the Maglite ML50L

bykfixer

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Maglite in the budget forum? Blasphemy to a few old timers, but it's the direction things have gone these days... sorta.

To some the budget light is a $3.99 number at the checkout counter of a box store or an eBay store. To some a light as much as $50, but branded by a 'non premium' company like Defiant, Energizer or Rayovac can qualify.

This is 2017. Things have evolved in the flashlight world to a point where the once mighty Rayovac is now along side the new kids like Defiant in the pecking order at your local box store. And so is Maglite anymore. See, a long time ago the Maglite was one of the best lights you could buy. And they were king of the hill in terms of durability and performance. And priced accordingly in the days where a budget light was... $3.99.... in 1980 dollars that was a lot. But a 2-3D Mag was $19.99.

Ok, enough of that. Maglite of 2016 is seen my many as lagging in terms of moving forward technologically. Yet not many will disagree that the fabled Maglite is still a reliable product that is simple to operate. Instead of trying to keep up the pace of all these newest ideas in everything tacti-cool Maglite has stuck with what works and tweaked that along the way. I somehow doubt ole Tony is scouring the pages of CPF to see what those crazy kids want next. Instead he is likely hanging out at the factory, the lab or the drawing board ensuring his new crop of employees and engineers are taking care of business 1979 style with 2017 equipment.

Enter the ML50 series. For about $35 the 2 or 3 C cell LED flashlight mimics an old school approach while providing a modern-ish setup. Gone are light bulbs in this one. So is a reflector with a cam to rotate a beam from an ugly old flooder with a giant bullseye darkened area to a pencil lead beam without much spill. Instead a quarter turn with positive stops at both ends gets you a wide spot with lots of flood and a nice blend between to a sharpened spot and plenty of spill remaining.
Also gone is the beam that looked like the head was covered with blue celophane and now a crisp white beam, although a hint of blue can be seen in certain scenarios.

The ML50 2C touts a bit over 400 lumens with a thermal step down that gradually reduces output to about 75%. The 3C touts a bit over 600 lumens using the same setup. Medium is noted to be about 100 lumens on both. Mag calls it low. Eco mode is rated around 20 lumens on both. I call that low since many other lights use that for their low setting, but it seems California Cop Light maker Maglite has chosen a more "earth friendly" sounding term.
Ok.

The switch on the ML50's is the Mag standard side switch, but in this case travel is noteably less and the click is nearly silent. It feels very positive from on to off. The button resides slightly below the barrel. The slight travel will make accidental turn on very easy in my view and is certainly a short coming for some applications such as a foot chase with the light belt carried. But for us regular folks it's a real nice improvement over the long travel of the original Mag switch. The feel is similar to the smaller XL light series.

Quickly clicking twice gets medium, 3 gets you low. Again like the XL series switches it took a few tries but I quickly got the hang of it. Mag uses a twist tailcap loose, hold the button thing where you can change the setup of the light. It defaults hi/me/lo but can be hi/lo/strobe (for campers?), or momentary/hi/lo for police or momentary/hi/strobe for tactical....
Me, I'd have liked a long press for strobe option along with the default setting, but lack of that doesn't make it a deal breaker for my uses.

The light was coated perfectly in a typical Mag black. Shiney cop light black, but they can be had in Mag red, blue, silver or pewter. Probably the same method as always, but a quarter turn of the tailcap allows circuit cut of the electronic switch. Like the ML25's lock out is easy. The knurling feels like a Maglite. Nothing more, nothing less. Grippy with gloves, slippery when wet just like the old days. (Note they have a more tactical grip in the ML50XL series.)

The head is somewhere between the full size lights of old and the ML25 series. Note flashlight lens dot com has glass or polycarbonate replacements if you prefer a bit more light transmission through the lens.

IMG_20171008_112949.jpg

Here it is versus other C sized
Top to bottom, a 3C Brinkmann Legend, a full size 3C Mag incan, a 3C Defiant (3 emitter light), the 3C XL 50L and a 3C ML25 (with Stinger anti-roll device)

In use in the brightly lit WalMart parking lot I thought "eh, what's all the fuss about?" But when I got home to a dimly lit street was when I saw the magic. My neighbors golden tan roof shingles were... golden tan. The maple tree leaves were a nice green and the bark took on a gray tone... just like in daylight. Perfect CRI? Eh, I doubt it, but overall the brightly lit circle looked pretty natural. When I aimed it 2 doors down (about 200 feet or 60 meters) the entire house was brightly lit in full spill beam or the focused spot. But the focused spot really increased the throw. When I aimed it 3 doors down (about 300 feet/100 meters) I could clearly see my neighbor leaving his unlit shed in his unlit backyard dressed in hunting gear carrying his compound bow inside. He gave me a typical "bykfixer is trying out a new flashlight" wave and disappeared indoors.

