Vero Axon Review

Today I have a knife review for you of the Vero Engineering Axon. This is a knife I preordered, and have been waiting since August 2020 for. I have had it for about 2 weeks now and been carrying it most days during that time. This is going to be a bit of a long review so settle in and enjoy.

 

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Who is Vero

Vero Engineering is one of the hot new knife designers of 2020. Joseph Vero has a background as a mechanical engineer and was working in the drone industry in a professional setting. Vero Engineering started as a hobby with some CAD sketches but with it’s growth, it has allowed him and his wife to work on Vero Engineering full time which I think is an accomplishment in itself, especially with everything that happened last year economically. The Axon is his 3rd knife design. All knives are made by Bestech in China, to Vero’s tolerances and standards.

https://veroengineering.com/

 

Packaging & Specs

The knife comes in a zippered taco pouch with padding. You get a Vero branded microfiber cloth that the knife is wrapped in, as well as an identification card with the specifications of your specific knife on it too. The case has a cool velcro embroidered patch with the Axon on it. The background is green which is perfect for me.

 

Specs & Size Comparison

      • Overall Length: 8″
      • Weight: 3.67oz
      • Blade Length: 3.4″
      • Cutting Edge: 3.25″
      • Blade Thickness: 0.135″
      • Blade Material: M390
      • Blade Style: Sheepsfoot
      • Blade Grind: Full Flat
      • Finish: Hand Rubbed/ Hand Belt Satin/ Stonewashed
      • Lock: Titanium Nested Liner Lock w/ Steel Lockbar Insert
      •     Handle: Micarta/ G10/ End Cut Carbon Fiber

The Good

I had high expectations for this knife as the hype was real and it was the most expensive knife to date, that I have purchased. Fit and finish wise it didn’t let me down. I have the black micarta configuration here that’s unoiled which I am really enjoying so far, and the belt satin grind on the blade. Centering was perfect and there is absolutely no blade play which is saying something with how well the action works here.

The grinds on the M390 sheepsfoot blade are all symmetrical and pretty intricate, you have the belt grind on the blade, then the flat is going in a different, contrasting direction, then an upper faeit, again, is ground like the blade. The edges where you’re going to be touching on the spine have a nice chamfer and these get slightly less and less as you go towards the tip. To the point of there are sharp edges on the sheeps foot but no burr. Then the rectangular ‘V-spot” (Which has what the Vero community on Facebook has named it) notches in the blade are bead blasted inside which is a nice touch and some added contrast.

I am a fan of the sheepsfoot blade, it’s slicing machine, everything from opening boxes, breaking down cardboard and more. The blades “belly” is flat in the warrencliff style and gives you a lot of cutting surface and it should be easy to sharpen on a normal stone or other sharpening systems when it’s time to do so, and there is a small sharpening choil to help with that as well. It’s not your best piercing blade shape but the only time I miss that in my EDC use is to open envelopes under the flap and that still works for that task. It’s a nice touch that every knife does have a hidden serial number at the base of blade near where it locks up. There is jimping on the spine of the knife just where you need it to help with deployment and no more.

 

Weight

When I first picked up this knife out of the package the weight was the first thing to hit me. It was lighter than I expected for the size. My scale says 3.67oz and this is thanks to the extensively milled titanium liners, backspacer, and clip. For the size of the blade this is fairly light weight while still feeling solid in your hand. For me it works well.

 

Action

The knife runs on ceramic bearings inside brass races which makes for a super smooth action. This is the factory action, I haven’t taken it apart, added oil, or messed with the pivot tightness at all. There is no grit or break-in needed here. There are multiple deployment methods which I will talk about in a minute. The knife does have a detent ramp, which makes it feel even smoother, while still having a knife that won’t fall open. That said if I flick it hard with my entire arm or shake it violently in my hand, I can get it to come open on its own. Lockup on my knife is about 40% and there is a steel insert on the titanium nested lockbar, so no lock stick concerns.

 

The closing action is great too, it’s so close to being drop shut that I think after a bit more use or a cleaning the first time; it will be. All it takes now is a slight jiggle to drop shut in a controlled manner. The sharpening choil is also sized just right so the blade will drop on your thumbnail which is nice considering how free flowing it is.

 

Deployment Methods

There are multiple deployment methods with the Vero Axon. It’s designed as a front flipper, with the jimping on the spine allowing you to roll your thumb over it to open if you want. You can also use your index finger to kind of light switch it from the front side. I can’t do this myself one handed, but you might have better luck with larger hands or longer fingers. Other options are using what the Vero Facebook group has called the “V-spot”, which are the rectangular reliefs on each side of the blade as a Spydie hole of sorts, it works well and since they are on each side you can easily middle flick it from the underside too.

 

Material choices

Another thing I really like is the wide selection of materials that Vero is offering on most of his knives but especially the Axon. At preorder your you had 3 blade finish options on the M390 Steel (Tumbled, Belt Satin, Hand sanded hand satin), 2 colors of unoiled Micarta, a Red G10, and an end-cut carbon fiber. Since then, he has offered, or teased, that DLC will be an option for the blade, clip and body, brass scales have been offered as well. Bacon Damascus has been talked about for the blade here too. I wouldn’t be surprised if you see Timascus back spacers or clips offered eventually as it’s an option on most of his other designs. With that wide selection of options, it feels more like a custom knife then a production model. It’s also been said that Joseph is going to have scales available for purchase after all the preorders ship too so you can swap out colors. I am thinking I may have to pick up end cut Carbon Fiber or the Red G10.

