Review: Crelant 7G5CS (XM-L U2 | 2 x 18650 / 4 x CR123A) "Zombie Apocalypse Survival Light"
Zombies... we've seen them in many iterations through various cultures. From the hopping Jiang Shi's to the super violent and fleet of feet ones in 28 Days Later, they have a common goal in that they'd like nothing better than to make a meal of you. (Fact: not all zombies eat brains, the Jiang Shi for instance likes to absorb a living creature's Qi or life force).
In an effort to educate the public on preparations in the event of a Zombie Apocalypse, they have created awareness "buttons/badges" such as below:
They're also the masterminds behind the "viral" Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse. While the condensed list of emergency items outlined in the link doesn't include a flashlight, it has earned its own bullet point on the full list.
A certain dealer has taken this one step further and is doing their part to ensure that one is equipped with an appropriate flashlight in the event of a Zombie outbreak; enter one of their Zombie Apocalypse Survival Lights, the newly released Crelant 7G5CS:
MSRP (USD): $99
CREE XM-L U2 bin LED with 50 000 hour life span
Maximum output: 895 lumen
High efficient constant current circuit and output-luminance
Microcontroller drive circuit
Tactical High Mode, and On side switch Infinitely variable brightness system
Hidden Strobe and SOS, Quickly click 2 times side switch --> Strobe , and quickly click 2 times again ---> SOS
Working voltage: 5VDC - 12 VDC
Battery Types Supported: 2 x 18650 or 4 X CR123A
High output at 3A: 895 lumen max for 112 minutes. Low output at 0.01A: 5 lumen max for 48 hours
Mil. Spec. Type II hard anodized aircraft grade 6063-T6 aluminum alloy
Ergonomic grip with anti-roll design
Tactical forward tail cap switch
Bezel: stainless steel
High performance aluminum smooth reflector with concentrated beam shot
Waterproof: IPX-8 Standard
Lens: Toughened ultra-clear coated and anti-abrasion glass
Dimensions: Length 245mm, Head Diameter 65mm
Weight: 279g excluding battery
Accessories: Lanyard, spare o-ring, and rubber tail cap button
PACKAGING / CONTENTS
The 7G5CS arrives in (what appears to be increasingly common in the industry) an environmentally friendly package:
The dealer adorns the box with their Zombie Apocalypse stickers:
(note: sticker edited to remove dealer info)
Standard accessories included are:
- 1 x large o-ring | 2 x small o-rings
- user guide / warranty card
For a limited time, the dealer is also including Crelant branded 18650 batteries*, GITD tail cap cover and GITD lanyard:
* not included for review
CONDENSED VIDEO SUMMARY
Here is a quick high-level video summary of the 7G5CS while while I work on fleshing out this review:
DESIGN & FEATURES
The 7G5CS, like many of its tactical thrower peers, features a large turbo head that measures 64mm (2.52in) in diameter and is topped off by a non-crenellated SS bezel:
The SS bezel holds down the AR coated lens:
There is an GITD o-ring right behind the lens.
The XM-L U2 is centered perfectly within the smooth reflector:
The band of texture around the head is more artistic than functional as its very smooth and doesn't really add much grip:
The are four evenly spaced machined grooves just ahead of three main heatsinking fins that add to the overall aesthetics.
The throat of the light features the electronic side-switch and additional heat sink fins:
The battery tube is a single solid piece that accomodates 2 x 18650's (ie: it's not a single 18650 w/extension). It features two flat sides of which one bears the company's name and the other the model & serial numbers:
The two sides perpendicular to the flat sides only feature two milled grooves.
There is a combat ring on the end of the tube that can slide x inches fore and aft to customize the grip:
This can be handy as the texture around the front portion of the 7G5CS doesn't really provide any meaningful grip.
There is a removable lanyard ring but given the hole is too small for a typical lobster claw to fit, it requires the use of the included mini-ring:
The band of texture around the tailcap provides a moderate amount of grip. The SS bezel at the end provides both an aesthetic and protective element in the event the light lands tail down:
Both tailcap covers are slightly recessed thus allowing the 7G5CS to tailstand:
The 7G5CS comes standard with the black tailcap installed but can be swapped out with the optional GITD (incuded for a limited time by a particular dealer) by taking the tailcap apart as per pic below:
All threads are trapezoidal-cut but thread on smoothly. The tube had no problems accomodating both pairs of my shortest cells (AW IMR 1600 @ 65.2mm) and longest (XTAR 18700 @ 69.2mm):
The tube is however on the wider side so I was able to induce some rattle w/the IMR's installed.
I initially thought the included (again temporarily) GITD lanyard was just a novelty but it's actually quite functional:
Provided it has been charged sufficiently, it emits a decent amount of light in the dark to easily locate the 7G5CS.
