Friday, June 21, 2013

Review: Nitecore MT1A [AA Flashlight]

Nitecore has just been on fire lately. They have all these great new models out, like the EA4 and EA8 and the SRT series. So, it's not surprising that they revisit a standard EDC favorite like the AA format. I had won a $15 gift certificate to DealExtreme, so I bought my MT1A there. But if you don't want to wait 30 days for the shipping, just get it from Amazon or maybe GoingGear.

Product Description


Price: $30-35 Online

This is a single AA flashlight with a forward clicky switch at the tail. It features two mode groups by twisting the bezel: Turbo and Strobe/SOS/High/Med/Low. The emitter is a previous generation Cree XP-G R5. It has some other EDC friendly features like a crenelated bezel (aka "attack crown" or "strike crown") and a reversible clip. The MT1A seems to be aimed at the budget market.


Official Specs (From Amazon)

  • Premium CREE XP-G R5 LED bulb
  • Maximum output of 140 lumens
  • High efficiency current circuit board
  • Maximum runtime of up to 60 hours
  • User-defined mode allows for customizable brightness levels and a multitude of functions
  • Two rapid switching modes suit various user requirements
  • Intelligent memory function stores preferred brightness setting
  • Reverse polarity protection
  • Waterproof in accordance with IPX-8 (submersible to two meters)
  • Aluminum reflector ensures a powerful and smooth beam
  • Toughened utra-clear mineral glass with anti-reflective coating
  • Constructed of HAII military grade hard anodized aerospace-grade aluminum alloy
  • Detachable two-way rolling clip with anti-rolling design

Tail Switch


Nitecore MT1A AA Flashlight: Closeup of Tail
The MT1A uses a forward clicky switch with momentary on. It has a high walled rubber boot with the distinctive Nitecore "N" on it. The switch is a little on the stiff side but I like the feel of it. The wife has arthritis and she thinks the switch is too stiff, but I like that it won't turn on easily in my pocket.

The cutaway tail makes it easy to activate the switch with gloves, yet still be able to do a stable tail stand. It also has cutouts for a lanyard, but it looks like it would rub. Personally, I'd stick with the clip.

Nitecore MT1A AA Flashlight: Closeup of Threads: Head Side

Body


The flashlight is constructed of three pieces: the head, the battery tube and the tail. The threads on the tail side of the battery tube are anodized, allowing for lock-out if the tail cap is slightly unscrewed. The head has a raised octagonal shape, giving it a good anti-roll capability. Finally, an EDC light with a decent anti-roll!

Clip


The clip is the typical snap on type. The clip will
Nitecore MT1A AA Flashlight: Closeup of Threads: Tail Side
The good machining really stands out
detach if put under enough stress, but for daily average use it's probably fine. In bezel down mode, the clip rubs on the anti-roll ring. Definitely the preferred mode for this clip is bezel up, aka "ball cap mode."

Circuitry


The MT1A uses a constant current circuit, with no PWM. The odd thing is that I do get some noise on my camera phone when looking at the emitter on low. But it doesn't look like normal PWM, so maybe it's just a little noise. I'm very sensitive to it and I can't detect it with my eyes or the usual ways like shining on a spinning fan. So at this point I'm inclined to think it's just some noise on the circuit.

User Interface


The forward switch has a great feel, and I'm a huge fan of these so-called tactical switches, but without another switch, it makes for an awkward UI. But that's only with the bezel loosened. With the bezel tightened, it's a single mode turbo blaster. 

The MT1A has mode memory with the bezel loosened, so the awkward UI from using the forward switch isn't that big of a deal. It's a small price to pay for having the forward switch, though it takes a little getting used to. What I do is keep the second mode group on low. I tighten the bezel and it's on turbo, or I loosen it and it's on low.

User Interface Quirks


The higher modes always do a soft start, meaning when you turn the light on, it starts on the lowest setting and quickly ramps up. My Sunwayman lights like the V11R do this, too.

The MT1A also has "pre-flash" under certain scenarios. This is where you start the light on low and it briefly flashes at full output before going into the low mode. I can get it to do this by starting on turbo and then loosening the bezel which has low memorized. The first time I start in low after loosening the bezel, I get the pre-flash. After that, starting on low doesn't pre-flash, so it's not a big deal.

14500 Lithium-ion Battery


I tested a 14500 in my sample, and all the modes work! But, the memory doesn't work quite right. On mine, it only remembered a mode if I stayed on that mode at least 5 seconds. But other than adding a quirk with the memory, the light is fully functional with a 14500. This is impressive since many more expensive models do not retain all their modes with a Lithium-ion battery.

