Review of TactFire TS-1 Mini Zooming Flashlight (AA/14500)

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beam0
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Review of TactFire TS-1 Mini Zooming Flashlight (AA/14500)

 

 

T-Mart contacted me and asked if I would review this flashlight,  

    I gladly accepted as I’ve wanted to do a review here.           

The light was provided by T-Mart for review.

 

 TactFire is T-Mart’s “House” brand.

 

Review of TactFire TS-1 Mini Zooming Flashlight (AA/14500)


 

 Specifications: (from Mfg.)

Wavelength

1m

Bulb Quantity

1pc

Lifespan

100,000 Hours

Color Temperature

6000K

Light Color

White

Mode

3 (High, Mid, Shimmering)

Material

Aluminum Alloy

Color

Black

Lens Type

PVC

Maximum Range

200m

Lumens

350LM

Waterproof

Yes

Dimmable

Yes

Clip

Yes

Switch Type

Tail Switch

Dimensions

(3.66 x 0.47 x 0.87)" / (9.3 x 1.2 x 2.2)cm (L x W x H)

Weight

2.82oz / 80g

Brand

Tactfire

Battery Configuration

1 x 14500 / 1xAA battery (not included)

                                                                                                                  

                                                                                          

Supplier:

T-Mart

 

Price:

$3.99 w/discount code: Tlight (Good until Sept. 30th)

The current regular price is $4.99 at time of this review

Although other colors are available (Red & Silver) the code is only for black

 

Product Link (non-aff):

http://www.tmart.com/Mini-Strong-Brightness-Waterproof-Dimmable-3-Modes-Retractable-Flashlight-Black_p345490.html

 

 

Initial observations:

The first thing I noticed it's much slimmer than an SK68, it is similar in size to my Olight S15.

The anodizing looked good, and arrived in perfect condition. It’s a semi-gloss black color (more gloss than matte) with a light textured finish.

On the downside I noticed the pocket clip was thin and weak.

 

 

Packaging/included documentation/accessories:

The TactFire TS-1 came in a plain white box with bubble wrap inside; there was no user manual or accessories.

 

 

 

 Size comparison with some popular lights

 

Measured dimensions:

Length retracted:  93.6mm

Length extended: 103.4mm

Head (at widest point): 22.8mm

Diameter at bezel: 22.2mm

Tail diameter: 18.9mm

Battery tube diameter: 19.0mm

 

 

 

 

Battery Type/Fitment:

A great feature of this light is its full support of 14500 li-ion rechargeable batteries; it will also run on standard AA primary, and although I have not tried one it should also run on rechargeable Ni-Mh.

An AW brand protected 14500 (51mm) worked fine in the light, however it did not operate properly the longer Olight 14500 (52.5mm) battery. I believe it was fully compressing the springs and the pressure was causing the switch to jam. The Olight battery did work fine however with the tailcap slightly loosened.

The ID of the battery tube is plenty wide enough to accommodate protected batteries; there are springs on both ends so the battery is held tightly with absolutely no rattle, no matter how hard I shook it.

 

                                                             

 

 

 

Body/anodization/threads:

As noted in my initial observations the anodizing looks very good, the finish is on the shiny side but has a quality look and feel. Testing in the clip groove it took quite a bit of scratching with a sharp knife to remove some of the color, the anno should hold up well under normal conditions.

Imprinted in the flats of the battery tube is the (TactFire) logo on one side and the model (TS-1) on the other. The white color logos are bright and precise, I was unable to scratch any of the lettering off with the back side of a pocket knife blade.

Instead of knurling this light has straight grooves, they are fairly smooth and not as aggressive as they appear.

The body tube thickness measured around 2.5mm, so plenty thick for strength. The tail-cap threads are triangular. There is one O-ring on the tail-cap. The threads did not appear to be lubed although there may have been a small amount, since it felt pretty smooth when screwing the cap on/off. I added a bit of Super Lube synthetic grease to the threads and O-ring.

 

 

 

 

Optics:

This is a zooming flashlight or “FTT” (Flood-to-Throw) It has a push-pull type zooming function, the action of the zoom is smooth and snug, it feels much nicer and has a much longer travel than the zoom action on my SK68 AA zoomie. (The zoom travel is nearly twice as far – extending to 10.4mm versus 5.7mm for the SK68).

