Reaver Arms Citadel Flashlight Review
Reaver Arms, maker of “Fine Custom Every Day Carry Gear,” has a flashlight called the Citadel. It runs a 16340 cell and a Dragon driver!
Official Specs and Features
There are a few things to mention here. First off, the Citadel is available in many metals. Practically any metal, except the most common one (aluminum.) Mine is titanium, but Jesse of Reaver Arms also uses copper, brass, timascus, zirconium, and probably more from time to time.
Aside from the body metal are the internals. You can go with either an H17f driver by Dr. Jones or a Dragon driver by CWF. Mine has the Dragon. Among those options are also some emitter choices, too. While the H17f can only get Nichia 219c in 4000K high CRI, the Dragon can have that Nichia or Samsung 351 5000K Hi CRI. Either main emitter in the dragon is available with red, blue, green, or amber secondary emitters.
It’s hard to quote a price on these, exactly. Not because I don’t want to, but because they’re fairly scarcely available. You can’t just go to some site right now and buy one. You can sign up for the chance to know when one comes available. But broadly speaking, you’re looking at north of $650 for the “most basic” model. That’d be titanium or copper or brass (maybe brass is the least expensive, I’m not sure). This one is titanium. I didn’t buy it new, so I can’t quote an invoice price for it.
All of that said, you can basically spend as much as you want to for this light. The unicorn or clown metals (timascus, anything mixed metal) can be thousands of dollars.
The Reaver Arms Citadel flashlight is a gorgeous flashlight. It’s something we haven’t really seen before, too – a unique design. It carries so well, all while running the familiar Dragon driver and a McClicky. I’ve talked with Jesse at length about sizing the body for a 18350 cell. I think that’d be an improvement for this light, particularly with these heavy-hitting FET output levels. But day-to-day, it really doesn’t matter. I don’t need the 100% output often enough to drain a 16340 cell. Anyway, the design makes up for any of those complaints.
The Big Table
|Reaver Arms Citadel Flashlight|
|Emitter:||Nichia 219c (4000K Hich CRI, Amber secondary)|
|Price in USD at publication time:||650++|
|100% Runtime Graph||50% Runtime Graph|
|Claimed Lumens (lm)||1000|
|Measured Lumens (at 30s)||973 (97.3% of claim)^|
|Candela per Lumen||4.84|
|Claimed Throw (m)||–|
|Candela (Calculated) in cd (at 30s)||235lux @ 4.481m = 4719cd|
|Throw (Calculated) (m)||137.4|
|Measured CCT Range (K)||4000-4100 Kelvin|
|Item provided for review by:||Me|
|All my Reaver Arms 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).
- Reaver Arms Citadel Flashlight
- Carry pouch (soft, zippered)
- Stickers (2)
- Certificate of authenticity card with serial number
- CWF Dragon Driver card
- Spare pocket clip (separate purchase)
Package and Manual
There’s not really “a package” to speak of… The light ships well protected, but there are a bunch of parts, as you can see above.
That said, this COA card is a welcome addition to the “customs” arena of flashlights. I know other makers do these, but some of the biggest makers don’t (and it’s a real shame). This COA alone makes me very pleased with the Citadel.
Something else about this package I have. Mine’s a bit of a special package. It is a custom-finished titanium model, made to match some style of finish on a certain titanium knife. I think the finish is specifically “Battleworn” on the Hinderer knives. I don’t have that knife, nor am I really a knife guy, but I can say that the finish is fine, and one without the Battleworn would be also fine.
Build Quality and Disassembly
I’ve written literally the whole review and come back to the build quality section. What can you say about this $700 flashlight? It’s well built. Is it better than some other production model flashlight? Well probably, but is that measurable? Probably not. If you aren’t into it, then you aren’t into it and that’s fine. I am not here to try to justify this light at this price to you. I can say, however, that I enjoy it as a unique piece of art, and it also serves nicely as a flashlight.
Despite not having the same look as the Barad-dûr tower from Lord of the Rings (movies, at least), that’s what this light reminds me of. I’m a LOTR fan, so that’s actually quite perfect.
Only the head is removable here. The tail parts are not in a separate piece. These threads are fairly fine, but interestingly (specifically since this is a 16340 light) these parts line up perfectly with other lights such as the Hanko Trident. In fact, the head of this Citadel will both fit and work on a Trident (and probably others, too).
Here you can see the CWF Dragon driver. If you look carefully, you can also see the marks where the driver is staked into the pill. This is a very nice copper pill, and it’s a bit of a disappointment to see the driver staked this way. You could probably perform a driver swap… but it’s going to be much simpler to just buy an empty pill from Jesse.
Inside the cell tube, you can see the spring from the McClicky.
More on this later, but here’s the tail end. That switch boot (the black part) is held down and waterproofed by that purple o-ring. This is a very common setup for this style of light, and should prove very reliable.
Here’s the part of this light that you Just Don’t See Much™. The Reaver Arms Citadel flashlight has a body design that carries from the head to the body. If this light is made poorly, or even made “carelessly” in the least, these lines will not match properly. And if these lines don’t match properly, the Citadel will look properly stupid.