I like that all of the scale materials options ship unoiled too, so you can let the knife either take on your own patina as you use it or oil it if you prefer. The micarta I have ads a nice grip without being too grippy. Blade steel here of M390 is a great choice for this price range.

 

The Not So Good

One of the areas I think there is room for improvement in future generations of the Axon is access to the nested lockbar when you disengage the blade. It’s a little tight and hard to access, I have to press my thumb pretty hard into the knife and then over to get it to move. If you had larger fingers, I think this would be even more difficult. I think possibly changing the relief angle or even amount on the opposite scale to open that area up ever so slightly would improve the user experience when closing the knife.

 

Screws

One of the reasons the Axon was slightly delayed was the screws. They were changed in the late stages from T6 on the prototype to T8 on the production models to make the design a little more robust for owners who plan on swapping screws. All the screws and the pivot are stainless steel, and the screws are a bright polished finish. On my knife the screws were a little inconsistent in their depth – which is something that isn’t an uncommon problem in the industry on popular designs. I tightened them which helped slightly but I still have one in the rear that sticks up a little higher and isn’t perfectly flush with the scale. This seems to not be a widespread issue based on other owners I have chatted with and it’s pretty minor.

 

Clip

I feel a little bad listing the clip as a not so good on this one because it’s a good clip but let me explain a few small issues I have with it if I am really nitpicking. The clip is mounted internally using hidden hardware and is solid titanium. It is mounted for right hand carry only, and is not reversible. It’s deep carry but not ultra deep carry, about 10mm of the knife will stick out of your pocket. Tension is good, with a few pairs of pants I have tried, my issues comes with the amount of relief that’s in the clip. Depending on the pants you’re wearing you may have to either pry up on the clip slightly or hold your pocket to keep from bunching up when carrying the knife. This is still better than a clip being too loose in my opinion and it’s easy to get used to.

Ergonomics in my hand are decent, this kind of goes back to the clip which is why I am putting it here, but the bottom of the clip where it flares out is a bit of a hot spot in my hand if I grip the knife really tightly in a normal way. If I choke up, or slide back a bit so the flare of the clip fits between my fingers instead of my palm it feels better. I do like how the body slightly tapers as you reach the clip. It helps the knife feel slimmer. 

 

The Ugly

There isn’t a lot to say here about the Axon, but the availability of any of Vero Engineering designs is a bit of a negative. They sell out in 2 to 3 minutes tops, everything from the various knife designs to the prybars, he just can’t keep them in stock. The result is they are hard to get, and even the secondary market is hot if things do pop up. This isn’t new to other knife manufacturers, or things in the EDC world but just a little frustrating if you’re a fan trying to get one.

 

The other thing is the time it took to get my Axon. I ordered in August, and it showed up late January. 5 Months is a long time for a preorder for a production knife, I knew it was going to be a while, but I didn’t quite expect it to be this long, and I was even in the first wave. Not everyone who did that preorder the same day I did has their knives just yet.

 

Conclusion

I am really happy with my purchase of the Vero Axon. I was worried after waiting for months and seeing the continual hype that it wouldn’t live up to what I built up in my head but for me that’s not been the case. I see holding onto this one for quite a while and it being a staple in my EDC rotation.

I think this is about as close as you can come to a “Custom” knife but with high end production level prices. Production location doesn’t matter to me, as long as the quality is there and for me Vero and Bestech achieved that. This is a really nice design that’s been well executed. Should you have the issue Vero Engineering is easy to get a hold of. They have an active social media presence too, with live streams of updates on preorders, upcoming models and more. That’s one thing I always like to see when paying for a higher end EDC item is that the maker is accessible not only for service but I think it helps create a community feel and draws at least me more into the brand.

So, let me know in the comments if you have been able to pick-up any of the Vero Engineering knives and what you think of the Axon.

Full Image Gallery https://imgur.com/a/tvSAd5T

Nitecore T4K Review “The Worlds Brightest Keychain Flashlight” (4000 Lumens, USB-C, 4 Emitters)

Today I have Nitecore’s new T4K the worlds smallest 4000 lumen light. This continues on Nitecore’s trend of coming out with increasingly larger, higher performance keychain style lights, with the TIP, TUP and now the T4K. Thanks to Nitecore for sending this to me to look at and review. I will have a link to where you can find it if you are interested. 

 

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Packaging & Accessories

Packaging here is really stepped up, and it reminds me of Olight boxes with its magnetic closure and Thank you Message inside the front lip. The sides have some info and feature list on the back. Inside you get the T4k itself, a USB-A to C cable, a keychain clip, the manual and a warning about using lockout (Smart). 

 

Construction

The Nitecore T4K will look similar if you are a TUP owner, and it has a similar physical layout with a few changes. It’s made of a black anodized aluminum construction shell that’s held together with torx bits smaller than T4. On the top you have 2 buttons, a power and mode, as well as a small OLED screen that helps navigate the UI. It’s not necessary but I really like it. Branding is minimal which is nice as well.

