Nitecore P25 "Smilodon" [ XM-L U2, 1x18650, 2xCR123A ] Review

candle lamp

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The P25 is a new rechargeable XM-L U2 light runs on 1x18650 or 2x(R)CR123A battery source from Nitecore. It seems likely to me that the light has some important features of both MH25 and EC25.

I was only provided with the review sample and a user manual by Nitecore. According to the manual description, holster, clip, tactical ring, lanyard, USB cable, spare tail cap, spare O‐ring will be included on shipping samples.

Manufacturer Specifications from user manual :

• Premium CREE XM‐L U2 LED
• Maximum output of 860 lumens
• Integrated “Precision Digital Optics Technology” provides extreme reflector performance
• Boasts a peak beam intensity of 20,000cd and a throw distance of up to 283 meters
• High efficiency circuit board provides up to 325 hours runtime
• Integrated dual Picatinny connectors / rails provide a huge variety of mounting options
• Innovative single button two‐stage switch offers a user‐friendly interface (patented)
• Intelligent charging circuit with voltage detection charges safely and rapidly
• Integrated micro USB charging port is water, dust and impact resistant
• Eight rapidly switchable brightness modes to select from
• Integrated power indicator light displays remaining battery power (patented)
• Power indicator’s secondary function displays battery voltage (accurate to 0.1V)
• Intelligent charging circuit with voltage detection charges safely and rapidly
• Intelligent memory function stores preferred brightness setting
• Integrated with impact resistance & reverse polarity protection (patented)
• Stainless steel titanium‐plated two‐way clip
• Stainless steel retaining ring protects the core components from damage
• Toughened ultra‐clear mineral glass with anti‐reflective coating
• Constructed from aero grade aluminum alloy
• Sturdy HAIII military grade hard‐anodized
• Waterproof in accordance with IPX‐8 (two meters submersible)
• Impact resistant to 1.5 meters
• Tail stand capability
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The hard (type III) anodizing is a matt gray and consistent throughout with no chips on its surface. Anodizing is very good on my sample. All labels are sharp, clear, and bright white against the background. Knurling is present over battery tube and there is a band of knurling on tailcap. The P25 does seem much more tough appearance than others.
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The light has 3 parts (i.e. head, battery tube, and tailcap).
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The light has a flat stainless steel bezel ring. The head has nice looking scallops machined around the front area, and these also serve as an anti-roll feature. There are cooling fins for heat dissipation on the head. There is a spring loaded positive contact point in the head, but note that neither true flat-top 18650 cells nor large button-top 18650 cells will work in the light, due to a raised plastic ring around the positive contact point in the head. The light has mechanical reverse polarity protection to protect from improper battery installation. Only small button-top 18650 cells will work. I had to use a small magnet for my flat-top or large button-top 18650 cells to work. But cell height wasn't an issue (i.e., all my longer button-top cells worked fine).
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The light uses AR coating lens and the purple hue is reflected on it. The aluminum reflector has a smooth pattern. Surface finish on the reflector was perfect from visual inspection, with very fine radial machining lines running down the reflector cup, and well-centered XM-L U2 LED sits at the bottom of the reflector cup. I think the P25 uses quite the same sized stainless steel bezel ring and reflector as MH25.
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The distinctive aspects of the light are a two-stage (two-pressure) side button switch and a built-in micro USB charging port for 18650. The side button switch projects out a little further and the ring around the switch uses a blue LED to signal the state of the light (i.e., battery power status, voltage, and standby mode). [New 13.01.18] At first I thought I might have had trouble with two-stage switch when wearing the gloves. Even though wearing thin leather gloves or thick sking gloves, I had no trouble with that switch.[New 13.01.18] The charging port is on the opposite side of the side button switch in the head, and it is protected from water and dust by a small rubber cover. I'm not sure how durable or water resistant it will be long term.
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The charging port of the P25 is quite the same as MH25. So P25 can use the same USB cable came with the MH25. The charging device came with the MH25 is a simple 1m USB charging cable with connector and standard USB plug.
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The USB cable attaches to the computer to charge 18650 cell in the light. Note the charging solution is to be used only with 18650 cell. The light needs to be turned on by clicking the tail switch on in order to enter charging mode. Nitecore informed me that the initial charging current is 400~500mAh. The light uses CC/CV charging and termination current is 10% of the charging current. You can charge an unprotected or protected 18650 cell, but (R)CR123A's are forbidden. The wall adapter or car power adapter is optional purchase.
The blue color indicator shows you three charging status. It will blink twice every second under normal charging conditions. If there is problem during the charging process (i.e., in case battery installed incorrectly or tail switch not pressed or tailcap not screwed), the indicator will blink rapidly. When charging is complete, the indicator will show solid blue.
The user manual estimates it will take about 6 hours to full charge the depleted cells this way. The charger terminated at a reasonable voltage on my sample (i.e., about 4.17V in my testing).
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The battery tube has a cylindrical tube design and accommodates both 2x(R)CR123A's and 18650 cells easily. Nitecore informed me the working voltage of the light is 3.3~8.4V. I measured the current with 1x18650 at tailcap on Turbo & High output as around 2.53A & 1.50A respectively. So using 2xRCR123A's on those higher outputs seems to be unreasonable, due to the high discharge ratio of the cells. The battery tube has notch on the both ends where the removable clip seems to be attached.
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Threads on both ends are well machined, with the those on the rear end being anodized which allows the light to be locked-out when the tail cap is slightly loosened.
Threads on either ends on the battery tube mate well with the head and tailcap with no issues of cross-threading or grinding. The screws threads on the front are square-cut and those on the rear are traditional triangular-cut.
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The wall thickness of the battery tube is thick, and the light feel solid.
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The tailcap switch is a forward clicky. The rubber switch cap is recessed within the tail end. The switch has nice stiff tension with average travel and tactile clicking feedback. There are also a couple of wide loops for wrist lanyard attachments.
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I found the removable plastic grip ring came with the MH25 fits perfectly on P25 as well, and it will help with holding the light in a cigar style grip and also serves as an anti-roll feature. The grip ring can be fixed on the battery tube securely by screwing the tailcap, and removed without removing the O-ring on the tube. Technically, the light can tailstand, but it's rather unstable due to the small area of the tail end relative to the body size.
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User Interface

