Review: Solarforce M6

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Foy
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Review: Solarforce M6

A Pretty Good Flashlight

Like its big brother, the M8, I just had to own the Solarforce M6 and I'm struggling to convey my lack of enthusiasm without dissing what is in fact, a good flashlight.  It may even be great but my reaction to its performance was a repeat of the M8; I was expecting more.

Bottom line: The M6 is an attractive, high quality product and even though its $53 price is near that of a similarly equipped L2P (with UF T6 drop-in and S9 switch) the slightly larger reflector, modes and extra bling do not make the M6 a better flashlight.  It does nothing really wrong and that might be why this torch would do well on a shelf at a local high-end sports equipment store.  The masses would think nothing of dropping a C-note on what would probably be the best flashlight they've ever seen in a brick-and-mortar venue.  It is consumer freindly and that might be why Foy says . . .

meh.

What I like:

- good looks

- machine work, fit and finish, all top drawer

- well regulated  (I guess)

- nice gift box with lanyard, o-rings and GITD boot

What I do not like:

- ho-hum output

- useless fast strobe  (when is China going to grasp the reality that other than on a bicycle, etc., strobes are universally despised?)

- head controlled mode change unreliable

 

Solarforce M6 XM-L Flashlight from solarforce-sales.com  http://www.solarforce-sales.com/product_detail.php?t=LF&s=26&id=205 

$52.99

emitter: single XM-L/T6

regulated, 2.7 - 9 volts

batteries: 1 x 18650; 2 x 18650 or 2 x CR123 pimaries  (extra tube required for 2 x 18650 use)

tail-standing forward clickie S9 switch with stainless "defense" ring

T6061 T6 aluminum alloy, "HA III"

waterproof, rated IPX-8

what comes in the box:

- flashlight

- adjustable lanyard with quick-release

- extra o-rings (3)

- GITD boot (1)

- magnetized gift box

amps at the tail: with a single Solarforce 2400

high - 1.37 amps  (with almost no fluctuation, very stable)

low  -  .13 amps

Solarforce packages what they consider their high-end lights in a nice magnetized box and unlike the M8, this M6 arrived in flawless condition.  I won't re-post the picture but the envelope containing this flashlight and the rest of my order arrived ripped open, with contents falling out.  I'll repeat what I've said in the past about fancy packaging; given a choice, I'd rather have more features or a lower price than a cool box but from the department of keeping-it-real, I will admit that I like a nice presentation.  It makes me feel special.  Nobody likes to be treated like part of the herd and the brief moment of pleasure one feels when opening such a box is not to be looked down upon.

Definitely not an ugly flashlight, the M6 shares the blocky tube design with the M8 and the cooling fins take their styling cues from the Solarforce Masterpiece head.  The switch is an off-the-shelf S9 forward clickie that tail stands, but perhaps not as steady as a 4-prong/thingys switch does.  Each "thingy" is drilled for a lanyard.

The M6 is about the same length as the old style L2, sans strike bezel.  The shorter new L2 is also the same length as the M6, with the strike bezel.

Like every Solarforce light I've received, lathe work and machining is spectacular . . .

. . . and, from the department of who-cares, the beauty cuts in the fins and the edges of the fins themselves have been milled smooth and round.  If you own a Masterpiece, slide a finger over the fins, up toward the top.  On mine they are almost knife-sharp - not so, the M6.

Outside diameter of the head is 36mm.  An L2P is 32mm and while the M6 is nearly 10mm smaller in diameter than your average C8 (about 45 - 46mm) I thought the M6 might do something better than a P60.  Maybe reach a little farther or a different flood . . . nope.  I'll talk about it with the beam shots, further down but let's take this guy apart and see if Foy can break something.

This is everything in pieces.  It's fairly straightforward but it was interesting when re-installing the reflector; I put the o-ring on the lip inside the head, gently dropped the reflector onto the o-ring and then ever-so-lightly, pressed the top edges of the reflector down and the o-ring rolled evenly and perfectly around the outside of the reflector.  The groove on the reflector rests on a less shallow second lip below the first one and the o-ring is fat enough to then be higher than the top of the reflector.  The lens, therefore, sits on the higher o-ring and when the stainless bezel is screwed down, the o-ring is squeezed evenly both against the outer edge of the reflector and the glass, in addition to being pushed down on the lip in the head.  I wonder if I would have thought this was cool 20 years ago?

