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Highest quality single cell AA light?

Discussion in 'Flashlights & Other Illumination Devices' started by tonester, Mar 5, 2012.

  1. tonester

    tonester Loaded Pockets

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    Alright guys I need your help to find the highest quality single cell AA light out there. To me high quality would be like HDS and Surefire. Both of these brands seem to make some of the toughest most reliable lights out there however none in single AA format.

    Now don't get me wrong, I own or have owned various models of foursevens, fenix, nitecore, zebralight, and Jetbeam that use single AA and love them but are these the highest quality out there?

    Thanks for the help guys!
     
  2. Rawls

    Rawls Loaded Pockets

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    soli likes this.
  3. derfyled

    derfyled Loaded Pockets

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    Since you're already familiar with many flashlight brand, I'll skip the technical details you possibly already know. In the single AA, the choices is rather small in terms of high quality. For me, quality = reliability and the only brand that comes to mind when I think AA and reliable is Peak.

    They are not the nicest design, not the brightest, not full of electronic functions, are rather boring but are built like a tank and the machining is top notch.
     
  4. Mickey Holmes

    Mickey Holmes Loaded Pockets

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  5. reppans

    reppans Loaded Pockets

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    I'm going to follow this thread as I've been looking for the same. Wish HDS put something out in 1xAA since they seem to like the practical low low lumen modes too. Surefire is out for me.... too much focus on tactical and impractical.
     
  6. Rawls

    Rawls Loaded Pockets

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    The biggest problem with the light is the battery. AA batteries are just inferior to CR123a batteries. Even the lithium AAs do not offer the same performance as the CR123a batteries do. Rechargeables do, but that is an entirely different story. The widespread availability of AA batteries is nice, but an overstated advantage. In most of the crises around here (two blizzards and a hurricane), the AAs were the first to go--a local grocery had AAs and CR123a on sale, but the AAs were all gone the three times we had massive power outages. The CR123a batteries were not. They may have been seriously overpriced, but expensive batteries are better than none. Maybe outside the US, the advantage is different, but here I think it is a marginal benefit at most here in the US.

    Additionally, many if not all of the high end custom makers just find the batteries impractical. As emitter tech improves we might get closer to AA light on par with a CR123a light, but the problem is each time emitter tech improves for AA lights it also makes other batteries better as well. And while we may reach a point where AA is "good enough" for most people, the folks that demand high end gear will almost always opt for better than good enough. It is a never ending problem for fans of custom lights and AA form factors.

    I will note that there is also a 2x AA McGizmo McClicky body.
     
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  7. DBR

    DBR Loaded Pockets

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    Years ago I purchased some stuff from this hot new company, Sure-Fire Laser Products. I had a 9P and an ASP-21 Inch Telescoping Baton and those were two simply excellent pieces of gear for an alarm company employee to have at all times.

    I go the other way from Rawls up above. I think that for practical, every day use and for emergency use, the stuff running CR123As is totally overrated, Sure-Fire has become simply a name that people associate with quality and coolness, etc., and I don't really see where I'm any less served by Fenix LEDs running AA or AAA batts...or my Petzl headlamps running AAA batts...I wish I had all of this stuff throughout the 1990s!

    I probably cannot impress upon most people the incredible value of having something like a Fenix Penlight that runs on two AAAs and it performs like my old 9P. Added to that, I carried a large Maglite and a Mini-Maglite in a messenger bag at the time because you would blind yourself with the 9P if you needed to read a map or do some other, mundane task. Not so with the Fenix Penlight, three power levels. I look at what is available now and it would have been awesome to have that stuff back then when I really needed it and would have used it every, single day that I worked.
     
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  8. Rawls

    Rawls Loaded Pockets

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    DBR makes very good points and I think that we are getting very close (if we are not already there) to the point where AA lights are good enough for almost all users, thanks to emitter technology. My new eagletac d25a is remarkably bright, but if you are looking for that lt extra bit of quality a custom offers, your going to have a hard time finding it for the reasons stated above. Still for the vast, vast majority of people we are at the point where an AA light is plenty bright enough. We have been there for a while with multicell AAs, but with the XPG and XML emitters we might be there with single cell AA lights. Review on the D25a is coming...
     
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  9. reppans

    reppans Loaded Pockets

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    AA vs CR123

    There's no question that CR123s will out perform AAs, but how much performance do you really need?

    There's a good "lessons learned" thread over at CPF, and one of the most common themes from the experienced flashaholics is that runtime trumps output every time. I think this post puts it very well:

    I've found my best performance feature long ago - it's free and greatly enhances both output and lumens at the same time. Simply put, it's just letting your own night vision work. I typically live on 0.2/4/19 lumens as my L/M/H and tend to change my 1xAA battery somewhere after 50-100 hours of use. I camp and will use my lights continuously for 4 hours. It was such a revelation for me to learn about "moonlight mode" and be able trash all those Petzl/Black Diamond headlamps that I've collected over the years and have grown to despise (mutli-batt configs, lows too high, and always starting out on high.... not to mention bulky, fragile, and inefficient :laugh:).

    As far as runtime and emergency use is concerned, I agree AAs will be the first to sell out in an emergency situation. However, who needs to go to the store in the first place? I know of at least 25+ AA cells in my home just residing in remote controls, clocks, kid's toy's, game controllers, back-up juice for clock radios and home thermostats, and of course all my other electronic gadgets, which often travel with me. I also have plenty of Eneloops and 2 great AA solar chargers. There is not a single CR123 in the house.

    For runtime, my Quark will run 400+ hours on a single fresh alkaline on moonlight. I know I can pretty much do anything I need to with moonlight, if I had to, with perhaps just bit more work aiming the hotspot for certain tasks. This house definitely won't be going dark...

