Olight i5T Cu Review (AA, 300 Lumens, Raw Copper, Great EDC)

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.

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Versions

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. 

Construction

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

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.

 

Time Temp in C Temp in F
0:00:30 36.1 96.98
0:01:00 40.7 105.26
0:03:00 53.4 128.12
0:09:00 69.3 156.74
0:15:00 72.7 162.86

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

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. 


Pro’s 

  • Copper! With a great surface finish
  • Carries Well in the pocket
  • Good beam characteristics for EDC
  • Nice button

 

Con’s

  • 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.

 

Conclusion

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. 

If your interested be sure to check out my link to where you can pick this up on Amazon from Skyben trading

Full Image Gallery https://imgur.com/a/w89SyWL

Frelux Synergy 2 in depth review (LH351D, 14500, Made in the USA)

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.

 

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Frelux Instagram Page: https://www.instagram.com/frelux/

Frelux Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/265291334054570/

 

Packaging

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.

 

Machining 

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? 

Retention

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. 

 

UI

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. 

 

Pros

  • 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.

 

Cons

  • 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. 

 

Conclusion

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.

Frelux Synergy 2 Order Page:  https://frelux.com/
Synergy 2 Manual:  https://frelux.com/pages/s2
Frelux Instagram Page:  https://www.instagram.com/frelux/
Frelux Facebook Group:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/265291334054570/

Wowtac W1 Review ($26, 562 Lumen, 16340, EDC Budget Flashlight)

Wowtac has released a new small form factor EDC style light with the W1. It features a 16340 battery, onboard micro USB charging, deep carry pocket clip and tail magnet all for a very affordable price. Thanks to WowTac for sending this to me to review. 

 

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Packaging & Accessories

Packaging for the W1 is much like other Wowtac models, with a brown cardboard box with minimal information. The box does suggest there may be a neutral tint version of this light eventually but it also might just be production flexibility. The included accessories is a Wowtac branded 650mAh 16340 battery, deep carry pocket clip, extra o’ring and recharging port cover, and microUSB cable as well as the manual. 

 

Construction

Construction of the W1 is pretty standard. The tail is magnetic and flat so the light tail stands well. It’s threaded for a lanyard (not included), and the 2 way deep carry pocket clip that snaps in place but can rotate. The body of the light is heavily diamond knurled. It feels nice in the hand for a small light. 

Inside the threads are square cut and anodized, the spring is relatively long in the tail cap. Inside the head there is a solid post instead of a spring. The diameter of the head is a 3.2mm larger in diameter then the body and 6 sided. It features an electronic button that requires a solid click with LED’s underneath to indicate charge status. On the back is the micro USB port and silicone cover that stays out of the way when in use. 

 

The front bezel is a bit thick and silver colored, it’s nearly flat with the glass lens with AR coatings. The optic underneath is wide and shallow with a light orange peel. The LED is nicely centered but seems small for the reflector.

Sizes, Weight, & Competition

I measured the Wowtac W1 at 68mm in length, 20mm in diameter at the body, and 24mm on the head. Weight with the battery and clip was 56.3g. The light is rated for IPX8 for 1.5 meters, so it will easily survive the bucket test here.

Comparing to Wowtac W1 to other similar lights, the two that are most similar are the Olight S1 mini Baton and Thrunite T1. The W1 look a lot like the T1 in design, with the body being knurled instead of milled and being overall smaller due to the different battery sizes in use. The Olight S1 Mini Baton uses the same sized battery as the W1 and is smaller overall. I will compare the beams between the two in my night shots. I do like that the W1 is head down for carry vs Olight’s head up design. 

Retention

The pocket clip is a push on style dual direction clip. It mounts only at the tail. It’s designed primarily for head down carry and does a nice job of being deep carry. However since the size of the head is larger I found myself needing to pull the pocket clip out a little to attach it to my jeans pocket easily.  Overall good but it takes an extra step to clip on to the pocket. 

LED & Beams Shots

The W1 features a Cree XP-G2 in cool white, while neutral white is mentioned on the package they are not available for purchase at the time of this review. The beam here is a little different. It has a small hot center, that throws decently well for a light this small. Then it has a wide, fairly weak spill. On lights this size I do generally enjoy a TIR style optic for EDC use because it does a good job of a blend of beam characteristics. There is Cree rainbow with this light in the beam with the center being warmer with some green tint and the outer spill being cooler.

