Object/Subject Review: Armytek Barracuda

Bigmac_79

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ArmyTek Optoelectronics has long been highly regarded for it's very high quality, durability, and performance, their most popular light being the ArmyTek Predator, a compact 1x18650 light. Now, they've released a high-power 2x18650 thrower called the Barracuda, which they classify as a search and rescue light.

(note: I realize that some of the photographs in this review were labeled incorrectly, and I apologize for the inconvenience)


Thanks to Armytek for providing the Barracuda for review.


I’ll be reviewing the Barracuda in two sections: first, I’ll discuss the light objectively (the facts about the light itself), then I’ll discuss the light subjectively (my impressions about the light's performance when used for specific applications). If you have any other specific applications you'd like the light tested for, let me know and I'll see what I can do.

3-Minute Overview

Below is a video "quick review" you can watch in just a few minutes, if you're not up for reading the full review right now:

This video is available in 720p HD, but defaults to a lower quality. To select the playback quality click the settings button (looks like a gear) after you've started the video.


Objective

Manufacturer's Specifications

Price: $130




Packaging




The Barracuda comes in a yellow plastic carrying case, with the light and spec sheet inside. The light itself rests in a foam cutout.


Construction

The Barracuda uses two 18650 lithium ion batteries, or four CR123 lithium batteries, in series, so it is a long light. One thing that sets it apart as soon as you pick it up is the smooth matte finish, which looks and feels different from the glossy finish on most lights. This finish seems to greatly improve the grip, but also shows scuffs more easily.



The Barracuda comes with an option of three different bezel colors (you choose one when your order). My review sample has a black bezel, and gold and silver colored bezels are also available. The Barracuda uses a Cree XM-L U2 emitter, which usually tend to be rather floody, but they've stuck it in a very large, deep, smooth reflector, which makes the Barracuda a good thrower.



The Head of the Barracuda tapers down to the same diameter of the body in a few steps. Each step has a few grooves cut into it, but as shallow as they are they don't increase the surface area much, so they are more for grip and style than heat dissipation.



The body of the Barracuda is smooth and round, with the ArmyTek logo and the model name printed on flat sections in white. As I mentioned earlier, though there is no knurling on the light, the matt finish makes it easy to grip.



At the tail, the switch is covered by a rubber cover with the ArmyTek logo, and extends a bit beyond tail, so the Barracuda can not do a tail stand.

Now, let's take the light apart!



Without the use of tools, the Barracuda breaks down into three pieces: head, body, and tail.



Inside the head, a spring extends from the circuit board to make contact with the positive terminal of the battery, so that the Barracuda can accept both button-top and flat-top cells. The threads between the body and head are unanodized, the threads between the body and tail are anodized. All the threads are thick, and well greased. Inside the tail, a spring with a metal cover makes contact with the negative terminal of the battery. With a spring on both sides, the batteries should be protected from damage in the event of an impact.

Dimensions




Accessories



The Barracuda comes with a holster, spare switch cover, and spare o-ring.


User Interface

The Barracuda has four modes, controlled by the tail switch: Low, Medium, High, Turbo. The switch is a mechanical forward-click switch, so a half press will turn the light on momentarily (until the button is released) and a full press will turn the light on constantly (until the button is pressed again).

When the head is loose, turning the light off then back on again will cycle throw the three modes Low -> Medium -> High (in that order). With the head is tight, the light is always in Turbo mode.

Action Shots

You can click on any of these shots to see them full size.

Light in Hand



White Wall (Low, Medium, High, Turbo)
ISO 100, f/3.3, 1/20"


BeamSlice


MugShot


Indoor Shots (
Low, Medium, High, Turbo)
ISO 100, f/3.3, 1"


Outdoor Shots (Turbo)
ISO 100, f/3.3, 2.5"


Long Range (Turbo)
ISO 100, f/3.3, 5"


Performance

Submersion: I submersed the Barracuda under a foot of water for an hour, clicking the switch several times while under. After, the light still worked, and showed no evidence of water having entered.

Heat: The Barracuda gets hot around the head after about 12 minutes on the highest output, but does not get too hot to hold.

PWM: I could not detect any evidence of pulse-width modulation.


Drop: I dropped the Barracuda from a height of about 1 meter onto various surfaces (including grass, carpet, packed dirt, and wood). There was no functional damage; the matte finish shows scuff marks but no scratches or dents.

Reverse Polarity Protection: The Barracuda does claim reverse polarity protection, so I inserted the batteries backwards and tried to turn the light on (which it didn't). I then corrected their orientation, and the light resumed normal operation, seeming to be unharmed.

Over-Discharge Protection: The Barracuda automatically stops operation when the batteries reach a low voltage. However, being a two-celled light, the voltages I measured after it turned of varied each time. The voltages were usually between 2.75 V and 2.90 V. 2.75 V is a bit lower than many people like to take their lithium ion cells, but it is within specification for most lions I've seen.


