ArmyTek Prime C1 Pro Magnetic USB Review

I have enjoyed the previous ArmyTek lights I have and they are frequently mentioned here both positively and negatively. The Prime C1 Pro Magnet USB and C2 Pro Magnet USB are new models introduced in October of 2017. They recently became more widely available. Thanks to Armytek for sending this light to me to take a look at.

Full Image Gallery: Lots of images in this one, check it out.
Video Version of this Review:

The Armytek Prime C1 Pro with Magnetic USB is what I expected from ArmyTek, a well built well made light. 

It’s made of reasonably thick aluminum that’s coated in an almost chalky black finish Some love it, others hate it. I dislike it seems to scratch easily but these scratches mostly wipe off. Expect somewhere at the clip attachment point. The lens is deeply recessed inside the body of the light and protected with a polished stainless steel front bezel. The body is round with some flat places milled into the head for the button on one side and opposite, it creates a nice finger choil of sorts. It’s more ergonomic in the hand.

This light comes into 3 distinct  pieces plus the clip. It shares it’s design with the ArmyTek Prime C2 which uses a larger middle tube in order to fit an 18650 instead of the 18350 in the C1. What this creates is a very short body tube on the C1 and you have to hold in the right place if you want to unscrew it. The threads are long and standard. The tail cap side includes double o’rings which helps to increase water resistance even when it’s in the charging position. More on charging later. I measured length at 90.5mm, Diameter at 24.5mm and weight with battery and clip at 87.8 grams. The tail magnet is strong, it has no trouble holding the light horizontally or upside down vertically securely.

I didn’t do destructive testing on this light because I intend to use it frequently as an EDC. I did take advantage of a few situations though to do some extreme temperature testing though. My area had record low temperatures over the New Years holiday so I left the light outside (Without the battery) as temps approached -10F real temperatures overnight and into the next day . I left it outside at below 0F over 24 hours. I then brought it inside to thaw out for a few hours and test all functions. I then plunged it into a Sous Vide bath (Without battery) to cook at 131F for a few hours while I was finishing a 48 hour chuck roast (Which was fantastic After drying out the light and inserting the battery all was well.

LED + Lens and beam pattern.
This light uses a Cree XP-L in coolish white LED with a deeper TIR Reflector

A warm white version is available. The TIR here is a little different then you see in other lights. It’s set back deeper and further away from the LED. When looking down in you can see the LED easily still. This creates a hot center and some banding on the spill  It’s not the smoothest transition but still works well for EDC like applications

Runtime starting on Turbo was pretty good

The light was able to maintain 90% of it’s output for 50 minutes and then stepped down dramatically the last 10 minutes. 1 hour of usable light is pretty good on the included 18350 900mah battery. Most likely you would not be using this in the highest mode during normal activities. Parasitic Drain was measured at 7.45mAh

UI and Heat Control
If you don’t use an Armytek light everyday you might find the UI to be a little confusing. However once you study the manual and remember a few of the shortcuts it becomes pretty easy. The interface is the same as the V3 Wizards. The entire 3rd page of the manual covers how this light operates. I am not going to go over everything in this review but will go over the high points. This light is organized into 4 mode groups. The brightness in each sub group is memorized
* Group 1 – 3 Firefly Modes Brightness ranges from 0.4 to 6 lumens
* Group 2 – 3 Main Modes Brightness ranges from 34 to 230 lumens
* Group 3 – 2 Turbo Modes Brightness ranges from 470 to 970 lumens
* Group 4 – 3 Special Modes Brightness ranges from 90 to 970 lumens

From off
One click turns the light onto its previously memorized mode and brightness.
Two clicks turns it onto the previously memorized brightness in main mode.
Three clicks turns it onto the previously memorized brightness in Turbo mode.
Four clicks turns it onto the previously memorized brightness in special modes.
Long pressing the button from off cycles through the available modes Firefly through Turbo 1.

