For anyone that has ever purchased a light on our site, you’ve probably noticed the long list of filters that let you choose the characteristics of the LED by type or by the Color Rendering Index (CRI). With the selection that we carry in store, it can become quite cumbersome to keep track with the specific functions and characteristics of each LED and it’s output; which is why this guide has been designed to inform those on all of the modern and most popular light emitting diodes on the market, and some recommendations for lights that use the specific LED or CRI.
Things To Keep In Mind:
Not All Lumen Ratings Are Equal: Check to make sure which lumen rating system the box is using. ANSI tends to be the truest rating, since it measures the light’s beam at three meters out for three minutes. Some companies try to use the OTF (Out The Front) and LED ratings to make them more appealing, but it only hurts you if you don’t check for the ratings first.
Find The Right Use: Finding the proper LED for the specific tasks is crucial. Make sure to take into account what you will be using the light for mostly. Larger LED’s have better flood, and smaller LED’s tend to have better throw. Also, if you only need a light with a high and low mode, then it is not important for you to get the brightest light with the most modes.
Check The Kelvin Rating: The Kelvin rating is measuring the color temperature of the LED, ranging from cool white to High CRI. Keep in mind that the warmer the tint, the weaker the beam will be for the light. If you don’t have a preference in beam color, and want the brightest output, stick with cool white. Photographers tend to choose neutral white or high CRI for its color balance, and makes a great tool to manipulate foreground and background lighting.
Read The Instructions/Maintain The Batteries: This is possibly the most important step of the flashlight process. Read ALL of the provided instructions and information to make sure your light has all the modes that you require, and can run specific battery types. The most common issue with this is the use of RCR123 batteries in lights that cannot run rechargeables. If a light that cannot use rechargeable lithium-ion batteries is being powered by said batteries, it is most likely that the light will overheat, and can ruin the light. If you are using AA Alkaline batteries, make sure they are not left in the light for an elongated period of time, or the batteries will corrode inside the light, and make it inoperable. Flashlight companies will not cover these issues under their warranty services.
XP-G R5: One of three XP-G LED modules that are manufactured by CREE, Inc., the XP-G is a small diameter diode that is used mostly in everyday carry (EDC) lights, or for long distance illumination. On an EDC light, the R5′s size allows the beam of the light to have a better throw with a smaller amount of flood. On lights that have a large, deep reflector, the beam is incredibly focused with a well-defined hot spot and can illuminate long distance targets even better than an EDC light. This LED has a lifespan around 50,000 hours and (on some lights) has a maximum output of 650 lumens.
(Examples: Nitecore EA1/EA2/EC1/EC2, Zebralight SC51)
XP-G S2: The sequel to the R5, the XP-G S2 LED has the same properties and characteristics of the R5, but it is slightly brighter and more efficient with battery consumption than its counterpart. This diode is manufactured by the CREE corporation as well, and can be found in a few special edition lights, and Fenix recently converted most of their EDC line to the S2 LED from the R5.
(Examples: Fenix LD and PD series, Niteye TS20, Armytek Predator, Armytek Viking S)
XP-G2: The latest and greatest XP-G diode from CREE, the G2 LED has been a huge success for small torches by being able to increase the lumen output by 20% while keeping the battery consumption consistent. By doing so, the smaller lights (especially those that are only powered with one battery cell) can produce even more light, which makes them that much more appealing. Foursevens was the first company that we carry to use the new G2, and thus far EagleTac has used it in their D series lights. I wouldn’t be surprised if most of the flashlight market was using this diode by the end of 2013.
(Examples: Foursevens Quark Pro and Tactical Series, EagleTac D series, Olight M20s-G2)
XM-L T6: One of the brightest LED’s that can be found in most weapon lights and heavy-duty lights, the XM-L T6 can produce an incredible amount of lumens, and is even more impressive when they are used in a cluster. The XM-L LED is a perfect choice for those that are looking for a fair amount of flood, as the size of the LED produces a larger hotspot which is better for illuminating a larger area (flood). There have been some complaints regarding the tint of the beam having a greenish hue, but it does vary from light to light and will not affect the performance in any way.
