Review- PFlexPro XP-L HI M1-The Ultimate M1 build? Contest winner rewiew of a fantastic M1...

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ReManG
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Review- PFlexPro XP-L HI M1-The Ultimate M1 build? Contest winner rewiew of a fantastic M1...

This light is solid, well thought out, seemingly bullet proof, and backed by Randy at PFlexPRO. There is not much to review, it is simply a solid, quality light. Hard for me to review something this good, and this light is that good. I cannot compare it to any other light I have, it is head and shoulders better.

This is more of a philosophy post than a review unfortunately, I appreciate your patience with reading this, but I feel I have to give something back after winning such a solid light. I am afraid that pictures will have to suffice for most of the review, but I thank you if you read on as well….

Long read ahead, some reasoning and rationale for buying one of these versus other prebuilt lights and why shops like PFlexPRRO (Randy) are where I will be spending my money in the future for my serious lights.

The Surefire crowd will never steal this light, it looks like it is “just” a Convoy M1, so I guess it does have a built in anti-theft system, at least from flashlight brand snobs… Not a bug, a feature in this case, they will have no idea how good it is until you turn it on.
 

I selected this light after winning the very generous giveaway hosted by PFlexPro. I actually thought prior to this contest that he was one of the great lurkers here, he had something like 73 posts when he started the XP-L HI comparison thread, and then was talking about his integrated sphere…. Whaaaat?!? I found that thread while looking for anyone that has put an XP-L HI in a C8 as I was looking to do with my C8.

Turns out, this guy Randy builds flashlights, and I do mean build them from the ground up, in good hosts. I liked the information he put out on his website, and I started looking for more of his threads on the web. His obvious love for flashlights and related data comes through when you start reading what he has put out here on BLF. In his case, it is definitely quality over quantity ….

Randy is a flashahiolics flashlight guy with a drive for the numbers behind making flashlights better. Thermal management of the LED is tantamount for gaining lumen, as the majority of electrical input to the actual LED is lost to heat rather than light (search heatsink here for instance). Thus, the more heat your light can pull away from the LED, the better for that emitter to push Lumen out the front via higher current… He goes rather into depth and detail on his P60 builds to manage heat in a popular, but mediocre design, for thermal management.

He pushes 1200 OTF (actually measured) lumen out of a P60, so I would say he knows what he is doing…. He does some amazing work on the standard lights that already have better thermal management (than a P60) with an integral pill. For instance, Randy takes the time to put thermal separation between the emitter shelf and the driver, which shows the detail and thought he puts into his designs. Keeping the driver cool helps with the drivers longevity, all electronics have heat as their enemy. Randy seems to know his way around thermodynamics pretty well. I bet his air conditioner technician hates to service his A/C, or is now the guy all the other techs go to for thermal questions. More than likely the latter, as Randy makes himself very available during and after purchasing one of his lights.
 
I had a tough time selecting a light from his page, not due to the website though. His website is simple and thorough with detail. I did eliminate the P60 lights rather quickly as I have zero experience with them (or so I thought). Turns out, the P60 is what Surefire started, and has been widely copied. I have had Surefire lights, and got sick of the expensive bulbs and batteries… I wrote the whole Surefire thing off to, “if they issue it to me, I will use it” where I was working at the time. Now I see how much better they have gotten with Randy’s designs (1200 OTF lumen from a P60!).

I got back into flashlights late last year (2014) after over a decade of using whatever was at hand. I was lurking around the net, sifting through the information for what I wanted. I found that I liked the standard style lights (new to me!) with an emitter and driver in a pill, so that is what I started to look for when surfing the net. I thought the P60 was more advanced, and the host selection was something else I would have to determine, so I disregarded the P60/Host for my flashlight wants. I also was not going to pay Surefire prices again.
 
When I won Randy’s contest, and after I ignorantly disregarded the P60 page on his website (my loss obviously), I concentrated on his Convoy host series of lights. His “standard” flashlight hosts are all Convoy, the nice ones like we like here on BLF. He builds these into killer lights that all you have to do is drop a battery into them, and go play.

