Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Bitz Pocket Titanium Review

The Bitz and Ti Bitz are two of the most underrated, unsung custom lights made in the past five years. Everyone has stared at their computer screen in blank-faced, drooling envy at the beauty and innovation that is the Spy 007. We have all collectively held our breath as the newest McGizmo thread loads on our screen revealing in stunning tropical photography, the newest shiny titanium bauble produced by the master flashlight craftsman Don McLeish. But Yoo Heui-Gyun's masterpieces get little if any attention.

Here is the closest thing out there to a product page (as this little was sold in tiny quantities through Lighthound and BugoutGear, but mostly through this CPF thread). Here is my review of the light (before the scoring system) from EDCF.

The Bitz was an all aluminum light that came out prior to the Ti version. Here is a review for the Aluminum version. Its size and performance were roughly the same, but its body tube was different. Unlike the Ti Bitz, the Aluminum Bitz was the same diameter all the way down the entire light. It was also covered in knurling, unlike its ringed brother the Ti Bitz. Finally it had a HAIII coating that is Ti brother lacks.

The Ti Bitz came in two versions--a polished Ti version and a matte natural Ti version. I have the matte finish version. I have owned this light for about a year and half now, picking it up as a replacement for not one, but two broken Arc 6's. I got the last one Lighthound had in their inventory and it was on sale for $100. I was able to pick up a Nano Charger and two RCR123A batteries for the light all for about half what the Arc 6 cost me. Here is my Ti Bitz with its light&saber partner, the equally useful and quirky Spyderco Leafstorm:


Design: 2

The light itself is a twisty and it is TINY. Here is a size comparison shot:

That is a AA battery, the 4sevens Preon I, the Ti Bitz, and the venerable Surefire 6P Incan. The light is as big around as a nickel. This makes it substantially smaller than most of the single cell 123A lights out there--tinier than the Novatac 120 series, smaller by a wide margin than the HDS RA, and smaller than my McGizmo.

Its diminutive size makes it a great light to carry around. It has a scalloped bezel to prevent accidental discharge. It also had a pre-attached pocket clip that is both sturdy and simple in design. The body tube is plenty grippy. Finally, unlike many lights out there, this light is designed to have its LED module replaced. I have not done this yet, but it looks easy enough to do. There is also a tritium slot cut in the tail for after purchase installs of tritium locators.

Fit and Finish: 2

My Ti Bitz had well cut threads, no cosmetic errors, and a very nice selection of materials. The lens is sapphire, the body is Titanium (making the light a featherweight in addition to being tiny). While not as perfect in its execution as the McGizmo Haiku, that comparison is not a fair one--its like making Willie Mays the standard for baseball Hall of Famers. If that was the case there would be a Hall of Fame of one or two people. The execution was definitely better than that of "regular" production lights, besting my Fenix, my 4sevens lights, and my Liteflux light by a wide margin.

Grip: 2

The light's tiny size can be a bit of a challenge for folks with beefy paws, but it works well in my medium sized hands. I have also managed to activate the twisty and hold the light with the same hand. The body tube's rings are set in the opposite direction as the head's lines, making the light grippy enough.

Carry: 2

The light's size and weight make this a pocket phantom. It just disappears. The clip is well made and well designed, but the light is small enough to fit comfortably into a jeans coin pocket, my preferred method of carry. The laynard hole makes the edge of the light a bit pointy, but that is about it.

Output: 2

The light is plenty bright enough for EDC use, hitting 100 lumens on CR123a's and 130 lumens on RCR123a's. My comparisons have proven this to be true. The output is a little on the cool side, making the beam appear kind of purple. Not quite as bad as my Preon, but still a noticeable tint. It does not impact utility, so it is just a note.

Runtime: 2

The claims in the thread about runtime seem accurate. All of the outputs are useful, but the extra low setting can make this little light a marathon runner. An hour on high and 45 hours on extra low with primary cells is quite impressive, even three years after the light was released. The only light I can think of with as or more impressive run times is the Muyshondt Aeon on low (40 hours).

Beam Type: 1

A very floody beam. This is perhaps the light's only real drawback--it has like zero throw. The beam loses it coherence at about 40 feet. After handling the G2X Pro and the Haiku, this seems quite wanting.

Beam Quality: 2

Again, it is below the Haiku, but still quite nice. I would compare it to a Surefire light's beam quality. The hotspot and spill are both useful, but it lacks the gossamer smooth transition from one to the other that the Haiku has.

UI: 2

Here is where the light was ahead of its time. The UI works much like that of the 4sevens Preon and Minis. It has three primary modes and then hidden modes accessed by two quick passes through the primary modes. The hidden modes are also like the 4sevens hidden modes, with one VERY USEFUL addition--a moonlight mode of around 1 lumen. This fourth mode gives this light a crazy long runtime, as discussed above. I would note, however, that the Ti Bitz's UI predated the 4sevens UI. Originality counts for something.

Hands Free: 2

With a clip as an anti-roll device and a very flat tail (thanks to no clicky), this light can work well all by itself. It is very good in ceiling bounces.

Total Score: 19 out of 20

I have never handled the regular Bitz, but I would imagine, looking at this light and comparing specs, that it would score high as well. This is a great light and I certainly wouldn't sell mine for what I paid for it. In fact, I am not sure if I would sell it for what it originally sold for. The finish has held up well and I am still looking for a tritium insert for the tail. Great light and one not many people know about.

1YL: 18 out of 20

Times are a changin' and so are emitters.  The high on this is no longer acceptable.  100 lumens is about par now, so this thing loses a point in output, going from a 2 to 1.  You can get a two mode cheapy at Wal-Mart that bests this thing on high and still has a nice low.  That is a sign that this light is becoming obsolete.  That said, it is a great form factor so an emitter upgrade would make this an outstanding light again.  

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