Thursday, December 19, 2013

Review: Eagletac D25A Mini [1xAA Flashlight]

Eagletac D25A Mini 1xAA Flashlight: Product LinkThe Eagletac D25A has a rather large following among flashlight enthusiasts and has a good reputation as a solid EDC type flashlight. Most people end up buying the clicky version, but I'm not a big fan of reverse switches, so I got the twisty version.

My review sample was purchased from Amazon and got here in two days with Prime. The first unit was defective. Since Amazon is awesome, they gave me a free return label for UPS and shipped a new one out that same day; also Prime. So I originally ordered on a Friday, had the defective unit on Tuesday, and had the replacement on Thursday. With most other sites it would've been at least a week or two to work any returns out. Ordering straight from China I could be looking at 4 weeks each way for a return!

Product Description


This is a "twisty" style 1xAA flashlight with 3 main modes (low, medium, high) and several "hidden" modes, offering several different flavors of strobe and beacon. It features a removable, "deep carry" pocket clip. At the head end, it has a stainless steel bezel, and at the tail end it has a lanyard hole if you want to carry it on your keychain or attach it to a backpack or something. My review sample has the latest Cree XP-G2 emitter.

Eagletac D25A Mini 1xAA Flashlight: Closeup Of Bezel


Eagletac D25A Mini 1xAA Flashlight: Closeup Of Tail

Eagletac D25A Mini 1xAA Flashlight: Another Closeup Of Bezel

Eagletac D25A Mini 1xAA Flashlight: Side View Of Clip

Eagletac D25A Mini 1xAA Flashlight: Closeup Of Clip Mounting Screw

Eagletac D25A Mini 1xAA Flashlight: With Head Unscrewed And Battery Loose

Eagletac D25A Mini 1xAA Flashlight: Closeup Of Lanyard Holes

Eagletac D25A Mini 1xAA Flashlight: Glamour Shot

Eagletac D25A Mini 1xAA Flashlight: Side View Of Flashlight

Eagletac D25A Mini 1xAA Flashlight: Battery Poking Out

Official Specs (From Amazon)


Features a CREE XP-G2 R5 LED (Cool White)
Max Output: LED lumen: 179, ANSI OTF lumen: 121
Beam Profile: Center lux: 1000lux ; Center spot angle: 13°; Spill light angle: 84°
Lens: Impact resistance waterwhite glass lens; Anti-scratch sapphire coating on the outside; Anti-reflective (AR) coating on the inside
Reflector: Very light orange peel aluminum reflector
HAIII hard anodization aerospace aluminum
Waterproof: IPX-8 standard
Dimensions: Head Diameter: 0.69 inches (17.5 mm); Body Diameter: 0.67 inches (17 mm); Length: 3.1 inch (80 mm); Weight: 0.77 ounces (21.8 grams)
Battery Type: 1xAA; Compatible battery size (each): Diameter: 14-14.6mm, Length: 50-51.2mm
What's included: Stainless steel bezel, Spare o-rings; Polished stainless steel pocket clip, User Manual, Rigid Nylon Holster w/ self-retention device and flip, Mil-Spec Paracord Lanyard w/ quick attachment clip

Reflector


This model has a slightly textured or so-called 'orange peel' reflector. This style of reflector usually produces a much smoother and less ringy beam pattern than smooth reflectors. Of course, that comes with a small cost to output and throw distance, but the trade-off is well worth it for an EDC.

Emitter


My review sample has the latest Cree XP-G2 emitter with an R5 bin. It's brighter and more efficient than its XP-G predecessor. The difference in output is definitely noticeable between this emitter and the XP-G in similar style lights.

Eagletac D25A Mini 1xAA Flashlight: Closeup Of Emitter 1
The smaller die size and white backing mean that it's the latest Cree XP-G2

Eagletac D25A Mini 1xAA Flashlight: Closeup Of Emitter 2

Eagletac D25A Mini 1xAA Flashlight: Closeup Of Emitter 3
Emitter is well centered--not perfect but plenty good

Beam


The beam on the D25A is on the floody side, mainly because of the small reflector size. It has a nice, smooth beam because of the textured reflector. The tint is what I would call cool white, though my eyes aren't as sensitive to tint as most other people.

