Sunday, March 27, 2011

McGizmo Haiku Review

The McGizmo Haiku, with this ringed grip and deeply cut heat sinks strongly echoes the appearance of Luke’s lightsaber in Return of the Jedi.

My Haiku:

Luke's Return of the Jedi Lightsaber:

That is only one of the reasons I love this flashlight. Actually, I didn't notice this similarity until I took a picture of my light&saber combination (Haiku and Sebenza), but still, the similar appearance is cool.

For me, the McGizmo Haiku is a grail item. I have been pining after a McGizmo for more than half a decade now and to have one, even after four months, still generates a tingling sensation every once in a while. “It is just a flashlight, dude.” Sure, and:

The Eames Chair is just a chair…

The 1961 Ferrari GT California is just a car…

Fallingwater is just a house…

The Alexandria 2 is just a speaker…

A Loveless Drop Point is just a knife…

There are certain things, certain items, that are so well crafted that they simply exceed their function and become a statement of something else—elegant design, superb function, timeless...whatever you want to call it. For me, the McGizmo Haiku is all of that.

The product category of “luxury flashlight” is new, part of a development in all different kinds of things, of ultra luxe items. Perhaps it is merely another statement of conspicuous consumption. But for me, a well made, well-designed tool like the McGizmo Haiku is a reclamation of an old tradition—something made by a person for a specific task with no compromises, a.k.a. craftsmanship. Things like tools from Bridge City Tools Works seem to be made from this same mindset. But unlike craftsmanship in the form of a Windsor chair, this is a bit of high tech craftsmanship.

Maybe I am tired, like all those that buy things like bespoke suits, of going to the big box store and buying my Widget #1 just like everyone else. Widget #1 works. It does its job. But it doesn’t do it well. It gets you by doesn't. In two or three years something on Widget #1 will break and I will have to go back to the big box store and get Widget #2.

The McGizmo Haiku is a flashlight made by a man named Don McLeish. He is a legend among fans of flashlights. His designs, produced in small batches with exceedingly high standards for fit and finish, are sold only through his threads on Candlepower Forums. His lights, especially those out of production, routinely appreciate in value. They are also such excellent hosts that aftermarket modifications are very common. The Haiku was his first three mode light (hence the name). Here is the product page. Here is a very good review on CPF. The light is not cheap. It is $495 plus shipping. But in the end, you will have a piece of exquisite craftsmanship that just happens to do something that is useful everyday.

Design: 2

The light uses Don’s main body tube, a single cell 123a McClickie (about half way down the OP). It is made of beautifully cut titanium and has a pre-attached titanium pocket clip. The McClickie has a rear clicky that is sunken into a recess to allow the light to tailstand. There are small crenellations around the bezel. The head is the unique part and has deep cut heat sink fins. The clickie is firm and responsive. The light is about 3 ¾ inches long. It is the perfect size and everything about the design evinces a relentless attention to detail.

Fit and Finish: 2

When I received the light there were no flaws whatsoever. There are some minor swirls in the titanium from use now. The parts go together so seamlessly it is as if they are magnetized. There are no gaps or cross threading. The battery tube spring is taut. Every part is made from a best in class material—titanium, sapphire lens, very high grade o-rings. This is it—I own nothing with better fit and finish than this light. Even my Sebenza looks over in envy at the beauty and precision that is the McGizmo Haiku.

Grip: 2

The McClickie body tube is an excellent design with the pocket clip actually enhancing the grip. The narrow portion allows you to use any number of grips and the flared end allows for a good cigar grip. Even without knurling I have never lost my grip on this light. Also, the light is the perfect size. The Arc6, which I have also owned, was just too small. The Surefire 6P is just a bit too big. This is the Goldilocks sweet spot.

Carry: 2

My first $100+ light was a fully decked out Nitecore EX10, seen here:

It was great, until the clip popped off. Over and over again. Here, the McClickie body allows for great retention, the clip is very strong. The fact that it is installed at the factory gives me more confidence than the fiddly clip from Nitecore. The body is a little thicker, because of the more robust tube walls, but it is not that big a deal.

