Saturday, December 25, 2010

Difference Between R5 and S2 LED Emitter

The LED emitter is clearly seen on this Maelstrom MMS.
As many of you may know, the flashlight company FOURSEVENS, has recently undergone a fairly significant change to their flashlight lineup. While most of the flashlights have the same name, their LED emitters have changed from the XP-G R5 LED to the XP-G S2 emitter.

What the heck does that mean?

Well, I'm hear to help you understand. Let's start with the basics. If you haven't already, please read our post on "How Does a LED Work?" It should give you a fairly brief explanation of the basics behind LED technology and how it is different from incandescent bulbs.

This Quark AA² Tactical is only
now available in the S2 version.
What has changed with the S2 version is the LED emitter. You know, that little thing in the flashlight that makes it so bright. The emitter is what changes electrical energy into visible light. According to FOURSEVENS, the XP-G S2 emitter is about 7% brighter than the R5 emitter, which sounds great.

To make matters a bit more confusing, though, FOURSEVENS also decided to change their flashlight rating system. Previously, FOURSEVENS used manufacturer-based ratings for their flashlights. Since manufacturers often inflate their ratings and don't account for things such as internal reflection within the flashlight head, manufacturer-based ratings are often lower than the actual output values seen by the flashlight. In fact, they are often 30% lower.

FOURSEVENS decided to switch over to ANSI (American National Standards Institute) ratings, which are industry standard ratings, for their S2 LED's. Their new flashlights were tested and the relevant brightnesses and runtimes were listed. Since these ANSI ratings are the actual ratings of the flashlights, they seem to be lower than the older ratings. However, these new S2 LED's are still brighter than the R5 LED's, despite the lower rating.

Comparison between the R5 (left) and the S2 (right) LED's
I actually did a side-by-side comparison between the two LED's and did not notice an increase in brightness between the R5 and the S2 LED. In fact, it seems like the S2 may even be dimmer than the R5. You can clearly see that the S2 LED has a more yellow hue than the R5, which may be why the S2 seems slightly dimmer.

So, what's my personal opinion about the whole thing? Well, since I am not able tell that the S2 is actually brighter, I would make use of the lower price and buy an R5 while I still could. The R5 emitter actually seems better than the S2 from what I can tell, if not solely for the reason that the light looks more white, which is what I prefer.

Oh, and by the way, I hope that all of you have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Flashlights for a Snowstorm

So as many of you know, the Midwest recently experienced a very severe snowstorm. From news sources, at least 11 people have been killed throughout the United States and more than 70 motorists have been trapped on the roads in Indiana.

Emergency kits aside (good idea to have in a car/house), lets talk about how a flashlight could help in a situation where you are stranded on the road or at home, with no electricity or heating.
Snow can be beautiful, but not when you're stuck in it.

In a snowstorm, if you're stuck in a car, you should probably stay with your vehicle. Your car is a shelter, which may not be the warmest, but it will keep you dry and away from the wind. While your car battery is still good, you have light and signaling. However, a flashlight is always a great thing to keep handy. It would make a great signaling device, since you can point it in any direction. If your car battery were to die, having a flashlight as a signaling device could mean the difference between life and death.

In the home, a flashlight would be very useful if the power were to go out, which it often does in snowstorms. The benefits are pretty self-explanatory. At night, you need light to see and there's nothing better than a good flashlight to help you in that situation. Candles just don't cut it. Also, make sure that the flashlight is in an easy-to-find location.

Having spare batteries is important, especially if your
flashlight uses more exotic batteries such as these CR123A's.
You'd be surprised how many people have decent flashlights without having spare batteries. In all situations, make sure that you have plenty of spare batteries to go with your flashlight, and also keep them in an easy to find location.

So, I know that much of this post may have been common sense, but don't let it be so simple that you disregard the information. Don't be left in the dark when an emergency comes your way. Have a flashlight with spare batteries both in your vehicle and in your home.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Review - FOURSEVENS Quark Mini Series

One of the most popular series of flashlights that FOURSEVENS puts out is the Quark Mini series, and for good reason, too. These flashlights are some of the most compact and bright lights on the market today. If you're on to lookout for a super-bright, but compact flashlight, then you're going to enjoy this post.

The Quark Mini ML comes in a Titanium-bodied version.
The Quark Mini series currently has 4 flashlights: the Mini ML (formerly the MiNi 123), the Mini MA (formerly the MiNi AA), the Mini M2A (formerly the MiNi AA²), and the Mini MLR2 (formerly the MiNi CR2). Although made of aluminum, each version, except for the Mini M2A, has a titanium-bodied model as well.

All of the Mini's have a similar appearance, varying mainly with the types of batteries that they use. There are Mini's that use standard AA batteries. There are also Mini's that use more exotic batteries, such as the CR123A and the CR2, both high-output lithium batteries.

The Mini's are made out of aircraft-grade aluminum (except for the Titanium versions) and have ample knurling on the body for grip. They are turned on by twisting the head, and have a flat back, allowing them to be stood up vertically on a surface, which is great for illuminating a room. Being the largest of the Quark Mini series, the Mini M2A is the only one that comes with a removable pocket clip. All other ones are meant to be carried in a pocket/pouch or attached to a lanyard/keychain.

