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Thread: Fenix TA21 Quick & Dirty Review

  1. #1

    Default Fenix TA21 Quick & Dirty Review

    Full Review Links

    Part 1 w Pics

    Part 2 w Pics
    Part 3 w Pics

    Daily Usage - Comments (1)
    Daily Usage - Comments (2)


    Torture Tests - Comments (1)



    Hi all

    I've just reached home after a tiring day of work to discover Fenix has sent me a copy of their TA21 to test - I'll try my best to do it ASAP but apologies if I'm slow - overload at work these few days (and it's 12.01am now!).

    This review will have a slight military bias to it when it comes to application. I assume it will apply to LEOs too, especially the SWAT/HRT teams.

    Please note that this set is one of their first few production models, and might be meant for internal circulation only. While it is not a pre-production model, I am not sure if there are major differences between this and the "real deal". I'll have to do some clarification with Fenix.

    First Part - Packaging


    Image arrived from China via DHL.


    If you're curious as to where they shipped it from, here goes


    I had to smile at the invoice - $5 USD for the TA21!


    Package is opened up - I doubt any of you will see this when you purchase your TA21.


    The real deal. Note that the features advertised by Fenix on the front of the box (etc "Highly Impact Resistant Structure") are slightly raised. This is the first time I have seen this on a Fenix box.


    The contents of the entire box - note that there is no holster. Lanyard, 2 spare O rings, boot cap included, manual and warranty registration form is provided (manual is hidden inside the warranty registration form). Lanyard seems a tad uselss


    Ok folks - I'm too tired to continue. I'll try to do some quick beamshots tomorrow (sorry, duty calls me back to the airbase for the most part of the day+evening, I'm real tied up at the moment).

    Chan
    Last edited by chanjyj; 06-25-2009 at 05:49 PM. Reason: Correction by Bushman5 regarding O rings

  2. #2

    Default Re: Fenix TA21 Quick & Dirty Review

    ^ look inside the little tiny baggie with the lanyard, the O rings are tucked away in the middle.


  3. #3

    Default Re: Fenix TA21 Quick & Dirty Review

    Forgot to mention this in the above post:

    I'll be carrying the flashlight with me to work and using it on a daily basis, so the review will be more centered on practical usage. Beamshots I'd probably do, but heatsink and lightsphere tests are beyond me at this time.

    Will add notes to this thread whenever I notice something.

    • Clip is strong. Very strong. Removable too!
    • A LEO reviewer has said that the TA30's "teeth" had the tendency to shred his pocket. I do not have a TA30 with me right now, but from what I see, the TA21's "teeth" are exactly the same as the TA30. However, aren't giving my combat fatigues any problems. I'm not sure about civvie wear though. Will have to give it a try one of these days.
    • TA21 is about 1 inch longer than the TK10 I currently use. If you are holding it "hammer style" or backhand, it works fine. However, I feel that the balance is slightly "off" when you are using the cigar style.
    • Reflector is light orange peel. However, cree rings ARE present. Throw is greater than a TK10, equal to a TK11, slightly less than a TK11 R2.
    • Clickie is virtually silent compared to a TK10 when on momentary-on. However, when you turn it fully on, it makes a louder sound than the TK10. I prefer the TA21 in this aspect, since I will be using momentary-on most of the time.
    • Selector switch is noisy when turning. BAD, for a tactical light IMO. I would like to have it completely silent.
    Last edited by chanjyj; 06-23-2009 at 09:38 AM.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Fenix TA21 Quick & Dirty Review

    Quote Originally Posted by Bushman5 View Post
    ^ look inside the little tiny baggie with the lanyard, the O rings are tucked away in the middle.

    Oh thanks. I'm going to update the thread. I guess I'm too tired after staring at airplanes the whole day.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Fenix TA21 Quick & Dirty Review

    Took the light in for a bath with me just now, I always like to give lights a "bath" before they are used for anything else.

    • Good news - it worked completely fine. No water penetration at all even after repeated turning.
    • Bad news - UI gets VERY slippery when wet, and is almost impossible to operate with bare hands. Unlike the TK10's head which is large enough to turn while wet, and the E01's head which has some knurling on it, the revolving ring is neither wide enough, nor has any knurling to generate friction needed to turn it when slippery.
    • While the TA21 itself is HA III anodized, the clip is not. It appears to be stainless steel. If you operate in a marine environment you'd want to take care there.
    • The entire head of the TA21 is undetachable from the body. Only the tailcap is removable.
    • The light can tailstand, but is not exactly the most stable of lights.
    • Fenix has provided a REAL low for a T series light. I would say around 15 lumens. Useful, and doesn't spoil night vision.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Fenix TA21 Quick & Dirty Review

    Ok. Some pictures of how the TA21 will fit into your daily use, and whether you will use it as an EDC. Pics of clip, and size review. Did not have time to do beamshots today.


    The Clip
    I find it is a great one - excellent tension, and can be removed if you like. No fiddling with screws either.



    It is rather impossible to pry off. The only way to remove the clip is to literally take out the tail end of the light, and slide the clip off. I repeat again - the clip is STRONG.



    Size Comparison Between TK10 and TA21
    I used to use the TK10 as my daily "go to" light. Am looking if the TA21 can replace it. But first off, we do need to see if it is too large in the first place no?


    RCR123 for reference. TA21 is about 1.5 inch longer than the TK10. Note it can tailstand. Still useable for the military guy. I cannot comment for the LEO and civilian here. But for me personally, if I go out wearing civvies I will use my TK10 instead. The TA21 is a tad too long.


    Looking at the size of the head from the above pic, I thought the TA21's head was smaller than the TK10. Apparently not. See the pics below. The TA21 also uses a light orange peel reflector that does exhibit the "donut rings" unlike the TK10. But it doesn't bother me. At least, not for military applications.



    Real-World Use
    Finally - A shot of the TA21 on my belt.


    Yeah. It fits.
    Last edited by chanjyj; 06-24-2009 at 07:47 AM.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Fenix TA21 Quick & Dirty Review

    pretty neat! but the head not coming off seems like a small problem for me, i donno how i would beable to clean the contacts in the head...

    and is the cigar ring removeable?

  8. #8

    Default Re: Fenix TA21 Quick & Dirty Review

    Quote Originally Posted by ninjaboigt View Post
    pretty neat! but the head not coming off seems like a small problem for me, i donno how i would beable to clean the contacts in the head...

    and is the cigar ring removeable?
    Cigar ring is removable. However, IMO it is best to leave it there as it helps to secure the clip even tighter (although I do believe the clip will not slip without the cigar ring).

    Regarding the head issue - there's a spring in the head - and in the tail. So.. hmm. How bout some cottonwool dipped in alcohol? If it were me I'd use a rifle cleaning kit but again, that's me....

  9. #9

    Default Re: Fenix TA21 Quick & Dirty Review

    Quote Originally Posted by chanjyj View Post
    • Clickie is virtually silent compared to a TK10 when on momentary-on. However, when you turn it fully on, it makes a louder sound than the TK10. I prefer the TA21 in this aspect, since I will be using momentary-on most of the time.
    • Selector switch is noisy when turning. BAD, for a tactical light IMO. I would like to have it completely silent.
    Sounds like TA20 will be better for tactical? I suspect the full click will be the same noise on that, but the dial for different brightness will be silent?

    I'll look forward to reading more of your comments on the TA21 and any forum members that buy it too.

    John

  10. #10

    Default Re: Fenix TA21 Quick & Dirty Review

    Quote Originally Posted by john10001 View Post
    Sounds like TA20 will be better for tactical? I suspect the full click will be the same noise on that, but the dial for different brightness will be silent?

    I'll look forward to reading more of your comments on the TA21 and any forum members that buy it too.

    John
    John, I didn't ask Fenix to pass me a TA20 so I have no idea. But from what I know, the TA30 makes as much noise as the TA21 regarding the brightness dial. I won't expect the TA20 to be much different.

    I'll update this thread / review with more pics when I'm free. I know some people are looking forward to the beamshots, but at the moment I am really tied up due to the damned H1N1 flu crisis. My office has a manpower shortage and.. hmm. Go figure - it's the military after all and jets still need to fly.

    I'll try my best to get it done ASAP.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Fenix TA21 Quick & Dirty Review

    ahhh tthats pretty cool...the Ta21 is better than i thought it would be =]

    Thanks!

  12. #12
    Flashaholic* 276's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fenix TA21 Quick & Dirty Review

    The TA30 also takes two hands to rotate. I hope this one is one hand.
    Surefire,Inova,4Sevens,Fenix,Olight,Malkoff, AEX25,Xeray50,Polarion Aybss Dual, AElight 30-50 watt,Wiseled tactical 2000,Peak, Lupine Wilma TL, .......

  13. #13

    Default Re: Fenix TA21 Quick & Dirty Review

    I thought the TA-20 has a free rotating dial so it wouldn't have different stop point and not likely to make any noise? I thought it was just a free rotating dial? Like a mag? I believe TA-30 has same type of dial as TA-21 so they're both gonna make noise?

