Today I have a review of the Wowtac A4 V2 flashlight that’s utilizing a Cree XHP35 HI LED an included 26650 battery to produce a handheld thrower flashlight with nearly 1900 lumens. Thanks to Wowtac for sending this to me to review.
WowTac is having a sale for Father’s day on all of their products. 20% off all lights via the WowTac Amazon store, and 30% off the A4 V2 with my discount code in the description only on June 15 through the 20th. So make sure you check that out to get a gift for a dad in your life or to treat yourself.
Packaging is a brown rigid box with a deep lid that fits all the way to the base. Similar to other Wowtac and Thrunite lights. The outside is minimal with just the light name and line drawing and then emitter option on the side. Inside the light is protected with foam. Accessories include the 5000mAh Thrunite branded button top 26650 battery, basic lanyard, spare orings, and spare button cover.
The light is made from aluminum and anodized black. I have no complaints with the machining. The tail is non magnetic, flat and allows for tail standing. The light comes into 3 pieces, the tail, body tube and head. The tail and body tube has square knurled that are reasonably shallow, they do a good job at adding grip without being too aggressive.
The tail cap has 2 large beefy springs inside, not what you typically see but it does a fantastic job of making the battery not bounce or rattle. The body tube is non reversible (anodized on the head end, raw on the tail end). The head itself is fairly standard, the steps up the the lens are closer to 90 degrees then angular and gradual. The front bezel is smooth and I was able to twist it off by hand. The glass is anti reflective coated. The reflector is smooth and deep, with the LED having some space around it at the bottom.
Size & Weight
I measured overall length at 125mm, minimum diameter on the tube at 32mm and maximum diameter on the head at 48mm. Weight with the included battery is 235g
A couple of competitors came to mind with the A4 V2, the Thrunite Catapult V6 and the Astrolux FT03. The Astrolux is closest in terms of price, but it’s head is significantly larger. I wouldn’t think about trying to carry the FT03 on my belt with a holster but with the A4 V2 that’s not an issue. The Thrunite Catapult V6 is similar, but has a slightly larger head.
There isn’t much to say here on retention. There is a small hole in the tail cap for a lanyard that is included with the light. For lights like this a holster can be a nice option but one isn’t included.
LED & Beam
The LED in use on the Wowtac A4 V2 is the Cree XHP35 HI. A cool and neutral white model are both available, and in my example I have the Neutral white. Tint is on the warmer side of Neutral which I enjoy I would say between 4500k and 5000k. The beam with this LED and the smooth fairly deep reflector is a thrower. You get a small tight hot center and a large dim spill. At lower powers the spill is not very visible.
Wowtac’s claimed ratings
Turbo – 1895 Lumens
High – 1058 Lumens
Medium – 208 Lumens
Low – 28 Lumens
Firefly – 0.5 Lumens
Strobe – 1200 Lumens
Heat & Runtime
I ran an uncooled heat and runtime test with this light and agree with Wowtac’s claims. Turbo has stepped down at the 3 minute mark to the 50% relative output mark where it ran till the 24 minute mark. Here is ran at about 42% relative output for the bulk of the time about another 108 minutes before stepping down and low voltage protection kicking in on the light at 2.985V. The light gets warm around the mid section where the LED is and other electronics. Maximum heat I saw during Turbo was 57C (134F).
The UI here is standard Wowtac/Thrunite. It’s simple with just the features you need and nothing more. It’s a simple electronic switch under a slightly raised dome button. Underneath is a 2 LED (Red & Blue) to indicate charge status. It comes on blue briefly when the light is turned on.
Long press from off to get moonlight mode. A single press turns the light on in it’s lowest mode. When on if you long press it will advance up in modes. You have a low, medium and high. Double press to shortcut to turbo, and once in tubo double press again to go to strobe.
The A4 V2 has onboard charging via MicroUSB. The port is slightly offset from the directly behind the button, not typical but not bad either. The silicone cover doesn’t get in the way. Total charge time for the included 5000mAh battery was 2 hours and 53 minutes. Charging started quickly, at 1.8A and generally increased up until the 2 hour and 18 minute mark before slowing down as it ended. Maximum charge rate I saw was right at 2A. The battery measured 4.155V when charging stopped. There is a LED inside the switch that’s red when charging and blue when charged.
The Wowtac A4 V2 is a nice budget thrower, available in both neutral and cool white, so everyone can be happy. It’s less expensive then other similarly sized lights running a 26650 battery with performance that’s just as good. It doesn’t come with as many accessories but for the price I am ok with that.
Don’t forget about the father’s day sale here either, as this would make a great gift. It’s an all inclusive package with the battery and onboard USB charging. It’s available from Amazon so it will arrive fast and has a great return policy. If your dad or someone else in your life hasn’t had a modern LED flashlight powered by lithium batteries they will be amazed at how much and how far the light goes in such a small package. Gone are the days that you need a flashlight the size of a baseball bat, here are the days a ton of power fits comfortably in your hand and only weighs 8.29oz.
This is a nice budget light with no budget features. I can recommend it.
Today I have yet another version of the Lumintop FW3A, this time with the FW4A with 4 LED’s in the head instead of 3. Output increases from 2800 lumens to 3600 lumens depending on the LED thats chosen.
Packaging here is the same box as the FW3 came in but only with FW4A on it. LED tint is still a sticker on the side of the box. Inside the light is protected with foam. Accessories is the same too with the FW4A including a silicon GITD diffuser that fits over the head of the light.
The Lumintop FW4A is basically an FW3A with a slightly larger head. The tail, clip, and body tube are identical to the FW3A. I have no issues with the machining or build quality*. There does seem to be less options at least from Lumintop direct in colors or materials for the FW4A, but since it’s reusing so many parts you can mix and match anything from the body or tail cap with other variants to make your own look. In it’s stock form it’s made of aluminium and anodized in a gray slightly blue color. One difference I have noticed is the serial number is laser engraved on the tail, and the clip color is now silver on the FW4A, where it was more of a dark gray on the FW3A I have.