Output: 2

Don’s numbers say this light’s high is 138 lumens or something like that. I have compared it to my Surefires that are rated at 200 lumens and there is no real difference. The low is a single digit lumen count and does not disrupt my night vision. The medium is a perfect “work bright” amount of light. The output is more than enough on high, not too much on low, and well spaced. I could not have designed a better output from an EDC light if I were setting the amounts myself.

Runtime: 2

Runtime is as follows (to 50%, noting regulation limitations on Med and Low, see Don’s runtime graphs): High: 1 hour; Med: about 3.6 hours; Lo: about 27 hours. Again, I can’t ask for a better balance between lumens and runtime. I like my 40 hours on the Muyshondt Aeon, but that is a unique light as well. Still 27 hours isn’t anything to sneeze at, especially in an EDC light with a max of 138 lumens.

Beam Type: 2

As one of the reviewers noted, this beam is a “floody throw” and though that doesn’t make much sense conceptually, go out and use the Haiku in a big open space and you will see the beam type is “floody throw”. I have a few throwy lights and a few floody lights, but this is the nicest combination of the two I have ever seen or used. A perfect beam. This is really what sets this light apart from all others, especially production lights. This beam is like nothing I have ever seen. Amazing.

Beam Quality: 2

Perfect diffusion from hotspot to spill, perfect concentric profile, no artifacts or rings or holes. Perfect.

UI: 2

Here is the entire manual on the Haiku’s UI:

Click once for on at last level, click again for next level, click again for final level. Cycle order: Low→Medium→High. Done.

No twisting heads or clicks and holds. Just three levels, perfectly spaced on the lumens scale, two clicks away. The last level memory is very nice. If you prefer to start out bright you can, if you prefer to save your night vision, no problem. The UI is so simple it is staggering that there is nothing else out there like it.

Hands Free: 2

The light’s antiroll feature comes from the clip and the deep well for the clickie allows for perfect tailstanding and a great deal of stability. The heat sinks do an excellent job of dissipating heat and mine has run for 40-45 minutes without getting too hot. Also, the quality and type of beam makes for excellent ceiling bounces.

Total Score: 20/20

This is a no-brainer. I honestly believe there is no finer EDC light in the world than the McGizmo Haiku. It does everything perfectly. There are more expensive lights out there, like the Cool Fall 007 or the Cool Fall 007 Tri-V, but there is nothing better than the Haiku. I look forward to comparing it to a Mac's Custom Tri EDC as soon as I can get one.


  1. Sweet review on a sweet light! I am, however, not a flashlight connoisseur. Do you have a recommendation for the best pocket sized light at or under $20? I want something better than a hardware store toy, but I'm not going to step up to a McGizmo. I have a Gerber Tempo that doesn't seem horrible, but the twist activation leads to lots of inadvertently lit pockets ...

    1. That is only one of the reasons I love this flashlight. Actually, I didn't notice this similarity until I took a picture of my light&saber combination (Haiku and Sebenza), but still, the similar appearance is cool.
      Reinforced Concrete
      Post Tension Concrete
      Steel Reinforced Concrete
      Reinforced Concrete Houses
      Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete

  2. A light under $20...oooo that is a challenge. If you can find one, an old LM31 from Lumapower is usually available for about $27. It is not the newest of anything, but it really is a good light. The Fenix E05, R2 Edition is $21 for 27 lumens. The earlier edition of the E05 is $15.95.

    Gerber stuff, knives and lights, just stink. Avoid them at all costs. They are, in fact, just cheap Chinese stuff with a Gerber logo on them. Also avoid the Deal Extreme type lights. They are more hassle than they are worth.

    Best tip is to go to EDCF or CPF and scour the BST boards for a used light. That is where the values are right now.

