[Review] NITECORE P12 (XM-L2 T6, 1x 18650 / 2x (R)CR123)


Oct 18, 2012

Battery: 1× 18650 / 2x ( R )CR123
Modes: 4 (Lower, Low, Mid, High + 3 hidden strobe modes)
Switch: Double (Forward in the tail, electronic on the head)
Date: February 2014
Nitecore's Precise range recently got a new addition, with the new Nitecore P12. A simple and functional flashlight that complements an existing gap between the Nitecore families, a single 18650 flashlight completely smooth with a uniform diameter throughout its body.

The presentation of the flashlight is in line known to all, with printed cardboard box staying inside a blister pack with flashlight accessories and documentation. This P12 comes with the usual accessories as the classic adjustable strap paracord wrist, a tactical plastic ring and a steel clip with bath / titanium finish and a holster. Also attached are a couple of spare parts as well as the usual warranty card Sysmax and full instruction manual.

This new Nitecore P12 presents flat and simple exterior, with an almost smooth design throughout your body, with a head of the same diameter as the rest of the tube, and therefore with a small optical and limited throw.


The black anodized, as is customary in all the flashlights of the brand, has a matte tone and is completely uniform in all the components of the P12 chassis.

The head is provided with a flat bezel with a glass lens with anti-reflective treatment. The reflector is smooth and somewhat deep to its diameter. The XM-L2 is properly centered on my unit, even without centering mechanism.

Externally, the head has four discrete but somewhat deep cooling fins , which give way to a smooth track where the electronic switch to change modes with blue light under the cover that acts as voltage indicator and low battery warning.

Next comes a slightly oversized hexagonal area with a partially finished, which acts as an anti -roll mechanism and prevents roll flashlight being placed on a smooth surface. The driver is hidden under a mechanical guard against reverse polarity, so ideal for this P12 batteries are the button-top.

The threads are anodized both at the head and the tailcap joints, enabling the mechanical block-out of the flashlight in either joint by with just a slight turn of thread. It is striking how both threads arrived generously lubricated, also including a good thick layer of grease in the o-rings to guarantee the IPX -8 waterproofing.

The tube wall has a considerable thickness, so this flashlight does not have that feeling of being extremely flimsy like other similar flashlights. Outwardly the tube is very similar to that found in the Nitecore P25, with a finish of oversized but not aggressive knurling, with several flat tracks that cross, and two opposite flats in which laser engraved logos are housed clear and defined.
Near the union with the tailcap we find a smooth track for accommodating the clip, which is hold in place by pressure. This clip, identical to that found in other models of the P series and the MT series, can only be installed in one direction, as there is no second mechanized track, and the pitch of the threads is not interchangeable.


Finally, the tailcap is identical to the found in multiple Nitecore flashlights , including P25 , MT40 , MT2C , MH2C , MH40 , MT25 , MT26 … It is even the same design as that of new C range( CR6 , CG6 , CB6 … ) , so the optional remote switch RSW1 works with all these flashlights . Tactical ring is installed in the same way as in the other series, and hold in place by pressure by the screwing of the tailcap. In addition to providing a more comfortable and safe cigar grip, this ring also acts as an anti-roll mechanism as well as offers an extra point for the attachment of the strap through the hole in one of its sections.
This tailcap incorporates therein a mechanical forward switch, also known as tactical switch, which allows momentary on without actually click, providing a fast activation and turn enabling the ability to signal Morse code with any of the 4 modes.


The two battlements surrounding the silicone coating allow you to place the flashlight in tailstand stably, and also provide an attachment point for the wrist strap.
Although nothing groundbreaking or particularly striking, the P12 has a rich user interface very similar to that found in other flashlights:


  • Activation: The Flashlight, as I mentioned earlier, has a forward switch on the tailcap, through which light the flashlight momentarily (pressing without actually click the flashlight will stay on while we keep the pressure on the switch) or permanently (until you hear the click by pressing and releasing).

  • Changing Modes: With the flashlight on (even in a momentary on), press the button on the head to toggle between the flashlight 4 main modes, in ascending order: Lower – > Low – > Mid – > High.

  • Access to special modes: The P12 has three special modes, strobe modes hidden from the main sequence and that do not interfere with daily flashlight use. To access these special modes, with the flashlight on hold the electronic switch two seconds to enter strobe mode. Repeating the operation go to SOS mode (which is somehow slow and employs more than 10 seconds to complete the Morse sequence), and if we repeat the operation again we will access the beacon mode, a locator which emits a flash about every two seconds. We can return to the main modes with simple press of the head switch.

  • Memory: Logically flashlight remembers the last mode in which we turn off, and return to this in the next activation. Special modes have no memory, except strobe mode that can be memorized and used tactically in conjunction with the momentary on.

  • Mechanical block-out: With its anodized threads, the Nitecore P12 can be blocked by partially unscrewing any of its threaded parts. This will avoid an accidental or inadvertent activation. Having a mechanical switch, there is logically no parasitic drain when the flashlight is off.

  • Charge indicator: Under the cover of the electronic switch of the head there is a blue LED , which flashes once every two seconds when the battery is around 50%, and flashes quickly when the battery needs to be replaced .

