Here’s another Acebeam light, very similar to the TK16 I’ve already reviewed. This whole set of lights has different emitter options though, and runs on an 18650. The UI is the same though. If you liked the TK16 (like I did) then you’ll probably like the TK18 Al (like I… read on to find out.)
Official Specs and Features
There are a number of versions. First the emitters. There’s a Samsung LH351D edition (seen in this review). There’s an Osram KW CSLMN1.TG edition. And there’s an option with Nichia 219c.
There are also body options. What I have here is the aluminum version, which is anodized black. Also available is copper. Possibly down the road other materials will be available too (for example, titanium is mentioned on the box).
Price and Coupon
The aluminum version starts at $74.90 – a bit more with a cell included. Copper starts at $86.90. Buy yours at KillzoneFlashlights.com (referral link).
This is a nice light. I liked the similar TK16 enough that it’s still one of my main carry lights, and I can see the TK18 AL following in those footsteps.
The Big Table
|Acebeam TK18 AL|
|Price in USD at publication time:||$74.90 at KillzoneFlashlights.com!|
|Power Turbo Runtime||Power High Runtime|
|Quiescent Current (A):||?|
|Claimed Lumens (lm)||3000|
|Measured Lumens (at 30s)||1721 (57.4% of claim)*|
|Candela per Lumen||3.1|
|Claimed Throw (m)||156|
|Candela (Calculated) in cd (at 30s)||237lux @ 5.012m = 5953cd|
|Throw (Calculated) (m)||154.3 (98.9% of claim)*|
|All my Acebeam 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).
- Acebeam TK18 AL Flashlight
- Charge Cable (though no cell is included in this package)
- Spare switch cover
- Spare o-rings (2)
- Manual and paperwork
Package and Manual
Build Quality and Disassembly
This is a great light. Feels great in hand, has a great size, the anodizing is good quality (going by feel).
The knurling on the body isn’t so much knurling as it is just big squares. Moderate grip is provided by this.
The tailcap doesn’t have any knurling at all. That’s a little surprising I think, since the tailcap is removed for swapping cells. No big deal though; the threads are buttery smooth.
The clip is one of the best examples of my least favorite kind of clip. More on that later.
The bezel is crenelated, but not in a “strike bezel” kind of way.
Both head and tail come off the cell tube. The cell will not fall out with the head removed. There’s a nice beefy spring on the head, and a conformal coating (or possibly/probably just a protective thick sticker.
The head and tail aren’t reversible either. Not only wouldn’t it work if they did fit, but also they don’t physically fit swapped.
Threads on both ends are well lubed and very smooth. Anodized and square cut.
Size and Comps
Officially 105mm x 25.5mm (head diameter) and 23mm (tube diameter). Weight is 58g. I weighed 59g without cell.
Here’s the comparison you probably want to see most. The Tk16 beside the TK18.
Retention and Carry
The main means for carry of the TK18 Al will be the pocket clip, which is a friction fit “two way” clip. It only fits on the head end of the light, but the two-way part allows it to be reversible, for bezel up or down carry.
Also included is a lanyard, which attaches through a hole in the tailcap.
This light will work on the bill of a cap (“hatlight”) but I had to put it on the topside. It’s too long for the bills on the underside – it’ll probably bump your forehead. But on the topside not only does it work and fit well, the angle it takes from being the length/clip depth makes the light point about where you’ll want for walking (but probably too near for running.)
Power and Runtime
The TK18 Al is powered by a single 18650 cell, which is not included (at least at the $74.90 price point – some packages do offer cells). The light will also work with 2xCR123 cells. This does not improve output or runtimes, though.
The cell goes into the light in the usual way – with the positive terminal toward the head. Below the light is seen with the head off, but normally you’ll remove the tail to swap cells. In fact the cell can’t even be removed from the head end (it’s physically captured).