Spectral Analysis

Coming Soon...
All light that we see as white is actually made up of several different colors put together. The relative intensities of the different colors in the mix are what determine the tint of the white we see. For example, cool white LED's have a lot of blue, and warm white LED's have more red or yellow. This measurement was done on a home made spectrometer. The plot below the picture is corrected for the spectral sensitivity of the human eye. Note: the peak in the 900nm region doesn't really exist, it's a piece of the second-order spectrum that's showing up here because of the high intensity of the light source.

Output and Runtime


ANSI FL-1 runtime ratings are the time it takes for a light to fall to 10% of it's original output (counting from 30 seconds after turning the light on).

The vertical axis of the graphs below represents a relative brightness measurement using a home made light box. The horizontal axis is time in hours:minutes:seconds. Runtimes are stated in hours:minutes:seconds. These graphs may be truncated to show detail.

Mode Comparison

Turbo


High


Medium


Throwing Distance

ANSI FL-1 standard for stating a light's throwing distance is the distance at which the peak beam intensity (usually at the center of the beam) is 0.25 lux. I calculate throwing distance and candela (lux at 1 meter) by measuring peak beam intensity at five different distances and using the formula lux*distance^2=constant.

Peak Beam Intensity: 89,575 cd
Throw Distance: 598 m

Subjective Review

Quick break down:

+ High output
+ Long throw distance
+ Matte finish
+ Springs in both ends of battery tube
+ Threads work smoothly
+ Very solid build
+ Simple user interface
+ Subtle style

- Rear switch
- Scuffs show easily

The Predator has always had a very good reputation, so the Barracuda was under a lot of pressure to impress, and I believe it has. It's a solid entry to class of high-powered and high-quality throwers, and it's got a few things that make it stand out.

The very first thing that you'll notice when you pick up the Barracuda is it's unusual finish. ArmyTek calls it a "matte" anodized finish, and I believe that's an appropriate description. Most flashlights have a smooth, glossy feel, but the Barracuda feels more textured. Many flashlights use knurling patterns to give the light a grippable surface, but the Barracuda has no knurling and needs none. Even when it's wet, the Barracuda is not really very slippery. Also, the matte finish means it the body doesn't have the shine or glint of reflected light that most do, which is actually avery big plus if you want to be stealthy. All these things together mean that the Barracuda has a very sleek look and feel, which is very appropriate considering it's namesake. The matte finish alone often leads me to grab this light over similar ones, because I enjoy the look and feel so much.

Unfortunately, the matte finish does have some downfalls. I've found that is scuffs and scratches easier than most finishes, so I don't feel comfortable to just toss it in a bag with other hard objects without wrapping it up first. This is one of only two real negatives i've found with the Barracuda.

Thought the finish may not be extremely durable, the light itself certainly seems to be. ArmyTek has a reptation for making durability a priority, and the Barracuda lives up to it. The walls of the body are very thick, and the battery tube has springs on each end to protect the batteries in the event of an impact. This also lets you use a wide range of batteries. Though it's hard to tell in my pictures because I have the black bezel version, it's got stainless steel on each end also. I have not been able to open the head to verify this, but ArmyTek claims the electronics are housed in an aluminum capsule to protect them as well. Even down to the threads, I'm very impressed, as they fit together perfectly and were well greased to give the threads a very good feel and performance (poor threads are one thing that really gets on my nerves after a while, I don't want to fumble the head while trying to change the batteries). I have confidence that this light will last a long time, even though I'll soon stop caring about the finish and start using it in intense environments.

Another big part of the quality is the performance, which is very near perfect. The user interface is simple, and while there is a place for fancy UI's, if you want reliability as your focus then simple is the way to go. Also, the regulation on each mode is almost completely flat, which is very impressive when you're talking over 1000 lumens from a single emitter. The beam is smooth and piercing, with a throw that far exceeds ArmyTek's claim. It's also handy to have the reverse polarity and over-discharge protection. ArmyTek has paid attention to detail and not cut the corners, so that makes this one of those lights that just does a lot of things right.

The other drawback I've found is that while many recent lights are implementing the side switch, the Barracuda does not. For smaller lights it's not a big deal, but for long lights like this one it's pretty awkward to use the light and have access to the switch at the same time. I understand that in theory a mechanical rear switch is more reliable than an electronic side switch, but I've never actually had a side switch fail, so in my opinion the gain of the side switch outweighs the potential loss.

Overall, the Barracuda is a very impressive light in the long thrower class. ArmyTek has set forth a light that has excellent performance, attention to small details, and style much different from the average high-quality light. If you're looking for a dependable thrower with a simple UI, and want something more stylish than most without breaking the bank, the Barracuda would be a very good choice.


Long Term Impressions
I'll fill this part in after carrying the light for a while. If nothing get's added here, either I find nothing else worth noting about the light, or I end up not using it often.
 