 

On the front you have what looks to be a custom optic and flat face, when the light is on at the front you get kind of a side indicator like on a car at the seam which is kind of neat. At the back you have the USB-C port with no cover, and the mounting point. Nitecore says it can withstand 66 pounds of weight which hopefully is significantly more then you have on your car keys, but that should help it from getting caught too if pulled. This has a quick detach point too thats quite solid, and made of metal. I will talk more about the clip in the retention section.

 

Size & Weight

I measured the length at 36.34mm width at 29mm, and thickness at the head at 25.2mm. Weight with the clip and quick detach is 76.3g. The T4K is IPX 54 rated which means splashing water and dust should be fine. 

 

This compares to the TUP which comes in at 53.9g and is smaller in all dimensions. If you are TUP owner and are happy with the size the T4K isn’t that much bigger but is larger in all dimensions. Here is a photo of a few other keychain lights that I have and you can see the T4K just towers over all of them. It’s even a little larger then the Olight S1R II Baton. 

 

Retention

The T4K has a few options for retention. First you have the pocket clip on the back. It’s a wide clip, that’s attached via small Philips screws which seem like an odd choice given the rest of the light is assembled with Torx. This clip allows the light to sit pretty low in the pocket, if you choose to carry it that way. I won’t due to it’s diameter but it also clips on to molle webbing pretty well. 

 

At the back there is a quick release mount to attach it to the included key ring or you could use a small diameter lanyard too. It has a spring mounted button to attach and detach and can withstand a pull force of 66lbs which is impressive.

 

LED & Beam

The T4K has 4x Cree XP-L2 V6 in Cool White, no exact tint is specified but it’s pretty standard cool white, not super blue. The beam pattern out of the optic is fairly round but far from perfect, it has a few artifacts but it’s only really noticeable on a wall or flat surface and not in use. It’s a large spot, with very minimal spill, a little surprising as I expected this to be mostly flood. Rather then tell you all of the official technical data, here is the slide from Nitecore. 

 

Heat and Runtime 

Turbo runtime is going to be easier if I show it here due to the sample rate of my light meter, so let’s do that. Remember that this is 4000 lumens and a very small light. At first it will run for 10 seconds, before stepping down, I can keep running retriggering turbo and you will see the graph on the screen get shorter and shorter as the light heats up. After doing this 6 times the light does warm up. The thermocouple on the side during my testing said 52C (126F) but it doesn’t feel too hot to hold in the hand. With the normal modes it only gets slightly warm. After these 6 turbo runs the battery voltage did drop from 4.2V to 4V. I do wish I had a thermal camera because of how this one spreads heat out on the bottom of the light and through the clip. Not your typical flashlight. 

 

Normal mode runtimes were pretty good, they have flat outputs until they run out of power, with a small spike at the end. I tested High and came up a little short of Nitecores official rating of 2:45:00, at 2:17:00. So you might take the other runtimes with a small grain of salt.

 

UI

This light ships with 2 UI, the default being “Demo” mode. Given the package is a sealed box without a window, I can’t think of a legit reason why the light has a demo mode, and why it would be the default. Nitecore says this is for EDC use, but I would prefer to manually turn the light off, if my task takes longer than 30 seconds. For practical use the user needs to switch it into daily mode by pressing both buttons at the same time while the light is off.

 

Daily mode is more straightforward and what you would expect. The light starts in moon light mode and linearly goes up. Ultralow mode is 1 lumen, then 15 lumens, 65 lumens, 200 lumens, and momentary turbo of 4000 lumens. This is the same as the Nitecore TUP except for the difference in Turbo output. The light has memory in this mode and will remember where you were last at. It has 2 buttons, basically a power and a mode button.

The light has direct access to low and Turbo. To access low, when the light is off (and not locked) press and hold the power button to access 1 lumen mode. To access tubo press and hold the mode button, and this is in momentary.

 

The light also has 2 lockout modes. Lock 1 is half lockout mode. It locks the power button but if you press and hold (about 1 second) the mode button you get access to turbo. To exit lockout you have to hold both buttons at the same time. In lockout mode 2 the light won’t turn on until unlocked. 

 

Recharging

Internally the Nitecore T4K has a 1000mAh lithium polymer battery. For recharging the light has a USB-C port on the rear. The interesting thing here is that it doesn’t have a cover to prevent dirt and water. I think it would be nice if it did but I suppose it’s fine that it doesn’t. We all carry around smartphones most with exposed ports and things end up being fine. 

 

Total charge time of the internal battery was 1:20:00, with max charge rate bing 1.1V at the 32 minute mark. The light does support charging via USB-C to C cable and via a USB-C PD charger which is the way it should be. It’s nice the display say the voltage of the battery as well. 

 

Pro’s

  • Nice to see USB-C being used here and full compatibility but a port cover would be nice
  • I like the screen, and it gives a lot of useful info like output, estimated runtime, and battery voltage.
  • UI makes sense here, just remember to use lockout if it’s being carried to prevent an accidental blast of 4000 lumens.

 

Con’s

  • Too big for the keychain name, it’s more of a jacket pocket light
  • Short turbo runtime but that’s to be expect at this size
  • Pricey if you think of it as a keychain light, not terrible if you think of it more as a pocket light.