From On One click turns the light off
Two clicks turns from firefly to main or main to firefly or special/turbo modes to main mode.
Three clicks goes to turbo mode
Four clicks goes to special modes

2 Philosophies of use – General and Tactical. General is a normal flashlight, click the button and the light stays on. In Tactical it turns the button into momentary, so the light is only on when the button is pressed. To switch between them you unscrew the tail cap by ¼ turn and then press and hold the button, while screwing in the tail cap.

Battery Level Indicator – Uses the LED under the button to flash a series of colors every 5 seconds. Green is between 75-100%, Yellow is below 75%, Double yellow, is below 25%, and double red every second is below 10%. The light doesn’t do this in Firefly mode and you can turn this feature off by a series of button presses and cap rotations.

High Temperature indicators – When the light reaches 60C brightness decreases in small steps to cool down.Once cool it will step back up to deliver the most light possible. Timed step down is not used in this light. As temps increase you get a series of LED color indicators on the button. Warning is 3 orange flashes, at critical temps you get 3 flashes in one second.

The light also has what ArmyTek calls Digital Light Stabilization and Safe Soft Start System. This is part of the protections built into the light to increase runtime and decrease brightness as the light becomes too warm or voltage drops. It does this gradually and it’s hardly noticeable to the eye most of the time.

Charging system/battery
Having onboard charging of lithium flashlights isn’t anything new. Lot’s of manufactures do this in a variety of ways. You have seen me talk about Olight’s magnetic charging in past reviews. More recently the concern about live contacts and the dangers of potentially shorting the battery have become more vocal. The ArmyTek system was designed from the beginning to alleviate these concerns and it’s one of the best systems out there for this. Let me explain how it works.

The Charging cable itself is white, and uses USB on the input end. On the other end is a magnetic connection with several LED’s inside. The tail cap has a large recessed center pin and a smaller outside ring. To charge the light you need to slightly unscrew the tailcap. Due to how it’s anodized when it’s tight it breaks the circuit. Unscrew it a little and the circuit is complete and the charging begins. The LED’s are solid red while charging, Red and blinking if there is a problem (Forget to unscrew the tailcap slightly?) and solid green when charged. They also use a diode in the tail cap to prevent short circuiting via the exposed tail caps should you forget to screw in the cap after charging. The other big benefit is that you can charge any normal battery that fits. No proprietary batteries! The downsides to this system is that it’s a little slow to charge by modern standards. I measured it at 0.7A when the battery was at about 20% capacity and charging. If the battery is discharged a good amount this means charging via the built in charging may take a couple hours to charge. You must lay this light down or stand it on its head when charging.

As an EDC
This makes a good EDC option. For me in an EDC, Length and diameter are important as well as the clip. The length here is just right with the included 18350 cell. Diameter is just on the line of too big, I like to carry it in a front pants pocket and it works here fine with normal jeans. I don’t think it would be a great option for dress slacks. The clip is almost really good. It’s deep carry which I like but it has a shelf without a ramp I find my pocket getting stuck on this ledge and it requiring two hands sometimes to move it to the bottom.

This was packaged in a Retail box, similar to other ArmyTek lights I have seen. It’s in a cardboard box with hanger, inside a plastic shell with outlines for all the accessories. Accessories include the Armytek branded battery, Clip, nylon holster, extra orings, and magnetic charger. manual is nicely written and printed in color.

* Nice size in the pocket and hand.
* Deeply recessed lens.
* Safe magnetic charging although not fast.
* No Proprietary batteries needed for the recharging system.
* Well controlled thermal management

* Clip needs a slight redesign to remove the inner ledge.
* ArmyTek UI has a lot of modes and can be a little confusing, but at the same time it’s not bad if you use it often or have other ArmyTek lights.

This is designed as an EDC light and it works well for that task. 18350 batteries are more energy dense then 16340’s with not much of a size penalty. That said the head on this is a little longer than it needs to be. I assume the electronics and button are the largest portion. While this has pretty good light output and longevity I would want an 18650 if I went hiking or camping for more output and runtime. If you have any other ArmyTek lights you will feel at home witth the Prime C1 Pro. I would love to see a high CRI more neutral tint option from ArmyTek in the future. I think an EDC and Headlamp would make great places to introduce such options.

Take a look at this on ArmyTek’s Website.

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