(Examples: Sunwayman V20A, Blackshadow Queen, Blackshadow Rook)
XM-L U2: The newer and brighter version of the T6, CREE’s XM-L U2 (Bono not included) is a more efficient LED by allowing a longer runtime and 7% lumen output increase. For those that found the T6 LED’s to be a bit cumbersome with the greenish tint, the U2′s tend to be much closer to the cool white, and rarely have any green coloring in the beam.
(Examples: EagleTac T20C2 XM-L U2, EagleTac G25C2, Sunwayman V11R, Fenix TK35, NiteCore EC25)
SST-90: Meant for larger lights, the Luminus SST-90 is an incredibly large LED that boasts an incredulous amount of power. This diode has been designed specifically for professionals that require a lot of light for a long amount of time. The max output for these LED’s can reach lumen ratings of 2,100, but they come at a price.
(Examples: Olight SR90/SR95, 4Sevens Maelstrom s18, Foursevens MMU-HD)
SBT-90: Besides the spelling, the Luminus SBT-90 has a completely different purpose for its use. Instead of focusing on raw power and flood, the SBT-90 is typically 45-50% weaker in lumen output, but makes up for it in throw. By removing the dome from the LED, the SBT-90 is able to focus the beam into one solid point with very little spill, which has been known to have a range of up to 820 meters (2690 feet). This makes it a great candidate for those that own a large amount of property, and need to be able to light up crops/stock/etc. from long distances. However, while the reduction in output makes this LED weaker compared to the SST-90, the price tends to be higher for lights that use this new LED due to the substantially increased throw of the light. If you wish to have more power, and aren’t really looking for the throw capabilities, it’s best to stay with the SST-90.
(Examples: Olight SR95 UT)
SBT-70: The latest and greatest in ultra-throw technology, the SBT-70 takes the same approach as its predecessor, but has a boost in output and throw. As seen in the new SR95S UT (notice that the Intimidator series adds another letter for every new addition. Pretty snazzy, right?). Believe it or not, the upgraded and improved performance of the LED did not cause an increase in price, and tends to reflect that in the price difference between some of the lights that use the SBT-90 and SBT-70.
(Examples: Olight SR95S UT)
We will keep this document live, so that any new LED’s that are added to the market can be added onto here. There are plenty of other LED’s out there, but these tend to be the most common among flashlight companies. As always, let us know if you have any questions, comments, or concerns about our posts.
If you’ve ever been to our store in Smyrna, you have probably seen the monster lights next to the register, and you may have remembered how super bright and super focused they were. Those were the Olight SR90 lights: heavy duty search lights with a built in battery that ensured super throw with an incredible run time.
Now, Olight has released two new powerhouse flashlights as upgraded versions of the series: The SR95 and the limited edition run SR95UT. Producing an outrageous 2000 lumens from a single SST-90 LED, the Olight SR95 has a throw distance of 728 meters (that’s 2,362 feet)! While that’s impressive, the SR95UT – using a SBT-90 LED with only 1050 lumens – can produce a throw of 820 meters (that’s 2690 feet). No, that wasn’t a typo: the SBT-90 LED is so focused, combined with the deep and smooth reflector of the SR95 series, that it can throw its beam over half a mile. The lights have a very simple user interface by holding down the switch to access three modes, and double clicking the button to engage strobe. These lights are the perfect candidates for home defense, search and rescue, property surveillance, and many other tasks.
The Fenix PD20 was a fantastic EDC pocket light thanks to its small body and impressive output, along with having a great price. While most users found the PD20 to be an impressive light, the engineers at Fenix decided that the light could use an upgrade: integrate an even easier user interface with the same design and features of the older model. The Fenix PD22 is simply the PD20, but with a dual switch operation instead of one. This allows the user to access all of the light’s modes by pressing the side switch on the light and even allowing access to the strobe feature. Powered by a single cell CR123, the PD22 can push 180 lumens with its R5 LED, making it perfect for a pocket throwing light. Just like the rest of the Fenix flashlight line, this light comes standard with the IPX-8 waterproof rating, and makes for a great pocket light for your daily needs.