Now, to keep this review brief, I will list each flashlight's specifications below. These flashlights have been updated by FOURSEVENS to the new Gen2 CREE XP-G2 LED.

Mini MA:
Weight with Batteries 1.5 oz
Weight without Batteries 0.6 oz
Length 3.1 in
Diameter 0.69 in
Bulb/Emmiter CREE XP-G2 LED
Operating Voltage Range 0.9V - 1.5V
Battery AA
Battery Amount 1
Max/Min Output 108 lumens/4 lumens
Max/Min Runtime 60 hours (Low)/1.3 hours (High)

Mini M2A:
Weight with Batteries 2.7 oz
Weight without Batteries 1.0 oz
Length 5.1 in
Diameter 0.69 in
Bulb/Emmiter CREE XP-G2 LED
Operating Voltage Range 0.9V - 3.0V
Battery AA
Battery Amount 2
Max/Min Output 216 lumens/3.0 lumens
Max/Min Runtime 3.4 days (Low)/1.7 hours (High)

Mini MLR2:
Weight with Batteries 1.6 oz
Weight without Batteries 0.6 oz
Length 2.0 in
Diameter 0.75 in
Bulb/Emmiter CREE XP-G2 LED
Operating Voltage Range 0.9V - 3.0V
Battery CR2
Battery Amount 1
Max/Min Output 216 lumens/3.0 lumens
Max/Min Runtime 1.2 days (Low)/40 min. (High)

Mini ML:
Weight with Batteries 1.2 oz
Weight without Batteries 0.7 oz
Length 2.4 in
Diameter 0.80 in
Bulb/Emmiter CREE XP-G2 LED
Operating Voltage Range 0.9V - 3.0V
Battery CR123A
Battery Amount 1
Max/Min Output 216 lumens/8 lumens
Max/Min Runtime 150 hours (Low)/1.2 hours (High)

All of the Mini flashlights have the same lighting modes. These modes consist of regular modes and special modes. The regular modes are: Low, Medium and High. The special modes are: Strobe, Beacon (High), Beacon (Low) and S.O.S.

Listed below are the brightness and runtimes for each mode, for each model. Hopefully, it will help you compare the different models if you are able to see them all side by side.

Mini MA:
Low (2.7 lumens, 60 hours)
Medium (25 lumens, 8 hours)
High (108 lumens, 1.3 hours)
Strobe (4 hours)
Beacon (High) (20 hours)
Beacon (Low) (100 hours)
S.O.S. (12 hours)

Mini M2A:
Low (3.0 lumens, 3.4 days)
Medium (36 lumens, 8.8 hours)
High (216 lumens, 1.7 hours)
Strobe (3.3 hours)
Beacon (High) (17 hours)
Beacon (Low) (88 hours)
S.O.S. (10 hours)

Mini MLR2:
Low (3 lumens, 1.2 days)
Medium (40 lumens, 4.4 hours)
High (216 lumens, 40 min.)
Strobe (1.4 hours)
Beacon (High) (7.2 hours)
Beacon (Low) (36 hours)
S.O.S. (4.3 hours)

Mini ML:
Low (3 lumens, 150 hours)
Medium (40 lumens, 8 hours)
High (216 lumens, 1.2 hours)
Strobe (2.4 hours)
Beacon (High) (12 hours)
Beacon (Low) (60 hours)
S.O.S. (7.2 hours)

Accessing the modes on all of the flashlights is done by first twisting the flashlight head to turn it on. Turning the flashlight on puts you in Low mode. To cycle through the regular modes, just turn the flashlight on and off. Doing this will put you in Medium mode. Doing it again will put you in High mode.

To access the special modes, you have to cycle through the regular modes twice quickly. Upon cycling through the modes twice, you get into Strobe mode, which is a mode in which the emitter flashes on and off rapidly. Twisting the head on and off, you get into S.O.S. mode, which is a sequence of flashes that stands for S.O.S. Again, twisting the head on and off puts you in Beacon (High), which is a bright flash every 10 seconds. Turning it on and off again puts you in Beacon (Low), which is also a flash every 10 seconds, although not as bright. Cycling through all of the special modes puts you in Low mode to start the whole sequence again.

Personal experiences

Mini MA
The Mini MA uses the commonly available AA battery.
The Mini MA uses the good old AA battery. The same one that has been around for decades and can be found nearly everywhere. This is the flashlights main selling point. It is not the smallest Mini and it is not the brightest, but it uses the AA battery, which is as good enough of a reason as any to have one. It would make a great keychain light or an emergency light. It is definitely small enough to fit anywhere and bright enough for most tasks.

Mini M2A
The Mini M2A is the largest of the Mini's
and comes with a removable pocket clip.
For those looking for a great every day carry flashlight that uses standard batteries, the Mini M2A may be the best choice. Its size makes it ideal to hold in the hand, since the smaller Mini's may be difficult to hold at times. It is the only Mini with an removable pocket clip, making it easier to carry than the other flashlights, especially if you are used to carrying a pocket knife on a clip. Its brightness is also nothing to scoff at, being as bright as any of the Mini flashlights. When combined with the super easy to find AA battery that it uses, the Mini M2A may be the flashlight for you.

