A little background on finding my “perfect aaa”. I got the Olight Ti Mini S two years ago and realized how much I prefer neutral light to cool light. I began to EDC that light, but it would give me headaches when used for reading labels and other fine print (80% of my edc use is for reading as my eyes are going bad). I read about PWM/flickering and picked up the Olight i3s cu which uses constant current. I’ve been carrying that light every day for over a year. I like it a lot, although the tint is a bit green. What I don’t like is that the i3s turns on in high - I use low for reading.
I decided to look at the forums and see what else is out there for aaa’s and I found the nichia emitters. I bought a Thorfire TK01 to try the 219C and just loved the tint and color rendition. So I ordered several nichia lights to try, as pictured below: Lumintop Tool Copper with 219b, Massdrop Copper Tool with eswitch and 219c, 2017 UltraTac k18 with 219c, and the Maratac aaa with 219c.
I’m too lazy to look up the lumen output for each of these lights, it’s close enough that I find the modes interchangeable. There is also a very slight difference in some of the tints, but it’s so minor that I like them all.
The electronic lockout on the UltraTac k18 makes it a deal-breaker for my edc. I really love the UI of this light overall, especially memory mode. But if it’s locked you have to click the button twice, then wait for the light to flash twice, then long press to turn on. I can’t stand the delay, also the button is not quick to find as it’s made of steel like the body. You click twice to lockout, and if the light is on you click twice to enter strobe mode - I think they should have made that three clickss so that strobe isn’t activated accidentally when trying to lock the light. If I could lockout by turning the head I might consider carrying this one, but that’s not possible. I also don’t know if the K18 uses PWM (I tried to do some tests but I couldn’t tell). It does not induce a headache, so I’m fine with it. This light also accepts 10440’s, but I haven’t tried one yet. I’m keeping the light in my car console as I have a hard time seeing the usb port.
The Maratac AAA is a work of art. I make jewelry and small sculpture from non-ferrous metals and I love the aesthetic of this light. I also love its dead-simple operation and the fact that there is no switch to go bad. The M-L-H sequence means that I am only two twists away from my most-used setting, which is better than my i3s. I love this little light, but I can’t use it one-handed very easily, so it’s not an ideal edc.
The Copper Tool is amazing, I love it. It has the 219b which looks slightly less magenta than my other lights, more of a true neutral. The UI is perfect and I like it the best of all of these lights: one full press to turn on, half presses to change modes. Dead simple and intuitive. Easy to use in one hand and to “cigarillo hold” with the clip removed. I can’t see this turning on in my bag as the button is so stiff, but I can lock it out by twisting the head if necessary. This one is also M-L-H and I am only two presses away from my most-used mode. I really like this light, I have the aluminum nichia version on the way.
Last is the Massdrop Copper Tool with eswitch. I love this switch, but I think the UI is stupid as you have to turn the light off between modes to advance. In practice it is very quick, and since the light is L-M-H I am only pressing once 80% of the time. The switch has not activated in my bag, but I can always rotate the head to lock the light out. This is the one I’m carrying, and I recently received the brass version. Honestly, I like the UI of the regular tool better, but I prefer the aesthetics and elegance of the eswitch version. I’m an artist and will occasionally choose form over function, as long as the function is solid. If I were to purely base my choice on form, I would carry the Maratac.
So there you have it. I’m going to have an aaa in every room of the house, plus I have the new lumintop aluminum wormy-looking nichia light on its way for my work lanyard.
Oh, I forgot to mention that the purple aluminum Tool with magnetic tailcap (not nichia) is also en route. It’s a sickness.