It can easily be said that one of the most sought-after knives for any hardcore collector is Rick Hinderer’s legendary XM18. While it is a knife that launched his career to stardom and the XM18 has been a very popular knife design, it is near impossible to obtain a Hinderer design knife for a regular price. Therefore, Kai USA’s Zero Tolerance has teamed up with Rick to introduce the Zero Tolerance 0560 folding knife. Slightly larger than the original, this knife maintains the design of the original XM18, but with a few differences. The 0560′s blade steel is the ELMAX super steel, which holds an incredible edge and has a very high water corrosion resistance, meaning that this blade will last for a very long time. The knife’s handle is composed of two separate materials (G10 and titanium) to ensure a great balance between a lightweight design that ensures the best grip possible during any situation. While the knife strays away from Zero Tolerance’s traditional assisted opening format, the ball bearings around the pivot of the blade make it one of the easiest knives to open with a very smooth transition as it locks into place. Great for EDC or for the Hinderer fan, this is a great high quality knife that will not disappoint.
The Baton series from Olight has always been a favorite amongst those that were looking for an easy to use, AA powered flashlight that could fit into any pack. But now, Olight has released a new light to the Baton series, but they changed the battery type and lumen output. The Olight S80 Baton is different from its predecessors thanks to its customized lithium-ion 26650 battery that allows the light to produce 750 lumens on turbo. The incredible part about this light is how relatively small it is for such a powerful light: no larger than the S35 or S65, yet it is twice as bright as the S35. This new Baton may be brighter, but it does still have the same user interface as the S35 and S65, which allows first time users to easily access all modes, and will be easy for those that have used the Baton previously. The light comes in a rugged case that includes a holster and a home charging kit, and is a great choice for those looking for a light that is bright and portable.
A sleek and innovative design, the R20A from Sunwayman is a great light for the money and performance. Powered by two AA cell batteries, the R20A produces 180 lumens from its R5 LED and protected by a stainless steel bezel. While it does not have the traditional magnetic ring for setting the outputs, this light – while basic – produces three different levels of light that also includes a strobe function for those moments where it may be needed. An offset ring towards the end of the light allows the user to use the light easily with one hand that can also double as a roll stop for the light. If you’re looking for a great light for a great price that includes a simple user interface, then the R20A is a great choice.
JETBeam’s value series, the B line, has released a new light that is designed to be mounted to a weapon: the JETBeam BC25. Powered by either 2 x CR123′s or a single 18650, this basic tactical light can produce 650 lumens from its XM-L T6 LED from its high mode, and 100 lumens in its low mode. The light is a great option for those that are looking for a weapons mountable light that is simple to use and does not feature a complex programming system. It’s a bright light that’s easy to use for a very good price, and a very durable light for those that are looking to use it in harsh conditions.
Most people know of tactical flashlights having a great amount of lumens that produce a wide area of light, or flood. However, the Armytek Predator does the exact opposite, and can throw for hundreds of yards. The S2 LED in the Predator, combined with a deep smooth reflector, makes it a great light for lighting up targets that are far away. The light has been built with durability in mind, as the lens is protected with a deep toothed bezel and built in temperature gauges that prevent the LED from overheating in extreme environments. If there’s a light that is adaptable as it is customizable, the Armytek Predator S2 is the right choice.
A newer brand that has had a fast uprising on the flashlight market, Klarus is well known for its highly acclaimed XT10: a tactial light that is made to handle some of the toughest conditions on the planet. However, this review is to discuss the EDC line of the Klarus brand, which rise above and beyond their expectations. The Klarus P series contains four different lights: P1C, P2C, P1A, and P2A. Each light has a different lumen output and battery cell capacity, which is great for those that wish to find the ideal light for the conditions that the user may endure (i.e.: output vs. convenience/pocket portability vs. run time). The Klarus P series lights come standard with IPX-8 waterproofing and a removable pocket clip.
Just as JetBeam redesigned the RRT-2 with an upgraded XML LED, they decided to do the same with the RRT-0 by creating the RRT-0 XML. The RRT-0 still has the ramping ring, allowing the user to create a custom lumen output and can cycle through modes easily with one hand. However, unlike its predecessor, the XML boosts the light’s lumen output from 255 to a staggering 550 lumens. But the best feature of the RRT-0 series is its ability to adapt to batteries: as an option, the user can add a AA extender to the light, which comes in handy for dire situations where CR123 batteries are not available.