Astrolux FT03 Cree XHP50.2 Flashlight Review
The Astrolux FT03 is a flashlight with many emitter options, seen here with Cree XHP50.2. The light has many features. Read on to see them!
Official Specs and Features
There are two Cree XHP50.2 options – this 5700K and a 6000-6500K (cooler) version. And besides this XHP50.2 version, of course, there’s the Luminus SST40 version, which I already reviewed. There are three temperatures of that emitter, too:
Great size, great output. USB-C charging, multiple cell size support. This is a nice light!
The Big Table
|Emitter:||Cree XHP50.2 (5700K)|
|Price in USD at publication time:||$49.95|
|Turbo Runtime||High Runtime|
|Quiescent Current (A):||0.00011|
|Power off Charge Port with no Cell?||3 modes without cell, All modes with cell|
|Claimed Lumens (lm)||4300|
|Measured Lumens (at 30s)||4094 (95.2% of claim)^|
|Claimed Throw (m)||735|
|Candela (Calculated) in cd (at 30s)||5230lux @ 5.415m = 153355cd|
|Throw (Calculated) (m)||783.2 (106.6% of claim)^|
|All my Astrolux 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).
- Astrolux FT03 Flashlight
- Spare o-rings (2)
- Cell size adapter (26650 to 18650)
Package and Manual
The FT03 ships in a nice Astrolux box, with the light illustration, embossed. A sticker on the end describes the emitter tint, and on the bottom is an SKU sticker.
The manual is pretty and descriptive. It’s a manual that’s generally been used in other lights since the firmware is one Astrolux uses a lot. That’s fine… makes for nicely fleshed-out manuals.
Build Quality and Disassembly
No build quality complaints. This is a nice sturdy light.
The anodizing feels nice. Slick, smooth. Not overdone with knurling, not overdone with fins in the head.
The head has very minimal fins for cooling.
The diamond pattern knurling has deep grooves. So even though there’s minimal knurling, the body is still plenty grippy.
Here’s the light apart. The cell tube comes completely off the head and tail.
Both the head and the tail have massive double wound springs.
The cell tube is not reversible, because one end (the head end) has unanodized square-cut threads, and the tail end has very lubed trapezoidal threads.
The included cell tube adapter is plastic, and only fits around the body of the cell.
Size and Comps
Weight: Approximately 295g without cells
Dimensions: 170mm * 69.5mm * 34.5 (length * head diameter * body diameter)
It’s not really a small light.
Here’s the test light with the venerable Convoy S2+. Mine’s a custom “baked” edition Nichia 219b triple. A very nice 18650 light.
And here’s the light beside my custom engraved TorchLAB BOSS 35, an 18350 light. I reviewed the aluminum version of that light in both 35 and 70 formats.
Retention and Carry
The included lanyard attaches to the tailcap, through two holes. There’s a relief, which allows flawless tailstanding – a nice touch.
There is no pocket clip or anything else included for carry.
Power and Runtime
The FT03 has a few options for power. Primarily, this is a 26650 light. Or at least, at the maximum, it’s a 26mm in diameter light. The cell cavity and double springs also allow for longer cells, like the 21700 variety. I opted to use a 21700 cell, and I’d recommend that for you too. The reason is that 21700 cells are more easily available in higher drain capabilities, and with this being a FET light on Turbo, you’ll benefit from a higher current cell. I tested this exclusively with a high drain 21700 cell. The included adapter also allows 18650 use. Even that might be a better choice than 26650 because most 26650’s I know aren’t really high drain. But if you need the larger capacity, by all means….
Below is a 21700 – the Vapcell INR21700. As you can see the cell sort of swims in this big cell tube, but the springs do hold it in place well, and contact is good. I’d really rather the cell adapter have worked for 21700 cells instead of 18650….
Maybe what we need now is a 26700?
Turbo (ie the double click maximum) steps down hard most likely due to thermal considerations. Output after that drifts off to almost nothing, and finally the main emitter begins to flash warnings, and ultimately shuts off.
Yes, the runtime on High (which is the highest point in the ramp) is shorter than Turbo, but that’s because it’s driven just hard enough to not cause temperature to step output down.
The light has LVP at around 2.7V, at which point the main emitter flashes and then the light goes off. Interestingly this LVP warning isn’t from the switch….
The light also has on-board charging. It’s unusual in that it’s USB-C. This is a nice addition to lights, and I hope we see much more of it.
One interesting thing about the charging in this light is that if the cell inside is over 4V, the charge circuit can’t initiate charging. If the cell has been charging since below 4V, then it’ll charge to full, with no problems.
Pulse Width Modulation
Here are the PWM charts for the five discrete modes. PWM disappears on the middle mode and Turbo. I don’t consider it “bad” PWM though – I can’t notice it on any mode.
I’m going to include the PWM measurements from the FT03 SST40, because mode 4 (stepped, of course) shows PWM which I didn’t see in my scope of the XHP50.2.
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
There’s a single indicating side e-switch on the FT03. It’s a responsive and clicky button. The FT03 has NarsilM which is a ramping UI. Ramping is all the rage, and I do like ramping just fine. The Narsil version of ramping is good, too. (Narsil also has a stepped option, which is what I generally opt for, at least for testing purposes). The PWM tests above, for example, are of the stepped modes.
Just like another light with NarsilM I reviewed, the Astrolux S43, I won’t put NarsilM in a table. I’ll link this awesome flow chart type table, and leave it at that.
There are two groups. One group has ramping, one group has discrete modes. It’s possible to switch between ramping and discrete easily. The default is ramping, and to switch to modes, first turn the light on, then hold the switch for 3.2s. It’ll blink twice, pause, and blink once. At that point, click once. This disables ramping. Once this is done, put the light down so you don’t change other settings (which is very easy to do.) There are other things you could do to expedite termination of programming, but just skip it, and wait.
NarsilM is wonderful firmware. It’s extremely versatile, and possible to change many (most? all?) of the settings about the light. I still don’t think it’s suited for a table, so I’ll leave the UI at the flow chart above, for now.
Again, here are the two manuals. They’re worth reading, since there are some differences from “normal” Narsil. (These links are for the S43, but are .pdfs, unlike the .docx on the FT03 page. I prefer the .pdf files.)
Interestingly the FT03, like the S43, seems to always have a Moon mode activated. So selecting a discrete mode group set can be confusing, since, when picking the default stepped group, which is 4 modes, you get 5 (since moon is always added). It’s a little confusing.
The switch does have some indicating functions, too.
Modes and Currents
|Mode||Mode Claimed Output (lm)||Claimed Runtime||Measured Lumens||Tailcap Amps|
|Turbo||–||–||4218||[FET] (Willing to take >10A)|
LED and Beam
The emitter in this copy is a Cree XHP50.2. Mine is stated at 5700K, and is cool and … looks on the wall like an XHP50.2. The reflector is smooth, deep, and wide.
These beamshots are always with the following settings: f8, ISO100, 0.3s shutter, and manual 5000K exposure.
Tint vs BLF-348 (KillzoneFlashlights.com 219b version) (affiliate link)
I compare everything to the Killzone 219b BLF-348 because it’s inexpensive and has the best tint!
What I like
- Multiple cell size options – particularly 21700 cells
- USB-C on-board charging
- Great throw and output
- NarsilM UI
- NW and CW both available
What I don’t like
- The temp-based throttle on Turbo is a little annoying.
- This light was provided by BangGood for review. I was not paid to write this review.
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