The Lumintop FW3A is a EDC style, small form factor triple LED flashlight that enthusiasts on the BLF forums designed and programmed during the past 2+ years. It takes design inspiration in several places from high end custom lights, and brings it down to an economical price. BLF was able to get Lumintop to agree to manufacture it and the rest is history. There have been a lot of reviews on the light so far, but here is mine. I purchased my original FW3A here in gray, but am thankful for Banggood for sending me the FW3C copper version of this light so that I can show it off and review it for my viewers.
Youtube Version of this Review:
Packaging is nice at this price point. Lumintop designed a brown cardboard box with a line drawing of the light with a few specs on the outside. It has a slip cover and inside the lid folds out to reveal the light protected by cut foam with the paperwork on top. One of the important things that comes with this light is a little reminder to no open it from the tail side, and only open from the head side. This is because the tail assembly is where many of the difficult clearances are set and small parts are. More recent versions have added a retaining ring in the light which helps keep things together, but the best place to install a battery is by taking off only the head. Accessories are limited, with a couple of o’rings and the manual.
The switch in the light is a metal electronic switch in the tail and has very little travel but a positive click. This combined with the inner tube construction allows for the eswitch to work and give all the different functionality of the UI. That said it’s very important that the tail of this light is screwed down tight and not removed for reliable function. In my copper light there is now a retaining ring added which helps with this situation.
The body of the light is tapered, and this just makes it more ergonomic, it fits well in the hand and works better when clipped to pants or a bag. Threads are beefy, square cut and raw base material.
The head is two pieces, first on the outside you have the diamond knurled piece where the pill of the light and driver is and then you have the very top part where the Carclo 10511 semi clear optics sit. If you have a turbo glow gasket like I do in my copper FW3C here, it’s as simple to install as inserting it between the LED board and optic.
One final note on the construction of this light. The FW3 series of lights was designed with modders in mind. As a result, no glue was used in the construction of the light and that combined with a light at this price point made the light a little finicky. A good amount of people needed to troubleshoot their lights upon first getting them and as a result there is an extensive help thread over on the BudgetLightForums.
Personally I have been pretty lucky, my original gray aluminum light here was perfect out of the box and worked well, I did have a loose retaining ring in the head that I tightened down just to keep it working well into the future.
My Copper light here was a different story, it ended up having a slight problem with the location of the oring on the inner tube which made it not work reliably. After about 15 minutes of troubleshooting using the thread I will have a link to below I got it working again. It did have a design revision in the tail with the addition of a retaining ring to keep it from falling apart on removal. Most problems I have seen are usually fixable but there have also been some bad LED’s reported too.
Size | Weight | Carry
I measured overall length at 93mm, maximum diameter was 25.4mm and minimum diameter on the body at 21.5mm. Weight with the battery (VTC6) of the aluminum bodied light at 98.1g, and the copper FW3C with the same battery is 170.6g.
While watching this light develop over the 2+ years I was part of the vocal minority asking for a deep carry clip option. So far one hasn’t been made, but after carrying each light for a while I am not sure it really needs one. The clip is pressure fit between the tail and body of the light with an oring on either side. You can attach a lanyard on either the tip or top of it. It’s no secret that I don’t often EDC a 18650 light but with the FW3A it’s been a very pleasant light to carry in a front pocket. For me the shortness and small diameter combined with the taper on the body really make it a pleasant carry. While the copper adds weight I don’t notice that it’s too heavy and I like the way it looks.
LED | Beam Shots | Heat
The FW3A series of lights is available with a number of emitters. Banggood currently has 4 of them. 2 XPL-HI options at 5000k and 6500k, producing about 2800 lumens, and then a Nichia 219C at 4000k producing about 1600 lumens and a SST20 at 4000k a little under the XPL-HIs. The later two are 90+ CRI models. The Nichia is the least powerful of the bunch while the XPL-HI are the most output. Nielsgadgets also offers a XP-L Hi in warm white at 3300k. What I have here is a Warm White XPL-Hi in my Gray FW3A, and a SST20 in my Copper FW3C. Thanks to that Carclo 10507 optic, the beam patterns for a triple is quite good, large hot center and fairly even spill. Throw is easily past 200 meters. Heat is considerable on this light especially on the higher outputs.
SST-20 Emitters at 4000k
XPL-HI at 3300K
Runtimes and outputs on this light are basically what you should expect out of high performance hot rod like this with a limited amount of thermal mass. So in the normal UI you have high mode, and then a very limited “turbo”. Here is a graph that shows what 1 minute on Turbo looks like and we can see after 20 seconds it steps down ? of relative output, Normal high mode starts to ramp down fairly quickly and stabilizes at about 9 minutes, but at a considerably less output. Long term the light sits about 40% relative output for well past 200 minutes. Overall runtime on this light is 100% thermally driven due to it’s mass and only having air to cool it.
The light does have low voltage protection onboard, so running unprotected batteries is fine and recommended for best performance here, but in my testing I couldn’t get find where exactly this kicks in at becaused the light runs quite low but never shut off in over 300 minutes.