  14. #14

    Default Re: Fenix TA21 Quick & Dirty Review

    I wish tactical bezel were removable. I don't plan on stabbing anybody with my flashlight.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Fenix TA21 Quick & Dirty Review

    Quote Originally Posted by john10001 View Post
    I thought the TA-20 has a free rotating dial so it wouldn't have different stop point and not likely to make any noise? I thought it was just a free rotating dial? Like a mag? I believe TA-30 has same type of dial as TA-21 so they're both gonna make noise?
    No TA series has free rotating dials. Heck. No Fenix has that.
    I think only 2 models have it in the market - can't remember their names.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Fenix TA21 Quick & Dirty Review

    Thank you for posting this, and please do the beamshots, ideally one of each? Well maybe not the strobe etc but certainly the brightness levels.

    Could you also let us know if it runs hot when its on and what the battery life is like - sorry to bother you, I know you are busy but I think this might be my next light, no point waiting for the mystical surefire.

    Oh and wahat does it weigh, also are you using two cr123's or an 18650?

    Oh and rechargables or not?
    better go now...
    Last edited by iTorch; 06-24-2009 at 07:32 PM. Reason: wrong number battery
    NovaTac 120P +Petzl NAO

  17. #17

    Default Re: Fenix TA21 Quick & Dirty Review

    I managed to grab sometime off today to do the beamshots all of you were waiting for.

    I would have liked to do the beamshots in a totally dark place.
    Unfortunately I didn't have enough time to wait for full darkness before I could take the shots, and also I live in an urban area (with tremendous light pollution!) and didn't have the time to run off to some deserted area so just bear with the shots.


    Beamshots
    Torch is aimed at the number "120" on the opposite block. Note that it will appear that the TA21 is a thrower. Not true, it has enough spill to keep one happy, just that the ambient light overpowers the spill here.

    Also keep in mind that the tint of the TA21 is warmer than in the pictures - I didn't have time to colour correct it.

    Photos are in order of Fenix's given lumen ratings, the shots below are in the following order:
    1. Control Shot
    2. 225 lumens
    3. 195 lumens
    4. 160 lumens
    5. 120 lumens
    6. 80 lumens
    7. 50 lumens
    8. 35 lumens
    9. 18 lumens
    10. 4 lumens











    I personally feel that some of Fenix's lower lumen ratings (4 lumens, 18 lumens) are slightly under-rated. Their 4 lumens appears more like 15 lumens to me, and their 18 lumens like 30 lumens.

    But I will reiterate again, my TA21 is one of the very first off their production line, and is meant for testers only. It might have some quirks that the TA21 being sold in the market might not display.
    Last edited by chanjyj; 06-25-2009 at 05:33 AM.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Fenix TA21 Quick & Dirty Review

    Quote Originally Posted by iTorch View Post
    Thank you for posting this, and please do the beamshots, ideally one of each? Well maybe not the strobe etc but certainly the brightness levels.

    Could you also let us know if it runs hot when its on and what the battery life is like - sorry to bother you, I know you are busy but I think this might be my next light, no point waiting for the mystical surefire.

    Oh and wahat does it weigh, also are you using two cr123's or an 18650?

    Oh and rechargables or not?
    better go now...
    iTorch

    Beamshots posted

    Doesn't run hot. Heatsink is good. Did not do a scientific measurement of battery life (no time, and I doubt I will have time the next few months) but the battery life on a single 18650 lasted me a whole day at work. Since I only use turbo mode, I can safely say the TA21 has lasted for 1.5h on a 18650 battery - and is surviving. Conclusion: Longer than 1.5h on turbo mode, 18650 battery

    Weight - Official Fenix source gives it at 168g, I have no reason to doubt them. From a military point of view, this light weighs nothing, and I wont hesitate to carry it around based on a size/weight viewpoint. From a civvie point of view I MIGHT use my TK10 instead of the TA21.

    Which batteries I'm using - 18650 2700mAh, and since I carry a TK10 around as backup, I have 2 spare RCR123As as backup batteries.

    Rechargeable or not? Definitely a rechargeable 18650 cell as it gives you superior runtime to RCR123As. If you were to go the non-rechargable route and use the light often, you'd be eating through a ton of batteries a month.

    Chan

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Fenix TA21 Quick & Dirty Review

    Thankyou, you are doing a stirling job.
    Very helpful.
    NovaTac 120P +Petzl NAO

  20. #20

    Default Re: Fenix TA21 Quick & Dirty Review

    Quote Originally Posted by 276 View Post
    The TA30 also takes two hands to rotate. I hope this one is one hand.
    If you are holding it hammer style, yes, it is short enough to rotate with one hand.