The plastic aspherical type lens is perfectly clear and arrived scratch free, there are no visible imperfections that I can see (but I’m not an expert on these lenses). The threads of the bezel holding the lens are very fine pitch and felt smooth.

 

 

 

 

Pocket clip:

There is some room for improvement with the pocket clip. It is not nearly as sturdy as I would like and can be removed from the light too easily, which is what I did. Fortunately the flashlight is small and light enough to just carry it in your pocket without the clip, the clip does work fine attached to the brim of a ballcap with the brim pushed all the way in to the clip.

 

 

Water Resistance:

The manufacture’s specifications do not list an “IPX” rating but it’s advertised as being “Waterproof” however I inquired with T-Mart about the waterproof description and was informed "It can be used in rainy days” (but cannot be submerged) so therefore they mean water "resistant"

There is an O-ring in the tail and another under the sliding part of the head but there is no o-ring out front in the bezel or lens.

With that in mind I decided not to perform any testing for water resistance.

 

 

 

 

Switch:

The TactFire TS-1 is operated via a “reverse clicky” tail-cap mounted switch.

The rubber switch boot is somewhat small (10mm dia.) and made of a smooth glossy type rubber, however the boot did not feel slippery when operating it.

The switch is fully recessed which enables tail-standing capability on most any surface. The action of the switch is somewhat stiff, (I’m not listing this as a con as some users prefer a stiff switch). The switch seems to “trigger” at nearly the end of its travel. After being clicked on, “half-clicks” to scroll through the modes felt precise and effortless.

 

 

User Interface/Modes:

The light has 3 modes: STROBE/HIGH/LOW in that order. It starts on strobe. Starting on strobe could be a desired feature for use as a “personal defense” disorientation tactic. (I’m not listing this as a con as it may be a pro for some users). Considering the name “TactFire” I’m assuming that’s what the designers were thinking. Maybe TS-1 stands for TactFire Strobe 1st?

After a full press to click it on, the reverse clicky switch enables the user to quickly scroll through the modes with light half presses of the button.  The light does not have mode memory, meaning it will always start on strobe without worry, an advantage for the purpose of the strobe, and a disadvantage to those not wanting strobe first.

Mode spacing: The spacing between Low and High mode is adequate, however the Low mode is not an ultra Low, brightness output on low is comparable to the medium level of the Olight S15. It would have been nice if they also made this in a 3-mode version (with no strobe) for those who don't need strobe and want a lower low.

 

 

 

 

Emitter(s)/tint:

The specifications do not list the emitter type but T-Mart confirmed it’s an XP-E. It isn’t advertised as Cree though, so it could be a Lattice Brite but I haven't done any research to positively ID it.

The emitter has a very cold tint, but it’s listed as 6000k. It has a bluish/purplish hue that is apparent even when compared to some other CW lights I have, including my Olight S15 and TomTop SK68, I’m not listing this as a con as some users prefer colder tints.

 

 

 

 

^ ^ hollow pill ^ ^

 

Internal components: Driver/MCPCB/Heatsink/Pill

The aluminum pill is threaded into the battery tube and unscrewed easily. It appears to be a hollow pill, I can see a separate aluminum part behind driver that’s resting on a shelf of the pill, (see photo below) I’m not sure if it’s the back of the MCPCB or some sort of mounting plate, it’s really tight, I tried pushing forward on it but was unable to get it to budge it so I’m unsure how it comes out. Surrounding the LED on the front end there’s a concave piece that appears to be white plastic which I also was unable to remove. I wasn’t prepared to employ any drastic measures to dig in deeper right now.

The driver OD measures 14mm at its widest point, held in by a light press fit, it fits snugly in the 14mm ID of the driver pocket and rests on a ledge that positions the board to sit exactly flush with the bottom of the pill.  I believe I’ve read somewhere the 15mm SK68 drivers from Mtn.can be filed down to fit a 14mm opening. wink

 

 

 

 

Heat:

Comparing with the SK68 the TactFire TS-1 does not heat up as quickly, after running on high several minutes both were quite hot to the touch and about equal temp. This was with 14500 batteries.

