ZebraLight SC52 + ZL 14500 = 59.50$

Zebralight SC52 (1xAA/14500)

kreisl's Overall Rating: ★★★★★


Battery: 1x AA/14500
Switch: electronic side clicky
Modes: 6/11 modes
LED Type: XM-L U3 CW
Lens: tempered optical grade glass
Tailstands: ye
Price Paid: 59.50US$ incl FREE ZL584 cell!
rom: Wallbuys May sale
Date Ordered: 05-2013


  • contender for 2013 World's Best 1xAA Flashlight
  • ZL, flashaholic's pride, legendary, cpf classic with cult status
  • safe 14500 operation, hosts all Protected 14500 lengths
  • 475+ Fenix ANSI lumens on 14500 confirmed
  • 250+ Fenix ANSI lumens on Eneloop confirmed
  • #1 industry leading efficiency, brightness stabilization, runtimes
  • does not get hot (fast)
  • superior construction, build quality, anodization, grip, switch, feel and f*** yeah!!
  • elegant Zebralight's hallmark signature UI
  • beautiful lol lime U3 tint
  • headstands, tailstands, clipstands, whatevah


  • no ANSI/NEMA FL 1 STANDARD ratings
  • limited availability
  • ugly looks wtf
  • typical donut hole phenomenon with brightness and tint variation across beam profile
  • 2 sharp circular edges
  • strobe mode is a joke and worthless
  • no tactical momentary activation
  • no quality holster included not even wrist strap
  • no proper lanyard attachment point
  • no reverse polarity protection, neither electronic nor physical
  • not meant to be used or carried without pocket clip
  • pocket clip not reversible
  • minor electronic bugs reported
  • original pocket clip too stiff and unpractical
  • too heavy for its size tbh


  • f**** monster, round diffuse hotspot
  • really short light vs. really pants pocket unfriendly bulky head
  • 6 main modes (H1 H2 M1 M2 L1 L2), lower modes programmable
  • sub-lumen levels are funny, sub-moonlight, sub-firefly lmao
  • normal sample variation re led centricity and cree CW tint
  • XM-L2 NW 4400K tint option available in SC52w model
  • zebra longevity generally questioned, only 1 year warranty (see ArmyTek, EagleTac, Foursevens)
  • can't be modded
  • no after-market diffusers, filters or related accessories
  • cheap looking screws for pocket clip
  • recessed switch hard to reach f** f** f***ers (Are you f** or what??)
  • Wallbuy's offer somewhat affordable and conveniently available
  • firmware can't be upgraded via bluetooth


All images except for some and all graphs are photo courtesy of UPz and Jaipe from their forol joint efforts, all credits go to them. The original idea behind this BFL thread was to translate the Spanish review into English. A Geman doing this kind of translation work argh!? I wanted to enhance the translated text with my own **** so what follows is purely my own blablupp. It'd dwarf the original text in word count anyway so what the heck. No translation done, energy saved cha. Haha.


I am writing this review at a time where most people who ever wanted to lay hands upon this old-ish flashlight (Oct 2012, 1st gen XM-L, no bluetooth wth) already bought one or several copies of it and therefore are owners yet. Long before selfbuilt got his hands dirty, hundred users had shared their satisfaction and experience with the product and also reported on many details of observation, tiny quirks, seemingly flaws or bugs. 3 months later, as late as at the end of January 2013, selfbuilt recapitulated all known findings, verified their very existence and also confirmed the bold lumen ratings issued by Zebralight. On his own relative scale, the torch outputs "290 ANSI lumens" no ****!! With his extremely extensive review, the product had gotten its final blessing and was cleared for the remaining folks to hop off the fence and plunge into the zebra party. Dealers sold off their limited stock in no time and presumably 1000 copies were sold to the flashaholic community since then, what a sales success! 9 months later since its first announcement the torch is still topic on the forums. If buyers had to name a single major complaint about the product, it was the tint performance. To some, the tint was a tad too cold whatever that means haha. These days the NeutralWhite version of the model, XM-L2 NW 4400K, is in production and should reach the early adopters some time in July or August. With this, the SC52 is going to stay a current topic on the forums. A more pleasing tint on the best performing 1xAA light? Hell yah, that will sweep the floors!

This review, 100% based on UPz's original work, is to address more real aspects of concern, such as lumens measurements after the Fenix scale, output comparison to competitive lights such as the Eagletac D25A XM-L U2 CW 2012 Clicky Ti and Eagletac D25C XP-G2 R5 CW 2013 Clicky Ti, tint evaluation, sample variation, after-market accessories, and purchase recommendations. For international buyers it was much trouble to acquire 1 copy safely and at reasonable cost, say 64.00$ shipped. Things have become much easier now, and the SC52w would become part of the review if Wallbuys can supply it equally inexpensive and conveniently.

