Review / Comparison: P60 Drop-In Round-Up and XM-L Shootout

P60 Drop-In Round-Up and XM-L Shootout

Some thoughts after two years . . .

It's been nearly two years since I bought my first P60 drop-in and acknowledging the steep and ongoing learning curve, Foy still possesses just a fraction the expertise of many contributors here. Being an idiot has never shut me up before and to be sure, the following is simply my opinion and experiences during the last couple of years.

Much has been said about about the viability of the P60 form factor. With the development of high current modules, overall performance and especially output have been pushed to the extreme. Heat dissipation from top performers is an issue the original Surefire 6P was never designed for and the 26mm reflector size places obvious limitations on throw and output. Better alternatives should have long ago, buried the P60. A C8 size torch for example, can easily out shine the smaller form factor and can be designed with more mass to better wick away heat. The cost of some high powered modules can drive the total price of a top performing P60 flashlight well beyond many alternatives that have overcome these issues.

Why does the P60 survive?

The P60 universe will remain just that. Like all things great, the P60 form factor is imperfect but it brings with it an accepted standard that allows flashaholics to fully explore the ever changing emitter spectrum more conveniently and without breaking the bank. When Foy began his insane flashlight odyssey, the XM-L emitter was still new enough to be exciting and the T6 bin was all the rage. When U2's became available, did Foy have to buy another flashlight to try out a new bin? Theoretically, a flashaholic needs but a single P60 host to participate in whatever the latest technology is and that same torch becomes many different tools by simply swapping out the drop-in. Companies like Solarforce have expanded the concept further by offering heads such as the C8 size M3 and the Masterpiece Pro One and Two.

Beyond just the emitter; the myriad selection of reflectors, extension tubes, switches and even bezels (so I'm told) means the P60 form factor is here to stay. As technology progresses and envelopes are pushed, much of what keeps this flashlight standard relevant means design and performance compromises are inevitable. Despite its well documented limitations, the P60 universe continues to expand. It does so because it is a good system that makes economic sense with nearly limitless expandability.

Modules will be arbitrarily assessed and judged with extreme prejudice. Mood, time of day, time since last meal or other physical needs being met are all potentially influential, although not necessarily so. With some variation, I am more or less begining with modules that are less interesting to me and working my way up to those that start my Evinrude on the first pull.

Grading is simple; the Foylikesit scale is 1 to 10. 1 = Foy thinks it sucks. 10 = maximum Foylikesit.

The contenders:

V/K (Vinz) MD26E 2-mode XM-L/U3/2S

E1320 "Egrenade 3.7" 2-mode XM-L/U2/1C

E1320 5-mode XM-L/U2/1C

Int'l Outdoor Store 3-mode XM-L/T6/3C

UltraFire 3-mode XM-L/T6 (Manafont sku 5720)

Cree 5-mode XM-L/U2/1A (Kaidomain)

E1320 "Supercharged" 3-mode XR-E

Cree Generic Single mode XM-L/T6

Solarforce 3-mode/8.4 volt XM-L/T6

UltraFire 5-mode/8.4 volt XP-G/R5

UltraFire 5-mode Warm White XM-L/T6

Cree 3-mode MC-E

Solarforce single mode P7

Generic 3-mode XR-E/Q5

Solarforce P7

Foy's P60 story arc began innocent enough, with a large dollop of clueless. The P7 on the right was my first drop-in and it came bundled with an L2P kit that included the light, a couple of batteries, a charger and a holster. Compared to the Mags and assorted garbage I owned at the time, I bragged to anyone unfortunate enough to be near me about how "incredibly bright" my new flashlight was . . .

This poor guy is currently doing duty in my Match Mod MiniMag. It produces maybe 75% of its original output because I regularly feed it a few more than its working voltage of 3-6 volts. Still, a lot brighter than most Mini Mags.

Solarforce P7

ordered: 1-15-11

price: $19.99

working voltage: 3-6 volts

single mode

"900 lumens" (not)

Foylikesit score: 4 (the module, not the Match Mod Mini Mag)

UltraFire XP-G/R5

To the left of the P7 is an 8.4 volt XP-G from Manafont and it is one killer R5 drop-in. This thing is the equal of several T6 modules I have and because of superb regulation, works just as well with one or two batteries. I bought it specifically to use in my Solarforce L2r and for some stupid reason, traded that light away. This XP-G module sat unused for many months before Match came to the rescue, giving me his L2r. Loaded with two 14500's, this is a great go-to light around the house that is plenty bright and has very real throw.

