Review Nitecore P18 - IMR18650 / 18650 8A / CR123 / RCR123

IMR18650 / 18650 8A / CR123 / RCR123

The Nitecore P18 was sent to me directly by Nitecore for review.
For technical specifications:
The manual: ... 558977.pdf

The Nitecore P18 is a new tactical flashlight from Nitecore's Precise Series line. The Nitecore P18 features as main LED of a CREE XHP35 HD with a maximum output of 1800 lumens and a red auxiliary LED. The two LEDs are operated separately, the P18 having a double switch, one at the rear and one at the side, for independent control.
The main LED has 5 brightness levels and 3 special modes (STROBE / BEACON / SOS). The P18 is one of the most compact torches made by Nitecore, it wears well and its small size makes portability easier thanks to the excellent Clip it is equipped with. This torch is classified IP56 (protected from dust and water jets) and has an impact resistance of 1 meter. The Nitecore P18 is designed especially for law enforcement, hunting and tactical applications.

Technical data and main features:

• Uses a CREE XHP35 HD LED, with a maximum power of 1,800 lumens
• Equipped with a red auxiliary LED
• An optical system combined with crystalline coating and "Precision Digital Optics Technology" (PDOT)
• Maximum peak beam intensity of 8.360cd and maximum throw of 182 meters
• Made with unibody die-cast technology
• The high efficiency constant circuit provides stable power up to 220 hours
• The silent tail tactical switch controls 5 brightness levels and 3 special modes
• The metal side switch independently controls the red auxiliary LED
• STROBE Modality of random modification of frequencies due to stronger vertigo effects
• The power indication function indicates the remaining battery charge (patent No. ZL201220057767.4)
• The red auxiliary LED can display the battery voltage (± 0.1 V)
• Advanced Temperature Regulation (ATR) module incorporated (patent n. ZL201510534543.6)
• Electronic protection against polarity reversal
• Optical lenses with anti-scratch coating on both sides
• Made of aeronautical quality aluminum alloy
• Waterproof to IP56
• Shock resistant to 1 meter
• Tail stand capacity (spark plug)

Dimensions: 105.5 mm × 34 mm × 29 mm (4.15 "× 1.34" × 1.14 ") (including the clip)
Head diameter: 23mm (0.91 ")
Weight: 103.5 g (3.65 oz) (including the clip)

NITECORE IMR18650 Lithium ion battery (3,100 mAh 35A), spare O-ring, lanyard, holster

Note: The stated data is measured in accordance with the international flashlight testing standards ANSI/NEMA FL1, using 1 x IMR 18650 Li-ion battery (3,100mAh) under laboratory conditions. The data may vary in real world use due to different battery usage or environmental conditions.
* The runtime for TURBO mode is tested without the temperature regulation.
* TURBO Availability: The TURBO level is only accessible when using an 18650 rechargeable Li-ion battery of an output over 8A or an IMR 18650 high-drain rechargeable Li-ion battery.
It is inaccessible when using CR123/RCR123 batteries.


When the Nitecore P18 was sent to me, the sale had not yet started, so I received from Nitecore the torch without box or paper manual but with a spare O-ring, a lanyard and the NITECORE IMR18650 lithium ion battery (3,100 mAh) 35A).

The battery supplied with the Nitecore P18 is a 18650 IMR (unprotected) of 3100 mAh and 35A with the flat positive pole. It has a life cycle of over 500 charges and is 65mm long. The maximum continuous discharge is 20A and it is recommended not to go down as voltage below 2.75V.

We see the NITECORE IMR18650 battery inserted in the P18.
N.B. In the Nitecore P18 the battery length is limited to 67 mm when using a protected 18650 battery, otherwise there will be a gap between the tail cap and the body.


The body of the Nitecore P18 has a matt black anodization. Very particular is the line and the type of design on the body of the torch realized with die-cast technology with a single body (unibody). The Nitecore P18 wears well and does not slip easily.

