So, I'm in the market for a new flashlight...

CobraMagnum

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Oct 17, 2018
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8
Hello, everyone. I'm browsing the market for a new flashlight, and I'd like to have an honest discussion about brand qualities, customer service and product value on several brands. I'm asking for any input concerning your experiences, knowledge, and any dealings with certain customer services. I will list several brands below, and on each I have some questions.

Olight – I see a lot of love for Olight, online, and admittedly their lineup seems impressive. I've been seriously considering investing in a Warrior X 3, after a couple of You Tube reviews. They seem very tough and of good quality, with a decent lumen output. The proprietary batteries (on the models which have them) are a non-issue for me (provided they have additional batteries on hand when needed). However, I've heard that their batteries can be faulty and that they overstate the lumen output of their lights. Can anyone shed any light on this (no pun intended)? What's their customer service like?

ThruNite – I've heard good things about ThruNite, also, and they have a couple of models which are impressive, particularly the Catapult V6. I don't know a lot about whether their stated output holds up well with their actual outputs, and the general quality of their batteries, and the overall durability of their lights. Also don't know much about their customer service. What can you guys tell me about ThruNite?

Fenix – I bought a Fenix for a friend of mine around 2 years ago, a PD36R (I think), but this particular one was one of the earlier models at just around 1,000 lumens on turbo (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong on there being an earlier model). Recently, I asked her about it and she says she's had no issues with it, and she uses it often. I've heard a lot of good things from people about Fenix, also, and their LR35R model was particularly appealing to me. But what is the general overall reliability and quality I can expect in today's time from a Fenix? Also, is their light output pretty consistent with their claims?

Streamlight – Okay, so we all know a lot of police officers rely on Streamlight. American-made, solid, tough and reliable, from what I hear. I have considered purchasing a Streamlight, but when I looked over a couple of their models, it seems their lumen outputs are generally on the lower side of what is considered high (1,000 and below – but I do know the Stinger 2020 has a 2,000 lumen option). I know 1,000 lumens isn't low whatsoever, as I own a 1,080 lumen light and it never ceases to impress. However, the Streamlight runtimes seem to be a little short. But maybe that's just my misinterpretation. However, since police officers rely on them, I'll figure there's something I'm obviously overlooking. What can you guys tell me about Streamlight quality, durability and light output (whether its consistent with their claims)? What am I paying for when it comes to Streamlight?

SureFire – Another American-made light, and of course I've heard good things about it. I'm sure it's a quality brand. However, like the Streamlight, their lumen outputs seem to be a little lower than other brands (not sure about the runtimes). What can you guys tell me about SureFire's reliability, quality, light output and runtimes?

I know this is a lot to read, and I thank anyone who takes the time to respond. I wish you all the best.
 
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SimulatedZero

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Nov 23, 2011
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So, I'll throw a few cents in on this, if it's still worth that much.

Streamlight - Good brand*, good build*, good UI*

*Depends on the light

The stinger HL, HPL, and dual switch versions are all solid work lights if you have room for the size. The strions are great too. For a cradle charge light, they're pretty much the go too. The protacs aren't bad, but you can get better. Big negative on the streamlights with the lack of constant output regulation. Light turns on, light dims like its direct drive until 10% of output, then light turns off. Unless they've changed that very recently. It's what always steered me away, but I wouldn't turn one down at all. Used the older ones for years. Cheap protacs make good back up / storage lights.

Fenix- used to be my favorite until they started down the road of dropping their rock solid constant output regulation for max output in tiny lights and started having to thermally throttle every light they make. 1.5 hours on turbo* as long as you don't mind having turbo for only 30 to 90 seconds at a time. Depends on your use I guess. I have a number of their older lights. Dropped my TK15 from a 2nd story Structure onto a concrete floor a couple times (all accidents). Couple of dents, but works to this day. I have an old LD22 with the rubber switch from 6, 7 years ago? In my pocket right now. Not so sure about their latest stuff though.