You can see the second lip here, in addition to my chipped thumbnail and dry thumbskin.

This is the head, looking from the bottom up.  I just thought it was an interesting solution that puts the o-ring in contact between the outside of the reflector/inside of the head, as well as sealing against the glass lens.  It still has the hard, flat gasket between the lens and bezel.

This is one of those variable pressure thingys (in the middle) that change the mode when you loosen the head.  Isn't it one of those things Don was selling a while back that varies the current or whatever?  I'll change this if somebody gives me the correct terminology.  This is probably a good place to report that the M6 changes modes rather sloppily.  As designed; tighten the head counter-clockwise for high, loosen clock-wise for low followed by a click off then on for strobe.  In practice; a turn clock-wise will either turn off the light, cycle from high to low as if trying to decide and/or changing to strobe when trying for low.  It can be fussy and Foy hates fussy.  Solarforce web address for handy reference.

Like the M8, the M6 pill design discourages amateur exploration.  It also has the same little ring that the reflector base fits around.

Also like the M8, the M6 has square threads.

This just in from the University of Ugly: switch bezel removed for "tactical" version.

Per Foy protocol, the M6 was subjected to the dreaded "depth-sink" for static water intrusion test after dynamic testing in the shower with Foy.  The IPX-8 rated M6 passed with flying colors.

Since the M6 can take up to 9 volts, 2 x 18650 is possible with an extension tube.

Which brings us to the beam shots.  All were taken at 1/4 second shutter speed @ f2.8.

I include this control shot because this is the only time Foy's new back yard looks appealing.

First up is the M6 with a single Solarforce 2400 battery.  The corner is about 30 feet away.

Tonight's comparison is a Solarforce L2X (to be reviewed next) with a 3-mode UltraFire XM-L from Manafont.  Not even close.

Here they are side by side.  And, maybe you're seeing that tighter hot spot and thinking, "it'll throw better."  Not really.

Any XM-L equipped P60 can do better than this . . .

(about 25 yards?)

This is maybe, 80 yards (?) and again, a P60/XM-L can do as well.  (or better)

I'm putting these side-by-sides up to show regulation; 1 x 18650 on the left and 2 x 18650 on the right.

The M6 is certainly a looker but a lot more performance can be had for less money.  I don't hate it and I don't regret buying it.  It is a superbly crafted hand-held lighting instrument but I will say that if someone told me what I have just told you about the Solarforce M6, I would not have bought it.

 

callinitlikeheseesitFoy

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Edited by: sb56637 on 08/26/2014 - 17:21
harry25175
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Really good photos.. i like both m8 and m6, they are in my basket list now.

 

Btw, are m8 and m6 considered as budget flashlight????

 

Foy
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Nope.

Not by my economic standards.  Everybody draws the line differently.  For me it's $50.  Anything over that is not budget but a lot (most here) put it at $10 or less.  Also, to me, budget can also be relative.  Solarforce is only budget when compared to Surefire, for example but it is usually the most expensive host.

 

Foy

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harry25175
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for me, those brand like trustfire, ultrafire etc are considered as budget.

One thing i notice is the mode changing. It is similar to catapult's mode

What's the output of this M6 when using 2*18650? can the m8 body be fitted on m6?

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For me they are semi budget lights. There are budget lights and not budget lights, semi budget is in between which I tend to like the most for quality/price balance.

As always splendid pics and review Foy. You pimp them SF up they should at least release a model with your name on it.

SF-L2F SF L2FoySpecial

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the l2"x" internal name is the "l2foy"... substitute the "x" for what ever l2 model you want... forgot the l2x (i had to edit this one before i posted it) is an actual model, maybe foy actually designed the l2x instead of SF trying to decide for him? another unknown conspiracy in the BLF database...

 

im still waiting for a SFSkylineFoy review... unless i missed it? is this budget light or bankruptcy light forum?

 

foy, if i could buy what you say, my daughter would have no clothes Money Mouth

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a sexy light thanks Foy

Foy
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harry -

The M6 is well regulated and the output remains exactly the same with one or two batteries.  I put side by side pictures in the review of 2 x 18650 and 1 x 18650.  No difference at all.

The M8 and M6 tubes are exactly the same.  I used the tube from my M8 for the pictures of the M6 with two batteries.