The M1 kept sticking out to me during the selection. The XP-L HI he was offering was not helping…. I thought about what I really wanted and decided I wanted an all-around light. One of those “if I only had one light” lights.

The M1 fit the bill, size and throw-wise for what I thought would be a good all-around light. While I had never even seen the XP-L HI, let alone in a light like this, I decided to pair that emitter in the Cool White of 7000 Kelvin with the M1 and its orange peel reflector. I do have to say that my curiosity was up about the same emitter in the S2+, but figured if I was going to have “one” light from Randy, make it the all-around one. I am not disappointed with my choice one bit at all. If I had only one light, this one would be almost perfect. Randy had no hesitation in sending me the custom built light when I made my request. Three days later, it was in my hands, as it did not come from China this round, but Georgia, USA.

Some back-story here, I had moved to west Texas last year, and the lack of large vegetation here made me want a longer range light in general. Previously, I was living in Huntsville, Alabama during the tornados in April 2011. We watched an F4 go by about 8 miles northwest that turned off the power for a week. During that week while the neighbors all went somewhere else due to no power (we had running water and the toilets flushed, that is civilization enough for us…) the wife and I lived Amish style in our third story apartment. We were lucky and had no damage, injury or death to deal with, unlike many others. I felt like we should at least keep an eye on the neighborhood while everyone else was gone, and work I was doing at the time meant I had to stay in the area anyway… I had a couple of Streamlight Scorpions and various other little LED headlights, so we were good with what we had at the time (a little light goes a long way in truly dark conditions). I had an old harbor freight rechargeable 12V incandescent spotlight; it was bright compared to everything else I had at the time.

One night, there was a car driving around the apartment complex, slowly. It is amazing how much you can hear without the HVAC going and a dusk to dawn curfew. Things masked normally by these sounds were loud now, and when something feels wrong, I tend to check it out. Something felt wrong about the car driving around. I stood out on the balcony for about ten minutes with that spotlight in my hand, just waiting to use it. I watched the car circle a couple of more times in the starlight. No lights on, the brake lights were the only illumination. The car stopped just past my balcony, between the buildings, within line of sight from where I was. There was no light to see the occupants, just the glare from the brake lights. I heard a car door start to open after about a minute, the groan of an older door unlatching slowly, no dome light inside the car. I lit the car up with the HF 200,000 candlepower spotlight. Like a flash, the door went closed (passenger side it turns out) and the car sped off. I reported it to the apartment management the next day with the tag number and car description (always know what you want to look for when the lights go on). The car was fortunately not seen again during the rest of the power outage. Moral of the story: Light when it is dark scares the doo-doo out of people that do not want to be seen…. So light is your friend, unless you are up to no good…. Rather makes me wonder about all the people that like a sub lumen moonlight mode…Hmmmmmm….
 
I bought a couple of more hand held spotlights in the years since, none made me happy, but they were sufficient. They had a purpose after the above incident. The move to west Texas had pared down the possessions, including the spotlights and brought out the want for what I came to know as “throw”. I had been carrying a Streamlight Microstream for about a year, and when I started my search for a handheld thrower, somehow I ended up here on BLF

I tried a 10440 in the Microstream, oh yeah; this is what I was wanting… What else could I learn? Bought a C8 (Thorfire) based on stuff I was reading here. Nice, just what I wanted, a portable spot light…. Down the rabbit hole I have gone for the last six months or so, I only joined BLF in the end of April 2015 after lurking for a few months. I really like this forum for its members and the fact that, right now, this is the most helpful forum I have been a member of. Not just flashlight forums, any forum I have perused. No Surefire prices either…


 
PFlexPRO (Randy) fits into this because, had I gotten one of his lights a year or two ago, I would not have had a reason to search the web, and therefore would not have found BLF. You know quality when you find it; I found it winning this giveaway, most definitely. Quality can be one of those nebulous properties that might be hard to get a firm hold on. In the case of flashlights, there are many quantifiable properties that can be measured, but the total package is the actual quality, at least to me. If you have the brightest light, but the driver burns out, or the LED fails due to heat, or the UI sucks, what good is it in the long run? With some of the advanced modders here on BLF, they build another one should something happen. I am not on that level yet, and may never be, everything costs money anyway.