Features / Value: ★★★★★

This mini torch is a feature-laden little beast and for Xrist's sake in order to save both of us some time please go ahead and drool over the official list of specs and features by yourself without having me to recite all the ****. I am sure you already did it before. Now do it again. Not my bfl mission to read it out loud to ya duh:

Okay, done. Hhh. In summary, the light has the typical basic Chinese fleshright ploduction features, ipx-waterpoof glass lens, can't be rolled with the clip on, but has to stays on anyway!, an orange feel textured refractor is common with the unlucky females, in our country we simply call it cellulite, the anodized threads allow tailcap lockout with the twist of a 1/24th turn, everything is machined to precision, and the anodization is said to be a natural hard and durable. Aha. Makes me wonder whose foreigner's English skills *uck harder, mine or theirs. lol. Seriously, this classic light was described in detail by UPz and selfbuilt and you got sum eyes to read with. So don't expect me restate the same in my own words, i can't do it better than them! The electronic gimmickiness with automatic stepping down, over-discharge protection, low battery alert, battery capacity indicator, etcetera blablah yadda yadda, is welcome but i don't even remember if selfbuilt cared to test these features in detail. Well, if he did, then you can read the results, his findings in his review, it would be silly by me to repeat the same tests. Well and if he did not, then he did not care, and who am i to care more than the chief? No no no. I don't. Let's not disregard the real purpose of the SC52's being: To be a flashlight. And the primary task of a flashlight is to illuminate our ways. Non-flashaholics regard it as mere lighting tool ouch, to us an original zebra light is a cherished US-engineered product with almost cult status yay. And honestly, i don't fiddle anymore with my lights just for the sake of reviews. Few do and even fewer do care. I am reviewing the light, true, but i have not tested the special electronic functions if they are really present and work without fail. Because they are not of interest. Good to have and they constitute some sort of safety net for safe operation for the ignorant. Maybe when the SC52 full spex were announced for the first time on the ZL website in late 2012 I was more interested in the non-BS'ness of the electronic gimmickiness, back then. Time has passed since and nowadays all i am interested in is getting more copies at a lower price. I believe it is as good a light as spec'ed by ZL staff and that be enough for my needs. You know, going through life with a relaxed attitude and not taking things, fleshrights, or oneself too swm Sirius.

What i did marvel at and still do, is the engineered construction of the light. Integrated inoffensive stainless steel bezel, a real unibody, the LED board directly bonded to it for best possible thermal path and heat sinking omfg, LED driver circuit sealed completely from the battery compartment holy c*ap!! That's some very fine design and executed engineering, wow. Unibody design, with no separate head, driver pill, LED disc — a simple idea yet unseen before in this class! Advantages are: super compact light lengthwise, even shorter than the SC51, and first-rate heat sinking. Comes with its price: parts are practically unserviceable, users cannot exchange parts or mod the light, upgrade the LED disc or reflow the emitter. Maybe a ZL factory worker or technician can. But in RL hitherto, not a single case of a successful SC52 mod or DIY repair is known to mankind. Face it, if your zebra ever begins to play up, you're losing it. Opportunity to say farewell and quickly sell it harhah just kidding. Nah, keep it. Stop using it. Nobody and nothing can live forever, not even China-made production lights. Lol.

Design / Build Quality: ★★★★★

That's what i like about the product. The physical construction, design and build quality. Nothing is thin, nothing feels cheap or flimsy or sub standard. Can you f***ing believe it?, the edges of the cooling fins are chamfered omg as is the oval edge right above the metal retainer ring for the switch. The only sharp part of the torch is the entire lower edge of the ring-shaped bump which finalizes the battery compartment and also has 2 bored holes for the clip screws. All right, okok, the top edge of the head isn't chamfered either. Why ZL did not bevel these 2 circular edges, i would not know.

The cooling fins don't feel sharp-edged because the edges are micro-beveled; that's fantastic precision machining, seriously. Sure enough, they have to be more of cosmetic nature. Not deeply cut at all they provide only little extra heat transfer surface for cooling purposes. They do look good tho.

Battery Life: ★★★★★

Standby current drain differs between Eneloop (0.020mA) and 14500 (0.120mA) and is significantly higher than on the SC51. The instruction manual mentions the option of tailcap lockout explicitly; a 1/24th of a turn, i.e. 15° degrees, suffices to lockout the cap with no play left for push-activation.

Light Output: ★★★★★

The strobe is joke.

