Ultratac A1 Flashlight Review

Ultratac got in touch with me recently to review a light of theirs.  They have a few brass offerings and I was interested, so I agreed to review the A1 if they also sent a brass light.  The brass light (K18 Mini) will be reviewed soon, but here’s the A1 for now.


Official Specs and Features

Versions

Just one version as far as I can tell.

Price

Currently the price is $11.95 on amazon (referral link).


Short Review

This is a very simple light but packs a nice bonus in that it supports Li-Ion cells as well as 1.5V cells.  The output with a 14500 is quite a bit higher, and makes this light worth considering.

Long Review

The Big Table

Ultratac A1
Emitter: Cree XP-L HD
Price in USD at publication time: $15.99 on amazon (referral link).
Cell: 1×14500
Turbo Runtime High Runtime
LVP? No
Switch Type: Mechanical
On-Board Charging? No
Claimed Lumens (lm) 600
Measured Lumens (at 30s) 685 (114.2% of claim)*
Claimed Throw (m) 105
Candela (Calculated) in cd (at 30s) 127lux @ 5.009m = 3186cd
Throw (Calculated) (m) 112.9 (107.5% of claim)*
All my Ultratac reviews!

 

Ultratac A1
Emitter: Cree XP-L HD
Price in USD at publication time: $11.95
Cell: 1xAA
Turbo Runtime High Runtime
LVP? No
Switch Type: Mechanical
On-Board Charging? No
Claimed Lumens (lm)
Measured Lumens (at 30s) 215
Claimed Throw (m)
Candela (Calculated) in cd (at 30s) 46lux @ 4.407m = 893cd
Throw (Calculated) (m) 59.8
All my Ultratac 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

  • Ultratac A1 Flashlight
  • Glow diffuser
  • Spare o-ring (2)
  • Spare rubber clicky boot
  • Paperwork/manual

20180704-IMG_4791.jpg

Package and Manual

Ultratac’s package is a simple box with black and red coloring, and runtimes printed on the back.

The manual includes some nice graphics, and a reasonably good description of the UI and light specs.

Build Quality and Disassembly

The build quality of the A1 is, to be honest, surprisingly good.  For a $12 flashlight, I have zero complaints.
20180704-IMG_4803.jpg
The anodizing feels nice and thick – with the smooth surface I prefer.  The diamond knurling at least partially covers all three parts of the body, and is sufficiently grippy.

The included glow diffuser is a nice addition.  To be completely honest though I never, ever use these things.
20180704-IMG_4794.jpg
The head and tail both unscrew from the body.  The body is not directional; the light will work with the head and tail on either end.  That’s nice because that’s effectively an easier way to flip the clip around from bezel-up to bezel-down carry.  A minor thing, but I like it.
The threads are anodized, so a very light turn unscrewing the light will, cause physical lockout (which the mechanical switch provides anyway, but double safety is nice).

The head has a little brass button for contact, so should have no problem with flat top or button top cells.  The tail has a moderately firm spring.  The guts of both ends are held in place by brass retaining rings.  While emitter swaps should be possible, I couldn’t find the right tool for unscrewing the ring.  (My angled tweezers were the wrong angle!)

Size

I measure the light at 86.81mm long and 18.53mm in diameter.

Unfortunately I managed to forget photos beside the most likely candidate; the Lumintop Tool AA.  I still have it; I’ll try to add the photos back in to the review when I can.  But I will say that I compared the two lights, and they are not the same, as has been speculated.  They’re similar, for certain.
20180704-IMG_4808.jpg

Retention

A reversible pocket clip is provided, and installed.  It’s a friction clip, and has reasonably good function, except that it’s by no means a deep carry clip.  Too much of the light sticks out of the pocket.
20180704-IMG_4803
Both the clip and tailcap have lanyard holes.

Power

This is an AA sized light, but will accept 1.5V AA cells (Primary, lithium, NiMH) and also 4.2V AA sized cells (Li-ion 14500 cells).  The light doesn’t care about cells much, too – any type will work: Button top, flat top; protected, unprotected.
20180704-IMG_4806.jpg
Here’s a runtime on High with an Eneloop AA.  I measure around 220 lumens with an AA.  The output stays fairly constant for around 80 minutes, then drops off quickly.
HighAA1.png
And below is a runtime on High with an AA 14500 cell.  This is an unprotected Efest cell, and I let the voltage get much too low.  Note that the light has no semblance of LVP whatsoever.  It’ll gladly take your Li-Ion cells down under 1V without hesitation.  I just charged the cell very slowly after this (0.2A), and used it again successfully after.  That’s not good cell practice, to be sure.  Very likely non-review-users should stop after the output drops precipitously as seen around 30 minutes, in order to protect their cells.  Or just use protected cells.
High145001.png
Below, two runtimes on Medium with both cell types.

Med145001.png

I did stop this test because output is very stable and I was tired of over-depleting cells (even if this is the NiMH cell). But note how stable that output is.

MedAA1.png

User Interface and Operation

There’s a single clicky on this light.  It’s a tail mechanical reverse-clicky switch.  Very clicky, and clicks on both up and down stroke.  The rubber boot is nice too; big, and grippy.
20180704-IMG_4802.jpg
The UI is very simple.  Here’s a UI table!

State Action Result
Off Click Low
On Half Click (or full click twice) Mode advance
On Full Click Off

You’ll note that there’s no mention of strobe in that table!  Possibly a deal breaker for some, but for some that makes this the perfect light!

Modes

Mode Mode Claimed Output (lm) Claimed Runtime Measured Lumens Tailcap Amps
High AA 220 60m 218 1.02
Medium AA 30 15h 29 0.09
Low AA 1 180h ~ ~
High 14500 600 48m 685 1.52
Medium 14500 280 1.3h 372 0.60
Low 14500 20 18h 29 0.02

LED and Beam

The emitter in this A1 light is a Cree XP-L HD.  The reflector is shallow and very lightly orange peel.  This makes for a beam with a fairly broad hotspot, and not a lot of spill.
20180704-IMG_4801.jpg

Tint vs BLF-348

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Random Comparisons and Competitive Options….

Here’s a relevantly filtered page on parametrek.com. This is a very saturated marketplace the A1 enters.  But there are two things I really like about this light, compared to the competition.  First, it’s only $12.  Second, there’s no strobe!

Conclusion

What I like

  • No strobe
  • Built quality is good
  • Low price
  • Multiple chemistry support

What I don’t like

  • The pocket clip is not good, or at least not deep enough
  • No LVP

Up Next

I have a number of lights in for review, so many of those are upcoming.  I’m also trying to clear some backlog of non-flashlights, so look forward to those things in the coming weeks.  Unfortunately many of those items are the hard items, so, who knows when they’ll drop really!  Stay tuned.

Notes

  • This light was provided by Ultratac 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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