 

Conclusion

My conclusion on the Nitecore T4K is it produces a ton of light from such a small package, but I don’t think it should be called a keychain light. It’s just just quite a bit larger than I want on my actual keychain especially if I try to put them in my pants pockets. I think it works better as a something to put in a jacket pocket. Runtimes on the lower modes are long enough that you could realistically go walk the dog with this one more then likely if you wanted, and the UI is such that it’s easy to boost from 200 lumens to 4000 lumens if you need more light. That mode spacing gap though is huge between 200 and 4000 lumens, A mode of 1000 or 1500 would be nice to bridge the gap especially if you could get a minute or two out of it. 

I don’t always talk about price but I feel like I kind of have to here, the current MSRP of the T4K is around $80 at the time of this review, and I feel like that’s on the pricey side for what’s targeted to a keychain light. It’s got the output, screen, and USB-C but that’s just a lot. 

 

The TUP might be more practical but the T4K is the output king. If you want something to impress someone with how bright it can be for how small it is the T4K does a great job of that and I can recommend it. 

Olight i5T Brass & OPen 2 Blue Reviews

Today I wanted to share with you 2 special editions that Olight is going to have for sale on their upcoming Valentine’s day Flash Sale tonight. The i5T in Brass, and the OPen2 in blue anodized aluminum. Now you have probably seen lots of gear influencer video’s in the past on other Olight sales, this isn’t one of those videos, but full disclosure Olight did send me these to help promote the sale, and provide an affiliate link which does help support the channel. I have been a long time Open2 and i5T user so let’s talk about the sale and get into the details about both items.

Link to the Olight Valentines Sale (Brass i5T & Blue OPen2) http://bit.ly/OlightLiquidRetro

Flash sale date: January 25 2021 8:00PM EST – To January 26 2021, 11:59PM EST

Open 2 Blue(Limited Edition), $44.96?MSRP?$59.95?
i5T EOS Brass(Limited Edition), $31.96?MSRP?$39.95?

35% OFF These bundles
1) Open 2 Blue + i5T EOS Brass, $64.94?MSRP?$99.90?
2) S1R II + Baton Pro, $100.69?MSRP?$154.90?
3) S1R II + S2R II, $87.69?MSRP?$134.90?
4) i5T OD Green + i5T PU, $42.84 (MSRP?$65.90)

Free Tiers:
1) Over $129 get a FREE i3T Black (MSRP: $19.95)
2) Over $199 get a FREE M1T Plus DT (MSRP: $59.95)
3) Over $299 get a FREE Seeker 2 (MSRP: $109.95)

 

 

Thrunite BSS W1 Review (693 Lumens, SST20, 16340 Battery, Onboard charging)

Thrunite has a new light in their BSS (Black Scout Survival) series of lights this time focused on the compact small EDC market. This light produces 693 lumens from an SST20 LED and a 16340 battery. It has a deep carry pocket clip, and is available in two different colored bodies. It’s very similar to the Wowtac W1 I looked at earlier in the year with a few differences. Thanks to Thrunite for sending this too me to look at, if I have a discount for it make sure to check the description below.

 

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Pickup the Thrunite BSS W1 from Amazon. Don’t forget to apply the Coupon code BSS202012 to get an additional 20% off

BSS W1 Green – https://amzn.to/3c4ra5r 20% off with coupon

W1 Blue – https://amzn.to/3oe0hyt (No extra discount)

 

Packaging & Accessories

Packaging here is a rather small cardboard box that folds up from the top. On the side it lists the option the light is in, interestingly a black version and NW is optional here but those options are not listed for sale currently. Inside you get the light itself, along with a 16340 battery. Mine here happens to say it’s a Wowtac (Sister company) so maybe they had some wrappers leftover? Other accessories include the pocket clip, microUSB to USB cable for charging, manual and a bag of 2 spare orings, 2 spare USB covers. 

 

Construction

The W1 is made from aluminum and at current time is available in an OD Green and a Blue. I like the green color here myself quite a bit. The back end is mostly flat, it has a small milled center thats slightly lower with the Black Scout Survival logo engraved in the center. On mine the logo doesn’t really seem to be lined up at all with the head. The tail is magnetic and pretty strong, it has no trouble holding the weight of the light up. 

The pocket clip attaches at the rear of the light only, it’s a non captured clip and the tail and body are a one piece design. The groves milled into the body section are nice, they give quite a bit of grip but should clean up much better than traditional diamond knurling. The body also tapers in, to give the light the feeling of thinness

The head section of the light is a decent amount larger than the body, especially around the button and USB port area. This does change how the clip fits the light, more on that in a minute. This larger section serves as kind of an anti roll ring. The button is slightly recessed and protected with the aluminum around it. There is a LED underneath to give a charging status. Opposite the button is the charging port. It’s covered with a silicone cover. Not the best design I have seen but effective for the price. The front has a very shallow bezel that’s smooth. It looks to be a 2 piece design but I can’t get it to budge. The lens is anti reflective coated and the reflector does have an orange peel. The LED centering isn’t perfect but this doesn’t seem to have a noticeable effect on the beam.

 

Size & Weight

I measured the length here at 67mm, maximum diameter at 23.22mm at the head, and minimum diameter at the body at 18mm. Weight with the battery and clip was 51.5g. The light is IPX8 water rated.

 

The Competition

The closest light I have to the Thrunite BSS W1 is the Wowtac W1. As you may or may not know Thrunite and Wowtac are sister companies, and these two lights are very similar in terms of physical appearance, design, and shared parts. There are some differences, most obvious is the body tube differences. The Thrunite BSS W1, has in my opinion a more attractive body tube, with its linear milling, it’s also a little slimmer by 2mm. The heads are the exact same design with the only difference being color, and accents. They have the same button, USB Cover, bezel, lens, and reflector. The heads are also interchangeable between lights. 

