Review: Astrolux FT03 Thrower - 2400 lumens / 900 meters

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WalkIntoTheLight
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Review: Astrolux FT03 Thrower - 2400 lumens / 900 meters

This is a review of the Astrolux FT03 flashlight. It is a high-powered light that takes a single 26650, 18650, or 21700 battery. A Luminus SST-40-W emitter and large diameter reflector gives this light amazing throw that clearly illuminates objects a long distance away.

The light is well constructed, with nice finishing touches. It is easy to hold due to the larger body tube that holds a 26650 battery, and knurling makes it non-slip.

There is not a lot of heat fins for cooling, but due to the large head of the light, it is not generally needed. The light has thermal protection, but in my experience it doesn’t get hot enough to kick in if only using it for a few minutes at a time. I appreciate that in a thrower, which I want to use on maximum, if only for occasional spotting.

This light is almost three times as bright as a Convoy C8, and has almost four times the lux. At 2400 lumens and 200,000 candella, it makes smaller lights seem underwhelming. The throw is 900 meters to 0.25 lux, though you do need a very high-drain battery to achieve maximum output. In real-world use, I could clearly see things at a distance of 300 meters, which a smaller C8 wasn’t showing very well. It is very impressive for a handheld flashlight, while still pocketable in a large-ish coat pocket.


Thank you to Banggood for sending me the Astrolux FT03 for testing. I receive no other form of compensation, and all my reviews are independent. You can find the Astrolux FT03 on Banggood’s site here, along with further details:

Astrolux FT03 at Banggood.com

There is currently a discount code for 25% off. Use code 2019FG at checkout.


A Youtube video review I did is available here:

The video contains additional things like beam-shots and comparisons to the smaller Astrolux C8.


Overview:

I have used the Astrolux FT03 for a few hours during my testing. My overall opinion is that it is a great thrower, especially considering its modest price. Despite its size, it is well-balanced and easy to carry. The side switch is illuminated, so finding it in the dark is easy.

My preferred use is to carry it on a lanyard, hanging from my neck. This keeps access to it easy, while leaving my hands free to carry a small EDC for pathway lighting.

The FT03 runs Narsil firmware, so the user interface is extremely customizable. One of the first things I programmed was to set the light to be a single-mode, maximum output light. As much as I like the ramping interface of Narsil, my personal preference in throwers is full-power all the time. You can watch the Youtube video to see how I programmed that. Narsil programming takes a bit of time to get used to, so if you don’t want to program it, the default settings work great for most people.

If you were to carry the FT03 as your only light on a walk, you probably should use the default setup with the ramping interface. But in my opinion, throwers don’t make good lights for primary use. I prefer a standard small EDC for most use, and use the thrower to see stuff in the distance. It’s also just fun to use in a dark, open area.

And the FT03 will see into the distance extremely well. The hot spot is tight and well-defined, giving a brightly illuminated spot out to a few hundred meters. There is also a large spill for close-up illumination, but it’s quite dim so it will not ruin your night vision.

Large, open, dark spaces is where this light really impresses.

The light is made to take a single 26650 lithium-ion battery, but comes supplied with an adapter so it can also take an 18650 battery. It can also accept a 21700 battery. You should use a high-drain cell for this light. The higher the amp-rating of your battery, the better this light will perform. Use at least a 15-amp rated cell, such as Sony 30Q or better. 30-amp high-drain cell is ideal.

Since this Astrolux FT03 uses a FET driver for maximum output, the light will slowly lose maximum brightness as the battery depletes. A fully-charged battery is required for maximum performance.

The Astrolux FT02 (which I reviewed last year) uses a boost driver, which drives the light at full-power regardless of the battery level. This is a nice feature, but it also adds to the price of the light. I tend to think of the Astrolux FT03 as a budget-friendly version of the FT02. The FT03 actually out-performs the FT02, but only while your battery is mostly full (about 80% or more).

The FT03 features built-in USB-C charging, for those of you too lazy to take the battery out to charge it separately. Although I normally charge my batteries separately, topping up a battery using the USB port is easy and will keep the light performing at its maximum output. It charges at a rate of about 2 amps.

The head and tail have thick double springs for carrying the current this light demands. It uses about 8 amps on a high-drain battery.


Specifications:

Output: Output goes from a low mode of less than 1 lumen, up to turbo at 2400 lumens.

Throw: 900 meters and 200,000 candella.

Beam profile: Intense hot-spot with broad dim spill.

LED: Luminus SST-40-W emitter.

Tint: Available 5000K neutral-white, 5700K neutral-ish white, and 6500K cool white. I am testing the 5700K version.

Size: 170mm long, 70mm head diameter, 35mm body diameter.

Weight: 295g + battery.

Construction: Aluminum body with anodized coating. Water proof to IPx7. Drop-proof to 1.5 meters. It is very solid and well built.

Battery type: High discharge 26650, 21700, or 18650. Includes adapter for 18650 use. Unprotected cell for best performance.

Springs: Head and tail use a double-spring for high current conductivity.

Tail-stands: Yes.

Lanyard: Yes.

