Review: Xeno E03 XM-L (Pic heavy, beamshots)

Xeno E03 XM-L T6 Cool White

Battery: AA/14500
Switch: Clicky
Modes: 3 (m-l-h)
LED Type: XM-L T6
Lens: Glass
Tailstands: Yes
Price Payed: $30
From: Tactical HID
Date Ordered: 05/23/2011

I just received this wonderful little light recently. It arrived a mere 2 days after I ordered it so kudos to the dealer for fast service. After returning my Thrunite Neutron 1A, this is my 2nd attempt at purchasing a compact XM-L light. At $30, this light slots in that inbetween space between budget and name brand lights.

Features 4/5

The light came in a blister pack with 2 o-rings, a spare tailswitch, a very cheap lanyard, and an instruction manual. The waranty sheet states that the light is warranted for 3 years. The blister pack itself is sort of meh for packaging, but still better for gifting than just getting a light wrapped in a piece of bubble wrap. The Engrish on the packaging is pretty funny, but the manual is suprisingly detailed, although also with plenty of Engrish. There is not an included holster or clip. The light is unique at this price level in that you can choose three different emitter shades (warm T4, neutral T5, and cool T6) and three different colors (red, blue, and black). I ordered the blue with the cool white emitter and as the pictures will indicate, the blue is kind of dark and skews towards purple. The light is 3-modes with no flashies, sequenced M-L-H. The switch is a reverse clicky with no memory mode. With only the three modes sequenced M-L-H, I actually find myself wishing that there was memory for this light. The spacing for the modes work well when running Nimh, however, on 14500, they are far from perfect. Xeno claims the light is current controlled rather than PWM which is probably one of the reasons why the modes on 14500 don't sit as well. The driver is clearly designed with Nimh in mind as the priority.

Build Quality 5/5

The light is very well put together for $30. The build quality was much better than my $53 Thrunite and is at the same level as my Fenix. The anodizing is evenly applied and flawless. Xeno does not claim HA-III for the light, but it could definitely pass for HA-III visually. Gnurling is similarly flawless and is exceptionally aggressive. I haven't owned a lot of lights, but this is among the most aggressive I have ever seen. This makes the light exceptionally grippy and I actually liked the feel in hand better than the Fenix and the Neutron which I returned. The boot on the tailswitch is very thick, which does contribute to a very firm action to turn the light on or off. Half presses on the switch change the mode as you would expect. The tailcap and o-ring at the bezel are both GITD material. I am not a huge fan of it for the tailswitch, but it is a better looking switch cover than most of the GITD switches on budget lights. Amazingly, the internal o-rings are not GITD, which is an improvement over most budget lights. Printing seems very nice and evenly applied. Whether you like the graphics they use is personal preference, but I personally felt they added a little to the light without being gaudy or otherwise embarrasing. A serial number is stamped on the tail piece.

The light is constructed of a 1-piece body tube and then tail piece. No separate head on this one. It has a real stainless steel flat bezel, which I imagine should be removable, but my first, modest attempt did not budge it. The threads at the tail are nice and square, but spaced quite wide. There are basically only three threads meaning you can remove the tail with only three complete turns. The lack of threading does concern me a little but they are spaced wide enough, I think they'll be alright. The light uses a spring on both the tail and the pill so you can use flat-tops if you like, which is a nice touch. The emitter appears to be fairly well centered. The two minor nitpicks I have are the fact that the retaining ring in the tail is plastic and that you can see the machining grooves on the finger indentations. The finger indentations themselves are a presonal preference of whether you think they add or detract to the light. They do give the light a more unique shape and I did find the light comfortable to hold. The lack of any other protrusions on the body and no clip means that this light will roll easily, however, the clicky is recessed just the right amount that it tailstands easily and stably.

Light Output 4/5

Like the Neutron 1A I had previously, this light is exceptionally floody, as you would expect with a combination of a small, shallow, op reflector with an XM-L emitter. If anything, this light is actually more floody than the Thrunite although I no longer have it for direct comparison. I believe the Thrunite reflector was a little deeper so that would make sense. If anything, the light is a little too floody as the light just lacks the feel of intensity when running on Nimh. Again, I do not have the Thrunite to directly compare, but from my previous beamshots and ceiling shots, it does seem the Thrunite outperformed it on Nimh. You don't get the feeling that the light is as bright as it is from the floodiness. However, this light really shines on 14500 as all that extra output makes up for its lack of throw. I haven't had the opportunity to do tailcap readings, but let me throw out the manufacturer claims:

NIMH: 20ma-20lms/150ma-45lms/350ma-120lms, 14500: 300ma-80lms/1a-280lms/1.5a-430lms

These are different than what the dealer claimed at cpf:

NIMH: 20ma-10lms/135ma-60lms/500m-200lms, 14500: 300ma-90lms/1a-320lms/1.56a-490lms

In my experience, the lumens on high modes seem to be closer to the manufacturer claims than the dealer claims. These numbers do indicate the biggest gripe about this light: the lack of a true low mode when running on 14500. The light is too bright to use for situations where all you need is a low mode. Also, the medium mode ends up being too close to the high mode. This is exacerbated by the lack of mode memory so you are always turning it on to that quite bright middle mode and sometimes you don't want to turn on the light to that much power.

Tint is very slightly blue, but slightly less so than my ITP C7. It is not that far off from neutral on my sample. I am quite happy with the tint color on the light and the beam quality is also pretty smooth and wide. I should add that as you see with many XM-L lights and drop-ins, on a white wall you see a weird purple fringe on the outside of the spill.