 

The Olight S1R Baton II and S1 Baton Mini are both smaller then the Thrunite BSS W1, in terms of length, and as far as the mini has very similar maximum performance. One big difference is that the Olights carry bezel up, and the Thrunite is bezel down carry.  

 

Retention

The Thrunite BSS W1 uses a non captured dual direction clip that only fits on the tail of the light. It’s a pretty tight clip, enough so that it does scratch the anodizing, it’s very deep carry which is great and has enough space to fit over the pocket of my jeans to clip onto the pocket. The light also has a small place in the tail to allow a small diameter lanyard to be attached if you wish.

 

LED & Runtime

The Thrunite BSS W1 uses a SST20 LED in Cool White. No tint data is given directly. When I compare the beam to the Wowtac W1 it’s very similar, the SST20 in the Thrunite is slightly more neutral in tint to the Cree G2 in the Wowtac. The beam hot spot is slightly large as well. On this style of light I personally prefer a TIR style optic, because I think it provides a better overall beam for EDC use, that said the traditional reflector design here does throw further. 

 

Thrunite lists the output specs of the BSS W1 as the following.

  • Firefly 0.5 Lumens
  • Low  7.5 Lumens
  • Medium 58 Lumens
  • High 215 Lumens 
  • Turbo 693 Lumens with step down to 215 lumens after 1 min.

 

Heat & Runtime

Turbo runtime on the BSS W1 was 1:15 before step down, relatively short but this is a small light. Past here it seems to follow the curve of a non regulated driver. It ran at 30% relative output for right at an hour before slowly stepping down. Total runtime was 1:43:00 before the light shut off with the battery measuring 2.925v.

 

UI

UI here is extremely simple. From off, long press to enter firefly mode at 0.5 lumens. Once on long press to cycle through the 3 normal modes. Double press to go to turbo, or triple press to go to strobe. There is memory mode here. No lockout mode is here but you can mechanically lock the light out if you wish by a ¼ twist. 

 


Recharging

Recharging is accomplished via MicroUSB onboard the light. The charging port has a small silicone gasket that’s hinged at the top at one point. It’s not the best design I have seen, not the worst either. Charge time took 1:21:00 in my testing, with the max charge rate being .46A which is safe for this small of battery. The fully charged battery measured 4.145V. 

 

Pro’s 

  • Very inexpensive (Less than $30)
  • Only a cool white emitter available at this time.
  • Blue and Green anodizing are available.

 

Con’s

  • Not a crazy amount of performance but it is small.
  • MicroUSB instead of USB-C
  • Bit of a green tint on lower power modes.

 

Conclusion

If you are new to EDCing a flashlight, and wanted to try something small out, this would be a great option to try without breaking the bank. If you just wanted a small flashlight to use on a hat, carry in a bag or purse, or just wanted an impulse buy in a color you liked this fits all those applications here too. 

 

For EDC this is a decent light. The clip design allows for a pretty deep carry which I like, but the head design means I need to pull it out slightly to slip the clip over the side of my pocket. I like that it’s available right away in colors, and that they didn’t wait for a special edition with colors later on. It’s a little disappointing to see that it didn’t go to USB-C for the onboard recharging. 

 

The Thrunite BSS W1 is very similar to the Wowtac W1 that I reviewed last year. The exterior designs are slightly different, and I prefer the Thrunite BSS W1 here. I like the two anodizing colors being offered here an OD green and a nice blue. The SST20 LED is a little brighter than the Cree emitter used in the Wowtac W1. For the minor price difference (Around $25 total price) here between the two models and the availability of body colors, I would say to  buy the Thrunite BSS W1 over the Wowtac W1 at this time but I can’t say you would be wrong choosing either. 

Pickup the Thrunite BSS W1 from Amazon. Don’t forget to apply the Coupon code BSS202012 to get an additional 20% off

BSS W1 Green – https://amzn.to/3c4ra5r 20% off with coupon

W1 Blue – https://amzn.to/3oe0hyt (No extra discount)

Sofirn SC31 Pro Review & Giveaway ($27, 2000 Lumens, USB-C, SST40, 18650)

Sofirn has a new low cost EDC 18650 light out with the SP31 Pro. It features an SST40 LED capable of 2000 lumens and available with 2 different tints and onboard USB-C charging for a very low price. Thanks to Sofirn for sending this to me and providing a discount to my viewers. I also have a SP31 Pro to giveaway so make sure you check out the description of this video and top comment on how to enter to win. 

 

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Enter the Giveaway https://gleam.io/Xmkd9/sofirn-sc31-pro-5000k-kit-giveaway

 

Pickup the Sofirn SP31 Pro from Amazon. Don’t forget to click the Coupon code on the page for an additional discount too.

5000k Kit https://amzn.to/39JoSGf with Coupon DCNKLHS3

6500k Kit https://amzn.to/39yFJLC

 

Packaging

Sofirn won’t win any packaging contests but for lights that are sold online I don’t really give any bonus points for spending more in this area. It’s functional, generic, and does the job. With the light you get a Sofrin branded 3000mAh battery (Light only options exist), USB-A to USB-C Cables, lanyard, and spare orings, button cover, and USB port cover as well as a decent manual. 