*The FW3A had a lot of reliability issues early on, It’s far from a perfect design in that regard. That said retaining rings have been added to the tail cap to keep it’s contents in place better, and hopefully improve the button issues. The head also has things same retaining ring. The inner body tube is still subject to some movement so it’s still best practice to only open the light from the front. If you run into trouble the Budget light forums are still the best place to go for “how to fix your light”. Most issues are fixable from what I have seen if you want to trouble shoot. My light had no issues and continues to be reliable.
Size & Weight
I measured the length at 92.8mm, Minimum diameter on the body at 21.5mm, and maximum diameter on the head at 28.5mm. This is only a 3mm increase in the diameter of the head over the FW3A. I measured the weight with the battery and clip at 110.8g. That’s only 12.7g heavier then the aluminum FW3A I have. It’s
Retention is decent but I wish the clip was deeper carry from the factory myself. The increase in size with the FW4A is negligible from the FW3A, and it’s less than many of the “custom” triple emitter lights I carry on a regular basis.
LED & Beamshots
The FW4A is available with many different emitter options, like much of the FWXX series of lights. My light here is running the Cree XP-L HI LED in cool white at 6500k, and while 6500k isn’t my favorite tint, the XP-L HI LED’s are not bad for a non high CRI option. With the XPL-HI Lumintop says you can get 3600 Lumens vs the FW3A 2600. Other LED tints that are available are the Luminus SST20 4000k 90 CRI producing about 2100 lumens. Nichia 219C at 4000k, and a Cree XP-L HI in a neutral 5000k tint. All LED options are mounted on a copper PCB to help with heat dissipation.
The beam with the FW4A is floody with a more soft focused hotter center. Mine here has the clear optic, but frosted is also available. The center is fairly round and has a small amount of tint shift in the middle. The outer spill is rather square in shape, almost star-like. I don’t notice it outside but notice it instead more close up when really looking.
Beam with the diffuser
Heat & Runtime
I received a comment on my HL3A review that I really should calibrate my FWXX series lights before I do a heat and runtime test. While I still firmly believe that if this is necessary it’s something the factory should do (Or be burned into the firmware) I decided I would do my heat and runtime tests both uncalibrated and then calibrated just to see what the difference was.
So my first test with with the light uncalibrated and a Sony VTC6 and started in Turbo. Pretty much instantly the light starts decreasing in output, at the 30 second mark where the FL1 Standard is taken the light had declined about 400% from where it started. This sounds like a lot and it is but it’s still quite bright and to be expected. The light reaches equilibrium of about 60% relative output where irt runs for 2 hours and 35min, and eventually gets down to 10% output at 3 hours and 32 minutes of runtime. Maximum temperature I saw was 38.7C (101F) at the 13 minute mark, the bulk of the output was around the 36C mark.
The calibrated runtime was a different story, what calibration does is sets the room temp of the light and then you can raise the ceiling. I raised it an extra 25 degrees if my memory is correct. I used the same battery and after and with everything cooled off I ran it again. What I saw here was an initial drop from turbo but much smaller and a bit of a step at the 20 second mark before decreasing again. At the 30 second market the calibrated light was putting out a bit more output, and was 2.8 C warmer. The next 11 minutes though output increased again slowly as temps were allowed to increase slightly. Total runtime was only 1 hour and 42 seconds but you ended up being able to run a big brighter without stepping down as far. Maximum temperature I saw was 57.2C (134F) at the 24 minute mark. While this is quite hot it was much later than the uncalibrated mark and it’s adjustable too if you don’t want to go as hot. I would agree with the commenter, calibrate your lights, it’s worth a few minutes of your time.
The UI here is standard Andruil, and it works well. I will link to my FW3A review in case this is your first time seeing Andruil and include the diagram below. It looks a little complicated but once you get a hang of it, it works pretty well. It doesn’t bother me that the flashing and special modes are a little hard to locate as I personally rarely use them. As mentioned before I did “calibrate” the temp sensor on this light and I ended up using a video I found on Youtube to do it rather than use the diagram. For me it just worked a little better.
My conclusion is the FW4A is yet another nice light in the series. It’s a lot of output in a very small package and quite a minimal increase in size. That said with an increase in output it’s a step up in heat too. The FW4A at least right now has less modding potential then the FW3, but if it catches on and becomes more popular you may see different optics, and tuboglow being offered too.
A light like this is more aimed at the enthusiast market with the Andriul UI and somewhat dangerous nature of so much power in a small size and finicky nature that the FWXX series lights can be, that said it’s still alot of fun and pretty affordable too.
Olight has another raw copper light out for all you copper fans with the Olight i5T Cu. This is a special edition of the i5T which has been released in several different editions in 2020. It’s a 2 mode light taking a AA battery with a deep cary pocket clip. It’s similar to the Olight i3T but larger. Thanks to SkyBen for sending this to me to review.
There are a couple of versions of the i5T from Olight. There as a Shot Show edition they gave out to people, it was aluminum with a neutral white emitter, A CoVID relief special edition that was sold, it was aluminum and had some blue anodized accents on it, a normal black anodize and desert tan models, and the one I have here the in copper. Everything except the shot show edition has the standard cool white emitter.
Packaging and Accessories
The i5Tcu came in what I would call a gift box. It’s a heavy duty white cardboard that’s finished nicely with a color photo on the front and a limited amount of details on the back. Inside the light was vacuum sealed in plastic with an anti oxidizer packet to prevent any patina from forming until it arrives in your hands. The only included accessory was the manual and GemTec AA battery that came preinstalled.
No complaints here on construction quality, Olight does a nice job with these, and is one of my favorites when it comes to their raw copper machining. Everything is nicely chamfered, and polished. It also comes in the least oxidized state of any of the copper flashlights I have. The overall design here is a largely a scaled up version of the Olight i3T with a few differences. At the tail the buttons appear to be the same, as the i3T. The proud switch has a hard plastic edge and then a rubberized grip at the very top. It takes quite a bit of force to active the switch which I like. This one won’t come on in your pocket on accident. I do feel a bit of cell movement internally when pressing the switch which feels a little unnatural.
The knurling on the tail cap is mostly horizontal with just a touch of vertical, mine seems to be not perfectly centered, like it is on the i3T. Not sure if this is intentional or just a slight manufacturing issue, either way it adds a nice amount of grip to unscrew the tail for battery replacement and style. Internally the tail section is made of copper too, and has nicely cut square threads that need a bit of grease.