UltraFire XP-G/R5

ordered: 3-27-11 from Manafont (sku 4594)

price: $11.90

working voltage: 4.2 - 8.4 volts

descending 5-mode with memory: high, medium, low, fast strobe and SOS

tail cap amps from a Solarforce L2X extended with two unprotected Tenergy 18650 batteries:

high .47 amps (.94 to emitter)

medium .21 (.42)

low .05 (.10)

Foylikesit: 7

Cree MC-E

The last of this mediocre threesome is a 3-mode MC-E from Manafont. The price I paid last April ($20) coming down to $13.60 today says a lot about this forgettable module. It ain't all that bright but at least the beam profile sucks, although I'm not doing this drop-in any favors using an SMO. (it came originally with OP) My MC-E emittered Solarforce Masterpiece Pro 2 with its large/heavy orange peel reflector is a stellar performer. It's all about the flood however and although my white-wall here doesn't show it, with an SMO the MC-E has an artifact-rich beam pattern. It is mostly unused in the Foycollection, currently at the back of the pack in a Solarforce P1, also mediocre. Also, I hate the UI. The thing is, this MC-E still has game. It pulls over 3 amps with an IMR and it's actually brighter than my XP-G. Go figure.

Cree MC-E

ordered: 4-20-11

price: $20.00 from Manafont

working voltage: 4.2

descending 3-mode with memory: high, low and fast strobe (really fast)

tail cap amps in a Solarforce L2P with a protected Solarforce 18650:

high 2.65 amps

low .54

with AW/IMR 18650:

high 3.10 amps

low .60

Foylikesit: 5

Generic XR-E/Q5

I've got three or four of these turds left from ten or so I ordered to make L2i gift lights. I usually store them in a 504B on the back of the shelf. They are not at all bright and I don't like them. I hesitate to put up the ceiling bounce on this module because it appears to be as bright or brighter than the MC-E above (it is not) . . . but, I'm posting everything exactly as it happened so, take your best shot. I swear I had the camera set to all manual. (I think)

Generic XR-E/Q5

ordered: 4-20-11

price: $6.33 from Manafont

working voltage: 3.7 - 4.2 volts

descending 3-mode with memory: high, low and fast strobe

tail cap amps in a Solarforce L2P with an unprotected Tenergy 18650:

high 1.27 amps

low .09

Foylikesit: 2

This next trio are mistakes I see too many beginers make when first stepping into the P60 world. They come on the board, see all the love everybody has for Solarforce and incorrectly conclude that affection extends to Solarforce's drop-ins. I'm not saying modules from my favorite host manufacturer completely suck. I merely point out that two of the three single mode XM-L's they sent me failed, an SST-50 failed (partly my fault with the SST-50) and they are all under driven. The middle one above is a single mode XM-L that is fairly bright and not too bad for the money and the warm white XM-L on the right is an over-driven underachiever.

UltraFire XM-L/T6 Warm White

This module was Foy's first (regrettable) experience with an advertised tint other than cool white. Unfortunately, it is impossible to ignore the persistent suspicion of yellow dye and/or gold paint being used in the manufacture of this emitter. The tint is horribly ugly and even with an OP reflector, the beam pattern is distinctly ringy. It is unusual also, that although it is as bright or brighter than other average XM-L's, a light meter reading is always about 50% less than say, a 3-mode Manafont XM-L. I have to say that it is pretty bright. It better be because it sucks over 4 amps on high and over 5 amps with an IMR. I actually had an offer from another member to purchase this drop-in, just for the driver alone. As much as I don't use this module, I should have took him up on it.