Can't remember if I reviewed the Skyline I or not.  Have to go look.  Interesting that the Skyline II is not on solarforce-sales site now.  It is still available from lighthound so, kinda wierd.  The Skyline II is the only Solarforce light I don't have!  I know, it's a sickness.  I'm currently trying to cure it by purchasing lights from other manufacturers - like that triple T6 group buy from China via Australia, or whatever it is . . .

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2100
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harry25175 wrote:

Really good photos.. i like both m8 and m6, they are in my basket list now.

 Btw, are m8 and m6 considered as budget flashlight????

 

Wow....you are buying so many flashlights.  But no problem, do list out your impressions and post them here!  (anything is useful no problem).   Smile

Even by CPF standards by most, M8 is not budget.  They are somewhat good value though.

But the problem is that, Solarforce drivers have visible PWM, and a lot of people would give huge negative points due to that.    Even the guys here at BLF who are more technically forgiving would not let go of that for a premium light.  Eg, Dereelight, Balder, Crelant are not really expensive lights, but they do not have visible PWM.

I could be wrong though.....Foy, do the M6, M8 have PWM?  Wave your fingers quickly in front of the light.  Well at least my Solarforce drop-ins have it.

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2100 wrote:

Wow....you are buying so many flashlights.  But no problem, do list out your impressions and post them here!  (anything is useful no problem).   Smile

Even by CPF standards by most, M8 is not budget.  They are somewhat good value though.

But the problem is that, Solarforce drivers have visible PWM, and a lot of people would give huge negative points due to that.    Even the guys here at BLF who are more technically forgiving would not let go of that for a premium light.  Eg, Dereelight, Balder, Crelant are not really expensive lights, but they do not have visible PWM.

I could be wrong though.....Foy, do the M6, M8 have PWM?  Wave your fingers quickly in front of the light.  Well at least my Solarforce drop-ins have it.

Hehehe.. i am blinded by this hobby now. There will be  solarforce L2T and WF-504B coming next week.

Hopefully v60c and scorpion v2 can be delivered by end of this month.

 

I'm planning to get m6,m8 and tm11(hopefully i wont get defected unit) on next month.

 

I guess there should be a sub-forum for non-budget flashlight, so newie, like me, doesn't get confused to differentiate between budget and non budget.

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Can we have some current [ AMP ] figures with 2x18650 ?  

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Great review , Foy .

 

weiser
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I still think the M6 is one of the sexiest compact 18650 lights on the market Cool

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weiser701 wrote:

I still think the M6 is one of the sexiest compact 18650 lights on the market Cool

I was just getting ready to state how sexy I thought that light was.  Solarforce needs to get with the program on making their lights up to performance specs with companies like Olight.  It's a shame a light that looks that good is weak on the shiny side of things. 

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I really like the M6. Beautiful design.

Foy
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old - .67 with 2 x Solarforce 2400 batteries 2100 - No PWM that I can see on the M8 or the M6. So, the M6 and M8 just need to be driven a little harder. It's too bad because they both fall short of true greatness by just a little. Even if they had driven the M6 to just 2 amps instead of just 1.37? My internet is down so I'm using 4G on my Droid. The connection is fast but typing on this guy is a challenge for big fingers. Foy

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Nice review Foynezel ! Love the pics.

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The M6 (without extension) is one of the best looking lights IMHO. Combine low output with difficulty modding, I am afraid it is off of this flashaholics Christmas list.
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Flashlight Foy wrote:
old - .67 with 2 x Solarforce 2400 batteries 2100 - No PWM that I can see on the M8 or the M6. So, the M6 and M8 just need to be driven a little harder. It's too bad because they both fall short of true greatness by just a little. Even if they had driven the M6 to just 2 amps instead of just 1.37? My internet is down so I'm using 4G on my Droid. The connection is fast but typing on this guy is a challenge for big fingers. Foy

Thank you .  

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Flashlight Foy wrote:

Any XM-L equipped P60 can do better than this . . .

Not any, just the ones driven much harder than M6. I bet Solarforce with emitter driven at 2A (instead of a little bit over 1A) would outthrow any XM-L equipped P60...