 

Run time:

On high mode the TactFire TS-1 ran until the battery’s protection circuit tripped, (about 50 minutes) an AW 14500 750mAh battery was used for this test. I did not perform a test for low mode or other cell types and there are no runtimes listed in the specifications.

 

 

Output/Brightness:

The only other useable AA size zooming light I currently have for comparison is an unbranded SK68 from TomTop. The brightness of the TactFire is nearly the same as the SK68. I also have a Trustfire Z8 but it died and I haven’t got around to troubleshooting beyond the tail switch.

The output of the TactFire TS-1 is noticeably brighter when running on a 14500 Li-ion battery compared to running on an AA Alkaline battery.

I do not have a light meter or test equipment to measure output so I used an ANSI rated light, an Olight S15 XML2 (280Lm ANSI) for a visual comparison to estimate the lumen output. For this comparison I partially zoomed the TactFire to approximately match the size of the hotspots, since the Olight is not a zooming light. I also did a "ceiling bounce" visual comparison in a small room holding the lights above (TactFire fully zoomed out) and looking at the amount of light on the floor.

My estimate is about 220-230 lm. Keep in mind my estimate is only a visual estimate and should be taken with a grain of salt, as I did not actually measure the output using test equipment.

 

 

Beam profile:

When fully zoomed in to “throw mode” (slider fully extended forward) the TactFire’s hotspot is slightly tighter than the hotspot of the SK68. In terms of throw they are about equal, with the TactFire having maybe a slight edge over the SK68. The throw distance is quite impressive compared to a small reflector type AA light like the Olight S15, the TactFire stomps the S15 in the throw department.

 

Photos below are beamshot comparisons (zoomed in) with the SK68, also added a comparison shot with a non zoomie (Olight S15)

The white truck is about 55 yards (50 meters) away

In the above photos notice how useless a more powerful AA size reflector type light (Olight S15) is compared to an AA size zoomie to see objects out at this distance. With the zoomie lights I could clearly see a person or animal out at the truck, it would be much harder to see to that distance with the reflector light.

 

Like the SK68 the TactFire also projects a square “die image” when fully zoomed in.

In this comparison shot you can see the TactFire’s hotspot is slightly smaller / tighter than the hotspot of the SK68:

 

Also as with most zooming lights there are rings, when zooming in with the TactFire TS-1 there is a tight band of thin rings (that appears as one thicker ring) at the far outer edge of the beam.

They made this one right in the zoom out department, the sliding head does not “bottom out early” so it brings the LED as far forward to the optic as possible, for the widest possible flood. 

 

In “flood mode” (fully zoomed out) the TactFire TS-1 has a very wide spill, it’s nearly twice the size of the SK68’s:

 

Mule Mode Super Flooder!

By removing the bezel and lens the TS-1 can quickly convert to a “mule mode super flooder” smile It then can be zoomed from medium-wide to super-wide with no rings visible.

Since there is no reflector, with the slider fully retracted the LED sits at or near the top of the tube, which enables it to flood a larger area with the lens and bezel removed. Great for tail-standing as an emergency room lamp.

I also found I was able to replace the aspheric lens with a flat glass lens from a Convoy S2+ (20.45mm x 1.5mm) it fits in perfectly with the bezel screwed on. The top rim of the bezel (outer rim ahead of the lens) is the only thing that further limits the spill, If I were to grind/sand the outer rim of the bezel down to nearly flush it should get even wider flood and would make this into a dedicated mini flooder!  

 

Pro’s:

Small size

Low price

Tailstands

Runs on 14500

Good anodizing

Wide flood beam

Smooth, snug zoom action

Similar in performance to SK68 but in a smaller package

 

 

Con’s:

Weak pocket clip

Other cons would be subjective (tint, mode order, switch) to my personal preferences.

 

 

Conclusion:

The TactFire TS-1’s compact size, decent throw, wide flood mode, nice anodizing and 14500 Li-ion capability make it a good value.

Because of its more compact size, wider flood beam and otherwise nearly equal performance & price, I’d sooner reach for this TactFire over my SK68 to toss in my pocket, I rarely pocket the SK68 because it’s pretty chunky for a AA light, mostly stays on the nightstand.

I have at least two more budget mini AA zoomie lights I’m planning to purchase in the near future, then I will have other similar lights for comparison besides than the SK68.