UltraFire XM-L/T6 Warm White

ordered: 10-5-11

received: 10-29-11

price: $16.00 from Manafont

working voltage: 4.2 volts

descending 5-mode with memory: high, medium, low, fast strobe and SOS

tail cap amps in a Solarforce L2P with an unprotected Tenergy 18650:

high 4.19 - 4.25 amps

medium 1.21

low .40

with AW/IMR:

high 5.10 amps

medium 1.40

low .45

Foylikesit: 6

Generic Cree XM-L/T6

This single mode drop-in from Manafont isn't too bad. It pulls right at 2 amps and is as bright as several of the sku 5720 XM-L's I have that pull well over 3 amps. It has a cool white spot, a greenish corona and a slightly purpleish outer edge. This module currently has flickering issues that are cured by turning the light off and on again.

Generic Cree XM-L/T6

ordered: 12-21-11

received: 1-4-12

price: $12.20 from Manafont

working voltage: 4.2 volts

single mode

tail cap amps in a Solarforce L2P with a protected Solarforce 18650:

2.06 amps

with an AW/IMR:

2.18 - 2.27 amps

Foylikesit: 7

Solarforce 8.4 volt XM-L/T6

I bought this reliable drop-in to use in my extended L2X. I wanted a powerful, high voltage XM-L. I still want one. My negative feelings about Solarforce modules are because of the failed units I've received and because they are all driven too soft. I do still use it however, in a new version L2M configured for 2 x 18500. Center spot is a decent cool white, corona is a bit green for my taste and the wide outer spill ring is a pretty, fading lavender. Output is just okay, I suppose and this module has been dead reliable.

Solarforce 8.4 volt XM-L/T6

ordered: 2-27-12

received: 3-3-12 from Solarforce

price: $17.50

working voltage: 3.7 - 8.4 volts

descending 3-mode with memory/3-second retention: high (100%) medium (60%) and low (10%)

"820 lumens"

"Runtime and Output King Bulb"

tail cap amps in a Solarforce extended L2X with 2 protected Xtar 18700:

high .42 amps (.84 to emitter)

medium .19 (.38)

low .05 (.10)

tail cap amps in a Solarforce L2X with 1 protected Xtar 18700:

high .80 amps

medium .64

low .07

Foylikesit: 7

This next group is a fine collection of U2 XM-L's from Kaidomain. I bought them in two different orders a few months apart and one module of the four is the runt of the litter. The other three are superb drop-ins with performance on par or better than the ubiquitous XM-L from Manafont. These were my first U2's and I'm not sure what I expected but they seem hardly brighter (if at all) than my best T6 bulbs. I like them because they are reliable workhorses and don't explode if you feed them slightly too much juice.

Kaidomain Cree XM-L/U2/1A

Output is awesome and the best of the four I have has a beautiful beam profile with a powerful center spot, a wide and very bright fading corona and a broad, evenly lit purpleish spill. Basically, the entire whitewall beam is bright as hell. Overall tint is some of the best I've seen, among 1A's. Minuses include inconsistent build quality and not a one of mine has a centered emitter. When I first bought these in April of 2011 they were $17.47. They were $11.84 including shipping on my 1-20-12 order. At this price, these represent a spectacular value. I am happily using these currently in an old version/silver L2, an L2X and a 2011 version black L2.

Kaidomain Cree XM-L/U2/1A

ordered: 1-20-12

received: 2-24-12 from Kaidomain (last order)

price: $11.84 including shipping

working voltage: 3.7 - 4.2 volts

descending 5-mode with memory: high, medium, low, fast strobe and SOS

"1,000 lumens"

tail cap amps in a Solarforce L2P with an unprotected Tenergy 18650:

high 3.55 amps

medium 1.63

low .15

with AW/IMR:

high 4.0+ amps

medium 1.80

low .16

Foylikesit: 8

Manafont 3-Mode UltraFire XM-L/T6

Much has been said about this mini-legend on BLF. It is the ubiquitous UltraFire 3-mode XM-L we all know and love, sku 5720. There are seven pictured here but I've owned over a dozen of these very bright modules. The very first one was a turning point for me in this crazy hobby. Up until then, in my inexperience I thought flashlights this bright had to cost a hundred or hundreds of dollars. It blew me away (still does) that a quality torch the equal of, and in my opinion superior to, a Surefire 6P could be had for under $30. A Solarforce L2 loaded with this blindingly bright drop-in will rip the panties off a $90 6P. Moreover, it'll stomp a mudhole in the ass of a half dozen lights I can think of costing double or more. I like them because besides having searing output, it has my second favorite UI; a simple 3-mode high, medium and low. Memory function is perfect with no fussy waiting or coming on in an unexpected mode . . .

