I’ve been searching for the perfect 14500 EDC light and I’m just not finding it. Hoping someone here can help with a recommendation!
not huge (some 14500 lights like convoy are almost as big as some 18650 lights!)
Ideally >90 CRI
Side switch that doesn’t get hit by accident, similar to the YLP unicorn switch. (I would prefer a good switch over needing to use a lockout)
Good, reliable pocket clip
I’ve found 2 so far that come close:
Lumintop Tool AA 2.0. Clip was awful, so I replaced with a streamlight clip (tip from a BLF thread) which is much better. Hate the low cri cool white and the tail switch that gets hit by accident often.
Skilhunt M150 v2. Great size, LED, UI, etc. However, the clip is very weak and the light has come out of my pocket several times. The side switch has no protection from accidental activation, so I have to use lockout.
You have already dismissed the Convoy T2 and T3, plus they do not fit you desire for a side switch… But, they really are an amazing good light.
The Wuben E05 is a very good light, strange UI, but to get a decent LED you will need to change it out. One of mine is sporting an LH351D and the other a 219B sw-45k brightness bin 180 for an amazing looking output. The E6 would be a good one, but only comes with a thrower emitter, I personally think that is a mistake… I do have the E6 and the spill makes it useless for an EDC.
For a decent small light, I fall back on the ReyLight Tool in copper with a Preon clip and 219b.
I think the best would be a 14500 D4V2, but Hank does not seem to want to make small light. The FWAA is another fine choice, but it is rear switched.
It is available in high CRI. Comes with an ok clip. Can be a great clip if you swap it for an older chrome Zebralight clip. Can also use aftermarket Jetbeam RRT01 clips or custom Titanium deep carry clips.
Switch is recessed slightly so probably ok to carry without lockout.
Extremely efficient driver and great heat sinking.
Unfortunately no 14500 support. Run on Eneloop pro for best results.
The Zebralight is not the slimmest though. If you don’t mind lower output an Eagletac D25a is a good choice.
Convoy T2 is really a great light, imho, and it’s not huge, but a bit fatter than some AA sized lights. If you can live with that and the tail clicky then you can add one of the screw-on clips to the tailcap (the clip that comes with it will probably come off in pocket carry sometimes and it’s not a deep carry…lots of great emitter choices and pretty solid run time and respectable brightness.
If you can find a Rofis R2 it would also be a solid choice but they are out of business now and only had non-high-CRI emitters, but the neutral white version was pretty decent. It’s a rotating 90° angle head but it’s pretty dang stiff so if you want to keep it straight it will stay straight. Mag charging, uses any battery AA/14500, magnetic tail, deep carry clip, decent. Side switch, decent simple UI. Might have to look to find those now, but they used to run between $45 and $55……SkyBenTrade on Amazon might still have some. The switch isn’t the stiffest…can rotate it so the clip covers the switch if you don’t want to lock out via the tailcap (has e-lockout as well).
Lumintop FW3AA is a little powerhouse but quality is spotty and you’d have to use lockout on it (e-switch preferred but head can be undone also). Wonderful captive clip on it like the other FWxx lights but not quite deep carry and I’ve heard they can work their way out of some front pockets (I don’t use the clip on mine). The similar FW1AA single emitter should be out soon also. Personally I don’t think Lumintop is a good buy anymore…had a few failures myself and have seen several others with friends + threads on here. They’ll usually take care of you…maybe…but to help ensure that, buy from them only on Amazon unless you have to get the jump at Neal’s or something.
I’ve only seen Zebra headlamps but I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything bad at all about their lights or service, but you pay for it.
I don’t like the trend some manufacturers are going these days with 2-way clips.
Personally, I find 2-way clips to be horrible. If you don’t actually need the 2-way feature, they’re far inferior to a 1-way clip.
Take the FWAA’s 2-way clip for example:
It sticks out more than a 1-way clip
If you pocket carry the light bezel down, the lip of the upward bend tends to get caught on things when you try to remove the light from your pocket.
as a clip it doesn’t work nearly as well as a good 1-way clip like that on the FW3A.
However, the FWAA’s clip isn’t as bad as some. At least the bend is canted at an angle so it can slip over a pocket. Worse are the 2-way clips on lights like the Thrunite T1 or Sofirn SC21. Those 2-way clips have no extra bend. The result is clipping them to anything is a 2-handed operation. You need one hand to hold the light and the other to lift up the clip over the edge of what you’re clipping it to.
I would be happier if manufacturers ditched all 2-way clips, except as an extra optional accessory.
The new Sofirn SP10V3 may even be better as they have recessed the button some more what should help against unwanted activation: I’d say it ticks all boxes but the clip, that one seems a bit of a lame after-thought.
Zebralight has two AA models: The SC53 and the SC5.
Both are smaller than they might look in the pictures. They’re quite a bit shorter than the Sofirn SP10S. The SC53 is quite tiny.
That said, I don’t recommend the SC53. Runtime is good at 1.9 hours at 300 lumens with no rampdown, but the light lacks the punch of a higher output light.
The SC5 is beefier. It has brighter turbo output and more thermal mass for heatsinking. At 500 lumens its output is closer to some of the more recent 14500 lights, but still not quite up to par. While not a 14500 light, in terms of performance and build quality, the SC5 is probably the best 1xAA light ever made.
2-way clips from my perspective seem to really stink. My original FW1A and FW3A’s all have the normal single way clip. My FWAA and a couple of other lights have 2-way clips. My FWAA was lost and found in the driveway because it tends to catch on the seat belt and then is removed from my pocket quickly and with force. I really do not like them.