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Bigmac_79

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Re: Object/Subject Review: Armytek Barracuda [In Progress]

Almost all pictures up, text to come soon ;)
 

Bigmac_79

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Re: Object/Subject Review: Armytek Barracuda [In Progress]

Wow thats are greasey threads:sick2:

;) Yes, very greasy. So much so that I took a glop of the extra and plopped it on another light that was getting a bit squeaky. Now both are perfect :thumbsup:
 

Davekan

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Re: Object/Subject Review: Armytek Barracuda [In Progress]

Nice review. I have this light, and like it alot. It is one of the best 2 cell lights around.

Dave
 

dajabec

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Re: Object/Subject Review: Armytek Barracuda [In Progress]

I didn't think a 65mm head could achieve 90kcd. I'm impressed!
 

Bigmac_79

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Re: Object/Subject Review: Armytek Barracuda [In Progress]

I didn't think a 65mm head could achieve 90kcd. I'm impressed!

Well, it only got to 89.5k, so technically you were right ;)

But in seriousness, the reflector is very deep and the output on Turbo is higher than you usually see a single XM-L driven to, so the throw is very impressive.
 

Optic Nerve

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Re: Object/Subject Review: Armytek Barracuda [In Progress]

Well, it only got to 89.5k, so technically you were right ;)

But in seriousness, the reflector is very deep and the output on Turbo is higher than you usually see a single XM-L driven to, so the throw is very impressive.

I have this light also. I have to agree the throw is just amazing!! Somebody finally built a reflector that can help a XM-L throw!!
 

Rikr

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Re: Object/Subject Review: Armytek Barracuda [In Progress]

Great review!! I almost pulled the trigger on this one, now I wish I would have...
 

Bigmac_79

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Re: Object/Subject Review: Armytek Barracuda [In Progress]

Subjective review complete, just a few things to add to the objective section.
 

Bigmac_79

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Re: Object/Subject Review: Armytek Barracuda [In Progress]

Alrighty, as soon as the video uploads, this review is complete!
 

boef8000

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Re: Object/Subject Review: Armytek Barracuda [In Progress]

Bicmac, thanks for the review, well done :twothumbs !
One question though: does the light radically turn off from regulated output if the low-voltage limit is reached(suddenly standing in the dark), or does it taper down first at least for a little while so that you notice that it's about time for a battery swap?

Thanks
Alex
 

Up All Night

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Re: Object/Subject Review: Armytek Barracuda [In Progress]

Thanks for this, nice work! :thumbsup: I didn't expect this light to tear up the forum, but I thought it would garner more attention than what I've seen.
I'm not surprised by your lux reading as I've been hitting up gopajti's TK75 photos that have a direct comparison between the two. The 75 puts out a huge amount of light but the Barracuda certainly comes close in the throw department. I like the flat regulation across the board(no twenty minute turbo) and I actually do like the fact it has a rear clicky.
The only problem I have is the place I'll be checking this out, they carry the Barracuda & the TK75!
Thanks again!
 

Bigmac_79

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Re: Object/Subject Review: Armytek Barracuda [In Progress]

Bicmac, thanks for the review, well done :twothumbs !
One question though: does the light radically turn off from regulated output if the low-voltage limit is reached(suddenly standing in the dark), or does it taper down first at least for a little while so that you notice that it's about time for a battery swap?

Thanks
Alex

If you'll take a loot at the runtime graphs, there's no noticeable decrease in output before the light shuts off, so it might be pretty abrupt.

Thanks for this, nice work! :thumbsup: I didn't expect this light to tear up the forum, but I thought it would garner more attention than what I've seen.
I'm not surprised by your lux reading as I've been hitting up gopajti's TK75 photos that have a direct comparison between the two. The 75 puts out a huge amount of light but the Barracuda certainly comes close in the throw department. I like the flat regulation across the board(no twenty minute turbo) and I actually do like the fact it has a rear clicky.
The only problem I have is the place I'll be checking this out, they carry the Barracuda & the TK75!
Thanks again!

I am a little surprised it hasn't gotten more attention, considering how popular the Predator is, but you never know.
 

fireonhigh

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i like this light,are you going to do a video at night? before i buy this it would be cool to see this thing shooting down range..
 

Bigmac_79

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i like this light,are you going to do a video at night? before i buy this it would be cool to see this thing shooting down range..

I'll see if I can find a good place to do a night video ;) Until then, you can look at the beam shots and compare them to those in my other reviews. Clicking on the picture will take you to the full size image (this is true for all my pictures).
 

fireonhigh

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I'll see if I can find a good place to do a night video ;) Until then, you can look at the beam shots and compare them to those in my other reviews. Clicking on the picture will take you to the full size image (this is true for all my pictures).

i hope you will in the next 2 weeks,i was thinking of the x searcher, i want a long thrower with flood if it all possible. seems xsearch is a dedicated throw/spotlight? thanks for any ideas you have:huh:,,and yeah im new to highpower lights/i just looking for maximum flood and distance,or what you recomend, my bro has the tm15, i want something better, lol
 
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