Saturday, October 20, 2012

Niteye MS Series

The new Niteye MS Series has now been released. The MS stands for Military Soldier and from all appearances it looks like it fits that role quite nicely. Thank you to Niteye for supplying me with two models from the series for review. The two are the MSA10, which runs off of 1xAA and the MSC20, which runs off of 2xCR123A, 1x18650 or 2x16340 batteries. The other two lights in the series are the MSA20, which runs off of 2xAA batteries and the MSC10, which runs off of 1xCR123A battery. For those of you who are into the latest and greatest in led flashlight technology, you probably are already aware of Niteye and their fairly recent appearance onto the flashlight scene.  For those of you who are not aware, they are a company based in China who are the OEM manufacturer for other well established flashlight companies, such as Jetbeam.  Quality and design wise they share many similarities to some of the other higher end brands out there.

This new MS Series grabbed my attention because of their novel use of the selector ring. Instead of having it near the head area they have incorporated it into the tailcap along with the clicky switch. This puts all of the controls into one convenient location. The rest of the light is fairly standard for a high quality light using today's latest technology. It uses the XM-L U2 led and has an aluminum body with a nice dark grey hard anodised finish. The knurling is medium grippy and has a stainless steel bezel ring to protect the head from drops. It also has rings machined into the head to help with heat dissipation, and the lens is glass with an anti-reflective coating. The accessories included are a removable clip, which can be pushed into place and two spare o-rings. The lights also come well packaged in sturdy cardboard boxes with foam inside.

The first light, the MSA10 which uses a standard AA battery and outputs 160 lumens is a perfect EDC sized light. It is 105mm long and 24mm wide and weighs 77 grams. The rotating tailcap has 4 positions. All the way to the left is your Strobe, then Off, User Selectable Mode(holding button down allows you to ramp up or down) which the light remembers, and all the way turned to right is High Mode. You can also turn the light off by clicking the tailcap button. A very cool feature is the built in battery indicator, which is in the clicky button. When you turn the selector ring to the off position(2nd from left), it lights up for a few seconds. If it lights up green you still have plenty of battery life and if it lights up red it is probably time to swap out the battery.  I noticed on this model that when you switch to this mode the light also comes on in low for a few seconds as well. The MSC20 model does not do this. The website states that this light has a working voltage of 0.9-1.6 volts, but curiosity got the better of me and I tried a lithium 14500 battery which is rated at 3.7 volts. Instead of smoke and flames I was rewarded by a wall of light that I estimate to be about 500 lumens...nice!! It did warm up quicker but the heat did not make the light too hot to handle. With a standard AA the custom output is 5-80 lumens, but with the 14500 it is probably the same as the MSC20, which is 25-200 lumens

The second light, the MSC20 is also quite compact, especially for an 18650 sized light. It measures 122mm long and 24mm wide and 73 grams, which is lighter than the MSA10, which has thicker walls. This model outputs 500 lumens, and with the medium textured orange peel reflector puts out a flood of light. The lowest output is about 25 lumens according to the specs., and this is perfect for navigating around the house at night. It might be a little too bright though and it would be nice to have a lower low.

This new series I think is an excellent addition to the ever expanding Niteye line up.  Fit and finish on these lights as with their other ones is outstanding.  Function and feel of the rotating tailcap is very intuitive and you don't have to contort your hand or thumb to operate this light across it's full range of functions.  I also like how the clicky is silent almost like the piston drive lights from Nitecore.  The tailcap is also flat which allows for tailcap standing if you want to use this light like a candle.

I look forward to carrying and using both of these lights more in the upcoming winter months and will report back any issues or updates.  If you have any questions or comments please don't hesitate.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Cheap, yet quality Chinese knives-Part I(Sanrenmu GB8-707 and 710)

Well this is going to be the first part of an ongoing series discussing cheap, yet surprisingly good quality knives coming out of China.  I was recently turned onto some inexpensive brands of Chinese pocket knives through the forums.  The brands that were mentioned are Enlan, which also makes the brand Bee, and a company called Sanrenmu, who apparently make knives for some of the larger American knife companies, such as Spyderco, Buck and Gerber.  Other companies mentioned are Navy and Ganzo.

Well curiosity got the better of me and the price point was right($9-18), so I found a bunch of them on a Chinese website called  I ordered a mix of Sanrenmu, Enlan, Ganzo and Navy knives and the wait was on.  After waiting about two weeks the first one arrived at my door.  It was a Sanrenmu GB8-707, which apparently is exactly the same as the CRKT Drifter.  It cost about $9 shipped, which is incredible as the CRKT branded one is about double the price.  Apparently the Drifter and the 707 are made in the same factory, so you are in fact getting the same knife.  Well I was extremely happy with quality of this knife, as it had all the features I was looking for in a quality folder, such as G10 scales, decent blade steel(8Cr13Mov), torx screw construction, open pillar design, lanyard hole, and dual thumbstuds.  The only downside is that the pocket clip can't be repositioned.  Some other notable features and observations are that it has phosphor bronze bushings on both sides, which is nice to see on a budget folder.  Quite often lower end folders use nylon or teflon washers, which generally don't allow for as smooth of an action as phosphor bronze ones do. Blade centering was excellent, and there was no blade play up or down or side to side.  The G10 is nice but doesn't really give much traction.  It's very similar to the G10 on the Spyderco Tenacious(I believe made in the same factory) that many are familiar with.  There is also a small amount of jimping that gives a little extra traction for those cutting tasks.  All in all a very nice EDC blade for very little money.

