Monday, October 15, 2012

Review: Sunwayman V11R [EDC Flashlight]

Sunwayman V11R
Sunwayman is a Chinese flashlight manufacturer who is making a name for themselves as a maker of higher end LED flashlights. Most of their lights range from about $80 to well over $300. They are especially known for their superb fit and finish. They have consistently shown first rate machining and anodizing across their product line.

Sunwayman V11R 

Price: About $90 online only

This is the latest in Sunwayman's evolution of the variable output, magnetic ring flashlight for the CR123A battery chemistry. The V11R has been updated from the V10R to include a more aggressive look and feel, as well as functional improvements such as knurling and an indicator to depict the current brightness setting.

This review sample was purchased by me from the Solar Force store online, and took about 2 weeks to arrive from Hong Kong. Buying it from them saved me about $10 over buying it from a US dealer.

Official Specs (from their web site):


CREE XM-L U2 LED, with a lifetime of up to 50,000 hours;
● Digital Sensor Magnetic Control system, Infinite Variable Output Switch- slightly twist the Rotator Ring from left to right for Min to Max output.
Turbo Mode: 500 Lumens (uses one 16340 battery to drive, runtime 25min; CAUTION: Do not run the light continuously at turbo mode for more than 5 minutes.)
Max: 190 Lumens (1.5hrs)
Min: 1 Lumen (35hrs)
● Constant current circuit, constant output
● Effective range of 130 meters
● Uses one single CR123A Lithium battery or RCR123A, 16340 battery
● Working voltage: 0.9~4.2V
● High quality OP reflector maintains great throw distance and spread with an ideal beam pattern
● Dimensions: 84mm (length) x 23mm (head diameter)
● Weight: 49g(battery excluded)
● Aerospace-grade aluminum alloy
● Military Specification Type III- hard anodized body
● Waterproof, in accordance with IPX-8 standard
● Ultra-clear tempered glass lens resists scratches and impacts
● Tactical forward click switch with momentary on
● Tail stand capable- can be used as a candle
● Accessories: Clip, O-ring, lanyard, holster


V11R Design


The design is neat. At the tail of the light is a standard, forward switch, but on the bezel of the light is a control ring that can adjust the light from low to high with a simple twist. One of the best features of this design in my opinion is the fact that you can set the light to whatever approximate brightness you want before you even turn the light on.

Another interesting design feature of this light is the AA battery extender (purchased separately) which allows the light to run any standard AA chemistry battery as well as 14500 lithium-ion batteries.

The clip is the typical snap on kind and is not reversible.

First Impressions


Un-boxing the V11R, it's clear I bought the flashlight I had been wanting. I'm glad I waited about 6 months because initial first impressions were ... well, they were bad. The metal switch cover that shipped with the original units seems to be universally despised, so I was very happy to see the rubber switch cover mounted by default, with the metal switch cover (actually a separate switch, too) packed into a separate little bag. I'm glad they got this worked out.

I'm not a big fan of clips, but if I was, I probably wouldn't be a big fan of this one. It feels sturdy, but I'm not sure I would trust it clipped to my belt. But for the typical front pocket carry it shouldn't be a problem. If the clip falls off, at least the light falls into your pocket.

Fit and Finish


Overall, superb, but that's not a big surprise considering this is almost a 100 dollar flashlight. Sunwayman has a great reputation for fit and finish, with only a few exceptions. Unfortunately when this light launched, it was one of those exceptions. But they worked it out, and this unit shows the Sunwayman fit and finish I would expect/demand from a light at this price point.

There anodizing is perfect, and is slightly darker than the traditional Sunwayman almost-greenish anodizing. The emitter is perfectly centered (they use a centering ring IIRC) and both the switch and control ring have a good feel to it. Some have reported the control ring to be gritty initially, but my unit is fine.

There are no machining/tool marks or imperfections as you would normally find on cheaper products.

Usability


The control ring in use is a little awkward in EDC use. How could it not be given the size of the light and the placement of the ring. I can barely move the ring with my pinky while holding the light in a traditional tactical grip. For the most part, adjusting the brightness is a two handed deal.

...which is fine by me, because the functionality is so good. Being able to almost instantly dial in the exact brightness I want has been really handy. I had some concerns the light wouldn't do a solid tail stand, but it tail stands just fine.

My only couple minor gripes is that I'm not sure I like the "soft start" where there's a slight delay between pressing the switch and getting light to come out. I also wish it had a dedicated anti-roll feature, since it has already rolled off my nightstand once in the dark. Since I "loose pocket carry" without the clip, I don't get the anti-roll effect that the clip gives it. Put in a couple raised edges or something - seriously.

I have mostly been using my Trustfire Flame 16340 batteries in my new V11R, but now that I own such a great light, I've been thinking of buying some high end AW 16340 and 14500 batteries to feed it with.

