A while back, I reviewed a Wowtac light. That was the BSS V3. Wowtac got in touch with me about a new light they are releasing; it’s a two cell 18650 mid range thrower. It’s the A4. Read on for more!
The box indicates there could be two tints, NW and CW, but I can’t find any NW for sale, nor is it listed on the website. My review sample is CW.
The price is $40 on amazon.com.
This is a good performer of a light, with a couple of build issues that can be easily addressed. The two-up cells allow for a large knurled area and great grip.
The Big Table
|Emitter:||Cree XHP35 HI|
|Price in USD at publication time:||$40.00 on amazon (referral link)|
|Turbo Runtime||High Runtime|
|Quiescent Current (A):||?|
|Power off Charge Port with no Cell?||?|
|Claimed Lumens (lm)||2000|
|Measured Lumens (at 30s)||1740 (87% of claim)*|
|Claimed Throw (m)||750|
|Candela (Calculated) in cd (at 30s)||2923lux @ 6.533m = 124754cd|
|Throw (Calculated) (m)||706.4 (94.2% of claim)*|
|All my Wowtac 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).
- Wowtac A4 Flashlight
- Spare o-rings (2)
- Spare rubber switch
I received (and will mini-review) two Wowtac 18650 cells, but they are not included with the package.
Package and Manual
Wowtac ships their lights in a cardboard box, with minimal printing.
The light and parts are in custom cut foam, and ship very safely. The light is even in a thin plastic bag.
The manual is very thorough, and includes all the needful information. It’s also small and not huge and folded out, which I also appreciate. (And it’s not really pink, just bad photo processing on my part. Sorry!)
Build Quality and Disassembly
This is a striking light. No, not tactically striking. But it’s a touch unusual in that the body is all knurling, with almost no other features. (This is something I like, for what that’s worth).
Externally, it’s well built. The head has nice mass for cooling, and the anodizing is good.
Here are the three main parts – the cell tube separates completely from the head and tail. Notably, the cell tube requires the use of two cells – there is no option.
The tailcap has a nice thick spring, and the head is a brass button.
From the step above, it’s not possible to remove the driver. It appears that there are at least two more sections of the head. One houses the reflector, one houses the switch, and one is the contact point for the cell tube. I was unable to separate those pieces.
The bezel and reflector, on the other hand, separate very easily. Just unscrew the bezel, and the rest taps out.
This leads me to my biggest concern with this light. The mcpcb is being held down by one screw. The other screw hole is empty, and misaligned. This doesn’t affect centering of the LED (there’s a centering ring included). And by itself isn’t necessarily a concern. But notice the screw (at the 10 o’clock position). That screw 1) isn’t screwed all the way in and 2) is screwed in at the wrong angle. (ie, probably crossthreaded). So likely during use, this screw will come out of it’s polace, and possibly bounce around the head. I doubt it’d end up shorting anything, but I don’t want to press my luck.
It’s worth noting that other reviewers didn’t find this in their light. Their lights have properly screwed down mcpcbs, and no issues in this regard. Also this brings up the worthwhile point that reviewers aren’t getting cherry-picked lights. 🙂
The cell tube is reversible, with unanodized, square threads on both ends.
The second build quality issue I have is that the o-rings on the cell tube are just a shade too big, or maybe too thick. One of them is large enough that it stretches out when the parts are tightened, and eventually has cut just a little bit.
Officially 201mm x 58mm x 26.5mm, and weighing 240g (without cells).
It’s not a small light. The closest thing I had on hand that really compares is the Convoy L2. The reflector is similar in diameter, but much shallower.
Really the only option for carry here is a lanyard, and a lanyard is not included. So, basically this light is intended to be carried in hand, or in a bag.
The knurled grip is important enough for holding the light that it’s worth mentioning in it’s own right. It’s very grippy, but not too aggressive.
The A4 is powered by two 18650 cells, which are in series. Any type 18650 will work, but they need to be a bit long. Wowtac provided two cells for this review. These cells have built in charging, via a micro-USB port on the positive terminal. This makes them longer than “18650” and so very well suited for this light. (And with max amperage at around 2.6A, just about any reputable 18650 will be capable of running this light.)
Below, see the micro-USB port for charging the cell.