The pocket clip is push on style but fits tightly, more on retention in a minute. The body itself has the double line spiral as the i3T does. It’s fairly deeply cut and the walls have minimal chamfer. It’s mostly for style but adds some grip to. The head is very plain, it has the model number and serial engraved into it and does not appear to come apart or it’s a one piece design. The lens appears to be plastic and be a one piece with the optic and reflector.
Size & Weight
I measured the length of the light at 95.5mm, diameter at 17.9mm and weight with an Amazon Basics High Capacity NiHM and clip at 112.3g. It’s a pretty heavy light, but that’s what you expect for copper
When I compare it to other similar lights I have, the diameter is a little smaller than my Reylight Pineapples or Ti LAN or the copper variants. Length wise it’s a little shorter too. If you liked the Olight i3T it’s just a little longer and slightly larger in diameter. It’s fairly comparable in size to the Olight M1T Raider, but smaller diameter and slightly longer.
Retention on the i5T is good. I like to EDC 14500 lights, they are a good balance of size, weight, and most importantly diameter. This is especially true when I am wearing shorts. The i5T has a reasonably deep carry pocket clip, and on the copper model it’s a bronze PVD colored finish that fits pretty well especially after the light takes on some patina. It has a reasonable amount of room for material at the top too. It is using Olights dual direction clip which some love to hate. I will say my original clip on my i3T did snag not go back into shape. Olight did offer a replacement but it was only available in black, not the original PVD bronze copper it came with. It would be kind of nice if Olight included an extra clip with these special editions since they don’t seem to have spares.
LED & Beamshot
The i5T Cu here is running an Osram P9 LED in cool white. That said it’s not Olights typical 6500k, it’s warmer and more neutral, I would guess somewhere about 5500k or so. It does have a bit of a green tinge. The beam is using what Olight calls a PMMA lens. It creates a beam that is mostly a spot, with minimal flood. Good for EDC. There is a bit of PMW on low according to my oscilloscope and camera but I don’t notice it with my eye. If you are sensitive this may bother you.
Runtime & Heat
The i5T Cu is designed to run with 1.301.5V batteries so Alkaline and Ni-Mh batteries primarily. As you know from watching my other reviews I don’t run any light with Alkalines because they leak. Olight has provided the i5T with an Alkaline from the factory, so get it out and replace it with a high quality rechargeable Nickel metal hydride instead.
For my testing I used an Amazon Basics High Drain cell, Previous testing shows these are slightly above 2500mAh, so basically on par with Eneloop Pro’s for half the cost. Peak output is right at 300 lumens and the light holds this for a timed 3 minutes before stepping down to right at 50% output where it runs for for just short of 2 hours and 30 minutes before stepping down and ran at it’s lowest mode. This time was the FL1 standard of 10% relative output. It eventually turned off completely at 5 hours and 45 min. There is no Low Voltage protection built in to this light, so my battery had a voltage of 0.9V when I pulled it out. So when the light gets very dim, it’s time to switch the battery. Maximum heat I saw was 30.4C at the 3:30 mark.
I had read a few accounts of people running this light with Lithium Ion batteries so I wanted to test that too. Olight doesn’t recommend this and neither do I after testing. The light isn’t built for this at all, while it does substantially increase the output you will damage the light if you continue to do this due to the immense heat and increased voltage lowering the life of the LED. The light also doesn’t have low voltage protection so I used a protected KeepPower 800mAh cell to protect the battery from damage.
Total runtime with the Liion was 23 minutes to the FL1 standard, 31 minutes till protection kicked in. It’s a pretty linear decline until the 20 minute mark where voltage really starts having an impact on output. Temps are the big story here, this is the hottest light I tested when run this way and that makes sense given this is outside it’s designed mode of operation. Here a bit of a table of time and temps.
Temp in C
Temp in F
As you can see the light gets dangerously hot, super fast. At 30 seconds it’s 36.1C at 3 minutes it’s 53.4C, at 9 minutes it’s 69.3 C, and at 15 minutes it’s 72.7C. To put this into a frame of reference most adults will have 3rd degree burns after 2 second exposure above 65C. So for this reason alone this light should not be run with Liion batteries it’s unsafe.
UI here is super basic as it’s a 2 mode light. The light always comes on in it’s lowest 15 lumen mode and then if you press again you get the higher 300 lumen mode. There are no flashers or anything else. It would have been nice to see another mode to give you an ultra low 1 lumen mode.
Copper! With a great surface finish
Carries Well in the pocket
Good beam characteristics for EDC
Only Cool White is offered to the Public, there are probably better LED choices here too.
No moonlight mode
Pretty Middle of the road performance here. It would be nice to see 14500 support.
The Olight i5T Cu is a nice special edition light for general EDC, especially if you like the patina and characteristics that raw copper can develop over time. Olight’s timing is pretty good too with the positive antimicrobial characteristics of copper.That said you pay the price in weight here for copper, and I wish they would have went with a different LED and a more advanced driver. This is a basic light and it’s low mode is still too high for many who want a 1 lumen or less mode. Other then that it’s a nice high quality light I enjoy having around and I think you will too if you are a fan of raw copper.
Are you a fan of the FW3X series of lights but ever wished there was a right angle version you could use as a headlamp and had a magnetic tail? If so, your light has arrived, with the Lumintop HL3A, in a nutshell it’s a right angle version of the FW3A. Thanks to Lumintop for sending this to me to review. Since I have reviewed several other FW series of lights I will try to keep this review a bit shorter.
Packaging of the HL3A is similar to the other FWXX series of lights, but larger because of the additional accessories. It’s a brown retail box with a line drawing of the light on the front but limited technical info. Inside accessories include an extra o’ring, pocket clip, and a nice headband. The headband here is nice, it’s a 3 piece design and the elastic has the silicon grip material around the inside.I especially like the orange accents, it really brightens up the light and helps with visibility too.
The light is made from aluminum and is hard anodized in a fairly flat black. Machining here is good, what I expect from Lumintop. The tailcap here is magnetic and quite strong. It’s a one piece design with the body tube and features a small lanyard hole. The body piece has a square stubbled knurling that looks almost milled in place, it’s fairly aggressive for a headlamp. The threads are long on this model, raw, and square cut.