Summary: ★★★★★

This is my first zebra and i am deeply impressed. Not so much by the electronic gimmickiness, lacking throw, or poor tint performance, but by everything else. For its keychain light shortness (LD01/SC52: 76.2/78.2mm) it feels rather dense, heavy, hefty, expensive. Yah not too pants pocket friendly with the 2 sharp edges and very bulky head but how about your purse, you don't have one?, then get one from your lady! :D Amazing runtimes at high Fenix lumens levels without getting hot, that's the real definition of industry leading efficiency. This review established the Fenix lumens levels of the SC52 recent production samples as fact and it leaves no more room for discussion or questioning but us in awe: the Zebralight SC52 delivers the very best 1xAA/14500 performance at present on the entire market and it should be a great companion to people with serious non-throwy lighting needs. Close-range illumination tasks, work, waggling dogs, whatevah. Not necessarily an overall better EDC flashlight than the Quark X AA¹, EagleTac D25A Clicky, or ArmyTek Smart A1 but by all means a highly exceptional torch standing on its own, and imho everyone should see and feel in person what all the fuss is about. Highly recommended buy, and at 59.50US$ including 1x FREE Zebralight 14500 battery and FREE global tracking number competitively priced, compare with Fenix, Quark, Eagtac Ti, Armytek :P

comes with original ZL 14500 and FREE tracking number. You'd pay 74$ for the same thing at zebralight.com. Yep, but ZL Co. USA is out of stock, so this is the best international purchase option i am aware of anyway:

They got over 20pcs+ in stock!!

Link: http://wallbuys.com/Product/Zebralight-SC52-280-Lumen-AA-CREE-XM-L-LED-Flashlight-Grey1x-ZL584-14500-Battery-7440

Coupon code: see the screenshot :P

Has anyone bought this flashlight recently, or what's your opinion on it? :)

its my favorite small light

and thats out of the following

tf mini 01 & 02
eagtac d25a xml2
olight s10 baton

it is the only light ive used that runs well on both aa and 14500… it has low voltage protection and full functionality on both aa and 14500 (retains all modes - only difference is that high - 280lm becomes 500 lm for 1 minute and then functions like its on an aa)

i paid $62 for mine at IS

I tend to EDC mine more than any other light.

It's tiny enough to be not noticeable at all, and on 14500 bright enough for just about any requirement up close. (Under 50 meters.)

(Bigger flashlights are at home, car, and office for more range and power :D)

If you don’t already have an SC52, and get one and try it with 14500 batteries, I’m like 99% sure that you’ll go “wow!!”. It is truly an amazing light… one of a kind so far, for me.

One of these days I’m gonna get one to replace my Sipik as my EDC work light. It seems like it’s worth all the hype much like the EA4, as the best light in it’s class. But it’s hard to justify the price when my sk68 actually works really well. That and I paid $9 for it a little over a year ago. If this light was around $30 I’d already own it.

I know what you mean… the SC52 is quite expensive, and that was why it took awhile for me to get one. As I’ve said elsewhere, it’s also somewhat odd looking, which is another reason I didn’t get it earlier.


That’s sort of the reason, I haven’t gotten one yet either (cost and shape). I pulled the trigger on the Olight O’pen instead for now, it’s shape makes it easier, at least for me to carry around inconspicuously in a shirt pocket.

Thought the 59.50 price with battery is very tempting.

i thought the sc52 was going to be my edc… but i like it too much and im afraid of losing/scuffing it etc lol… shelf queen it is (and light home use)

i edc my eagtac d25a with lifepo4 cells

Ordered one a few days ago. I really like Wallbuys! :bigsmile:

Hi Kreisler,

I bought an SC52 a couple of weeks ago from Illumination Supply. I was really impressed by the SC52. Its my first ZL so I was in for a real treat. Awesome UI. Fantastic build quality. Nice, crisp edges and finely textured (almost belt-sanded) finish to the anodizing. Different from any flashlight I own, from Fenix, to Nitecore, to Eagletac. Closest anodizing would be my Inova T3 from way back.
On 14500 it seems nearly as bright as the TX25C2, but of course it isn’t.
Overall, I think it is the light that impressed me most in my collection.

is the $59 price tag good enough to overlook the upcoming SC52w (XM-L2)? I’m going to assume that the going rate of $64 of the SC52 will drop when the 52w becomes available?

at a $5 discount its not huge (but the extra battery is nice)

google doc

Ahh, this is exciting to see! I wonder if they’ll stock some ZL headlights too.

Thanks for your input!!

I asked about the coupon code, and they replied that "the coupon code will expire in the end of May". I think i am gonna pull the trigger later this week.