The next blade I received was the Sanrenmu 710, which is the one I'd heard the most about.  People tend to refer to it as the "poor man's small Sebenza".  After looking at pictures of the real Chris Reeve's small Sebenza I could see a resemblance in the general shape, but that's as far as I'd go.  I guess it gives one a general feel for how a real one would feel, as they both use a framelock design.  I'm quite sure the real   Sebenza is much better quality and has a smoother action.  This knife is a nice piece of work on it's own, as it appears to be well made and operates smoothly.  The blade is constructed from 8Cr13Mov steel, which is comparable to the Japanese AUS-8 steel.  It's a little soft and has okay rust resistance, but this just means it's easier to sharpen and you just need to keep the blade wiped down after use.  The knife feels a very solid, although it is a little small for my taste.  It measures 6.5 inches in total length and the blade measures 2.75 inches.  It could be considered as a gentlemen's folder and would be suitable for carry in a pair of slacks.  It is a very handsome knife as it has a stainless steel handle with some texturing on one side.  This doesn't really add much to the grippyness of it, but it just looks nice.  There is a bit of jimping on the top of the blade which does give the thumb a bit more purchase when cutting.  Weight wise it is a little on the heavy side for a knife of this size.  It weighs 4.05 ounces compared to the 3.35 ounces of the 707, which is roughly the same size as the 710.

Coming up in future entries I'll have reviews/impressions of the Sanrenmu GB-763, Enlan EL-01, Enlan EL-04MCT, Enlan EL-03C, Enlan EL-02BGanzo G704, Ganzo G710, and Navy K502. Come join the Facebook group to talk about and share pictures and experiences with these awesome blades.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Niteye EYE-40

Niteye has kindly provided me with their EYE-40 model for review.  This is definitely a light I've been looking forward to checking out ever since I laid eyes on their EYE-30, and heard that there was an even more powerful light on the horizon.  At first glance, it does look a little ungainly and disproportioned, but after seeing it in person and experiencing the sheer lumens any qualms about it's looks or gimmick factor of adding even more leds was gone.

For those who don't know about Niteye, they are apparently related to the Jetbeam company which has been producing quality flashlights for years.  They are based in China and use the latest in led technology in their products.  This particular model uses 4xXM-L leds in four separate reflectors.  It uses a battery carrier to house 4x18650 batteries and produces at maximum setting 3000 lumens.  Operation of the light is done with a stainless steel magnetic rotating ring below the head.  It has 6 positions which can be felt by distinct detents along the ring's travel.  The ring has good knurling, although it's only on one side, which I found to be kind of strange, but in actual use makes no difference.  All the way to the left is strobe and going right you have OFF/LOW(one led)/MEDIUM(two leds)/HIGH(three leds)/TURBO(four leds).  An interesting feature with this light as with the EYE-30 is that with low only one led is activated and with each additional increase another led is lit up.  There is also a beacon mode which can be activated by switching from strobe to off and then back to strobe quickly.

This light as stated before produces 3000 lumens, which by any standard is an immense amount of light, especially out of a package this small.  The body of the light is about the size of your typical drink can with reflectors adding a bit of extra height.  It is by no means an EDC or even a holster carry light even though it does come with a nice quality cordura one.  This light would be great for taking on a camping/hiking trip, it would make an excellent searchlight or just a light to keep around the house/car for any sort of use.  The lumen range makes this light very versatile as it goes from 60 lumens on low/350 lumens on medium/1200 lumens on high/ and 3000 lumens on turbo.  Runtime according to the manufacturer and not tested by myself is LOW-50hrs/MED-6hrs/HIGH-2.5hrs/TURBO-1.5hrs.

I've been using this light for three weeks now and I've used it for everything.  I've taken it camping where there was no ambient light, so I was able to fully experience the sheer power.(see videos below)  Surprisingly it had decent throw although it is mainly a flood light.  This light truly put to shame all those campers who showed up with their hardware store bought lights and weak headlamps.  I've used it going for a walk around a lake near my home, as well as in the home on the lower settings to navigate around late at night.