This light is using Toykeeper’s Anduril UI. It’s currently one of my favorites available as it has a ton of options and neat little Easter eggs that commercial UI’s don’t include. By default the light comes in ramping UI which is where I left it. The ramping is fast and logical. A stepped mode is a variable that you can configure as well if you prefer.
The light has thermal controls, you can configure beacon mode, as well as 5 types of strobe including candle mode, party strobe, and lightning storm. You access these with 2 taps and a hold, and then two taps to change modes inside this group. Candle and lighting mode are my personal favorite. How practical these are could be a point where one could argue, but I like that they are present and it just makes things fun. Due to how you access these strobe modes I would not call the light a tactical UI or tactical light as you have to remember a series of presses and pauses to get there.
For instance 4 clicks gives you lockout, and another 4 clicks unlocks the light, or you could just unscrew the head a tiny bit. If you activate momentary, the only way to clear it is to unscrew the head to do a full reset. 6 clicks from off gives you muggle mode which limits the lights output and output for a less complicated interface.
Personally I find the UI to be easy to use for what you want to do most often, but a little more complex to get to those modes you don’t use very often. This is a UI where you should take a look at the manual or at least the graphical manual for the UI and spend some time playing with your light to get the most out of it.
Not all the FW3’s are coming with the latest version of firmware on them. It’s relatively easy to flash your own firmware if you want with only needing a computer, and inexpensive programmer. If this is something you would be interested in having me demonstrate on video, let me know in the comments below and I will add it to my list of future videos.
Lots of mods are available around this light. First and easiest are probably the Turboglow gaskets in a wide variety of colors, I have a lava colored one here in my Copper light and I quite like it, I think I will probably get a green or blue one for my aluminium version here soon. You can also get turbo glow to replace the tail switch, and a piece of sapphire glass for the lens, and tritium drilled optics. Since the light doesn’t have any glue an LED swap to something else is also pretty easy. Firmware is also flashable too, if you would like to see a video on how to flash firmware on the FW3A lights to make sure you have the latest version of Andril let me know in the comments below.
- Nice value for what your getting with a wide variety of materials and colors to choose from.
- While this started as just 1 line it’s spawned an entire family, with different LED choices, Material Choices, and soon a single emitter version, and a version that takes a 21700 battery for extended runtime.
- Highly customizable, lots of emitter and material choices too.
- It’s a little bit of a fiddly light, for the BLF editions the decision was made to not glue anything for easier modding, the result is sometimes you have to just play with things a bit to get it to work reliably. I had this problem on my copper one, but not my original.
- While I appreciate the small as possible size, that also means not a lot of thermal mass for heat dissipation and that means this light gets hot, from head to tail, pretty quickly on higher modes.
For me this is the enthusiasts light of 2019. It wasn’t a surprise since most of the development has happened on the forums in the open, but I don’t think anyone anticipated how popular this light would be and how it would spawn so many different versions. It’s really amazing that so many volunteers give their countless hours away to produce a flashlight for the community. Their hard work really shows through on this one. I have a couple different BLF designed lights and I don’t regret any of them. If you are a flashlight enthusiasts, collector, or EDC community member and you don’t have an FW3 series of light at this point, I would strongly encourage you to pick one up today, you won’t regret it.
Personally I don’t EDC a ton of 18650 light in my daily activities due to their typical larger size. That said the FW3 series of lights has been the exception. That tapered body makes a big difference in carry and so does the short overall length. While I would prefer a little deeper clip the included clip is pretty good. Modding capacity of this light is also very high, with people doing tons of things, and the aftermarket producing parts to add glow buttons, glow gaskets, drilled tritium optics, and more.
Below in the description I will have links to the different versions (Many colors of aluminium, Titanium, copper, etc) of the FW3 series of lights that Banggood is carrying currently as well as the TurboGlow gasket I have in my copper light here.
If you are a flashlight enthusiasts, collector, or EDC community member and you don’t have an FW3 light at this point, I would strongly encourage you to pick one up today, it might not be your one and only EDC light but it will be one to have a ton of fun with at an affordable price and will impress you for its abilities for the money and size. I recommend it!
Full Image Gallery on the FW3A: https://imgur.com/a/97Do9Mt
Pickup the Copper Lumintop FW3A From Banggood for $54.90 with Coupon Code BGLFCF2 at https://ban.ggood.vip/Ia5w
The Turboglow Gasket I am using can be found at https://ban.ggood.vip/Ia5u
Original Grey Edition: https://www.banggood.com/custlink/KKm36YwdNE
Blue Edition: https://www.banggood.com/custlink/3mvm6R7ysc
Olive Edition: https://www.banggood.com/custlink/3GK3BEThb5
Purple Edition: https://www.banggood.com/custlink/DDD3Bd1EQ8
Titanium Edition: https://www.banggood.com/custlink/Gm3K0EfYQ4
TurboGlow Button: https://www.banggood.com/custlink/DvDD6huEsA
Useful Information on the FW3A lights and Troubleshooting: