Review: NEXTORCH TA40

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xelario
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Review: NEXTORCH TA40

TA40 is a tactical series flashlight from NEXTORCH. At first glance it might look like most other flashlights in its class, but actually it has some features that make it stand out.

Specs provided by the manufacturer:

Quote:
• Bulb:CREE® XM-L2 U2 LED • Lumen:1040lm/530lm/250lm/80lm/srtobe • Runtime:1h/1h30min/3h /10h/- • Battery:2*CR123A/1*18650 • Distance:285m/935.04’ • Material:indestructible Mil-Specs grade 1” aluminum • Finish:Mil-Spec Type III hard anodized • Length:147mm x 25.4mm x 34mm • Weight:4.37oz / 124g(without battery) • Switch:DUO SWITCH

PACKAGING AND ACCESORIES

The packaging is not the standard box with a picture of the flashlight. TA40 comes in a rugged open cardboard shell with a clear view of “the goods”, while still containing all the information you might want to know.


The packaging lets you not just admire the flashlight, but also try it, as there is a cutout in the plastic over the switch and two CR123A batteries are preinstalled. Just be careful, the bottom part of the packaging is made to be mirror-like reflective and it makes for a blinding experience being hit by 1000+ lumens Wink

The packaging can only be opened by ripping it apart, so if it is intact, you can be sure the light has not been tampered with. Mine came with signs of intrusion, but looks like they stopped after realising there’s no putting it back together afterwards.

Inside you’ll find a holster, a proprietary USB charging cable, a lanyard, two spare o-rings and a manual (which can also be found on the manufacturer’s website as a pdf).

The holster is pretty basic and doesn’t look or feel premium at all, in contrast with the flashlight itself. It has a fixed belt loop and a small loop to hang it from, and that’s it.



TA40 fits fine both ways.


The lanyard is flat type with an adjustment ring. NEXTORCH branding feels almost rubber to the touch.

The charging cable is almost 40 cm in length and uses a non-standard connector. More on charging later.


BODY

As you can hopefully tell from pictures, TA40 looks and feels very high quality. The only imperfection I could find on my sample is a tiny spot in the anodizing, which can only be seen after unscrewing the tailcap. Otherwise it’s top notch.

TA40 has battery polarity markers engraved on the body, so that you don’t forget. But don’t worry, even if you do, the flashlight has electronic reverse polarity protection.

The other side has no markings, but note the charging indicator LED between head and body.

There is no knurling on the body, but because the tube section is thinner than head and tailcap, TA40 doesn’t feel too slippery while holding it. Still, this is a tactical flashlight, and absence of knurling and a grip ring might be a con for some.
Machined grooves limit the rolling potential.
The head and body tube are a single piece of aluminum.

BEZEL

Let’s take a closer look at the business end. TA40 has a crenelated bezel which is not as aggressive looking as you can get on some other flashlights and it’s not sharp to the point you’ll cut yourself by merely touching it, but at the same time I am sure it would deal major damage if you had to use it as a weapon. In other words, usable and functional bezel that doesn’t look stupid.

Although NEXTORCH doesn’t mention it anywhere, the lens does seem to have anti-reflective coating. The reflector is deep and smooth and the XM-L2 LED is perfectly centered.

In this picture you can see a rainbow color pattern on the bezel walls. It can also be seen in the outer spill when close to a wall.

CLIP

The clip is stainless steel, coated glossy black. It is very stiff and holds on great without tearing clothes. And it’s not clip-on, so it won’t just unclip by itself.

Well, ok, technically it is clip-on, but it is held in place by the tailcap, with no way of unclipping, which in my opinion is even better than a clip held together with screws.

It also can’t rotate freely, because it only fits in one of two positions that are cut on the body, making it even more securely attached and always in the same position you left it in.


Which is great, as after I moved from up to down position (relative to NEXTORCH TA40 engraving) it became a natural pointer to the cutout in the tailcap.
Overall, this clip inspires confidence and is probably the best I’ve had my hands on.

INSIDE

As mentioned before, TA40 comes with two NEXTORCH branded CR123A batteries preinstalled.


They are inside a holder – a plastic tube which prevents batteries from rattling.

The body tube is really thick.

Both protected and unprotected 18650 cells fit fine.

There is a spring on the positive terminal.

TAILCAP

Unscrewing the tailcap is a pleasure, as the o-ring is tightly fit and threads are lubed, which makes the process very smooth. The threads are fine and seem to be trapezoidal, but I’m not an expert.

On the inside the negative terminal spring is hidden behind a plunger marked with a “-” sign. The raised plastic ring surrounding it can be rotated, but it seems it’s not threaded and rotates freely, as I tried unscrewing it and got nowhere.

On the outside the tailcap looks different than on most flashlights. It has a cutout which serves a dual purpose – it makes it easier to access the switch at the same time guiding your finger and almost forcing you to hold the flashlight in a particular way while still retaining tailstand ability.

There is a round lanyard hole, although I wish there were two, and tying a lanyard would not interfere with tailstanding. On the bright side, the thumb cutout is near the lanyard hole and it can be used to reposition the lanyard, but still, two holes would be better.

The other hole (or a slot) is wider, so it’s possible to fit, for example, paracord lanyard. But the actual use of this slot is tied to the charging cable.