    I just wish that some of these American custom makers like HDS would recognize the value and versatility of the AA... and especially know that the more experienced customer base (their bread and butter) is not always chasing higher output and the "best" performance.
     
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  10. Ludwell01

    Ludwell01 Loaded Pockets

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    I think that often a really bright light isn't your friend. It gives the game away and chews through batteries.

    I keep coming back to my StreamLight MicroStream, its cheep as chips and has enough light for 90% of the tasks I need.
    AA battery forward clicky with momentary on and 28lmns reasonable throw but fine up close.

    [​IMG]
     
  11. archimedes

    archimedes EDC Junkie!!!

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    I would agree with derfyled that the Peak (El Capitan in stainless steel) would be my choice.
     
  12. Blackheart

    Blackheart Loaded Pockets

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    Hear, hear! My favorite go-to light for around-the-house is the Streamlight 4xAA PolyPro Luxeon, mainly because of the case material and shape and the rear clicky. This light is a thrower, though, and I found that the intense hotspot actually made closeup things harder to see especially if they were even a bit reflective.

    I ended up putting some diffuser film over the lens to make it more floody. Muuuuch better.
     
  13. aphex2k

    aphex2k Loaded Pockets

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    More than happy with my Nitecore EZ AA.
     
  14. azzid

    azzid Empty Pockets

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    Would agree with some of the fellows here who recommended peak, when i was on the hunt for a AAA keychain light that would be as bombproof as can be. I looked into what peak has to offer and got me an eiger SS, if AA is what your after they do have that in the el capitan flavor. Add a qtc pill and you'll get variable output. It may not be as lite since the body/tube is quite thick(and made of SS) but it's virtually indestructible. Been in my pocket for almost half a year and been banged up on floors and thrown to the wall most of it's life, I'm thinking that the battery inside would be the first to sustain damage due to shock lol.
     
  15. SharpScott

    SharpScott Loaded Pockets

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    That's something that I've never thought of before, but totally makes sense! Because AA's are so widespread, the demand for them is much higher. Whereas although it's harder (or more expensive) to find CR123A's, there's not as much demand.

    Thanks Rawls, it's so completely obvious that it's not obvious!

    The other advantage is the shelf life of CR123A's. Yes, you can get lithium AA's but really, there's not much difference, at least here in the UK, between the availability and price of lithium AA and CR123A's.

    Scott.
     
  16. DBR

    DBR Loaded Pockets

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    Thank you.

    The brightest light I ever owned was a Sure-Fire Centurion, I think that was the model. It took a bundle of CR123As and it was about 8 or 9 years ago. I don't remember how many lumen the highest output was but it was approaching or just over 200? Even when I worked for the alarm company, I don't think that light would have served me any better blinding people or searching offices or warehouses, etc. The S-F 9P did just fine at about 105 lumen, IIRC. I traded that big-pig Centurion off on Bladeforums.

    We really are victims of our own experience. I can't think back to a time when I was searching a building or exterior areas of a building where I wanted more light than I had but I sure wanted more battery life. If for no other reason, the branch secretary kept questioning why I needed 3 to 6 very expensive ($7.00 each back in the early to mid 1990s) "camera batteries" for my flashlight. I had to show her a couple times. I flashed her face with the 9P for half a second and she was dazzled and I said, "That's why I carry this flashlight. It's powerful."
     
  17. CarpentryHero

    CarpentryHero Loaded Pockets

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    My current favorite AA light is the Sunwayman V10a XPG, doesn't have as long a low low runtime as the Quark AA due to the magnetic control ring. But I can shoose the mode I want while the light is on or off, this light can also be bought with an XML.
    My XPG Sunwayman low low is less than .1 lumens
    I like this light better than the Jetbeam Rrt0 with AA adapter because it's quite abit shorter.
    It was also the light I had with me when my baby boy was born Jan23 2012

    [​IMG]

    Colin will be a flashaholic :)
     
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  18. Mumbojumboo
    • GITD Manix 2XL Owner

    Mumbojumboo EDC Junkie!!!!!

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    great picture^
     
  19. Gnarly
    • In Omnia Paratus

    Gnarly Loaded Pockets

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    Only have 1 AAA light & 2 AA lights left.
    Not interested in throw, not hung up on max output, but get tickled when you folks talk about the 'low lows'....which is why I got outta the AAA & AA market, for the most part.
    Example: I have 2 like-new ZL H-51's. The low-low is useless to me. Got two of their big brothers : ZL H600W's.
    Now the lowest low is usable. Will likely sell the ZL H51's.
    When I started getting serious about RCR123A's & 18650's, I got 4 chargers (home, camper, truck, FMTH! bag) and both 12V & 110V options for recharging....and now: USB.
    Still not satisfied I had my bases covered, I bought a solar charger setup from cottonpickers on EDCF, then a backup.
    I have no problem with those who prefer AAA/ AA lights, or folks who want a mile of useless throw, or those who make fun of my collection.
    But I no longer need to buy batteries at the store. Every 3 years-regardless- I give mine away & replace them.

    One less thing to fret over.
     
  20. temujin

    temujin Uber Prepared

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    I only have two single-cell AA lights. The first is an Inova X1 -- the first version that came out. Not bad, but the tail cap tends to move when I carry it in my pocket, so I have to wrap a rubber band around the juncture of the tail cap and the body. I EDC'd that for a considerable while.

    The other is a Photon Proton. I lucked into it a my local drugstore. They were clearing it out for $20! Works well. No ocmplaints. I keep it in my bag as a backup light.