Wurkkos

'SHOT SHOW Special' Review: FOURSEVENS Bolt-Action BLR2 (2xCR2, 2xRCR2, 1x14500)

subwoofer

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'SHOT SHOW Specials' are a series of reviews inspired by, or as a consequence of, my visit to the SHOT SHOW 2015.
These may contain photos taken while travelling, and may be of a slightly different format.

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Author's Statement for Transparency and Disclosure
The test sample/s featured in this article have been provided for technical testing and review by the manufacturer. Test samples are retained by the reviewer following publication of the completed review for the purposes of long term testing and product comparisons.

All output figures and test results published in this review are the sole work of the reviewer, and are carried out independently and without bias. Test results are reported as found, with no embellishments or alteration. Though best endeavours are made to maintain the accuracy of test equipment, the accuracy of these results is not guaranteed and is subject to the test equipment functioning correctly.
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FOURSEVENS Bolt-Action flashlight is the product of a three-way collaboration; FOURSEVENS partnering with Fellhoelter (designers of the Bolt-Action pen) and Tuff-Writer. This collaboration has produced a unique and interesting flashlight that challenges you to open your mind to something a bit different.

Incorporating the unique bolt-action mechanism into a flashlight required thinking out-of-the-box. Consideration of the overall size, performance and power options, all led to the final specifications of the BLR2 Bolt-Action flashlight.

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Taking a more detailed look:

The nice clean looking FOURSEVEN packaging allows you to see all round the light.

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Included with the light are two spare o-rings and an instruction leaflet.

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The pocket clip proudly displays the Fellhoelter name.

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And the end cap has the Tuff-Writer logo engraved.

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And here is that special feature, the Bolt. The L-shaped channel allows the bolt to be rotated to lock it in the on position, just like a rifle bolt would lock in place.

The FOURSEVENS logo is engraved on the body next to the bolt.

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The Bolt in the off position…

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…and then latched on.

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The BLR2 next to a Preon P2 (2xAAA) to give an idea of size.

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Fitted with a CREE XM-L2 LED in a smooth reflector.

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A view of the reflector to show its depth, and the coated lens.

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The head unscrews and you can see the positive contact with physical reverse polarity protection.

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The negative contact is a spring, and despite is close proximity to the Bolt, this is fixed and does not move.

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The threads are cleanly cut.

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The disassembled Bolt-Action with its 2xCR2 battery pack.

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FOURSEVENS official specification is that the BLR2 must be powered by 2xCR2 cells (or 2x RCR2). However with an operating range of 2.7V-8.4V, see how these two CR2 cells look in comparison with an AW protected 14500 cell…..interesting… ;-)

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The beam

Let's get the 'action' going.

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The Bolt-Action has a soft hotspot and nice wide beam thanks to the small reflector and XM-L2 LED. A really good all-rounder beam, not too much of a hotspot for indoors, but with some reach if needed.

20%20Bolt%20Action%20-%20indoor%20P1060498.jpg

Please be careful not to judge tint based on images you see on a computer screen. Unless properly calibrated, the screen itself will change the perceived tint.
The indoor beamshot is intended to give an idea of the beam shape/quality rather than tint. All beamshots are taken using daylight white balance. The woodwork (stairs and skirting) are painted Farrow & Ball "Off-White", and the walls are a light sandy colour called 'String' again by Farrow & Ball. I don't actually have a 'white wall' in the house to use for this, and the wife won't have one!



So as not to overstate the beam strength, the exposure here is set to give a fair idea of the range of the BLR2, and despite the lights small size it works well in outdoor spaces too.

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Modes and User Interface:

So it is all about this – the Bolt

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Operation is simple. Slide the bolt forward and near the end of the travel the light comes on. Quickly releasing and sliding the bolt changes mode, and once you have the output you want, you simply rotate the bolt to lock it on.

Flicking the spring loaded handle sideways knocks it out of the locked position and turns it off.

The Bolt-Action has two sets of modes, normal and special.

Normal modes (starting from OFF) are: 'Previous' – Low – High – Strobe
- 'Previous' can be any mode, normal or special.
- 'Previous' only occurs once the first time when cycling rapidly through these modes.

Special modes are: SOS – Beacon (High) – Beacon (Low) – Moonlight.

To access Special modes you need to cycle through Normal modes twice, then you enter the Special modes.

So from off this means on repeated switching of the Bolt:
'Previous' – Low – High – Strobe – Low – High – Strobe – SOS – Beacon (High) – Beacon (Low) – Moonlight

In practice I find this quite difficult to stop in the right place, so count how many 'slides' I need for each Special mode.

From OFF this becomes:

SOS – 8 slides
Beacon (High) – 9 slides
Beacon (Low) – 10 slides
Moonlight – 11 slides

In all cases hold the last slide and rotate the bolt to lock it in that mode.

Once you have selected and use the desired special mode, it then becomes the 'Previous' mode, so you can start with Moonlight if that was the last mode you used.



Batteries and output:

FOURSEVENS state an input voltage range of 2.7-8.4V and only allow 2xCR2 or 2xRCR2. However, as I hinted at earlier, that 2.7V and similarity in size of 2xCR2 to an AA sized cell, means the 14500 could actually be an option. Let's look at that in further detail.

To measure actual output, I built an integrating sphere. See here for more detail. The sensor registers visible light only (so Infra-Red and Ultra-Violet will not be measured).

Please note, all quoted lumen figures are from a DIY integrating sphere, and according to ANSI standards. Although every effort is made to give as accurate a result as possible, they should be taken as an estimate only. The results can be used to compare outputs in this review and others I have published.

