Saturday, August 27, 2011

Dark Sucks MC-18B Review

This is my first review of an item that was submitted to me for review. After I linked to his site, Dark Sucks noticed an uptick in traffic and contacted me about reviewing his light. Excited to get this beast of a torch in my hand I said "Yes" and about a month later I had one in the mail. I had the light for about ten days and used it as my only light that entire time. I carried in jeans, shorts, and slacks. I used it in the workshop and outside at night. I recharged the battery and I stacked up against my Surefire G2X Pro.

The MC-18B enters a surprisingly competitive field, even if restricted to small batch production/custom lights. There is the Mac Custom Tri EDC that hits the same number of lumens. There is also the Moddoolar Pocket and the Lux RC FL33. That is four 500 lumen or more custom lights that are all roughly pocket sized. This doesn't even include the Mag mods and other oddities from CPF.

But Dark Sucks light is, um..., well it is readily available. He sold out of the first run of his lights already, getting them into the hands of people, while the Lux RC light is delayed, the Moddoolar is out of stock, and the Tri EDC is waiting for another wave to be set up. There are a lot of neat ideas out on the internet. What makes them more than just vapor is being able to produce these things on a regular schedule. It is what makes McGizmo a legend. His stuff is not only spectacular, but it ships out with surprising celerity and he hits his deadlines and targets for new products. This is all a-round-about way of saying that Dark Sucks is making lights in a way that inspires confidence.

One issue before we get to the numbers. This light runs on a rechargeable battery, an 18650 battery. Here is more on rechargeable battery nomenclature. The light can run on low and medium with two CR123a batteries (these two batteries together are about the same size as the 18650), but it cannot safely run on high with two primary cells. If you are a lithium hater or you don't like rechargeables, then this is not the light for you. Stop reading because the assumption with this review, as with all of my reviews, is that I first accept the item for its intended purpose and then review it from there. I hate AA battery flashlights, but I still like the one model I reviewed because I reviewed it in the context of what it is--a single cell AA flashlight. If you don't like rechargeables, then this is not your light. It can work on non-rechargeables, but that is like having a Ferrari with only two gears. That said, if you want to have a light can do some pretty amazing things and you are willing to deal with the charger and cables associated with a rechargeable light, then keep reading.

Here is the product page for the MC-18B. Here are the specs. The light comes with a battery charger, a battery tube, and the battery for $229.95. You can order a titanium pocket clip, some extra charger stuff, a very nice maintenance kit (which is something I recommend having on hand, see here), and a pimpolicious presentation bag, in case you are gifting this lightsaber.

Here is the model I reviewed, Dark Sucks's own personal EDC:

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It arrived via the Post Office with every single accessory. I have to admit that the presentation bag, while completely functionless, is really a nice touch. It came charged and ready to go. I used the light over a period of 10 days and never had to recharge it. I finally recharged it for the output photos below, but that was just to be sure it was completely topped off. During those 10 days we had a power outage that lasted about 6 hours. It was good testing as I had to do a lot of house maintenance tasks. After the 10 day period I returned the light to Dark Sucks.

Design: 2

The design is quite nice. The head is a hefty piece of metal. The bead blasted grip is very nice. The clicky is great, it is a McGizmo clicky, if I am not mistaken and it has a GITD button cover. The clip is nice as well, and this personal model has an extra cool touch--the Ti clip is flame colored a bluish, purple. All of the edges of the light are rounded or chamfered to prevent big dings. The sign that every detail was accounted for? The pocket clip touches the body of the light on one of the bead blasted rings meaning there is no need to worry about scratching the finish. Excellent forethought and a design touch that is impressive.

Fit and Finish: 2

The threads were well cut and the parts sink together nicely. The clicky is responsive. The reflector is a facet style as opposed to an orange peel style reflector. See here:

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I am sure some optics person could explain the advantages and disadvantages of one over the other, but both work fine for everyday use. The entire body of the light is electroplated and polished to a deep, high polish. The non-bead blasted parts are smooth to the touch and significantly more lustrous than the Ti finish on my Haiku. The fit and finish are very close to McGizmo level. This is a beautifully crafted torch.

Grip: 2

The bead blasted portions are a nice texture and coupled with raised sections, make the light quite grippy. Plus, unlike single cell AA or 123A lights, this is a big light. Here is a comparison between the MC-18B and the Surefire G2XPro:

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An AA battery is tossed in there as well. There is nothing fiddly about the size of the light and I think it is safe to say that you won't lose this in a bag or a pocket.