Mini MLR2
The Mini MLR2 is the smallest and one of the brightest Mini's!
While I have not had much experience with the Mini MLR2, from what I have seen, it offers the highest brightness in the smallest package. It is the smallest of the Mini series, but it offers the same brightness as the largest one, the Mini M2A. The only downside that I can think of this flashlight is that it uses the CR2 battery, which may be hard to find. If you can find a steady source of CR2's then the Mini MLR2 may very well be the best choice for someone looking for a super-compact powerhouse of a flashlight.

Mini ML
The Mini ML uses the popular CR123A battery to produce
a HUGE amount of light.
The Mini ML, which uses the more popular CR123A batteries, is real bright little light. It is slightly taller and fatter than the Mini MLR2 due to its choice of battery, but it has much longer runtimes. It would also be a great choice for someone looking for a small emergency or every day carry flashlight, especially for a person that already has a supply of CR123A batteries.

So, I hope that shed some light (pun) on the Mini series of flashlights. They are an excellent group of lights that should not be overlooked. For those looking for an inexpensive, compact and bright flashlight try out one or more of the Mini's and you won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

CR123A or AA?

For the average person, a flashlight is a flashlight, as long as it's adequately small and bright. A large percentage of people don't know or care about different bulbs, diodes, lighting modes or battery types. They never really had to know, because they don't normally use flashlights.

Which battery: CR123A - Lithium or AA - Alkaline?
For us, it's different. We care about brightnesses, runtimes, lighting modes, flashlight size/weight, etc. All of this matters because we care about pushing flashlights to the limits: getting the brightest light, with the longest runtime in the smallest package.

In the pursuit of flashlight efficiency, one thing cannot be overlooked: The choice of battery. For the past 40-50 years, alkaline batteries have been the standard for a quality battery.

Within the past few decades, as technology has advanced, the lithium battery was introduced. Lithium batteries have a longer life for high-demand appliances and can even offer higher voltages than your standard alkaline battery, although they are generally more expensive.

This leads us to title of this post, "CR123A or AA?". For those who do not know, CR123A are popular lithium-cell batteries often used in flashlights. I wanted to give you some advantages and disadvantages, comparing the lithium-cell CR123A battery with the alkaline AA battery, both common in today's flashlights.

AA - Alkaline Cell

Never fear, excellent flashlights that use
AA batteries do exist, such as this
Quark Tactical QTA by FOURSEVENS.
The alkaline AA battery has been around for many many years. It is so common, that it can be found almost anywhere. This commonality is it's greatest strength and the main reason why so many flashlights use it. It is an adequate performer, especially for items that drain the battery slowly.

High load applications are where the alkaline battery falls short, being the main reason why it is not as good for flashlights as a lithium cell. A AA battery, when used in a powerful flashlight, has about 700 mAh (miliampere-hours: a unit of power), which corresponds to how long of a runtime the flashlight can have. When you read about CR123A batteries, you will see how many mAh the lithium-cell battery can have.

Alkaline AA batteries are also heavier than lithium cells, the average weight a AA alkaline battery being around 0.9 oz. The dimensions of a AA battery also dictates the dimensions of the flashlight. A AA battery is 2.0" longer with a diameter of 0.5". Knowing this, a flashlight that uses such a battery cannot be smaller than that. Flashlights that use AA batteries are generally longer and more slender than flashlights that use CR123A batteries.

CR123A - Lithium Cell

The FOURSEVENS Quark Pro QP2L is a high quality
flashlight that uses CR123A lithium cells.
The CR123A is quickly becoming a more and more popular flashlight battery. Although not common enough to be found in all local grocery stores, the slight difficulty in finding batteries may be offset by this battery's excellent performance.

Like I mentioned before, this is a lithium-celled battery. The fact that it uses a different chemical makeup than an alkaline cell means that it can offer higher voltages. The CR123A battery outputs 3.0V as opposed to 1.5V in a AA alkaline battery. A higher voltage can mean that the flashlight using it is capable of being brighter.

The CR123A battery is also a better performer in terms of capacity. The CR123A battery has about 1500 mAh (double that of a AA alkaline battery), which means that the flashlight that uses it generally has a longer runtime.

To top it off, CR123A batteries weight 0.6 oz, 33% lighter than alkaline AA batteries. A CR123A battery is 1.3" long with a diameter of 0.6". Flashlights that use CR123A batteries are generally shorter and wider.


Personally, I am a big fan of the CR123A battery. Flashlights that use them are generally more powerful and have longer runtimes. Sometimes, however a flashlight that uses AA batteries may be the better choice. The only situation that I can think of that you might want a AA-powered flashlight instead would be for people who do not have easy access to CR123A batteries.

In the future, I predict CR123A to continue to grow in popularity, inevitably leading to CR123A batteries being easier to find and purchase. The future, of battery technology resides in lithium cells. As technology becomes better, look forward to flashlights being less expensive, along with having longer runtimes and brighter outputs, eventually leading to the complete phasing out of alkaline batteries altogether. It's a bright future indeed.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Review - FOURSEVENS Quark Turbo Series

The Quark Turbo series of flashlights make
long-range lights small and affordable.
While I haven't gotten around to reviewing them yet, FOURSEVENS Quark flashlights are a staple product for the FOURSEVENS company. The Quark series is know for its compact brightness and durability. One of the features of the Quark series is it's "orange-peel" textured reflector, which gives a soft beam pattern, great for illuminating a larger area at medium ranges.