To me, the medium (what Mag calls low) setting was a great next level. It provides plenty of light to find my wifes glasses one of the dogs carried out back from 50 feet or lit my 20x20 shed very well. Actually the low (what Mag calls Eco) is going to be my most used level. It's about as bright as those old full sized 2C incans with a nice crisp white beam. Using the Eco setting lit my home well at 2am without some policeman riding by thinking my home was being robbed. I could read by the light reflected off the ceiling of my home.

IMG_20171008_125651.jpg

No PWM detected on Eco mode.

Gone is the "candle" mode with this one as the head is not user removable. I never understood the candle mode anyway. At table top level the thing needs a lamp shade in candle mode anyway or you get blinded each time you look towards your electric candle.

The Mag ML50 may not be cutting edge technology, nor the forward thinking by many modern era light makers. But it is another example of Maglite inching forward in terms of satisfying a market that has come to rely on their products for 38 years. This is a good replacement for the light your aging parent who has been using a Maglite for decades or a great general use light without a lot of bells and whistles. A budget light in one sense, but priceless when it's dark and a flashlight absolutely positively needs to work. Built in USA, this one is a winner in my view.
 
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gurdygurds

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Re: the Maglite XL50L

Great write-up 👍🏼👍🏼 I feel like a bad person if I don't have at least one Maglite in the house. I grabbed the 3D cell version and have been impressed by Maglites most recent offerings. Having dif modes and levels on a Mag is a nice upgrade and implemented nicely. I still need to get some NIMH D cells to fuel mine. Thanks for this bykfixer!
 

elzilcho

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Re: the Maglite XL50L

I was hoping this was about the XL50. I like the classic Maglite styling of the ML series but prefer the tail clicky. Have you tried the XL50? The specs show an impressive beam distance for 200 lumens.
 

bykfixer

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GG,
Your enquirey about Malkoff-ing a 2D then deciding on a newer Mag instead... then finding myself alone in a Wal-Mart (ie no Mrs Bykfixer areound) and doing an eenie-meenie-mienee-moe led to the purchase.
Thank you!!

Elzilco,
I absosutely love the XL50. Had a 200 but it's operating system baffled me so I gave it to my son.
The label showing the beam distance is correct. Those and the ML25 series have remarkable throw for their given output(s).

I'll talk about an XL50 at some point. Probably do an ML25 vs XL50 thread or something.. only issue I've had with an XL50 is it tends to turn on too easy when clipped inside my pocket.

I just saw the title was written as "XL50". Sorry Elzilco. Just edited it to show ML instead.
At cpf, I hope that does not cause issues for searches.
 
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xxo

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The ML50 is hard to beat for around $35!

I like the C cell size lights, but I rarely run them on actual C cells, I usually make a DIY spacer tube and run them on AA eneloops (AA's and C's are the same length).
 

bykfixer

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I have an eneloop'd ML25 xxo. I have remind myself "yes it has batteries in it" because it's so lightweight.

I have not seen the 2 cell version anywhere in stores (locally anyway) so a bit of online shopping and I found a Home Depot not too far away that had 4 in stock. Mrs. Fixer was sitting in a recliner all relaxed after a typical taxing day at work. I said "wanna go out to dinner?" Before the word dinner was out of my mouth she had sprang up from that easy chair like a dog who heard the mailman's truck pull up to the house... "can we go to Home Depot too?" she asks...

They had two gray and two black versions. Mrs. Fixer chose the gray.
It's my first gray Maglite. At one point every Maglite I owned was that "pewter" color that ends up looking stainless after a while. (Not to be confused with their 'silver' that looks like shine'd up raw alluminum.)

IMG_20171022_092209.jpg

The shades of gray by Maglite.
I really like the gray. And I noticed at online places the word gray in color choices for the ML25, D size etc and not pewter... hmmmm.