Turn on-off by the tailcap forward clicky switch (press-on for momentary, click for locked on).

There are three modes (i.e., general mode, flashing mode, and standby mode).
On-off is controlled by the tailcap switch and output mode switching is controlled by the two-stages electronic side switch on the head.

1) General mode
Output changing is controlled by the electronic side switch. Half-press and quick release the side switch to advance through outputs when on, which proceed in sequence from Lower -> Low -> Med. -> High -> Turbo, in repeating sequence. The light has mode memory, and remembers the last output level used when you turn the light off and back on, even after a battery change. Half-press and hold to activate Turbo directly when on.
Note that you cannot set the output level while the light is off. The electronic side switch only works when the light is powered on by the tail switch first.

2) Flashing mode
The “hidden” Strobe, SOS, and Beacon are accessed by full-pressing and holding the side switch. Full-press and hold the side switch to enter Strobe. When in Strobe, half-press and quick release the side switch to cycle through SOS, Beacon, and Strobe. A single full-pressing and releasing the side switch will enter into Standby mode. A double full-pressing and releasing the side switch will return to the memorized output level in general mode. The flashing mode has no memory.

3) Standby mode
When the light is in the general mode or in the flashing mode, full-pressing and quick releasing the side switch will enter into Standby mode. In this mode, the light consumes small amount of power to maintain the settings in the micro control unit, and the blue indicator will flash once every two seconds to show the location of the light in the dark. The light reads out the voltage (manual says the light will do that accurate to ±0.1V) of the 18650 cell in Standby mode, so you can check out the voltage of the cell at any time by half-pressing and quick releasing the side switch. For instance, when the battery voltage is 4.2V, the blue indicator will blink 4 times in quick succession, followed by one second pause and two more blinks.

Full-pressing and quick releasing the side switch will return to general mode, and pressing the side switch all the way down and holding will return to SOS mode.
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Standby Current Drain

Due to the electronic switch, there is going to be a standby current drain when the light is in the Standby mode (i.e., when the light is turned on using the tailcap switch). I measured this current as 592 uA with periodic jumps every 2 seconds of up to 992 uA for a fraction of a second, when the blue indicator flash occurred. Assuming an average current of 0.891mA, and considering one 2600mAh capacity battery, that would give you around 4 months before one fully charged battery would be completely drained. This is somewhat high standby current, but it doesn't matter. Because you can break this current completely by turning the light off using the tailcap switch or by slightly loosening the tailcap a little for lock-out, due to the anodized threads, when not in use.
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Overheating Protection