What if you want to illuminate something far away? Well, FOURSEVENS solved that issue by introducing the Quark Turbo series of flashlights. The Quark Turbo series shares much with the Quark Tactical series of lights, the main difference being that the reflector in the Turbo is smooth, keeping the light beam focused at greater distances. The Quark Turbo is for those who want a flashlight that will illuminate far objects, as well as close ones.

The Quark Turbo comes in two version, the Quark Turbo QB2L - Gen2 (formerly the Quark 123² Turbo)  and the Quark Turbo QB2A - Gen2 (formerly the Quark AA² Turbo). They both use two CR123 or two AA batteries, respectively. The Quark Turbo QB2L is shorter, a little brighter and has a slightly longer battery life, while the Quark Turbo QB2A uses a more commonly accessible battery.

The Quark Turbo models of flashlights have similar output modes. Below, I will list the output modes for the lights, along with their brightnesses and runtimes.

Quark 123² Turbo:
Moonlight (0.2 lumens, 30 days)
Low (4 lumens, 5 days)
Medium (22 lumens, 20 hours)
High (85 lumens, 4.5 hours)
Max (276 lumens, 1.8 hours)
Strobe (276 lumens, 3 hours)
Beacon (276 lumens, 23 hours)

Quark AA² Turbo:
Moonlight (0.2 lumens, 30 days)
Low (4 lumens, 5 days)
Medium (22 lumens, 24 hours)
High (85 lumens, 5 hours)
Max (247 lumens, 1.3 hours)
Strobe (247 lumens, 2.5 hours)
Beacon (247 lumens, 18 hours)

The Quark Turbo is turned off an on by a tailcap switch. The switch can be depressed fully or lightly tapped for a "momentary on" feature. This is very useful in case you need to quickly turn the light on.

The smooth reflector on the Turbo lets the beam shine further.
The way to get to the output modes is identical between the two lights. The Quark Turbo can memorize any two modes of output, from its eight total modes, to be instantly available. These two memorized modes are accessed by either tightening or loosening the head (for example, tight can be Max, and loose can be Low).

Programming Modes:

To have the Quark Turbo memorize a different mode, turn it on and loosen the head by a half-turn. Then, tighten the head at least four times rapidly (twisting it tight, then loose, then tight, etc., four times). After the fourth time, leave the head tight or loose depending which position you want to program.

After three seconds, the light will flash, signaling it is ready to be programmed. Cycle through the eight available modes by clicking the tailcap off and on. The mode sequence is as follows:

Moonlight » Low » Medium » High » Max » S.O.S. » Strobe » Beacon

Once you find your desired mode, leave that mode on for ten seconds and the light will flash again, confirming that the mode has been memorized. To cancel programming before it flashes, turn the flashlight off for three seconds.

So, it's easy to see that the Quark Turbo series has a lot of modes and is pretty bright, definitely bright enough for most flashlight uses. What about the dimensions? Yeah, well I figured that I would get the brightness modes out of the way first before getting to the dimensions and externals of the Turbo series.

The size for both flashlights is good, not too big and not too small. The Quark Turbo QB2L is 4.9" long, with a head diameter of 1.2" and a body diameter of 0.9". The Quark Turbo QB2A is 6.2" long, with identical head and body diameters. As you can see in the image, both Turbo lights taper down, having a thicker head and a narrower body.

The tailcap switch on the Turbo allows for "momentary on".
The lights are also reasonably lightweight, with the Quark Turbo QB2L weighing 3.9 oz and the Quark Turbo QB2A weighing 5.4 oz, both weights being with batteries inserted.

The flashlights are constructed of aircraft-grade aluminum and type III hard anodized in black. This anodizing is durable and scratch resistant. The CREE XP-G2 LED that the lights use is protected with an impact-resistant lens. This lens has an anti-reflective coating on the inside to maximize light transmission. The flashlight heads have what seem to be heat-sinks to prevent overheating, which I think looks pretty cool.

The flashlight bodies offer ample knurling and feature a removable pocket clip. The clip is also reversible, giving many carry options. At the tailcap end of the light, there is also a hole for attaching a lanyard. Did I mention that the Quark Turbo lights are waterproof to 10 meters? Well, they are, as if you didn't have enough of a reason to like them.

In the end, both version of the Quark Turbo would make excellent long-range flashlights. The fact that two versions which use different batteries are offered is also great, in case getting CR123 batteries is difficult for you. Don't hesitate getting either light if you are in the market for a relatively inexpensive thrower (long-shining flashlight).

Thursday, November 11, 2010

How Does a LED Work?

Read our new "How Does a LED Work?"
page in case you were wondering how a light
like this 4Sevens Preon ReVo is so bright.
I posted a new page onto our site. You can read it here. It's about How LED's Work. Originally, I planned on putting it up as a Flashlight Blog post, but I thought that it's useful enough to publish as a page.

I hope that you guys enjoy reading it.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Flashlight in the Home

Our vision is our most important sense. Without our vision we are at a severe disadvantage. However, in the dark, we lose our vision, putting us at a great disadvantage. This is something that many people often do not think about. At night, we are all totally blind unless we find a source of light. Today, through technology, we have access to relatively powerful sources of light that we can carry with us practically anywhere we go. We have no excuse to not be able to see.