Personally I prefer a neutral tint, so it would be great if the emitter could be easily swapped out for a NW XML, I’ll have to get deeper into it to find out if that's possible, I'd also prefer a driver with 3 levels and no strobe.

 

 

Thanks for reading my first review; I hope it was helpful and enjoyable!

 

 

About my review:

I’m new at doing reviews so for now my reviews will be fairly low tech. No charts or graphs and I don’t have a light meter or equipment to measure lumens, my photography is not the greatest, lights may or may not be disassembled. I’ll try to do some beam shots if and when possible.

There are many great reviewers here on BLF who can do all of the above much better than I could at this point. I will learn and try to improve. My reviews are honest and unbiased and I will try to keep them objective. Any subjective remarks or observations I will try to clearly identify as such.

 

 * Photos re-uploaded on 1/21/18

"Over 2000000 hours (about 200 years) standby time"  (DQG Tiny 4th)

"27,157 results for zoomable flashlight" (ebay)

 

 

Edited by: beam0 on 01/21/2018 - 14:51
EyeballFryer
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When you showed the beam shots to the white truck, I would have liked to see a beam shot using pure flood mode, and one that’s halfway between flood and throw.

MG
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Nice useful review. Well written and well organized. I enjoyed the pictures and got a good sense of the characteristics of this inexpensive light.

The “strobe first” feature would be a deal-breaker for me.

The Miller
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This is awesome thanks!
A true budget light getting such a lengthy review is just great.
The light itself is not so much great but who cares for this price Wink

The appeared absence of low voltage protection would make me hesitant to use li ion.

(If you select 100% width or even 75% when inserting a pic the pics scale with screen and make it easier to see for us on smaller phone screen)

hank
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> strobe first, no memory

Pedestrian Crossing Light!

This is, for this one particular use, invaluable.

Every kid and older person on our block ought to have one.

EDIT:

Dang: “This coupon has expired.”

Wanta check with whoever arranged for this review copy? Maybe they can make it available to us.

Tmart
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hank wrote:
> strobe first, no memory

Pedestrian Crossing Light!

This is, for this one particular use, invaluable.

Every kid and older person on our block ought to have one.

EDIT:

Dang: “This coupon has expired.”

Wanta check with whoever arranged for this review copy? Maybe they can make it available to us.


Thanks, coupon code Tlight is ok and can be used now.

Tmart.com's Mission Statement:

To provide high quality products at low price.

To provide fast, efficient order turnaround.

To provide highest level of customers service.

beam0
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EyeballFryer wrote:
When you showed the beam shots to the white truck, I would have liked to see a beam shot using pure flood mode, and one that’s halfway between flood and throw.
I’ll try to do that and add soon as I can, not sure how much we’ll see on full flood with this little light across that big area though.

"Over 2000000 hours (about 200 years) standby time"  (DQG Tiny 4th)

"27,157 results for zoomable flashlight" (ebay)

 

 

beam0
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MG wrote:
Nice useful review. Well written and well organized. I enjoyed the pictures and got a good sense of the characteristics of this inexpensive light.

The “strobe first” feature would be a deal-breaker for me.

Thanks for the kind words!

"Over 2000000 hours (about 200 years) standby time"  (DQG Tiny 4th)

"27,157 results for zoomable flashlight" (ebay)

 

 

dhvl1357
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​That’s quite a comprehensive review, but you’re being too nice when you say some of the cons may be subjective Silly

Couldn’t help but notice on the Tmart site, some of the pics were shot with a large Warsun logo in the background, so I ran a search for “Warsun zoom led 14500” and found this for $3 on Aliexpress ($2.90 on the android app).

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Cozy-Mini-Penlight-2000LM-Waterproof-LED-Flashlight-Torch-3-Modes-Zoomable-Adjustable-Focus-Lantern-Portable-Tactical/32677340678.html?spm=2114.01010208.3.2.QuIVa7&ws_ab_test=searchweb201556_8,searchweb201602_1_10057_10056_10065_10055_10054_10059_10058_10017_107_10060_10061_10052_414_10062_10053_10050_10051,searchweb201603_1&btsid=4343a8e0-dab5-4cc8-9b7e-1c8efd550e67

Just placed an order; shall update with comparison when I receive it.