After 20 mins of continuous runtime on Turbo output, P25 will drop down to High output to avoid overheating the light. If Turbo is needed for extended run time, just half-press and hold the side switch after dropping down to High.
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From left to right, VicLite 18650(2600mAh) protected, Rofis TR31C, Nitecore MH25, Xtar TZ58, Nitecore P25, Crelant 7G6CS. The P25 is quite the same length as MH25.
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The head size & body weight excluding battery of the following lights are as follows :
TR31C - 39.7mm / 180g, MH25 - 40mm / 145g, P25 - 40mm / 172g, 7G6CS - 48.9mm / 217g
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It is good size to hold and can be used as an tactical light. Overall grip is fine.
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The CR123A & 18650 fit well in the tube. As mentioned earlier, only small button-top 18650 cells will work fine. Overall build quality seems excellent.
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Measured Dimensions & Weight

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PWM

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The P25 shows no sign of PWM at any output level as manufacturer claims. I think the light is constant current controlled. I noticet there is no buzzing sound at any levels.
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Runtime

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P25 has a timed step-down in output of appr. 40% after 20 minutes of continuous runtime. This is a common feature on a number of heavily-driven lights to protect from overheating. The runtime for 10% output of Trubo for various batteries is as follows :
1) 1xVicLite 18650 : 109 mins. (1hr 49mins.)
2) 1xNLTEK 18650 : 108 mins. (1hr 48mins.)
3) 2xPanasonic CR123A : 71 mins. (1hr 11mins.)

Note that the bare cell of the NLTEK is LGABD11865 (3000mAh), and its maximum charging voltage is 4.35v for full capacity. But I charged it 4.2v for runtime test, so the capacity is about 2700mAh reduced with about 300mAh.
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The light shows flat regulation with 1x18650 & 2xCR123A's on High.
The runtime for 10% output of High for various batteries is as follows :
1) 1xVicLite 18650 : 122 mins. (2hr 2mins.)
2) 1xNLTEK 18650 : 114 mins. (1hr 54mins.)
3) 2xPanasonic CR123A : 87 mins. (1hr 27mins.)

Note that the bare cell of the NLTEK is LGABD11865 (3000mAh), and its maximum charging voltage is 4.35v for full capacity. But I charged it 4.2v for runtime test, so the capacity is about 2700mAh reduced with about 300mAh.
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Interesting the output on High is higher than step-down level of Turbo by around 7%.
Runtime performance for 1x18650 & 2xCR123A's seems quite consistent with the reported Nitecore specifications.
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Relative Max. Output Comparison

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Beamshot

1. White door beamshot

- ISO100, F/3.5, 1/320sec, Auto white balance


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- ISO100, F/3.5, 1/500sec, Auto white balance

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- ISO100, F/3.5, 1/1250sec, Auto white balance

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The light has a middle sized bright hot spot. The hotspot is very well focused, perfectly circular with a defined edge. A soft corona surrounds the hotspot which makes the hotspot seems slightly wider than it actually is. The spill beam region is relatively dim compared to the hot spot, but is clean with no artifacts. The beam has a cool side. (Overall beam profile seems to be identical to MH25.)
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2. Indoor beamshot (about 7m from the target)

- ISO100, F/2.8, 1/5sec, Auto white balance


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- Control Shot
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- TR31C (XM-L U2)
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- MH25 (XM-L U2)
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- P25 (XM-L U2)
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- 7G6CS (XM-L U3)
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3. 55m Outdoor Beamshot

- ISO100, F/2.8, 1sec, Auto white balance


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- Control Shot
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-TR31C (XM-L U2)
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- MH25 (XM-L U2)
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-P25 (XM-L U2)
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- 7G6CS (XM-L U3)
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4. 60~65m Outdoor Beamshot

- ISO100, F/2.8, 1sec, Auto white balance


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-Control Shot
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- TR31C (XM-L U2)
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- MH25 (XM-L U2)
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- P25 (XM-L U2)
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- 7G6CS (XM-L U3)
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[New 13.01.17]
5. Min. Brightness Level

- ISO100, F/2.8, 1/500sec, Auto white balance

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- Left to right, TR31C, MH25, P25, 7G6CS
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- Left to right, TR31C, MH25, P25, 7G6CS
[New 13.01.17]
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  • P25 supplied by Nitecore for review. Thanks!
 
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shelm

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Dec 8, 2011
Messages
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Rofis has the best tint, superior.
And the P25 has a donut hole.
Nice.
 

roadkill1109

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Mar 11, 2011
Messages
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Looks like the Crelant has the highest lux among the lights, well, figures, it has the biggest head. :)
 

TweakMDS

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Jun 18, 2012
Messages
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Location
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Nice, finally a light that can recharge with a regular USB port. While that port itself might compromise weather resistance or even be less durable than something like the magnetic clip-on cable that Klarus uses, the cables themselves are more important to me. A few years ago I decided I'd never - ever buy something that uses a proprietary cable again, I have around 10 micro and mini USB cables around the house and work, so this is very practical to keep charged at any possible place for me. Even in the car when camping, won't even need to use a 240V adapter.

