Review: Balder BD-1P XM-L

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weiser
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Review: Balder BD-1P XM-L

Balder BD-1P

Reviewer's Overall Rating:  ★★★★★

 

http://www.mybalder.com/product/html/?58.html

 

Summary:

Battery: 14500
Switch: Forward clicky 
Modes: 3 (H>M>L)
LED Type: XM-L
Lens: 
Tailstands: Yes 
Price Paid:

 $49.99 MSRP

Date Ordered: November 10, 2011

 

Pros:

  • Very nice anodized finish
  • Nice machining; no blemishes found and threads nicely
  • Feels very sturdy
  • Driven higher than similar AA/14500 lights, which works well for the XM-L emitter
  • Can accept 1 or 2 AA batteries
  • Accepts 14500 nicely
  • Regulated well on 2xAA
  • Good output without over driving the emitter
  • The lowest mode is quite low
  • Best experience with combination of high output and very low mode
  • No blinky modes (strobe, SOS)
  • Good grip without covering it with knurling
  • No battery slop; very snug fit

Cons:

  • Tail standing is a little wobbly because rubber switch cover protrudes a little
  • Silver collar gets in way of clip when placed on tail cap and not using extension [clip can also be placed on the head) 
  • PWM might be noticeable to some but doesn't bother me
Specifications:

1. Dimension:  Head diameter 24mm, Tail diameter 24mm, length 159mm
2. Cree XML-T6 LED
3. Lumen and runtime:
    Double AA:
    Maximum output of 180 lumens for 2 hours
    Minimum output of 6 lumens for 100 hours

4. Material: Aircraft Aluminum Alloy T6061 
5. Weight: 90g (without battery)
6. Water proof to IPX-8 standard 
7. Battery: double AA or single AA /14500
8. Accessories: O-rings, user’s manual, lanyard(optional accessories), holster(optional accessories)

First, the artsy pics Tongue



Now the real world pics: 




 

Features / Value:  ★★★★

Because this light includes an extension piece to operate on 2xAA via extension tube and is well regulated I believe there's good value, although I'd like to see the price closer to $40. Balder listens to the users and excludes blinky modes. It is also a highly practical light because it has high output on 14500 while still running very low on the lowest mode with any battery format. It comes with a nice clip (can be used on the head or tail cap) and an extra bezel. I think Balder covers all the bases in this department. On the shipping side of things, I would prefer Balder put a little more effort into packing. While the plastic case is definitely adequate in protecting the flashlight it would be nice to have foam or something comparable to keep it from bouncing around inside. 

 

Design / Build Quality:  ★★★★★

This is where I really appreciate what Balder is doing with their 'BD' series flashlights. I think the design is unique and transitions nicely to each subsequent model. Even though the silver collar is mostly decorative, it actually doesn't cause any annoyance and is a nice feature to create brand value. At first I was hesitant because I thought it would just be unwanted bulk, but it quickly grew on me and I've found it's not bothersome at all. The machining is excellent and the anodized finish seems durable while looking fantastic. Everything threads together nicely. My only suggestion would be to continue the grooved design on through the extension piece and keep the same diameter. This would give it a more consistent look and might also provide a better grip. Over all, the body definitely feels sturdy and nothing feels cheap. My only complaint would be that tail standing is a little wobbly because the switch cover protrudes a bit. Some may not be bothered by this because they can easily fix it, but others are likely not so inclined and just want it to work out of the box. I'm neutral on this because tail standing is always a bonus in my book. 

 

Battery Life: 

N/A

 

Light Output:  ★★★★★

I am quite pleased with the light output. It provides plenty of lumens on high while while giving you very low output in the lowest mode. On low mode I can look directly into the reflector and easily see the emitter distinguished from the PCB and reflector. I appreciate this combination of high and low very much. This makes it a very practical light. I think you get plenty on high without sacrificing battery life. I don't test for actual lumens; I just use my eyes because that's the only thing that matters to me. Please refer to the pics for your own assessment. The beam pattern is very smooth without any artifacts. PWM is used on medium and low, but it's not an issue for me. Also, on 2 x AA there is significant increase in output versus running on a single AA. This should confirm the 1.50A reading on two AA cells. 

