How should a beginner spend $300?

Signing up here has been one of the most enjoyable things I’ve done lately. It’s been fun reading & learning. Thanks to everyone who has communicated with me via the back-channels and in my intro thread.

Until this week I hadn’t given much thought to flashlights for many years. My only LED flashlights are Coast HP1, Coast G19 & some Harbor Freight giveaways. Otherwise, Maglite 3D & 4D incandescent lights have been around the house and in the cars.

I’m ready to get some hands-on knowlege of tint, color rendition, batteries, chargers, UIs, etc.

With $300 to start, which lights (& tints), batteries & charger(s) should be first? I live in a large, metro area and don’t hunt, night-fish or crawl through pipelines with headlights on. Rather, I might have to change a tire in the dark, find some stuff in a couple of poorly lit attics and/or search a couple of acres for “what’s making that noise.” Again, car & home applications.

$300 isn’t firm if $150 will do or $500 would be more fun. I’ve got a short list from some others here, but anybody else got suggestions for how to spend my money?

Again, thanks for letting me in the club.

Are you looking to do any flashlight building or modding? Or, are you content (for now }D ) being a consumer only?

Do yourself a favor and get yourself a BLF Q8. You should be able to pick one up with a code or discount for 40-65. Prob the best light you’ll get for that money. Then get one of the new Emisar lights, D4, D1 or D1S. I’d also highly consider one of the Convoy L6. Consider tints. Many new people find through experience that neutral tints make it easier to resolve colors and that can be useful. But others genuinely like 6500 k. Lots of good chargers. I’ve had really good luck with Xtar chargers. Batteries, don’t get fixated on a brand name. The cell inside is what’s important, but it’s important that it’s a genuine Samsung, Panasonic, or LG.

Never skimp on quality batteries and charger. Lots of good options to choose from. Basically stay away from anything the has fire in the name (except Surefire). Look for OEM brands like Panasonic, LG and Samsung. Avoid garbage like Trustfire, Ultrafire, Tenergy and Nuon. The XTAR VP2/4 or Nitecore D4 are solid, easy to use Li-ion chargers.

Consumer first. Probably not ready to start modding just yet. Still trying to get my head around tints, throw, flood, UI…all the details.

I love to spend other people money! })

Lii 500 charger - $25
BLF A6 3D tint - $25
BLF Q8 - $50
Samsung 30Q button top x 4 for the Q8 - $22
Samsung 30Q flat top x 4 for A6 and other lights - $20

Total $142 - all items can often be found cheaper on sale or with coupons

That would be for what seems like a decent starting point with two must have BLF lights.

Edit: Now let’s spend some more…

Convoy C8 XPL HI classic small thrower - $20
Emisar D4 XPL NW amazing 18650 pocket rocket (and water boiler) - $60
Jetbeam Jet I MK robust EDC twisty AA/14500 light - $15
Jetbeam Jet µ same thing even smaller AAA light - $12
BLF or Singfire 348 AAA one mode SS tube light - $8
Sanyo UR14500P x 2 - $10

That’s another $125 for 5 other good and useful lights and a couple 14500.

OP, if you want "a" nice flashlight, pick your liking.

Next, get in the single-item-check-out<->restraining-order<->no-trespassing line, so you can not return to this establishment.

Any of the BLF special editions are solid. A6, Q8, X5. Convoy L2, L6, C8 or S2. Thrunite TC20 or TN42 if you want something more high end/best in class. Emisar D1/D4 are can’t miss options too.

This here is a really nice start, when you get the a6, also get the 18350 battery tube. You can get it as the astrolux s1 which is the same light. It is a real sweetheart with the short tube.

If i were going to add one more light to this list it would be something smaller like the olight s1A. This really fits nicely in the pocket but you can still hold on to it, it has a great beam, and super low moon mode.

What I can recommend from what I have:

  • Emisar flashlights - the D4 is really cool, puts out a lot of power from s small host, albeit not sustained. The D1 is more practical and has the same cool user interface
  • Convoy S2+ host + MTN-electronics 17mm FET+1 driver + a couple of emitters with different tints (cool, neutral and warm). This would be a modding starter kit as you would only need to solder 2 wires on the LED board, super easy, results in a great flashlight if you don’t want to mod any further, output still can be raised if you like to keep modding.
  • Batteries with higher capacity for longer run times: Sanyo NCR18650GA or Samsung 35E. They both can sustain 10A discharge, so you are not trading capacity for all that much discharge rate. If you only buy a handful for now, the 30Q will give performance on lights that make use of higher drain without giving up to much capacity. The Sony VTC5a (lower capacity and higher discharge) and VTC6 (same capacity as 30Q, higher discharge) are also popular choices on the forum
  • A headlamp
  • Lii-500 charger
  • Nitecore TIP (the high CRI version)

What I’d get if I had the budget:

  • BLF Q8

What I wouldn’t get if I was starting:

  • Any luxury materials (flashlights made completely out of copper/titanium) or special editions
  • Anything from more expensive brands
  • Flashlights that run on a battery type I don’t already have. I’d start with 18650s, and only after a while flashlights that use 18350s, 16340s, 26650s, etc

Thanks. Others have said similar things!