A FOURSEVENS Quark Pro QP2L flashlight
would work great in the home.
How many of you keep a flashlight next to your bed? How many of you have one in an easy to access location somewhere in the house?

If any of you said "No", then, hopefully, I will shed some light onto why you should. (nice pun, heh?)

Knowing that your vision is so critical, it is wise to take the situations where our vision is diminished seriously. If an emergency were to happen, you need to be able to see what is going on, in order to asses the situation and take proper action. Otherwise, tragedy can result.

Why don't I just use a light switch?

There are times when you may not have access to electricity or to a lightswitch. For example, what if the power goes out and you need to see at night? It can be very frustrating looking for a flashlight in the dark. That is why you should always keep a flashlight in an easy to find location where everyone in the house can have access to it.

Here's another situation. What if  are taking out the trash at night; something that I just got back from doing. There are no light switches outside. If you hear a strange noise outside of the home. You would want to see what it was by illuminating the area from a distance. What can you do if you do not have a flashlight?

The smooth reflector on the FOURSEVENS Maelstrom MMS
illuminate far distances.
Having access to a flashlight is also necessary to those who keep a firearm for self defense, which I hope many of you do, if legally allowed to. In a life or death situation, it is critical, absolutely critical, to be able to know what you are about to do. Having a flashlight at hand can prevent a tragedy from happening. That noise that you heard at night might be a burgler, or it might be your child coming home unexpectedly from college. It is very hard to know what it is that you heard unless you first visually inspect it. In a situation where you are considering pulling the trigger to defend your family, making sure of your target is mandatory. A flashlight is the best tool that I can think of to help you in this role.

There are, of course, many other situations where a flashlight would be useful. Not all situations that could use the help of a flashlight are extreme. Most are very common. If you start using a flashlight regularly in the home, you will quickly see the benefits.

Consider what I wrote and if you aren't already, always keep a flashlight handy so that you're never caught in the dark.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Review - 4Sevens Preon ReVo

FOURSEVENS recently released a few new flashlights: the Quark Mini M2A - Gen2 (formerly the 4Sevens Quark Mini AA²) and the Preon ReVo. Both flashlights are interesting in their design and function. I promise you guys that I will get to reviewing both, but today I'll be reviewing the Preon ReVo.

The Preon ReVo by FOURSEVENS is a great EDC Keychain Light.
The Preon ReVo is the newest flashlight in FOURSEVENS' Preon line, which is known for its brightness despite its small size and light weight. The ReVo is no exception. It weighs in at only 0.4 oz without a battery and with a AAA battery, it weighs 0.8 oz. This light is a featherweight, with the battery weighing as much as the light itself!

The size of the ReVo is as impressive as the weight. The light is 2.8" long and 0.5" thick. The body is made out of aircraft-grade aluminum with a durable Type III hard anodization, giving the light a black color. At the end of the body is a hole which is perfect for attaching a keyring (included), allowing you to use the ReVo as a keychain light.

The ReVo's lens is made out optical grade glass, protecting a CREE XP-E R2 LED. This high-powered LED emits a maximum of 82 lumens for 0.9 hours, all out of a single AAA battery. To conserve battery life, the light even steps down 20% from 82 to 66 lumens (a barely noticeable decrease) when on for an extended period of time.

The reflector on the ReVo is textured, giving a nice, soft beam pattern. It shines adequately far, making it good for short to medium ranges (0-100 feet). The flashlight has a knurled body to aid in gripping the light. The knurling is slightly too smooth for my liking. However, it is functional and should be adequate for most situations. I mean, come on, how much can you ask of a light this small?

What makes this flashlight so unique?

According to FOURSEVENS, the Preon ReVo is the world’s first mass-produced, “smart” multi-level and current-regulated, single-AAA flashlight. I'll explain what this means by going into the different lighting modes that the ReVo has to offer.

The ReVo uses a CREE XP-E R2 LED emitter with a textured reflector.
The ReVo has six different lighting modes. These consist of three regular modes (Low, Medium, and High) and three special modes (Strobe, S.O.S. and Beacon). The way that you get to the modes is quite simple. When you turn the flashlight on, by twisting the head tight, you start off in Low mode. If you turn the light off and on quickly, by slightly loosening and tightening the head, you get to Medium mode. If you do that again, you get to High mode.

Alright, now how do you get to the special modes?

Getting to the special modes is just as easy. To get to the special modes, you have to cycle through the regular modes twice within 2 seconds. So twisting and untwisting the head, you cycle through: Low, Medium, High, Low, Medium, High. After cycling through the regular modes twice, you then get to Strobe, S.O.S. and then Beacon. Cycling through the special modes is just like cycling through the regular modes.

I will explain the special modes for those who are unaware. Strobe is a mode in which the light flashes rapidly. It would be good for confusing someone you are shining the beam at, or just for fun. S.O.S. mode is a timed flash that whose flashes mean S.O.S.

