Review: KD C8 CREE XML T6 1000 Lumen 5-Mode LED Flashlight (1*18650) SKU: S009844
I just received the KD C8 CREE XML T6 1000 Lumen 5-Mode light.
Its quite a good buy at $18.38 and I'm honestly blown away by it. It completely smokes all my other 1 x 18650 MC-E/P7 lights in overall output and throw. I have one P7 light that has brighter close range spill due to its shallow medium OP reflector, but not nearly the range or overall light output of the the KD C8 XML.
I almost bought a P60 XML dropin (like many others here did), but I personally don't like the way the P60 host overheats after about 1.6A draw for continuous duty use (and that’s with strips of foil carefully wrapped around the dropin to fill the gap in the head). I was pleasantly surprised that the KD C8 came with thoughtful inherent design considerations for heat dissipation while pulling heavily on its 18650 cell. The LED is mounted on a 16mm Star. The star is then glued into a machined recess on a threaded aluminum pill. The pill is drilled and tapped to allow the star to be screwed to the pill, but the XML die is said to be very efficient at transferring heat without the need of screwing it down. In this case, thermal adhesive seems to do the trick on its own. The recess has a plastic centering ring that snaps into place, and centers the LED star while protecting the bottom of the reflector from making contact with the LED’s +/- solder connections. Most other lights use a crappy sticky round donut shaped piece of thin cardboard material to accomplish this. With the plastic ring removed, the star mounting recess in the pill can handle star mounts up to 19.8mm in diameter without modification. The tail end of the pill is where the driver is soldered in place. There is a spring soldered to the bottom of the driver to contact the positive end of the battery in typical fashion. The pill then screws tightly into the head, which is superior in its ability to transfer heat when compared to most other similar lights that have the pill screw into the flashlight tube instead of the head. This allows the largest immediate surface area of the light to heat up first and dissipate the most amount of heat, instead of relying on the tube for the same purpose.
The aluminum reflector surface is a very light orange peal (VLOP) finish and of better than average quality.
I took out all my other similar 18650 lights and experimented with different reflectors and discovered that the smooth (SMO) thrower reflector from one of my Lunapower MRV’s was a direct drop-in. This worked out to be a worthy trade from one of my modded MRV’s, where I had swapped out the XRE for an XPG. The XPG mod in the MRV light definitely prefers the KD C8 reflector for the mega floody close in work of the XPG. The SMO reflector swap into the KD C8 XM-L does make for a few rings while shinning on a whitewall but increases the center hotspot brightness quite noticeably. I'm not at all concerned since this light will only be used outdoors where rings will disappear in actual use.
Tailcap Readings at 4.20v
High - 2.98A! Hopefully all lights of this model will do just as well.
Medium – 1.10A
Low – .12A
Strobe – *
SOS – *
My example of the KD C8 is a photon blaster with a well matched driver. One minute after initial turn-on, the current draw settled down to around 2.8A. I haven't tried to test this light for battery run time and will rely on others for those numbers who are better equipped than I to provide that information. Besides I don’t care... I always carry several spare 18650’s when I'm in the outback.
Well built and well finished.
Near perfect soldering connections. Amazing that a monkey didn't assemble this one!
Appears to be the usual HAII type finish that we see on better cheap Chinese lights.
Well thought out lego design, where all parts of the light are easily disassembled for inspection and modding. The tailcap and bezel ring from the MRV are fully interchangeable, as are the reflectors, with the bezel rings being identical on both.
Typical thread quality with no binding or cross threading, although not quite as good as the MRV.
Better than average quality medium-deep reflector with light OP to balance throw and spill while providing a near perfect beam.
Average quality and sized single o-rings where they need to be.
Bronze spring loaded button pin contact inside the tailcap to contact the battery negative pole. It would be better if the button pin were chrome plated but it seems adequate in doing its job of transferring current.
Easily modable for future upgrades.
Superior heat sinking in a light of this size and weight while driven @3A
Mode memory that works every time and remembers the last mode after its turned off.
No battery or lens rattle when shaken vigorously.
Typical better quality lanyard seen on 18650 Chinese lights... identical to the Lunapower MRV.
Nice white tint that lacks a cold or bluish hue.
VERY dirty tube threads upon delivery. Not a big deal to clean, and the grease did its job while machining the threads and making them a clean smooth cut.
Clicky boot cover protrudes about 1.5 mm so this light can not tail stand. A different cover or adjusting/trimming the current one will probably rectify this if its important to you.
LED not perfectly aligned before it was glued. Strange that they screwed this up since it has a plastic ring to center it. Its not to bad and hardly impacts the beam quality on a whitewall, even with the SMO reflector upgrade. I’ll probably leave it as is for now because I don’t feel like desoldering the the star to remount it. Besides, it will be replaced soon enough... read below.
IMO, the host is not quite as good looking as the MRV, but now I don’t have to mod an MRV to have a light like this.
I just took this light outside to test it against an XR-E R2 modded Lunapower MRV with SMO reflector and AR glass UCL lens upgrade, driven hard - pulling 1.60A at the tail with a fresh 4.20V 18650. The test range is a city alleyway behind my house about 200M in length. Although subjective, and I don’t have a camera that does well in capturing beam shots, this light gives a pumped up XR-E a run for its money in throw. But the XM-L has a MASSIVE hotspot and tons of spill that brightly lights the walls of the alleyway down the entire length of the corridor. The XR-E has some mild spill with a small bright hotspot at the end of the corridor. The hotspot size of the XM-L is at least 10 times larger and appears just as bright. A UCL lens would add more lumens to the KD C8. I would need complete darkness and a longer test range to find out which one has the ultimate throw distance. On the whitewall, the XML gets blotted out by the XRE but the XRE also has a much bluer tint and smaller hotspot. I ordered 3 of these 16mm XM-L’s so I can experiment with dedoming the LED to increase lux/throw. They are $8.70 each when purchasing 3 or more. I've decided to give KD more of a chance than I have in the past, not just for the price break but because they answer my emails within 24 hours and show a genuine concern in keeping a customer happy. On one transaction, they forgot to issue a PayPal refund. I complained and they issued the refund right away and extended their apologies with an email. Time in shipping from port to the US was 9 calendar days in transit... which beats the living crap out of DX’s awful 30-60 day wait.
Updated: I have since converted back to the light orange peel reflectors (LOP) in the pair of KD C8's that I have mounted to my bicycle handlebars. The LOP reflectors provide a lot more spill beam than the smooth reflectors. Due to the overwhelming spot beam, I would develop tunnel vision after an hour of high speed ridding with the smooth reflectors and also found it difficult to see into tight turns. I rarely use both flashlights simultaneously because a single light provides more light than I normally need. The second light is there for redundancy due to the long ranges I travel, but both do get ran simultaneously on very long straight-aways.
KD has changes their site links and several C8's exist. Of the lower priced duplicates, these seem to be the current offerings as of 11/29/11:
KD C8 CREE XML T6 1000 Lumen 5-Mode LED Flashlight (1*18650) - smoother reflector
KD C8 CREE XML T6 1000 Lumen 3-Mode LED Flashlight (1*18650) - smoother reflector
KD C8 CREE XML T6 1000 Lumen 5-Mode LED Flashlight (1*18650) - light orange peel (textured) reflector