AA Extender


Sunwayman V11R Extender
I purchased a separate AA extender for my V11R. Now I can use my beloved AA Eneloops, and occasionally 14500's, which have more capacity than the 16340. This thing is surprisingly bright with an Eneloop in it. The extender itself had the same great fit and finish as the light, so it looks like a real bad boy with the extender tube.
Sunwayman V11R Metal Switch and cover

Extra Switch and Cover


Newer units of the V11R are shipping with the rubber switch cover and switch installed by default. The metal switch cover and switch are included in a separate bag in the package. I mounted the metal switch just to see what all the hoopla was about, and yeah, it's as bad as everyone says it is. It looks really cool though. So if this were going to be a "shelf queen" then I'd probably keep the metal switch on. But for everyday use, it just plain sucks.

Viva la Révolution!


Printed in large letters on the V11R is the word "révolution." So, uh, what? At least that's a little less culturally awkward than "Mr. Elfin", which is printed in large letters on the M11R model. Dear Sunwayman, these are flashlights, not T-shirts.


Conclusions


This is about as close to my ideal EDC flashlight that I've seen. I wish that it went a little lower (since I'm a big moonlight mode fan) and I wish it wasn't so expensive, but those are minor gripes. Not only does it have my dream user interface, but with the extender it can use a wide variety of batteries. When I'm camping or on vacation, I only carry common batteries like AA's, so now my EDC can join me on the road!


Gallery


Sunwayman V11R in box
The packaging is pretty basic

Sunwayman V11R back of box
It still says "equisite metal tail cap push button" -- oops

Sunwayman V11R in packaging
Again, pretty basic packaging

Sunwayman V11R accessories
It comes with a nice lanyard, nylon holster and metal switch

From Top: iTP SC1 Eluma, Thrunite Neutron 1C, Sunwayman V11R
CR123 lights from top: iTP SC1 Eluma, Thrunite Neutron 1C, Sunwayman V11R

Sunwayman V11R with metal switch mounted
Closeup of the metal switch. It looks cool but too bad it sucks

Sunwayman V11R with Sanrenmu 763 folding knife
Shown with a Sanrenmu 763 Axis lock folder

Sunwayman V11R with Spyderco Dragonfly
Shown with a Spyderco Dragonfly lock back folder

Sunwayman V11R AA battery extender, new in box
The AA extender tube is purchased separately, and comes with extra o-rings

Sunwayman V11R  with AA battery extender, showing reflector
With the AA extender tube

Sunwayman V11R, closeup of Cree XM-L U2 emitter
Closeup of the XM-L U2 emitter - the die size is huge!

Sunwayman V11R: closeup of reflector on low low mode
Closeup of the emitter with the light turned on to its lowest setting

Sunwayman V11R: closeup of head
Closeup of head, which contains the control ring

Sunwayman V11R with AA battery extender tube on deck railing
Another shot with the AA extender

Sunwayman V11R without AA battery extender tube on deck railing
A shot without the AA extender tube

Sunwayman V11R AA battery extender tube with Eneloop in it
The AA extender tube with an Eneloop in it - the tube has an insert to keep the battery from rattling

Sunwayman V11R AA battery extender tube next to Eneloop
Shown with the AA extender next to an Eneloop - it runs the light brighter than I would've guessed

Sunwayman V11R with AA battery extender - glamor shot
The best glamor shot I could do

Sunwayman V11R: Closeup of rubber switch cover
Closeup of the stock switch

AA lights: From top, Sunwayman V11R with AA extender, Jetbeam BA10, Mr. Light J2
AA lights from top: Sunwayman V11R with AA extender, Jetbeam BA10, Mr Lite J2

Sunwayman V11R: closeup of rubber switch cover
Another closeup of stock switch

Sunwayman V11R in medium sized hands
Shown in my medium sized hands

Sunwayman V11R shown in the included nylon holster
It comes with a decent quality nylon holster

Sunwayman V11R showing brightness markings
Closeup of the control ring

Sunwayman V11R stock switch parts
The stock switch disassembled

Sunwayman V11R battery tube threads
Closeup of the battery tube threads - nice and square

Sunwayman V11R: closeup of switch housing inside battery tube
Closeup of the switch housing inside the battery tube

Sunwayman V11R shown with snap on clip
Shown with the snap on clip

Sunwayman V11R shown with quarter for scale
Shown with a quarter for scale





2 comments:

  1. Thanks for the review and pictures.

    ReplyDelete
  2. They seem to be trying to convince me that 130 lumens is a lot of light. But a common household lightbulb is rated at 630 lumens. So what's the big deal about a flashlight rated at 130 lumens? Don't get it.

    ReplyDelete