Review: ThorFire TK4A XP-L 4AA Flashlight (Pic Heavy) - * TF Coupon Added *

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ImA4Wheelr
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Review: ThorFire TK4A XP-L 4AA Flashlight (Pic Heavy) - * TF Coupon Added *

Overview:

This is a very nice budget 4AA light.  Competes with single cell Li-ion lights in power.  Has good mode spacing and pretty nice user interface ("UI").  It's compact, light in weight, and feels great in hand.  Very useful general-usage beam pattern that tends towards throw.  Very nice white with no obvious tint.

This light was provided to me by ThorFire for review.  ThorFire has not tried to influence the review.  There have been a couple BLF reviews as follows (In order of BLF Screen Name):

Pros:

  • Powerful (1100 lumens rated, 1200+ lumens measured)
  • Good number of modes and separation
  • Very well machined and finished.  Squarish cut threads
  • Great heat sinking
  • Feels great in hand with grippy knurling
  • Side-switch with battery charge indicator
  • Hidden, but readily available Strobe
  • Tail stands real good
  • Well regulated driver
  • Nice UI overall

Cons:

  • Thread Locked Head (both at the bezel and battery tube)
  • Would like Moon Light mode to be about a quarter of a lumen brighter and Low Mode to be about 5 to 10 lumens less
  • There is one occasionally frustrating issue with the UI (see below for details)
  • Unlubed tailcap threads.  Feels very scratchy, but gets better with lube and usage
  • No stainless steel bezel (But not expected at this price range)

UI:

Press the switch to turn on.  Presses while on change brightness levels from Low-Medium-High-Turbo.  Has last used mode memory.  Brightness level changes are a bit delays, but not obnoxiously slow.  A double click to activates Strobe, another click goes back to the previous brightness level.  While On, a press and hold turn the light off.  When the light is Off, a press and hold (about 1 second) activates Moonlight mode, an additional click turns the light off.  Turbo times out at 3 minutes.  Steps down to High mode.

Per the manufacture, the battery indicator displays “Green” when battery capacity is higher than 60%, Orange below 60% and over 15%, then Red when less than 15%.  I didn't test this, but it has appears to operate properly in my experience to date.

There is one frustrating issue I have with the UI.  The combination of the slow mode changing, the requirement to have to march forward through the mode levels, and easily triggered switch can become annoying at times.  It happens when the button is accidentally pressed which is easy to do.  To get back to the mode you were in, you are forced to progress through some very bright modes at a slow rate.  Ruining your night vision and maybe getting unwanted attention (like when indoors or camping with other people).  I guess it could be improved by making it possible to step backwards in mode level.  Maybe stiffen the button slightly too.

Performance:

My output measurements differed from the specs but all in good ways.  I'm still working on my light tube, but I think my measurements are in the ballpark of reality.  I'm pretty sure my intensity measurement (taken by a HS1010A at 10ft and calculated back to 1 meter) are as good as the meter can provide.  Most notably, I measured High at 420 lumens (rated at 600) and Turbo at 1200+ lumens (rated at 1100).  These are good news as the mode separation is good and high is great for a 4AA.  I measured intensity (throw) at 24.5kcd (rated at 11.6kcd).

Mode

Amps

Watts

Rated Lumens

Calculated Lumens V6

Measured Lumens

Moon

0.00

0 .00

0.5

N/A

0

Low

0.01

  0.01

21

N/A

18

Med

0.21

  0.25

200

50+

182

High

0.53

 0.64

600

200+

420

Turbo

3.00

12.00

1100

1275

1235

Calculated lumens are roughly estimated from chart in Dozz's XPL V6 test thread.   Two huge caveats is that we don't know the bin of the emitter and how much current is actually making it to the emitter.  So it's hard to assess the reasonableness of the above measurements.