Eagletac D25A Mini 1xAA Flashlight: Beam Shot On High
From Left: Eagletac D25A Mini, L3 Illuminations L10 XPG-2 and L10 with Nichia 219
From Left: Eagletac D25A Mini, L3 Illuminations L10 XPG-2 and L10 with Nichia 219
Eagletac D25A Mini 1xAA Flashlight: Beamshot- Control

Eagletac D25A Mini 1xAA Flashlight: Beamshot- Low

Eagletac D25A Mini 1xAA Flashlight: Beamshot- Medium

Eagletac D25A Mini 1xAA Flashlight: Beamshot- High


User Interface


This is a "twisty" style flashlight, where you twist the head to turn it on, and repeatedly twist it to change modes. Some people do not like this style of light, but I do because a) these type of lights are almost always much smaller and much lighter and b) there is no "switch" so there is one less thing to fail. Clicky switches only have a certain number of cycles in their lifetime, and twisty lights have much more cycles, though they do eventually wear the contact material out.This is why I tend to prefer these type of lights.

The user interface for this model is Low-->Medium-->High. There are several hidden strobe, S.O.S and beacon modes which are accessible by cycling through the Low-->Medium-->High modes twice in quick succession. Then you will hit about a half dozen hidden modes. Nice.

This model will take a 14500 li-ion 3.7V rechargeable battery, though it becomes a two mode light at that point. Output is crazy but I'll give the usual warning not to leave it on high very long or very bad things will happen to the battery / flashlight / your hand.

Deep Carry Clip


Finally, a small flashlight with a clip that's nearly perfect. Clips didn't used to be something that interested me. I used to just let everything flop around in my pocket. But as I collect more gear and experiment with what works, I've noticed that having a pocketful of doodads will rub on my legs and irritate them, and the right pocket clip makes it so I don't even feel something in my pocket.

The clip on the D25A is just plain awesome. It's removable, deep carry and it has an almost perfect length. And it's not too tight or too loose. It loosened a bit when I first got it, but hasn't loosened any since. If it stays the way it is now, I'll be a happy camper.

My only gripes with the clip are fit and finish related. Like most flashlights, the clip is produced separately and isn't machined or anodized to quite the same standards as the flashlight it's attached to. Because of this,  the machining is a little rough around the edges, and the anodizing has already started wearing off from daily use.

I haven't tried to remove the clip, but like most other clips on most other flashlights, the screws on this clip look to be a little on the cheap side. But all things considered, the clip really makes this flashlight. The compact size of the light coupled with the deep carry clip make this thing painless to carry around.

Eagletac D25A Mini 1xAA Flashlight: Closeup Of Deep Carry Clip 1

Eagletac D25A Mini 1xAA Flashlight: Closeup Of Deep Carry Clip 2

Eagletac D25A Mini 1xAA Flashlight: Closeup Of Deep Carry Clip 3

Eagletac D25A Mini 1xAA Flashlight: Closeup Of Deep Carry Clip 4


Nylon Sheath


The included nylon sheath is above average in quality. Most flashlights, pocket knives and multi-tool manufacturers see their included sheath almost as an afterthought. The build quality and finish are excellent. The snap is nice and sturdy, and the sewing is clean. I like the type of thick nylon this sheath is made of. I'm not a huge fan of carrying my flashlights in sheaths, but if you are, then you will like this sheath. 

Eagletac D25A Mini 1xAA Flashlight: Closeup Of Sheath 1

Eagletac D25A Mini 1xAA Flashlight: Closeup Of Sheath 2


Eagletac D25A Mini 1xAA Flashlight: Closeup Of Sheath 3
It's rare to see fit and finish so good on a sheath--most sheaths seem to be afterthoughts

Eagletac D25A Mini 1xAA Flashlight: Closeup Of Sheath 4

Eagletac D25A Mini 1xAA Flashlight: Closeup Of Sheath 5



Fit And Finish


Very good overall. The anodizing is a little thin and the machining on the clip is a little rough, but those are my only two gripes, and they are minor. Other than that, the fit and finish is great. The knurling has a great feel, the tolerances are tight on the stainless steel bezel and the clip is well mounted. This is a well built product, and I can see why this D25A line has such a great reputation.

