Thursday, August 1, 2013

47s Quark QP2L-X

Mag to Surefire to Fenix to Nitecore to 47s to EagleTac to on and so forth.  The role of lead innovator in the production flashlight world is one thtat changes hands more quickly than the lead of Little League game.  But the problem is that you make your bones being the lead innovator you need to continue to innovate to gaurantee your position in the market.  Surefire can fall back on their quality and fit and finish, but Fenix, well, have you seen an interesting light from Fenix in the past year?  

47s busted through the logjam of production lights with well-researched designs, excellent outputs, and great value.  Innovation is their calling card.  Three years into their current body tube designs for the main line of flashlights, the Quarks, we have seen emitter upgrades but nothing else.  The question is whether these small, incremental changes are enough to keep up with the insanely fast market.

Before I get into the review proper, I want to clear up some nomenclature from 47s.  This light is the Quark QP2L-X.  That stands for Quark Pro 2 (batteries) with the XML emitter, so far as I can decipher it.  I know that 47s had a branding overhaul a few years ago with the new logo, which is great, and the new website, also great, but the new names are an alphabet soup.  I'd much prefer something simpler like the QP2x123a XML. It is a little longer, but everyone on the planet that knows anything about flashlights can figure that out.  

Here is the product page.  The retail price is around $75, maybe a little lower.  There are two variations of the Quark line--the Pro version that can tailstand and the tactical version that can't. Additionally there are 1xAA, 1xCR123a, 2xAA, and 2xCR123a lights.  This is a 2xCR123a light. This new model has a burst mode (ultra high) that sends out 780 lumens using the two lithium cells, an impressive feat.  Here is a written review of the QP2L-X.  Here is a video review.  Here is a link to Blade HQ, where you can find the Quark QP2L-X, and all proceeds benefit the site when you purchase things through this link:

Blade HQ

Finally, here is the review sample sent to me by 47s:


Twitter Review Summary: Solid enough foundation and emitter upgrade keeps an old design in the front pack of production flashlights

Design: 1

The price of being an innovator is that you have to innovate to be who you are.  If you don't, well, what does that mean for your brand?  There is no doubt that this overall design is behind the times.  The body tube, clip, and overall shape are very good.  Its the UI that needs an overhaul.  The rise of selector ring lights, of side switch lights, of multi-stage twisties and other amazing innovations means that the Quark is a bit antiquated.  The lack of easy access to multiple outputs is a problem I'll detail below.  The inability to take an 18650 battery is also an issue (though it can run some rechargeables, see the review above, despite that not being recommended).  The pace of innovation is increasing in flashlights--we aren't just talking about emitter swaps and lumens upgrades--the best lights have fundamentally different (and better) UIs and other imrpovements the Quark lacks.  That's why I am giving it a 1 here.  

But none of these things are actual fatal flaws.  This is still a very capable light.  A non-flashaholic would be blown away.  A flashoholic could be perfectly happy with this torch.  The ability to lego this light with all of the other Quark torches (that is swap heads, tails, and body tubes at will) is another huge plus in terms of design. 


One place where the Quark does exceptionally well is the performance numbers.  This is a small light for a 2xCR123a light, one reason why it can't take the chubbier 18650 batteries.  The lumens:weight is 260 (780 lumens divided by 2.99 ounces).  The total lumens output is achieved on high mode and is 57600 (300 lumens multiplied by 192 minutes).  Both those performance numbers are very competitive with the field.  The Surefire G2XPro put out 72 lumens per ounce and had a total lumens output of 38,600. 

Fit and Finish: 2 

There is no question that the Quarks are well made.  The anodizing was even and remained chip free.  The emitter was perfectly centered (thanks to 47s self centering technology).  The lens was dust free.  The rubber boot over the switch felt hardy and stayed in place.  The pocket clip was perfectly tensioned.  The knurling was even and cut well; it was also shaved eliminating the high, rough peaks.  The threads were smooth and also cut well.  There is nothing at all to complain about on this light in terms of fit and finish. 

Grip: 2 

One of the accessories that comes with the Quark is rubber hand strap.  It works okay, but it makes the light virtually impossible to carry in your pocket.  It is a nice change of pace from the normal collection of useless "extras" flashlights come with, things like o-rings and lanyards.  Even without the hand strap, this is an excellent light in the hand.  The narrowed center portion of the battery tube makes for a very good place to rest your hands.  The magic ratio of length to diameter is present here. Also the clip and knurling aid in grip.  I liked the grip on this light a lot, though I have come to prefer side switches (thanks Zebralight) in the event that a selector ring or multi-stage twisty is not used.  

