Review: E1320 modified UltraFire MCU-C88/5-Mode XM-L

The UltraFire C88/XM-L - as it Should Be

Once again, E1320 has created an absolute gem of a flashlight. This December past, E planned to re-emitter a few C88s and offered to make one for me. Per past builds, I was given a choice of drivers and what kind of draw I was looking for. I've been so pleased with the 5-mode/no-blinky he used in my F15, we went with that and a few weeks later the much anticipated box from the East arrived with my prize, ensconced in generous layers of bubble wrap. This is the C88 as it should have been. A better suited torch for a high performance build you'll never find and of course, the C88's drop-dead sexy good looks doesn't hurt either. This is a case where Foy picked one of the hottest flashlight designs on the market, got the exact driver/emitter combination he wanted, all wrapped up in a fully potted, high quality C8 size mini-thrower capable of accepting multiple battery configurations. The MCU-C88 as interpreted by E1320 is a knock-out flashlight and gets an enthusiastic . . .


Bottom line: The MCU-C88 reminds us that UltraFire can produce a worthy product. If you already own a C88, you may be pleased with its quality but less than satisfied with its XP-E performance. A properly driven XM-L blesses a merely good C88 with greatness. It can run on three AAs, an 18650 or even a 26650. Its robust construction shrugs off heat with a laugh, its machine work is top drawer and the finish is beautiful. And as you can see, the C88 is definitely a looker. The C88/XM-L retrofit is popular and it's easy to why. This is an outstanding flashlight.

What I like:

- gorgeous design

- thick, heavy feel

- large screw-in pill

- bright/great throw

- stainless steel bezel

What I do not like:

- too short for a protected 18650

- scalloped tail cap

- tint

UltraFire MCU-C88 XP-E/Q5 Flashlight (original light)

$35.29 from Kaidomain (don't know where E got it from) Foy paid $65 for this build.

XM-L/T6 emitter

accepts 3 x AA primaries, 1 x 18650 or 1 x 26650 lithium-ion battries

regulated 5-mode user interface with mode memory: moonlight, low, medium, high and turbo

anodized 6061 aluminum

tail standing reverse clicky with 16mm boot

no IPX rating listed but no ingress noted after 20 minutes in the shower

tail cap draw: (3 x eneloop AA)

.02 amps - moonlight

.09 amps - low

.58 amps - medium

1.24 amps - high

2.65 amps - turbo

IMR 18650:

.02 - moonlight

.13 - low

.84 - medium

1.74 - high

3.53 - turbo

26650 King Kong: <<update>>

.02 - moonlight

.13 - low

.84 - medium

1.73 - high

3.53 - turbo

Foyometer: comparative light meter reading

33 - Foy's dimly lit office

150 sag to 130 - L2P/UF XM-L

151 sag to 145 - C88 with 3 x eneloop AA

166 sag to 161 - C88 with IMR 18650

To start with, let's acknowledge the obvious; the MCU-C88 is one fine looking lighting instrument. This is what a flashlight is supposed to look like and the all business shape feels as good in the hand as it looks. This is also a very rare instance when the losers in the design group convinced that all males like strike bezels were out-voted. This spectacular stainless steel bezel gives the C88 a slick, upmarket appearance . . . I did however, give this beautiful piece a good lap job, first with padded 150 grit followed by 10 minutes or so with a worn out sheet of padded 320 grit sand paper.

I'm not convinced the "cooling fins" as cut on the C88 do as much for heat dissipation as the combination of increased head mass and a thick chunk of a pill do. My limited experience and non-engineer observations have concluded that a strongly driven, thinly made flashlight with the emitter mounted on a small pill equals; nowhere for the heat to go. The C88 is generally thick everywhere, especially the head. It has a large, heavy screw-in pill and when fully potted as E has done, the result is a torch that simply does not overheat, even at 3.5 amps.

E did a pretty good job here but I still want to take this opportunity to say; people that get their balls in a knot with loud, righteous indignation over a slightly off-center emitter need to get a life. Your slightly off-center emitter will never mean the difference between life and death on your next search and rescue, assuming you ever take your flashlight anywhere more dangerous than the back yard for beam shot photos.

Also, however tacky some feel it is, Foy loves the GITD bezel o-ring.

Foy's C88 isn't perfect but you pretty much need a magnifying glass to see its flaws. The scalloped tail cap is the only design element I don't care for. It would have looked better uncut.