  • Battery voltage indicator: Simultaneously press the mode button and switch tailcap, the flashlight will emit a sequence of flashes in the mode button, showing the battery voltage, as we have seen already in several flashlights of this brand. For example, a fully charged battery would result in 4 blinks, pause for a second, and two more flashes. In the case of using two RCR or CR123 batteries, the indicator displays the sum of the voltage of both batteries.

(All measurements are taken following the ANSI NEMA FL1 procedure, using the value of the highest reading between 30 and 120 seconds after activation point)

After measurement of modes, I get close data to what Nitecore specified for laboratory conditions. I have also included a fifth mode, located between the Mid and High, which represents the intensity at which the P12 is stabilized within a few minutes after activation and subsequent stepdown. More details below.
Let see now how this new P12 behaves along a continuous run:


As expected, the flashlight has a stepdown scheduled within three minutes of continuous use at its maximum level, at which point the flashlight began a gradual first stepdown in its output, for two minutes later stabilize by about 460lm. After about 40 minutes, the flashlight will lower again to medium mode, where it will remain stable until just over five hours since activation. With this sequence excellent efficiency and energy management is achieved, always with the possibility of cycling flashlight to regain the previous output to both stepdowns.

With such long runtime, the graph compresses too much the first minutes of the test, so here's a zoom of the interesting area.

The first stepdown has a peculiar way to make the output decreases progressively for two minutes, eliminating the sudden downturn that most flashlights have accustomed us, and thanks to the gradual decline will not be able to see the stepdown.

This type of progressive stepdown was first saw in the Nitecore P25, some time ago.


With a reflector diameter of just 20mm , the beam of this P12 is clearly flooder, but somehow get some decent throw range (222 meters according to specifications ) based on raw power and the slightly deep and smooth reflector. The reflector creates a smooth beam fairly clean, with a relatively small hotspot to what one would expect from a perspective of these dimensions.


The corona surrounding the center point has the (now) classic yellowish halo, followed by a fairly even spill. The tint is cool white with a slight bluish trend, especially in the low modes.



The new Nitecore P12 appears to be a flashlight with tactical nature but also with skills that make it an excellent choice for everyday use. Its smooth and harmonious lines, with a head the same diameter as the rest of the flashlight make it comfortable to stay in any pocket , and although its size is not exactly the smallest among the flashlights of the same format , it leave aside that sense of fragility/toy that other flashlights with thinner walls and smaller sections transmitted. I note with satisfaction as the mechanical quality of the finish is excellent, as is the functionality implemented in the user interface.


18650 • EagleTac TX25C2 • Fenix PD32 G2 • Nitecore P12 • Olight M20 Warrior • Nitecore P25 Smilodon

Negatives: By reading performance chart supplied by the manufacturer, it is striking as between Mid High mode and there is a huge difference in performance. As expected, the flashlight have a mode in between to fill that huge step, but once again the manufacturer (and this is not the only one to do) forces us to go through the timed sequence to access to said intermediate intensity. With only 4 main modes, in my humble opinion I think the 460lm mode would have been great between existing ones, giving us the option to select it without having to go through the stepdown, as in P25 for example.
Positives: I'll start with the aforementioned excellent mechanical quality in the production process of the different parts of this flashlight. Nitecore is one of those brands where the mechanical finishing of their products are fully recognizable between models with quality details as the complete absence of machining marks on the flat areas of the tube, the homogeneity in the tone of the anodizing or the perfect finish in every angle. I also like the user interface, which pretty basic is even being able to provide quick and easy access to all modes in a rather intuitive way. Another very interesting detail, and absent in many current tactical flashlights , is the instant access to strobe mode directly from him back button , thanks to the implemented memory only for this mode of three special only for this purpose, achieving a flashlight capable to strobe lighting momentarily . Progressive first stepdown is also an interesting proposal, eliminating the sharp drop at which we are accustomed lately. Powerful, versatile and well built.

Nitecore P12 provided by Nitecore.co.uk for review.


Oct 17, 2013
Manchester UK
Thanks for sharing,fantastic review and awesome pics,especially love the beam comparison shots:twothumbs


Flashlight Enthusiast
Jul 3, 2013
My favourite EDC light, thanks for the review!


Flashlight Enthusiast
Dec 8, 2011
Terrifical review, thanks for your hard work!!

Should be listed in the reviews forum subsection imho :)


Oct 15, 2013
Thanks for the fantastic review. My P12 will arrive at my door in probably 5 days. :twothumbs


Flashlight Enthusiast
Mar 28, 2013
New Mexico, USA
Thanks for the review. For me, the tint is very nice at all settings. And the relatively deep reflector does make for a rather throwy beam compared to other flashlights of this size. It also bears re-mentioning the practical utility of being able to see the voltage of the battery in situ. If I'm going out for a significant walk it is an easy matter to check state of charge. In addition, it is nice to pamper batteries using this feature.


Newly Enlightened
Jan 31, 2014
Thank you for that review! I'm so excited to show off mine tomorrow at work.


Newly Enlightened
Feb 4, 2010
Thanks for the excellent review! Had my P12 for a couple of weeks now. It's my go-to light when I take my dog out for a midnight stroll.

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