Carry: 2

One place where the Quark is still leading the industry is in the clip design.  This might be the perfect clip for a flashlight (this or the Surefire two-way clip).  Here the friction fit clip is locked in place by a threaded collar:


As the collar travels the threads it forces the clip into one of a four small cut outs, preventing the clip from moving side to side or up and down.  The tail portion of the light then tightens down behind the collar locking it in place.  This results in an incredibly secure, incredibly tight fit.  This arrangement can be found on other lights such as the Eagletac TX25C2 (review is still pending). The clip itself is not too loose and not too tight.  I liked it quite a bit as it made the light very nice in the pocket while still allowing for easy tool-free removal.  At this point it is a three way tie for best flashlight pocket clip between this set up, the aforementioned two-way clip from Surefire, and the McGizmo clip.  That is elite company.    

Output: 2

Despite the lack of design upgradings 47s has stayed up to date on the most important part of a flashlight: the emitter.  The XML-2 is at the very leading edge of emitter technology and allows for truly breathtaking, retina seering, brain scrambling highs.  780 lumens from a package this size using relatively common batteries is simply insanity.  The low of .5 lumens is good for night vision, but maybe a little TOO dim for my tastes (I like something around 1 to 5 lumens in a moonlight mode).


Runtime: 2 

The 780 lumen high is a "burst mode" meaning that it only hits that level for 60 seconds.  After that the Quark drops down to the regular hight of 380 lumens.  It can hold that for almost two hours.  This the third light I have had with a burst mode and I am still not sure what to think.  These burst modes allow for really high, artifically high lumens ratings under the ANSI standard (which measures ouput at a specified distance from the emitter, but only for a short time, like a minute or two).  That is what the skeptic in me thinks.  But I also readily acknowledge that most of the time you only use the highest output level on a flashlight for a very brief time.  The runtimes on low are really amazing, hitting 25 days.  Overall, the runtime is excellent, even if it didn't have the burst mode.  Its addition is a great one, even if it allows for unrepresentative numbers on high.  Think of this as a 390 lumen light that lasts for almost 2 hours.  That is pretty awesome.  The 780 lumens is a cool bonus.

Beam Type: 2 

It is odd for a light of this size to not have some semblance of throw.  Most 2x CR123a lights have something like a throw head, things like the G2XPro, the Zebralight SC600 Mk. II  and the TX25C2.  The Quark is smaller than those three lights, but it is something of an anomaly for lights with 2 cell bodies.  Its not bad, this is a great floody beam, but it is a little different. 

Beam Quality: 2 

47s has done a great job on fit and finishing for a very long time, and this extends to the beam quality. This is a neutral emitter and a very good light orange peel reflector.  The result is an excellent, clean and perfectly round beam.  There are no rings or artifacts of any kind.  Superb.

UI: 0

Here is where the out of date design causes the biggest problem.  The light requires you to twist the head AND press the clicky to change modes.  With the head tightened down the click drops you into the high mode.  With the head loosened you go into the moonlight low.  Once in the moonlight mode, half presses increase the output, jumping to the next level.


The clicky is quite nice, but the idea that you need two hands and two distinct actions to change modes is well behind the times.  The smooth, easy to use selector rings on lights like the Sunwayman M11R, make this UI seem like practically Stone Age technology.  It does give you DIRECT access to high and low, but I can't see why that is all that big a deal on a non-tactical light.  

Hands Free: 2

There is no doubt about it, when 47s started they really paid attention to the community feedback on this issue and all of their lights that are designed to tailstand do so quite well, unlike, say the Jetbeam RRT-01.  The clip is an anti roll device and the light can when needed be held between your teeth, again I don't recommend this, but it works in a pinch.  

Overall Score: 17 out of 20

This is the very definition of solid.  The Quark is perhaps still the best all around performer in the format (2xCR123a lights).  The numbers prove this.  This is a light that can hang with the best torches in the production world quite easily.  That said, this design is a little long in the tooth.  This might be the last time that a mere emitter upgrade can keep the Quark series at the forefront of the flashlight market.  The archaic UI, the lack of a selector ring or other next gen UI, and the inability to take 18650s makes this light just a slight bit behind the leading edge of lights in this size, like the Zebralight SC600 Mk. II or the EagleTac TX25C2.  I'd recommend this light over things like the G2XPro and other regular 2xCR123a lights, but compared to the SC600II and the TX25C2 the competition is much closer.  If you want a truly pocketable light with this high a lumen count, the 47s is the best choice on the market (I hate the two button set up and friction clip on the Fenix PD32 UE), but if you can take just a bit more diameter the competition is fierce.  



  1. "have you seen an interesting light from Fenix in the past year"

    - The Fenx PD32UE and the Fenix PD35 have been great lights and quite interesting.

  2. Sorry. That came off kind of catty. I did enjoy your review and by no means was trying to nitpick.

  3. The "L" in the QP2L-X stands for Lithium (123A) vs the "A" designating AA. The Quark Pro [QP], Tactical [QT] and Turbo [QB] do not take AAA batteries.

  4. Thanks for the review. I mostly feel the same way about this light, though i own an earlier version.
    You seem to have mixed up some numbers though, there are three different numbers for high mentioned here. No big deal, it just caught my eye.