Surefire - I have one (old ZL2? with a nail bender drop in) but I stopped buying or repping them. Worked with an officer who had a newer Surefire as a duty light with Surefire CR123's. He said the light exploded in his passenger seat one day after he had used it for a bit (guessing reverse charge on one of the CR123's) and they wouldn't repair / replace for him. Ended up with the Thurnite Scorpion instead. But, they are tough lights for the most part. Just a bad experience I saw 2nd hand and didn't like. Lower output, made in USA, simple, normally tough as nails.

Thrunite - I have a couple cheaper lights, great value for the money. But I've also had hit or miss issues with some of them.

Couldn't say about Olight.

Usually you have better luck with in country companies for warranties, but it also depends on where you buy them. Some stores / dealers honor the warranties and they are who you deal with. Others, not the case. I usually hear stories on warranties to factory taking forever or "getting lost" on overseas lights. Take it for what it's worth.
 

kerneldrop

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Apr 24, 2021
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South
Only mentioning customer service.... it's tough to beat Malkoff customer service. You can call and talk to either 3 or all 3 at once. They respond to e-mails outside of business hours. Also, you won't need Malkoff's customer service ;-)

I didn't see Elzetta on your list.

Not sure of your budget....but you can get in on the Merican made battle axe of a light, Sky Lumen Nguyen. He's got a few left.

Be careful with light output. In addition to it being unreliable, unverifiable, unregulated, inconsistent, and marketing ploys....you'll notice the brands known for reliability aren't pumping out 1k lumens. There's a few reliability and longevity reasons....
 

xxo

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Apr 30, 2015
Messages
2,498
My advice – forget lumens. Look for things like beam pattern, tint and cd/beam distance along with run time, build quality, reliability, durability, simplicity, ergonomics and customer service.

It's easy to make a cheap light with lots of lumens, that quickly over heats or needs to step down after a few seconds. And keep in mind many of the claimed high lumen numbers are greatly exaggerated or completely made up/fake. Also, in my opinion, many of the legitimately high lumen lights are not very practical.

I tend to look for lights that have the beam pattern and throw that I want without too many lumens that are just going to drain the batteries faster and create heat and glare.

As to brands, I tend to favor those still made mostly in the USA. I like Streamlights, but most are now made in China with a few assembled in the USA. Maglite (very good and affordable), Surefire (very good but generally expense), Malkoff (bomb proof) are still, for the most part made in the USA with some imported components, as are most Elzettas (their newer global line is made in China).
 

bykfixer

Flashaholic
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Aug 9, 2015
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My own little Idaho
It really depends on predicted uses. I mean, we can reccomend brands all day long. But being a cpf member means one can break it down to models of said brands in order to achieve certain goals.
So let's say you are looking to buy a new vehicle. You see brand Q has 3 models that put out 600 hp. Oh yeah, we all love horsepower. But one is a big ole truck that turns like a school bus, another is a low slung race car 4" off the ground and the 3rd is a 4 door sedan with a giant trunk. The model with the features one would use the most would be the practical choice.

Same with flashlights. Tint would be one consideration. Runtime another. If you hike or go off the grid a lot runtime can save your life. If it's for dog walking, you'll be back home soon so no biggy.

I personally never consider customer service when making a purchase of a light. If I need to know how well they will helping get a broken light fixed I aint buying that light because I generally buy lights that don't break.

Is it going to be used to see objects a block away or light up a garage? Used only at night or at times in the day? That's where candella matters. Used 20 minutes at a time or hours at a time? That's where thermal step down versus unregulated plays a role. At my work at night I see guys all the time using bright little numbers at first but half way through the night they are resorting to celphones for light.

How big or small matters? And grip?