 

Construction

The SC31 Pro has nothing I can find wrong with it, it’s a budget light but all the edges are chamfered anodizing is consistent, and markings are good. Starting at the tail, it’s slightly recessed but still tail stands well, non magnetic. The lanyard attachment point is on the tail as well. Internally you have a single spring and what looks like room for a magnet if you wish. 

 

Threads are square cut and nicely greased. The body tube has one pocket clip area milled into it, but the tube is reversible so it could go on the front or back. There is standard diamond knurling and it’s about average grip. 

The front of the light is removable. Internally it has a pretty stiff spring and it should work with all non proprietary 18650 batteries. Externally there is a silicone button thats fairly flush, the button has some texture to it to help you find it, and 2 LED underneath that work as a locator, and battery status indicator when charging. Minimal milling on the sides for heat dissipation. The USB-C Charging port on the rear has a rounded cover with a large flat. Mine fits pretty well and is out of the way. The head itself has a minimal bezel with no crenulations. There is a reflective coated glass lens, smooth reflector and LED centering is good. 

 

Size and Weight

The SC31 Pro is very similar in size and dimensions to the popular Wurkkos FC11. And for good reason, Sofirn is the parent company to both companies. I measured the SC31 Pro at 115.7mm in length, minimum diameter at 24mm, maximum diameter at 26.5mm. Weight with the battery and clip was 110g or 3.88oz. It’s IPX7 water rated.

 

Retention

The SC31 comes with a basic lanyard that attaches at the tail cap if you want. The pocket clip is decent but not as deep carry as I would like with 22mm of the light sticking up out of your pocket. It is a friction fit clip but fairly tight. If only this was a deeper carry clip it would be even better. 

 

LED & Beam

The LED that’s being used here is the Luminus SST-40 LED. It’s available in both Cool white (6500k) and Neutral white, and I have the latter here in 5000k. It surprised me a little as mine has a bit oa a rosy tint, it’s nice despite being only 70 CRI. It has a smaller hot center, with a medium amount of spill. There are some some kind of ugly outer edges in the beam with reflections off the edge of the reflector and bezel. Maximum output is rated at 2000 lumens and with the ramping modes you can adjust it to anything you wish. The light does have PWM but it’s minimal and only visible with my oscilloscope. This is expected since its running Andruil. 

 

Heat and Runtime

One thing that I have started doing is comparing my lights running Andruil as they come from the factory and then after thermal calibration. While I firmly believe that lights should come calibrated from the factory the reality is for the money here they don’t and that’s a shame because it’s worth doing. ZeroAir has a good writeup on this in his reviews, and I followed that and the difference in my lights were impressive. Turbo runtime went from 1:50 when uncalibrated to 3:05 after calibration, with peak of that being right at 2 minutes. So if you get this or any Andruil light it’s worth going through the calibration procedure. Output was also roughly 13% better during most of the duration too. This does effect overall runtime going from 7:05:00 uncalibrated to FL1 to 4:05:00 when calibrated to FL1 but this is a trade off I am willing to take for more output and a less aggressive thermal restraint. Max temp I saw when calibrated was 41C but this is my own setting and was at the 7 min mark. 

 

UI

The Sofirn SP31 Pro here uses the Andriul firmware by Toykeeper. It’s standard Andruil but I did notice one difference at the top and bottom of the ramp I don’t get the blink like I do on say my FW3A, and most other Andruil lights. I like this. By default the light ships in ramping mode, there is a stepped mode too. Andruil is good but complex. It’s highly configurable (for example you can change the behavior of the backlight switch) so make sure to take some time to understand it fully. 

 

Recharging

The Sofirn SC31 Pro has onboard USB-C charging. It supports USB-C to C charging cables as well as USB-C PD in my tests. It’s great to see a budget light support this. Total charge time of the included 3000mAh 18650 battery from LVP at 2.780V to full at 4.145V was 2:30:00 with the maximum charging rate just at 1.88V. I have no complaints here, and it’s great to see at budget prices.

 

Pro

  • My NW SST40 LED here in 5000k has a really nice tint with a rosy hue
  • Fantastic value for a complete kit
  • Andruil firmware is a love it or hate it thing, but it provides a lot of options for the enthusiast or budding flashaholic. 

 

Cons

  • The pocket clip here is a small letdown, it’s not as deep carry as I would have hoped. 
  • Non magnetic tail, although easy to modify to make magnetic. 
  • Edges of the beam are a little ugly. 

 

Conclusion

I am not ready to call this the Wurkkos FC11 killer since it’s an extremely similar light made by the same parent company but what I will call it is an extremely good value for a slightly more advanced light because it has Andruil UI. While I love the LH351D in my FC11 the tint here in the SC31 Pro is better in my opinion, slightly brighter, but you do lose the high CRI of the LH351D. 

 

The Andruil UI is complex, and that may be a turn off for some new to the hobby, but for a noob there is muggle mode. Take some time and study the diagram to understand how it works and I think you will enjoy it. Build quality here is appropriate for the price, nothing is bad but it’s also not class leading. This is a great all around light for the money here and I have no hesitation recommending it, especially at the price Sofrin has offered to my viewers with the discount you can find in the description. About $25 at the time of filming. 

