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Niteye MSA10 1x AA Review

Discussion in 'Gear Reviews' started by Jedigreedo, Dec 14, 2015.

  1. Jedigreedo

    Jedigreedo Loaded Pockets

    Feb 17, 2015
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    Another day, another light.

    The ranks grew by another cozy capsule to hug one of my AA batteries thanks to the bombardment of Cyber Monday advertisements, having found a deal on a light I've been (nit)eyeing for awhile now. Reviews of this light are scarce, at least in English, so I wasn't really willing to take a normally $55+ gamble on a light despite how neat it looked. However, thanks to a site knowing just which carrot to dangle in front of this weak-willed consumer, I ended up nabbing it for $21 delivered. That's the price of a Bushnell, Coast or Energizer at Wal-Mart - I couldn't pass it up.


    Nitty gritty:
    LED: 1 X CREE XM-L U2
    Runs on: 1 x AA battery

    Turbo: 160 Lumens/1 Hour
    Custom Low: 5~80 Lumens/20 Hours

    My first impression upon taking the light out of its box was surprise at just how hefty it was. It's the largest 1x AA flashlight of my collection so far, although I know there are particular ones out there that are also similarly towering, such as the Nitecore SRT3 and the JETBeam RRT0SE. The huge difference, however, is that both of those reach their height when AA extenders are installed. This isn't convertible from AA to any other battery type; it is specifically AA/14500. My second tallest is the Sunwayman V11R with AA extender, so I was slightly bewildered. Regardless, it feels like a solid build and a little more heft I'm completely fine with carrying as long as it's worth it.


    But is it worth it? Even at the discounted price it's easy to nitpick the various design choices and overall function. Niteye definitely cut various corners in manufacturing for this light to keep parts minimal between it and its CR123A variant, the MSC10. Most likely the only differences between the two lights are the emitter's internals and the body tube for the AA battery - which is made at a width that could still accommodate a CR battery. In fact, it lacks any added spacers or modifications other than length, so the AA battery is able to wobble around in its tube. Once the tail cap or head - depending on which you remove - are screwed back on, the tailcap's spring does keep the battery in place. But I'm very concerned about dropping it, which is probably the reason it's rated at drops of only 1 meter which is opposed to the more expected 2 meters for other lights such as the V11R.


    Despite the physical concerns, its function has been flawless. I've been carrying it since it arrived and it's quite pleasing at its key purpose. I prefer a cool white tint for my out & about lights due to getting more lumens and distance, of which this light does adequately. My measure of worthwhile distance for a 1x AA light is its capability to light up a hallway, or a stairwell, or at least reach a house across the street. Anything further than that I count on multi cell or CR123/18650 lights. This light reaches my typical target - an empty house directly across the street - from our garage door to theirs very well on max. Low, despite the lack of a moon mode, is a decent brightness (or dimness, however you prefer to consider it) so it's useful for getting around in the dark without blinding yourself or bothering others.

    The low, if you press and hold down the tail switch, can ramp its brightness up and down and does so very smoothly. The only other light I have with that feature is the Nitecore Tube, although the MSA10 does it noticeably smoother as the Tube 'steps' (for lack of a better word) to the next brightness level. That's not a big deal but it would slightly concern me if it acted the same as a $10 keychain light.

    Overall the light has three specific modes: high, low, and strobe. You access them through a rotating control ring on the tail cap, which is the feature that was most appealing to me. I've seen some comments about it being awkward to some but I typically hold my lights in the 'Cop way' so my index finger and thumb are typically at the tail end anyway. I can easily switch between the modes without effort. It certainly turned out pleasing in that regard, but the control ring options is another aspect of this light that raises a lot of questions. There's no question of quality, it - like the rest of the light - feels solid. But, I would really prefer to have had a fixed moonlight mode as an option to click to rather than the utterly redundant "Off" mode. When you turn to this mode, the light stays on low for a second or two while the tail switch lights up green by an internal LED.