Temp and lumen measure measurement through 3 Turbo time outs.  Had an interruption which delayed reactivation of second Turbo by about 35 seconds, but it's clear that the light regulates output and manages it's heat well.  No signs of output sagging due to heat.  Light was 118.4F (48C) at the end of three Turbo time outs (9 minutes cumulative).

Blue Line = Lumens

Red Line = Temperature in Fahrenheit

 

Comparison and Tear Down Pictures:

The TK4A is smaller than all my other 4AA lights.  These below are the most like it in format.  It appears the the TK4A is not lined up well with the others.  The light is slight narrower than the other, but the placement in the first picture below exaggerates it slightly.

 Really nice reflector and lens:

I don't have much in the way of tear down pics.  The light is thread locked real good.  My attempts to open it were unsuccessful.  I only heated it to about 300F as I don't know what inside might melt in the process. The whitish residue in the second picture is from coconut oil.  The threads were so scratchy, I couldn't stop myself from slathering it all over the threads.  Got carried away and some got on the alignment posts.

 

Beamshots:

Been having a hard time getting good conditions for outdoor shots.  Pine pollen hit early this year.  It seems to suck some of the light out of the beam.  Too me, the actual light output is brighter than the below pics.  Especially, the bottom throw shot to the tall pine tree (about 250 feet away and over 70 feet tall).  I will try to redo the beam shots when conditions are better.

 Conclusion:

I like this light a lot.  I think ThorFire should consider a slightly floodier version of this light, upping Moonlight Mode slightly, decreasing Low Mode slightly, and adjusting the UI as discussed above.  Another plus of a floodier version is that the length could be decreased for an even more compact light.  Of course, I personally wish they would not thread locker or at least use a weaker (lower temp) thread locker.  This one is locked down tight. 

ThorFire has offered a 20% off coupon code for the TK4A flashlight: EHSQSZAA.

I'll make another attempt to open up the light and hopefully get some current to the emitter and driver efficiency measurements.  If I do, I will report back.

". . . You realize that wasn't really a loss for me in Africa — it was a gain that I didn't appreciate."

- George Foreman 2017

Edited by: ImA4Wheelr on 04/12/2017 - 14:55
The Miller
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Nice review, thanks!
What does “thread locked” mean?
I just grabbed mine and have no idea what it could be …

giorgoskok
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Very nice and informative review , thanks Smile

The Miller wrote:
Nice review, thanks! What does “thread locked” mean? I just grabbed mine and have no idea what it could be …

It means there is really strong glue (aka thread locker) , probably on the “bezel” , making the tear down difficult …

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ah thanks GK!

ImA4Wheelr
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Thank you guys.  Yes, giorgoskok got my intended meaning correct.  Products like Loctite are thread lockers.  I'll think about a way to reword the OP.

I just realized that I forgot to mention an occasionally frustrating issue I have with the UI.  The combination of the slow mode changing, the requirement to have to march forward through the mode levels, and easily triggered switch can become annoying at times.  It happens when the button is accidentally pressed which is easy to do.  To get back to the mode you were in, you are forced to progress through some very bright modes at a slow rate.  Ruining your night vision and maybe getting unwanted attention (like when camping with other people).  I guess it could be corrected by making it possible to step backwards in mode level.  Maybe stiffen the button slightly too.

". . . You realize that wasn't really a loss for me in Africa — it was a gain that I didn't appreciate."

- George Foreman 2017

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Thanks for the review ImA4Wheelr. Thumbs Up

My current and or voltage measurements are only relevent to anything that I measure.

Budget light hobby proudly sponsored by my Mastercard and unknowingly paid for by a hard working wife. 

djozz said "it came with chinese lettering that is chinese to me".

old4570 said "I'm not an expert , so don't suffer from any such technical restrictions".

Old-Lumens. Highly admired and cherished member of Budget Light Forum. 11.5.2011 - 20.12.16. RIP.

 

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^

Thank you MRsDNF. Smile

 

Separately, I received a thank you from ThorFire for my input and feedback.  Said they will forward it to their engineers.  I really respect the way this company operates.  Class company.  I asked if they had an active coupon for the TK4A.  They said there is a 20% off coupon code: EHSQSZAA

 

EDIT:  Sorry for not including a link.  Added.

