RaidFire Spear review: comparison to other throwers

selfbuilt

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REVIEWER’S NOTE: This is my preliminary review of the RaidFire Spear by EDGETAC. The light was provided free of charge by EDGETAC for review. As per most of my reviews, the Spear is compared to other lights of its class for comparison purposes – in this case, the Dereelight DBS (Q4), Lumapower MRV (Q5), and Tiablo A8 (Q2).

For a detailed comparison to all the other thrower lights in my collection, please see:
Thrower review: DBS, Spear, MRV, Tiablo, Regal & clones: THROW, RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS!

UPDATE 1/30/08: The runtimes/throw/output of the Dereelight DBS V2 with R2 Cree and DI circuit have now been added to this review.

The light is available for sale in EDGETAC's CPFMP thread here:
RaidFire® SpearTM ---Throw Master from EDGE TAC


What’s in the package:

Spear1.jpg


Light comes in a nice presentation box with metal closing clasp, textured foam padding, glossy instruction manual (with diagrams), warranty card, spare parts (o-rings, tailcap cover). Very classy – only things missing are a belt pouch or wrist lanyard, but you could always pick up an after-market one.

Spear2.jpg


Spear4.jpg


Note that the reflector opening at the head of the light is a couple of mm less than my other thrower lights. Despite this, the throw of this light is impressive (as you’ll see further down in the review)

Spear8.jpg


Spear5.jpg


Spear6.jpg


As you see, the battery tube, head, and tailcap are all well made. I haven't fully disassembled all the parts yet, so I suggest you check out StefanFS' excellent review for detailed pics of each individual component. I plan to update this thread with more detailed component pictures later.

Spear7.jpg


Now here's an interesting feature - the end of the tailcap spring has been filed down! I've had to adjust a number of springs myself over the years, as sharp edges can wear grooves into battery ends. This is the first time I've seen a spring pre-filed down. :whistle:

Spear9.jpg

Spear14.jpg


My hands have rather long fingers, and overall hand width is probably slightly above average (I'm 6'3", with a lanky build). You'll note that the edge of the tailcap fits right into the first joint of my thumb. This makes it particularly easy to activate the light. Despite how the flared tailcap looks, it doesn't interfere with using the light in my hands. :thumbsup:

Of course, that may be different depending on the shape and configuration of your hands. Certainly EDGETAC could afford to trim away some of the excess material here. Note that it may not be a problem for small hands per se - my wife is petite, with small hands, and she also found the Spear easy to activate. In fact, we’ve both noticed that the light is easier to activate than the DBS, which has much more narrow ridge (but which partly interferes with your thumb motion). The DBS is not that onerous, but the Spear is noticeably easier (and the Spear can tailstand, which the DBS can’t).

EDIT: The new Dereelight V2 DBS has solved this problem, as the tailswitch cover sticks out more, so it is easier to activate. Of course, tailstanding is not possible.

I plan to update this thread with more component pics later.

Here are the Manufacturer's specs, from their CPFMP thread:

Features:
  • Designed and tasked for Self-Defense and Law Enforcement use;
  • CREE Q5 WC high efficiency LED (Light Emitting Diode);
  • Maximum Output 250 lumens; about 22000Lux at 1M;
  • Two preset brightness output levels, can be switched easily through rotating the light bezel;
  • Compact size and light weight, suitable for EDC (Every day carry);
  • Patented ThermoflowTM heat sinking design;
  • Excellent high-efficiency circuit;
  • Prominent runtime;
  • Tactical forward clicky switch;
  • Super light-gathering metal reflector;
  • Impact-resistant optical lens with Dual-CoatingTM technique;
  • Made from rugged military grade aluminum alloy;
  • Mil-Spec Type III Hard Anodized finish in Black;
  • Impact Resistance to drop tests in accordance to US MIL-STD-810F;
  • Waterproof to IPX-8 standard;
  • Optional Accessories: Tactical Remote Tailcap Switch and Weapon Mount.

Specifications:
  • Bezel Diameter: 45mm
  • Body Diameter: 25.4mm
  • Tail Diameter 36mm
  • Overall Length: 158mm
  • Weight: 203 g (without battery)
  • Battery: powered by one 2400mAH 18650 Li-ion battery;
  • Output & Runtime: Maximum Output 250 lumens, for about 110 minutes (with brightness declines to 50%).
    Minimum Output 5 lumens, for about 200 hours (with brightness declines to 50%)

How does it stack up in my testing? Time now for the detailed comparison to my other lights.