CHARGING

It’s an age of micro-USB cables, but NEXTORCH decided to do things differently. Charging is done via a proprietary port and cable. While micro-USB ports usually have some kind of protection, like rubber flaps (which can wear out or even tear with use), TA40 claims IPX-8 (2m) rating with a charging port exposed to the elements.
Remember that slot in the tailcap? It’s used to lock in the charging cable to prevent it from disconnecting.




While the cell is charging, indicator glows red. When the cell is full it turns off.

I did a few quick tests of the charging circuit. An almost full protected NCR16850B terminated at about 0.38A charging current and 4.2V, great.

To test the current while charging an empty cell I put in a half empty 25R and turned the flashlight on to drain it. And this is there things get interesting… Long story short, after the light got pretty dim, I measured 2.74V and didn’t want to go any lower. So I put it on charge. I used Blitzwolf 40W USB charger, which supposedly can give out up to 2.4A, so there shouldn’t be any bottlenecks. At the start my USB meter showed 1.55A and immediately current started dropping steadily. Eventually it went lower than 0.38A I previously recorded. At 0.26A I got worried and pulled the cell. Too late – 4.41V.

The manual that came with the flashlight says: “Do not use the 18650 li-ion battery without overcharge / discharge protection circuit.” The pdf manual on the website doesn’t have this line at the time of writing. I asked NEXTORCH and they confirmed that TA40 doesn’t have neither overdischarge, nor overcharge protection built in, so don’t use it with unprotected cells unless you absolutely know what you’re getting into.

DUO SWITCH

When I first saw DUO SWITCH in the description, I thought it was just a fancy name for another light with two switches on the tailcap. Boy was I wrong. TA40 has only one switch, but one I never tried or seen on another light.
Some people like reverse clicky switches for ease of switching modes, some like forward switches for momentary on. Some (like me) like features of both and want them to be integrated into one switch. Well, ladies and gentlemen, the wait is over, NEXTORCH has made a hybrid switch, which acts like a forward switch when the flashlight is off and like a reverse switch when it’s on. So, you get both momentary on and easy mode switching by half pressing after you click the light on. Brilliant.

One potential problem could be the size and position of the switch. Because the space on the tailcap has to be shared with the charging port, the switch itself is off center and smaller than a traditional one. That might be a problem for some, but I didn’t find it uncomfortable or unusable in my testing. Maybe that’s because I always held it the way it’s meant to be held, with my thumb in the cutout. If you grab it “the wrong way”, it’s not comfortable, but still usable.

UI

The UI is pretty simple. That complicates things a bit is how NEXTORCH counts modes. They claim TA40 has 7 modes, in practice I’d say there’s 6.

As you can see, momentary on and Turbo are counted as two distinct modes. To make things easier I’ll just call them both Turbo. So, TA40 doesn’t have mode memory and, being a tactical flashlight, always starts in Turbo. Half press gives you momentary Turbo, full click gives you constant Turbo. From constant on a half press switches modes (Turbo > High > Medium > Low > Turbo > …), a long half press (3 seconds) enters SOS. A half press takes it back to Turbo. Strobe can only be entered from off by double clicking (or half pressing and clicking) twice really fast (faster than 0.5 second).

PWM

TA40 uses high frequency PWM. I’m sensitive to PWM, but couldn’t notice it even on lower modes in normal use. All modes, except Turbo and Strobe produce a high pitch whine, which is quite audible. Strangely, even Turbo makes a “buzzing” sound, although it’s of low frequency and I can barely hear it.

MEASUREMENTS

I measured throw with an NCR16850B and HS1010A lightmeter. At 3m I got 1887, 1861 and 1848 lux, at 5m I got 696, 679 and 685. Averaged out it’s 16977cd or ~260m.

Note that my measurements were done with an 18650, while the maximum output of 1040lm and throw of 285m is most probably measured with 2*CR123A. Add in a cheap lightmeter and I’d say my measured throw of 260m is pretty close to manufacturer spec.

As for current draw, I measured right about 3A with a 25R on Turbo. Driver is most likely in the tailcap, because I couldn’t get any other modes without it.
TA40 has ~32uA standby current drain.

CONCLUSION

Overall, I like TA40 a lot. It’s very well made, feels and functions like a high quality product, the clip is super solid, DUO SWITCH is something I wish was in most of my flashlights. For the tactical crowd NEXTORCH offers quite a few different gun mounts, a remote switch, filters.
The biggest disappointment for me in this otherwise great flashlight is the lack of overdischarge and overcharge protection. A non-standard charging cable has both pros and cons, and everything else is pretty much a matter of personal preference.

TA40 was provided by NEXTORCH for review.
Thank you for reading.

saypat
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Amazing review, very thorough. Awesome pictures ( a tad too large in my opinion however). A knock on this nice light would be the low of 100 lumens. Nextorch should be quite pleased in getting this great review in exchange for your sample. Well done.

Alex W
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Great reveiw!!!
got a clear idea about the TA40 from your work.

Alex W
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how long would it take to be full charged?
thanks.

xelario
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Alex W wrote:
how long would it take to be full charged? thanks.

Well, I checked Smile
I ran an NCR18650B dry and put it on charge. At right about the 4 hour mark I had to leave, meter showed 0.44mA current (so near the end). When I got back 9 hours later cell showed 4.11V, charging picked up at the same 0.44mA and it took about 15 minutes to finish (forgot to time it exactly this time). So I’d say for 3400mAh cell it’s a bit more than 4 hours.