Just saw your light collection - WOW!

Now that’s a list! Thanks for taking the time to do this. It’s a big help as I try to figure out whether I like cool or warm, which UIs I like, battery issues, etc. Much appreciated.

A couple of people sent PM’s that suggested lists very similar to this. With 2 or 3 saying the same thing, my confidence goes way up. I appreciate the suggestions.

Thanks for the tips on dipping my toe into modding. Those details will help me order! Also, I like the advice about batteries. This whole thing is about to get really interesting.

And Thorfire. Generally good stuff.

And genuine(!) UltraFire, at least as far as lights.

But then there are fakes of even good brands and models (eg, the 30Q, HG2, etc.).

Generally, Fasttech and GearBest will sell the genuine articles over in China, and lots of places here in the states (I’ll let someone else rattle off some names).

Avoid fly-by-night sellers on Fleabay and the like. You’ll likely get a cell filled with sand or flour…

Regarding Tint, CRI, UI, batteries and other considerations, you won’t really know until you’ve tried a few dozen lights, and own a drawer full of batteries. :))

Anyway, whatever your preference are, you often end up liking a light for just one reason (cute, small, bright, cheap, easy to use, material…) regardless of all other qualities. :FACEPALM:

Samsung 18650-30Q are often for 12.99$ with coupon
or Sony VTC6 for 16.99$

Convoy S2+ desert tan below 20$
Convoy C8 XPL HI around 20$

Jetbeam Jet-1 MK 12.99$ coupon
Keeppower or e-fest 14500 protected

Skilhunt H03 25.99$ coupon
Nitecore HC60 36.99$ with coupon

BLF Q8 48$
Astrolux MF01 78$ coupon
Astrolux S41

Nitecore TIP CRI 217 or Tini with coupon 20-30$

none of the following lights are your typical Low CRI 6000k Cool White
they are all High CRI 4000k

18650 option… read review: JAXMAN E2 Nichia this light also has an 18350 option (this light offers a choice of either 4000k or 5700k, both high CRI) It uses PWM, which gives it a demerit in my snobby view

“Light” Pocket carry,
AAA Lumintop Tool w Nichia, the Titanium version is most pocket friendly read review

AA… this Zebralight read a review of a similar Zebra

16340 Olight S1 Mini High CRI definitely read this review

keychain USB rechargeable: Manker Lad w Nichia

Notes and suggestions
Storing Lights with LiIon cells in a hot car may not be wise, but there are plenty of cheap Cool White, Low CRI 18650 options.
Eneloop AAA and AA are Fun, for me. Imo AA Eneloop is a candidate for car storage, thought disposable Ultimate Lithium are better.
Using unprotected lights with unprotected cells may not be wise
For lights that do NOT have built in low voltage protection, use protected cells
Buy lights that have a way to let you know when the battery is getting low, so you don’t have to take the cells out and use a meter on them repeatedly and unnecessarily.

What I carry most

the range of color they offer me (two on left are modified)

Can’t really go wrong with a convoy S2+.

For headlamp, have a look at skilhunt H03, coupons always available somewhere to bring the price down to around $30.

Lumintop tool is a nice AAA light with a satisfying tail clicks (well, more satisfying than the practical twisty switch most AAA lights use)

If another batch is ever made, the BLF-348 is really nice for the money.

Fun-wise, Emisar D4 is pretty rediculous for size:output, comes in multiple “flavours” of LED so you’ll have to make a choice! Puts out a floody beam. I don’t routinely carry mine as I find the side switch is a bit too easy to press, it’s more of a “take if you know it’s going to be dark” kind of light.

TN42 is also a fun one, throws a beam of light rediculously far, Astrolux M02 might give it a run for itsoney, cost wise, but I’ve not looked at any of the reviews.

Bought a loudspeaker once that came with a brick inside the cabinet. I appreciate the heads-up about batteries. I’ll stick to names that are known for reliability & service.