    I have to note, the LED was a huge draw to me as I was under the impression that it stayed lit while the flashlight was on regardless of mode, like the Dorcy 41-4297. I was disappointed that it only comes on momentarily when you turn the ring to Off and it's pretty much only useful for telling you the state of the battery since it glows red when the battery is low. Since it's my own misunderstanding and not a claim by the company, I don't count it against the light.

    Due to the limited use of that particular feature, it really feels entirely unnecessary. All the more since you can easily turn the light on/off by using the tail switch, I can't see mentally training myself to only turn it off by turning the ring. I can't think of as anything other than a silly idea that probably sounded good in someone's head but shouldn't have been put to paper, or implementation. Furthermore, having a moon/firefly mode accessible this way would have been far more useful since you can easily find yourself without a Low mode at all. When you hold down the button on Low and ramp the light to any brightness setting the light will keep that setting in memory. It doesn't matter whether you spin the ring to another mode, or spin to off, or use the tail cap. Either way the light will revert back to where you left it. It IS a great idea but it has been annoying since usually I ramp it to a medium level, forget about it, and then get far more light than I wanted when I think I'm switching to Low.

    I'm not one of those flashaholics where the lack of a moonlight/firefly mode completely breaks the deal but the lack of one here is certainly noticeable - and missed. In regard to the tail switch, which is metal, I was somewhat worried that it might be difficult to press given that it's flush to the surrounding surface but I have yet to have an issue. It's aided greatly having a short travel in its press, which has a healthy resistance but nothing you have to fight. My only complaint here was a slight grinding noise whenever I pressed it, but it seems to have gone away. It must have been a rough edge that got smoothed down through usage since I don't hear it now.

    My final look and biggest complaint about this light is the pocket clip. I am greatly disappointed that this hefty light, and biggest of my collection, has the smallest clip. Actually it's comparable to the length of the V11R but it's also better placed on that smaller light. The mid placement for this tiny clip on a more cumbersome light is some of the silliest planning I've seen. It leaves too much of the electronics-laden tail cap out of the pocket, giving it a bad balance, and it doesn't grip your pocket well. All of that will leave it annoyingly shifting as you walk. It's easy to tell it's slightly awkward from the pictures, but you don't really have an idea of it until you can interact and carry the light. If they offered a deep carry alternative then it would be a massive improvement. I primarily carry in a pouch so the pocket clip so I only use the clip when I need to momentarily stop holding it, and it's managed to annoy me in those few occasions.

    Overall, I would have been significantly disappointed at the regular price of this light. It feels solid, it performs well, it's as bright as 160 lumens can be, it looks great with the two tone features, and it has some really neat ideas that were very appealing. Unfortunately, it should've spent more time in R&D. Even with the added, though redundant, LED in the tail cap it feels larger than it needs to be; heavier than it should be; and just all around weirdly sized. It's very odd to me that they didn't provide any security for the internal battery when altering the design from CR123 to AA, which is something that other light manufacturers have been able to compensate for in optional accessories (the extenders). The flashlight itself doesn't feel cheap by any means, but the planning and consideration that went into its aesthetics and function feel like the highest priority was cutting as many corners as possible, and simply uninspired.

    If you can get it for a great deal, enjoy having an eclectic array of light options, and prefer 1x AA lights then I can recommend it. As a $20-30 light, it's neat, it has worked reliably and it looks very cool. I just can't see anything here that justifies the original cost and there's far too many better options in that price range, both in function and form factor.

    Hope that helps anybody possibly looking at it! :)
    DeKrypt likes this.
  2. creekster

    creekster Loaded Pockets

    Oct 12, 2015
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    Google led me to this thread.
    Is this light able to run on a 14500?
    Working voltage is 0.9- 1.6

    Thank you
  3. davidt1

    davidt1 Loaded Pockets

    Oct 1, 2008
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    Google the Manker E11. Cost $29 and can do 800lm from a 14500 battery or 400lm from Eneloop Pro.

    Kudos to the OP for an honest reviews. There aren't too many independent user (someone who pays for the product they review) reviews these days.