Review: Xtar WK 26

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Foy
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Review: Xtar WK 26

Xtar WK 26: A Flashlight Lovers Flashlight

This torch was provided me for evaluation and what a treat it has been, getting to know this terrific little flashlight.  Anyone desperate enough to read more than one of my reviews might recall that I was distinctly unimpressed with this light's predecessor, the Wk 25.  The two look nearly identical but the WK 26 is not simply an improved Wk 25, it is a reinvention.  The WK26 is a serious little powerhouse and with performance like this, it is now a pleasure to enjoy the inherent design simplicity/build quality of this Xtar form factor.

Foyapproved

Bottom line:  The Xtar WK 26 is a knockout.  It has the fit-and-finish, quality and feel of an Olight.  It is really bright (for its size) reliable, good looking and has the annoying modes that annoying people like while making it possible for the rest of us to lock them out.  It is in fact, a flashaholic's flashlight.  With a minimum working voltage of 2.7 volts, the WK 26 is essentially a Li-ion only torch.  Properly loaded with a 14500 battery however, the WK 26 can hang with lights many times larger costing significantly more.  Good job, Xtar.

What I like:

- elegant form factor

- output

- machine quality

- anodization

- "DIY mode design"  (Foy likes it)

What I do not like:

- switch feel

- 14500 only battery requirement

- a little ringy

- lame lanyard  (okay, I'm having difficulty thinking of things I hate about it)

Xtar WK 26, XP-E/R3 LED Flashlight

$19.99 from szwholesale  http://www.szwholesale.com/xtar-wk26-cree-1x14500-5mode-250lumens-flashlight-p-4157.html 

Cree XP-E/R3 emitter

2.7 - 4.2 volts

designed for a single 14500 Li-ion battery

5-mode user interface with mode memory (2-3 second retention) low, medium, high, fast strobe and SOS

"DIY" mode programming

anodized 6061 aluminum

tail stands

lanyard

user manual

gift box

 

Foy's lame attempt to quantify relative brightness:

light meter lux . . .

my office (late afternoon) - 173

WK 26 -                           204

4Sevens Q-Mini XM-L -       206

 

amps at the tail:

high -      .86

medium - .35

low -       .01

Specs say it's 250 lumens.  Using a TrustFire flame 14500, Foy says it is about 220.

This is what you get for $20.  Not bad, and it is certainly head and shoulders above what we've come to expect from a budget light purchase from China.  Say what you will about cost or the practical usefulness of foam and cardboard; you know you like it and it's nothing but a net plus for this flashlight purchase.  And, like the Wk 21 I reviewed earlier, the WK 26 comes with its own user manual that is specifically for this torch.  In addition to the quality of the product itself, these things combined, are important and suggest that Xtar takes this flashlight and the buyer, seriously.

However underwhelmed I was with the Wk 25, I'm a huge fan of this form factor.  The WK 26 feels good in the hand, is small/light enough for the mouth and remains still, the best cigar hold torch I've ever used.  There is nothing to prevent it rolling off the table but a more satisfying design for a small flashlight, I've yet to see.

The WK 26 is a solid tail stander and has a lanyard cutout.

SirJohn mentioned tail cap switch feel in his fine review and it's something I failed to report on the Wk 25.  Holding the light in the classic overhand position, the button is mushy and uncomfortable.  The solution might be more expensive; something along the lines of an electronic switch, ala Nitecore.  It's really the only slightly annoying thing about using the WK 26 and it probably wouldn't be an issue with a larger torch.  It's barely an issue with this torch.

Here at the Foylabs test facility, machine quality is a top requirement and I'm pleased to report that the WK 26's time on the lathe was well spent . . .

. . . this is a superbly manufactured, carefully assembled product.  We'll have to see how well the anodization holds up but the finish appears top drawer all the way.

Size comparison with the Wk 21 Meteor.

I didn't break it down further than this but the WK 26 is fairly straightforward . . .

I'm not sure if I can call these square or not.  They feel okay, not as silky as the Wk 21 . . .

Like the Meteor, the WK 26 can be programmed to include any one or any combination of its five modes.  The instructions say to use a tiny dot of solder but the brainiacs on this forum correctly suggested using pencil lead to complete the connection of the upper and lower part of the "contactors."  This low-tech approach has worked splendidly on both the Wk 21 and this WK 26.  I thought this somewhat gimmicky at first but I've now come to see it for the value it offers.  No more whining about useless "flashy" modes or SOS features that will never be used by some of us.  Excluding perhaps bike users, you disco-duck idiots that like party-ball modes in your flashlights can annoy your friends and make the dog vomit to your heart's content.  The rest of us can easily turn all that trash off so, we thank you Xtar.

This is Foy's first XP-E and as installed in the WK 26, it has made a sensational first impression.  It has the largeish hot spot of an XM-L and it's a little ringy but it is more than just a little bright.

Is my example really the 34th WK 26 produced?

These beam shots were taken at 1/4 second shutter speed @ f2.8.

WK 26.

Wk 21 Meteor.

Side by side and yes, the Meteor kicks its butt.  We're talking XP-E folks, not XM-L.

Here's a beam profile shot.

I have to say, I'm a little more impressed with the WK 26 than I am the Meteor.  This flashlight just feels right . . . in the hand or in the pocket.  The 14500-only issue might be a deal killer for some but not me.  This is a spectacular flashlight and I highly recommend it.

