Malkoff MDC 16650 Flashlight Review

Preface

I’ve heard a lot about Malkoff lights – they’re highly regarded for being extremely robust, well built lights.  I reached out to Malkoff, and they agreed to send a couple of lights!  This is the first, a 16650 XP-L HD NW light.


Official Specs and Features

Here’s a link to the official product page.

Versions

There are three versions of this MDC light.  Two of them are Cree XP-L HD lights, with one specifying NW.  And there’s a UV version, as well.

Price

Malkoff has its own store, and that’s probably the best place to get this particular light.  Here’s another link:

https://malkoff-devices.myshopify.com/collections/malkoff-small-led-flashlights/products/mdc-neutral-xp-l-2cr123

The price is $149.99, and it looks like that’s one cent short of getting free shipping.  (!!!)


Short Review

I can say up front that this is a quirky light.  There are some things I don’t love about it (namely PWM), but there are more things I do love about it.  This feels like one of the most robust lights I’ve ever had, and that alone makes it stand out.  Yes it has a weird cell size (16650, who actually has one of those?) but it includes the cell.  Even with the quirks, I like this light very much.

Long Review

What’s Included

  • Malkoff MDC 16650 Flashlight
  • Keeppower 2500mAh 16650

Package and Manual

The MDC ships in a sturdy package.  The light itself is in a simple zip-top baggie, with a sharpie-written label.  That’s pretty minimal packaging.

There is no manual included.

Build Quality and Disassembly

There are a couple of things to note about these shots.  First the branding – “Malkoff Devices / Made in USA” on one side.  Sensible, of course.  Also it’s on the head not the body – this is an E-Series light, so the head/body will fit other E-Series lights!

And on the other side of the head is some more important information.  “MDC” – the model name, and the voltage range at which the light works.  Since these MDC lights are similar enough to be confused, it’s very important to have this information accessible.  The heads look basically the same.  So be aware and careful to apply the right voltage to the right head!

The next, and probably most important, thing about this light is that the electronics are fully potted.  In case you don’t know what that means, allow me to quote Wikipedia:

potting is a process of filling a complete electronic assembly with a solid or gelatinous compound for resistance to shock and vibration, and for exclusion of moisture and corrosive agents.

Potting makes or breaks this type light.  Basically the MDC has no usage limitations.  Weapon mount?  Fine.  Tactical situations?  Sure, fine.  EDC?  Potting’s gonna help keep moisture out, so yes, great light for EDC.

Both the head and tail have springs.  The tail springs is very beefy, and there’s also an o-ring bumper in there.  The head spring is thin and not so much meant as a spring, but just as a contact point.

Below is a better look at the potting.  I’m not sure what the white dot means; just some internal info, I would imagine.

The potting does mean it’s essentially impossible to do an emitter or driver swap.  “Essentially” impossible doesn’t mean impossible though.  It’d just be very, very hard.

Also take note that the retaining ring on the bezel end.  All that retaining ring does is allow access to the lens.  It goes:  Retaining ring, o-ring, lens.  This light is not one of the drop-in models (those are “VME” models).

Size and Comps

Officially this light is 5″ long, and at it’s thickest, 1″ in diameter.

I measure 127.82mm in length, and 26.02mm in diameter.

This definitely isn’t a short light.  But the diameter of the barrel (thin) makes it feel smaller than it is.  It carries well, especially in a back pocket beside a wallet (which is where I usually carry the much thicker BOSS).

Retention and Carry

A pocket clip is attached from the factory.  It’s an unusual 2-up style clip, and is nice thick steel.  The mouth is plenty wide.  It’s not deep carry, though; a deeper carry option would be nice.  Less so on this longer light, but certainly on the shorter 123 versions of this body style.

You’ll certainly not put a SteelFlame clip on the MDC, but the clip it does have is quite nice.  It’s removable, being held in place by two small Hex screws.

There are no other included options for carry.  No pouch, lanyard, magnet, etc.

Power and Runtime

The MDC 16650 is powered by it’s namesake:  a 16650 li-ion cell.  Fortunately a cell is included; otherwise, that cell could be fairly hard to come by!  It’s indeed an unusual size.  It’s also possible to power this light with two CR123 cells – indeed that is likely the rationale for using a 16650 cell in the first place!  Another rationale would be to keep the head size consistent, and maintain E-Series compatibility.  The larger 18650/18350 cells would likely ruin that working well (ie it could be done, but other/worse concessions would have to be made).

The included cell is a button top 2500mAh Keeppower branded cell.  I have liked Keeppower cells in the past and I have no reason to dislike this one.

This appears to be a protected cell, as it’s longer than an unprotected 18650.  Also note the that it’s narrower than the 18650.