This over exposed shot still shows the beautiful lathe work . . .

I forgot to include thread closeups but I must say that these feel like silk. They are not square cut but they are smooth as butter.

This is the massive pill with some fine soldering by E and we have what might be some Fujik making an apperance. This kind of mass really helps conduct heat away from the emitter/driver.

I didn't unscrew the pill but this is the other side, looking down the tube.

Plastic battery magazine holds three eneloops nice and snug.

A protected 18650 is just a touch too long. I need to find a black spacer but until then - no biggie.

The C88 feels fat in the hand until you hold something really fat.

Below are some beam shots taken with a 1/4 second shutter speed @f2.8 . . .

Solarforce L2P with a 3-mode UltraFire XM-L drop-in.

C88 with three eneloops.

C88 with an IMR 18650.

I'm not crazy about the tint but the brighter hot spot indicates the increased throw the C88 has over a P60.

This is some sexy good looking flashlight but if you want the go with all this show, ya gotta step up to an XM-L.

Great job E for some quality work. This C88 has been completely reliable so far with not a single hiccup.


Once again another great review, thanks for sharing.

This is one of my all time favorite lights at any price range. The C-88 feels just right in your hand very balanced and comfortable to hold no matter were you pick it up.

I just wanted to add a white wall shot comparing a 1C tint U2 XML C-88 versus a 980L to show the tight focus the reflector on the C-88 provides.

XML C-88 980L

I need to include some shots that show how well this bad boy throws. It is every bit as bright as the 980L (maybe a bit brighter even) but I'm thinking it will out throw it.


Wow, this looks great!

I'm now waiting even more eagerly for the XML U2 and KD V2 driver I've ordered... :)

Nice!! I love it. Incredible utility and flexibility, and quite a looker too. Congrats to E1320 for a job well done, and a big thanks to Foy for the great review.

Frontpage'd and Sticky'd. (Moved to the Multiple AA category)

I will definitely be converting my C88 to XM-L. Very nice pics, Foy. :)

Foy how long will it run on 3 x eneloop AA on High and turbo?


Edit: Same questions as above...

Looks great, if you are having problems with the lenght of a 18650, try a 26650, it should have enough room, or at least the not protected ones such as MNKE or King Kong.

Schweet! Really like the looks of that light. I'm 6'2" and it looks the heft I've been missing in C8 style lights.

I'm getting about an hour on three eneloops on turbo.


Beautiful Flashlight!

Makes me want to work up the initiative to try some modding - time and energy (and knowledge!) being the primary limitations.


With Eneloops, this light makes a great workhorse...a handsome workhorse.

Does this need anything else Mod-wise, than soldering/assembling new emitter and driver? Is there need to do lathe work to make for example the driver fit it´s place or is it plug-solder´n´play?

No need or skill to do the programming, so thats out of the question by me, naturally.

You can actually just do an emitter swap if you don't mind a 3 mode direct drive. This light has the same driver as the UF980L or the Manafont 3 mode drop in. The Nanjg 105c driver fits in perfectly as well.

Hmm, nice! Good to know, thanks.

With nothing more than an emitter swap you would probably be able to use an unprotected 18650/26650 in it without having to worry about it being too long. The Nanjg driver eats up probably 3-4mm from the battery tube length.

Great mod, as you say, makes the light what it should be.

Soooooooo, anyone know where we can buy a UltraFire CREE Q5 MCU-C88 cheap?

Thought not!

The C88 not available anymore?



My E/C88 is still going strong. It is still everything I said it was. (good looking, reliable and bright as hell)

I will share with you, however, some guilt I am feeling. Because of the Cyclone C88, I don't use this torch as I once did. Nothing has changed about the E/C88; it remains as over-the-top awesome as it ever was. It's just that I like the Cyclone better. If I blindly defended the E/C88 out of loyalty to Erik, despite what I really felt to be true, it might diminish the value of my opinions overall. My only defense is my respect for Erik and admiration for his contributions.

It would be awesome if I were some kind of heavy hitter in the industry, a dream, actually. But, I am just one voice and I often enjoy the sound of it too much. Nevertheless, if I have any hope of continuing to be heard or (gasp) respected, I must say the truth as I see it. The truth is; the E/C88 is an exceptional, important flashlight.

The Cyclone C88 is better.