You’ll also need a very capable cell. I tested with a few cells, even good cells, and only the Sony Murata VTC5D seemed to provide good output (the others just blinked off on POWER Turbo.) Output steps down quite dramatically and even then, the initial output isn’t hitting the 3000 lumen claim. This is disappointing but I’m not sure it’s surprising…. I’d like for POWER Turbo to last longer at higher outputs (not even necessarily the 2400 initial, but something – maybe 1500 or 1000). Stepping down to 500 is quite dramatic.
All tests exhibited both Low Voltage Protection and a low voltage warning. Below see the warning noted by flashes of the main emitter. LVP seems to be around 2.8V, which is plenty ideal for liion cells.
POWER High is pleasantly well regulated.
The graphs below are for the ECO mode – they’re scaled to themselves though, so bear that in mind (they aren’t scaled to the 2400 lumen output above).
ECO Turbo doesn’t hit spec either – this one should be around 1450 lumens but is much more like the “POWER High” seen above.
ECO High is also well regulated.
All in all I like the look of these graphs, but I do wish they’d match the claimed specs better.
A charge cable is included, but since I didn’t get a cell with my package, it’s not of any use for me. I’m surprised this is part of the package even in instances when a cell isn’t included. ¯_(ツ)_/¯
Modes and Currents
|Mode||Mode Claimed Output (lm)||Claimed Runtime||Measured Lumens||Tailcap Amps*|
- This is one of those e-switch lights that’s thwarts my attempts to measure current in my normal way, and despite my best efforts, I was never able to get it sorted.
Both POWER and ECO exhibit the same scope traces. No PWM is to be seen here – there’s just a touch of ripple on Ultra-Low but nothing to worry about.
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 switch on the TK18 Al is a tail e-switch, and has a rubber cover. A spare cover is included.
The design here is different from the TK16 – there’s no screw down shroud over the cover to allow easy replacement. Instead it appears that two screws from inside the tailcap must be removed, and entry is from there.
Here’s a UI table! The UI here is just like the UI on the TK16.
|Off||Click||On (Mode Memory)|
|Off||Long Hold||Moonlight then Lockout (Triple flash to confirm)|
|Lockout||Long Hold||Unlock to Moonlight|
|Lockout||Click 10x||Switch Mode Groups between Power and ECO*|
|On||Hold||Mode Cycle (LMH) (No Moonlight, Turbo, or Strobe)|
|Special Group (Turbo or Strobe)||Hold||Low^|
Group is indicated by a low flash then high flash, then off. ECO group is indicated by a high flash then a low flash. The light remains locked even after group change.
^ Manual has this wrong – seems to say it’ll go back to the memorized mode, but it in fact goes to low. (Just like on the TK16.)
LED and Beam
My copy of the TK18 Al has three Samsung LH351D emitters. The temperature isn’t stated in the manual, but it appears to be the coolish variety. The emitters are covered by a standard clear Carclo optic. The bezel unscrews easily so if you wish to change anything about that (emitters or optic), it should fairly possible.
These beamshots are always with the following settings: f8, ISO100, 0.3s shutter, and manual 5000K exposure.
POWER modes first.
ECO modes next. Power modes are noticeably brighter on the upper two levels (as they’re supposed to be.)
Tint vs BLF-348 (KillzoneFlashlights.com 219b version) (affiliate link)
Test light is on the left. I used Low (left) and Ultra-LOW so you can get a better idea of the temperature.
I compare everything to the KillzoneFlashlights.com 219b BLF-348, because it’s inexpensive and has the best tint!
What I like
- Great build quality
- Good size for an 18650 light (maybe not “small” but it’s good enough)
- I like the UI
- I like that the UI has two groups, and it’d be unlikely to accidentally swap between them.
What I don’t like
- Does not hit output numbers. (Strangely does hit throw though?)
- I’m not a huge fan of the pocket clip. A regular clip that could go on head or tail would be my preference.
- This light was provided by KillzoneFlashlights.com for review. I was not paid to write this review.
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