The output on the highest mode isn’t setting the world on fire- it’s a very conservative 550ish lumens.  But it’ll do that for quite some time.  It’s not a regulated output, though, and will slowly decline as the cell voltage declines.  On bench power, the light essentially never shuts off, but in practice with a cell, the output gets so low that the cell voltage never seemed to drop below 2.67 or so.  As this is a protected cell, and as the cell is included, I wouldn’t worry too much about the lack of LVP in this light.

The middle mode is very stable, and 7 hours or so before finally stepping off ~100 lumens.

PWM

Unfortunately both of the lower two modes have a noticeable PWM.  It’s most evident on Low, but I can see it on Medium too.  High doesn’t, as can be seen in the charts below.  I can’t yet translate these graphs into the Snob Index numbers, but as someone who’s both sensitive to and picky about PWM, it bothers me on low.  Medium, not so much.

For reference, here’s a baseline shot, with all the room lights off and almost nothing hitting the sensor.

User Interface and Operation

There’s one switch on the MDC – it’s a tail clicky.  This is a forward mechanical switch, so de facto offers momentary.

The UI is very simple, and utilizes “on time” memory.  Here’s the Malkoff blurb about that:

This light USES ON TIME to determine mode switching.  If the light is left ON for more than 1 second, the NEXToff/on cycle will return the light to low.  If the light is NOT LEFT ON for 1+ seconds the NEXT off/on cycle will advance the mode.  The off time has no relation to the mode switching of the light.  In most normal use, the light will always come on in low.

In practice, it’s very easy to get accustomed to.

Here’s a UI table!

State Action Result
Off Click Low (in most cases)
Off Half Press Low
Off Repeated Half Press Cycle modes (LMH)
On Click Off
On Half Press No action

Modes and Currents

Mode Mode Claimed Output (lm) Claimed Runtime Measured Lumens Tailcap Amps
High 500 1.5h 565 1.15
Medium 100 8h 111 0.22
Low 20 30h 21 0.04

Note that the actual output claim is that momentary High is 500 lumens, with steady High being 450.  Either way it’s phrased, the output beats the claim.  Momentary is over 500.  Steady is over 450.  So both claims earn a checkmark.

LED and Beam

In the MDC 16650 that I have is a NW Cree XP-L HD.  The reflector is lightly orange peeled and moderate-to-shallow.

The beam profile ends up being mostly spot, with a fair bit of spill on High.  It’s a good profile for the style light.

Tint vs BLF-348 (Killzone 219b version)

I compare everything to the Killzone 219b BLF-348, because it’s inexpensive, has the best tint, and [probably] still available!

The Big Table

Malkoff MDC Neutral XP-L 16650
Emitter: Cree XP-L HD
Cell: 16650
Runtime Chargetime N/A
LVP? Switch to Low
Power off Charge Port with no Cell?
Claimed Lumens (lm) 500
Measured Lumens (at 30s) 565 (113% of claim)*
Claimed Throw (m) 107
Throw (Calculated) (m) 139.6 (130.5% of claim)
Candela (Calculated) in cd (at 30s) 147lux @ 5.757m = 4872cd
All my Malkoff 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).

Random Comparisons and Competitive Options….

Here’s a link to a relevantly filtered page on parametrek.com.  I use that site a lot!

There are many lights that fit the general bill of this light.  In reality I don’t know of many that have such robustly potted electronics.  The downside is that you really pay for that level of potting.

Conclusion

What I like

  • Build quality is excellent
  • Hits specifications for throw and output
  • Includes a cell
  • Multi-cell-type compatibility

What I don’t like

  • 16650 is an unusual cell size
  • Output is a little on the low side for a liion light
  • PWM on lower two modes

Parting Shot

I mentioned that this was an E-Series compatible light.  McGizmo lights are too.  Below, view the McGizmo Sundrop head fitting perfectly on the Malkoff body.  Also vice versa: the MDC head fits the McGizmo body!

I wasn’t entirely sure what voltage is ok on the Sundrop, so I didn’t actually turn the light on in this configuration. 🙂


Notes

  • This light was provided by Malkoff Devices 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

2 thoughts on “Malkoff MDC 16650 Flashlight Review

  1. I’ve been really interested in this light (MalkoffMDC 16650). However, I would like to run CR123A primaries in it. Have you done any testing on this light with CR123As? I am particularly interested in runtimes, and most specifically current draw on high. Thanks!

    1. I did test the current draw at 4.2V (but not from a cell; I use bench power for that).

      I can test what the current would be for 2xCR123 cells, but it will likely differ very little from what’s listed here. I would guess that’s calculable – the same number of watts for each mode. Ie high is 4.2V*1.15A = ~4.8W. But at CR123A*2, with the same wattage, the current will be 4.8W/6V=~0.8A. That’s just a guess – the driver could preform differently, but it still will not be grossly different.

      There’s a thread on candlepower forums, with runtimes. I can test the draw on high at 6V, and then it’d be possible to just calculate the runtime. Would that be interesting? I don’t have spare CR123A cells for actual runtimes, though.

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