the head and "re-programme" them

One night I handed my Quark to my wife to take the dogs for their evening walk. I demonstrated how to tighten the bezel for high (turbo mode) and loosen for reduced mode, which I had set for 60 lumens.

She came back with the light blinking in some SOS mode and hands it back to me apologizing that she broke it. Evidently she was switching back and forth as I had showed her to do but got it into programming mode.

So much for my interest in programmable lights...
 
M

maglite mike

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One night I handed my Quark to my wife to take the dogs for their evening walk. I demonstrated how to tighten the bezel for high (turbo mode) and loosen for reduced mode, which I had set for 60 lumens.

She came back with the light blinking in some SOS mode and hands it back to me apologizing that she broke it. Evidently she was switching back and forth as I had showed her to do but got it into programming mode.

So much for my interest in programmable lights...
I've had the same issues that's why the single mode Maglites are my favorite choice for around the house lights.
 
Crazyeddiethefirst

Crazyeddiethefirst

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NH Lumens, just to be clear, I love Malkoff products, and hands down one of the finest products on the market. I also have a number of VME heads to use Malkoff drop-ins in other form factors. I also am very pleased with the Malkoff work ethic and customer service. I did not start using Gene’s products until I was no longer working in the field. My comments were more in defense of Four Sevens and that disassembly of components alone did not tell the entire story. One other point I probably did not make clear is that I always carried a minimum of 3 lights, usually more, and on purpose from differing manufacturers. One companies weakness may be another companies strength. Ironically the most dangerous thing I do lately is to get in a car in Southern California, and yet I always have more lights than I could possibly need. I could point out strengths and weaknesses of most of the lights available, yet I enjoy having multiple lights from multiple makers in multiple configurations. The light that meets your need, is dependable as the circumstances call for and fits your budget is the right one, but I always recommend multiple layers of redundancy(two is one and one is none). I meant no offense & hope none was taken by my response to your post. I love CPF and that we can have intelligent discussions and present varied points of view-the answer to the question of reliability usually comes down to those points based upon circumstance: the LEO who is in a dark warehouse and being shot at has a much different need than the teacher in an interior classroom during a power failure-neither persons answer of what is best is necessarily right or wrong. I found your logical approach in your post to be very well presented, and had you used a number of different manufacturers other than Four Sevens I would have probably been 100% in agreement with you...
 

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