Now Nitecore, please make this into a RCR123 version with the same ridiculous head :)
 

candle lamp

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Messages
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Thanks for your interest. All of you! :)

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what's this? crappy regulation plus 2-stage stepdown???
It's not crappy regulation but 2 stages step-down regulation. In general, the heavily-driven lights with one XM-L emitter intalled on max. output (around 700~800 ANSI lumens) with 1x18650 cell do show timed step-down regulation, considering the overheating protection, battery efficiency, runtime, etc. The turbo is just turbo (i.e., mainly produce the hightest output for a moment).
 
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candle lamp

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Joined
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Messages
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Rofis has the best tint, superior.
And the P25 has a donut hole.
Nice.
The P25 has no donut hole. It shows a soft corona surrounds the hotspot, and has a nice beam profile with a deep and smooth reflector though.

Just a minor correction, the Crelant you used there is a 7G6CS not a 7G3CS :)

That's a good point. Corrected TYPO. Thanks. roadkill1109!

Looks like the Crelant has the highest lux among the lights, well, figures, it has the biggest head. :)

Actually 7G6CS doesn't have the highest output on 1x18650, while it comes close to others on 2x(R)CR123A's.
P.S. : If you mean "peak throw", that's correct.

Nice, finally a light that can recharge with a regular USB port. While that port itself might compromise weather resistance or even be less durable than something like the magnetic clip-on cable that Klarus uses, the cables themselves are more important to me. A few years ago I decided I'd never - ever buy something that uses a proprietary cable again, I have around 10 micro and mini USB cables around the house and work, so this is very practical to keep charged at any possible place for me. Even in the car when camping, won't even need to use a 240V adapter.

Now Nitecore, please make this into a RCR123 version with the same ridiculous head :)
The charger built-in light with a USB adapter (or wall adapter or car power adapter) is nice to use in real life. It's difficult to imagine what the 16340 version would look like. :)
 
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blackFFM

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Nov 25, 2012
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A tactical flashlight with USB charging port? :duh2: Smilodon? :shakehead "For the elite of tactical users" - I think it's rather for the mall ninjas.

Let's see how the rest of the precise series will look like...
 
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candle lamp

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A tactical flashlight with USB charging port? :duh2: Smilodon? :shakehead "For the elite of tactical users" - I think it's rather for the mall ninjas.

Let's see how the rest of the precise series will look like...
I think there may be some elite of tactical users of the mall ninjas. :thinking:


Added [New 13.01.17]

5. Min. Brightness Level

- ISO100, F/2.8, 1/500sec, Auto white balance

S-43.jpg

- Left to right, TR31C, MH25, P25, 7G6CS
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- Left to right, TR31C, MH25, P25, 7G6CS
[New 13.01.17]
 

jezdec

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For my taste it is too fancy....all that ribs, holes and other aunnecessary forms....
and on the other hand it does`t even has potted electronics....??

Where is the world of flashlights going to.....?
 

candle lamp

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For my taste it is too fancy....all that ribs, holes and other aunnecessary forms....
and on the other hand it does`t even has potted electronics....??

Where is the world of flashlights going to.....?
They look cool and functional. What's the potted electronics?
Well, I don't know. We will have to see. ;)
 

Badbeams3

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Sep 28, 2000
Messages
4,380
I think I would have preferred no tail switch for a shorter length. But I understand this is meant to be gun mountable. Also I would have preferred less throw and more flood. But again...not the design intent. Still...it is a feature full light. How much would something like this cost from Surefire? Quality seems to be there...have to see how durable and dependable the camera button is, time will tell....
 
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bekafi

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Jan 21, 2013
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Thanks for the great review, made my decision which flashlight I should buy much easier, I´m going for the P25 now. :twothumbs
 

candle lamp

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Messages
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I think I would have preferred no tail switch for a shorter length. But I understand this is meant to be gun mountable. Also I would have preferred less throw and more flood. But again...not the design intent. Still...it is a feature full light. How much would something like this cost from Surefire? Quality seems to be there...have to see how durable and dependable the camera button is, time will tell....
Yes, P25 is more throw & less flood, and looks something like a full-featured (gun-mountable, with built-in charger, two-stage side button, high-output, good quality) light.
The side button switch is reliable & dependable for use. As you said, time will tell..... for durability.
 
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