Wowtac BSS v4 Flashlight Review

Wowtac has released a version four of the BSS light – that’s Black Scout Survival.  I reviewed the v3 of this light already, so it’s nice to see v4!  It’s an 18650 light with built in charging, and is a complete package.  Read on for thoughts and testing!


Official Specs and Features

Here’s a link to the official product page.

Versions

Of “v4” there are two options – CW and NW (seen here).  Of course there are previous iterations of this light as well – I reviewed the BSS v3 over two years ago!

Price

This light retails for $59.99, and is available now.  Wowtac did give me a 10% off code, though:  10V4zeroAir, from July 15 to Sep. 30.

They also asked me to include this information:
WOWTAC Amazon flagship store: https://www.amazon.com/wowtac
WOWTAC Official website: http://wowtac.com/
WOWTAC FB Weekly Tuesday Giveaway: Follow WOWTAC Facebook @wowtacflashlights & Join group, attend every Tuesday giveaways and get more promotions. Win free flashlights here: https://www.facebook.com/wowtacflashlights

Short Review

Overall this is a solid value light.  If the loadout suits your needs (as I’m sure it does for many Black Scout Survival followers) then it’s a good choice.

Long Review

The Big Table

Wowtac BSS v4
Emitter: Cree XHP35 HI (NW)
Price in USD at publication time: $59.99
Cell: 1×18650
Turbo Runtime High Runtime
LVP? Yes
Switch Type: Both
Quiescent Current (A):
On-Board Charging? Yes
Charge Port Type: micro-USB
Chargetime
Power off Charge Port with no Cell? Two lowest modes. (with or without cell)
Claimed Lumens (lm) 1785
Measured Lumens (at 30s) 1298 (72.7% of claim)*
Candela per Lumen 17.8
Claimed Throw (m) 322
Candela (Calculated) in cd (at 30s) 967lux @ 5.101m = 25162cd
Throw (Calculated) (m) 317.2 (98.5% of claim)*
All my Wowtac 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

  • Wowtac BSS v4 Flashlight
  • Wowtac 3100mAh 18650
  • Pocket clip
  • Nylon pouch
  • Replacement switch cover
  • Replacement charge port cover
  • Spare o-rings (2)
  • Lanyard
  • Red lens to replace crenelated bezel
  • Manual etc

Package and Manual

Build Quality and Disassembly

The build quality of the BSS v4 is typical of Wowtac.  It’s good enough considering the price.  There aren’t any specific points that I’d say could be better.

The bezel is striking.  It’s easy to remove, and the light works fine without it (in fact all my testing was without the bezel.)

Nice NW emitter in there!

Black Scout Survival logo is on the head – it feels laser etched instead of silk screened or anything like that.

This design on the tailcap does effectively nothing to help with unscrewing the tailcap for cell swaps.

 

The replacement non-crenelated bezel looks to have just a bunch of AR coating or whatever, but it is actually a red lens.

The threads on the tail are square cut, fairly short, and unanodized.

The head end has a brass button.  The tailcap has a big thick double spring.

There’s an inner tube also.

And her’s Ratus from PhotonPhreaks!  Still available!

Size and Comps

Dimension:146.5mm28mm25.4mm
Weight:98g(NOT included the battery weight)

I measure it at 99g without cell and that’s with the strike bezel (9g by itself).  The cell pushes total weight to 147g.

Retention and Carry

A nylon pouch is included.  The light will fit in either orientation, but there are no holes in either end.  So the light must be remove for use.

Also included is a friction fit pocket clip, which goes only one direction, and only on the tail end of the light.  So bezel down carry only.

The included lanyard fits in the tailcap loop.

Power and Runtime

The Wowtac BSS v4 runs on a single 18650 liion cell.  A proper cell is included – 3100mAh button top.  However even the shortest flat top unprotected cell seems to work just fine in the light.

Here are a couple of runtimes.  First is Turbo, which is much lower than the claimed 1785 lumens.  That number is for the CW version of course, which will almost always churn out more lumens.  So we expect a bit lower than 1785 – Wowtac suspected a 10% loss, but I experience much more than 10%.  Still 1300 lumens isn’t bad output.  The stepdown is at 30s, and fairly dramatic.  But once it levels out, around 500 lumens for over an hour.  The bit at the end isn’t me fiddling with the light – the output just bounces like this toward the lower voltage of the cell.

High is much more well regulated, though the output does step down quite dramatically after a minute or so.

The BSS v4 has on-board charging too, in the form of a micro-USB port in the head.  This port is opposite the e-switch.

Charging in both cases was…. weird.  The first charge test had big dropouts and I had to go back and notice that it wasn’t actually charging, and sort of restart it.  The second test looked ok but then I see the big bounces from “normal” to around 0.5A.  In both cases the cell charged fully, and in both cases things looked pretty normal.  So I don’t have an explanation for this, but the messing about does cause charging to take much longer than it would if it was a steady 1A the whole CC phase.

Modes and Currents

Mode Mode Claimed Output (lm) (Specs are for CW version – NW tested) Claimed Runtime Measured Lumens Tailcap Amps
Turbo 1785/485 2m/134m 1298
High 1087/535 3m/136m 938
Medium 286 4.5h 249
Low 25 55.5h 22
Firefly 0.32 56d

PWM

No PWM is seen on any mode.

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 are two switches on the BSS v4.  First is the mechanical tail switch.

Next is the indicating e-switch on the head.  Note that this one has a metal cover.  (Metal, or plastic, either way it’s not rubber and soft.)

Here’s a UI table!

State Action Result
Any (Unlocked) Click Tail Switch (TS) Turbo
Any (Unlocked) Tap TS Momentary Turbo
Off (Unlocked) Click Side Switch (SS) On (Memory Mode (LMH only)
Off (Unlocked) Hold SS Moon
Moon Click or Hold SS Off
On (except Moon) Click SS Mode advance (LMH)
Moon Long hold SS Lockout (Switch turns red when clicked)
Lockout Long hold SS Unlock
Any (Unlocked) Double click SS Turbo (Really it’s “previous mode then Turbo”)
Any (Unlocked) Triple click SS Strobe

LED and Beam

This light offers a Cree XHP35 HI, and a smooth deep reflector.  I have the NW option, but also available is a CW, which will pump out more overall output.  XHP35 HI is one of my favorites, and it’s a good choice for this light, too.

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)

Test light is on the left!

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

Conclusion

What I like

  • Complete package
  • Good output
  • Simple UI
  • Dual switch UI

What I don’t like

  • Fast stepdowns
  • Crenelated bezel is super aggressive

Notes

  • 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!
  • For flashlight related patches, stickers, and gear, head over to PhotonPhreaks, another site where I write!
  • Use my amazon.com referral link if you’re willing to help support making more reviews like this one!

Author: zeroair

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