". . . You realize that wasn't really a loss for me in Africa — it was a gain that I didn't appreciate."

- George Foreman 2017

strayz
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Great review and It looks like I will finally grab a 4 AA light for my collection.

ImA4Wheelr
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Thank you strayz.  I still have that C-cell Maglite 2 pack and it's still unopened.  Been hoping someone would post a review or mod to help me decide whether to return or open it.

". . . You realize that wasn't really a loss for me in Africa — it was a gain that I didn't appreciate."

- George Foreman 2017

strayz
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ImA4Wheelr wrote:

Thank you strayz.  I still have that C-cell Maglite 2 pack and it’s still unopened.  Been hoping someone would post a review or mod to help me decide whether to return or open it.

LOL I am still eyeing the same lights..

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I bought an unlabeled from aliexpress. Only visual difference is small “cut-outs” on the head(same as Sofirn on ebay). I write this because I am not 100% they look exactly the same on the inside(even if its the same UI). I also have the Thorfire version but have not opened that one yet. This light is up to date the most well glued light I have opened. Hugsby is easy compared to this one…. There are many theads and every single one was covered with glue.




Now mine has a XP-L hi

Thanks for the perfect review ImA4Wheelr

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Very good info and pics Intracloud.  Thank you for sharing.

I imagine ThorFire is similar/same.   It should be ok to use more heat than I did if that is the case.  I think I will now take the risk and make another attempt.

". . . You realize that wasn't really a loss for me in Africa — it was a gain that I didn't appreciate."

- George Foreman 2017

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I did not use heat. I know that many do that with glued lights, but I allways tries to avoid it. I clamped the head in the wise betwen wood and used strapwrench on the body. In my case I got little better grip on the head because of the cut-outs, compared to the Thorfire..

Let me know how it goes.

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Will do.  I cranked on mine until the strap wretches started slipping both without heat and with heat (300F).  Guessing mine has a generous amount of high-temp thread locker.  No that I have some sense of what is likely going on in there, I feel more confident removing the bezel.  Not so sure about the battery tube though.  Did the contact plate at the head have retaining screws or something?

Did your sample have thread locker?  If yes, you you recall what color was it?

". . . You realize that wasn't really a loss for me in Africa — it was a gain that I didn't appreciate."

- George Foreman 2017

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Ok I have a couple of more pictures on my computer, will check tomorrow. By glue i ment thread locker. If I remember correct the color was white. Ok threadlock usually is blue, green and red so I am a little puzzeled.. I will take it apart and check if I missed some in the cleaning prosess. This light only have one joint. First the driver goes in and stops on a ledge, then the pill which pushes on the groundring. So no retainer ring. In other words the head/bezel holds everything in place.

edit: Just checked my pictures.. Totally forgot that there is also one screw securing the driver to the body. You see the hole in the driver on my pictures.

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Ok why wait. Just checked and unfortunately I cleaned to good… But my best bet is blue, definitely not red. Possibly some kind of glue, similar to what was used in the first eagle eye x6.

But I do remeber that I first tried strap wrench around the head but it slipped. That is why I clamped the head in the wise tighten really hard. It slipped so I tighten more and was pretty sure I would damage the head, but it is very solid. Ended up with zero scratches.

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Excellent info.  Just what I needed.  Man, I was really cranking on the tube and lower head.  Ha, Ha.  You should have seen me.  Too funny.  I was trying to open a joint that didn't exist.

You're good Intracloud.  Thanks again.  You solved the puzzle for me.

". . . You realize that wasn't really a loss for me in Africa — it was a gain that I didn't appreciate."

- George Foreman 2017

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Let me know if you get it open. I tried heating mine up with a propane torch, but didn’t go too extreme on the heat. Didn’t budge. I need to finish up a review, but wanted to take amp readings at the led first.