The head is kind of large to accommodate the 3 LED’s. It sticks out a ways from the body, more then most of your typical right angle lights. There are very shallow reliefs milled into the sides and tops, more for style then heat dissipation I think. Inside there are springs on either side of the battery. The button is large, and flat on the top of the light. It’s an electronic switch and presses easily and it should work with gloves well too.
Size & Weight
I measured the length of the light at 81mm, diameter of the body at 23.4mm, and length of the head at 34mm. Weight for the light with a battery without the clip is 102g.
For an 18650 headlamp the HL3A is quite short and small yet the head still has a decent amount of thermal mass. However this makes it less suited for pocket EDC in my opinion. The head just sticks out further then I want. That said the magnetic tail here is a nice addition and it’s quite strong.
The headband is good as mentioned before, it has an orange silicone mount for the light. While you can unthread the head while on the mount to change the battery it’s more difficult than removing the light itself.
LED & Beamshot
My example of the HL3A here is running three Cree XPL-Hi Cool White at 6500k. I like the XPL-Hi emitter but Cool White isnt my favorite tint. Thankfully there are other LED’s and tints available including Cree XP-L HI 5000k, Nichia 219C 4000k, and SST20 at 4000k. The XP-L Hi’s produce the most peak lumens at 2800, the Nichia’s about 1600 lumens.
The beam is using a Carclo style optic here, the specific part number isn’t mentioned but it does a good job of creating a flood. Good for even diffused light up close and decent amount of distance too at higher outputs. No complaints here.
For my runtimes I used a Sony VTC6 battery. The light will accept button tops or flat top cells but for max output I would recommend a non protected battery and the light is using factory calibration. On turbo the HL3A instantly starts stepping down in output, possibly quicker then any other light I have measured. At the 30 second mark where the FL1 standard is, it’s making significantly less light than it does when you turn it on, but here is where I set the 100% of relative output. At 1 minute it’s making 50% of this value and at 2 minutes it’s making 20%. Here it remains stable for 7 hours of runtime before stepping down a few more times and running at its lowest mode. LVP here isn’t a defined value, just the lowest output. If you decide to purchase this light just expect the bulk of the output to be about 20% of it’s claimed peak value. That said this is more than enough for most close up headlamp tasks.
Maximum temps I saw during my runtime was 35.2 (95F) degrees celsius at the 35 second mark.
The UI here is standard Andruil, and I think it ‘s pretty well suited to a headlamp. I will link to my FW3A review in case this is your first time seeing Andruil and include the diagram below. It looks a little complicated but once you get a hang of it, it works pretty well
Mechanical lockout here isn’t an option due to those exposed threads and single tube design.
Small and Compact
Andril firmware allows you to really set the light level where you want and need it for optimal runtime.
Several LED’s and tints to pick from.
Max output starts decreasing almost instantly
If you need a headlamp with a lot of output for a very short amount of time with a good UI and good build quality the HL3A is a good choice. To me it’s disappointing how quickly it starts to ramp down in output that’s true of most of the FWXX series of lights, so it’s not surprising. That said I like the rest of the light quite a bit. Andril adapts itself well to a headlamp with either the ramping mode or stepped modes.
The Carclo style optic gives you a nice even beam that you can even customize if you wish by swapping it out. Modding potential here is pretty good as you can get easy access to the LED’s through the front. Other emitter mods, turboglow are all options here too. I think the reliability here should be pretty good too due to the design changes vs the FW3A. It has a single tube design, and no tail cap issues because there isn’t a tail cap. The head also has retaining rings inside so there is less to move around and cause an issue.
So if you love the FW3A and wished there was a right angle version to use it as a headlamp, this is your light. Go check it out.
Today I have a special light on my review table, the Frelux Synergy 2. If you are a long time subscriber you may remember that in October of 2018 I reviewed the original Frexlux Synergy 1 side-by-side flashlight. The Synergy 2 is the larger big brother and brings lots of new improvements and upgrades to the side-by-side format, and is almost entirely made in the USA. Let’s settle in for a longer review and look at the Synergy 2.
Packaging for the Synergy 2 is a custom made cardboard box. It’s basic, but neatly done with just the Frelux logo and slogan on the top. The inside flap has a quote and a US flag to remind you the light is made in the US. Inside, the light is protected by a laser cut black foam protector. Accessories are a Frelux sticker and little quick start manual with a link/QR code to download the full manual.
Construction and Machining
The Synergy 2 is made from US sourced 6061 aluminum. It is offered in a large variety of anodizing colors with Black, OD Green (what I have here), and a blue being the core colors at the time of review. The clip is made of grade 5 titanium and is also available in raw, gold, and blue colors.
It’s a side-by-side battery design, with the batteries in a parallel circuit. At the front of the light you have two brass contacts that have physical reverse polarity protection provided by a circuit board surrounding these contacts. The result is a light that’s a little picky on 14500 batteries if you decide to run those. Button tops are required, and watch the diameter of your cells too. Frelux has a list of tested batteries that are known to work with the Synergy 2, and it’s probably best you stick to those. VapCell’s 1100mAh models seem to be the best option (14.09mm). My 800mAh Keeppowers (14.41mm) were a bit too large in diameter.
The Internal Construction is a neat design; you have a brass threaded rod spanning the length of the light that threads into the head section, goes through the middle and tail section, and then the tail nut tightens everything in place and provides compression on the o-rings on each section to provide water resistance. The switch up front is an electronic switch, but it’s a very satisfying feeling too; it’s solid and crisp. The switch also has a mechanical lock feature which I recommend using during carry. Just rotate it clockwise and the button physically can’t press the e-switch. There isn’t any visual sign it’s locked, which is a little disappointing, but it’s an effective solution and keeps the UI simple. The Synergy 2 doesn’t carry a formal water rating, but Ben has tested it in a 8ft column of water overnight without a problem, so it should be ok in most situations.
The tail brings the light all together; externally it has a nice USA engraved on one side of the black button and the battery orientation diagram on the other. The tail nut is a cool piece it’s what holds the entire light together and holds the clip on the light (along with the dovetail) during battery changes via an o-ring, which is a nice improvement over the Synergy 1. Internally there is a circuit board with three springs-two for the batteries and one for the brass center rod.