Below is a list of the modes, along with their brightnesses and run times, according to 4Sevens:
Low (1.5 lumens, 2.8 days)
Medium (19.8 lumens, 5.7 hours)
High (82 lumens, 0.9 hours)
Strobe (2.5 hours)
Beacon (48 hours)
S.O.S. (2 hours)

The tailcap on the ReVo makes it great for attaching to your keys.
There is another feature on the ReVo not found in other flashlights. This flashlight is current-regulated, which gives it much longer runtimes than other Preon flashlights. For example, the runtime for a Preon P1 on low mode mode is 23 hours, while outputting 1.8 lumens. That's a respectable runtime. However, the Preon ReVo has a runtime of 2.8 days, while outputting 1.5 hours. That's slightly less brightness for a drastic different in runtime. According to FOURSEVENS, "If you use the ReVO 30 minutes a day, one tiny AAA battery will last you 4.5 months!"

So, the flashlight's modes and runtimes are impressive, what about its usefulness?

The Preon ReVo is small and light, as mentioned earlier. This makes it very useful as an every day carry (EDC) flashlight. It is small enough to be put on your keys or thrown in a pocket and forgotten about. Whenever you come across a situation that requires light, you'll always have a flashlight with you. That's one of the amazing things about tiny lights like this. In the past, the only flashlights like this were cheap and would output only a couple lumens of light. Nowadays, the flashlights that are small enough to throw on a keychain rival some of the larger lights on the market. It's a great time to be a flashaholic (flashlight enthusiast).

This newest product from FOURSEVENS is definitely a hit. I haven't seen a flashlight from FOURSEVENS that I haven't liked, but this one definitely ranks higher than most due to its small size, brightness and unrivaled battery life. If you don't have a flashlight on your keys yet, take a look at the Preon ReVo.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Always Have Spare Batteries

Today will be a short, but important post. It's of a lesson that I've learned on a couple of occasions. I'm sure that you have read the title, so you know exactly what I'm about to write next, "Always Have Spare Batteries."

It seems obvious, of course it's obvious, but it's something that can often be overlooked. "But I just replaced my batteries last week," you might say to yourself, or, "I won't have to use my flashlight for that long, the batteries will last."

On two recent occasions, when I needed my flashlight, the batteries have run out and I was stuck without a light. That's not a very good situation when you're in a dark place. In my situation, I thought, "If I bring two flashlights, what are the chances of the batteries dying on both within a similar time?"

Murphy attacked me and both flashlights went out, on two separate occasions. What are the odds? As if I couldn't have learned from my first mistake. *facepalm*

Spare CR123 Batteries are good to have if your flashlight uses them.
So, moral of the story, if you are going to be carrying a flashlight, have some spare batteries nearby. They do not have to be on your person, but have some spare CR123 batteries for your FOURSEVENS Quark Tactical QT2L (formerly 4Sevens Quark 123² Tactical) or some spare AAA's for your FOURSEVENS Preon P0.

Those are just some lessons learned. I'm just glad that those situations where I needed the flashlights weren't extreme emergencies.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Look At Some Less Expensive Lighting Options

Many of you, when you think of flashlights, probably think that you have to spend at least $30 to purchase a decent/useful flashlight. $30 may even be cutting it close. If you are a flashaholic (someone who really likes flashlights), then you have a general idea of how much a good light should cost.

With all of the technical comparisons of light output, lighting modes, runtime, durability, etc., one can easily get lost and forget about why they have a flashlight in the first place: In order to help you see in the dark.

Whether it costs $1 or $100, if it helps you with the task at hand, it's a success. I guess one way of measuring the success of a flashlight purchase would be to see how much money is left in your wallet.

In this post, I want to look at a very inexpensive lighting option that may be overlooked by some as being too cheap or simple.

We all know about keychain LED flashlights, right? Well, these little guys can be had for a very inexpensive price and are small enough to put just about anywhere. You can attach them to your keys, to zipper pulls; practically anything with a loop can have one attached. At their price, it's not a bad idea to have a few just in case you're stuck without light.

The Keychain LED Flashlight is small enough to be put anywhere.
I've had situations where a simple keychain flashlight would have saved me a lot of time. Let me explain.

I was outside with some friends throwing a ball around at night when it fell in a bush. "No worries, I'll get it," I thought to myself. Well, the bush was out of range of any streetlights around, so it wasn't that easy. I should also add that it was pretty cold outside.

Being unprepared, I didn't have a flashlight with me, so, as anybody would, I took out my cell phone and used it as a light source. Long story short, it took me about 15 minutes to find something that should have taken 30 seconds with a keychain flashlight.

How bright is it?

I do not have a lumen output to give you, but, from my non-scientific tests in a pitch black room, the keychain LED flashlight that I tested helped me see all large objects across the full length of the room, which was about 50 feet away. It was definitely bright enough to maneuver around comfortably. If I had a longer distance to test, the light easily would have shined further. I would guess that it would work to illuminate to distances of about 75-100 feet and probably more, which is really amazing for something so small and cheap. For close-in work, this light is definitely bright enough to do what needs to be done. Heck, it beats nothing at all.

Now, a keychain led light is not as bright as some flashlights, by any means, but it may be just enough to help you out when you don't have any other options. Think of it as insurance. Buy one, or seven, and throw one onto your keys for those moments when you do not have a flashlight and absolutely need to see at night. It will probably end up saving you a lot of headaches.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Every Day Carry Flashlight Thoughts

I just thought I'd put a post up about the idea of every day carry (EDC) flashlights. I've often seen people carrying pocket knives, multi-tools, and even firearms as part of their EDC gear. Personally, I don't think that I've ever seen anybody carry a flashlight as part of their EDC gear. I have heard of people who carry them through internet communities, but I haven't seen random people pull a flashlight out of their pocket when a situation called for it. I think that this stems either from an idea of not seeing a flashlight as a necessary tool, not finding a flashlight of acceptable brightness, or not finding a flashlight that is easily carried.

