Most helpful positive review
696 of 710 people found the following review helpful
Maglite got it right.
on August 11, 2010
For awhile I had forsaken MagLite as outdated and incapable of adapting to a changing market, with new flashlight manufacturers making brighter lights every few months, it seemed they were doomed. Up to this point I wouldn't even consider a flashlight unless it had high lumens, multiple modes and the ability to accept a wide range of batteries, including lithium ions, until I came upon this little gem.
Being a flashaholic "know it all" I was hesitant to give this mag a chance, I mean, a three cell carrier AAA light? Practically sacrilege! But being a bit of a techno nerd, the opportunity to play with an accelerometer operated light was irresistible. Plus I could always just return it to the store... ***SPOILER AHEAD***... but I didn't.
Now to get down to the blood & bone... this light really impressed me especially that it came from MagLite. The features themselves are standard among the usual suspects of LED lights, but the implementation MagLite chose is a leap forward among their peers. Every multi-mode light out there requires you to loosen, tighten or certain amount of clicks, or a certain combination sequence of either to get to the mode you want. The XL100 has all its modes in one button you only need to press once, as long as your selection is facing up. A raised rubber dial (It does NOT rotate!) on the boot of the switch is supposed to serve as an indicator, the big N on a map so to speak, always pointing to the most frequently used mode of the light, the brightness control. And serving as a reference point to other modes while in the dark, providing you can memorize the other 4's orientation.
However, the mode you'll find yourself using most is the brightness control, which is the coolest part of this light. Once you press & hold the button, it's a simple twist of the wrist to dim or brighten the light, release at the desired level and it memorizes the setting the next time it's turned on. It also dims & brightens as fast as you can twist. Most lights that offer this type of adjustment do so at a fixed, slow rate. The low setting is VERY dim, and the brightest setting is absolutely brighter than 83 lumens. At least by the measure of lumens I'm used to from the popular Chinese LED flashlight brands.
The modes can be directly accessed; SoS & Strobe are easily adjusted for brightness or frequency in the same manner. Brightness of the strobe will default to the last used level, but the frequency can be adjusted to whatever interval you desire simply by twisting your wrist. SoS is adjustable for brightness, but not frequency (wouldn't be SoS then, I guess.)
Nightlite mode is a neat little feature that will probably get more use than strobe or SoS, especially with kids. The light can tail stand and while in Nightlite mode will dim down to the lowest setting when no movement is detected, but instantly go to full brightness once picked up.
Signal mode doesn't get used much by me, but basically the light will be off and turn on at the last used setting when any movement is detected in the direction away from Signal. Personally I find that signaling by clicking on and off to be easier, but the motion detect feature of signal mode could come in handy somehow, somewhere in a galaxy far away...
The emitter the XL100 uses is in fact a LUXEON REBEL, not a Cree. It also appears to be a neutral white, a pleasant alternative on my eyes in contrast to the cool white of most Cree LEDs (one of the most common emitters.) The electronics in this light are also regulated; it is NOT a direct drive like almost every other three cell battery carrier light out there. It uses a BUCK BOOST circuit, which offers nice regulation and long usable output of light. I have no doubt the ANSI specified numbers on the package are equal or lower than what this light is actually capable of delivering. And have no fear of using lithium batteries, the manual doesn't prohibit them, only rechargeables, but they are SAFE to use in a buck boost too. Mag probably prohibits them for legal liability reasons; rechargeable batteries always carry more risk.
Also the battery carrier is much higher quality than any other carrier type I've encountered, its not the malleable cheapie plastic, but a firmer, denser type of plastic which I have no doubt will last, but if it fails, a replacement is a call away.
Heat sinking on this light also seems to be about as good as my other LEDs, the body does get warm after being at full brightness for several minutes, but that means heat is being transferred to the aluminum body and not insulated within the electronics of the emitter. A problem Mag had with their first attempt at LED'izing their Mag line. And it doesn't get too hot to hold, even after a full hour at full brightness on eneloop batteries.