Nearly all of mine have what I feel is a near perfect beam pattern for a P60 SMO. A large, blazing bright center spot is well defined with a nice, barely green corona that quickly fades to an enormously wide and bright spill. This module on medium is brighter than the Solarforce 8.4 volt light is on high. That's important because these cannons generally pull 3.5 and often upwards of 4 amps on high. An un-wrapped module in just about any host will be too hot to hold in 5 minutes or less. Even when tightly wrapped, heat is an issue when used on high for too long. I have fried three of these babies. During an unsuccessful aspheric endeavor recently, the emitter simply slid off the PCB. I have made a believer out of many non-flashaholic friends, selling doznes of L2's and L2P's powered by this incredible module. If you don't have one, get one.

Manafont 3-Mode UltraFire XM-L/T6 (sku 5720)

ordered: 3-28-12

received: 4-18-12 (last order)

price: $15.98

working voltage: 4.2 volts

descending 3-mode with memory: high, medium and low

tail cap amps in a Solarforce L2P with a protected Solarforce 18650:

high 3.70 amps

medium 1.15

low .19

Foylikesit: 8

Erik's Supercharged XR-E/R2

Our own E1320 turned the BLF community on its ear when he gave the lowly XR-E shovelfuls of XM-L whoopass. I love telling other enthusiasts I have an XR-E that pulls 2.80 amps. Invariably, I am reminded politely that an XR-E isn't rated for that much current, sometimes showing me a graphic or chart from Cree. You simply have to see this incredible module in action to believe it. This 3-mode gem edges out the Solarforce 8.4 volt XM-L and will waste just about any XP-G it tangles with. It has a somewhat inconsistent center spot that fades slightly darker going out to a distinct/thin, greenish outer corona (for lack of a better description) and a generous, bright spill. The overall beam pattern is beautiful. Not much to hate with this drop-in. Erik will build it with just about any UI you can imagine and build quality is second to none. This is one seriously amazing XR-E.

E1320 "Supercharged" XR-E/R2

received: 6-18-12

price: $28.00 plus shipping (evaluation sample provided by E1320)

working voltage: 4.2 (I think)

ascending 3-mode with memory: low, medium and high

tail cap amps in a Solarforce L2P with an unprotected Panasonic CGR 18650:

low .10 amp

medium .75

high 2.70 - 2.73

with AW/IMR:

low .11 amp

medium .82

high 2.79

Foylikesit: 8

Int'l Outdoor Store XM-L/T6/3C (neutral white)

These three modules elevated Foy's previously redneck tint expectations for the very first time. My color tastes have since broadened a bit but these outstanding bulbs taught me there is more to a drop-in than just brightness. They are heavily built with a copper base, a brass pill and a brass cover over the PCB. Buyers after I got mine report a little different construction that possibly does not use the soft, clear pad between the reflector and brass cover. If I take this pad off, the beam is unacceptably ringy in the extreme. With it, it has a beautiful (and powerful) pale white center spot with a wide/bright corona that is just barely green. It has a relatively narrow spill that is off-white with absolutely no purple. Output is somewhat less than a Manafont 3-mode XM-L but it doesn't look a lot less bright to the eye. In fact, it is bright as hell.

Regulation on this module is such that it pulls a dead steady 3.0 amps on high no matter what battery, including an IMR.

Left is a Manafont 3-mode XM-L (sku 5720) and right is a Int'l Outdoor Store neutral white XM-L.

These are well made modules and they come with a soft thermal wrap . . .