In the front we find the main LED a CREE XHP 35 HD with cool white tone with a maximum output of 1800 lumens for 8360cd. The reflector is smooth and adopts Nitecore "PDOT" Precision Digital Optics Technology The scratch-resistant mineral glass lens is well protected by the bezel because it is not flush but recessed in its seat.

The auxiliary LED is red and is located near the main one. It is managed by a side switch near the Nitecore writing. This LED is very useful for illuminating up close without disturbing or for reading maps. By pressing the side switch for more than 3 seconds, this LED will indicate the remaining battery charge level (± 0.1V).

The writings on the P18 are clearly legible, white on a black background.

In the back we find the main switch and the battery compartment. The tail switch is silent in activating the various levels and allows momentary tactical lighting.

The battery compartment has a non-anodized thread and is closed by a threaded cap, also not anodized, with a spring-loaded button in the center for contacting the negative pole. Then there is an O-ring on the cap to protect against dust and water jets (IP56).

At the positive pole we find a spring plated as a contact. The Nitecore P18 has electronic protection against polarity reversal.

The Nitecore P18 is sold with the Clip installed on the torch. I have not tried but I think it can be removed by unscrewing it from its seat.
The clip is very sturdy and gives a secure grip, also being large. On it we find holes for the insertion of the lanyard supplied with the torch.

The Nitecore P18 has tail stand capability. Let's see it next to other torches.


User Interface (UI):

The Nitecore P18 has 5 levels, ULTRALOW - LOW - MID - HIGH - TURBO and 3 special modes (STROBE / BEACON / SOS) that can be activated using the main switch in the rear.
It also has a red auxiliary LED that can be operated separately via the side switch.


ULTRALOW: 1 Lm – 220h
LOW: 65 Lm – 18h
MID: 260 Lm – 4h
HIGH: 850 Lm – 2h
TURBO: 1800 Lm – 30min.
RED: 10 Lm - 28h

The execution time for TURBO mode is tested without temperature regulation.
The TURBO level is only accessible when a 18650 rechargeable lithium ion battery is used with an output greater than 8 A or a rechargeable high-discharge IMR 18650 lithium-ion battery. It is inaccessible when using CR123 / RCR123 batteries.

Main White Light

Tactical Momentary Illumination
When the light is off, half press and hold the Tail Switch to turn on the light momentarily. Release to turn it off.

On / Off
On: When the light is off, full press the Tail Switch to turn on the light.
Off: When the light is on, full press the Tail Switch to turn off the light.
Note: P18 has mode memory. When reactivated, the flashlight will automatically access the previous memorized brightness level or STROBE mode (SOS and BEACON excluded).

Brightness Levels
When the light is on, half press the Tail Switch to cycle through the following brightness levels: ULTRALOW – LOW – MID – HIGH – TURBO.

Momentary Access to TURBO
• When the light is on, half press and hold the Tail Switch to access TURBO. Release to return to the previous memorized brightness level.
• When the light is off, full press and hold the Tail Switch to access TURBO after accessing the memorized brightness level. Release to turn off the light.

Direct Access to ULTRALOW
When the light is off, press both the Tail Switch and the Side Switch to access ULTRALOW. (This access does not have the mode memory.)

Auxiliary Red Light
On / Off
On: When the light is off, long press the Side Switch to turn on the auxiliary red light.
Off: When the light is on, short press or long press the Side Switch to turn off the auxiliary red light.

Special Mode (STROBE / BEACON / SOS)
When the light is on, full long press the Tail Switch for over 1 second to access STROBE. Repeat this action to cycle through the following special modes: BEACON – SOS – STROBE. To exit special modes, half press the Tail Switch to return to the previous memorized brightness level; or full press the Tail Switch to turn off the light.

ATR (Advanced Temperature Regulation)
Integrated ATR technology regulates the output of P18 according to the working condition and ambient environment, thus maintaining the optimal performance.