There is some PWM in this light, its fairly minor and not noticeable to me by eye or by camera but I can see it via the scope. 

Wowtac lists the output specs of the W1 as the following.

  • Firefly 0.5 Lumens
  • Low 12 Lumens
  • Medium 60 Lumens
  • High 197 Lumens 
  • Turbo 562 Lumens with step down to 215 lumens after 1 min.

Heat and Runtime

Heat is well controlled on this light, after 1 minute I measured temperatures at 87F, at 5 minutes 95F, and at 10 minutes 98F. 

 

Runtime 

No big surprises were found in the runtime of this light. Turbo stepdown is large and occurs after 1 minute. From there the output fell as the battery depleted, We got another major step down at the 70 minute mark where the light faded into it’s lowest output of around 0.5 lumens till low voltage protection kicked in (2.88V) at 170 total minutes. Of this total runtime I would say about 70 minutes of that is useable light, not too bad for a 650mah 16340 sized battery. 

UI

The UI here is the same as many other Wowtac and Thrunite lights which is a good thing. When the light is off firefly mode can be accessed by long pressing on the power button. From off a single quick tap will turn the light on in the last mode it was in (not turbo or firefly). To change modes when the light is on long pressing will cycle through the modes in an increasing order, Low, Medium, High. To get to turbo, double click on the button from any mode. Triple click from any mode to get strobe. 

 

Recharging

Recharging the light is accomplished via the built in microUSB port on the head of the light. When charging the main button turns red, and then blue when charged. Charging from LVP at 2.88V to full at 4.142V took 1 hour and 50 minutes and the maximum charging speed I saw was 0.48A which is safe for this size of battery. 

Conclusion

The Wowtac W1 is another good budget light from Wowtac, especially if you’re interested in a new small EDC light. At the price point of around $25 for a complete kit, the W1 is a good value and pretty easy to recommend to people. I do wish they had a neutral white option, that and USB-C would set this light apart from the competition.

 

The beam pattern here isn’t my favorite with it being almost more of a thrower then a small area flood that is typically useful in EDC, at lower outputs the spill isn’t that useful. The light carries in the pocket pretty well, and also clips onto a hat easily for a quick access headlamp if needed. I wish the clip was slightly longer so it rested on the body and made getting it into the pocket just a little easier. All this said this is a high value light for the price and a nice inexpensive place to start if you want to start EDCing a flashlight in your pants pockets on a daily basis. 

 

Pickup the Wowtac W1 on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2UUwlMq

View the full Image gallery at https://imgur.com/a/JsOmc88

 

Wowtac is also looking for 100 volunteers to try the W1 flashlight on Facebook @wowtacflashlights and share their feelings and help WOWTAC improve. (follow us on Facebook and join our group, contact to get a free W1) There are also weekly flashlight GAW on WOWTAC Facebook page.

YLP Unicorn 1.0 Review (Samsung LHD351D, 90 CRI, 18650 EDC Light)

YLP is a Russian Flashlight manufacturer (Lights are made in China) that is new to the US market. Their name when translated roughly means bright ray. They have been known by enthusiasts for a few years but it’s been more difficult to buy their lights, having to use google translated versions of their website. Recently they have launched a US English version of the website and got in touch with me to take a look at some of their lights. The YLP Unicorn 1.0 has been on my radar since last year so I selected that to take a further look at and review myself. Thanks to them for sending this out and providing a discount that’s in the description along with links to follow me on various social media platforms. This will probably be a little bit longer of a review so settle back and enjoy. 

 

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Packaging & Accessories

Packaging on the Unicorn 1.0 is a nice magnetic closure box full of printing, showing the light on the front, a lot of the highlights on the sides and more details on the back. It’s nicely designed without looking excessive. Inside the light is protected with some custom cut black foam. Accessories include a pocket clip preinstalled, a basic lanyard, and 2 extra o’rings. The manual that came with the light is in borth Russian and English. It’s pretty thorough but an advanced manual is available online as well and I will have a link to it in my description. One other thing to add, my light shipped in a box covered with cool Russian stamps on it too, definitely cool looking and not what I am used to. 

