Sunday, October 9, 2011

4Sevens MiNi Quark 123a XM-L Review

4sevens has made a dramatic impact on the flashlight market, bringing high quality aficionado level flashlights to the mainstream at incredibly reasonable prices. They were the first to release lights with super low lows (well, the first under $100), they were the first to release EDC lights in titanium bodies, and they were the first to regularly update their emitters as newer versions were released.

But the heart of 4sevens success is really nice, easy to use, AFFORDABLE lights. The MiNi Quark is no exception. This version is the equipped with the latest cutting edge emitter, the XM-L. It is just as tiny as it has always been, but this time it is screaming bright, hitting 210 lumens on high with a normal CR123a battery. I got my light in trade. It has a bit of anodizing removed from the tail portion near the attachment point for the split ring, but other than it was in excellent shape.

Here is the product page and a good street price. Here is a good review (non-XM-L version). Here is a good video review (non-XM-L version). Here are the Amazon reviews (non-XM-L). It received a 4.83 stars out of 5 with 6 reviews. Here is my 4sevens MiNi Quark 123A XM-L edition (thanks for the light box tips):


Design: 1

This light is pretty much the same size as the much beloved Aeon, but the head is a much larger percentage of the total length than on the Aeon. The end result is that this light is much harder to operate one handed. That is a big deal and to me it is a big drawback. These lights are both so small that often times you need both hands to operate it, but it is still a big deal that you can't readily operate this guy one handed. Why not change that one thing and make this light a ton better?

Fit and Finish: 2

The spring is not attached. The walls are thin. But there is nothing really wrong with the light. The threads are thin but smooth. I thought this would be a cheap feeling light, but it turns out I was wrong. The light does very, very well and holds up well in the pocket. The anodizing did wear off at the attachment point, but nothing of concern.

Grip: 2

The body tube has two different diameters and good knurling. It makes this tiny light quite grippy. I was surprised. It was not, however, as grippy as the Aeon. Here is a good shot down the body tube of the light:


Carry: 2

The light is easily small enough to drop into a jeans coin pocket or into a subpocket in fancy pants. It is small enough that it doesn't NEED a clip (though it would be nice). Great carry as it just disappears.

Output: 2

The XM-L emitter not only pumps out a TON of lumens it does so for a very long time. Also, because this is a 4sevens light, it has a moonlight low, which is incredibly low and very, very useful. All lights should have this low of a low.

Runtime: 2

See above. Runtime on high, is, of course, not a continuous time period as the light would be so hot it would probably melt. On moonlight mode you get like a couple of days of runtime.

Beam Type: 2

Okay, as much of a flood as the Incendio was, this light is TOTAL AND PURE flood. It just has NO throw at all. But the issue is that on a light this small, you can't really expect more. Plus in an EDC role throw is not all that big of a deal, so I am not going to ding the light for having a pure flood beam. Also the lack of throw seems to be a theme with XM-L emitters.

Beam Quality: 2

It seems like a pattern now that this my second 4sevens light. This light is a bit green in tint. Not as a purple as the Preon is, but it is noticeably green. Still the beam is nice and clean and round so I am not going to ding it a whole point. I am not a tint snob unless it is really, really bad. To me the artifacts, holes, and rings are more of a problem.

UI: 1

Over time I have become addicted to really good UIs. I like the McGizmo clicky and UI the best, but the Aeon's two stage twisty is pretty darn good too. Even my wife, when using this light to take out garbage noted the less than ideal UI. It is better than the UI on other lights, I like the ordering of the outputs and the hidden strobe modes, but still a three stage twisty would be awesome (did you hear that David Chow?).

Hands Free: 1

No pocket clip or flats on the sides means that this light rolls and rolls and rolls on a flat surface. It does tailstand very nicely, but still a little flat portion would be good for a logo and keep the light from rolling away, but it would probably add costs given the additional machining necessary.

Overall Score: 17 out of 20

I liked this light a lot. It is an amazing value for only $60. Still, it is not as nice as the Aeon nor as nice as the Incendio, which is the same price and adds a clip, clicky, and a higher high. As a first light, this is a great purchase and a testament to just how good 4sevens is at making flashlights. As a keychain or true pocket flashlight, this is a great light. It is an incredible value at $60, well deserving of its place on the Top Ten Values from the Recommendation Series (I will note, however, that while the Incendio's upgrade to the XM-L emitter was free, the Mini's requires an additional $10 cash, boo). But with a few updates though, like a three stage twisty and a pocket clip, this light could be an all star.

PS: What do you think of the light box shots?