Power Indication
• When in standby status, long pressing the Side Switch for over 3 seconds will turn on the auxiliary red light before it flashes to show the battery voltage (±0.1V). For example, when the battery voltage is at 4.2V, the power indicator will flash 4 times followed by a 1.5-second pause and 2 more flashes. After that, the flashlight will return to standby status. Different voltages represent the corresponding remaining battery power levels:

Changing Batteries
The batteries should be replaced when the flashlight automatically accesses ULTRALOW due to low power.


Beam, Runtime and Beamshot:

The light beam of the Nitecore P18 is well made, without strange aberrations and with a discreet hotspot of a white that is not too cold. The spill, quite bright, is a white tending to yellowish. The usable distance of the spill from the feet is about 100 cm. The levels are, in my opinion, well spaced and all exploitable in the various situations of use.

The runtimes were done with the Nitecore P18 in TURBO mode and in HIGH mode using the supplied NITECORE IMR18650 lithium ion battery (3,100 mAh 35A).

I should point out that the values expressed by the graphs must be taken, above all, as a reference because they are made with means and environmental conditions different from those used in the laboratory.

The lux / 1m measurements found by me in Turbo mode are similar to those declared by Nitecore. The first test was done with the level in TURBO with the battery fully charged. The test was carried out in a closed environment without any forced ventilation. At the end of the test, when there was now a faint light, the battery showed around 3V.

The Nitecore P18 has excellent adjustment. We start from 8300cd after 30 seconds to then have a constant trend from minute 8 to minute 115 where the first step down takes place.

The second test was done by putting the Nitecore P18 in HIGH mode.

We see the two curves side by side.

Some shots taken with theNitecore P18:



The Nitecore P18 is a compact and powerful tactical torch thanks to its 1800 lumens. Innovative product in the forms and complete in the levels, also equipped with a red auxiliary LED that can be operated via a separate side switch. Excellent construction made with unibody die-cast technology and user interface manageable through the silent button in the tail that also allows "momentry on" on all levels including the strobe. Good runtime is well regulated thanks also to the Nitecore ATR (Advanced Temperature Regulation) system. I would like to see the Nitecore P18 in neutral light in the future.
Thank you for reading the review.

Great review! Does the clip unscrew on yours? I was unable to remove the screw on mine, and snapped off the head.

Hi, I have not tried, but I think I will. In case I update the review.

Great review Roma, as was yours, bmengineer!

A question to both: when using Ultralow from OFF, can we advance in the mode sequence after that or the Ultralow is just used and turned OFF after (without advancing more)?

Thanks in advance!

Hi MascaratumB, yes, after going, with direct access, to ultralow can then advance in levels.

PERFECT!!! :neutral_face:
This was a major doubt I had in the UI! So, in basic terms we can:

- access to Ultralow and advance modes and the next will take to the last used mode :weary:

- access to last used mode (memory)

  • access to turbo (momentary)

I’m starting to like this light Not anymore!
Thanks for the answer :beer:

Note that it will advance to the last used mode. So if you had it on high and shortcut to ultra low, one tap gets you back to high instead of advancing one level.

When you mean that shortcut, you mean from ON or when the light is OFF?
So, if from OFF I shortcut to Ultralow, the following tap won’t lead to “low” (or the “next” level)?

If the light is off and you hold the side switch and press the rear to shortcut to low, the next tap of the rear switch will go to the last used mode.

Ok, that is clear now! Thank you for the clarifiction!
I’m not finding it so funny now :neutral_face:

Owning the nitecore Tip 2017, where we can access Low, Turbo and last used mode, and proceed from low > med > high normally, I thought that this P18 would act the same way! Not :person_facepalming:

Thanks again :person_facepalming:

I have tried many times, if I turn on da off in Ultralow quickly by pressing the button in the queue and the side button together, every half press the Tail Switch next I advance one level and then go from ultralow to low, mid, high and turbo.