 

Construction

The light is made from aluminum and hard anodized in a gray/brown almost tan color. It’s a really nice color and nice to see something other then black. Machining here is good, with no complaints. Branding is extremely minimal with just the Unicorn 1.0 name and Unicorn logo on the rear of the tail cap, it doesn’t even say YLP on it anywhere! 

The tailcap itself is flat, and magnetic. The internal magnet is held in place with the tail spring so if you want to remove it, it’s easy to do so. You have a place for the lanyard to go on the side of the tail cap if you choose. Threads internally are beefy and square cut.

The knurling on the tail and body tube is aggressive, it feels good in my hands but you may see some accelerated wear of your pants under the pocket clip. It’s pyramid shaped with the tip left on. There is a Y shape milled out of the knurling to add some style to the light, you can see some tool paths in this but I think that’s done on purpose. The tube itself is not removable as it seems to be glued to the head. 

 

The head itself has shallow heatsyncs around about ¾ of the range. The button sits in a slightly raised block on the head but is then recessed inside this. The button itself has a clear silicone cover over it. Underheat there are red and green LED’s used for indicating battery voltage and as a locator beacon. The button itself is on the small side and may be a little hard to actuate with larger gloves on. The front of the light has a smooth bezel with the TIR optic in place. There isn’t glass over the optic so you may see some scratches over time. 

Size & Weight

The YLP Unicorn 1.0 is a pretty compact light for what all it offers. I measured it’s overall length at 102.2mm, maximum diameter in the head at 27.20mm, and minimum diameter on the body at 25mm. When compared to the FW3A is about 20mm shorter, and the Wurkkos FC11 is about 14mm longer. The Unicorn 1.0 weighed in  with a Sony VTC6 battery and clip onboard at 113.6g. Compared to the FW3A’s 98.2g, and Wurkkos FC11 at 111.8G. 

Retention

The Unicorn 1.0 features a reversible pocket clip with plenty of room in it’s top loop for thicker pants. It’s not super deep cary but I found it to carry quite well. As I mentioned earlier the knurling here is aggressive and while I like the feel in my hand, you might find it wears out your pants pocket a little faster them most lights, especially under the pocket clip. The magnet in the tail is quite strong and has no trouble holding the light. It’s also fairly easy to remove if you wish. I had no issues with it activating in my pocket during cary thanks to the recessed e-switch on the head of the light. 

 

LED & Beam

The YLP Unicorn 1.0 is using a 4200k Samsung LH351D at a minimum of 90 CRI. This is one of my favorite emitters right now and a fantastic choice for EDC in my opinion. It’s warmer in tint and doesn’t have any of the green that the LH351D in the Wurkkos FC11 had. My LED was nicely centered, and has a TIR style optic. The light doesn’t have a glass lens, which means overtime you might see a few scratches. Not a huge deal with everything else going on here. The beam pattern does have a defined hot center, and the transition to the spill isn’t the smoothest but it’s not bad either. 

One of the side effects of this light not being designed for huge output numbers is heat is well controlled and it’s also configurable in the UI if you want to push it a bit more. 

1 Minute = 90F

5 Minutes = 101F

10 Minutes = 104F.

 

I measured the parasitic drain of the eswitch at 22?A which is pretty minimal. I didn’t measure any PWM with my scope or eye.

 

Runtime and Outputs

Officially the light produces the following in it’s default UI. .

Turbo 850 lumens

High  450 lumens

Medium 170 Lumens

Low 40 Lumens

Moon 3 Lumens

Runtimes here didn’t have any big surprises from the regulated driver. I performed my tests with a 3000mAh Sony VTC6 battery but you don’t need such a high output battery in this application, a NGR18650GA battery would be a perfect comdination here. Turbo was good for just under 4 minutes, and we then saw stepdowns to 65% relative output. This continued to decline to about 50% output at the 30 minute mark or so but then the light started increasing in output as it cooled and the battery was able to keep up. This peaked at 60% relative output before a sharp decline to the lights lowest mode at the 130 minute mark where it continued running till LVP kicked in at 2.859V at 300 minutes. It’s nice to see active thermal controls on this one. 