One of the reasons why I enjoy this light is all the machining content that is shared on the Frelux Instagram page. I am a want-to-be machinist. I enjoy watching several YouTubers make stuff, and just want a machine to play with. Ben of Frelux produces these lights in his home shop with a Brother CNC machine. Make sure you check out the video version of this review for some of this machining footage.
What’s somewhat unique here is how he has setup the 4th Axis on his machine along with the four sided pallet design, to maximize his machining times and get the most work done per cycle. With the pallet design it’s almost like a 5th axis machine. He designed a tool that mounts in the mill to allow the mill to rotate the parts in the fixture and continue machining without human interaction. The Synergy 2 took all of this into account during the design process. It allows him to maximize his time while the CNC is running to get the next pallet of parts ready and do other finishing and assembly tasks. The end result is a light that was designed with production and keeping the overall final product affordable in mind. All tumbling and anodizing is done in house for tighter tolerances on quality. Even the soldering of sub components, finish assembly, packaging, and shipping are done at the Frelux headquarters.
Size and Weight
I measured the overall length at 95mm, width at 41.6mm, and thickness at 21mm not including the clip. Weight with Vapcell 14500 batteries is 6oz or 170g. This makes for a decently heavy light for its size and material. This design inherently has more material left after machining than a typical cylinder light. More aluminum could be removed through more complex machining internally, but it would greatly add to the complexity and overall cost. As far as competition there really are not many other side by side AA lights on the market to compare it to, so can we say class leading?
The retention of this light is interesting. I have to first start with the size and how that impacts its pocket carry. I enjoy carrying a 14500 sized light, especially in warmer months as I wear more shorts. Since cargo shorts are no longer fashionable or accepted in my house, the result is less pocket space and an EDC to suit. With jeans it’s a bit of a different story. I find that despite the added width of the side by side format, there is still room for the light in my left front pocket and my phone deeper down in the jeans pocket. It’s too big for the coin pocket that you typically find on the right front side of many jeans. This is where the Synergy 1 was just about the perfect size.
That said one of the Synergy 2’s new features is it’s tension adjustable pocket clip. This is a neat design, the clip is retained in a dovetail in the tail section and then the tail nut that holds the tail section on to the light controls the clip’s ability to slide closer or further away from the body, thus setting the tension. It can be very tight or fairly loose, so it’s adjustable to a variety of different pocket materials. That said the very end of the clip isn’t flared out much so it can sometimes be a little hard to get started onto a pocket. Frelux does include a small adhesive vinyl sticker to place where the clip makes contact with the body to help prevent excessive wear on the anodizing. It’s a nice touch but I wish more then one was included in the package.
Grip in the hand is still fairly comfortable. If I choke up a bit I can still get all 5 fingers on the light. It’s a kind of modified pistol grip, if your thumb is on the light jimping on the top, the jimping on the bottom ends up fitting well with my middle finger. I do wish the jimping was slightly deeper and a little more aggressive.
LED & Beamshots
The Synergy 2 is using a Samsung LH351D LED at 5000k and 90 CRI. This is a great emitter in my opinion and is quickly becoming one of my favorites that’s in current production. It’s a nice combination of tint, output, and high CRI. It’s surrounded by a smooth fairly deep reflector, with an anti reflective coated glass lens on top. There is just a hint of tint shift in the very center of the beam. I only noticed this when shining it at full power onto a white surface, it’s not noticeable during real world use. The resulting beam does have a pronounced hot center and ring at the edges before you get into the spill. Practically this isn’t a bad thing and the deeper reflector helps the light throw better than I initially expected. That said, I would prefer to see an orange peel reflector to smooth that transition out a little further.
This light is using a driver that Frelux had designed specifically for this light and it’s circuit boards are produced and populated in the USA. It has a ramping UI that I will speak more about here in a minute. The light is capable of running on the three most common chemistries of AA sized batteries. Standard Alkaline batteries, Ni-MH producing a maximum of 250 lumens, and Lithium Ion 14500’s producing a maximum of 700 lumens. The driver features memory, Low Voltage Protection(LVP), and temperature protection as well. No PWM was noticed with either battery type.
Heat and Runtime
I ran three runtimes a few times with this light to see the differences. I focused on rechargeable batteries since that’s what most people will run this light with most of the time.
For my test with 14500’s (Lithium Ion) I used 2x VapCell 14500’s. Mine happened to be flat tops which won’t run in this light, but thankfully some small 1mm magnets worked to get around this until my button tops arrive. I got three minutes of the highest output before this light stepped down due to thermals. As you can see the heat continued to increase here but everything was pretty tame, peaking at 33.4C (which is basically body temperature). It’s a safe temp, almost too safe, as I would prefer a bit longer runtime for a little more heat. From there the light ran at 42% relative output for 2 hours and 13 minutes, before stepping down to about 18% relative output and running for another 10 minutes before shutting off. LVP was measured at 3V for each cell.
Next for my runtimes I tried with some older Eneloops (4000mAh Total). Simply put the output here is extremely stable for the entire runtime, and the light ran until 2 hours and 20 minutes of output. The last test I did was with some Amazon Basics High Capacity Ni-Mh batteries. These are said to be rebranded Eneloop Pros but at about ½ the cost. Mine averaged 2475mAh each after testing the cells independently. Overall runtime here was 3 hours and 4 minutes. The extra roughly 800mAh buys you about 45 minutes of extra very stable runtime. Heat on either Ni-Mh was basically ambient temps.
While the light does run on the three different chemistries of batteries, it’s my opinion that the best option is really lithium ion 14500s as these give the most output and still a good amount of runtime for an EDC style light of this size. Alkalines should be the battery of last resort due to their lower output and potential for leaking; it would be a shame to damage the light from preventable corrosion. Since the batteries are in parallel the light will run with only one battery if you wanted. Same outputs, but just less runtime. It can be a weight savings measure or if there was only one cell left in the package in an urgent situation.
The driver has one odd quirk that you should be aware of if you run the light until low voltage protection kicks in. If it takes longer than 30 seconds to change the batteries there is a good chance the light won’t turn back on with fresh cells. The solution is to just leave the tail piece off for 2 minutes to reset the driver. The technical reason for this is there are two sets of code for each voltage range the driver operates on. This could have been eliminated but it would have increased the driver’s parasitic drain, which no one wants.