    If you are holding it SEAL style (backhand/overhand?), no. It is impossible. And the UI does require some force to turn so even if your finger is long enough I doubt your pinkie and handle the job... unless you're Bruce Lee

  21. #21

    Default Re: Fenix TA21 Quick & Dirty Review

    TA21 currently undergoing torture tests now

    Let's see if it can survive like my TK10 (50+ drops from 1.5m onto hard concrete, 20+ drops from 1m onto tile etc). Btw, my TK10 is still ticking. Sadly, the batteries within did not fare as well.


    Update
    0.7m drop onto metal plates, and bounced off the metal plates onto tile.
    - Slight dent on cigar ring, everything else a ok. UI untouched.
    Sprayed with industrial jet, at the UI (rotating dial)
    - Perfectly ok (I'm surprised, actually)

  22. #22

    Default Re: Fenix TA21 Quick & Dirty Review

    Do you know what size holder works with the TA21? I need a nylon one for my Duty Belt.


    I know a Bianchi Size 3 (prob all size 3s) works with the TA30.

  23. #23

    Default Re: Fenix TA21 Quick & Dirty Review

    Quote Originally Posted by Import Junky View Post
    Do you know what size holder works with the TA21? I need a nylon one for my Duty Belt.


    I know a Bianchi Size 3 (prob all size 3s) works with the TA30.

    Nope, sorry bout this - I don't use one. I just clip the light straight on.

  24. #24

    Default Re: Fenix TA21 Quick & Dirty Review

    Quote Originally Posted by chanjyj View Post
    Nope, sorry bout this - I don't use one. I just clip the light straight on.


    I keep bumping it off the belt. or it takes a nice chuck out of the steering wheel

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Fenix TA21 Quick & Dirty Review

    Hi chanjyj,

    I've run a simple test on the Fenix TA21. I chargerd the 18650 battery and put it directly in the TA21 en started measuring the output. Since I haven't got a good lumenmeter I used a temperature meter. These are some of the results I got. They are in dutch but I wil translate some of it.
    omgevingstemp: temperature of the surrounding area
    temp voor de lens: temperature for the head (lens)
    temp head: this is the external temperature of the head

    TA21 - start @ 1010h - mode IX - 0h
    TA21 - meting @ 1117h - mode IX - 1h7m - omgevingstemp: 21.1 graden C
    TA21 - meting @ 1120h - mode IX - 1h10m - temp voor de lens: 45.5 graden C
    TA21 - meting @ 1123h - mode IX - 1h13m - temp head : 31.4 graden C
    TA21 - meting @ 1131h - mode IX - 1h21m - temp voor de lens: 46.2 graden C
    TA21 - meting @ 1140h - mode IX - 1h30m - temp voor de lens: 46.8 graden C
    TA21 - meting @ 1145h - mode IX - 1h45m - temp voor de lens: 46.9 graden C
    TA21 - meting @ 1210h - mode IX - 2h00m - temp voor de lens: 44.3 graden C
    TA21 - meting @ 1243h - mode IX - 2h30m - temp voor de lens: 40.0 graden C
    TA21 - meting @ 1310h - mode IX - 3h00m - temp voor de lens: 31.5 graden C

    Op 1310h gestopt en lichtstanden vergleken: lichtstand IX (225lumen) was op t oog net zo veel als lichtstand V (80lumen)

    I quit the measurent @ 1310h en compared the lightemissions.
    Output IX (225lumens) now looked as bright as Output V (80lumens)

    how do I ad/upload pictures straight from my pc?
    Last edited by zaanea; 09-28-2009 at 04:26 AM.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Fenix TA21 Quick & Dirty Review

    Is it ok to use RCR 123A 3 volt battery with the TA21?

  27. #27

    Default Re: Fenix TA21 Quick & Dirty Review

    Yes, you can use them. But the runtime will be much better with single 18650 cell.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Fenix TA21 Quick & Dirty Review

    Quote Originally Posted by jirik_cz View Post
    Yes, you can use them. But the runtime will be much better with single 18650 cell.
    Wont the lumens be less with the 18650? So it's a trade-off having longer run time with less lumens?

  29. #29

    Default Re: Fenix TA21 Quick & Dirty Review

    No, the brightness will stay the same. It is flat regulated with 18650 batteries.


  30. #30
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    Default Re: Fenix TA21 Quick & Dirty Review

    Quote Originally Posted by jirik_cz View Post
    No, the brightness will stay the same. It is flat regulated with 18650 batteries.


    Wow! Thank you very much for that info!

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