Nitecore P18 Flashlight Review

Nitecore has produced another interesting experiment with die-casting flashlights.  The P18, using a single 18650, has both white (main) and red (secondary) outputs, with dual switches.  Read on to see how the light performs!


Official Specs and Features

Here’s a link to the official product page.

Versions

Just the one version.


Short Review

This is a fun light, with a nice form factor.  I like the simple Nitecore UI, but the main button is a bit finicky for me.  The secondary switch is great though.

Long Review

The Big Table

Nitecore P18
Emitter: Cree XHP35 HD (Red secondary)
Price in USD at publication time: $99.95
Buy yours at NitecoreStore.com!
Cell: 1×18650
Turbo Runtime High Runtime
LVP? No (Switch to low)
Switch Type: E-Switch
Quiescent Current (A): 0.00005
On-Board Charging? No
Claimed Lumens (lm) 1800
Measured Lumens (at 30s) 1299 (72.2% of claim)*
Claimed Throw (m) 182
Candela (Calculated) in cd (at 30s) 399lux @ 4.652m = 8635cd
Throw (Calculated) (m) 185.8 (102.1% of claim)*
All my Nitecore reviews!

* 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

  • Nitecore P18 Dual emitter Flashlight
  • Nitecore 3100mAh 18650, flat top
  • Lanyard
  • Nylon Pouch
  • Spare o-ring (1)
  • Manual

Package and Manual

Standard Nitecore package!  The light is in a plastic tray inside.

The Nitecore logo has a bit of peel off plastic.  🙂  Worth it.  Here’s a direct link to the pdf manual, or just see below.

Build Quality and Disassembly

The P18 is built well, and has a very interesting design.  This is probably the vape-y-iest flashlight I know of…. if you’re looking to disguise your flashlight as a vape then… maybe this is the light for you!

Otherwise the light just has a great shape for in-hand.  There are some “apart” photos later in the review relevant to their sections, but I didn’t disassemble the light.  I’m not even entirely sure how the light comes apart.  It’s possible that once the bezel is removed, the internals can be accessed, but I’m not even sure about that.  The area with the Nitecore logo appears to be a small access panel, but it’s unclear how that comes off.

The tailcap unscrews easily, but to put the cap back on, you must press it in in order to depress the brass button.  That’s not hard, but if you’re not careful, you can miss align the threads, and end up with a mess.  The threads are tough though, and I never damaged them during use.

Speaking of the brass button – it’s a brass button but also a spring.

The head end of the light also has a spring.

Size and Comps

Officially:

Dimensions L-4.15″ x W-0.9″ x H-0.9″
Weight 3.65oz

I measure 5.27oz with the cell in place.
23.23mm on the narrow side, 31.8mm on the wide side, and 105.74mm long.

The light is bigger than you might guess, too.  There has to be an interesting bit of tech going the length of the light… otherwise I’d like for the light to be shorter.

Retention and Carry

A nylon pouch is included, and it fits the light in only one orientation.  The thicker dimension of the light will be outward in the pouch, so the light rides a bit thick.  The clip prevents putting the light in bezel up, but if the clip is off, either direction would work.

Also included is a pocket clip.  It’s a pretty nice pocket clip, and carries the light well.  It’s not nearly deep enough though, and being a single screw design it’d have been simple enough to make it a deep carry clip.  The body of the light has an unusual feature of demanding the orientation of the clip with some divots – it’s impossible to install it incorrectly.

Power and Runtime

Nitecore includes an 18650 for this light, and with good reason.  The light draws over 5A on turbo, so a quality cell is needed.  That said, the included cell doesn’t maintain turbo output for very long.

Turbo steps down a few times, approximately to the lower modes, and then finally steps down to a lower-than-low output.  It never shuts off, at all.  Around 2.0V, when the voltage is too low to crest the forward voltage of the emitter, the light no longer operates, but I hardly call that “shutting off.”  But no LVP isn’t unheard of on this type light, so I see this as a planned option.

The output on High is equally flat once it stabilizes, and runs at High for over an hour.

Nitecore includes the cell below, a 3100mAh 18650.

It’s a flat top, and labeled as 20A continuous.  It should be a very high quality cell

The cell goes into the light with the positive terminal toward the head, as seen below.

Modes and Currents

Mode Mode Claimed Output (lm) Claimed Runtime Tailcap Amps
Turbo 1800 30m 5.30
High 850 2h 2.00
Mid 260 4h 0.45
Low 65 18h 0.09
Ultralow 1 220h ~
Red 10 28h 0.1

PWM

No PWM detected on any mode, including red.

Red:

For reference, here’s a baseline shot, with all the room lights off and almost nothing hitting the sensor.  And here’s the worst PWM light I have ever owned.  Also one of the very first lights I ordered directly from China!

User Interface and Operation

The UI is dual switch, with one of those being clicky, and one of them being a two stage switch.  The most prominent has a power logo, and is the control of the white light.  The side button, round and clicky, controls the red.  This side button feels metal, while the larger switch on the tail is likely plastic.  Both can be operated utterly silently.

Here’s a UI table!

 

State Action Result
Off Click Side Switch (SS) No Action
Off Hold SS Red Steady
Red Steady Click SS Off
Off Fully depress Tail Switch (TS) On (White emitter) (Mode Memory including strobe, excluding Beacon/SOS)
On (White) Fully Depress TS Off
On (White) Less than fully depress TS (not “half press”, specifically) Mode advance (LMH direction)
Off Press both switches Ultralow
Off Hold TS Momentary (White) (Mode Memory)
Momentary Mode Memory (White) Fully depress TS Momentary Turbo
On (White) Less than fully depress TS Momentary Turbo
On Fully depress TS >1s Strobe
Strobe Fully depress TS >1s Beacon
Beacon Fully depress TS >1s SOS
Any special mode (Strobe/Beacon/SOS) Less than fully depress TS Previous mode

Note the access to Ultralow and Turbo from off, and the access to Turbo from any state.  That’s not a bad UI at all!  Might take some learning though.

Also note that the emitters can be used concurrently.  Basically they operate completely independently.

LED and Beam

The emitter in the P18 isa  Cree XHP35 HD.  The red emitter looks to be “unspecified.”  The main emitter has a deep smooth reflector, which yields a very defined hotspot, with reasonable spill.  The red beam is basically all spot, but more of a donut spot than anything.

These beamshots are always with the following settings:  f8, ISO100, 0.3s shutter, and manual 5000K exposure.

Tint vs BLF-348 (Killzone 219b version)

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

Conclusion

What I like

  • Full package light.
  • Good cell included
  • Robust feel, and shape has useful dimensions
  • Very good pocket clip
  • UI is extremely versatile

What I don’t like

  • Tailcap can be a bit fiddly
  • Quite big for what it is
  • UI might take a bit of getting used to
  • Based on the size I’m quite surprised that there isn’t charging built in

Notes

  • This light was provided by Nitecore 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 BangGood and GearBest coupons. Please subscribe and get notifications when the sheet is edited!!

Author: zeroair

3 thoughts on “Nitecore P18 Flashlight Review

  1. Super interested in your work! Great pics, man you really bring a different angle of light regarding a flashlight review. Your pics are inspirational to me, I see you really enjoy and are good at this gig. I take pics on the regular of flashlights and EDC items, but haven’t found my place to display consistently. I’ll be following your work and definitely appreciate the care and time you put in brother. Lead the way…

  2. If your switch is inoperable or momentary remove the nitecore sticker to reveal two t6 screws to access the switch contacts to clean

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