USB charging: Yes, via USB-C.

Protection: Over-discharge and over-charge.

Standby drain: 110 microamps, which includes the illuminated switch. This would take about 5 years to drain a battery.

Contents:

Astrolux FT03 Flashlight
18650 battery adapter
Spare o-rings
Lanyard
Manual
Nice box and packaging, very well protected for shipping.

There is an optional stainless steel bezel you can order for the Astrolux FT03 (also fits the FT02). I’m not sure why you’d want it, but some people like the tactical look.


Operation:

The Astrolux FT03 uses NarsilM firmware to run its user interface. This is a flexible and powerful UI, and programmable in so many ways it gets complicated. Luckily, the defaults are usually what most people prefer, so you can ignore the programming if you wish.

The ramping is a standard press & hold to ramp, with double-click for turbo.

The FT03 features a lit side-switch when the light is not in use. This is very handy for finding the button in the dark, because the light is entirely black.

Clicking the switch once will turn on the light to the last output level you used (mode memory). Clicking it again will turn the light off.

Double-click at any time to turn the light on to maximum output.

Triple-click for battery check and other stuff like temperature check and reset-to-defaults.

Quadruple-click to electronically lock out the light, or unlock. You can also lock out the light mechanically by a slight twist of the tailcap. This is important to do when carrying the light in a bag or somewhere it might accidentally be activated.

Five-clicks for momentary mode. This is a nice for when you want instant access to turbo, but only for brief periods of time. While you hold the switch, the light will turn on to max. To get out of momentary mode, briefly loosen the tailcap to cut power.

There are strobes, but they are turned off by default. You have to enable them by programming the light. Then, they are available by double-clicking from turbo. Yeah, you can send an SOS signal to the International Space Station.


My impressions:

Pros:

- It has amazing throw. Very intense hot spot, but large enough to be useful when searching.

- Well designed, solid construction, easy to hold.

- Flexible and powerful user-interface.

- Built-in USB-C charging.

- Illuminated switch makes the light easy to find in darkness.

- Supports 26650, 21700, and 18650 cell sizes.

- Quite inexpensive, especially compared to other lights with similar throw.

Cons:

- It would be nice to include a USB-C cable with the light, though I suppose most people already have one.

- Needs a fully-charged high-drain battery for maximum performance. This is the same for all lights that use FET drivers.


That’s all for now. Thank you for reading.

acab
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very nice review, thanks!
Astrolux surely looks like a very nice brand.

WalkIntoTheLight
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Yes, I don’t think I’ve found a dud with an Astrolux design. My all-time favorite is the Astrolux A01, sadly I think the original design of it was changed to use next-mode-memory, which was a big mistake IMO. But I still carry the original A01 with me every day.

Rax032
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Nice review! I am waiting for my FT03, that will be my first thrower, hope i will be very satisfied.

WalkIntoTheLight
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Rax032 wrote:
Nice review! I am waiting for my FT03, that will be my first thrower, hope i will be very satisfied.

Yup, get a good high-drain cell for it and it should impress, especially if it’s your first thrower.

My first leap into throwers was the Convoy C8. They’re nice, but now their output and throw just seem “meh”, after using more powerful throwers. But I still use the Convoy C8’s occasionally, due to their small size and programmable Biscotti firmware (I can set it to a single max mode, like I can with Narsil that the Astrolux FT03 runs). The FT03 is 3x as bright. Interestingly, still about the same sized hot-spot, even though it has a much bigger reflector. I’m guessing that’s because the SST40 emitter is domed.

BIV777
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Thanks. My friend bought Two and sold me one. I have NW and like it very much.

Rusty Joe
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I bought one. It is regulated fairly well in every mode but turbo, right?

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BlueSwordM
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No.

It’s only regulated up to 150 lumens.

My very own high current Beryllium Copper springs Gen 3:
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WalkIntoTheLight
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The FT03 uses a FET driver for high output levels, like most high-output budget lights use. So, it’s not regulated, and depends on the battery voltage. You’ll get good output for the first half of the battery drain, then the output will be less impressive (about 33% less).

Rax032
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WalkIntoTheLight wrote:
Rax032 wrote:
Nice review! I am waiting for my FT03, that will be my first thrower, hope i will be very satisfied.

Yup, get a good high-drain cell for it and it should impress, especially if it’s your first thrower.

My first leap into throwers was the Convoy C8. They’re nice, but now their output and throw just seem “meh”, after using more powerful throwers. But I still use the Convoy C8’s occasionally, due to their small size and programmable Biscotti firmware (I can set it to a single max mode, like I can with Narsil that the Astrolux FT03 runs). The FT03 is 3x as bright. Interestingly, still about the same sized hot-spot, even though it has a much bigger reflector. I’m guessing that’s because the SST40 emitter is domed.

Batteries are ready and waiting for flashlight Smile I have Vapcell 26650 5500mAh, and Aspire 26650 4300mAh. I have some Sofirn 26650’s too but i won’t play with them. Firstable, i wanted to buy Convoy C8 or Sofirn C8T, then i saw FT03 and i was sure that will be the best choice for me.