A few final notes on this light.  This light does heat up rapidly on Turbo and it will reduce to 60% of it's brightness after 5 minutes to save the leds and batteries.  There is a built in charging port which allows charging with the included 12 volt car charger.  It does not balance the batteries when charging this way, so it is recommended to take the batteries out every so often and charge in a proper charger eg. Ultrafire WF-139 charger.  The light does come with a carry handle as well, which is a nice accessory to have.  It makes carrying this light easier and you can still manipulate the control ring while carrying it this way.  The manufacturer states that this light is waterproof.  It has a removable rubber plug to cover the charging port when not in use and uses o-rings at all the threaded parts.  All in all this is a high quality light which is very nicely engineered and built with excellent anodising all over.  At the time of this review it can be purchased for around $320CAD.

Saturday, August 4, 2012


Well the long awaited EYE-30 from Niteye has arrived, courtesy of Viola from Niteye.  This is my first multiple XM-L flashlight and my first multi 18650 light as well.(4x18650)  I was always leery of multiple battery flashlights as I'd heard of accounts of lights exploding.  I've been assured that with decent quality batteries and proper battery management, i.e. keeping batteries at a similar charge state, that it would be safe.  The light was received in a nice quality aluminium case.  Upon opening, the light sits in foam with the included accessories of a carrying handle, car charger, holster, and a spare o-ring.  Right off the bat when handling the light you notice the quality of this light.  The machining and anodising is top notch, with no flaws visible to the naked eye.  There's some nice and functional cooling fins around the head, and not too aggressive knurling on the battery tube.

The main feature of this light beside the 3 x XM-Ls is the magnetic dimming ring.  On this particular sample it is a bead blasted stainless steel ring(basic model has a black aluminium ring).  The light has 6 positions, starting from all the way to the left is strobe, then Off, Low(60LM/55H/1 led), Middle(300LM/12H/2 leds), High(1000LM/3H/3 leds), and Turbo(2000LM/2H/3 leds).  If you switch strobe off then on again quickly the light goes into a beacon mode, flashing every 3-4 seconds.  Great feature to have in an emergency and would probably last a very long time.    Each level is easily detected as there are detents for each position.  Another nice feature of this light is the built in battery indicator, which uses 4 orange leds to give you a visual indication of the batteries charge state.  It will light up for a few seconds whenever entering into a new mode.  This light also has a built in charging port to allow you to charge the batteries in the light.  Be cautioned that there is no built in balancer for the batteries, so you should occasionally take them out to give them a charge.  For a quick top off when travelling or for daily use this feature is very handy.

I expected this light to be unwieldy since it uses 3 leds and 4 batteries, but to my surprise it is actually very compact(145mm(D)x66(L).  The beam is also very nice with the three spots blending together very nicely with minimal rings.  It's more of a flood light, but because of the smooth reflectors and the sheer power of the  light on turbo it can definitely reach out and illuminate at a distance(380m).  The light appears to be able to withstand the elements, as it uses o-rings everywhere, and the charging port has a rubber stopper which must be pulled out to insert the charger.  An interesting observation about this light is how it manages the leds.  If you turn it on low(single led lit) and turn it off and on, it will switch to the next led.  I guess this is so use is spread out.

Some final notes, this light does get quite hot with extended turbo use, but if hand held it is tolerable.  The light will also drop into a lower mode if overheating is detected.  For a general purpose flood light that is high quality and versatile with great output, and appears durable I think Niteye has produced a winner in the Eye 30.  At the time of this review it can be purchased for about $270CAD on eBay.  Stay tuned for a video showcasing this light's ability in the dark.

There's news of an Eye 40 which uses 4xXM-Ls and I eagerly await it's arrival to do a comparison with the Eye 30.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Keychain Stuff

     Like many of you out there I carry a lot of stuff on my keychain, mostly keys as well as a few useful tools.  The first tool I have attached is a flashlight, in particular an iTP A3 EOS XP-E Q5.  This is basically a led flashlight that uses an AAA battery, and has 3 modes with a twisty operation.  This size is perfect for pocket carry and is difficult to accidentally activate in a pocket.  Here are some specs:
     Three output levels - Medium 18 lumens (4 hours) -> Low 1.5 lumens (50 hours) -> High 80 lumens (55 minutes).
     This light has proven to be quite durable with most of the finish still in place and plenty bright for most tasks.  With an easy to find battery, lithium 10440 compatibility and decent runtime this light is a winner.

      The second tool is sort of a multi tool.  It's an Ultrafire Stainless Steel Bottle Opener(with screwdriver and wrench), purchased from DX.  This has a Phillips screwdriver, a bottle opener and different wrench openings cut into it.  I figured I'd keep the amount of doodads hanging off my keychain to a minimum, and with these two I have quite a few bases covered.  Here are it's specs:
Dimensions: 2.95 in x 0.08 in
Weight: 0.78 oz
     The finish is just black paint, but it is still decent after a few months of pocket carry.  I think I'll probably order a few more to give out as gifts.