Has Maglite replaced pewter with gray, I pondered... well never mind that... how about the beam? In side by side with the 3 cell version it was hard to tell but the 3 cell is a smidge brighter.... Maglite states 15hr runtime on high, which we all know means about 40 lumens (or 10% of the original output remains). Being that this so called 'eco' mode is about 20, yeah I can live with 40 lumens after 15 hours. That's enough to find my way home.

I've read here at CPF about Maglites thermal step downs after X number of minutes but feel comfy that their process involves stepping down to about 75% of max output in a gradual manner over a few minutes versus some "turbo" that lasts a rated number then drops to about 45% (or less) of the rated output.

Now would I use these ML50's in life or death situations? Probably so. But as a primary around the house application since I won't program them to do momentary but keep it factory hi/me/lo instead.

I really hope that Maglite sticks with the way they chose the focus on these ML50's for future lights (when practical) because regardless of where the bezel is rotated the beam aint bad at all. I do prefer their former switches as they allowed momentary and pretty much prevented accidental turn on. Now a quarter turn of the tailcap allows lockout but that makes for clumsyness in hurried situations... "let's see, did I twist the tailcap to lockout or not?" when pushing the on button in a hurry.

Another "wish" for these would be hurricane mode where output would be opposite of factory. Start on eco for reading by candle light, finding the john etc, low for checking on the next door neighbors roof and high being the last setting like high beams in your car. Why camping mode includes strobe is beyond me... that should be sos or some alternating "please help" deal and not strobe in hopes the grizzley will decide "oh they have a strober, lets pass up raiding that camp sites food supply"...:duh2:

If Maglite keeps coming up with stuff like these ML50's, ML25's and those super-duper D cell lights for consumer applications I can see them being around another 30+ years
 
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gurdygurds

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I have some Tenergy c cells arriving today and I'll make a trip to Home Depot to grab a ml50l hopefully this afternoon. Als found some eneloop aa to c adapters that I've never used so I'll give those a try too. Bykfixer you better stop posting about these Mags! I'm trying to lighten my flashlight load but when I get rid of one another keeps showing up!
I have an eneloop'd ML25 xxo. I have remind myself "yes it has batteries in it" because it's so lightweight.

I have not seen the 2 cell version anywhere in stores (locally anyway) so a bit of online shopping and I found a Home Depot not too far away that had 4 in stock. Mrs. Fixer was sitting in a recliner all relaxed after a typical taxing day at work. I said "wanna go out to dinner?" Before the word dinner was out of my mouth she had sprang up from that easy chair like a dog who heard the mailman's truck pull up to the house... "can we go to Home Depot too?" she asks...

They had two gray and two black versions. Mrs. Fixer chose the gray.
It's my first gray Maglite. At one point every Maglite I owned was that "pewter" color that ends up looking stainless after a while. (Not to be confused with their 'silver' that looks like shine'd up raw alluminum.)

IMG_20171022_092209.jpg

The shades of gray by Maglite.
I really like the gray. And I noticed at online places the word gray in color choices for the ML25, D size etc and not pewter... hmmmm.

Has Maglite replaced pewter with gray, I pondered... well never mind that... how about the beam? In side by side with the 3 cell version it was hard to tell but the 3 cell is a smidge brighter.... Maglite states 15hr runtime on high, which we all know means about 40 lumens (or 10% of the original output remains). Being that this so called 'eco' mode is about 20, yeah I can live with 40 lumens after 15 hours. That's enough to find my way home.

I've read here at CPF about Maglites thermal step downs after X number of minutes but feel comfy that their process involves stepping down to about 75% of max output in a gradual manner over a few minutes versus some "turbo" that lasts a rated number then drops to about 45% (or less) of the rated output.

Now would I use these ML50's in life or death situations? Probably so. But as a primary around the house application since I won't program them to do momentary but keep it factory hi/me/lo instead.

I really hope that Maglite sticks with the way they chose the focus on these ML50's for future lights (when practical) because regardless of where the bezel is rotated the beam aint bad at all. I do prefer their former switches as they allowed momentary and pretty much prevented accidental turn on. Now a quarter turn of the tailcap allows lockout but that makes for clumsyness in hurried situations... "let's see, did I twist the tailcap to lockout or not?" when pushing the on button in a hurry.