The contenders:

From left to right: EDGETAC RaidFire Spear, Dereelight DBS, Lumapower MRV (2nd Gen), Tiablo A8.

Spear10.jpg


As you can see, the Spear is of intermediate height to some of the other thrower options out there. Since body labeling can be an issue of some, here are the remaining 3 other views of the lights (back and the two sides):

Spear11.jpg

Spear12.jpg

Spear13.jpg


As you can see, the Spear has a few more exterior labels than most, including some on knurling. But labeling is very high quality on mine, superior even to my excellent Tiablo.

Weight (without battery):
RaidFire Spear: 191g
Dereelight DBS: 221g
Dereelight DBS V2: 194g
Lumapower MRV: 195g
Tiablo A8: 151g

Again, the Spear is of intermediate weight to the other thrower options out there. It’s a very well balanced light, quite comfortable in hand (i.e. not as “top-heavy” as the bulkier original DBS).

I’ve saved beamshots for the end, after the throw and runtime results.

Throw Observations:

Throw values are the square-root of Lux measurements taken at 1m using a light meter. Note that my lightmeter tends to report lower absolute values than most, but I have verified it is linearly responsive over the range of intensities in question.

RaidFire Spear – Q5 (18650-only) Throw Lux @ one meter:
  • 18650 x 1 on high: 24,000 Lux
  • 18650 x 1 on low: 360 Lux
Dereelight DBS DI – R2 (18650-only) Throw Lux @ one meter:
  • 18650 x 1 on high (100%): 23,900 Lux (* but not for long, see below)
  • 18650 x 1 on med (50%): 13,100 Lux
  • 18650 x 1 on low (5%): 980 Lux
Dereelight DBS 3-Stage - Q4 (18650-only) Throw Lux @ one meter:
  • 18650 x 1 on high: 21,200 Lux
  • 18650 x 1 on medium: 10,500 Lux
  • 18650 x 1 on low: 1,830 Lux
Tiablo A8 - Q2 Throw Lux @ one meter:
  • 18650 x 1 on high: 14,400 Lux
  • 18650 x 1 on low: 1,690 Lux
  • CR123A x 2 on high: 14,100 Lux
  • CR123A x 2 on low: 2,680 Lux
MRV 1st Generation - with Cree Q5 mod Throw Lux @ one meter:
  • 18650 x 1 on high: 11,800 Lux
  • 18650 x 1 on low: 8,500 Lux
  • RCR x 2 on high: 17,800 Lux
  • RCR x 2 on low: 8,900 Lux
  • CR123A x 2 on high: 18,200 Lux
  • CR123A x 2 on low: 8,500 Lux

  • The RaidFire Spear has the furthest throw of all my thrower lights, which is very impressive for the size of its reflector. :rock:
  • My DBS-Q4 3SD is close in throw, and I suspect the DBS-Q5 2SD is probably equivalent (since it is driven slightly harder). However the new DBS-R2 DI only matches the Spear at initial throw, and quickly drops down to close to DBS-Q4 3SD levels. Results could be different for the DBS-R2 2SD, however.
  • Here's a first: the manufacturer's lux numbers are actually lower than mine! First time I've seen a manufacturer be conservative in their numbers ... :poke:
  • The Spear also has the lowest low mode of all my thrower lights.
  • The Spear is 18650-only.

Overall Output:

It is very difficult to accurately guage differences in overall output among these lights, since so much of their output is dedicated to "throw". I've attempted two methods to measure their relative overall output: a ceiling-bounce test and my home-made milk carton lightbox. For the ceiling-bounce test, the light meter is placed on the floor of a small windowless room, and the flashlight is placed in candle mode nearby, shining upwards toward the ceilling. For the lightbox method, I use the same standard setup as I do for runtimes (see below for a description).

ThrowOutput.gif


I'm not suggesting either method is very good for accurately estimating the overall output differences between these "thrower" lights. But as you'll see, there's general agreement in the relative rank order using these two methods. Personally, I suspect the ceiling-bounce test overestimates, and the lightbox underestimates, the true differences, but you'll get the general idea.

Runtimes:

Runtimes charts are slightly different from my other reviews - since my home-made milk carton lightbox doesn't accurately capture overall output on these intense throwers, I have adjusted all my relative output numbers to initial throw (measured as the squareroot of Lux @1m). This allows you to directly compare the relative throw of each light over time on the graphs below (although you can't directly compare these graphs with my other reviews).

