I am quite pleased to have the opportunity to serve as the new dedicated flashlight reviewer for TFB. It has been my pleasure to own and test a wide array of lights ranging from inexpensive key ring lights all the way up to a state-of-the-art $2000 custom, and written a number of informal reviews in a forum that is dedicated primarily to flashlights.
For my first review I tested the Dorcy Metal Gear XL-M Extreme 618 Lumen LED Flashlight. Dorcy is a US based company with headquarters in Columbus, Ohio. Since Dorcy has been marketing flashlights for over 55 years you have probably already heard of them. According to their website, Dorcy owns their manufacturing facilities and processes “end to end”, hence they own the factory in Hong Kong that produces this light.
Here are the manufacturer’s specifications for the light – click on the chart for more info:
Upon opening the package my reaction was “really? They expect us to believe that this light will produce over 600 lumen and run for over 5 hours?” Claims such as those – especially to a flashlight snob like me – require validating. I immediately dropped 6 fresh Eveready alkaline batteries in the light and popped it into my home-made integrating sphere and was pleasantly surprised – 598 lumen. Very close to rated output. Dorcy rates the light on low setting for 173 lumen – my sphere supported that rating with a 170 lumen reading. Of course, this was at “turn on” – after 30 minutes the light dropped to just about half the original ‘high’ reading. 2 hours 30 minutes – down by half again. 3 hours 40 minutes – 100 lumen. This is not a bad thing. While it indicates poor power regulation (not uncommon in a mass market light), it also shows that this light will be a “battery vampire” – if you find yourself in a power outage or a survival situation, the light should extract every last bit of juice from your batteries. My observations support this, as the light ran for 6 hours, and tapered down gracefully until it was reading 60 lumen, but was still going. This is well within manufacturer’s specifications. The light was left on to see how long it would run with any useable output – at 8 hours it was still showing around 40 lumen – at 11 hours 20 lumen and surprisingly it still had a useable, 10 lumen glow after 21 hours!!
While we may not care about lumen ratings, or perhaps these readings seem low, for a survival situation or in a vision adjusted dark environment, these levels would seem as though someone flipped the interior lights on.
It actually far surpassed the manufacturer specifications! The light never heated up and never exceeded 80 degrees Fahrenheit – not surprising considering the mass and the use of aluminum. Dorcy’s own tests supported my run time test (as seen here), as they show a gradual taper from 600 lumen down to around 70 lumen before switching the light off.
The light is well packaged with simple instructions.
I had to chuckle – they were kind enough to supply a blister pack of batteries, but they sent AAA size and the light requires AA.
The battery compartment is simple – plastic – and provides warnings about polarity. One must assume that the light isn’t equipped with polarity protection, so make certain you are inserting the batteries correctly.
It’s a large light – seen here compared to my S&W M&P 40 pistol –
Here with the ubiquitous old Surefire E2E –
And here in my rather large hand. It’s heavy also – 438 grams or 15.44 ounces – almost a pound.
Construction is solid – I dropped the light several times from a distance of approximately 4 feet to a hard floor – attempting to simulate real world abuse. It never missed a beat and continued to run throughout the drops. It is made up of a combination of “Aerospace Grade Anodized Aluminum” as well as plastic.
The knurling on the body is aggressive enough to give a good grip with sweaty or cold hands or even wearing gloves, but not so much as to be uncomfortable. It’s a nice balance.
A good lanyard is supplied to help avoid dropping the light. The lens is polycarbonate to resist breakage. The light is sealed with O-Rings to be moisture and dust-resistant, but no claims are made that the light is waterproof. Looking at the construction of the light I decided not to test whether or not it would survive being submerged – it probably could not withstand being submerged for more than just a second or so. Dorcy rates the light at IPX4 for resisting moisture.
The switch is top mounted and has a satisfying click, although it does feel a bit cheap. Levels are accessed by click/high-click/low-click/off.
The real surprise to me was the beam. For anyone who has been accustomed to using incandescent flashlights, their first inexpensive LED light is a shock. Incandescent bulbs produce a color temperature of around 2600k – a very “warm” color temp that is easy on the eyes, and allows for flattering tones when viewing indoors. Bright sunlight is around 5000k. Some inexpensive LEDs are typically 6800k or ‘cooler’, producing a bluish or stark white light that renders colors flat and robs one of a sense of depth. In a situation where one needs to get a quick, accurate mental picture of a target – or whatever – this can affect accurate perception.
Early Cree XML emitters were often seen as being cool, but also as having a sickly greenish tint, a characteristic that continues even now.
But this Dorcy produces a nice, moderately neutral/warm tint that is easy on my eyes when using it outdoors walking my dog after sundown. And it has incredible throw – not surprising considering its output and the large, deep reflector.
What would like to see changed about the light? It would be great to have a 3rd level – about a 1 lumen low that would not affect darkness adjusted vision and would give incredibly long run times – perfect for power outages or camping. A removable internal battery holder would be nice, too. Just by looking at it one would think that this light’s battery tube could accommodate C or maybe D cell batteries, or 26650 rechargeable cells. Still, one could purchase one of the brands of rechargeable AA batteries such as the Sanyo Eneloop and be able to save money and still use AA sized batteries.
But for an $80 light, it’s quite the bargain performer. And Dorcy is offering a 20% discount on their website, making this an even better value. I haven’t priced the light in retail stores, but typically the “big box” or chain stores offer decent discounts. Next time I’m in my neighborhood Home Depot I plan to take a look.
Meanwhile, this is a nice light and worth your consideration if are looking for a high lumen to price factor, and don’t mind the large size.