Otherwise, the cells are standard 18650 cells.
Beside an unprotected flat top 18650, it’s easy to see how long the cells are.
I did do a bit of testing with other cells, and cells like the brown one above will work, provided you add a few mm worth of magnets between them. There is no problem with contact, except that they must be long enough to fill the light.
I tested the light on Turbo and High. Turbo exhibits a quick drop from the highest output, to an intermediate shoulder, before dropping down to the output of High for the remainder of the runtime.
I measure 30 seconds at around 1750 lumens. The light is rated at 2000 lumens. My measurement is within around 10% of claimed, so I’ll call it close enough.
Output on high is absolutely flat until the light shuts off.
The light has an indicating switch, which will give some levels of warning regarding cell voltage. First off, the switch stays lit blue during operation, except on the lowest mode. When the cells get low (around 6.6V series), the switch will turn red (“power is less than 20%”). When the cells get lower (around 5.85V series), the switch fades in and out of red slowly. And when the cells get very low (around 5.17V series), the switch will flash red quickly (“power is less than 10%”). And finally, the light will shut off (also around 5.17V). Those test results are with a bench power. In reality, the light shuts off at a much higher voltage than that (around 3.1V per cell) in actual use.
I logged the charging of each of the two cells used, too. This is from around 3.1V, so it’s expected that they won’t show the full 3400mAh capacity. The charging circuit looks to charge in an appropriate manner, with a long CC phase at around 0.7A. That’s a little “slow” but slow is typically better for cells anyway.
User Interface and Operation
This Wowtac has a single side switch, which is an indicating e-switch. As you can see, right in the center is a dot, which can display red and blue. The switch is a standard Wowtac switch (and also exactly like Thrunite switches). Low action, very positive click, and no squeak. It’s also metal (maybe coated plastic, but it feels like real metal). It’s a nice switch!
Here’s a UI table!
|Off||Click||On (memory, LMH only)|
|On||Hold||Mode cycle (LMH only)|
Yes, that UI is exactly the same as on the Thrunite TC20 (and possibly others). Yes, Thrunite and Wowtac are related – it even says so on some of the older boxes. “Technical assistance provided by Thrunite.” This is good; Thrunite makes good products!
|Mode||Mode Claimed Output (lm)||Claimed Runtime||Measured Lumens||Tailcap Amps|
LED and Beam
The Wowtac A4 has a Cree XHP35 HI emitter. Great choice for the light, since it’s considered a thrower, and has a smooth reflector.
The reflector is surprisingly shallow, and the emitter sits in a quarter sized plastic centering ring.
The beam is mostly spot, with a small amount of spill
Below, note that the blue indicating switch is on in this Turbo shot.
Tint vs BLF-348
Random Comparisons and Competitive Options….
Here’s a relevantly filtered page on parametrek.com. Certainly some compelling options here, including two from Armytek (same model, but warm and neutral tint). That’s the Barracuda Pro v2. I believe it lacks an indicating switch, and is around 3 times the cost of the A4. The Fenix TK47 might be interesting, too. It also lacks an indicating switch.
There’s a 26650 light worth comparing too, because they likely share parts! The Thrunite Catapult V6, which I’ve reviewed has essentially the same head, but with a 26650 body. Same throw rating, but the Catapult V6 bests it’s rating, at 768m. It’s a worthy comparison, but around 50% more cost.
Two other similar lights are the Emisar D1S, and the new Lumintop BLF GT Mini. These are both great lights. I reviewed the D1S here and I’m generally satisfied. If you need a single 18650 light instead of the 2-up like the A4 here, it’s a worthy contender. And I like the GT Mini even more, but my testing isn’t proving it’s throw measure (I need to spend some more time on that one.)
What I like
- The grip is great
- Good choice of emitter and overall build
- The UI is pretty solid
- Indicating switch
What I don’t like
- Mcpcb isn’t screwed down properly. (Missing one screw, cross threaded the other).
- O-rings are too big and end up getting torn
- Throw not quite hitting specs
- No good way to carry the light (no pouch/belt clip)
Tomorrow should be charger day! And I’ll review a Lumintop on Friday. Stay tuned!
- This light was provided by Wowtac 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!!