Night Evolution NE1B (SureFire M300 clone)

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TheGloriousTachikoma
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Night Evolution NE1B (SureFire M300 clone)

Cannot reconcile image links broken. Tried switching to imgur from imagebam and still does not work. Here is the link to the imgur folder http://imgur.com/a/pK69k

Suffice to say Surefire make excellent lights. Owning a used M951 I can firsthand expound on the very high level of quality afforded to the machining, anodizing, and durability against shock and the elements. Their lights offer an assurance and a solid reputation based on a long service history as well as supporting American jobs. That said, I’m not paying $150 for a flashlight. Especially not one that is in the under-500 lumens class. Not to channel he-who-shall-not-be-named, but I don’t feel that Surefire lights offer a sufficient…value for the cost, even including the made-in-America factor.

I bought this light off the first domestically(Ich bin Amerikanner)-stocked retailer that I found that had it in stock. Night Evolution make a variety of Surefire, and now Inforce clones for the Airsoft market. And while cheap chicom optics have delicate internal that should not be subject to the impulse stress of a real firearm, a flashlight is a much simpler beast (assuming SMD components) and really only requires that the solder joints be of good quality and the PCB printed to an average level of integrity to prevent the traces from becoming detached.*1


Bought online where billed as actual “Night Evolution” product they come in attractive store packagaging. Bought from the first us-based source found in stock, under a different brand, it comes in a brown box.


Aside from a couple blocks of open-cell foam this is what was in the box, including the strip of double-sided sticky tape.


The NE1B is a tan-anodized copy of the Surefire M300 Micro Scout light, It is a diminutive, single-CR123 light, almost exactly four inches long with the clicky tailcap installed and weighs only 3.5 ounces without a battery. Despite being marketed as a “Bravo” brand light it is still marked with the Night Evolution logo. Brand names are very…fluid things in China.



The light includes a pressure switch that I would generously describe as serviceable. It will interchange with Surefire-pattern devices (as seen with my genuine M951) which is good as I would want a more robust feeling pressure pad given there is no redundant button as with the M951. That said, it was three months of very light handling before the genuine-SF ST07 I bought for my M951 started fraying internally at the base of the plug so in all honesty the Night Evolution pressure pad can’t be any worse. It requires firm pressure not to flicker.


The pressure pad receptacle retains both NE and SF plugs well, though it feels a little loose with the SF plug. A thicker o-ring might be in order to keep it submersibly-waterproof. The cover is pretty worthless, but then this tailcap is inherently worthless without something in the hole so it can be removed without much consequence.


Aaaaand here’s one big reason why the light costs $50. The anodizing is slightly pebbly to the eye and touch, and the anodizing feels more like type-1 or type-2, not the hard ano that one sees on a real SF light. The threads feel beautiful though and are very cleanly cut, the head and tail spin on smooth without lubrication and engage very surely. The o-rings seal the light up decently. I have not submerged it but I took it in the shower with me and turned the shower head to the “lonely woman” setting and blasted the tailcap, joints, and front glass with the intense jet and no water seeped in. Take that for what you will, I’d not have a problem dropping the light into waist-deep water (with the clicky tailcap) and leaving it there for ten minutes.


The lens is actual glass. It has the appearance of a TIR suspended in an actual reflector and does a good job at focusing the emitter’s beam. That it’s actual glass can be taken as a positive or a negative depending on how you look at it.



On the left is my M951 with a custom drop-in burning a 5000k XP-G2 @ 750mA, should be tossing about 350 lumens out the front of the light, estimated from Cree’s data sheets. On the right is the NE1B, with what appears to be a 7000k XR-E emitter. The XR-E has a much tighter die-area-to-reflector-volume ratio than the XP-G2 in the M951 so the beam is tighter, but the M951 is running a textured reflector to give a smoother hotspot. The two lights appear to put out a similar level of light, which is concerning given the emitter in the NE1B.


Which is to say, there’s nothing wrong with the XR-E emitter, but burning it at an amp and a half is not the most efficient use of the emitter. This emitter really reaches the peak of its output curve at this amperage and is really tough on a CR123. Shown is the amperage draw off a XTAR 16340, which the light swallows very gracefully despite being thicker and longer than a CR123 primary cell. At 1.5 amps this light is producing about the same luminus flux as my M951.


Here is the current draw with a CR123 primary cell. I was expecting a much higher draw in the 2-amp range to compensate for the reduced voltage. This made me think that it might have a linear driver instead of a boost driver, as the somewhat reduced voltage would translate to lower driving current, especially with the low Vf of the XR-E emitter. I took off the head and tried running it off an Energizer Lithium AA and it works…it draws 1.7 amps and it works. 0_0’ Well I have no idea then. Suffice to say, I was never going to run anything other than a 16340 in it. Side note, if you drill-out the bottom of the battery tube by about a milimeter, it will fit a AA… >_>

In all, I like the light. Is it set to go on a rifle out of the box?

No.

The biggest flaw in the light is in the tailcap. It’s a reverse-clicky instead of being a forward clicky, so there is no momentary-on function, it must be clicked to turn on. Additionally, it uses a fairly unique clicky switch with the spring built into the bottom of the switch, which will be problemtatic to find a replacement. From what I’ve seen, fixing this will require the use of a soldering iron at some point, as well as knowing where to find a suitably small forward clicky. I would not trust the pressure pad immediately, I would use a Surefire pressure pad and swap the O-ring inside the socket for a thicker one.

But, if you want a budget lightweight light to go on your home defense carbine and you’re up for a bit of light modding, this looks like a suitable solution. If you want something you can pop a battery into, lock on the rifle, and forget about it, you would best be served looking elsewhere.

Edited by: TheGloriousTachikoma on 01/06/2016 - 21:56
ReManG
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Good review and a nice looking little light. I think it would be an interesting mod host (except for the switch) if I had a need for a mountable light like this.

The picture link thing I have problems with at times myself. I know the direct link on imageshack is the one I need and the insert function sometimes goes screwy, so I just put an ! exclamation point before and after for most of my pics so I can get them how I want.

Thanks for the review!

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TheGloriousTachikoma
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ReManG wrote:
Good review and a nice looking little light. I think it would be an interesting mod host (except for the switch) if I had a need for a mountable light like this.

The picture link thing I have problems with at times myself. I know the direct link on imageshack is the one I need and the insert function sometimes goes screwy, so I just put an ! exclamation point before and after for most of my pics so I can get them how I want.

Thanks for the review!

Thanks _

http://imgur.com/LQI4WVO

The switch is retained from the outside with a threaded ring that presses the tailcap and switch into a hole. The hole is 17mm in diameter so the forward-clicky on a 17mm board from mtnelectronics should work, the question will be if the extra thickness from the pcb will affect securing the tailcap down.