 

Foy

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Edited by: sb56637 on 08/26/2014 - 17:06
dthrckt
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nice review.  14500 is certainly not a deal killer for my use but if it could take AA, or they offered an extension tube, this would make a great gift.

Any chance you've got a C3 extension to try? Yes, it would make a nice looking light ugly...but I'm still curious...Embarassed

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BetweenRides
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Thank you, Foy. Very nice review.

sb56637
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Thanks very much Foy for the excellent review as usual! Frontpage'd and Sticky'd.

I'm afraid that the Li-Ion only requirement is a deal breaker. The main reason I carry around a 1xAA light is because the batteries are available everywhere. If I want or need something more powerful I'll just use an 18650 powered XM-L flashlight.

Budget Light Forum ...where Frugal meets with Flashlight!

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Nice work foy. I'm always jealous of people's pictures. My Kodak just doesn't do the job. For those that need aa compatibility, the WK25B really is a nice upgrade over the original WK25. Much brighter on high and brighter than anything else I have on Nimh. I actually think you would appreciate it over the WK25, Foy. Only downside is that it doesn't have the DIY driver of the WK26 and of course you can't use it on 14500 should you ever feel the need.

About the clicky switch feel - The aluminum plug they inserted in the boot as a spacer in my sample of the WK25B really makes the clicky work a whole lot easier. It just makes it a tad to easy to click and doesn't feel as solid given its a hard piece of metal sitting unattached to anything in th boot. I'm really tempted to experiment with different materials to see if I can get something that will feel perfect. It's not the clicky switches fault really. If you take the switch out, you can tell it clicks just fine. It's just how it fits in the boot that creates the problem.The boot and the switch are just not suited for each other. I guess I could also try to find some spare boots and try to see if I can get one that fits and is better mated to the switch.

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I have no doubt the Wk 25B is better than the Wk 25 and actually, the Wk 25 wasn't a horrible light, it was just a "meh" light.  Xtar should probably quit sending me AA style lights because when spending my own money, I don't buy these kinds of lights.  My taste is migrating from P60 to . . . something different and usually bigger.

Anyway, I'll try the washer thing on the switch.

 

Foy

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jacktheclipper
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Thanks  for your always amusing comments and great pictures .

And

Happy New Year !

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Happy New Year to you, Jack . . . the original inspiration for Foybezels.™

It was your beautiful sand L2 that got me going . . . . ahhh, some of us have greatness thrust upon us while others . . . .

 

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Thanks to BLF and its contributors and reviewers, XTAR gets some nice exposure.

great work foy,

great work xtra!

*FMI* i got 4 i/o sh
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Awesome review......glad to see a TF will fit in there with no problems.

With Darkness, there will always be Light.

 

 

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I'm a "disco duck idiot" and I like it.

Piers said " ....but who wants enough light, when you have the option for far too much "

Stittville Ed
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Great review and  great pictures.

Thanks for you time and effort on this light.

I just might have to pick one up Smile

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Thanks for the review, Foy Wink Looks like an interesting light and even better for that price Silly Wish they had it with XP-G.

esrevenge
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Great review, first time Ive seen it, must have missed it before.

 

Id love to get one if it could take AA...:(

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esrevenge wrote:

Great review, first time Ive seen it, must have missed it before.

 

Id love to get one if it could take AA...:(

Then get the WK 25B .   It's the sister to the 26 and AA only

esrevenge
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Edit - Thanks, they do make an AA model...Foy great review I dont want to ruin your thread with AA talk, haha.

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This looks like it could be the new black of 14500 flashlights (to me anyway)

20USD sounds like a bargain with the mode selection and hight quality ano.

Hmm. This SO gets in the way of my other flashlight plans for this year. ShameonyouFoy! LOL Wink

Already have 14500's... Hmmm . Must resist! (for now)

~ Ledsmoke ~

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Aleister
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Thank you Foy, it looks like a winner and great value for the price. If it also had a clip it would  already be in my shopping basket.

 

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Great review Foy, I have number 8 going by the s/n, they deserve to sell many more tho, my one issue with the light is that a tap on the tail causes it to change mode ( I only have low and high), I'm not sure if it's the battery losing contact or the switch, any suggestions?

Foy
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Jeansy -

I don't think it's the switch.  Like Sir John mentioned, a spacer of some kind (depending on thickness) might increase the distance from the boot to the button.  I haven't taken the switch apart but I've improved switch function on some of my other lights by progressively cutting down the little . . . . nubbin (?) inside the boot.

 

YMMVFoy

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Jinx
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Thanks Foy, I'll see what I can do when I get a chance, I'll update if I fix it incase anyone else has a similar issue

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update:

The WK26 is still awesome.  I will admit; it spends a fair amount of time on the shelf because Foy is not generally fond of small flashlights.  Nevertheless; this is a killer torch.  It is my designated "mouthlight."  Actually "liplight" is more accurate; I put it between my lips when I need light while working on other lights.

I have it "programmed" for single mode/high and until now, forgot that it has other modes.

Anyway, I love this light.  I have raffled off two other small Xtars but I will not be giving this little gem away.

 

Foy

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torchythebatteryboy
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I always have the previous version WK25 with me. Great light output for the size and an AA battery lasts ages.

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I have the WK26 for more than six months now and it is still one of my two favorite 14500 lights, along with Balder SE-1. I do like the Xtar more, probably because of the longer throw. It’s actually the best 14500 thrower, as far as I know.