Best Tactical Flashlight
UltraFire WF-500L Cree
1x UltraFire WF-500L CreeConstruction
The head on this light is very large and wide. It has a 6-point crenellated bezel which is removable. The head section of the 500L is essentially a scaled up version of the UltraFire C2's. It has the same tri-point design and 3 cooling fins towards the bottom. The reflector is huge, too huge to produce a useful beam profile from an XR-E emitter in my opinion. The emitter sits very nicely centered with the reflector, it looks perfectly aligned to my eyes. As you can see, there is a wide flat base at the bottom of the reflector, which means some of the light radiated from the emitter is not effectively being focused. The reflector is textured with a medium orange peel finish, identical to other UltraFire lights. The texturing is even and well polished, there were no stains or blemishes to be found on it's surface. Lastly the lens is the usual uncoated glass, very clean as well with no scratches or marks on it. For those of you thinking of swapping the emitter module with other UltraFire LED modules for better tint or something, you can't. They are designed slightly differently. The G&P R500 lamp assembly on the other hand, fits perfectly.
Now onto the main body of this light. It looks very similar to a G&P R500. It has a hefty weight as should be expected from it's size, mostly around the head area. However it feels well balanced when held in hand. Coating on the outer surface is all very nicely done. There were some chipped off coating which was probably the result of shipping such a large and irregular shaped item without a box. The threads on the 500L are nice and thick, they feel very tough and secure but I did encounter some grinding and cross-threading. The threads on the end of the top half of the battery tube was poorly finished as can be seen from the images below. The battery tube can be unscrewed into 2 parts for different battery configurations. Both protected and unprotected Li-Ion cells work fine in this light with ample room to spare. This tactical flashlight has lots of o-rings throughout, 1 at the lens, 1 at the neck, 2 at the battery tube's mid-section and 2 at the tail cap. All accept the ones at the mid-section and lens came generously lubricated. There are a few narrow strips of knurling along the body which don't really help with grip, thankfully the flat surfaces machined on the battery tube help instead. Heat sinking works very well, the head gets warm after 5 minutes of use. After 30 minutes the entire body gets warm too, but not hot. Protected 18650 fit fine with ample room. Take note that if you are using flat topped 18650 cells, you will need to use magnetic spacers.
The tail cap on my sample encountered some problems during tests. Initially I was able to tighten it all the way down and have the light working perfectly fine. Later, tightening it all the way caused the light to remain stuck in the on position. I had to loosen it a full turn to have the reverse push button switch to work properly. This was caused by some intermittent contact problems between the components in the switch assembly, reassembling it fixed this problem. The tail cap is also just a scaled up version of the C2's with the same tri-point design which helps with grip when unscrewing during battery changes. The problem with the 500L's tail cap is that the threading is excessive, I had to keep twisting it way too many times before the tail cap would finally come off. The push button switch is moderately stiff, it's not very smooth though, as I could feel some grinding friction with each press. The rubber cap has a nice checkered texture and is positioned high above the tail cap, so tail standing is impossible.Output
Honestly the light output from the 500L Cree is very disappointing. Not what one would expect from a light of this size and running 2x 18650 cells. Even the UltraFire C5 running on 2x AA cells produce a brighter hotspot. This light has a very tight hotspot and a wide spill beam. At 1 meter from a wall, the spill beam is about 2.5 meters across. While the spill is really impressive, I really do not see how this light could be useful. The hotspot will overpower the spill beam in close up use, and the spill beam is too weak to be useful at distance. The only scenario I can imagine this beam profile would be perfect for is walking down hallways.
The tint on my sample is very yellow, coupled with it's less than impressive output makes this light look sickly. The profile of the spill beam takes on a hexagonal shape as a result of the combination of a wide reflector and crenellated bezel. There's also a very slight dark ring around the hotspot which is almost unnoticeable. In the runtime graph below, notice that the light output slightly increases around the 01:30 mark and stays that way till the end. The super flat output is thanks to the high input voltage being fed to the buck driver circuit, and the sudden cut off at the end is due to the protection circuit in the 18650 cells kicking in.
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