The Synergy 2 is using its own UI system, but don’t let that be a worry. It’s simple and familiar. It’s a simple ramping UI. From off, a long press of the button will give you a shortcut to the lowest mode of output. From here a long press again will start the light ramping up in brightness which takes about 2 seconds to reach the top output. Unlike other flashlights there is no flash to let you know you’re at the top or bottom of the range, but this isn’t an issue as the light just stops and doesn’t cycle over. While ramping you can stop anywhere and press the button again to reverse your direction of the ramp. Double press from on or off to jump to maximum output. There are no blinking modes on the Synergy 2, and I don’t miss them personally.
Great emitter choice, nice tint and high CRI
Multi Chemistry battery support (Alkaline/NiMH & Liion)
Impeccable Fit and Finish
Made in the USA!
Lots of color options but they are not always all available or published.
No moonlight mode, lowest mode of operation is approximately 2 lumens with Ni-MH batteries and 5 lumens with 14500s.
The light is a little picky about the length and diameter of 14500s
The side-by-side format takes up a decent amount of pocket real estate.
The Frelux Synergy 2 is a unique light in the flashlight market. It’s a custom light in the sense that it’s made by one man in his garage in the USA, to exacting standards. Everything about it but the LED and eSwitch are custom designed for this light and made in the USA. Ben machines the light himself, anodizes them inhouse in a variety of colors, solders the USA made circuit boards, and does final assembly and testing himself (and sometimes with the help of the kids). The result is a light that has very tight quality control and superb attention to detail.
It has creative design features too, like you can mix and match body pieces with other Synergy 2’s to create your own color and button combinations. The door is open to different materials for the body sections and buttons too, if he chooses to make this not only a custom light but a highly customizable one too.
The adjustable tension clip is a smart design that I find works pretty well, and being deep carry I find it’s retention is good tool. It stays in place too during battery changes, which is an upgrade over the Synergy 1. This isn’t all the clip does though; it can also be used to tighten the brass nut that keeps the center section mounted to the head too.
The Synergy 2 does all this at a price that’s less than your typical custom light that’s made in the USA. It’s a light I have thoroughly enjoyed watching develop on the Frelux Instagram account, and mine will definitely be in my EDC rotation. I imagine I will carry it more when I am wearing jeans vs shorts due to its width, but that’s largely a personal preference with how I carry a knife and smartphone too.
These are truly custom made lights at this point, with Frelux taking preorders and then producing lights in batches and finishing them to your color specifications. So if you are interested in one, be prepared for a potential wait. Wait times so far have been fairly reasonable in my experience, with Frelux being careful about how many preorders they take. So if you want one, make sure to join the Frelux Facebook page and follow them on Instagram too so you know when preorders open.
Overall this is a fun light and one you should definitely check out if you want to get something unique, custom designed, and made in the USA.
Today I have a new knife from Kizer on my review table; the Kizer Noble. It was announced at Shotshow 2020 and is a flipper style knife with a 3.5” blade, 3.25” effective cutting edge, titanium scales, urban style EDC knife and it comes in at just 3 ounces. This is a prototype version that Kizer asked if I would be interested in taking a look at and I jumped at the chance. The expected launch date is sometime in July of 2020 but that may be delayed due to the pandemic situation. That said, like all of my other reviews, I will remain impartial and give my true opinions on it, good, not so good, and ugly.
Knives are something I have been wanting to get into on this channel, so if you too want to see some more knife reviews, give this video a Like or leave a comment and smash that bell icon to be notified of the next review.
In case you don’t know who Kizer is, they are a Chinese knife brand making high quality yet affordable knives. They are known for using genuine blade steels and other materials and high quality workmanship at affordable prices. They are one of the origins of high end Chinese knife manufacturing. Kizer is creating new designs and partnering with respected custom knife designers in the knife community too.
The designer of this knife is Indonesian Sebastian Irawan, and if you follow him on social media like I do, this knife is very much in his style. He has worked with Kizer in the past with a few other designs like the Raja, and Kobold for this year. The speed holes not only achieve a reduction in overall weight, but you can tell they are part of the design element and overall aesthetic .
The Noble is a flipper design, and it has a very small tab with some jimping at the top of the tab. Despite it’s small size the blade flips well with a light switch style motion. The small tab also helps comfort in the pocket too. I like how Kizer has chosen to label the steel at the very bottom of the tab too keeping the blade cleaner of markings.
Stats & Comparison
Some official Stats from Kizer.
Overall length came in at 7.875”
Blade length is 3.50”
Cutting length is 3.25”
Blade width is 0.75”
Blade thickness is 0.13”
Steel is CPM-S35VN
Weight is 3.0 oz
MSRP is expected around $155 mark
Screw sizes on this are T6 and T8 Torx
Compared to other knives
The knife is fairly ambidextrous in my left hand. I had no issues flipping it and when closing I was easily able to pull the lock bar back with my thumb to close it. The clip is reverseable to the left side scale. I will add the caveat I am fairly ambidextrous myself so what’s easy for me might not be quite as easy for you.
Packaging for the Kizer Noble is quite nice. It’s a flat black box and once the inner sleeve is removed you get a bifold flat black box. Inside is a small folder containing all the paperwork (Manual, Warranty, etc.) and a cleaning cloth. The knife is then inside a nylon pouch with a Kizer vinyl patch sewn on. It’s a nice presentation.
The Noble is made from Grade 5 TC4 Titanium with a smooth, very tumbled finish. All the edges here are nicely chamfered where they should be, no complaints there. Inside the scales have been milled to reduce weight bringing the overall weight down to 3 ounces on my scale. The lockbar has a steel insert and I didn’t find any lock stick. If you would like to see a takedown and cleaning video, let me know in the comments below.
The blade is running on ceramic bearings, and the blade itself is made from domestic U.S. Crucible Industries’ CPM S35VN. It’s widely regarded as a fantastic price to performance steel for EDC uses and the stone washed finish helps hide any scratches it picks up during use. I have this steel on other knives and have been happy with its edge retention and relative ease of sharpening. The blade’s grind is a great slicer with its full flat grind style, that transitions to a “mild” Tanto.