But Reaver Arms does know how to make things. The attention to detail is spectacular. In fact, I shared an image somewhere (Instagram maybe) where the head was lined up but could index one more point and Jesse was able to see that just from the photo. He asked, “will that go one more level?” And sure enough, it did, and was still perfect but the seam was that much closer.
Citadel Arms doesn’t state what optic is used here, but I’m fairly sure it’s the narrow spot optic. That’s the Carclo 10507. Even if it’s not, swapping these is very easy, and they’re cheap. If you want more flood, for example, you might put in the 10509, which is frosted as well as having a broader emitting angle.
When I first saw the Citadel I figured because of the front, which you can see below, this would be a nightmare to carry in a pocket. It’s really not. The Citadel carries very well!
And you probably know I love for a light to have a shaped front so that when headstanding, light will escape. This is an unusual iteration of that, since the bezel relief plays such an overall role in the design of the light.
I would also be ok with a very subdued version of the front to be carried over to the back. But the light tailstands cleanly as is, which is good enough.
Size and Comps
Officially: 1 x 3.4 inches
Mine is 93g without the cell, but that does include the sculpted clip seen in these photos.
If the flashlight will headstand, I’ll show it here (usually the third photo). If the flashlight will tailstand, I’ll show that here, too (usually the fourth photo).
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.
This is an important comparison, since these both reside in the “custom” market. (Yes, I’m going to just about always put “custom” in quotation marks. Custom can mean a ton of things, and you might apply the word differently than I do. So let’s just go with calling these “customs” and know that it doesn’t matter what it means, and in this case, it probably means something about this size in this format.) The Citadel is just about the size of a TorchLAB BOSS 35. That light is an 18350 light. The Citadel is a 16340-cell light.
Retention and Carry
A pocket clip ships attached to the Reaver Arms Citadel flashlight. It is a screw-in pocket clip. What you see attached here is not the stock pocket clip. This is a 3d milled clip and can be added with your purchase from Reaver Arms.
The clip attaches with two screws. These are TORX screws, and I believe this is the “standard” hole spacing. You should have no trouble using a Steel Flame skull clip (or otherwise.)
These milled or “sculpted” clips are available usually in titanium (seen here) but also in Zirconium.
The sculpted clip adds $75 to the purchase price. These clips are pretty interesting because there aren’t any flat surfaces at all – I don’t know anything about machining at all, but $75 sounds like a deal for that level of effort on these clips.
Here’s the stock clip. It’s “just” a bent metal (also titanium!) clip.
I have to say that even this bent metal clip looks fantastic. In my opinion, it might even fit the design of the Citadel better than the sculpted clip. The angles being sharper really fit the Citadel.
The second means of carry for the Citadel is this zipper pouch. This pouch is nicely padded and also quite spacious for the diminutive Citadel.
I don’t like how this zipper loops on one end. It’s not like the light is going to fall out of this opening (especially since the light doesn’t really slip around inside the pouch anyway), but I’d rather the zipper have a hard termination than this loop-style.
Power and Runtime
I tested the Citadel using this Vapcell 800mAh 16340 button top. I don’t know that it’s the best option, but it’s the best option I had on hand. Note that Turbo performance will be highly dependent upon what cell you’re using. As a FET drive output level, it’ll take all the current your cell can provide! The more current, the brighter your Turbo will be!
The cell is installed in the usual way: the positive terminal toward the head.
All that said about the downsides of using the 16340 cell size, it does allow a nice slim waist on the Citadel.
Here are a few runtime tests. I don’t recall the Dragon driver being quite so “active” in my other tests. But it’s fun to see the driver respond to heat and modulate the output as heat goes up or down. In usage, you’d definitely notice this level of change, but you’d likely also want to change modes anyway, to deal with the heat. I would be interested to compare this output to that of a fully copper version to see if the levels were held a bit longer with the heat-friendly copper.
I’ll probably add another one or two runtimes later. I want to see where the performance levels out and holds steady in this titanium body.
Modes and Currents
|Mode||Mode Claimed Output (lm)||Claimed Runtime||Measured Lumens||Tailcap Amps|
|100||–||–||973||[FET] (all the current)|
Pulse Width Modulation
The Dragon driver uses PWM for most modes. You’re unlikely to notice the PWM, but I won’t say it’s impossible that you might. The FET turbo does not use PWM, nor does the highest output for the secondary emitter. The mode order shown here is the same as the table above, and the same as you’ll experience in the mode group that has all the modes listed in the table above. This is how the other group photos will be done below, too.
For reference, here’s a baseline shot, with all the room lights off and almost nothing hitting the sensor. Also, here’s the light with the worst PWM I could find. I’m adding multiple timescales, so it’ll be easier to compare to the test light. Unfortunately, the PWM on this light is so bad that it doesn’t even work with my normal scale, with is 50 microseconds (50us). 10ms. 5ms. 2ms. 1ms. 0.5ms. 0.2ms. In a display faster than 0.2ms or so, the on/off cycle is more than one screen, so it’d just (very incorrectly) look like a flat line. I wrote more about this Ultrafire WF-602C flashlight and explained a little about PWM too.