Int'l Outdoor Store XM-L/T6/3C (neutral white)

ordered: 3-26-12

receivede: 4-16-12

price: $23.00

working voltage: 2.7 - 4.5 volts

descending 3-mode with memory: high (100%) medium (35%) and low (3%)

"820 lumens"

overheat protection at 55 - 60° C

low voltage protection: 2.7 v

tail cap amps in a Solarforce L2P with a protected Solarforce 18650:

high 3.0 amps

medium .92

low .07

Foylikesit: 8

E1320 5-Mode XM-L/U2/1C and 2-Mode "Egrenade 3.7" XM-L/U2/1C

This is the top of the food chain, folks. You simply will not find a better drop-in at anywhere near his asking price. Is it bright? Consider this; right now in my dimly lit office, the best my UltraFire 980L can do on a ceiling bounce is 110 on my light meter. Standing an L2P on its tail in the exact same spot next to the meter, the Egrenade reads 137. My brightest Manafont XM-L does about 120 with the rest of them at around 100. Erik's top XM-L modules are significantly brighter than pretty much any other bulb you can buy. My ceiling bounce shots can't begin to show how much brighter these two powerhouses are. They deliver breathtaking performance and as far as I'm concerned, are a game changer in the P60 world. The 5-mode has the lowest firefly I have ever seen; you can put your eyelash on the bezel and stare right into it. Hyperbole aside, you'll never feel the same about your favorite host after dropping in one of these bad boys.

The Egrenade 3.7 is all about output with a 2-mode Kaidomain driver delivering a blistering 900 lumens on high and 400 lumens on "low." It uses the latest U2 bin XM-L emitter from LCK LED with the nicest 1C cool white you have ever seen. A dazzling white center spot has an even, fading corona with just a hint of green and an intense spill. The spill alone is brighter than many flashlights.

E1320 "Egrenade 3.7" XM-L/U2/1C

received: 9-21-12

price: $28.00 (plus shipping)

4.2 volts

2-mode: high and low

Kaidomain driver

400 lumens on low

900+ lumens on high

XM-L/U2/1C emitter from LCK-LED

tail cap amps in a Solarforce L2P with an unprotected Tenergy 18650:

high 3.65 amps

low .96

with AW/IMR:

high 3.71 amps

low 1.10

Foylikesit: 9

E1320 5-Mode XM-L/U2/1C

received: 9-21-12

price: $28.00 (plus shipping)

4.2 volts

ascending 5-mode: candle, low, medium, high and turbo

XM-L/U2/1C emitter from LCK-LED

tail cap amps in a Solarforce L2P with an unprotected Tenergy 18650:

candle .002 amp (1 lumen)

low .10

medium .75

high 1.65 (600+ lumens)

turbo 3.50 (900 lumens)

Foylikesit: 9

Vinz MD26E XM-L/U3/2S

I'm not sure if this module belongs in a flashlight or a museum. Foy doesn't get out much and it is entirely possible there is a commercially available drop-in superior to this bazooka. I'm certain enough however, to bet this probably represents P60 drop-in state of the art, circa 2012. It is likely the best P60 module, extant.

My prize arrived ensconced in a padded, green case. I'm guessing the label reads "Foy Edition" because I wanted my ultimate module to have the user interface I prefer above all others; 2-mode. The creator of this "Meisterstuck" is BLF member Vinz and his customer service is very personal . . .

The lens is permanently attached. In use, it makes an imposing wall of light with more flood than throw - although it is surprising how far this much light reaches . . .

Fully potted with some kind of fancy silicone carbide potting . . .

Notes from Vinz:

hand crafted on a small, manual lathe, not CNC, polished to mirror finish

XM-L/U3/2S emitter soldered directly to copper core, with no isolation layer between LED and PCB

19.5mm of aluminum between LED and circuit

2cm of aluminum below LED

LED base micro-corrected to be perfectly flat

back of PCB sanded/polished on a glass plate before being glued with Arctic Silver thermal adhesive

LED/PCB connected with thick, silver plated copper wire in a Teflon sleeve

GND screwed and soldered using massive copper leads

all connections soldered with Mundorf Siber/Gold

silicone carbide potting

voltage monitoring software will half the output when voltage drops to 2.95 volts under load until it shuts off completely

beam more flood than throw, large spot, almost no spill

no visible tint shift, nice color rendering due to the optic

no visible PWM in low mode

adjusted to 3.2 amps on high for about 1,000 OTF lumens

Here's some pictures he provided . . .

