Sunday, May 19, 2013

Zebralight SC600 Mk.II Review

This is the first of many things for the site: the first thing reviewed from the new sponsor; the first Zebralight reviewed; and the first production 18650 I have reviewed.  More than all that though, this is just a great light.  It is not as elegant as Jason's Prometheus light, but in many, many ways this is the Paramilitary 2 of flashlights--small and light for their capabilities, insane flexibility, and slightly rough around the edges.  These two items would make a light&saber pair that could, quite honestly, last you a lifetime and perform any and all tasks you could ever need them to do.  There is room for improvement here, but it all nibbling at the edges.  This is simply one hell of a light.

Looking at the specs and the size of the light tells you a lot, but sometimes all of those numbers can be misleading.  Lots of things have good bullet point lists and turn out to be less than the sum of their parts (the Kershaw Cryo, for example).  But here, the bullet point list is very representative.  This is a light that can match a car headlight and yet dribble out the lumens on moonlight mode.  And it does all of this in package not that much bigger than the McGizmo Haiku.  There is a reason this thing has been sold out everywhere--it is a great deal.

Here is the product page.  The light, when available, runs about $95 or there about.  It runs on a rechargeable only 18650 battery.  That is simply the cost of hitting lumens counts this high.  The Mk. II is shorter than the Mk. I, has longer runtimes and higher max output.  Differences are discussed on this thread at CPF.  Here is a video review.  Here is a written review.  Both reviews are selfbuilt reviews and both are of the Mk. I.  I think this is the first review of the Mk. II.  Here is the review sample I was sent:


You can purchase the SC600 from E2 Field Gear and get a discount of 8% using the coupon code "Commentary" and the sales benefit the site and its giveaways.  Also, Mike is running a special just for the SC600 Mk. II.  Mike is offering $5 preorders on the SC600, as they are out of stock just about everywhere.  When they come in, you will get $5 off the price.  If pre-orders exceed inventory customers will be given the opportunity to wait for the next lot or receive a refund of their $5. 

Design: 2

The side switch on a light is a great idea when properly executed.  The original run of Zebralights had to the switch too exposed resulting in lots of accidental activations.  Not anymore.  The switch is sunk in deep into the head of the light making accidental activation almost impossible.  But the innovations don't stop there.  This is a tiny, tiny light for its lumens output, staggeringly small.  It is significantly smaller than the G2X Pro and three times brighter, an amazing innovation.  Nothing feels funny about the size either.  The diameter is just perfect, the placement of the switch is just right, and the overall layout of the light is great.  I'd love a washer style clip, but, well...

The numbers are very strong with this light.  The lumens:weight is 204.5.  Total lumens output is found on a low setting 2.8 lumens for 280 hours for a max total lumens output of 47,040.  Note this is based on the Mk. I specs, as the Mk. II specs are still not available.  Assume this will have a better total lumens output number by a significant margin.  Both numbers crush the old records which were held by the G2X Pro (total lumens output was around 19,800).  This thing is an absolute beast.   And it is a beast in a tiny package (compared to the MiniMag):


Fit and Finish: 2

The upgraded switch recess is probably the biggest deal for the Mk. II.  Here is a straight on shot showing absolutely none of the switch:


That shot also happens to show the beautiful and consistent HAIII coating.  The threads are smooth, the knurling well cut but not shreddy, and the edges of the light are nicely finished.  There is nothing here to complain about at all.  Well, okay the switch is really tacky leading to a collection of lint


but that is about as nitpicky as it gets, right?

Grip: 2

The knurling is great and the body tube is just the right diameter and length.  The switch is placed perfectly and there are two small grooves on either side for your fingers.  In short, this light is brilliantly thought out for rough and tough use.  Excellent.  


Carry: 1

The review sample did not come with a clip (or a battery, the things I do for this blog), but I have used this clip before and while it is okay for a friction clip, I hate friction clips in general.  I'd love to see a washer-style clip.  

Output: 2

Reference Shot


SC600 Mk. II High


SC600 Mk. II Medium

SC600 Mk. II Low

The high is just insane.  How insane you ask?  Well, what do YOU do when you fire up a new light for the first time?  Yep, me too.  And for the first time ever I feel actual pain in my eyes.  Nothing severe, but it was definitely unpleasant.  The low is super low, plenty to see with but nothing offensive to your night vision.  The medium, which is around 30 or so lumens as I had it set up, is pretty good for up close work, but in the beam shots it seems dim.  Comparatively speaking it is.  All in all, great high, great low=great light.  