SpearHi18650.gif


Runtime observation:
  • The Spear runtime on high matches my expectations – just under 90 mins. Given its greater throw with a smaller reflector, I would expect it is driven slightly harder than my other 18650-optimized lights (even taking into account the lower output bin emitters in those lights).
  • EDGETAC reports slightly longer runtimes, but that's likely due to the higher capacity battery used in their testing. My result seems consistent with other reports here.
  • The regulation is excellent. Although not quite as flat as the DBS-Q4 3SD and Tiablo A8, this is irrelevant in actual use.
  • I haven't done runtimes on Lo, since it would clearly take days to weeks before exhausting a 18650 at such a low level. I would tend to trust EDGETAC's rating, given how they were actually conservative on the lux throw numbers.

Beamshots:

For all beamshots, the Spear, DBS-Q4, and Tiablo A8 are all on 18650 (AW Protected 18650, 2200mAh, 3.7V), but the Lumapower MRV Q5-mod is on RCR (AW Protected RCR, 750mAh, 3.7V). My MRV is not as bright on 18650, so I’m using RCR to better compare max overall output between the lights. All lights are on Hi.

Up close beamshots at ~0.7 meter from a white wall, to show you the different overall patterns.
SpearBeam1.jpg

SpearBeam2.jpg

SpearBeam3.jpg

(EDIT: Oops, I just realized I used a not fully-charged 17670 in the Spear for the above beamshots by mistake. It probably won't make a big difference, but I'll redo these upclose shots on fresh 18650 and repost when I have time.)

As you can see, the Spear and DBS have narrower but brighter spillbeams than the MRV. The Tiablo A8 is not shown, but its overall pattern is similar to MRV (except that the hotspot is smaller with a wider corona on the A8).

In order to better compare the beams, I've created some composite pictures to show multiple exposures of the Spear, DBS-Q4, MRV and Tiablo A8 at 3.5 meters and 10 meters. These are located in Post #2 below.

Beam Differences:
Since it is winter in Canada, outdoor beamshots at greater distances won’t show you much (plus it’s cold out!). But I can give you my subjective impressions:

At a large distance, there really is little difference between the lights. The Spear/DBS throw a bit further than my Tiablo A8/MRV. But all are good throwers. The real difference comes at closer ranges.

MRV/Tiablo A8:
The MRV is the most “spotlight-like” beam at an intermediate distance, since the spill from the spillbeam quickly becomes negligible and only the center hotspot is left. The Tiablo A8 illuminates a very similar center area, but not as uniformly as the MRV: The Tiablo is brighter at the center of its hotspot, dimmer at its periphery (i.e. smaller hotspot but brighter corona than the MRV). But at greater distances, the end result is that they look pretty much exactly the same – both are spotlight “spotters” with little peripheral spill.

Spear/DBS:
The Spear and DBS are a bit different from the MRV/Tiablo A8. Although both throw farther than my MRV or Tiablo A8, they also do a better of job of illuminating things outside of the immediate hotspot at intermediate distances. The end result is that they cast a wider useable spillbeam at an intermediate distance (say 10-25 meters), because their narrower overall spillbeam is actually brighter.

Personally, I find the Spear or DBS more useful for intermediate distance, since they illuminate more than just the end target in this range range. The MRV and Tiablo A8 are most useful for closer spotting, where you want to see what’s around you fairly well (i.e. where the wider spillbeam still casts enough light to be useful).

To summarize: for up-close spotting in fairly open areas (<10 meters), I personally like the MRV/Tiablo A8 for their wider spillbeams. For intermediate spotting (10-25 meters), I personally prefer the Spear/DBS for their more useful brighter spill immediately surrounding the hotspot. At greater distances (>25 meters), it basically comes down to whichever light throws the furthest – at this distance and beyond, you are just looking at the hotspot (here my Spear and DBS throw furthest)

User Interface
  • Simply press the forward clicky to activate, and stand back! :naughty:
  • Hi and Lo modes are available by a twist of the battery tube near the head (tighten for Hi, loosen for Lo).
  • I believe the light uses PWM for its low mode, but at such a high frequency that I can’t detect it by eye or instrument.