Carry: 1

Along with the lights formidable size comes some issues with carry. The light would live fine in a backpack or a gear wallet. It does okay in jeans. In shorts or slacks, the light is too big. Plus, all that metal in the head means this light is hefty. Finally, the clip is not the best in the world. It is pretty, but a little too loose:

IMG_0017

It works fine, but the version I had was a little wobbly. Perhaps that is because it is Dark Sucks's personal EDC and has been used a lot. I am not sure. If all the clips are like that, I'd give the light a 0 in carry. If the one I used was a well worn one, I understand. It is a washer style clip and can be removed completely without tools in seconds. Kudos for that. Going from a Muyshondt Aeon to this beast was a shock for my pockets.

Output: 2

This thing puts out a ton of light. The specs show 500 lumens and that seems right based on my comparison to the G2XPro's 200 lumens. Here are some shots of my workshop bulkhead door:

Control (overhead lights on):

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Baseline (lights off):

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G2XPro Low:

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G2XPro High:

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MC-18B Low:

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MC-18B Medium:

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MC-18B High:

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The photos were taken with identical camera settings from about 15 feet away. The output is both greater and much broader. The photos on Dark Suck's site are realistic. This thing creates a wall of light. As you can see the low is a good low and the high is a bright high. The output levels are well spaced and useful.

Runtime: 2

Thanks to the 18650 battery the runtime is quite nice, 90 minutes on high, 1800 minutes on low. Mind you it is not 90 consecutive minutes on high...at that point the head of the light will be hot enough to melt steel, but you understand. Most of these mega lumen lights have serious heat dissipation problems on high. There is really nothing you can do about it other than turning the light off for a minute or two.

Beam Type: 2

Beam type is clearly a flood, but with 500 lumens out the front, the light can throw well too. It works well for tasks in the dark and still gives you the punch to light up stuff a block away with ease.

Beam Quality: 2

Oh my god. The color is beautiful, the light is broad and useful. Of all the nice touches with this light, it is the beam quality, like with the McGizmo Haiku, that sets it apart from the crowd.

UI: 2

UI is the same as the Haiku, three speed with Lo-Med-Hi order and last mode memory. Perfect.

Hands Free: 2

The light tail stands supremely well thanks the heft of the metal body and a nicely designed rear clicky. Here it is:

IMG_0018

The clip also acts as an anti roll device and does this job well.

Overall Score: 19 out of 20

This is a staggeringly capable light. It is beautiful. It is easy to use. And for a first offering from a new maker, it is a testament to his skill and design chops, as well as how far the flashlight world has come in the past ten years. This is a great light and for just over $200 it is a very good deal. It rivals the Mac Tri EDC, which I selected as one of the ten best buys in gear. It seems to me that given their identical price tag and similar output that size preference is only thing to distinguish these two lights. And that is the thing with the MC-18B--size preference will determine whether or not this is the light for you. If you want a tiny light, skip it, but if you want a medium sized light, this probably the best value out there in custom lights, again with the Tri EDC as its only real competitor. The MC-18B could very easily be someone's only light, as it is big enough to be a capable thrower, small enough to pocket, and has a low low enough for close up use. Watch out McGizmo, Mac, and Steve Ku, there is another maker out there, an up and comer.

Consider the bar raised.


8 comments:

  1. Wow! Where do I sign up? This looks like a beast of a light and for $200, it's really not a bad deal (especially when I figure that I won't be sinking more money on disposable batteries). 90 minute run-time on high is insanely awesome.

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  2. Dan, it is a great light. I was a bit skeptical as I prefer small to tiny lights, but this thing can do so many different things. Great light.

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  3. Agree 100% on the review. My Alpha series light is probably my favourite EDC purchase ever.

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  4. FYI: The clip issue is exactly what I had suspected. As Dark Sucks's personal light the Ti clip was bent to "loose". You can bend it tighter. You can't however, make the light smaller or lighter. As such, I still think it gets an adequate in "Carry." Just wanted to make the correction known.

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  5. Hey I like the new color scheme; it goes nicely with my flame colored clip! :) Thanks again for the great review!

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  6. $200.00 for a flashlight. Not me, there's other choices out there that are a lot cheaper & put out plenty of light. Some of them from Streamlight, I have more important things to do with that kind of money.

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    1. There are a lot of lights on this site that are $200. You'd be surprised at how much nicer they are. $200 is a lot for a light, but in real terms it is not that much money, like $150 more. Save a few months, skip a few lunches out and you get a light that will last for the rest of your life.

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  7. With this size light I will stick with my XML-T6 C8 Trustfire, 1300 lm, single 18650, all the same features minus the clip, came with light, 2 batteries, double charger, and lanyard, all for under $25. I have had it for a year and a half trouble free and is by far my best light yet. I have been on a flashlight search for the last 2 years to find a really good light for the price without sacrificing much quality and functionality if any. I have purchased over 15 different lights. For a pocket light I would go with the Trustfire Z1 that puts out 700 lm on a single 16340 (cr123) at $16. I wanted to offer these to my family, friends, hunters and fishermen. Thanks, jdflash

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