 

 

UI

 This light has 4 different UI modes. By default it comes in what YLP calls Basic UI where the light has 5 discrete modes and memory mode turned on. It starts off in low and when you hold the button it starts ramping up about every second. When it gets to the top it automatically starts ramping down. Single click to turn off, Double clicking when on gets your to the maximum output. 4 Clicks gets you to battery check mode where the light flashes the batteries voltage. The way the basic UI works with it cycling up and then down instead of resetting takes a little getting used to as it’s different from a lot of lights and requires you to go up through high before going lower if thats what you want. 

 

The other main UI modes are UI1, which is ramping with memory mode turned on. UI2 which is ramping with memory on and the buttons light on, UI 3 is 5 modes, memory off, and starting on medium instead of low. 

The light has other advanced features which are best if you look at the advanced manual on the YLP website as you can adjust the thermal settings, and engineering mode where you can configure each UI mode through a series of clicks. These are complex and for time sake I won’t go over them in this review, but the manual has you covered and the translation is decent. You can find the full advanced manual here. 

 

Pro’s

  • Great overall size and clip
  • Wide acceptance on it’s battery type, flat tops, button tops, protected, unprotected it takes all the 18650 types.
  • Not another black light
  • Great LED and Tint
  • Very flexible user interface the default Basic UI does it for me just fine but ramping is available if you want it.

 

Con’s

  • Knurling is quite aggressive, and if EDCed in a pants pocket this will eat away at it over time.
  • Not the brightest light in this class but more than enough to get the job done with less heat and more usability.
  • Lowest output mode should be 1 lumen or less
  • Minor annoyance with the Basic UI, I would prefer it start back over on low after reaching top output rather then reversing back down through high, mediu, low etc. 

 

Conclusion

This is a light designed with practicality in mind instead of big numbers for a marketing purpose. As a result it can sustain itself on higher outputs without large stepdows. It’s using a high CRI LED with a pleasant tint and very useful beam pattern. For me it ticks all the boxes on what I want as a solid all purpose flashlight. 

I have taken it walking several times over the few weeks I have had it and it’s done great with that. It’s a useful beam pattern and I like the combination of tint and high CRI LED. It has a lot of UI options for you if you want, if not the default UI I enjoy. 

I hope we see YLP continue the Unicorn line of lights, making enhancements and tweaks as it goes along. At this price point it’s a lot of value, coming in significantly less than some of the well known brands that also share animal names. I look forward to seeing other lights from YLP, after reviewing the Unicorn 1.0 the bar was set high, lets see what they can deliver. I recommend the YLP Unicorn 1.0 without reservations.

If you are considering picking up a YLP Unicorn 1.0 make sure to check the description for a link to their English website and use the code in the description to save 15% off the price which helps cover shipping cost. 

 

Purchase the YLP Unicorn 1.0: https://ylplight.com/en/katalog/1/ruchnye-fonari/unicorn-10/

Use code “liquidretr” at checkout to save 15%

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

Wowtac A6 Review (1460 Lumens, Super Small & affordable 18650 EDC Flashlight)

Wowtac has a new ultracompact 18560 EDC light on the market with the A6. The light is running an SST-40 emitter in either cool or neutral white (Maybe?), it comes with an 18650 battery and is microUSB rechargeable all for a very affordable price. Thanks to WowTac for sending this to me to review.

 

View this WowTac A6 Review on Youtube:

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Packaging & Accessories

Packaging here is a basic Wowtac brown cardboard box, that’s shared with the A6 and A7 models. It notates what model and emitter are inside. Accessories included with the light are a WowTac branded button top 2600mAh 18650 battery, a microUSB cable, 2 extra orings, pocket clip, and a spare port cover. The manual is in English, German, Japanese and Chinese and in case you don’t know WowTac is supported by Thrunite and covered by a 2 year warranty.

 

Construction

As expected the light is made from aluminum and anodized black. Machining here is good. The tail cap is recessed slightly and allows for good tail standing and has an attachment point. Inside is a single spring and no magnet. 

The body tube and tail cap both feature some pretty aggressive knurling. While I like this in my hand, it will most definitely wear a spot in your pocket. The body tube is not reversible meaning the pocket clip is only mountable on the rear of the light. I would prefer a little deeper carry clip but this one is good and does an adequate job.

The head of the light features a semi translucent button with blue and red LED’s underneath. The blue LED comes on for the first few seconds when the light is in use and then when recharging the light will go red to indicate charging, blue to indicate charged. On the sides there is a little bit of milling for heat dissipation and style. On the rear there is a small silicone cover for the MicroUSB recharging port.

