I’m relatively new to the hobby and need some help to make the final decision.
Originally I wanted to buy a Lumintop FW3T with SST-20s, but after some research, I found, that maybe a Noctigon KR4 would be a better option for me because of the downgrades of the FW3 series lights. I like the FW3T’s design a bit more, but the more important things that I looked for, are the followings:
good build quality/tolerances,
a nice tint, natural or a bit warm 4000K/4500K/5000K, and preferably high CRI,
room for future upgrades/mods/repairs.
I like the all titanium (w/o copper) version of the FW3A, but now I’m a bit more on the Noctigon’s side, because of the overall better build quality, better tailswitch, driver, AUX LEDs. The size difference doesn’t matter so much for me.
So here are my questions:
How the moonlight mode actually looks on the Noctigon KR4 in a dark environment, like at a wall or table in darkness or idk…? (I know that it also depends on the choosen LED)
Which emitter do you recommend in the KR4?
How does it compare to the FW3A(FW3T) in general, which one do you recommend?
I have 2 FW3As from the first batch, excellent build quality, and I really love those lights, mostly for the great tube design. It’s a shame that the build quality has detoriated, and nowadays I wouldn’t buy it again for that reason.
The KR4 is a very good light, with a nice smooth tube and very good build quality. I recommend the E21A 4500K emitter (or even warmer if you like).
I use the moon mode a lot at night (have configured it to alwasy turn on at moon mode). But no idea how to describe how it looks. Maybe consider to buy the additional floody optic. I don’t have it for the KR4, but I use it a lot with a D4v2.
Don’t have the KR4, but my KR1 (same switch design) works flawless after having it taken apart quite some times. OTOH, the FW* tube system is flawed by design, plus what I’ve seen from Lumintop lately in terms of solder/reflow quality makes me stay away from their lights.
Have 2 of both. As others have said, the FW3As are varying degrees of temperamental and the KR4 is the better light in a number of ways. It’s unfortunate, as I want to prefer the smaller form factor of the FW3A.
I own and carry several FW1A’s and FW3A’s and a KR4. I love the FW’s to death, but the KR4 is a better light. Moonlight is it’s only weakness, but it has been addressed in firmware. TK wrote a “jumpstart” into the firmware and moonlight works perfectly on mode 1/150 (lowest level).
Depending on your personal use and need, the emitters choice can really vary. I like a CCT of 4000k. A light built with SST-20’s is more throwy than LH351D’s, XP-L hi are more throwy but only come in at a CRI of 70 in CCT of 4000k.
The KR4 is a little larger than the FW3A, both in head diameter and length. The FW1A is a little bit longer in length, but smaller in diameter. My KR4 has a copper mid-section so it is heavier, but really feels good in the hand and pocket.
Forgot to add… if you want the best of the best in tint and DUV, the E21A’s are wonderful in 3500k. The Nichia 219b option is amazing as well. I really like sw-45k’s, tad cooler but the tint and DUV are beautiful. The output on the E21A are the lowest output followed by the 219b’s. Low is a relative term, both are fully useful.
I have both and while I love the FW3A (two of them, first batch or first-and-second-batch) there’s just no way I would recommend it to someone now. There are too many other very nice lights today running the same firmware and with form factors/emitter choices that compare nicely. I’m a little incredulous at how Lumintop nerfed the FW3A so horribly. It was one thing when they did the optic right off the bat but it just kept continuing more and more and now the lights being sold are grossly inferior to the original design. On top of that, good luck getting them to help you with parts or replacements, and if you happen to need that after they’ve discontinued the light then you’re up a creek. If you really wanted one, I would suggest that you a) consider it throwaway money and not worry if it’s wonky or dies on you, and b) purchase it from Amazon or another reliable US seller that isn’t going to disappear, leave you hanging, or require you to ship the light to China. Still wouldn’t really recommend it at this point.
The KR4 is really a nice light in every way. As others have said, it’s just a tad longer and a bit fatter, so it’s heftier overall but still very compact and it feels good in the hand. I got my first FW in the XPL-HI 5000K and the KR4 in SST20 5000K. They don’t look the same but this is absolutely to be expected. Flat vs domed, 3 vs 4, different currents and optics, etc. Both are nice beams. The KR4 has noticeable “pinwheel/petal” effects at the edge of the beam but that’s only noticeable if you rotate the light while staring at a wall or something. The FW3A beam edges aren’t perfectly round, as you’d expect, but they are pretty smooth looking. If you’re a clip user, the clip on the KR4 is just excellent. Both clips are good, though. I wish Hank would make something like the KR4 in a slightly smaller host to rival/copy/blow away the FW3A for those who want that push-the-envelope compact size while still using an 18650. Perhaps the biggest important difference is how Hank went about using the signal tube…his design is really a bit better than the original FW design, less finicky and with an added spring to help ensure solid contact with the tube. I could do without the aux lights but they are kinda fun and certainly impressive to non-flashlight people…can be useful, too, I suppose.
The FW3A being a triple, to get the same light from it as the KR4 quad you’ll probably need to run it at a little higher setting, so that can affect run time of course, whichever battery you choose. If you were to use the same emitter in both lights and run them at a level that gives the same lumens, then the KR4 would be using less juice and would thus likely have a different tint to the eye as most emitters will look warmer with or without tint shift at lower power and will come closer to their binned temp as they ramp up. I mention this as it may help you choose your emitter so you end up with what you like at the settings you might use most (for either light). Moonlight (bottom of ramp) is a bit lower on the FW3A (at least the first batch(s) that I own) than it is on the KR4…I’m not real concerned with moon modes so it doesn’t matter to me personally.
Also keep in mind that these are more for short range and not great for reaching out farther…you can swap optics to change a little and/or combine that with emitter choice, but these are best at closer distances and indoors…great all-around lights for as small as they are. With a bit fatter head and a triple reflector, the WildTrail WT3M is another one to consider if it isn’t too big for you…21700 cell so it can provide a lot more in terms of run time.
I have both, the FW3T is a much better light. The KR4 Ti is too big and heavy to carry around on a regular basis, though it is very nice and has slightly better build quality compared to the FW3T. After a careful reassembly of the FW3T, I have not had any signal tube issues. The FW3T has a much much better switch as well. While there is nothing wrong with the KR4, I have not used mine at all since initially unboxing and playing with it, it just doesn’t do anything that the FW3T doesn’t do better.
I will go with the KR4 black or grey ano with E21A either 3500K or 4500K and I also considered getting a Convoy M21B GT FC40 4000-4500K (21700) more for outdoor use and I haven’t found any runtime info on that light, so I’m really curious.
FC40 4000-4500K is beautiful. I also ordered 3500K and put it in a Thurnite T2 (yes I jumped on the bandwagon ) but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you don’t mind green/yellow tints or have some minus green filters to hand. With an 803 filter and some DC fix, the T2 has become my go-to light indoors.
If you can’t decide between 4500K and 3500K you can ask for a mixture. I have a KR4 mule with a mix of E21A 3500K and 4500K and it is my go-to light; my preferred tint for nighttime reading, indoors, and outdoors around the house.
Initially my early-batch FW3A never gave me issues (after the switch o-ring mod), but with age it has developed intermittent signal tube issues. A quick reseating of the ends always fixes it but it comes back. A shame, because now it’s useless for nightstand use, because I can’t rely on it to not blind me when I try to turn it on in moonlight.
Welp, my 219B sw30 RRT01 is a better nightstand light anyway, and my KR4 is a better pocket carry. I’ll miss carrying the purple pocket rocket though.