Vinz MD26E XM-L/U3/2S

received 10-2-12

price: $81.30 (plus shipping from Germany)

working voltage: 2.95 - 5.5 volts

2-mode with memory: low (100 lumens) and high (1,000 lumens)

XM-L/U3/2S emitter from LED-Tech.DE

tail cap amps in a Solarforce L2P with an unprotected Tenergy 18650:

high 3.23 amps

low .33

Foylikesit: 9.5

Because the MD26 has its own lens, I removed the glass lens on my much loved, old version silver L2. It actually measures higher on a ceiling bounce on my light meter than my HD2010.

Could this old L2 be the brightest single emitter light I have? To be accurate, it just barely edges out the Egrenade on my light meter by about 10 points. (137 vs. 147) Bear in mind, you could buy almost three Egrenades for the price of this guy. Full disclosure: Vinz did give Foy a discount for purposes of evaluation but he never expected me to publish a review - something I did without asking his consent. Hope he doesn't mind.

The MD26E U3 XM-L is the winner of this showdown.

This "diary" will be my P60 work-in-progress. As new information about modules already listed comes to me, I will update. When I get a new module not already listed, I will include it here, grading it appropriately within the line-up. If a listed module begins to perform better or worse than here discussed, that new information will be included and graded score adjusted if required.


Thanks for the effort Foy. Nice work and I'm sure a lot of people including me will find a lot of useful info here.

Gosh Foy, what an EPIC thread!! I can only imagine how long this took. Thx so much for the time and effort!

Thanks for taking the time to do this shootout, that’s a lot of drop ins to sample. At one point I think I have owned every one of those drop ins you tested, most were sold or stripped for parts. With the exception of Vinz masterpiece, that thing is in a whole different league than anything else in this test.I am really glad you like the customs I made for you. Now that the U3s and the XPG-2s are out I am going to have to send you a couple more to play with.

Thanks for doing this shoot out.Perfect timing since i just received two L2M

host and a complete L2N with a U2. My first P60's.

Thanks for the shootout Foy. Bookmarked for future reference. One thing I’ll mention about P60 dropins is I love the floody beam profile especially with OP reflectors. Excellent for cycling and with small hosts they’re good for helmet mounting. I was using my 3A Int-outdoor 3C dropins x2 the other night and the beam profile was fantastic and really nice on the eyes with the 3C tint, probably my new favourite combination. They’re more than just versatile and convenient, they’re downright practical depending on your requirements.

Very nice compilation, Foy! Thanks for sharing this. I rarely cary a P60 anymore, but I still have a softspot for one. One of these days I'll get around to making a worthy drop-in for it.

nice thread! i might have to try out the manafont modules when i get a L2, E1320 sounds like good stuff too

Thank you very much for sharing Foy!

Awesome thread, Foy!

It must have taken you forever to do this shootout. Keep up the good work. :)


Fantastic review, thanks for all your hard work. I must say that the Vinz drop-in is as you say “state-of-the-art” today in drop-ins. It would seem that it can match the reveared MalKoff M60/61 for durability and push the outer limits of lumens. Yeah the price isn’t budget but its good to know that it exists. BTW, I have one of the very early MF XM-L 3 speed drop-ins, that batch came w/ a very sweet neutral white emitter that is still my #2 go-to light. Keep those updates coming.

As always, Foy, that was great. Thanks so much for taking the time.

Wow Foy, what an absolutely wonderful reviews this one is. Love it. Thanks for the hard works!

That Vinz Foy edition P60... whooaaaaa.

Fantastic thread Foy,this is the ultimate reference thread for p60 modules,thanks for taking the time to do it.The vinz module is an incredible piece and I would love one,little pricey but you get what you pay for.This is the go-to thread for noobs and seasoned flashaholics alike.

Very comprehensive Roundup, thanks for that 8)

I love my “Vinz MD26E”.
Mine is driven at 2.8 Amp but still brighter than my Manfont XM-L Drop-In with nearly 3.5 Amp, an indicator for the awesome heat management.
Here’s just a bit eye candy

Most fun read. Well done :bigsmile:

Thanks for the P60 information and excellent reviews. I can see some of my P60 UV modules getting some bright light companions.

Can we perhaps get some outdoor shots showing the difference beam pattern, flood, throw between a normal P60 (lets say the Manafont) and the Vinz?

So you run the Vinz without the lens in the head? What about water getting in?