Given the large turbo head, the 7G5CS definitely has a weight bias towards the head, however, this is where the combat ring really helps offset that. The additional leverage it provides by slotting between the fingers help provide additional grip:
The ring also allows use of a cigar grip albeit the light can be slightly unwiedly when used in this manner.
Both the forward-clicky tailcap switch and especially the side switch provide a nice crisp tactile feedback. Speaking of that side switch, even though I don't have large hands, I find it to be a bit on the small side. The close placement right next to the base of the head means that one will likely need to operate it with the tip of the thumb:
This also means it may be difficult to locate and operate w/thick gloves on.
FIT & FINISH
The 7G5CS is probably the best of Crelant's products I've tested thus far and is quite impressive. All parts fit or thread together solidly and the anodizing is just about perfect save for a slight mismatch between the head, emitter module and tube:
Note: Flash intentionally used to highlight mismatching.
Despite this, I didn't notice any missing in the gaps and crevices of the texture:
The laser engraving is very sharp w/no blotchiness:
The threads, while not square-cut, came greased (with exception of OD of o-rings) and are very smooth in action.
In terms of issues, I've noticed on occasions that if the forward-clicky is depressed slowy, there'll be a very brief flash just before momentary is engaged. Nitpicking-wise, there is a minute gap between the emitter module and the base of the head:
The supplied holster is of decent quality and does a good job of holding the light in place but it seems as it was made for a slightly larger light (head-wise):
The tailcap switch acts as the master on/off. When it is off, the side-switch will not do anything regardless of how it's depressed. As such, this matrix covers the UI from the Stand-by state (i.e.: with tailcap switch in the on state):
To help better understand it, let's take the first scenario (row) where the 7G5CS starts off in Stand-by. Upon pressing the side-switch once, the 7G5CS will turn on in the last memorized* output level. I also added the results that would occur (in parentheses) if the side-switch action is performed again so sticking with the first scenario it would look something like: Stand-by > Single-click > Last memorized output level > Single-click > Stand-by > Single-click > Last memorized output level, etc. etc.
Ramping takes about 8 seconds from Max to Min then there is a pasue of about 2 seconds when it reaches Min (no flashing indicator here) before reversing course and ramping up to Max again (also about 8 seconds and will blink three times as an indicator that Max has been reached).
I noticed there is about a half-second delay from the time when the side-switch is first depressed before actually turning on and approximately a quarter of a second delay from Stand-by to Off.
*Output is only memorized in Stand-by state and will be reset immediately to Max if the tailcap switch is shut-off or locked-out/removed.
For details of the above indoor shots and comparo vs. many other lights, please check Epic Indoor Shots Trilogy
The relevant battery stats are provided above each runtime graph along with:
- Voltage of the battery at the start and end of the test
- Current draw
- Actual runtime using ANSI FL1 (first in HR and then in M so for the RL3100 on High, read this as 1.7hrs or 100min)
- NEW (as of May 2012): Lumens measured on my PVC LMD @ 30 seconds
- Also for High, captured the temperature: ambient, the head/fins at start and the max it reached (fan was used for all bats)
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to match the stated output claim (max of 805 vs. 895) or current draw (1.48A vs. 3A) although the runtime comes close at 1.7hrs vs. 1.87hrs (however, my numbers were attained using RL3100's, it's unknown what Crelant used for testing). On the RL3100's, after an initial drop, the 7G5CS will run in near perfect regulation up to 40 minutes after which there is a mild step down and then it'll attempt to maintain regulation by constantly boosting (notice the subtle uptick in output over the final duration of the run) before cutting out suddenly. There is what looks to be a low voltage warning kicking-in at the 78 minute mark (will confirm on additional runs w/different cells).
[EDIT 9/30: I completed the runtime on H for AW IMR and 2600 and can confirm that there is a low voltage warning where the 7G5CS will blink for at least 3 seconds or so. It will however continue to run for a few more minutes before suddenly shutting off so one should have some time to bust out the spares to replace the batterires.]
The 7G5CS is solid in terms of both build quality and performance. The 45K lux I captured at 1m isn't representing the true story of it's throw capability as the beam isn't fully collimated yet. At this distance it falls just short of the 46.9K captured for the T40CS, however, at 2m, it bests it slightly (12K vs. 11K). I suspect this will only increase with further distance and will retest this in the future. For now, here are my initial thoughts:
- superb build quality and solid feel
- SOS/strobe hidden but easily accessed
- electonic side-switch operates with nice crisp feel
- no anti-roll = limited utility on non perfectly flat surfaces when laid on its side
- small side-switch button reduces accidental activation in stand-by but also makes it more difficult to locate and operate w/thick gloves
- blinking indicator when Min reached during ramping
- slightly larger side-switch (it's fine as is but may potentially be difficult to operate w/thick gloves depending on size of hands/thumbs)
Disclosure: 7G5CS provided by md-lightsource for review.