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Monday, June 22, 2015

Product Review: Ultrafire 7W LED flashlight

I picked up one of these a while back when I needed a new light to keep in my motorcycle jacket.

Yes, I have one for each of my different jackets, and one in the truck, and one on the bike, and several in the house; if you've been caught in the dark without artificial means of light, you know why. If you haven't, your time will come.


In any case, after some browsing around I ran across this one and decided to give it a try. Be warned: they come in a range of prices starting at just under $4 and going up. depending on current version/ which model/ which color/ power source. Some have adjustable focus, some have multiple modes(low, high, strobe), some come with a rechargable battery and charger. This one, at the time, was $3.80 for one that runs on a single AA battery, adjustable focus, and three modes.

Also be warned that, while the price on most includes shipping, it can take a while for them to arrive since they're coming across the Pacific; I think they wait until they've got enough to fill a container, or at least a significant part of one. Though given how much stuff is imported here, that doesn't take long.

  • The body is aluminum with various knurling and patterning for grip and looks, and has a pocket clip. 
  • It has a tailswitch that turns it on and off. 
  • The tailswitch also changes modes if you get a multi-mode; turn it on it and it's on high, bump the switch to go to low, once again to get the strobe. It does not have memory; turn it off, when you turn it back on it defaults to high. 
  • Focus the beam by sliding the head in and out: all the way back is flood, all the way forward is spot. 
    • If you slide it all the way forward, the spot is a very nice image of the LED; back it off just a touch and you get just light. 
    • Finally, when the collar is all the way back, the field is round; the closer you get to spot, the more it begins to show square.

How's it work? Overall, pretty well. 
  • It's quite bright. Since the tailswitch is a bit recessed, you can turn it on and set it upright on the base to use as a lamp.
  • Battery life is good. After having used it off & on for a while, I stuck in a new battery (Heavy Duty from a pack that was on sale at Harbor Freight), turned it on and left it on bright. 
    •  At one hour it was a touch dimmer; at two hours noticeably dimmer but still very usable. 
    • Right now it's coming up on three hours, and while dimmer, in a dark house or outside at night you'd have no problem finding things or getting around with it. That's pretty good for a $4 light.
    • Note: after three hours I turned it off, and it would not come back on; I guess there was insufficient charge left in the battery to kick the LED on. When I inserted the old battery it had before I started the test, it again worked normally.
  • It's also been dropped a couple of times(no, not deliberately) with no damage. 

I like good flashlights, but -- especially if you need several -- Surefires and Streamlights and such get expensive. Here's one alternative that seems to hold up pretty well for little money.

Editor's Note:  I have been a big fan Cree Ultrafire lights for some time now. I recommended it, albeit without a review as thorough as this one, in an earlier blog post.  If two BCPers recommend something, you know it ought to be pretty good.

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