Fit & finish of the light is pretty standard MagLite quality, typical Type II anodizing (which many flashaholics lament in favor of Type III. It's a higher number after all, right?!), highly polished aluminum body underneath, and anodized threads for long lasting use. The finish is more durable than expected, not tough enough to withstand criticism though, I have had Type III finish lights arrive with nicks out of the box, it may be Type III, but if it's poorly applied it doesn't mean a thing. MagLite does Type II well and I have yet to knick this light in spite of dropping it twice already and knocking it against hard objects accidentally. Body tube is of good thickness, but the head of the flashlight is fairly thin, the lens is also plastic, but that just means it won't crack as easily, but will scratch. My old d cell mag is scratched to hell, but it still puts out a usable beam, and mag will gladly send you a replacement any time if you call and request one. Can't say the same of Chinese brands. The rubber clickie boot is also of good quality rubber, and the switch itself feels more durable than the click switches on my more expensive lights.
About the only gripes I have for this light is that it does not have a pocket clip or lanyard attachment, big oversight on Mags part. However, if you're an inclined tinkerer/customizer, there is a very fast and easy remedy. I've found that the Novatac lanyard ring will fit over the tail cap of the XL100 perfectly and allows for the attachment of a lanyard (shown under customer images I've uploaded.) The Novatac flashlight clip will also fit in a similar fashion, both available from Lighthound (FANTASTIC SERVICE!!) Or just about any generic lanyard ring made for a 1" light will work. I have also found that any pistol magazine pouch will fit this light, or for something a little more specific, the Maxpedition 4" flashlight pouch fits this light perfectly, I use it. MagLite apparently has one in the works for this light, but you don't have to wait! Also, the focusing feature on the head of this light is bland; it goes from tight beam to a loose spill which washes out much of the light in favor of a barely usable flood. Not worth using, imo.
Finally, in comparison to my Maratac 9290 (a re-badged ACU anodized iTP C7 tactical) using a 14500 lithium ion battery, rated at 190 lumens -the MagXL100, using eneloop AAA's is perceptibly (slightly) brighter and throws its beam farther. It throws almost as good as my Fenix TK12 using an 18650 li-ion, at 220 lumens, and only slightly dimmer than the TK, yet the beam is cleaner, no dark "cree rings" affecting the spill, its very clean in fact. Yet you still won't find many flashaholics praising this light, it is MagLite and an AAA three cell carrier light designed for "clueless consumers" after all. I also have many other LED's, but they are of lower brightness and no comparison to the XL100 and not worth noting here.
I don't have any graphs to display or have the desire to purchase equipment & software solely for the use of grading lights and measuring every electronic function by the numbers down to an exact science, my eyes are my best & most practical gauge of usability and what they tell me is that there is little difference in brightness between an $80 dollar 200 lumen light and this 83 lumen $30 light with a stellar lifetime warranty.
Real world use of the light for me has been solid and satisfying, the fact that price was affordable, and it's made in the US by a well respected manufacturer with a notable lifetime warranty & service is a nice bonus, too.
I have been using this light nightly for the past two months and it is still going strong. It has become my fast favorite and now sits in my dresser drawer near my bed and is now the first light I go to when I need it, feels just right in my hands.
By now I'd be a few hundred dollars richer had I never got caught up in this silly flashlight hobby, searching for the "best light for me," but now that I've found it, I can stop spending ridiculous amounts of money on other brands that seem to come out with something new every couple of months and give you that "!!!MUST BUY!!!" feeling because you think it might be better, but truth is the improvements are incremental at best and I feel like a rube every time I plop down $60 or more for the latest and greatest. No more!
I can see now why established companies like SureFire, MagLite & others don't come out with new product very often, because when they do, they tend to do so when the technology provides a significant advance in quality & features, not just baby steps.
I hope I've covered all the bases and provided as much insight into the XL100 and what a great bargain it is, at least in my view. I've tried to be as concise as possible, but review writing isn't my thing unless the product really is of remark to me. If you can learn from my experience, and you value practicality & having lots of money in the bank, then this IS THE FLASHLIGHT for you.
Also, if you've taken the time to read my whole view, THANK YOU!!! I put at least a couple hours into it... any questions I'd be glad to answer!