Beam 


The combination of the smooth reflector and the XP-G emitter give this light a nice, tight hot spot. This is a pocket thrower, just like its cousin the Jetbeam BA-10. It has just enough spill to make it useful for every day carry. It's a good looking beam, with very few rings or artifacts. This light has very good optics, including the anti-glare lens. 

Nitecore MT1A AA Flashlight: Closeup of Threads: White Wall Beam Shot

Build Quality


The build quality on my sample is very good. It's really on par with most of my more expensive lights. It has above average circuitry, machining, optics and tail switch. The body isn't as thick as my BA-10, but it's still plenty solid, and the threads have plenty of turns on them. Some manufacturers tend to make the threads too shallow, so it's nice to see the above average machining.

Fit And Finish


The fit and finish on my sample is good overall. The knurling and anodizing are average, but everything else is otherwise excellent. The switch on most models stands out for being average to awful. But on the MT1A the feel and finish of the switch are superb. It gives the light the look and feel of a more expensive model.

Nitecore MT1A AA Flashlight: Closeup of Anti Roll Ring
Closeup of anti-roll ring
As expected from a name brand light, there were no fit and finish issues like scratches or tool marks. The emitter on mine is perfectly centered. The crenelations on the bezel are precise. The machining on the tail is also precise. Mine does a stable tail stand.

Usability


I had a rocky start with the user interface, but once I got used to it, the light has been very usable. I really use it like a two mode light with just high and low. Most of the time I tend to carry smaller lights like AAA twisties, but I need something a step up from that, and the MT1A is perfect for that. Tonight I used mine to work on my son in law's Jeep.

The pre-flash is a little annoying, but it only happens the first time the light is turned on low after loosening the bezel, so I always flash it once to get rid of it. After that it doesn't happen as long as the bezel is loosened. 

Conclusions


All things considered, this is a good EDC flashlight and a good value. The user interface is a little quirky, but still functional. My MT1A has dethroned my trusty Jetbeam BA-10, which to me says a lot. In fact, the MT1A reminds me of a spruced up BA10 with a slightly better build quality and finish.

Beam Shots: Low/Med/High/Turbo


Nitecore MT1A AA Flashlight: Beam Shot: Low
Nitecore MT1A AA Flashlight: Beam Shot: Medium
Nitecore MT1A AA Flashlight: Beam Shot: High





Nitecore MT1A AA Flashlight: Beam Shot: Turbo




Gallery

Nitecore MT1A AA Flashlight: In Box: Front

Nitecore MT1A AA Flashlight: In Box: Back

Nitecore MT1A AA Flashlight: Removed From Package
Packaging and contents are all typical for a medium end light


Nitecore MT1A AA Flashlight: With Eneloop 2nd Gen.
Shown with 2nd generation Eneloop

Nitecore MT1A AA Flashlight: Closeup Of Emitter
Closeup of the well centered Cree XP-G R5 LED emitter
Nitecore MT1A AA Flashlight: Glamour Shot
The knurling is decent but I wish it was a little more agressive

Nitecore MT1A AA Flashlight: Closeup Of Bezel

Nitecore MT1A AA Flashlight: Closeup Of Switch Boot

Nitecore MT1A AA Flashlight: Closeup Of Threads

Nitecore MT1A AA Flashlight: Closeup Of Head And Tail Assemblies
Here you can see the reverse polarity protection in the head

From Left: Jetbeam BA10, Mr. Lite J2, Sunwayman V11R, Nitecore MT1A, L3 Illuminations L10, Eneloop AA
From Left: Jetbeam BA10, Mr. Lite J2, Sunwayman V11R, Nitecore MT1A, L3 Illuminations L10, Eneloop AA

Nitecore MT1A AA Flashlight: Closeup Of Head
The snap on clip is reversible

Nitecore MT1A AA Flashlight: Another Closeup Of Bezel
Closeup of the strike bezel
Nitecore MT1A AA Flashlight: On Scale
3 Ounces exactly with the 2nd gen. Eneloop in it

2 comments:

  1. Love your review. Made me get one myself. I was really bummed by the clip. It's the perfect pocket tactical edc yet has a clip that would scratch both ways. I figured you could put some protection like tape. The cleanest and maybe easiest if you've got stuff lying around is to use heatshrink. I cut 10mm of D4.5mm and heated it. Perfect fit. No scratch and I carry it tip down.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/36112638@N08/9457778945/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Felix! That's an interesting idea about the heat shrink tubing. I usually just pull the clip back if I'm twisting the bezel, or just let it scratch the light if it must.

      Delete