Build Quality and Ergonomics:
  • As you can see in the pictures at the top of this post (and in StefanFS’ detailed review), build quality is superb.
  • Frankly, there’s not a single aspect I can take issue with – there are no blemishes, marks, flaws, or build problems anywhere on my sample. :thumbsup:
  • Although design style is obviously a matter or personal taste, I like the overall look of this light
  • Light is very well balanced, with good “hand-feel”. Very easy and comfortable to use.
  • I was initially put off by the flared tailcap design when I saw the early pics, but was pleasantly surprised to discover it doesn't interfere with function. Even small hands can easily access the clicky (as Mrs Selfbuilt can attest :laughing:).
  • The flared tailcap allows for tailstanding. Interesting note: the MRV and Tiablo clickies are easiest to access, but I've found the ridge around the original DBS tailswitch to be slightly in the way when accessing the clicky (but this has been resolved in the new DBS V2). Not a major issue, but it's nice to see the Spear is as versatile and easy to activate as the MRV.
  • My sample even came with the o-rings well-lubed! How often does that happen these days ... :ironic:

The above list is preliminary - I’ll update the build quality discussion once all my detailed component pics are ready.

Issues:
  • Frankly, none so far with the actual light itself. It performs and handles admirably.
  • A holster included in the package would be nice. Due to the flared tailcap design, you may need to hunt around for an after-market one that fits well.
  • As others have pointed out, the lettering is a bit over the top (especially the “strong light” warning on the bezel). Similarly, lettering on the knurling never looks particularly good. :duh2: Not a big deal, but I would like to see labeling kept to a minimum.

Conclusions:
  • Based on my sample, I can definitely recommend the RaidFire Spear without reservation. I am happy to report there is no sign on my sample of any the problems that have plagued the first generations of the other thrower lights in my collection (i.e. poor threads, anodizing problems, machining marks, lettering problems, etc.).
  • Build quality is at the top end of all the lights in my collection.
  • Currently the best thrower in my collection.
  • The only design feature that could make it even better is incorporating the circuit features of the NiteCore (i.e. variable brightness, memory mode, strobe, etc.). A good holster would be nice too.
  • For the time being, the Spear is my go-to light for outdoor walks at night. :grin2:

I plan to continue to update this thread as my testing continues. But so far, this light deserves a definite :twothumbs
 
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selfbuilt

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For the close-range 3.5 meter shots, you are looking at the landing of the stairs leading to my unfinished basement, taken from the basement.

3.5 meters
Spear3m.jpg

DBS3m.jpg

MRV3m.jpg

A83m.jpg


As you can see, the MRV and Tiablo A8 light up a wider area. The 1/50sec exposures are useful to see the hotspot differences. As you can see, the Spear has the widest corona around the hotspot of the 3 lights. The MRV has the least corona, and has a more even “spotlight” type of hotspot.

To better see the hotspots at a medium distance, I’ve taken some shots of a “gremlin” at 10 meters, sitting on chair in my unfinished basement. ;)

10 meters
Spear10m.jpg

DBS10m.jpg

MRV10m.jpg

A810m.jpg


(EDIT: Unfortunately, I just realized that I had a not fully-charged 17670 in the Spear by mistake for these 10 meter shots. A fully charged 18650 would likely be a bit brighter, but the overall patterns wouldn't be any different).

The first thing you should notice is that all lights are good for lighting up objects at 10 meters. The second thing to notice is how much more “spotlight” the MRV and Tiablo A8 are this distance – the spillbeams are not bright enough to light up much of the surroundings at these exposures. The DBS and Spear, despite their narrower spillbeams, do a much better job of illuminating objects outside of the immediate hotspot (e.g. look at the pink fiberglass insulation starting halfway up my concrete foundation walls).

:wave:
 
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Stereodude

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Selfbuilt, nice comparison, but now we just need to talk you into getting the 1.2A Q5 pill from Dereelight instead of the 1.0A Q4 you're using now. :devil:
 

TOOCOOL

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Great review as usual, have you tried the Spear with the OP reflector yet? :twothumbs
 
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AFAustin

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Thanks for another great review, selfbuilt. You have further whetted my appetite for the "2nd batch" Spear that (I hope) is wending its way my way soon. :thumbsup:
 

selfbuilt

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Thanks for all the supportive comments everyone.

Great review as usual, have you tried the Spear with the OP reflector yet? :twothumbs
I don't have the OP reflector for it. Honestly, I'm not not that intererested in OP on these thrower lights. At the distance I usually shine it, rings are not really a concern (you're lucky to see much of the spillbeam). I think these thrower lights are best on smooth reflectors as they were always intended. :)

Selfbuilt, nice comparison, but now we just need to talk you into getting the 1.2A Q5 pill from Dereelight instead of the 1.0A Q4 you're using now. :devil:
Haha ... yeah, but I don't really feel the need to upgrade the DBS now that I have the Spear. :devil:

Seriously, I expect the DBS Q5 2SD would out-throw the Spear (mainly due to been driven harder, and with its deeper reflector), but how much extra throw does one need? Besides, I personally prefer the aesthetics and "hand-feel" of the Spear over the DBS. Of course, YMMV ...

