(Review) Nitecore MH23

I received the Nitecore MH23 for evaluation purposes. Thanks to Nitecore for the opportunity.

Nitecore Website

Nitecore Store - US

MH23 Owner’s Manual

You’ve got to admire companies that are always pushing the limits to bring new innovative products to the market. Spending a bit of time going through all the offerings from Nitecore highlights the company’s drive to bring the customer a myriad of products designed to impress and excel.

The Nitecore MH23 surprised me in a few ways. I had not expected it to be as small as it is, nor had I really expected it to have the power that it does. It’s not that I didn’t believe the claims stated on the website; I just couldn’t wrap my head around 1800 lumens in a package that easily carries in my front pant’s pocket. In fact I’ve struggled a bit with this review because the product is so good, and I am loath to come across as some guy writing copy. The truth is that I cannot find anything to fault with the MH23 – not even some small nitpick to show that I’m not biased.

To my eyes the MH23 has an attractive get-down-to-business look. It’s made for work and it looks the part: not unlike a favorite pair of comfortable work boots coupled with a pair of blue jeans and a Carhartt jacket – not particularly flashy, but it’ll stand up to hard work and it looks good too.

At 4.38 inches in length, the MH23 easily fits in all but the tightest/smallest front jean pockets. The head diameter is 1.25 inches (just barely larger than a US half dollar coin). For my use the size is a big strong point – small enough to carry all the time, yet the power is there whenever the user desires.

The MH23 is very well made and the finish is evenly applied (sort of a flat black). The body tube and sides of the tail cap are cross-hatched to aid with user grip. The body tube itself will unscrew from the head and the tail cap can be removed. The body tube is short – shorter than the 18650 battery itself. The included clip attaches near the tail end of the body tube. It is removable, but not reversible. I find the clip to be very firmly attached (it takes a bit of effort to remove the clip from the body tube). The spring portion of the clip is fashioned for head-down carry (my preferred method) and sturdy enough without being a nail-breaker.

The tail cap unscrews with ease and has a flat butt that makes tail-standing a breeze. Inside the tail cap is a gold colored spring that is quite stout. The threads are square-cut, well lubricated (as received) and anodized. The attachment point for the included lanyard is done right as well – threaded through the side of the tail cap so the lanyard isn’t an impediment to tail-standing. On the opposite side of the tube, the threads are likewise square-cut, well lubricated (as received) and anodized. There is a contact point (no spring) on the back of the head.

The head is roughly 2.125 inches in length; taking up a hair less than half the total length of the flashlight. There are a series of fairly deep cylindrical grooves cut into the sides of the head for heat dissipation purposes. I find the grooves to be excellent for gripping purposes. The lone switch is located on a flattened area (among the grooves) and has what appears to be an aluminum bezel surrounding it. The switch is rubber coated and just slightly proud of the grooves around it. Locating the switch in pitch black conditions is relatively easy by feel alone, but there’s an option to turn on a blinking blue switch light for a visual aid in finding the MH23 in dark conditions.

This is a two-stage switch – quite similar to the function of the shutter button on most cameras. The switch has good tactile feedback and is audible with full clicks (just a slight clicking sound).

Opposite the switch is the USB port. It is well covered by a rubber flap that fits tightly into the recessed opening. Simply insert one end of the included USB cord into the flashlight port, and the other end into a power source to charge the battery (while in the flashlight). The manual states that charging a fully depleted battery takes up to 6 hours, but I suspect that is a misprint because it hasn’t taken nearly that amount of time to charge mine. The switch light will flash steadily while charging; changing to a solid blue light once the battery is fully charged. When the battery makes full contact (battery installed and cap tightened) the switch light flashes to show the status of the battery. Be sure to read the manual with regards to which batteries can be used with the MH23 – not all 18650 batteries will work and not all batteries can be charged in the flashlight.

The reflector is deep (roughly 1 inch) for the size of the flashlight, smooth, and coated. I do not know if the reflector is glass, or not (the manual doesn’t say). The lens is glass, and coated.

User Interface is pretty much straight forward and very simple to operate. There’s direct access to the ultra-low mode (from the off position) and turbo mode (from off or on). Changing modes is a half-press on the switch. Off is a full press. The MH23 has mode memory in the regular modes.

Ultra-low – from the OFF position: half-press the switch and hold for roughly ½ second. Light stays on when switch is released.

Turbo – from the OFF position: full press the switch and hold for roughly ½ second. Light turns off when switch is released.

Turbo – from the ON position: half press the switch and hold for the length of time turbo is desired. Light returns to previous mode when switch is released.

Special Modes (strobe, beacon, SOS) – from the ON position press and hold the switch (less than ½ second) to enter strobe mode. Half press switch to change to SOS. Half press switch to change to Beacon. Full press switch to turn the light off.

The MH23 is biased to the throwing side of things, but it has excellent spill for very good peripheral vision. The center beam is a definite hot-spot, with a clear distinction between it and the outer spill. The outer spill doesn’t seem to fade as it extends outwards: it just ends somewhat abruptly at the extent of its range.

Nitecore rates the maximum distance (on turbo) as 294 meters. Typically the usable distance is about half of the rated distance, but the MH23 seems to do a bit better to my eyes. I could definitely see light on a row of trees that were a bit more than 200 meters away – not enough for any details to stand out - but the light was getting there. Eye reflection (from deer) extended beyond 200 meters in good conditions. Light temperature is cool white.

The MH23 has built in thermal protection but I’ve not experienced that come into play. I have used the turbo mode for several minutes at a time and have not noticed a reduction in output. The flashlight head has become a bit warm, but nothing close to hot.

Unless you’re looking for a flashlight with extreme throw (or flood) I think the MH23 is an excellent choice: especially so if you’re interested in a flashlight that is easily pocket-able. It comes with a 5 year warranty (always a bonus) and it is impact resistant (1 meter) and waterproof (2 meters submerged). Battery life is excellent, providing you use turbo mode somewhat sparingly, and it’s a cinch to recharge the battery just about anywhere.

For me it is both thumbs up and a hearty “well done” to Nitecore.

Thanks for the review! Any idea on the runtime, how long before stepdown, and how low does it drop to? I’ve been waiting for a MH23GT but nitecore doesn’t seem to have any plans to make one.

Nice review, Thanks! :smiley:

I did not find anything in the manual that directly answers your questions. My own experiences suggest runtime is going to be very close to the stated runtimes (depending upon the battery used) but I do not measure runtimes so my guess is only a guess.

I have used turbo mode for several minutes at a time (multiple times) and have not noticed any stepdown. Thinking that was a bit odd, I’ve specifically paid attention (while in turbo mode) to see if the flashlight steps down and I’m just not noticing. The manual clearly states that the MH23 has thermal protections, so that leads me to believe the light will stepdown at some point, but I haven’t had that happen yet.

I have ran the battery down low enough that the flashlight wasn’t responding in its normal manner and turbo mode just wasn’t available, but recharging the battery took care of that.