Great EDC light; Review coming soon!
These people, however, are living in the past. Nowadays, the advancements in flashlight and LED technologies have been so drastic that you actually can have a small and powerful light, with a decent runtime that doesn't cost a fortune. Some examples that you can find are flashlights that I've previously reviewed such as the FOURSEVENS Maelstrom MMS, the FOURSEVENS Preon P1 and the FOURSEVENS Preon P2. These are just a few, among many many others, that can be found on the market today.

Nowadays, if you plan on being prepared for an even broader spectrum of unexpected situations, whether emergency or not, a flashlight should definitely be part of your EDC tool kit.

Just to stir up your imagination, here are some possibilities of situation that would be greatly aided through the use of a simple flashlight, ranging from the simple task to the extreme emergency. See if you can think of any other situations. By the way, most people would just use their cell phones as a light source for the less extreme examples; I know because I'm guilty of that too.

- Attaching an A/V cable to the back of your television
- Lighting up a keyhole to more easily put your keys in your front door
- Finding your keys after dropping them in a dark movie theater
- Looking under the hood of your car at night
- Investigating a suspicious noise that you heard while taking out the trash
- Shining a light in your friends eye to check for pupil dilation after he hit his
   head (no dilation = concussion)
- Temporarily blinding an attacker while walking home at night
- Searching a car wreck at night for survivors after witnessing a severe traffic

Like I said, these are just a few situations where having a flashlight would be beneficial, some being more serious than others. As you can see, not all of these situations were even at night. Even in the day, a flashlight can be beneficial and even life-saving.

I hope that I have at least got you thinking a little bit about the idea of carrying a flashlight with you everywhere. Throwing a small flashlight in your pocket when you get dressed in the morning is definitely something that you should consider. With the size, brightness and even price of lights nowadays, there is little reason not to.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Devil - Movie Thoughts

While I haven't seen it, I recently watched a trailer for the new film "The Devil" out in theaters and I couldn't help but think how different the film would be if the characters, at least one of the characters, had one simple tool. Can you guys guess what it is? I'll give you a hint... it's in the Blog title.

Yup, that's right, a flashlight. I'm actually surprised that one of the characters, a security guard, doesn't have a flashlight on his person.

Even the humble FOURSEVENS Quark Mini MA
can take on the Devil.
From what I understand, the movie is about 5 people who get on an elevator. While they're going up, the elevator gets stuck and weird things start to happen. The power goes out on the elevator, leaving everything pitch black, and then people start getting hurt, some of them even dying. Judging by the name of the film, one of the characters is the Devil or some other monster and attacks the people while the lights are out.

Just think how silly the movie would be if one of the characters had a Quark Pro QPL (formerly the Quark 123), or even a simple little Quark Mini MA (formerly the Quark Mini AA). There would be no movie, at least it wouldn't be as suspenseful.

Imagine this: The lights go out in the elevator and the security guard busts out his Maelstrom MMS (formerly the Maelstrom G5) on Max mode, illuminating the whole place with 420 lumens of light. The elevator is now brighter than it was with the lights on. The people quickly tackle the "Devil" and in 15 minutes, the movie is over.

It's the same thing that would happen if one of the victims in a slasher movie had a 12 gauge.

So, the moral of the story is, always carry a flashlight with you. You never know when you'll have to scare away the Devil.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Review - FOURSEVENS Maelstrom is a Blast!

I just got done testing the FOURSEVENS Maelstrom MMS - Gen2, formerly the 4Sevens Maelstrom G5, and I can say that I am most impressed with this flashlight. In this review, I will share my thoughts about this excellent long-range tactical light.

The "king" of the FOURSEVENS product line, the Maelstrom MMS is the brightest, furthest shining, largest and most expensive flashlight that FOURSEVENS offers. Despite being the largest, however, the Maelstrom MMS is still small enough to be comfortably carried and used. Measuring in at 6.1 inches in length, with a head diameter of 1.5 inches and a body diameter of 0.99 inches (practically an inch), this flashlight is even small enough to use as a weapon-mounted light.

The bezel, as is common with tactical flashlights, is crenulated, meaning that is has small teeth which can be used for striking in self-defense. The grip also features a tactical/anti-roll grip ring. For those who do not want such a feature, the bezel and grip ring are easily swappable for smooth versions (included). The grip has ample knurling which is very functional in making sure that the light does not slip out of your hand easily.

For ease of carry, the Maelstrom MMS comes with a pocket clip and a carry pouch. The carry pouch is especially functional in that it is molded to fit the shape of the light. This makes it so that even if the carry pouch flap is open, the flashlight is still retained. The carry pouch has a Velcro loop that secures the pouch to whatever you're attaching it to. Since the loop is Velcro,
you do not have to remove your belt to attach the pouch. This pouch should
work with a variety of carry options.