Then as bmengineer says, once you’re in ultralow with direct access and turn off and on again, go to the level before this operation. If instead of ultralow you move even one level, the next ignition will be from the last level you had.
The explanation is a bit convoluted but I hope you are clear.

I swapped a 4500K XHP35 Hi from Arrow into this light. There’s a small doughnut hole at distances less than ~3”, but otherwise it’s a nice pure white. The swap was painless, and I’d highly recommend it for anyone wanting a bit more throw and nicer color.

Yikes! Anyone else try removing the clip?

I’m thinking of removing the clip, but it sounds like they might’ve threadlocked it. Nitecore loves threadlocker :weary:

On the upside, you can greatly improve the tint at medium and lower power settings by running the red LED simultaneously with the main LED.

Now that I’ve had the P18 for a day, here are my initial impressions:

  • Hand feel - Feels well-built, with an intimidating look. Clip is fairly strong. Grip with clip is excellent. Without clip it is good, but not great. The ridges help with grip but are more slippery than knurling.
  • Good heatsinking - entire body heats up simultaneously and light seems to hold maximum output for quite awhile.
  • Fairly heavy and chunky. Similar to a Zebralight SC600 in size, though flatter.
  • Clean beam with cool-white tint.
  • UI is ok, but not great. It hits all the basics with shortcuts to moonlight, turbo and off. That’s great. Unfortunately, nothing about the UI is particularly fast or easy to use. The main button at the back is fairly stiff and feels a little awkward next to the endcap.
  • No lockout - Chance of accidental activation is fairly low due to the stiff buttons. However, if used for pocket EDC I think there is still a small risk: I do not think the light will go to permanently “on” mode in the pocket since that requires a full press of the 2-stage switch, which is highly unlikely to occur. But I think an accidental half press and hold is possible. This would be a situation where your pants flexes around the light and maybe depresses the rear switch 2mm while your leg is bent. A half-press would activate last memorized mode and it would stay activated as long as the light is half-pressed. If that is turbo you would get 1800 lumens… which might be enough to burn a hole in a pocket.
  • Red LED is nice, but you have to hold the button for 2 seconds to turn on. I’d have preferred instant on. I like that both LEDs can be used simultaneously. The red LED can be used to warm up and improve the color temperature of the beam when run simultaneously with the main LED on low and medium modes.
  • Not a fan of the 2-stage switch - First stage activates at approximately 2mm depression, with second stage at 4-5mm when button is fully depressed. The switch is silent with no click at either stage. It’s very easy to press the switch down to turn it off and not realize you didn’t press the button all the way. If this happens while you were in turbo, the light will cycle to low instead of off. And low is dim enough you might not notice that it’s not off.
  • A charger would have been nice - I think this light would have benefited from having an internal charger. I think there’s enough room for one in the ridge on top of the light. Has a rugged tactical look.
  • Clip - The clip on this light is screwed in and quite heavy duty. I found the tension on it much too strong to fit over my belt, but that can be adjusted with pliers. The shape of the light and high quality clip lens itself to belt carry. I successfully removed the clip by unscrewing the clip retraining screw. I had no problems and the clip removed cleanly without any damage to the light or the screw. The light still feels good without the clip attached.

An interesting and unique light from Nitecore. They’re definitely getting experience with die-cast aluminum manufacturing. This light hits all the basics, but for a pocket EDC light there are better and cheaper alternatives (like the FW3A which is brighter, lighter weight, has a better UI and a cheaper price).

Just noticed another thing about this light.

The tension in the clip seems to be adjustable, by loosening or tightening the screw.

The screw itself is long enough that it seems to hold quite securely even when not fully screwed down. There’s no chance it will unscrew on its own. And the mounting for the clip is designed in such a way that the clip won’t rotate out of position.

The result is you can have ridiculous tension by screwing the clip all the way down (the default postition), or you can unscrew it slightly for less tension.

The system seems to work pretty well actually.