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^

No luck here.  Turns out I was positioning the strap wrenches properly for removing the bezel.  The side switch pretty much forces one to put a strap on the bezel.  I increased the temp to 175C, but only achieved busting my last unbroken strap wretch in the process.  Been wanting to make some new strap wrenches out of an old automotive timing belt anyway.

Best of luch WillyD.  Thank again Intracloud for sharing your findings.  I would love to open mine and piggy back a new MCU and make the side switch always illuminated to assist locating it in the dark.

". . . You realize that wasn't really a loss for me in Africa — it was a gain that I didn't appreciate."

- George Foreman 2017

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Added one picture showing the screw hole securing the driver. Also edited my older post. Correct information is that there is one screw holding the driver down, and also the force from reflector/pill/bezel. (memory failure..). And if I earlier was unclear, the joint nearest the lens(just above the switch) is the one.

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ImA4Wheelr, did you ever get yours open? I just made another attempt at it, but went a little longer with the torch. Also used rubber coated gloves and a strap wrench. This is some crazy strong glue they have. My dad is a retired machine repairman and could probably do this in his sleep. I’ll see if he has any tricks up his sleeve.

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^

Mine is still sealed tight.  Intracloud PM's me a great idea I would like to try out.  It involves using two pieces of wood with v-shaped notches to old the head in a bench vice and then using a flat bar put down into the battery tube and a crescent wretch to turn the flat bar.  Hope that suggesting helps. 

Thank you for the update Intracloud.  Do you have a picture that could help show what I tried to explain above?

". . . You realize that wasn't really a loss for me in Africa — it was a gain that I didn't appreciate."

- George Foreman 2017

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Sure.

Dont have a picture of the wood with the v-shaped notches, just made a quick mockup showing the flat bar technique.

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Instead of using strap wrenches use two power drill handles that tighten around the body behind the chuck. I had one from a Makita that fit and found a second one in a local used parts bin. They have semi rigid round clamping surfaces and evenly apply pressure. Separate bands of masking tape around the body and bezel to protect the ano and take up the slack then go for it with the bezel clamp low on the threads rather than high near the lens as the body is much stronger and backs up the bezel there. No vice just full body weight. Counter clockwise to loosen(normal right hand threads).

Three Tanna leaves to give him life, nine to give him movement. But what if he eats the whole bag?

Scott

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Finally got mine opened using the torch, rubber gloves, and gerbil technique. I’ll have my review up this weekend. Was able to take amp readings at the led. This really is a nice AA light.

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Nice review ImA4Wheelr. Big Smile

“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

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Rufusbduck wrote:
Instead of using strap wrenches use two power drill handles that tighten around the body behind the chuck. I had one from a Makita that fit and found a second one in a local used parts bin. They have semi rigid round clamping surfaces and evenly apply pressure. Separate bands of masking tape around the body and bezel to protect the ano and take up the slack then go for it with the bezel clamp low on the threads rather than high near the lens as the body is much stronger and backs up the bezel there. No vice just full body weight. Counter clockwise to loosen(normal right hand threads).

Nice, creative thinking there.  Gotta try that.

 

WillyD wrote:
Finally got mine opened using the torch, rubber gloves, and gerbil technique. I'll have my review up this weekend. Was able to take amp readings at the led. This really is a nice AA light.

 

Congrats WillyD.  Not sure what the "gerbil" technique is, but looking forward to reading about it in your review.  Also looking forward to what you find out about what's going on in this mystery light.

 

firedome wrote:
Nice review ImA4Wheelr. :D

 

Thank you firedome Smile

 

". . . You realize that wasn't really a loss for me in Africa — it was a gain that I didn't appreciate."

- George Foreman 2017

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Even with ordinary strap wrenches wrapping the parts with tape can improve grip. Especially if you use double stick tape.

Three Tanna leaves to give him life, nine to give him movement. But what if he eats the whole bag?

Scott