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weiser701 wrote:

I still think the M6 is one of the sexiest compact 18650 lights on the market Cool

+ 1 pitty a simple driver swap is out of the question but when you nudge this price tag there should be no need
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benckie -

(internet finally came back in Las Vegas)

That's pretty much what I was trying to say.  At this price, it should do what it looks like it can do and perhaps I should amend; any XM-L P60 that I have can do better than this.  Of course an XM-L driven at half an amp can't do as well.  (must remember the broader audience)

 

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weiser
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It's almost like this is Solarforce's attempt at finally trying to be Surefire Silly

 

It seems like they're intentionally putting out a low driven emitter so it can be considered as "stable" and "reliable" like the expensive brands are touted as by their makers. Screw that! It's multi-mode so have a turbo mode and then a usable high/medium. If you market it right then users begin to understand the "turbo" mode is only for limited use. Why continue to pander? 

 

It's really too bad because the M6 is just so darn sexy! That's hands down my favorite design for a tube. Second place is probably the vertical lines/ridges like on the ITP A3. It has to be done right otherwise it can look cheap. 

 

EDIT: I'm changing second place to perpendicular lines/segments like found on Balder lights. It's simple but gives a sense of durability and toughness. 

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Good point Foy. I have two C8,s with a low draw of 1.5 amp's and one P60 that's the same it would be on par with this light, in honestly a XM-L at 1.5 amps runs cool and works well but a harder driven XM-L like my Jetbeam BC40 would tromp this M6 but that's around $67 USD shipped and not as sexy. I think even a driver swap would be hard due to the way the light works but I would consider this light on build quality and looks not to mention it would run cool and all night if you wanted it to. Also you might of got a low baller others could draw higher but solarforce drop-in's or lights seam to be on the safe side with current draw and temps ?
weiser
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You gotta admit it's hard to settle on a light driven at these levels when you're used to so much more Wink

 

Realistically it still works just fine. If it was driven at 2.8A I'd probably own it already and expect to get a decent amount back if I decided to sell it down the road. I'm trying to get in a good recycle program with my flashlights Laughing

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weiser makes a good point; forget about comparing it to an overheating P60/XM-L, it is still a very bright XM-L torch that also happens to be be one of the most gorgeous flashlights ever made.  Seriously, I can't keep my eyes or my hands off it and unlike an L2 (just an example) with an UltraFire T6, you can leave the M6 turned on high without worrying about burning the house down.  It's just too bad there's not some kind of momentary turbo or something that pulls a couple of amps.

I don't know - hard for me to recommend a light for shelf queen duty.

 

Foy

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when Foy isn't impressed by it it means I wouldn't like it..great minds I guess..love the look of this light but always had reservations with it..thanks for the review Foy! 

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Flashlight Foy wrote:
old - .67 with 2 x Solarforce 2400 batteries 2100 - No PWM that I can see on the M8 or the M6. So, the M6 and M8 just need to be driven a little harder. It's too bad because they both fall short of true greatness by just a little. Even if they had driven the M6 to just 2 amps instead of just 1.37? My internet is down so I'm using 4G on my Droid. The connection is fast but typing on this guy is a challenge for big fingers. Foy

Ahh...then that's saving grace for the M6 and M8. 

1.37A is a little low. But seriously my RRT-2 takes if i rem correctly 1.12A at the tailcap (it's regulated, so a good cell at 4.2V it would be quite lower than at the emitter) and does like 400 lumens OTF.    The Ultrafire driven at over 3 amps and not cooled nicely could dip well below this after 3 minutes of run (for me i get about 350 OTF lumens with aluminum foil wrapping).  Yes that's the truth that i am seeing.    Have you guys run it off a lux meter with ceiling bounce yet?

My Yezl M7X just blows any P60 out of the water even with a lousy cell just doing over 2A by the end of 1 minute....not sure how the heatsinking is designed.

 

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For sure a 3-mode UF XM-L in a P60 is losing lumens after a few minutes and I can tell you that the M6 (and the M8) is very well regulated.  I hope I'm describing it correctly . . . when I test tail cap draw on a P60 host with an UF XM-L drop-in, the numbers are changing wildly and the harder I push against the bottom of the battery, the higher the amps. (I try to push only as hard as I think the tail cap spring does)  With the M6, it just goes to 1.37 and stays there, rock solid. 

Also, I left this out of the review: The M6 stays bright until the battery is depleted (2.8 volts?) whereupon it enters "candle-mode," that Solarforce says is 8 lumens.  I didn't try it . . .

 

Foy

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Excellent review and pics (as usual) Foy. I do miss the "cactus" though. That is one nice looking light.

 

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Thanks very much Foy for the honest review! And thanks for setting to rest my doubts about this light, which I have always admired but never decided to buy.

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