True budget is only having to buy something once. This may not be the cheapest light initially, but over the long run, quality is part of the budget equation. Randy’s lights are in it for the long run, his build is fantastic, and the performance documented before leaving his shop.
 

With the components that we use in flashlights being both mass-produced and semi-sensitive electronics, sometimes failure is an occurrence when it should not be. Frustrating if it is your first build, aggravating if you have to wait for a spare, hair-pulling-and-throwing-tools-around if you overheat the new part as you install it, well, you get the point.

Here is the difference with the PFlexPRO flashlights, Randy stands behind his work, and will fix it, as stated on his website. If I paid myself $10 an hour, I couldn’t build as good a light as the PFlexPRO M1 in 8 hours, let alone test it or even buy all the parts. His lights are a bargain for their level of detail. With his meticulous attention to all things electronic and thermal in a flashlight, he probably does not have much rework. His warranty will cover anything wrong in the build should something occur, but I doubt anything will. He tests and pots all of the electronics during his builds.

Look on his website if you want the full specs and details on his lights, he covers them in detail on why he does what he does. I am not going to parrot his website here, I may miss something. What is quality? Books have been written trying to capture what quality is. For me, quality is confidence that an item will do or be what it is. In this case, the light will be ready, and bright….

Randy’s M1 is the alpha male of my flashlights. I do fear if one of my other lights goes into heat, the M1 and I will have a little dominance spat. I hope I win, otherwise it may look like I lost a fight to a steaming hot octopus with those little round burn marks all over….


A month of daily carry and it is just getting worn in…. like I like them…
 
The nuts and bolts of the light are the body and the driver, The hosts are Convoy or Solarforce (for the P60), both of which have a great reputation here, for good reason. I think that Randy has a applied some very sound reasoning to his build selections in general. His website is educational and lays out his reasoning without having to read too much (like in this post for instance…) There is one driver with 22 modes (guppydrv, I believe) and the option available to lock in a mode with conductive paint. Sure there are some bleeding edge drivers developed here, but run a BLF search for best driver and take a couple of hours to work out what you want… So a single driver with user selectable modes and only the option to have a lock out feature is one less thing to sort out when buying your light from this shop. His P60 drop ins have replaceable driver end contacts so you can mix it up with your battery type. Very well thought out in my opinion. The driver has a battery check feature and you can change your 100% (Turbo) timer as well. It does more than any other light I have right now.
 
The power levels are pre-selected by the choice of driver for the light you are looking to purchase. He will not drive your Nichia LED selection at 3.8amps from what I gather. He could, but he wants the light to keep working, not be only a temporary toy…. Should you want something different from what is on the website, contact Randy; he will let you know if what you are asking is feasible. I am sure that he will make you as happy as the physics will allow for the build you want.

The other variable and the one in my opinion that has more “personal” outcome on the light is the LED itself. He has 12 emitter options on the M1 alone for instance. None of them are bad, all are very worthy of the respective light they are listed for. It is actually easier in practice, than it sounds here, to select the emitter. Type and tint are the only selections for the emitter. In the case of the M1, it is; XML2, XPL, or XPL HI for type, then select your Bin/Tint. If you speak LED and you know what you want, you are set. If not, his website has a flashlights 101 section that everyone should read that has his writings on type, Tint/Bin and power. He really makes things simple to understand, which tells me he is one of those rare individuals that does not need to write a bunch to get his point across, obviously unlike myself. If you are still confused, pick up the phone and contact him, or email, he will guide you in the right direction.
 
I ordered his M1 with a forward clicky switch and the XP-L HI V2 7000K. Randy installs the forward clicky switch after some modification of the host. It works very well, not too sensitive, not too stiff. It makes switching modes easier with the light off. A reverse clicky does this while the light is on. It is a personal choice, but I like the forward clicky. This thing throws almost as good as my stock C8. By almost, I mean they are barely distinguishable from each other.