 

Enter the Giveaway for the Sofirn SP31 Pro Kit (5000k) https://gleam.io/Xmkd9/sofirn-sp31-pro-5000k-kit-giveaway

Olight Obulb Review (Warm White, Red, Magnetic, Lantern)

Olight has a new Mini lantern out called the Obulb and comes in 3 colors. It’s magnetic, floats in water, and has warm white modes along with red modes. Thanks to Skyben for sending this to me to check out and do a short review. 

 

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Pickup the Olight Obulb at Amazon from Skyben

Red: https://amzn.to/35pQyyl

Green: https://amzn.to/2LiMbOL

Grey: https://amzn.to/38vRFyo

 

Packaging and Accessories

Packaging here is standard Olight white box high quality. On the front and top are photos of the light on their respective side, on the back is your information panel with runtimes and outputs. Accessories include the Obulb itself, a USB MCC 1A charging cable, and a Olight self adhesive magnetic backer that acts like a coin too. 

 

Constructions

The obulb is available in 3 colors, a green, similar to the Olantern, a gray, and red that you see here. Red to me makes it look a lot like a pokeball I think. The dome is made from translucent polycarbonate and is reasonably thick. The bottom half is a rubberized plastic that provides some grip and it has the signature blue metallic strip in the middle. 

 

On the bottom there are 3 brass contacts for charging, and the internal magnet is strong enough to easily hold it’s weight up and be reasonably vibration resistant. 

Thanks to Oweban for sacrificing his Obulb so we can see inside, he provided me with these pictures to share what the circuit board, and battery configuration looks like. It’s a stacked design with the LED and Driver board being on top, a total of 8 LED, 4 for each color, Under that sits a 630mAh lithium polymer battery pouch, an aluminum tray, and then the board with the recharging pads and 2 buttons. It is IPX7 water rated meaning it can be submerged upto a meter for 30 minutes but it floats too. It’s drop rated for a meter too. 

 

Size & Weight

This is pretty small, somewhere between a golf ball and baseball size. It measures 54.2mm in diameter and 48.4mm tall. Weight is 56.4g and it is IPX7 water rated and floats in water. 

 

LED & Beam Shots

The Obulb has 2 LED colors, a warm white and a red. The warm white is a pretty warm, I would guess it’s about 2500k, the LED being used here is unknown, from looking at the circuit board it’s not square like most flashlight LED, it produces a good tone. Low is good for 3.5 lumens and high is 55 lumens. Low is enough light ot read a map, navigate a bathroom or low light tasks like that. High is enough light to prepare or eat a meal, navigate a small room with etc. It’s a nice even light. Red mode is rated at 7 lumens and fairly bright for a colored mode. 

 

Runtime

I did measure runtimes in the White and Red modes for this light. In High mode for the White emitter the light held it’s rated output very consistently through out the range, total runtime was 3:40:00, this is 40 minutes longer then what Olight rates it for. Low mode is rated for 56 hours of runtime and I didn’t test this due to the length of the test. Red mode is a similar story but a little more sag in the output, holding at about 90% relative output for the duration of 8:40:00, this is an hour and 40 minutes better then what Olight rates it for officially. Heat isn’t a concern here at all, with the light remaining room temp to the test during use. 

 

UI 

The light has 4 simple modes that are linear with no short cuts and does have memory. The button is on the underside of the light but that doens’t matter since you can press the top as well when it’s on a hard surface. It takes a reasonably hard press to make it come on though. Once on long press to change modes. The mode progression is Low White, High White, Red, Red Flashing. 

 

Recharging

Charing the internal 630mAh lithium polymer pouch battery is done on the bottom of the light with Olights MCC 1A charging system. Charging took 90 minutes with maximum charge rate of 0.6A so pretty much exactly 1C. 

 

Pro’s

  • Warm White from Olight
  • It Floats and is waterproof
  • Strong magnet allows it to be mounted on any magnetic surface.
  • Better then expected battery life

 

Con’s

  • Not something you will EDC probably or use daily
  • Battery is sealed an non user replaceable. 

 

Conclusion

I like the Olight Obulb. It’s not something I will use everyday but it can come in handy in a lot of different places. This is a nice simple light to give to young kids that is easy to operate but doesn’t have small pieces like many cylinder lights do. If you had a pool I could see tossing a few of these in to give ambient lighting at night, or using it in a shower to give you more light if needed. I may end up putting it in my car for winter to use that red blinking mode as a locator beacon should I happen to go off the road in a blizzard but I could also see it being nice on a bedside table, in a tent while camping etc.

 

I can’t help to think what the Olight Olantern would have been like with these white LED’s to create a nice warm tint. It’s a nice choice in LED and a surprise from Olights standard cool white. The price is also reasonable and the choice of colors is a nice touch. I am a fan of the Obulb even though I won’t use it all the time. 

Olight Warrior Mini Recall News!

Here is the link to the official Facebook group post on the matter https://www.facebook.com/groups/Olight/permalink/3455317721188648

See my review of the Olight Warrior Mini at https://youtu.be/k-kKoWlt9Mk

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Klarus XT11 GT Pro Review (2000 Lumens, Cree XHP 35 HD, USB-C,18650)

Today I have a newer light from Klarus the XT11 GT Pro. This is an update to a light that Klarus has made previously. Klarus (Affiliate) sent this to me earlier in the year for review, and I appreciate their patience as it took me a little while to get to it. 