Left to Right: ITP C7, Xeno E03, Fenix LD20 Q5 all on nimh

1/40 sec

1/200 sec

1/800 sec

C7 on 14500, E03 on 14500, LD20 Nimh

1/40 sec

1/200 sec

1/800 sec

Ceiling Bounce Shots

ITP C7 Nimh

Xeno E03 Nimh

Fenix Ld20 Q5 Nimh

E03 14500

Next are outdoor beamshots. The conditions were kind of crummy and I need to mow badly. Its been constant storms here of late. It's 50 feet to the crabapple tree.

Control Shot

Ld20 Nimh

E03 Nimh Low

E03 Nimh Medium

E03 Nimh High

ITP C7 14500

E03 14500 Low

E03 14500 Medium

E03 14500 High

Battery Life 4/5

Again, no independent tailcap measurements and I don't have the patience to test runtime myself. Based on the output, I would say the dealer's figures for draw on a 14500 are probably accurate. That means a 14500 on high will only last you about 25 minutes to 30 minutes at best. At the low mode, the light is still too bright, so you are looking at a battery only going about 2.5 hours. That just doesn't cut it in my book, although the life is reasonable given the output. For 14500, the battery life can be rated no higher than a 3/5. However, on Nimh, the mode spacing is right where you want it and the low mde really is a low mode so you will get a very generous battery life. So for nimh, battery life is probably closer to 5/5. I'll split the difference and give it a 4/5.

Overall 4/5

This is a really nice light. It looks good. It's well built and it provides excellent output. With that said, the floodiness makes the light feel a little anemic on nimh. If you are looking at running nimh only, there are probably better choices out there, but its hard to find this quality of light for $30 otherwise, should you pursue this type of light. On 14500, this light blazes, but I can't give it a full 5/5 for that, because the lack of a true low mode is a major problem. This light is tantalizingly close to providing everything one would want in a budget, high output, compact light, but it just doesn't quite get there. Overall, a very solid light and I recommend it.

Very nice review! I ordered the exact same light (blue with cool white emitter), and I feel the same way. I mainly ordered it as a wow factor light to show off what the new emitters can do on a single AA sized battery but the fact that even on nimh's it can put out so much light makes it very handy to have around!

Looking good! Please let me know when it's done so I can send it frontpage. Thanks!

Thanks for the infomative review. E03 appealed me very much (totally by your review) and I ordered one, warm white, red body. I also have a Thrunite 1C Neutral Neutron. So E03 seems to be a bargain after that ~$60 1c.

Is there any chance to get some actual tailcap readings on NiMHs?

My DMM's on the fritz and waiting for a new one to arrive. Will do tailcap readings when I get it.

Updated with some flashlight porn. Enjoy!

I'm happy with some of the shots given the limitations of my camera, but still nowhere near the quality of Foy.

Very interesting! XM-L with 1xAA for a little over $30 with shipping... not a bad deal at all. I just don't like those finger grooves. And I wish it had a pocket clip.

Nice review! Frontpage'd and Sticky'd. Thanks a lot!

Just tried mine (on Duraloop):

High - 2320mA

Medium - 360mA

Low - 54mA

I figured while I was at it, I'd try an AW IMR 14500:

High - 2380mA

Medium - 1360mA

Low - 360mA

A regular 14500 gets to about 1.8A. No wonder my warm E03 is brighter than my neutral Neutron!

Great review! I was curious as to why you didn't like the ThruNite Neutron? I really like the interface on the Neutron but this Xeno seems great at it's price point!

Well I guess I overlooked your review of the Neutron but now I seen it so I answered my own question. Thanks for the reviews! It looks like I will get a Xeno!

It really is a nice looking light and that blue is most striking....that'll have to go on the to buy list :)

The weather finally improved so I decided to take some new outdoor beamshots quick. I wasn't happy with how the others turned out. The camera and lights are at a slightly different angle to the target. The modified location moved me about 6 ft closer to the crabapple tree. I'm just going to call it 40 ft. I'll say the tree behind the crabapple tree which is visible in some shots is 55 to 60 ft. The white post sticking out of the ground is about half way inbetween the two. These shots really give a better idea of the output. The E03 really is insanely floody.



E03 14500 low

E03 14500 Medium

E03 14500 High

The more i use it the more i like how floody it is attached to my hat. ill need to check those aw imr 14500s.

Wow almost 2.4 amps from a 14500 that is pretty impressive. How long can you run it on high with the AW 14500s before it is to hot to hold?

I really want this light but I don't like the finger grooves or lack of a clip.

I’d love to tell you, but as soon I could get a semi-stable reading I shut it off. It sure wouldn’t be long. That is way too much power for a light this small.

(I can hear the scoffs already over that last line. LOL)

EDIT: OK I tried it. It was uncomfortable after 3 minutes, but it was tolerable. I kept it on 3 more minutes and switched it back and forth between my hands. It was very hot, but it almost felt like I could keep that up indefinitely. Who knows... :) I wouldn't recommend running it for more than a few minutes, but I also wouldn't recommend a LiCo cell @ 1.8A. That's just too hard on the cell.

Thanks for the readings mitro and SirJohn for the review of cause. I wonder if it would be too floody for my liking.

I received my Xeno E03 Warm Red yesterday. It really is a quality build light. Bright and mine has a very nice warm tint. Still like my Thrunite 1c, though. It has a way lower low than E03.

I think I want one

What are everyone's opinions on the warm tint lights? They are sold out of everything aside from warm at the moment.