  1. Light box pics are great! Shows the product 1000 times better!

  2. Does the 123 have a smaller diameter than the Incendio? I'm finding the Incendio a bit uncomfortable to carry in the right front pocket...not that I'm having buyers remorse; it's still awesome. - MS

  3. Pictures look awesome Tony - I always have tons of shadows bouncing around but it looks like you got it nice and bright without casting a bunch of shadows everywhere. This sounds like a really nice light, and I love the upgraded LED, but I'm just not sure how I could go back to carrying a light without a pocket clip. I love being able to whip my light out in a second - for me a clip just works so much better.

  4. I just got the other version of this (R5 maybe? idk what it's called. the one that's $10 less).

    I like it a lot. I am seeing if I like it to replace my Zebralight H31 as EDC light.

    I also just got a Fenix PD10 and that thing feels positively cheap compared to the 4Sevens.

  5. Diameter on both lights is very close.

  6. Thanks, Tony. My mind is at ease knowing that both the 123 and Incendio would look like a pickle in my pocket - MS

  7. The MiNi Quark is much shorter than the Incendio, but the diameter is almost exactly the same.

  8. Hey love this site! I look forward to reading it everyday waiting for new posts :)

    Just picked up this light for $45.99CAD up here in The Great North

  9. Though it's not a huge deal, and only because you asked for our thoughts on the light box pics, the first picture seems to have the light standing slightly off level to the frame?

    The second picture looks fantastic however, I'd suggest it to 4Sevens as a new product photo!

  10. Quick thoughts about this little light:

    1) My Mini 123 with the R5 LED has an obnoxiously green beam. I would call it "creamed spinach" tint. I'm sure someone could make a case that this makes it great as a wilderness light or something, but it is bad. Even to a non tint snob it is not acceptable. I plan to sell the light.

    2) The Mini 123 with the limited edition Neutral White LED is the way to go! Night and day difference (sorry for the pun) in tint quality. Beautiful beam.

    3) The Mini 123 has extremely well selected outputs. 3-40-180 (or as I call them, reading; illumination; NEED LIGHT NOW!) is perfect.

    4) This light totally needs a pocket clip. I can't spare another metallic thing bouncing around in my pocket with my cell phone. Can't put your hands on the light when you want it; can't be sure which orientation it will be in as you pull it form the pocket. My experience trying to EDC the Mini 123 leads me to conclude that your giving it 2 points for Carry is simply insupportable. 1 point only. Any light larger than a AAA keychain, that lacks a pocket clip, should be barred from awarding a 2 for Carry.

    5) I try to EDC my Mini 123 more, but consistently find myself rejecting it for the Fenix PD10. The PD10 has a superior shape (thinner and longer than the Mini, enabling 1 handed operation); a good pocket clip; and I prefer the Fenix M-L-H twisty mode ordering to 4Sevens's L-M-H. (I only really use Low and Medium modes with any frequency.)

    Also the PD10 has a nice beam, very clean, a bit cool but nothing like the embarrassing pea soup of the R5 Mini 123's beam.

  11. OK, re-reading my comment above, "simply insupportable" sounds like the way dorks talk when arguing on the internet, so I withdraw that phrase. :)

    But I stand by the sentiment. In my experience, even when dealing with lights as small as the Mini 123, the absence of a pocket clip makes a big difference in how often I EDC the thing. If I were applying your 20 point scale, I couldn't give anything larger than a keychain light (the Mini 123 is too big for that role IMO) 2 pts for Carry unless there's a usable pocket clip.

    A clip also means the light stays right where you think it is, in the same orientation, each time you access it.

  12. I don't necessarily disagree with a lot of what was said, but one of the things I try to do is explain the product and my process in such a way that even if your needs are different than mine you can still evaluate the product independently based on what I wrote and photographed.

    For example I don't mind the lack of a clip on a light this small (though I'd take one, the new super compact olight has one). By writing my reviews as I do I hope you have enough information to come to a different conclusion should your needs and preferences be different than mine.

    I obviously stand by my opinions and preferences and can argue to support them, but reasonable people can disagree about a lot went it comes to gear.

  13. An extremely fair-minded response. Thanks!

  14. Was the XML emitter you tested (with the green tint) the one Foursevens calls cool or neutral white?

    1. This was listed as a "neutral" emitter.

  15. My neutral white XM-L on this model is too yellow for my taste. Otherwise nice light at a good price.

  16. I like the 4sevens light a lot, and it's pretty readily available in Australia. For someone who's last purchase was a 6pLED, the difference in brightness for the tiny size etc is massive. I'm really loving the moonlight low, which actually gets the most use, and am looking for a drop in module for my 6p body which will give me a moonlight mode, as well as a better max lumens.

    Great blog Tony, but it's costing me money.