 

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Pickup the Klarus XT11GT Pro at Amazon https://amzn.to/2MqwsgY

 

Construction

The XT11GT Pro is made from aluminum and is anodized in a smooth medium gloss black anodizing. Visually it’s different then the standard XT11GT. It features the same tactical tail cap, with the large center button being a mechanical switch with a grippy silicon cover and the paddle on the side to allow for mode selection. The paddle was upgraded to aluminum here for incredibility. The clip is a clip on, non fixed and rotates around the body of the light. It’s not deep carry with it leaving about 32mm exposed from a pocket. 

The body is milled with small horizontal lines going around the body of the light and then it has small relieves milled in. It’s a nice change from traditional knurling and provides a good amount of grip. The threads are nice and square cut and it’s a dual wall construction. The head and body tube appear to be once piece. As we get to the head of the light it grows in size, It’s got a built in anti roll ring that adds some style and nicely disguises the USB charging port cover. This is definitely one of the better designs I have seen for this. 

The bezel is a little aggressive and the outer edges have some sharper sides. It’s a gunmetal color and stainless steel I believe. It’s easily unscrewed by hand. Inside is a anti reflective coated glass lens, a fairly deep smooth reflector 

 

Size and Weight

I measured the length at 139mm, minimum diameter on the body at 25mm, maximum diameter on the head at 35mm. Weight with the included battery and clip was 169.2g. 

For an 18650 light it’s a little on the long side, but that’s not unexpected with the deeper reflector. Here are some comparison shots with the light and some others.

 

Retention

Your 2 Retention methods on this light is with the included pocket clip. Unfortunately this isn’t deep carry carry with about 32mm of the light exposed if you do decide to use the clip. With the size of this light that’s ok, as I think it’s more of a bag or coat light myself. The included holster does the job pretty well too, no complaints there. 

 

LED & Beamshots

The XT11 GT Pro is using the Cree XHP 35 HD LED in cool white at 6500k. This is an interesting choice of LED”s since it’s officially been discontinued by Cree. That said plenty of existing stock still exists and Klarus must feel like they have enough to meet the expected demand of this light. The beam it’s self is a good all arounder. The deep smoother reflector means the light has a fairly small hotspot and it throws pretty well but there is also spill to allow for short and medium range light. So a good all around beam. 

The light will run on 18650 batteries which is how I will use it, but it will also run on 2x CR123a batteries which is nice as a backup. As a result the working voltage is 2.8V to 6.4V/ No PWM was observed. 

 

Runtime & Heat

I measured runtime with the included 3100mAh battery. Turbo runtime was 50 seconds before stepping down to 90% and then it ran for another 2 minutes 10 seconds before settling at 30% relative output where it ran for an additional 1:37:00. Total runtime was 2 hours. Max Heat I saw was 42C at 1:35. 

 

UI

Like many of Klarus recent lights this has 2 modes of operation, a Tactical and a Outdoor setting. The tactical mode allows the main button on the rear of the light to go to turbo, and the paddle to be a shortcut for strobe that you can lock on by holding for 2 seconds.

I primarily tested the light in it’s outdoors setting though. When in this setting the primary button on the rear is a shortcut to turbo both as momentary or locked on. Once on you can use the paddle to decrease the modes from turbo, high, Medium, and low. You can also use the paddle when the light is off to start in moonlight mode and then increase in output for each push. It’s a system that works better then I expected and is pretty intuitive once you use and get it.  

 

Recharging

One of the updates the XT11 GT Pro has is USB-C charging. Unfortunately it doesn’t support USB-C to C or USB-C PD charging. So you need to use the supplied (or similar) USB-A to USB-C cable to charge the light. The port cover here is nicely shaped and fits well into the side of the head. It’s one of the better executions I have seen of this in 2020. 

I charged the included 3100mAh battery from LVP to full in a total time of 3:23:10. It wasn’t the fastest charging rate, as the maximum I saw was right at 1A. There is a small LED indicator light built into the side of the light to act as a battery charge state indicator. Green is anything more then 70%, orange is between 30-70%, and red is less then 30%, red flashing is less then 10%. 

Packaging

My light is a super early production light (Serial number 17), and doesn’t have a box so I can’t comment on that. I can tell you the accessories it came with. My light came with a 3100mAh button top protected IMR 18650 battery, a Klarus branded lanyard and a USB-A to USB-C charging cable. It also came with a nylon, Klarus branded holster. It has a Dring and velcro belt loop. It seems to be solidly made. 

 

Pro

  • I like the outdoor UI setting here once you get the hang of it but it’s a little different.
  • Nice size in the hand for an all around light if you want your buttons on the rear.


Cons

  • Seems expensive
  • Cool white only
  • No true moon light mode, lowest is 10 lumen output
  • No USB-C to C compatibility and slow charging

 

Conclusion

My conclusion for the Klarus XT11GT Pro is that it’s a good all around light general purpose light. The 2 UI modes allow you to use it tactically if you want or use it in the outdoor mode which is more appropriate for everyday uses like power outages and camping. The beam is useful with enough throw and spill to do both jobs pretty well. What I don’t care for is the asking price I am seeing at the time of filming. It’s high in my opinion currently. Around $50-60 would make it a good value but at nearly double that I would struggle to pay full price. So if you’re interested I would watch for a sale or coupon.