Eagletac D25A Mini 1xAA Flashlight: Closeup Of Eagle Head

Eagletac D25A Mini 1xAA Flashlight: Closeup Of Electrical Contact
Here you can see the reverse polarity protection

Eagletac D25A Mini 1xAA Flashlight: Closeup Of Threads
Threads are well machined

Eagletac D25A Mini 1xAA Flashlight: Closeup Of Logo

Eagletac D25A Mini 1xAA Flashlight: Do Not Look Into Beam!


PWM, Tint and You


One of the factors in purchasing this light was the manufacturer's claim that this model has a constant current circuit, free of the PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) that has always annoyed me as well as given me headaches if the PWM has a low frequency. This light does indeed have PWM on all modes except high. It is however very high frequency, which some people call the "good PWM." This kind doesn't give me headaches, but it does sap efficiency and there's a few scenarios where the light can malfunction and start making a high pitched whining noise when on modes that have it.

Why would a flashlight maker decrease the efficiency of its circuit, reducing run time and opening it up to potential whining issues? The circuit with the PWM is smaller and cheaper for sure, but Eagletac probably switched this model away from constant current because of the tendency for certain Cree LED emitters to have a greenish tint on low current modes. I've even read people complaining about earlier models of the D25x having a greenish tint.

So ... it's either PWM or greenish tint at lower modes with certain bin Cree emitters. I definitely have mixed feelings about this technique. I know some high end makers like Sunwayman are able to offer constant current without horrible tint. I'm not an electronics expert so I'm not sure how they do it. Maybe they hand select and test every emitter and pick the ones with better tint. I just know it's possible.

Having said all that, the tint is nice on my D25A, which makes it well suitable for an EDC. Maybe my tint snobbery overcame my PWM snobbery, but this is one of my few lights where I find the PWM acceptable. I still wouldn't carry it into the woods or put it in my survival pack, but I think for EDC I'm starting to prefer tint over efficiency. Short of using my EDC in an emergency or extended use situation, for the most part I don't care how efficient my EDC is because I'm never far from a whole drawer full of charged AA batteries.

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Conclusions


The D25A Mini is very close my ideal EDC flashlight: compact, light, powerful, and with a good pocket clip. I normally don't EDC 1xAA lights, but this one is actually smaller and lighter overall than most of my CR123A sized lights. It can even take a 14500 for higher output, though I've found myself just keeping Eneloops in it because it has better mode spacing. I'm not a huge fan of the PWM, but I am a big fan of the tint, and I think it's a fair trade-off for EDC.

Eagletac D25A Mini 1xAA Flashlight: Box

Eagletac D25A Mini 1xAA Flashlight: Unboxed

Eagletac D25A Mini 1xAA Flashlight: With Accessories

Eagletac D25A Mini 1xAA Flashlight: With SanRenMu GB-763 and Schrade Tactical Pen
Shown with SanRenMu GB-763 pocket knife and Schrade Tactical Pen

Eagletac D25A Mini 1xAA Flashlight: Tail Stands
Yep, it does a tail stand

Eagletac D25A Mini 1xAA Flashlight: Closeup Of Electrical Contact (+)

From Left: Sanyo Eneloop AA, Eagletac D25A Mini, L3 Illuminations L10 (XP-G2), L10 with Nichia 219, Thrunite T10
From Left: Sanyo Eneloop AA, Eagletac D25A Mini, L3 Illuminations L10 (XP-G2), L10 with Nichia 219, Thrunite T10

Eagletac D25A Mini 1xAA Flashlight: On Digital Scale
It was weighed with the blue Tenergy AA in it

Eagletac D25A Mini 1xAA Flashlight: Next To Ruler





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