 

Control shot

 

Ultrafire XM-L T6 P60 drop in (Manafont.com) on a single 18650

Eneloop AA

Eneloop 2 x AA

14500 

 

Please use these figures only as a rough assessment of how the emitter is driven since there are too many variables to get totally reliable results:

 

Measured with an Equus 3220 DMM

 

Alkaline: H=2.20A, M=0.75A, L=0.64A

2 x Alkaline: H=1.50A, M=0.50A, L=0.028A

Eneloop: H=2.20A, M=0.50A, L=0.064A

2 x Eneloop: H=1.50A, M=0.50A, L=0.028A

14500: H=1.80A, M=0.50A, L=0.020A

 

Summary: ★★★★★

Over all I am very happy with this flashlight. I love that it accepts 1 or 2xAA and 14500 and does it well. It fits great in the hand - not too big and not too small - and provides all the essential features. While I may have a couple suggestions for improvement (and this could merely be personal opinion) I can't find any negatives that impact user experience. I think Balder accomplished what they set out to do. The sturdy body, professional anodizing, battery capabilities - all features that are found on a higher end flashlight. The driver is regulated optimally and the levels at which each mode are driven at (specifically high and low) are well thought out for the XM-L emitter. If you're looking for a well made AA/14500 light that gives you plenty of output on high and also a very low mode, then the BD-1P fits the bill nicely.

Edited by: sb56637 on 09/02/2017 - 11:43
JohnnyMac
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That's a nice looking light. Did you buy it or did they send it to you for review?

SashiX
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Lovely pics Silly Would be great to see how it performs (regulated or not). Looks like 2AA=14500, right?

weiser
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Martin from Balder sent it to me for review. I'm still on the fence about the price, but considering it's unique in its category I guess I can sort of justify it. Maybe $39 shipped would break the psychological barrier Smile

sb56637
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Very nice review weiser, thanks a lot!

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08CivicSi
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nice looking light, but I wouldn't pay 40 for it

Lensman
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Good review, straightforward and to the point. Thanks.

how2
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Thanks for the review. I have the SE-1 which pulls 2.5Amps on high and 0.70Amps on medium. Here is my assessment.I wanted to buy the light as it was advertised that it could take 2x14500 batteries.

Your review has made it clear that there is no benefit for me to buy this, in terms of output. You saved me $47. Thanks. I will have to get the Jetbeam 2xAA.

 

weiser
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Yeah, I'm kind of wondering what happened to the 2 x 14500 support. I'm almost sure I saw that as well. In fact, I was still even expecting it up until I received the light. I checked the product info on the manufacturer website and sure enough it's only capable of 4.2V. Where did we first see that?

 

Although, it does run significantly brighter on 2 x AA vs one AA. This also makes it a safer option. Maybe Balder wanted a more mainstream light (i.e. safer yet still practical). I don't think they failed by supporting 2 x 14500. That's really more of an option for flashlight enthusiasts, considering the safety and maintenance implications. 

alfreddajero
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I like the light, did they make the clip stronger because i know in recent reviews the clip would snap off.  Would be nice as well if they made a 16340 barrel as well so you would be able to use the light in 3 configurations.

With Darkness, there will always be Light.

 

 

weiser
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I don't see how the clip could snap off. It certainly feels strong to me. How much stress does one expect from a budget flashlight clip? Seriously, I think it's up to the task. 

r1derbike
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Light looks very well made.

No way I'd pay the asking price.

Bang-for-buck is just not there...

how2
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For $20 more you can get the Jetbeam PA20. Which will have better built quality and more output(230Lumens) with 2xAA and that's with a XPG R5.

It also has toughened ultra-clear mineral glass with anti-reflective coating. Comes with a case and holster.

This light would be better for all users.

weiser
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2 x AA with this light is actually pretty decent. I can't measure the lumens with any electronic devices, but it's pretty darn close to 14500 output, based on my built in lumen detectors (eyes). 

 

But I also agree that the price is a little high. I stated that I would be more comfortable with it being closer to $40 than $50. However, I want to reiterate that the low is definitely quite low and could be considered "moon mode" on ANY battery format. You don't often find that range of output across all battery formats in this price range. It's WAY better regulated than the Xeno E03, for example. 

 

Question about the PA20: Can you remove a section and operate on a single AA? I was under the impression you can't and that would considered an advantage of this light. I think Balder needs to design something like the PA40, but operates on 2 x AA (similar to the TK35). I'm just not a big fan of long, skinny lights like this design.

Chicago X
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The side-by-side arrangement is a good one, IMO.  It makes for a much more pocketable light. 

Underwater Kinetics is the only manufacturer of which I'm aware that has a line of  S-B-S torches. They are, however, plastic and relatively dim. 

It would seem that the layout is much more expensive to machine than the typical tube layout of most torches, hence the choice of thermoplastics for the LD40 an PA40. 

I would love to see more S-B-S designs. 

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alfreddajero
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I dont own one but there was talk about the clip just snapping off, maybe they used better steel this time. I like the light but just not a big fan of the clip, would of been nice if it was a bolt on or one that was inserted at the tail cap end like the clips you can get with the SF lights.

With Darkness, there will always be Light.