Runtime: 2

Check the specs.  CRAZY.  The lowest low runs for 80 days.  80 days.  Like "Around the World in..." runtimes.  I do have to point out something with the high.  It will hit 900 lumens, but it will only hold that output for 5 minutes.  Now they claim that is for heat reasons, which I am sure is the case, but the way they measure ANSI lumens encourages makers to do this sort of thing--ultra high high for a few minutes and drop down to something less later.  ANSI lumen specifications measure out the front lumens at a certain distance for a few minutes (2 I think) and so if you have this "safety feature" output set up, it can boost your ANSI lumen ratings.  Here though the "drop down" high is still insane: 500 lumens. 

Beam Type: 2

Not as floody as you would expect.  This deep dish reflector and head are wider than normal and as a result there is significant throw.  Add to that the high octane output and you have an insane thrower just larger than a roll of quarters.  One warning--on high, this thing is utterly useless for close up work and it will blow your vision, not your night vision, just your regular daylight adjusted vision for a while.  Be careful when you turn it on close up.  There is a nice hotspot/spill configuration, among the nicer I have seen on a production light.  This is why:


Beam Quality: 2

Thank god there are not artifacts.  On a light this with this much light coming out the front an artifact or a ring would really throw everything out of whack in the middle of the night.  I'd like a better tint, HI CRI is always preferred, but when you are looking for a burner, you know it is going to have a neutral tint (better tints require tinkering that lowers output). 

UI: 1

There are three modes and two submodes per mode.  Yeah that's right.  Sounds a little complicated right?  It is.  With one switch as the only means of input you have to do some Morse-code like finger taps to get everything to work right.  Once you get the hang of it it is not too bad, but God a selector ring would KILL here.  This is probably one of the better examples of why clickies, are, in my opinion, on the way out.  This is just too much.

Hands Free: 2

This thing tailstands like it has a sandbag attached to it and won't roll even without the clip thanks to a lanyard attachment point.  Excellent.

Overall Score: 18 out of 20

Like the PM2, this is a beast of a piece of gear.  Its size belies an insane amount of performance and utility.  If you can swallow the 18650 format, which is a very good one, probably the best rechargeable format, then this is a light you simply must try.  Surefire better watch out, Zebralight has raised the ante on US designed lights (this is made overseas but designed here for a US owned company).  Right now only a few, very few lights can hang with the SC600 Mk. II in terms of output v. size.  The other option is the Eagletac TX25C2, which has an even higher output (seriously).  If you are fan of insane lumens, it is a good time to be in the market and the SC600 Mk. II should be at the top of your list.  If you can find one...they are sold out everywhere.  For good reason.  Value, performance, and size are all pushed to the limit here.  Time to update the top 5 chart.   


  1. First Zebralight *you* have reviewed on this site. :)

    There was another, the one that should have won the Haiku contest. :P

    1. May as well say this now, but all of the non-winning submissions will be in a pool to win gear in the next prize giveaway, which is coming in about a month. The Runner's Up giveaway will hopefully right some "wrongs" ;)

  2. :) I look forward to that. I ended up with the Mk II Aeon so I can't complain but have to admit I am still wanting a Haiku, and some light from HDS. Just because....

  3. One big advantage of Zebralight is the ability to reach any of the three modes directly from off. Click=High, double-click=Medium, press=Low. No constant ramping up and down like with selector rings, or multiple clicks/twists of most other lights.

    Not saying your score is wrong! You obviously love selector rings. Still, for users who find themselves turning their lights on and off frequently during use, clickies still have a slight edge, IMO.

    Should also note that it's a reverse clicky; could be important for those partial to the momentary-on of forward clickies.

    1. I do like the direct access, but it is something that requires a bit of knowledge to use. A selector ring light or something like the Eiger or Aeon is a light you can hand to anyone and they can use it. Additionally, if the light comes on in LOW, as all non-tactical lights should, the concern about blowing your night vision is gone. For EDC use, I can't see how a clicky, all things being equal, bests a selector ring, a stage twisty, or a QTC twisty. Simplicity never needs an upgrade.

      I can see, if you are NEVER going to lend your light out, how a clicky is superior. In the hands of a high end user it is better, but I lend my lights out to my wife and son all the time and they need a less finnicky interface.

      Yes, it is a reverse clicky, thanks for reminding me.

    2. I echo what Dajolaw said completely. I am new to the high end flashlight world and own an SC52 (which is also amazing)I happen to love the ability to reach any level from off. Reaching low from off takes intent, but at the same time I have never acciently blinded myself on the way to the john at night. As for lending the light out, what is more familiar that pushing a button and expecting one "high" output? I don't think the general public would expect any else, much less consider things like night vision, or even different levels of brightness when using a light. In fact, I argue a selector ring would be somewhat unfamiliar.

  4. major deal going on now!!
    free shipping too..

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