Thanks for another great review, selfbuilt. You have further whetted my appetite for the "2nd batch" Spear that (I hope) is wending its way my way soon. :thumbsup:
Thanks Andrew ... too bad yours didn't ship out with the first batch. But maybe you'll get lucky and they'll include a few less labels on the body for the 2nd batch. ;)
 

adirondackdestroyer

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Another great review Selfbuilt. I really like my Spear and like you my only complaint is the excess writing on it. Before I got this light I thought the Taskforce 2C Cree had alot of throw, and the Spear completely crushes it. I remember when I first bought a Streamlight 4AA Luxeon and was blown away by how much throw it had. How the times of changed! :naughty:

Do you have a lightbox, so that you could test overall total output of these lights? In your pictures it appears that the DBS and the Spear have very similar sized spill beams but the Spear looks to have a brighter spill as well as more throw. I'm just wondering since you seem to have alot of very popular lights, and if you could determine how they compare in overall brightness to each other, that would be great! :twothumbs
 

daveman

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A great review on a great light. I really hope Edge Tac will consider a model of Spear that can run on primaries as well; two power source is better than one.
 

FlashCrazy

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Great review, Selfbuilt! :thumbsup: I also thought the ground-flat tailcap spring was a nice touch...better contact. I agree with everything you've said about the light... it's definitely a keeper.
 

selfbuilt

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Do you have a lightbox, so that you could test overall total output of these lights? In your pictures it appears that the DBS and the Spear have very similar sized spill beams but the Spear looks to have a brighter spill as well as more throw. I'm just wondering since you seem to have alot of very popular lights, and if you could determine how they compare in overall brightness to each other, that would be great! :twothumbs
I've been debating whether or not to include that data, but since you asked ... ;)

ThrowOutput.gif


I've just updated the main post with the above table and a brief description of the method used.

As I say there, I'm not suggesting either method is very good for accurately estimating the overall output differences between these "thrower" lights. But the relative rank order, as determined by either method, certainly matches what I see by eye.
 

adirondackdestroyer

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Thanks alot Selfbuilt! As I expected the Spear is the brightest of the bunch. Really crushes the A8 and MRV (18650).
 

selfbuilt

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Keep in mind the latest Q5 "pill" from Dereelight will be brighter than the Spear. Selfbuilt did not test the latest version.
Yes, that's right ... I would expect the 1.2A 2SD Q5 pill for the DBS would be roughly equivalent in terms of output and throw as the Spear.

But again, these differences are so minor in actual use that you wouldn't notice unless holding the two lights side-by-side. You are better off choosing a light based on other features (ergonomics, build, finish, etc.).
 

sledhead

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Thanks to you and your wife for a great review! You for taking the time to do the reviews, and to her for letting you take the time! Mine is coming in the 2nd batch and is apparently going to be worth the wait.:thumbsup:
 

Patriot

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Holy cow! This was great review and supremely useful. I love the three way pics showing three different exposures. As a MRV fan it's nice to see that it's still holding on. Thank you for this fantastic and thorough review.
:wave:
 

selfbuilt

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Holy cow! This was great review and supremely useful. I love the three way pics showing three different exposures. As a MRV fan it's nice to see that it's still holding on. Thank you for this fantastic and thorough review.
I like to do the multiple exposures since I've noticed no two monitor/graphics cards reproduce exactly the same way.

Case in point: my 4-year old 19" LCD desktop monitor (which is color-adjusted for accurate output with the lighting availble in my office) has very high contrast on its standard DVI input, making it hard to see a lot on the low exposures (even with brightness increased to max). In contrast, my laptop has very low contrast and high default brightness, making most things look washed out. This way I figure everyone should be able to see something in my multiple exposure beamshots ... :whistle:

Thanks to you and your wife for a great review! You for taking the time to do the reviews, and to her for letting you take the time!
I'll pass that along to the missus ... :laughing:
 

selfbuilt

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very GOOD review, thanks...make me want to buy one :)
Yeah, it's a very nice carry light to toss in a jacket pocket. I would have to say it is my current favourite for night walks. :)

FYI, I've ordered the new DBS V2, and plan to update my main review thread comparing all the throwers once it comes in.

Cheers! :wave:
 
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