FOURSEVENS Bolt-Action BLR2 using 2xCR2I.S. measured ANSI output LumensPWM frequency or Strobe frequency (Hz)
Burst5150
High (following Burst ramp down)2860
Low1030
Moon30

Output values on 14500 are similar, but slightly lower, so the tested output values shown are only those for 2xCR2.

However, on the runtime trace I've included the official CR2 powered run and the run when using an AW 14500 protected cell.

You can see the higher maximum output during burst mode, but this then settles into a very similar output until the 14500 runs out of power. At just under an hour of runtime, and the 14500's output drops sharply until the protection shuts it off suddenly.

So running on 14500 works very well, but the Bolt-Action will push it until the protection activates and you will suddenly find yourself in the dark.

The officially supported CR2 cells maintain a longer runtime and the output then tapers off much more predictably. The end of the run is terminated at the ANSI cut-off, but the CR2 powered output continues to trail off without suddenly cutting out.

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The Bolt-Action in use

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I have to admit, when I first heard about the Bolt-Action, I thought it was a pure gimmick. Why would we want a different type of switch, what is the point of this, and why these odd CR2 cells?

It is odd, but it is actually very intuitive, and as soon as you pick up the Bolt-Action light you naturally start sliding that bolt.

The size of the body tube was dictated by the available cells sizes, and desired output along with the bolt mechanism. If it had been 1x AA powered, it would not have that 515lm burst, and if it had been 2x AA or 2x AAA it would have been too long as the bolt takes up quite a lot of space. CR123 would have made the tube too thick, so after all this 2xCR2 was settled on.

So, for whatever reason, there is no official support of 14500, but as seen in the runtime tests, 14500 actually works really well as long as you are prepared for the abrupt shut down when the cell is depleted. Using the CR2s will give you much more predictable behaviour as they run out of power.

Inclusion of the 'previous' mode when you first activate the Bolt-Action is a very useful feature, but I do find the need to cycle through all the modes and the special modes to get to the moonlight output rather inconvenient. I would much prefer the Bolt-Action to have a mode set like the Preon where it starts on moonlight. I would actually forego the 'previous' mode in favour of simply starting on moonlight. The rest could stay how it is, but just start on moon mode.

My own personal requirements mean I tend to use low level outputs most of the time, so having to fight my way through the interface to get to moonlight mode spoils the Bolt-Action slightly for me. However, using the '11 slides for moon mode' method means it is not too bad.

The Bolt-Action is not what I would class a 'pen-light', the tube is a little too large to qualify. Size wise, it fits more into a compact 2xAA class of light. That happens to be one of my favourite classes thanks to a tube size that fits the hand really well, not too small and not too large.

Using the bolt-action switch is very tactile, far more so than any other switch I've used. You are not just waiting for a click or twisting part of the light, you are manipulating the switch and the latching mechanism. Control over, if you latch or don't latch, brings an entirely new take on a 'momentary switch', and there is no question over how far you press before it latches, you just slide it all the way. If you want it to stay on, you rotate the bolt to lock it, if you don't, just let go.



Review Summary
Things I likeWhat doesn't work so well
Unique and tactile Bolt-Action switchUses unusual CR2 cells
Powerful 515lm Burst outputA bit of an effort to get to the special modes
Works with 14500 cells14500 not officially supported
Very unlikely to get accidental switch on



If you enjoyed the review, please remember to 'Like' me on Facebook

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Str8stroke

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The fact that it can handle and run well on the 14500 is very nice. I think that will help "sell" the light. I would not even consider the light if it only worked on CR2's. I own way to many specialized cells now. I don't really want to add another. I am surprised they wouldn't promote the heck out of the fact the light can run the 14500's. Or perhaps they think that the "general" populous can't manage them? But then how many of them have heard of the CR2? Who knows.

Anyways, thank you subwoofer for the killer review.
 

subwoofer

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Nice review!
I didn't think it can accept 14500 battery. It is good point.:twothumbs

However it's tint is too greenish.:thumbsdow

The beam is not green at all. Please be careful not to judge tint based on images you see on a computer screen. I actually run 4 screens from my computer and each one (despite tweaking settings) makes an image look slightly different. Camera (and its White balance), post processing of the image, and the screen it is viewed on all change its appearance.

If you are basing this on my indoor beamshot, look at the woodwork (stairs and skirting) as these are white. The walls are a light sandy colour (a paint colour called 'String' by Farrow and Ball). I don't actually have a 'white wall' in the house to use for this, and the beamshot is intended more to give an idea of the beam shape/quality rather than tint.

EDIT: a note has now been added in the main review to reflect this

Ability to use 14500 is a real deal maker from my perspective.
 
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Eric242

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Ability to use 14500 is a real deal maker from my perspective.
Absolutely! When these were released I liked the light itself but wasn´t interested at all due to it using CR2 cells which I can´t be bothered with ;) 14500 on the other hand.... well it´s on my radar again.

Eric
 

BigBluefish

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Jan 25, 2008
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1,461
Neat little light. I've never felt a need for a penlight, but if they make this with Nichia 219, hi-cri Luxeon T, or neutral white XP-G2, I'd grab one. Cool white XM-L leaves me kinda uninspired.
 

ven

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Awesome review,stunning pics, a light that admittedly did not have my interest............its now grown to your excellent review, thanks for your time and effort:)
 

Chauncey Gardiner

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Mar 12, 2010
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I came across one of these on eBay today. Read the review, then back to the Bay and purchased it. Thank you, subwoofer, for another well reasoned review.

Also worth sharing, the seller was quick to reply to two e mailed questions and seemed like a genuinely nice guy, so I invited him to pay us a visit here at CPF.

~ Chance
 

kcasner

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Apr 22, 2014
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I like the idea, and it's cool looking... But cycling through the modes is a hassle. It would be perfect if there the bolt was able to be pushed in to do this or a separate button elsewhere.
 
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