The Maelstrom MMS has a crenulated bezel and a smooth reflector.
Now that we've talked all about the externals of the Maelstrom MMS, let's get to the "meat and potatoes" of this review: the brightness.  After all, we buy a flashlight to shine brightly, not just to look pretty (don't worry, this flashlight does not disappoint in either regard).

Powered by two CR123 batteries or one 18650 battery, this flashlight is very bright with a maximum output of 420 lumens. The throw on this light is also very impressive due to its smooth reflector. The light is turned on and off with a tailcap switch that also has a "momentary on" feature that is accessed by lightly depressing the switch. The Maelstrom MMS has seven functional output modes.

The output modes, along with the brightness and runtimes are:
Moonlight(0.2 lumens, 7.5 days)
Medium(28 lumens, 22 hours)
High(200 lumens, 3.1 hours)
Max(420 lumens, 1.3 hours)
Strobe(2.7 hours)
Beacon(30 days)
S.O.S.(8.5 hours)

The Maelstrom MMS has generous knurling and a tactical grip ring.
The output modes are broken down into two sets: regular and special. The regular set includes Moonlight, Medium, High and Max. The special set includes Beacon, S.O.S., Strobe and Max modes. The flashlight locks into either the regular or special set, and rotating the head changes the modes that the set contains. You can switch from the regular to the special set by first fully tightening the head. Then, switch between the primary and secondary modes four times by loosening and tightening the head quickly. The modes set then switches from regular to special or vice versa, depending on which set you were in initially.

Lastly, to aid in its ruggedness, the Maelstrom MMS is waterproof to IPX-8 Standards, which means that the flashlight can go to a depth of 10 meters for 30 minutes and still function. While not designed as a diving flashlight, these lights can still work underwater in a pinch, a feature that I think is just plain cool.

So, overall, the Maelstrom MMS - Gen2 by FOURSEVENS has left me impressed. It is a powerful and versatile flashlight that is still easily carried. Take a look at this light if you are in the market for more power and throw than your average flashlight can offer, for a fraction of the price that other brands would sell for.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Review - FOURSEVENS Preon Flashlights are Awesome!

Well, I had just tested out some FOURSEVENS Flashlights. The lights that I'd like to review first are the Preon - Gen2 series of flashlights. It is impressive at how they pack so much light in such a small package.

A look at the Preon Series by FOURSEVENS.
I, like many of you, am constantly searching for a small, yet very bright flashlight, one that I can literally forget that I have with me, but that will light up the night like a car headlight. That's asking for a lot, I know, and I have yet to find such a light, but the Preon series of lights are the best that I have yet seen.

Well, what's the difference between the Preon P1 and the Preon P2?

The Preon P1 and Preon P2 lights both use AAA batteries. The Preon P1 holds 1 battery, while the Preon P2 holds 2. Because of this, the Preon P2 is over twice as bright, maxing out at 192 lumens, while the Preon P1 outputs 84 lumens. That's incredibly bright for flashlights of this size and I was even more amazed at how small these lights were.

The on/off switch on the Preon P1 consists of a twist bezel which you tighten to turn on and loosen to turn off. The modes are also changed by quickly loosening and tightening the bezel. The Preon P2 has a tailcap switch that you click to turn on.  There is no push to turn on like on some tactical flashlights, so the tailcap has to be fully depressed for the light to turn on. However, once the flashlight is on, the modes can be changed by lightly depressing the tailcap.

Both flashlights have the same output modes, but with different output intensities.

The Preon P1's modes are:
Low(1.8 lumens, 23 hours)
Medium(8.5 lumens, 6 hours)
High(84 lumens, 0.8 hours)
Strobe(1.6 hours)
Beacon (High)(8 hours)
Beacon (Low)(40 hours)
S.O.S.(2.4 hours)

The Preon P2's modes are:
Low(2.2 lumens, 23 hours)
Medium(22 lumens, 6 hours)
High(192 lumens, 0.8 hours)
Strobe(1.6 hours)
Beacon (High)(8 hours)
Beacon (Low)(40 hours)
S.O.S.(2.4 hours)

The pocket clips on these flashlights are removable and are very functional. With the light clipped to your pocket, you literally forget that it's there, for both the Preon P1 and Preon P2.

The Preon series of lights have aluminum bodies, which come in many colors (black, blue, red and yellow), all hardcoat anodized. There is also a run of Preon's called "Titanium", which have titanium bodies. I have not tested these out, but I'm sure that they are just as awesome as the aluminum-bodies ones.

Now, let's talk about a very important topic, weight. Weight determines whether you'll have your flashlight with you or whether it'll be sitting at home on your desk. The Preon lights have this area conquered, as in they are incredibly lightweight. The Preon P1 weighs in at only 0.9 oz with 1 AAA Alkaline battery. The Preon P2 weighs in at only 1.5 oz with 2 AAA Alkaline batteries. That's very light, and I'm sure that they would even weigh less with Lithium battery cells. Come on... 1.5 oz for a 192 lumen flashlight!? It doesn't get much better than that.

Did I mention that both of these flashlights are waterproof to 10 meters! This is just amazing, not that I swim with my flashlights, but if I ever did, I would be prepared.

So, what's not to like about these lights? They're high quality, reasonably priced, bright, small and waterproof. As of today, with current flashlight technologies, which are always changing, the Preons are some of the best compact flashlights available. Get yours today!

Thursday, July 15, 2010


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