The pictures above show the Thorfire C8 on the left and the PFlexPRO M1 on the right, the second pic shows the spill from the M1 on the trees, it is a really useable beam pattern…

The orange peel reflector and the XP-L HI make for a great combination for throw and spill, nice tight hotspot running into a good smooth spill. For what I wanted in a “ONE” light, this is executed perfectly. Throw but useable spill. Sort of a throwy tween light, but tween does not do this light justice, it is just not the correct word for this lights capabilities. Not a hand held searchlight, but close.

Turn the mode down and I can walk around without the ML/low effect of looking through a paper towel tube in a dimly lit room. This is due to the orange peel reflector giving good spill, even from the factory dedome LED. Have I said I really like this combination? I really like this combination of the factory dedome LED and an orange peel reflector, I will use this combination on future builds I do as well.
 
The changeable modes are something I thought I would set and forget, wrong. I have been enjoying the ability to reconfigure the light depending on what I am doing. For bedside duty this thing sits on mode 9, touch the button and you get the aggressive strobe, one more touch gets you 100% with no memory (goes back to the aggressive strobe). If you need light in the middle of the night, this is a good combo in my opinion. I have smaller lights nearby should I not want to induce a seizure in the dog with the strobe when I get up for a snack or whatnot in the middle of the night.

If I want versatility, mode 10 is ML-5%-33%-100% with memory, well you get the point. There are 22 levels, so a majority of us can find something. I did not get the option to lock out the modes as I was not foreseeing a need for it. If I were to use this light as a weapon light or other dedicated role, it would be a very good option and I would have selected it. Another thing to think about with the changeable modes, I can lend this light so someone and have it on a single or two level mode, most non-flashlight savvy people are fine with this, they just want a light.
 
Per the letter Randy sent, my M1 tested at ML-4 lumen, 5%- 51 lumen, 15%-193 lumen, 50%-598 lumen and 100%- 1171 lumen! No visible PWM on any mode. Every build gets this evaluation from Randy. He tests all lights sent out, the letter he included in mine was stapled to the mode instructions, which are very thorough. The personalized letter is a very nice touch and conveys his sincerity in doing what he does, as best as possible. He tests every light that he sends out like this, and gives you the results, handwritten. That is service in my book, and pride in what he is doing. There are other vendors here that have this level of service for their businesses, so I am not taking away from them, I am just letting you know that Randy at PFlexPRO seems like another very worthy BLF contributor and vendor to me.
 
I cannot be happier with this light and will be purchasing more lights from him in the future. I hope others here do as well, he is serious about his lights and his devotion to getting the most out of what he builds is evident in my light. If you want a solid high performance light, head over to his website. I have also been recommending him to my non-flashlight savvy friends, I feel his thermal control and attention to detail on the lights are a safety factor for someone not “into” flashlights.

If you can accept that one definition of budget is only having to buy something once, then we can agree PFlexPRO lights are budget lights.

Thanks again Randy for your generous giveaway and thanks for all the BLF members who make this place great.

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Edited by: ReManG on 09/22/2015 - 00:38
sesgum
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Amazing lights. Thanks for sharing!i

KawiBoy1428
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Outstanding story and pictures!!! Beer He is a remarkable man, and it show’s by his remarkable skill’s, dedication and attention to details, even in the slightest! The most professional and one of the funniest guy’s I ever had the pleasure to collaborate with on projects we did together in the past, we really did have us some FUN!! One of his “specials” is mounted on my M4, the other 2 “specials” I carry, when I Carry!!! Good job Randy!! Beer Beer

KB1428 “Live Life WOT

saypat
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couldn’t agree more. I own one of his lights. Of the close to 60 lights in my possession, his is the highest quality! I bug him to offer more selection, like a AA light, and an 18650 triple Big Smile So far no luck.

ReManG
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saypat wrote:
couldn’t agree more. I own one of his lights. Of the close to 60 lights in my possession, his is the highest quality! I bug him to offer more selection, like a AA light, and an 18650 triple Big Smile So far no luck.

I like that he does not have too much on his selection. It was hard enough choosing between the Short S2+, S2, M1 and C8. Now that I am looking at the P60 stuff too… oh boy, it is plenty to choose from for me.

I would like to see his iteration of a triple though, I bet that it would manage heat easily…

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MG
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Couldn’t agree more about his workmanship and attention to detail. My PFlexPRO is a favorite.