 

Size & Weight

I measured the overall length of the Wowtac A6 at 97mm, diameter at the head at 24mm, and diameter at the tail at 23mm. Weight with the included battery and clip was 96.1g. The water rating is IPX-8 rated which is good for this type of onboard charging port. 

This is a small light for an 18650 side eswitch. It’s the shortest side switch 18650 light I have that has onboard USB charging. The Emmisar D4 and BLF FW3A are both shorter but by very small amounts. The Olight S2R Baton II is just a little longer and slightly slimmer. It’s roughly the same lenght as a Reylight Lan or Pineapple but thicker due to the 18650 vs 14500 battery.

LED & Beam Pattern

This light is using a SST-40 LED and in my example is cool white. A neutral white version is listed on WowTac’s website and in the literature but the neutral white doesn’t seem to have ever been available in the past few months. Maybe it’s delayed significantly. The reflector here is unusually large and short, with a nice orange peel. The result is a beam profile with a decently large hot spot and a good amount of spill. I do notice some tint shift across the beam from the hot spot to spill unfortunately. Overall a very useful beam for EDC and general tasks in my opinion. Sorry for the beamshot tint here, it’s more blue and green then it should be, not sure what went on photography wise, ill have it sorted for my next review.

 

Heat & RunTime

For my runtime tests, I used the included Wowtac branded 2600mAh battery. This is an adequate battery for the price, but you can replace it with any quality 3500mAh if you want more runtime. Turbo on the Wowtac A6 will run for 1:30 before stepping down significantly. It went from 100% relative output to roughly 28%. 1460 lumens to 400 according to the manufacture. The light then ran slowly declining to about 20% relative output for 170 minutes. The last 100 minutes or so were a slow fade and then it ran in low then firefly for a total runtime of 260 minutes. 

Heat was well controlled during my runtime tests, and the hottest I saw the light get was 93F within the first minute. 

 

Listed output modes are:

  • Firefly – 0.5 lumens
  • Low – 12 lumens
  • Medium – 80 lumens
  • High – 400 lumens
  • Turbo – 1460 lumens
  • Strobe – 350 lumens

Mode spacing is ok, other then turbo sticks out here quite a bit. I would be prefer high be a bit brighter and medium and be stepped up a little to compensate. 

 

UI

The UI utilizes a single e-switch up on the head of the light. The button is small and would be hard to use with gloves. UI here is simple and shares from other Wowtac & Thrunite lights. From off, long press to go to firefly mode. A short click from off will get you in to normal mode with memory. The light starts in low and if you hold while on it will progress from low to medium and then to high. Double click to go to turbo. Double click from turbo to go to strobe. 

 

PWM

My scope does detect some PWM on this light in Low, Medium, and High, but my eyes don’t see it with my eye. 

 

Recharging

The A6 has onboard recharging via microUSB. It’s disappointing that it’s not using USB-C as other lights in this price class like the Wurkkos FC11 uses USB-C. Anyways I charged the A6 from LVP at 2.757V to Full at 4.13V in 3 hours 14 minutes at a max of 1A. Constant speed out to just about the 2 hour mark before decreasing as the battery fills up. I tested the included battery capacity in my Xtar VC4s at 2389mAh out of the rated 2600mAh. 

Pro’s

  • Great Value & a complete kit
  • Choice of emitters maybe
  • Small size

 

Con’s

  • Missed opportunity to add a magnet to the tail cap.
  • Neutral white is listed as an option but has never actually been available for purchase yet.
  • LVP kicked in and shut off the light at a fairly low 2.757V.
  • Huge drop in output between Turbo and High 1460 lumens vs 400 lumens

 

Conclusion

My conclusion is that the Wowtac A6 is a good, low price, high value 18650 based EDC style light. Due to it’s small size and pretty decent pocket clip it rides well in the pocket. The interface is intuitive and makes sense. The beam pattern makes sense here for EDC, it’s flody with a hotspot, I just wish it had less tint shift and that high was a little brighter, but this can hold its own. 

I can recommend this light but wish the Neutral white would come available soon. Hopefully we will see it sometime soon after Lunar New Year. 

 

Purchase the Wowtac A6 EDC Flashlight on Amazon at https://amzn.to/38Rzz7J

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