The SK-68 is pretty nice… I EDC’d one for a while. But it lacks any low modes, and its maximum runtime is only like 3 hours on medium. The SC52 is smaller and has more output options (brighter and dimmer) and vastly longer runtimes. However, it doesn’t throw as far as a zoomed SK-68 and it’s always spot+spill instead of the SK-68’s even circle of light. The SK-68 provides better lighting for photography, works better as a pointer, is a good cheap gift, and throws farther… but the SC52 is otherwise much more versatile.

I’ve hardly touched my SK-68 since I got a Zebralight. The only times I’ve used the SK-68 lately were when I wanted to project an image using a transparency sheet and a loupe. It has become a museum piece in my collection, only used for occasional tricks.

I’ve EDC’d my SC52 for a few months and it has banged against things and doesn’t have a scratch on it. Its metal and/or anodizing must be really hard. OTOH, after just 2-3 weeks of EDCing my JETBeam RRT01, it already has a few scars after being subjected to the same abuse as my SC52.

Besides, the SC52 is already ugly by design; what’s wrong with a few scratches to go with its less-than-appealing appearance? With such a military aesthetic, it seems appropriate to have battle scars. (don’t get me wrong… I love my SC52 and it’s tied for #1 on my list of non-angled lights I recommend to people… but I still think it’s ugly)

I think my EDC recommendation list currently is:

  1. ZL H51
  2. ZL SC52 or JB RRT01 (hard to decide, both are very nice)
  3. Depends on the desired usage… SK-68 or Olight i3/i3s/A3EOS or other 1xAAA or, really, almost anything in my sig below. Currently I’m a bit infatuated with the L3 L10-219 but that’s because it’s new and my first high-CRI light.

Probably not. Zebralights usually keep the same price for the entire time they’re available. Instead of dropping prices after a while, they just discontinue the product.

… forgive me for being dense, but was that a joke? Sometimes I can’t tell.


I have been carrying my SC52, with my keys in the same pocket for a few weeks now.

Most lights end up as somewhat battle scarred veterans rather promptly. Jetbeam BC25, Eagletac G25CS MkII, Crelant V11A, Crelant 7G3CS, surefore 6p, Skyray 16340 (I don't remember the model), etc,. All of them had marks after a relatively short time.

The SC52 still looks brand new, and pristine, aside from one tiny flaw, that was present to begin with. (Really really small dent on one of the heat fins.)

Zebralights are truly ugly though. No getting around that.

Hi Toykeeper,

I agree with the ugly comment. The SC52 is the least ugly of all the other ZLs in my opinion. Too bad… it is the most amazing light I own.
Actually, the SC80 is decent looking.

ok thanks!… argh… must… resist….!!! i already ‘accidentally’ ordered the TF-R2… :stuck_out_tongue:

LOL, I hate and love those “accidents”

The more I look at this light the more I like it. The 2 things stopping me is price and the warranty / customer service. Heard a few bad stories of customers getting the run around, poor communication & 2 month turn around time, where sometimes nothing is resolved.

I’m stuck on this or the Quark. Only 2 lights I know of that meet my reqs of 1 AA and good low mode choices (sub 0.5 less is better)… and atleast a couple modes under 35 lumens (–3+ & –25+ preferably ). Under $60.

*Surviving with my 10 yr old mini maglite (not buying another drugstore LED), untill I replace with a proper main edc for general, outdoor, utility, battery conservation scenarios. The 2 month service from ZL has me, well, scared. Should I be?

It's been my experience that most problems surface immediately, where electronics are concerned. With regular intensive use, even more problems, (if there are any,) come up within the 2-3 week period.

Only very rarely do problems surface months after you buy.

So long as you test your light thoroughly, and intensely, during the week or so after receiving it, and so long as you buy from a good authorized retailer, assuming you don't abuse the light, the retailer will exchange it, or take it back. The chances of getting two duds in a row, or a light that develops a problem after a while are low.

You also need to do basic maintenance, which means use some compressed air to blow out the dust from the insides, every few months. Clean the threads, change the o-ring, apply fresh lubricant. Considering you've made due with a maglite for 10 years, it's safe to say you really know how to take care of your stuff.

So should you be scared? No.

Now about the price. That's a different issue. I went through three other cheaper AA lights, trying to save. Balder HD1, Crelant V11A, and Thrunite Archer 1A.

Two of them had issues out of the box. Missing o-ring on the archer. Shitty interface on the HD1. The crelant was fine, but did not work all that well on regular AA batteries.

So by trying to be frugal, I ultimately ended up spending more, only to be unhappy with the results.

The SC52 was, and is, the most expensive AA light I ever bought. It was bought basically as a result of frustration, at not being able to find what I want, and saying f*ck it. Now I'm very glad I spent the money on it.

There is a downside to this story. After trying it, I've now been forced to buy the SC600II as well.