Personally, I am not a huge Tanto fan but this one is mild, and I have found it to be quite useful, especially when opening packages where I don’t want to dip a tip too deep into the contents. The blade spine is rounded, so may present a bit of a challenge on your guided angle sharpening systems, but it is uniform so I don’t think it will be too large of an issue. Where the Tanto meets the belly the grind isn’t super uniform side to side but that’s nitpicking. Overall, it’s a good blade and one that shouldn’t be too hard to sharpen at home if you are comfortable with multi angle blades.
A few notes about construction here, the screws holding the knife together are all using T6 Torx screws. They do have some blue locktight on them but it’s very weak and they were easy to break free with a quality driver like my Boker Wiha Torx driver set here. The pivot is using a T8 Torx screw.
Blade centering from the factory is perfect to my eyes. There is no side to side or up and down play, and lockup is a consistent 50% on my flips.
Kizer’s warranty is a limited lifetime warranty against parts and defects. They will usually ship replacement parts to consumers at low or no cost for those that want to do their own repairs. Depending on who you buy from the retailers can also help with repairs if needed. Shipping it back to Kizer in China is an option too but that does add significant time and cost. If you are doing you own knife maintenance, I don’t see a problem with this approach.
The Not so Good
Deployment here is quite good, smooth and easy, but like most frame locks it all depends on where your fingers land. This has a narrow width handle that I like when in my pocket, but this also means my fingers sometimes rest on the lock bar, making it harder to deploy. A quick shift of the finger position and all is well. My ZT-0460 has a similar design and problem. Maybe it’s just how I hold a knife. On the Noble at least your fingers have the speed holes to guide your hand for a comfortable deployment. The flipper tab itself is small, but does have jimping, and it stays out of the way; it’s not going to peck at your pocket contents. Overall, it functions well with a light switch style flick.
Balance point on this knife is about an inch behind the pivot, not ideal but it’s not something I don’t notice to be honest. When I hold the knife in my right hand, I get a bit of a hot spot on my pointer index finger on the bottom of the scales if I really grip tightly, not a huge thing but something to mention.
I like deep carry clips. If a knife or flashlight rides up too high in my pocket, I just don’t end up carrying it as much, and I like to conceal my EDC and I usually find it’s more comfortable too. This brings me to the clip on the Noble. It’s deep carry, and personally I like the design, but at least on this prototype it feels thin and kind of flimsy and it doesn’t make great contact with the scale (*took out “body” because it sounds like “your body” not the knife body) squarely. This hurt pocket retention, it never fell out of my pocket or came close, but it also doesn’t feel quite as secure as I would like. On thinner pants like dress slacks, it could be more of an issue than jeans. The clip is 3D milled clip out of titanium and it feels like it’s just one snag away from snapping.
I spoke to Kizer about this and they are taking it seriously and plan to make some revisions before the knife goes to production. To be fair, I have not had a problem with the clip snagging or anything during daily carry for several weeks.
My use for this knife is an urban EDC and in the office. There isn’t a ton of texture here for rough or tactical use but for me that’s not the market this knife is designed for. For urban EDC it works well. It’s lightweight overall, and the blade is slicy. It’s an excellent package and letter opener, and has stood up to a bit more rigorous use with some cardboard breakdown duty and thick plastic strap cutting with ease. Despite the smaller flipper tab, the knife opens well as long as you don’t have your fingers on the lock bar. (Duh)
Personally, I like the look of it, and I feel like this is one of those designs that is going to be; love it or hate it. The speed holes save weight and the milling around them adds some style. I like that you can see through it as well as the flow-through construction. It’s more second factor cool and that works for me.
Overall I am a fan of the Kizer Noble, it ticks my boxes for an urban EDC knife, with good materials, good value, and an interesting but functional design. Kizer has said they expect the production version of this knife to ship out to retailers in July of 2020, but production and shipping are difficult right now so that is subject to change. MSRP is expected around the $155 mark according to Kizer. Some of the well-known knife retailers like BladeHQ have it listed already and have an email notification that you can sign up for if you’re interested. If you like what you have seen here, go check it out!
Today I have a specialty light, with the BLF LT1 Lantern, designed by forum members at the Budget Light Forums (BLF) and manufactured by Sofirn. The BLF LT1 started off 3 years ago as an offshoot of another BLF light the Q8 and shares a similar design internally with several components. Forget the other battery powered lanterns you have seen in the past, this one puts them all to shame. This will probably end up being a longer review so sit back and enjoy, it’s not like any lantern you have seen before.
The main focus of this project was the light itself and as a result the light has generic packaging to prevent damage during shipping, not to attract buyers in a retail type setting. It ships in a plain brown package. Inside you get the manual which features the UI diagram, and a few spare orings, spare button and a orange o’ring that I put on the top of the light. The manual is pretty comprehensive and well written including a UI diagram, the aspect ratio is kind of squished though so I have included a link to the PDF copy
My light came with 4x Sofirn 3000mAh 18650 preinstalled. Each battery had a sticker on the negative terminal to prevent the light coming on during shipping. They ended up leaving a little residue that I had to clean off, so make sure you remove that before using the light.
The light is made of anodized aluminum. The bottom half is the battery carrier and very similar in overall design to the Q8. The rear tail cap is removable, the knurling is similar on the LT1 but it doesn’t have the flats milled in. Internally the cells are isolated from each other. Button top batteries are recommended with this light. There are two ¼ 20 tripod mounds, one on the bottom and on on the ring in the middle of the light.
The head silicone button as the BLF Q8 which features the T from Throfire (the Q8’s original manufacture). It has Orange LED’s inside that are on all the time as a locator function which you can adjust the brightness of or turn it off via the firmware. The button goes red when charging, and green when charged too. Opposite the button is the USB-C port used for recharging, and it has a larger silicone cover that fits flush.
The diffuser is a thick hard plastic with a smooth gloss surface finish. It’s a very stiff piece and feels very solid. It does a great job of diffusing light from both the top and bottom emitters. Above this there is a small grove for an oring that I have placed the larger orange oring for looks. At the top there is a large folding metal hanger that fits tightly. This allows for securely hanging the light from a branch, tent, or ceiling.