User Interface and Operation
All Reaver Arms Citadel use a McClicky switch, which is made by McGizmo. The McClicky is a forward clicky switch. This means momentary actuation is possible, but once the light is on, no mode changes can be made. As you can see around the switch boot below, there’s a special color o-ring keeping things sealed nicely.
Unlike the head, which has “spikey” bits extending out, the tail has a completely flat surface. The switch cover doesn’t protrude at all past the edge of the light. This is great for tailstanding.
But the switch is still plenty accessible.
Here’s a UI table for the default mode group! There are 8 mode groups. The dragon on a McClicky is pretty straightforward, I think.
|Off||Half press||Mode advance (Low Secondary, High Secondary, Moonlight, 5%,15%, 35%, 50%, 100%)|
|Off||Half press >15x||Configuration Mode (indicated by flashes)|
Here’s a list of the mode groups. Basically nothing difficult about them, so no point in a separate table.
1- low secondary,high secondary,ml,5,15,35,50,100 2- low secondary,high secondary,5,15,35,100 3- low secondary,ml,5,15,35,50,100 4- low secondary,5,15,35,100 5- low secondary,high secondary,15,100 6- low secondary,15,100 7- ML,5,15,35,50,100 8- 5,15,35,100
I showed in the table how to reach the configuration mode. Once in the configuration mode, you must select which thing you wish to change. If you wish to select a different mode group, for example, do the following:
- With the light off, half-press >15x and note when the light stops responding
- When the light stops responding, stop pressing but continue to hold the switch so that the light is “on”, and the light will begin flashing
- After the first flash (secondary emitters, High), the secondary will strobe on low for around a second. Click to turn the light off, during the low secondary strobe.
- Turn the light back on. This enters the mode group selection process.
- The secondary emitters will begin to flash slowly. Click to turn the light off after the number of the group you wish to select.
- Light is programmed
The same process is used for any of the other options. Those options are as follows:
1. Mode Group Select. 2. Memory Toggle. 3. Mode Order Toggle. 4. Temperature Calibration Mode. 5. Reversing Toggle.
Unfortunately past the very obvious actions those options present, not much further explanation is given. For example, I’m really not sure what “Reversing toggle” is, and because the configuration option to do that is so long, I’m not really inclined to try to figure it out.
But the temp configuration is covered.
When setting the temperature control the light will go from programming to turbo, turn the light off when it reaches the temperature you desire.
My experience is that each option has its own notification of which thing has been selected. For example, if you configure the “Mode order toggle”, the normal mode option (L>H direction) will be indicated by a solid beam immediately after configuration. Reverse order (H>L direction) will be indicated by strobe immediately after configuration.
I’d love to see a much more fleshed-out version of what’s what. There’s no good reason for there not to be a full discussion on the maker’s page of every option available, and how to manipulate it.
LED and Beam
The emitters in this Citadel are Nichia 219c 4000K as the main triple, with amber XQ-E as the secondary triple.
It’s been reported about the Dragon driver elsewhere that the secondary emitters are on when the main emitters are on – that is, the secondary emitters are always on if the light is on. On this light, in the Moonlight mode, the secondary emitters are overwhelming. You can see it below but it’s much more visible in person. Now, that’s not necessarily bad in this case since Amber just sort of adds a “warmer” feel if anything to the total output. But my opinion is that this secondary channel should be completely inactive while the main emitters are on.
An interlude here to talk again about the 16340-ness of the Citadel. Yes, Dragon driver is great. H17f is great. These triple-emitter flashlights are great. But on this 16340 cell flashlight, in this slightly smaller body (than say a Hanko Trident), what would really be fantastic is a single emitter with a reflector. I have that setup in one of my Hanko Tridents, actually, and it is my favorite flashlight. This whole flashlight just begs to be one of the rare “custom single emitter flashlights.”
Aside from that, actually having secondary emitters is great.
LED Color Report (CRI and CCT)
Despite the amber secondary making up so much of the moonlight output, that doesn’t seem to translate into the CRI/CCT report. So that is great. Otherwise, we see that the 4000K and High CRI claim of these Nichia 219c emitters is met nicely.
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 keep the test flashlight on the left, and the BLF-348 reference flashlight on the right.
I compare everything to the KillzoneFlashlights.com 219b BLF-348 because it’s inexpensive and has the best tint!
What I like
- The design. While it’s not Barad-dûr exactly, it’s reminiscent enough that I love it for nostalgia-type reasons.
- Emitter choices are few but great
- McClicky is a good and reliable forward clicky
- The programmability of both driver options
- That there are driver options
- Willingness of Reaver Arms to customize the light (as seen with this “Battleworn” finish.)
What I don’t like
- 16340 only. I’d be as excited as I was when they announced Curvy Barbie to have an 18350 version of the Citadel
- Dragon driver – but that’s my choice since I H17f is available.
- That said, the driver is staked, so changing it yourself is a hassle
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