Another "wish" for these would be hurricane mode where output would be opposite of factory. Start on eco for reading by candle light, finding the john etc, low for checking on the next door neighbors roof and high being the last setting like high beams in your car. Why camping mode includes strobe is beyond me... that should be sos or some alternating "please help" deal and not strobe in hopes the grizzley will decide "oh they have a strober, lets pass up raiding that camp sites food supply"...:duh2:

If Maglite keeps coming up with stuff like these ML50's, ML25's and those super-duper D cell lights for consumer applications I can see them being around another 30+ years
 

xxo

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Good score on the 2 cell ML50's BykFixer! I didn't know home depot had the 2 cell variety, just checked and the closest store to me that has them is about 40 miles away, I hope that they will be coming soon to the closer HD's in my area.

Was pewter ever a official color? All of the pewter ones I have seen in stores are marked as being gray which seem to vary from dark charcoal gray to almost silver.

Most of the newer Mags step down after about 15 min or so on their highest mode, not enough to really notice in actual use. The ML25's are an exception - they don't seem to step down which probably explains their shorter run times. If I am running a light for that long I like a step down to save battery life my self, though I rarely keep on on for that long without switching on and off (I use momentary a lot).

Speaking of momentary, when set to one of the momentary function sets the light won't stay on if it is accidentally activated. I kind of like the soft touch switches now that I am getting older....easier on the hands and momentary is more fool proof because the light won't go to constant on if you press too hard - better for "tactical" uses. I do agree that they should add a low to high function set and a slow beacon mode replacing the strobe on the camping setup.

OldLumens Youtube tear down on the ML300 is a great vid, a lot of people like to ***** about Mag's heat sink (which was not good on the earlier gen C/D cell LEDs), but oldlumens shows that the third gen heatsink is quite good, the LED is mounted on a brass(?) disk that is press fitted to the aluminum body.

 
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bykfixer

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Good info for this thread! Thanks.

I did a check of the 2C vs 3C ML25 runtimes. The 2 cell ran rock steady at about 2 hours with dimming for another hour. The head was getting hot so I stopped at 3 hours figuring it had dimmed to about 25% or thereabouts. The 3 cell gradually dimmed. I turned it off after about 18 hours figuring it had about 25% output too.

I showed it in an ML25 thread somebody else started in the LED section right after they came out. Probably page 20+ by now as threads disappear quickly in that section, which is part why I picked the budget section to do this one.

I hear ya on the momentary and may do the LEO setting on my 2 cell ML50. Momentary/hi/eco. But I do like that 100 lumen setting they call low... hmmm.
As a casual user I'm not concerned with accidental activation. I just figured I'd throw the notion out there for any military or police out there wanting to use one on duty.
But strobe for camping? Man I'm still scratching my head on that one...
 

xxo

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The ML25's run pretty much flat out on eneloops until they die with only a short period of dimming, especially with the 2 cell version. With alkalines I would think they are still trying to run full throttle but the cells can't keep up so they start to dim and run for a long time like that (especially the 3 cell). Personally I would rather have the step down after 15 min. but a lot of people are obsessed with lights that don't step down (strange how some don't seem to mind if they call it a "turbo" mode or some such?)
 

bykfixer

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Pffft! Yer preachin' to the choir on the turbo nonsense.

Pewter was a color at one point but I do not know the history or when that color stopped. My (what I call pewter) ML25's were listed as black. lol. I considered leaving them nip, but since every one in that WalMart were listed that way I figured "eh, no big deal" and opened them.

IMG_20171023_212657.jpg

The mini mag is pewter from the 90's
 

xxo

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I have seen colored mags listed as black on the package also black and colors marked as assorted or something like that (can't remember exactly the term they used, I think I used to see these at walmart which used to have a lot of weird colors).
 

bykfixer

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A little time has passed and since acquiring these lights Jack Frost has sent his cousin Late October down from atop of the north hemisphere to remind us not to forget him.
Gloves are the norm this time of year thanks to the uncle Aurthor gene I was graced with. Tonights pick was a pair of Mechanix type gloves. A slip on kind with re-enforced finger tips.

Lightly colored jacket. Check. Gloves. Check. Melon cover. Check. Flashlights. Check.
Being I live in a subdivision I set out without my lights turned on thanks to free lumens of street lamps. But soon an overhanging tree darkened things. Turn on the.... rotate light... continue to rotate... where's the switch? It was not until I removed the glove that I could find the switch. Ok, that's weird. I've never found that finding a Maglite switch with gloves on was an issue. Yet both the 2 cell and 3 cell had the same feeling. Once I found it and positioned my hand to thumb the settings quickly and consistently all was well.