Size And Weight
This is a larger and heavier then most of the LED, battery powered lanterns on the market but the build quality here is far better then anything else and it’s far lighter then the old steel and liquid kerosene lanterns. Weight with the 4 included 3000mAh Sofirn 18650 batteries is 641g. I measured overall length at 176mm, maximum diameter on the head at 68mm, minimum diameter at the body at 50mm.
LED’s & Beamshots
This light is using a total of 8 Samsung LH351D emitters, 4 in 2700k 90 CRI and 4 in 5000k 90 CRI. The result is a light capable in its stock form of 600 lumens, and variable tin anywhere between a warm 2700k and a very nice neutral 5000k all at an impressive 90 CRI. Light is evenly diffused out the sides via the emitters on the top and bottom. Not much light is thrown up, instead it’s thrown more to the sides, so I find myself turning the light some if I need to read with it or walk with it.
On the inside of the head there are some additional solder points that can be bridged to use more of the 7135 chips to increase the peak brightness of each group of LED’s. This only works when you are using more of one group of LED then the other, and decreases runtime, and increases heat. If you want to do this I would encourage you to read the long threads over on BLF first.
Runtime and Heat
For my runtime tests, I ran the light in it’s default warm tint of 2700k with 4 of Sofirns included (Optional) 3000mAh button top batteries at it’s maximum brightness in it’s out of box configuration. Runtime here is just super impressive with total running out to 9 hours and 50 minutes before falling below 1% relative output. While this is dim it’s still useful light. Even at 95% relative output the light can sustain itself for 6 hours before starting a significant decline. Remember too this is only with 4X 3000mAh batteries, you could upgrade to 3500mAh batteries and get another 2000mAh to extend the runtime further. The light does have temperature regulation built in and it’s configurable in the UI. The top gets warm to the touch but not hot. LVP kicked in at 2.912V and the cells were all evenly, so running a matched pair of batteries with this light would be a wise idea.
The light will also run with the head off and powered by a powerbank at full output. This could be helpful in an emergency situation or if your charging batteries externally and still need the light. It will also run while charging but at a reduced output.
The UI on the LT1 is a modified version of Toykeeper’s Andrul. It’s well designed with lots of features but you don’t need to know how all those optional features work it if you don’t want to.
By default the light comes in smooth ramping mode which I personally like, but a stepped mode is available as well. To turn it on you click the button. To adjust brightness just press and hold till you reach your desired brightness. The light will give a quick flash at the top and bottom to let you know it’s at its maximum. A quick double click gives you turbo too.
To adjust the tint of the light a quick double click and hold will then start ramping the tint and just stop when you get to your desired tint. Fairly easily you can get the light into a mode where tint varies with output level too, so warmer at lower outputs and fully neutral at maximum output. You can turn this on or off by double clicking and holding a couple of times till the light flashes. It’s a neat mode that mimics an incandescent bulb.
Lastly if you want the light to be even more basic, there is a muggle mode you can put it into to hand off to someone who just wants an on off light at reduced output for increased safety and a dead simple ease of use.
For the more advanced features (Blinkies, strobe, aux button settings etc) you are going to want to consult the manual diagram. I keep the little printed manual in the Speaker case I keep my light in for transport.
The light charges via a built in USB-C port which is great to see! On batches 1 and 2 of the light you must use a USB-A to C cable, but in batch 3 which is shipping now USB-C to C cables are fully supported. It’s nice to see full compatibility with both standards available.
In my charging testes, I used the 4 Sofirn 3000mAh batteries that started at 2.92V and charged them to full at 4.05V in 10 hours and 15 minutes with the highest observed speed being 1.5A. This is on the slow side, while safe an conservative, I would have liked to see more like 2A charging.
I did briefly test the light with my solar charger too, and it works fine as I would expect. Given the long run times your probably not going to get a full charge during most days but it would be a great way to top the light up in an emergency situation or out while camping or hiking.
So while not included with the light I thought I would mention this light fits beautifully in a case designed for a JBL Flip 3 or 4 bluetooth speaker. I picked up a Xanad case and the light fits great in it, and there is even space for a spare Samsung 2A charger and cable I had laying around. For $10 this is a no brainier in my book, Here is a link if you want to pick one up too.
Even beam (flood) with variable tint
Super long runtimes.
Easy yet powerful UI
Solid robust construction
Previous versions (1 & 2) were not able to charge via USB-C to C, but Version 3 (Shipping now) can.
A bit of a slow charge time
You might have never thought you needed a lanter, but I am telling you this is the real deal. I live in the midwest and May & June are traditionally the months where we see the most amount of tornadoes and sometimes power outages. While you probably have a flashlight or several like I do, a lantern like this is really better for area lighting. It’s also great for camping, I would have killed for this when I was a Boy Scout camping, for all types of night activities etc.
The combination of high CRI and variable (Warm tint) makes this truly a dream to use, there is no cool white here to washout colors and blind you, instead only pleasing warm and neutral tints with high CRI to help show the beauty of the nature you’re in. It’s nice around the house too just for area lighting or to read by if you wanted too. In muggle mode kids would love it too.
Super long runtimes means it’s very power efficient for the light it produces, but with that built in recharging via USB-C means it can be charged via solar panels too, to charge during the day, and light up all your night activities and repeat. While my version 2 here doesn’t support C to C charging, version 3 that’s available now does. The only downsides is the weight, it’s not light weight, and depending on your tent or how you want to try and hang it, it could be a bit of a challenge. You can remove batteries if you want to reduce weight and runtime, and maybe we will see a 1 battery version in the future. Remember it has those ¼ 20 tripod mounts too.
If you can’t tell by now I am a fan of this light and recommend it without hesitation. It’s a pretty decent value and blows the competition away. If you’re looking for a great father’s day gift for the man who likes to camp, hunt or fish this is a great choice. If you want to build out your storm prep kit for tornadoes, hurricanes or blizzards this is a great add in.
If you stuck around to the end of this review I sincerely appreciate it. Views during COVID have not been what I was expecting so if you have friends who like to camp, please consider sharing this video and blog post with them as I think this light has a wide appeal to non flashaholics too. Thanks for watching and stay safe.