Review: Convoy M1 XM-L T6-3C 2.8A 2-Group 3/5 mode
Fasttech.com has provided me with this Convoy M1 for review. It arrived with an order I placed for a few other lights, incluidng a Convoy M2 and an S3. I will be reviewing those at a later date. The money spent on the other Convoy lights was well spent as they are of amazing quality for such a small price. The M1 is no exception. Let's start out with the specifications of this light per Fastech's website.
|FLASHLIGHT MODES||Group 1 (3-Mode): 5% > 50% > 100%; Group 2 (5-Mode): Lo > Mid > Hi > Rapid > SOS|
|LENS TYPE||Coated Glass Lens|
|REFLECTOR TYPE||Aluminum Textured/OP|
|LIGHT SOURCE BIN||T6-3C|
|LIGHT SOURCE BRAND||Cree|
|LIGHT SOURCE MODEL||XM-L|
|LUMENS (MAX)||700 LM|
|Power & Batteries|
|BATTERY FORM FACTOR||18650|
|REQUIRED BATTERY COUNT||1|
|Dimensionsus | metric|
|PRODUCT WEIGHT||125.8 g|
And now let's take a look at the specs from a modder's point of view - mine.
|Lens (diam*thickness)||31.7mm * 1.6mm|
|Switch boot (diam*height)||16mm * 8mm|
|Weight (less cells)||124.2g|
The Convly M1 arrived in the standard bubble bag inside the usual white box. It was included in an order I had placed which contained 3 other lights and a few odds and ends. Everything arrived in good shape. The M1, like the other Convoy lights I received in that order, was in perfect condition. The only accessory included was a simple lanyard of the usual type. Some folks might appreciate it but I have a bag full of that style lanyard and would never trust one of my lights to it. Too easy for the thin attachment cord to wear thin and break.
The light itself, while the more plain of the Mx series (M1 & M2), is a very attractive light with a nice HAIII flat anodizing and a mildly crenelated bezel. The finish on my example was flawless with no blemishes, nicks, or mismatched or uneven anodization. The threads are fully anodized and came well lubed with a nyogel type silcon lube. Each end of the body tube has a brass insert for superior electrical conduction the tail to the driver. Aluminum can oxidize and experience a loss of conductivity. Most lights, even the very expensive ones, rely on a bare aluminum connection to conduct all the electricity. It was a pleasant surprise to see that Convoy took such care in making sure the M1 had connections that would not oxidize and cause issues or require the kind of maintenance cleaning that aluminum on aluminum requires. All connections on the M1 are brass to brass. Even copper will oxidize and create issues requiring special treatment and cleaning.
The machining is as good as better than what I've seen on my Solarforce L2T. While taking the comparison shots below I noticed my Solarforce L2T threads felt gritty and rough compared to those on the M1. I've always considered Solarforce threads as a benchmark for what threads should be. No longer. That benchmark now belongs to Convoy and BlackShadow as far as I'm concerned. The threads a super clean, anodized, and are smooth like butter and a joy to work with. All o-rings are of proper size and seal tightly to prevent water ingress at the joints. I have no doubt that this light will be able to survive 1-2 meters of submersion. The fins are cleanly machined with no sharp edges, burrs or chips. The ano is even in all places and is definitely a true anodization, not some cheap paint job like other lights in it's price bracket have. The knurling is not the most aggressive ive seen but it is clean and uniform and it provides a solid grip wet or dry yet will not tear up your coat pocket over time like some more aggressive knurling can.
The components used all appear to be of good quality. The reflector's MOP and has no blemishes, scratches or fingerprints. The Nanjg 105c driver is a proven component with great options. All components are heavy and well machined. It's a light that really feels like it can take a beating and keep on pushing photons. The switch feels good. The spring is a little on the long side, in fact the entire tail and switch assembly seems longer than it needs to be but the light as a whole is very balanced looking. The o-rings are thick and the grooves are perfect in width and depth. The pieces seal up tight and snug. It also accepts all 18650 cells from the shorter unprotected Panasonics to the long, protected Xtar 18700 cells.
Performance on the M1 is really sweet. The beam is very smooth and the tint on my specific example is standard 3C goodness. While not nearly as bright in actual OTF lumens as the Convoy S3 (U2-1B) I purchased, it vastly out-throws the S3 due to the larger reflector. Properly designed for an XM-L emitter, the reflector in the M1 is noticably wider than it is deep. This gives it decent throw for a compact 18650 light. If you were to order this with a U2 1B you'd see far more OTF lumens as well as more throw to be sure. I will be taking some beamshots later tonight and updating the review with them. I will also include comparison shots of the M1 against the M2, S3 and a UF P60 equipped L2T (since the reflector diameter is closest to a p60 light). In the meantime, here are the raw test numbers.
|Mode||Amperage at tail||OTF Lumens||Throw distance measured @ 2m|
OK...promised beam shots and comparisons have arrived!
Lets get down to the pics and teardown so you can see parts for yourself. Click each pic for a high-res look if you like.
The larger head enables the M1 to have more throw than the usual compact 18650 while still being compact enough to easily fit into a pocket.