My neighbor down the street goes to a box store and sees a 1000 lumen number, buys it and thinks "wow, this is awesome". And it aint a bad flashlight, really. But he does not understand the nuances we do at cpf so he ends up with 14 "close but no cigars" flashlights tucked away somewhere. His wife grumbles "you have too many flashlights"…… the cpf member has 22 flashlights because they can and their spouse says "I really like that little orange number, it has a nice beam"……

I tend to avoid reccomending brands anymore. Since the 1000 lumens from a 6 volt light became the norm I just don't like reccomending them due to all of the fake lumens being tossed about. That and the mindset that 300 lumens aint no brighter than a birthday candle. I just say to my friends and collegues "bright, cheap, durable, pick two".
 

CobraMagnum

Newly Enlightened
Joined
Oct 17, 2018
Messages
8
My advice – forget lumens. Look for things like beam pattern, tint and cd/beam distance along with run time, build quality, reliability, durability, simplicity, ergonomics and customer service.

It's easy to make a cheap light with lots of lumens, that quickly over heats or needs to step down after a few seconds. And keep in mind many of the claimed high lumen numbers are greatly exaggerated or completely made up/fake. Also, in my opinion, many of the legitimately high lumen lights are not very practical.

I tend to look for lights that have the beam pattern and throw that I want without too many lumens that are just going to drain the batteries faster and create heat and glare.

As to brands, I tend to favor those still made mostly in the USA. I like Streamlights, but most are now made in China with a few assembled in the USA. Maglite (very good and affordable), Surefire (very good but generally expense), Malkoff (bomb proof) are still, for the most part made in the USA with some imported components, as are most Elzettas (their newer global line is made in China).
I appreciate your response. I already own an Maglite ML50L, and while it's plenty bright for what I need (611 lumens) and pretty good, I'm looking for something that has a good deal of throw in combination with a high lumen output, so I'll keep an eye out for candela ratings. To me, lumens matter. It's not the final point on any light, of course. And of course I don't know everything, which is why I felt the need to ask the question. But that being said, brightness, that is lumen output, is still important to me. But again, it's not the most important thing to me. Reliability and safe usage matter quite considerably, also.
 
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3_gun

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Jun 27, 2021
Messages
287
Have lights from everyone you listed .. never had to use CS for any of them. My Streamlight & Surefire have decade(s) of use & are still going strong. Fenix LD10 retired from EDC after 10+ years only to find itself being used as a weapons light on a 12ga now. Still works fine.

Key with published specs; turbo, high & throw are just about all marketing as are many claimed run times. Run times are not at a constant lumen level but from start+30sec down to 10% of that number; EX, 3000L at ON; 2000L at 30sec = run time to a 200L light level from 2000L. {Even if you get a light to run at turbo ([email protected] out a car window) a 5K/mah 21700 is spent in 20 minutes.}

Run time & lumen levels are MUCH closer to real numbers in the mid to lower light levels but even there you should reduce claims by about 20% due to tolerance & testing differences. So pick a light with mid-range levels near the max light level you normally expect to need (for me 400L or so) & shop from there
 

Hooked on Fenix

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Dec 13, 2007
Messages
2,384
Olight makes quality lights, but many use proprietary batteries. You may not care about this now, but when they stop making the battery for your model of light and can’t buy replacements, you’ll care then.

Fenix is a good brand, but got rid of the low settings on pretty much all their newer bright lights. If you wanted a 21700 light for unbelievable runtimes on low, go with another brand. If you’re okay with a low of 30 or 50 lumens, you might be okay with Fenix. For brightest in the 21700 battery format with decent turbo, low and everything in the middle, go with Nitecore, Acebeam, or Klarus lights.

Streamlight mainly makes polymer lights. This limits brightness and heat sinking. L.A. picked one of their lights for their police after too many heads got cracked with maglites. They tend to have pretty tight beams (more on the throwy side).

Surefire makes quality lights, but they were late to start making li-ion rechargeable lights. Their bread and butter is 123A lights which are being outdated by 18650 and 21700 lights. You pay a huge premium for their lights which are mostly pretty basic. Good for tactical lights though.

Thrunite I think is a fairly affordable brand that did well making drop-in l.e.d. modules for Surefires and grew from there.
 
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