Sofirn SF36 Tactical Flashlight Review

Preface

Sofirn is continuing their media blitz, and I’m on the receiving end!  This time it’s the SF36, an 18650 medium-thrower.


Official Specs and Features

Versions

This light only comes in one configuration, but there are two packages.  One is just the light, and the other is a kit, which includes a cell and a charger.

Price

The package with just the light is $18.99.  The kit is $23.99.  Both are available directly from Sofirn, on amazon.


Short Review

At $19, I’d be flat wrong to say this light isn’t a good value.  There are some things I’d like to improve (namely the switch), but it’s a nice (enough for $19) light!

Long Review

The Big Table

Sofirn SF36
Emitter: Cree XP-L (V6)
Price in USD at publication time: $18.99
Cell: 1×18650
Turbo Runtime High Runtime
LVP? Yes
Switch Type: Mechanical
On-Board Charging? No
Claimed Lumens (lm) 1070
Measured Lumens (at 30s) 970 (90.7% of claim)*
Claimed Throw (m) 200
Candela (Calculated) in cd (at 30s) 179lux @ 5.387m = 5195cd
Throw (Calculated) (m) 144.1 (72.1% of claim)*
All my Sofirn reviews!

* Standard measurement disclaimer: I am an amateur flashlight reviewer. I don’t have $10,000 or even $1,000 worth of testing equipment. I test output and such in PVC tubes!! Please consider claims within 10% of what I measure to be perfectly reasonable (accurate, even).

What’s Included

This is the contents of the kit.

  • Sofirn SF36 Tactical Flashlight
  • Sofirn 2800mAh 18650
  • Spare o-rings (2)
  • Single bay charger
  • Charger cable
  • Manual

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Package and Manual

The light ships in a simple cardboard box.  The light is in a plastic tray.

I like pictures in my manuals, but really, this manual is fine without.  Overall the manual is good, and comprehensive.
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Build Quality and Disassembly

The build quality of this Sofirn is on par with Convoy lights.  It’s of a suitable quality for a $19 light.  The knurling is great, the anodizing is good, and the reflector is well finished.
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The head has large fins to help with cooling, but to be honest, heat didn’t seem to be an issue with the light anyway.
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The head and tail separate from the body.  The body is not reversible, and has a large spot for the friction clip, on the tail end.
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The threads are triangle cut and anodized.  The bezel unscrews easily and the lens is removable, but the reflector does not just fall right out.

Both the driver and switch are held in by brass retaining rings.  The spring used here (both ends) is a thick single spring.

Size

Officially 132 mm x 32mm x 25 mm.

Of course it’s longer than the Convoy S2+, but it’s also just a little larger in diameter, too.
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Retention

The tailcap has a couple of holes on either side as lanyard attachment points.  These work well, and still allow the light to tailstand easily.
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There’s also a pocket clip, which ships installed.  The clip is very grippy, but the touch point near the mouth is directly over some knurling.  It could easily tear pants or whatever you clip to.
20180704-IMG_4620
Also while this looks like one of those horrible cheap terrible clips, it’s actually not.  It’s actually nice and thick, and has broken edges (ie not sharp).

Power

The SF36 is powered by a single 18650, which is included with the kit.  It’s rated at 2800mAh.
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It’s a button top cell, with no mention of protection.

I tested this cell on my SkyRC MC300, and measured 2727mAh through the cycle test.
This light will not work with any configuration of multiple cells!
Here’s a runtime on High (the highest mode; no turbo!).  This is of course with the included cell.  Temperature is bouncing just due to house fluctuations.
Output is moderately stable for a few minutes, before dropping off to the next mode down.  After that point, the profile is exactly like the “Medium” profile.  I reset the light to High late in the run, but note that it doesn’t reach initial output.
High1.png
Here is Medium.  Stable across the runtime, at around 250 lumens.  (Not sure what happened with the temperature at the end of this run.  Regardless, the light was never hot anyway.)
Med1.png
The kit also includes a charger and a charging cable.
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It’s a fine Li-Ion-only charger.  I didn’t test this iteration, because I’ve already tested the charger when I reviewed the C8F.  I found it to be a fine, simple charger.

User Interface and Operation

There’s just one switch on the SF36, a mechanical tail reverse clicky.
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The switch is really the only thing I don’t care for about the light.  And the problem is more likely with the driver…  There’s this weird pause on the reverse of the reverse clicky.  Not a natural pause.  There’s a split second where you know the light should be switching modes, and it’s not, and then it does.  It’s annoying, and puts me off.  But I don’t think it’s a deal breaker.
Here’s a UI table!

State Action Result
 Off Click On (mode memory except Strobe)
 On Half Click Mode cycle (L>H direction)
 On Click Off
 On Double Half Click Strobe
 Strobe  Half Click Previous Regular Mode

Modes

Mode Mode Claimed Output (lm) Claimed Runtime Measured Lumens Tailcap Amps
High 1070  1h28m 972 2.55
Medium 300 4h15m  355 0.63
Low  50  18h  76 0.10
 Low Low 8  112h 10 0.00

LED and Beam

The emitter of choice is a Cree XP-L HD, V6.  The reflector is smooth, but not perfectly smooth.  It does make for a tight beam, though I measured it at only 144m throw.
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Tint vs BLF-348

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I have to say, the tint on this one is quite nice.  And if I disregard the overexposed hotspot above, this is probably the closest I can recall a light matching the BLF-348.

Random Comparisons and Competitive Options….

Here’s a relevantly filtered page on parametrek.com. There are many other lights like this one.  But at this price, in Neutral White…. this is a great deal.

Conclusion

What I like

  • Low price, even for the kit.
  • Tint is very good
  • Built quality is good enough for the price

What I don’t like

  • Annoying pause on the reverse clicky.

Up Next

I have a knife to review tomorrow, and hopefully 2 more lights this week!

Notes

  • This light was provided by Sofirn for review. I was not paid to write this review.
  • This content originally appeared at zeroair.org.  Please visit there for the best experience!
  • Whether or not I have a coupon for this light, I do have a bunch of coupons!!  Have a look at my spreadsheet for those coupons. It’s possible to subscribe and get notifications when the sheet is edited!!

Author: zeroair

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