Weird thing on Ali though, colours available are Black, Grey/Sliver, and Golden for checkout but the pics show Red instead of Gold.

Slow is smooth; smooth is fast.

beam0
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The Miller wrote:
This is awesome thanks! A true budget light getting such a lengthy review is just great. The light itself is not so much great but who cares for this price ;)
Thanks! I figure I'll have pretty much a "format" I'll try to follow for all reviews, big, little, budget price or higher price all will follow the same basic format.

 

 

The Miller wrote:
The appeared absence of low voltage protection would make me hesitant to use li ion.
Yes I would recommend using only a protected battery, and you would be totally dependent on your battery protection circuit if it were left on accidentally.

 

 

The Miller wrote:
(If you select 100% width or even 75% when inserting a pic the pics scale with screen and make it easier to see for us on smaller phone screen)
Well, I posted this on a laptop with 17" screen, then later I looked at it on my smartphone and OMG! I saw the problem.

 

Thing is it's easy to resize to percentage with the Simple Post Editor because it has that function in the photo insertion tool, however I used Advanced Post Editor for this and I couldn't see any percentage function in the photo insertion tool (it's completely different than the tool in Simple Post Editor)

If someone knows a way to resize by percentage with the photo insertion tool in Advanced Post Editor, or how it should be done properly, please let me know.

"Over 2000000 hours (about 200 years) standby time"  (DQG Tiny 4th)

"27,157 results for zoomable flashlight" (ebay)

 

 

beam0
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hank wrote:
Dang: "This coupon has expired." Wanta check with whoever arranged for this review copy? Maybe they can make it available to us.
Thanks for pointing out that it wasn't working, probably my fault because I had to leave for work right after I posted the review and didn't have time to let them know it was posted, (maybe they were waiting until the review was posted to activate the code)

 

 

louis huang wrote:
Thanks, coupon code *Tlight* is ok and can be used now.
Thanks Louis!

"Over 2000000 hours (about 200 years) standby time"  (DQG Tiny 4th)

"27,157 results for zoomable flashlight" (ebay)

 

 

beam0
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dhvl1357 wrote:
That's quite a comprehensive review, but you're being too nice when you say some of the cons may be subjective :p
Haha, I think they truly are subjective though  ...as evidenced in a previous post by Hank about "strobe first, and no memory" being a pro ...which totally proves my point.

 

I decided my reviews would be written objectively, then separately listing my own opinions.

Tint color, mode order, stiffness of switch activation, all are subjective to the user, so they are not really cons except for my own personal preference, and even if my personal preference represents the majority of users, it wouldn't be fair to list something that I felt was a con that could be a plus for someone else. A true con would be something I would consider a con for anyone and everyone.

I'd like to hear some opinions on this though, because it's hard to be the judge of that, for example if the anodizing was poor and scratched off easily (of course I would report that in the review) but should that be listed as a con? I recently read someone who wrote he didn't care if anodizing wore off easily because he liked that "worn" look!

 

dhvl1357 wrote:
Couldn't help but notice on the Tmart site, some of the pics were shot with a large Warsun logo in the background, so I ran a search for "Warsun zoom led 14500" and found this for $3 on Aliexpress ($2.90 on the android app)
Yes it will be interesting to see if it is the same, I also noticed the Warsun photo in the listing and I'm pretty sure I've seen the same light before (at least appears to be) under some different brand names.

"Over 2000000 hours (about 200 years) standby time"  (DQG Tiny 4th)

"27,157 results for zoomable flashlight" (ebay)

 

 

firedome
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Awesome review, very professional quality!

We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light --- Plato

hank
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Quote:
so I ran a search for “Warsun zoom led 14500” and found this for $3

Good find, thank you.

EyeballFryer
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beam0 wrote:
I’ll try to do that and add soon as I can, not sure how much we’ll see on full flood with this little light across that big area though.

You probably won’t see much of the distance objects on full flood. But it would be nice to see the width of the flood on the ground in front of the light.

But one thing I see missing in reviews about zoomies is the in-between zoom mode. If you’re not THAT far away, you don’t need the tiny spotlight. You can increase the size of the spotlight so you can see more at once. That’s one of the features I like about zoomies. But reviews don’t usually show examples of it, only examples pure flood or pure throw.