CK36 Recoil Thrower
Reviewer’s Overall Rating: ★★★★☆
Battery: 1×18650 (fits protected cell)
Switch: Rear, reverse clicky
Modes: 3-mode, no memory
LED Type: XR-E Q5
Lens: glass lens, uncoated
Price Paid: $13
Date Ordered: Q4 2012
+This review (including the pictures) is made after using the light for half a year. The light arrived clean and undamaged from the factory. +
Extremely compact reflector
Not extremely bright
No mode memory
Reading this you may not have any idea what a recoil thrower is. Neither did I. Most flashlights use a reflector in line with the LED to shape the beam. It’s an efficient design, but it’s not very space-effective if you want a tight bundle of light. A recoil design solves this problem by ditching the reflector and employing a parabolic reflector and making the emitter face the inside of the light (doubling the length of the optical path). In this case the mirror also provides the (fixed) focus, unlike some systems with more optics in them.
Features / Value: ★★★☆☆
So, a recoil it is then. As I briefly touched on in the initial description, the recoil design greatly reduces the size of head of the flashlight, making this thrower seem quite modest in terms of size. You’ll be pleasantly surprised when you see the beam size though!
The light itself boasts an XR-E which isn’t driven that hard, coupled with a cheap driver board without mode memory, allowing the unit to cycle through it’s H-L-Strobe pattern with each actuation.
Design / Build Quality: ★★★★☆
Rugged barebones would describe it. The head is very small for a thrower flashlight, and there’s plenty of knurling to ensure good grip. The specs state HAIII but after half a year of use the anodizing is starting to show wear. There’s no manufacturer logo, just the typical CREE+LED type
On the front we find a rather strange looking reflector and a glass lens, and a modest assault crown.
Flipping the light over to the back there’s the typical reverse clicky switch, with two small pieces of metal surrounding it. The light tailstands and yet activates easily even with fat fingers. A good compromise.
Opening the light up we find a rather simple inner construction, which is great because complex mechanisms have more parts that can break.
The head comes off as a whole, and the rear threads are a slightly lubed. The light also has the neccesary O-rings to ensure it’s IPX-6 rating.
Opening the front up further reveals one more O-ring near the glass lens, and a neatly manufactured aluminum reflector housing, which fits snugly inside the head. heatsinking is always a problem with recoil designs, so it’s good to see that the optics housing is aluminum and fits snugly.
Battery Life: ★★★★☆
Good enough. No firefly mode obviously, but then again I fail to see the point of that in an extreme thrower flashlight. It’s not as if you’re going to read a book with it. Maybe help someone else read a book at a distance, but definitely not up close.
It’s an XP-E though, so it’s never going to compete with the efficiency of an XM-L. Then again the XP-E is much better for a thrower light due to it’s small size. It’s a tradeoff, but the XP-E is the right choice for this light (though it could have been driven a bit harder).
Tailcap readings (@4.08V)
Light Output: ★★★★☆
Guesstimated at 200+ lumens, which doesn’t seem like much until you realise how well focused the beam is. The identification range on this thing is amazing even in fog/haze, as there is no spill light to blind you while you’re looking in the distance.
The hotspot looks nasty up close but becomes decent enough at a distance (which is what you’ll be using this flashlight at). The tint is a cool white with a slight hint of green.
My backyard doesn’t cut it, so I scared the neighbours and used their tree for my beamshots, which is ~35 meters away.
Camera settings: 15mm F/4 1” ISO 500, 5100K
The CK36 is a typical chinese light, it has the common flaws: not a great driver, not a great tint, not a great UI. But these flaws are soon forgotten once you turn it on, and you realise it only cost you 12 dollars shipped. The light is sturdy and has already surviced half a year of abuse with only cosmetic damage., and the beam looks amazing when you see someone else handling this tiny flashlight.
I’d recommend this light to everyone who likes thrower flashlights, for 12 bucks you simply can’t go wrong.