  3. Great review. Again we have similar tastes. Aeon, Sebenza, & Haiku. All at the highest level of their class.

    Great Blog. Thanks

  4. Thanks! I'll check out the Lumapower and the Fenix!

  5. When you say there are certain things, certain items, that are so well crafted that they simply exceed their function and become a statement of something else—elegant design, superb function, timeless...whatever you want to call it.

    As for Flashligthts I think you are dead on with any McGizmo.

    If you are looking for that same craftsmanship in a Pen, I think I found you answer.


    I bit the bullet and bought one of these babies and it has exceeded my expectations in everyway. It has a simple, straight forward design, that is overly built, and every detail has been carefully thought out. Check it out, in the end, you will have a piece of exquisite craftsmanship that just happens to do something that is useful everyday.

  6. I dunno about the Embassy pen. I am sure it is nice, but it lacks a certain flair. If I were to pick a pen it might be something like the Parker 51 fountain pen. See here for more:

  7. I am with Tony, that tactical pen does nothing at all for me.

    That McGizmo, however... yes please. Sidenote question. Does anyone actually use these things, or just collect them? Every one I ever see in pictures looks absolutely pristine. Not like it has ever been in a pocket. Only other option would be that they are absolutely indestructible to the point of being immune to scratches...

    $100 total for a nitecore.... ouch. That's nice looking light for sure, but ... man i would be so mad if I had put that into the nitecore I had (hated it so much, returned it).

    One more - How do you compare this to any of the HDS lights? That's been my grail more or less, for a while.

  8. I carry mine all the time, including yesterday when processing a bunch of wood into stuff for my fireplace. It still looks great.

    As for HDS comp, it has been a while since I have held an HDS. Both are quality. I like the clicky on the Haiku better, but the HDS is a tank. I only saw the old style clip on the HDS which was a mess.

  9. so so disappointed. I have read a lot about this light and I had high hopes, but am very diasppointed. Don no doubt will make amends, but not everything is good news about this light. I had hoped this would make my three lights the best you can get. Namely prometheus MC18B, Moddular slim and the Haiku. The first two got the WOW factor, the Haiku was a flop. I'm in the UK so waited two weeks, not bad, but the packaging should have told me what might happen. Box and expensive torch in a small bubble wrap bag, Torch rolling around in the box. The other two lights came so well packaged that it is clear they were treasured by thier makers. I switched the Haiku on and did not go wow at the beam (CRI) and pressed again to see the other power setting, only to find they are all the same. Either is was like this when it was sent (poor quality control) or the 10000 miles to get to me in a not well padded packaging broke it.

    So So disappointed, I have been set up to expect such a very high standard product and feel very let down. I so sorry to write all this, as I'm usually quite a calm person. But I'm sorry this is the first torch purchased that has not lived up to expectations.

    1. Thanks for putting this up. Most people would not have bucked the trend, but I am certain, 100% certain, Don will square you away. I shocked there was damage to the light. I have had mine for 2.5 years and nothing seems to dent it. Its not as bright as your other two lights, but the performance is first rate. When you get the issue fixed, please come back and tell us how it turned out. This is the first time in 10 years I have seen something negative about a McGizmo.

    2. Don is known for his good service and I know of two of his lights before working not properly on arrival. He always sorted it out to full sattisfaction! It's still dissapointing, receiving a light that doesn not function propperly.
      Might I suggest you first try a new battery?
      Secondly, Don doesn't sell "safe-queens", he sells lights that are intended for EDC. so it might have a slight toolmark (I've never seen one, but it does happen) and the are not pollished to perfection, but they are some of the thoughest lights I know. One even survived a motorbike crash and scraping over the asphalt. It was a bit rough, but worked allright.

      I have the Haiku, but I also have a Sundrop and an UV Sundrop. All of them are really nice and better than anything I've ever used or seen before or since. Only thing I want one day, is a light with a larger reflector and 2xCR123. But it's going to be a McGizmo!

  10. I have a flashlight made by Armytek. The Partner 2AA flashlight is one of those extra things that I keep in my bag.
    It met all my needs and expectations: bright, small, light weigh and has easy operation.