I dialed the beam to a nice wide spot. It rotates about 45 degrees from full spill to full spot. I keep it at about 22 degrees.

I liked the eco setting for a jaunt around the block. Plenty of light to see the neighbors gray cat at 50 feet was indeed a cat without some paranoid person thinking "oh crap, the cops".... both lights looked equally bright at the 25-50 feet on eco. The 2 cell seemed to be slightly brighter at 25 feet but no dif noticed at 50 feet.

Got near some woods and tried the low setting. Again both were equally bright, and again with the 2 cell appearing slightly brighter at 25-50 feet. The low setting showed a barking dog in the neighbors back yard about 100 feet away was a tan mixed breed short haired dog with dark spots.

I got to the woods where it was plenty dark and fired them up on high. At 50-75 feet the 3 cell is a lot brighter, but when shining it over a field of about 300 feet onto a fence the difference was negligable. What? Yup at a distance that 400+ lumen light threw photons just as well as the 600+ lumen one. I tried it at about 200 feet and same thing. I rotated the bezel to full spot and got the same results.
Amazing!!

I had a Malkoff'd 6 volt light that puts out about 75 lumens and the eco setting kept pace at all angles and distances. That was indeed a surprise. I finished the jaunt with the 3 cell on eco. 3 cell love and all.

When I arrived home I tried out some classic C sized Mags with the glove thing and found that even though the switch was easier to find it also took some searching at first. It seems like the old 'rubber bulb' was rounder and made finding it a bit easier, but not by much.

Basically when carrying the 2 cell version in the back pocket of my jeans bezel down I never considered it falling out. The extra length of the 3 cell stayed in my pocket but felt like I was carrying a 357 revolver barrel down.... a little awkward in other words. So I'd say if hands free may be required the a wrist lanyard or holster for the 3 cell would be handy while a 2 cell fits comfy in your jacket or trouser pocket.

A bit about the beam: While I was doing my thing a whacky neighbor who wears 16" rain golashes year round and walks a cat was out doing that with a really bright light. I saw it through the trees in spurts. What I noted was how blue it was, which reminded me I hadn't paid attention to the Mag beam. After that I took note that there was a slight yellow corona of both with a hint of green in the "pupil" of the 2 cell and a slight gray in the 3 cell. That was both lights aimed straight down on a light gray pavement.

At any distance a cool white beam edging at the far reaches of neutral was noted... 6200-6400? Not cold, not copy paper white. And to be honest colors looked a whole lot more natural to my eyes than the neutral Malkoff I mentioned earlier. I'm speculating that part is my eyes prefer the cooler end of LED tints, and that contrary to popular belief Maglite has gotten pretty good at LED's.

Both versions of the ML50L are winners in my view. It just kinda comes down to how big or small you prefer. Neither one really stands out from the other in terms of performance.
 
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xxo

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I have also found the switches on the C cell Mags a little hard to find under stress of with gloves, which is one of the reasons I went with the D cell models back in the day.

I also find that the newer LED Mags seem brighter than their lumen ratings would suggest, I think that cd/throw is just as important if not more so than lumens when it comes to perceived "brightness".
 

bykfixer

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When the info is available I use the candela number to determine deal or no deal on LED lights. Folks saw the 173 lumens and 2 hour runtime on the 2 cell ML25 and yawned. I saw my camo clad neighbor carry his compound bow from his shed to his house with it at 300 feet due to the 12900+ candela number.
To me lumens is just a guide like mpg on a car.

I have not picked up any of the newer D Mags lately. Because the 2015 2D I bought with a measely 275 lumens floated my boat just fine. It's relegated to a truck light, still in the package so the supplied batteries park in the blister pack too. But I'll probably grab another one at some point.
Due to the gloves thing and all.
 

gurdygurds

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Good stuff Bykfixer! I like the 2c version I picked along with tenergy nimh cells. Never had a C mag before. The output is plenty bright and throwy for me but I keep wondering how the 3c would feel in hand. Used to have 3D mags. Question, when the head on your copy is turned all the way to the left for flood is there a hole in the middle of the beam? I feel like the ml300l I tried had zero hole in the middle.
 

bykfixer

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By about 10:15-10:20 the hole is gone.

What good is a thread w/o beam shotz? :thinking:
Shame on me for taking so long...

Folks dismiss Maglite, but I'll keep on buying them before I buy many of those Johnny come lately's.
 
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