LED Lenser M1 - review and modding potential.

I recently purchased an LED Lenser M1 from Amazon for use as a possible mod host. I’m a fan of small zoomies and there aren’t many CR123 zoomies around. Also LED Lensers are known for their unusual zooming TIR optic that unlike an aspheric, sees little loss of lumens when cycling between spot and flood.

Since I was thinking of this as a mod host, I got the older 150 lumen version. I chose not to pay an extra $30 for the current 300 lumen model.

My initial impressions:

  • At 98mm long it is longer and thinner than a Sipik 68.
  • The square knurling on the body tube is very shallow and doesn’t do much to increase grip. It looks good and feels decent in the hand though.
  • Forward clicky tailcap with protruding button. It can’t tailstand and is very likely to turn on accidentally in the pocket unless the tailcap lockout is used.
  • 3 modes. Looks like 100% -> 20% —> fast strobe. No mode memory. The choice to use a forward clicky with a multi-mode driver has me scratching my head. The whole point of a forward clicky is to give you momentary mode, but that only works well with single-mode drivers.
  • The light is rated for 3v CR123 only, but it works perfected with INR 16340. All modes are noticeably brighter on the 16340, but all still work.
  • The flood beam is slightly wider than a Sipik 68’s flood, but still much narrower than the flood on the Coast HP1. The M1’s flood also has numerous ugly rings outside the flood.
  • Spot beam is fairly narrow and looks good. It throws better than the Coast HP1, though it still has some rings outside the beam.
  • Emitter is a Cree XRE.

Then I opened it up to examine the internal construction:

  • The internal construction is unconventional and is unlike other zoomies I’ve examined.
  • Instead of having one piece that encompasses the main body tube and the portion of thee light under the sliding bezel, the HP1’s body tube stops just below the bezel. The portion below the sliding bezel is actually the pill. The bottom 2-3 mm of the pill are threaded so it can screw into the body.
  • Since the entire portion of the light under the bezel is actually the pill, the pill itself is quite long… much longer than in most other zoomies.
  • The driver sits sideways inside the large pill and is potted with what looks like a large amount of fujik or arctic alumina (or something similar) on both sides.
  • The bottom of the driver has a protruding spring. This doesn’t directly touch the battery. instead it hits a contact plate at the top of the body tube.
  • The CREE XRE emitter isn’t mounted on a star at all. It sits directly on top of a small raised post that is part of the pill. The emitter overhangs this pillar and the driver wires are soldered directly to the bottom bond pads of the emitter.
  • The pill is fully anodized in black.
  • The optic is held in place with a threaded plastic retaining ring. There is no o-ring between the optic and the bezel so the light is not waterproof.
  • The switch is quite long. If I chose to mod this light, one thing I’d try to do is remove the stock switch and replace it with something shorter. Possibly also modify the based of the light so it can tailstand. Not sure how to remove the stock switch though… it might need to be drilled out.

Prospects for modding: not good.

  • in a modded zoomie, it is often necessary to readjust the travel distance of the bezel. In most zoomies, I do this by filing off parts of the pill or bottom of the bezel, or adding aluminum strips bent into C-rings inside the sliding mechanism. In the M1, the bezel cannot be made to retract further because the wider body tube is in the way. The bottom of the bezel is only 2-3mm deep so doesn’t leave much room for filing it down.
  • The fully potted sideways driver would have to be drilled out and removed in order to swap in a different driver. There’s plenty of room… too much actually. One thing I like to do with zoomies is see how compact I can make them. The M1 looks like a light that will have a lot of unused wasted space inside even after modification.
  • The LED not having a star is problematic. The XRE could probably be replaced with a filed down Noctigon containing another emitter. But cutting and filing the Noctigon would be a lot of effort. And due to the internal construction of the light, adjusting the focus for the new emitter would be very difficult.

My conclusion:
For this size range, the Coast HP1, or any of the budget aspherics, are much more mod-friendly. I don’t recommend the LED Lenser M1 as a mod host. However, if you plan to use it unmodded with li-ion batteries, The LED Lenser M1 is superior to the Sipik 68 or the Coast.

Thanks for sharing , Firelight2 .

Thanks also. You dont here much about these lights. Bad luck on the outcome.

Yeah. I was hoping this thing would mod well, but having looked inside I’m thinking it’s not worth the effort. It’s a shame really… the light has nice clean styling and is small for an LED Lenser. But when it comes to modding this just doesn’t meet my standards.

Side-by-side with my modded Coast HP1, and they’re both about the same size. The HP1’s bezel is wide, but the M1 is slightly longer. I like my modded HP1 far better… better selection of modes including moonlight, off-time memory, higher output, much cleaner beam, grippier knurling.

Checking my lights I found another budget light with a narrower bezel that fits the HP1. If I can swap it into the HP1, it will make the light much narrower, while also adding more grip for cycling the zoom.

Could you please take some pictures of the innards?
I never have seen a opened ledlenser and it seems to be way different from what we know.

Pics would be nice!

and how does it compare with my (modded) P7.2 ?

Is the optics similar to the Coast HP1, converging lens inner zone and total internal reflection outer zone? (similar to a Fresnel lighthouse lens but with only two zones)