The fins machined into the head allow the heat from the large threaded in pill to escape. There is a fair amount of mass in the entire head and the heat is well managed.
Medium, well machined knurling adds a good feel to the light without being too aggressive.
The tailcap is a refreshing 16mm in diameter instead of the usual 14mm most other compact lights have. In fact, all of the compact Convoy lights have the 16mm tail cap. This makes them very easy to operate and there is no sloppy squish in the switch. Everything has a very tight, high quality feel while being easy to operate. The large base allows for easy, solid tail standing while the thumb notch allows easy access to the large switch boot.
Some may not like the the crenelated bezel but it's really not as agressive as it may appear in photos. It does allow you to see if teh light is left on when it's face down on a table. The mild orange peel reflector smooths out the beam while still providing pretty good throw for it's size. The flawless, very well polished surface has a lot to do with that.
Odd, looking at the reduced sized pics on my screen, the finish looks like the glossy painted surface of some cheap brands. In person it's a very nice flat black matte finish. Click on the pics to see the full res originals. They look much better.
The laser engraving is nice and deep and consistently solid. Nice and crisp.
All threads came nicely lubed with silicon grease.
Brass inserts on both ends of the body tube mate nicely with the brass switch retaining ring in the tail and the thich pill in the head. Great conductivity with no oxidizing at the contact points.
Here you can better see the pressed in brass rings.
Threads are super clean, deep , and close to being square. They move like butter and are pretty exceptional. Hard to believe this is a $20 flashlight.
Here you can see the 2.8A Nanjg 105c This is one of the ones with 2 mode groups. Group 1 has 5 modes - low/med/high/strobe/SOS. Group 2 has just 3 modes - low/med/high. To switch between the groups, enter low mode while in either mode group. After about 4 seconds the light will flash once. When it does, quickly turn the light off then back on and you will be in the other group. The light will stay in your chosen mode group until you intentionally change it again. Memory is pretty quick and pleasant to use. I like that you can lockout blinky modes when you don't want them but can still have them should you need them. A really nice compromise and gives the best of both worlds without having to solder any of the stars.
Threads inside the head are just as clean and well anodized as those on the body.
Here we have a look at the bezel removed from the head. Again, all threads are great and well anodized.
Thick o-ring in the bezel seals the glass from moisture nicely. Lens fits perfectly inside with little to no rattle or looseness.
The lip on the reflector is very thick but it works well and adds mass to the head. The o-ring on the head is properly sized and seals as well as all the rest of the o-rings. Usually I find at least one o-ring on a light that is the wrong size or is useless. Not the case with this light. ;)
Aluminum reflector is well made and surprisingly heavy for it's size. Probably the thick lip adds most of the mass.
With the reflector out we can peek inside at the emitter and pill. What do we see? The MCPCB is screwed in place for easy replacement or upgrades. Thermal grease is under the pad and covers edge to edge without being too much. It is obvious that the assemblers take pride in what they do.
The pill is nice and thick and well machined like the rest of the light. Lots of mass and threads to conduct heat away from the pill and into the head.
Clean soldering on the connections between driver and pill. No cold soldering here.
Another close look at the MCPCB and LED.
When assembling the light, insert the reflector, then the lens, o-ring and bezel. Once they are in and snugged down you thread the pill in from the bottom and snug it against the reflector.
Now we move to the back end.
The tail has two lanyard holes as a proper tail should. This allows you to loop the lanyard through the holes without the lanyard going over the lip of the tail. This allows you to tail stand the light without the lanyard loop making it unstable. It also has a notch in case you prefer to use a split ring. The ring can sit into this notch for stable tail standing.
Solid brass nipple for good battery contact. Unscrew the brass retaining ring to access the switch internals.
Here is the brass retaining ring for the switch. Really solid and heavy. Really pretty, too.
Nice and thick.
Here we have the switch with the bushing and plunger attached.
Removing the bushing and plunger reveals a very long spring. Fortunately it seems a little thicker than the usual tail springs.
Working end of the switch.
Here we have all the front end bits together for a group shot.
Here are the tail piece bits striking a pose.
And all of it together.
Now a few comparison shots.
Due to requests for pics of the M1 in hand to get an idea of size, here are a few more.
MY FINAL THOUGHTS
I can't recommend the M1 enough. It gets a solid "Mac Approved!" endorsement! When I first saw the Convoy lights on Fastech's website I thought the M1 was very plain, especially compared to the M2, and I fully expected to prefer the M2 that I purchased more than I would this M1. I am a sucker for stainless steel bezels like the M2 has but this M1 just performs better and its stealthy appearance has grown on me to the point where I prefer it. Against a standard p60 light I believe I'd choose the M1 simply because of the excellent heat sinking and the choice of driver output and XM-L tint and bin options. Sure, you can't swap them out as easily as a p60 host but I usually own a host for every drop-in I have so it doesn't matter to me. For the money the M1 has to be one of the best values out there. It's only real competition is the other Convoy lights. They really are great! I will be reviewing my other Convoy lights in the very near future.