Friday, August 7, 2015

Sinner Tri EDC Review

Before I started this site there was always some tantalizing piece of gear I wanted but never bought because I just couldn't get enough information about it.  I wasn't sure if it was the right size, the right battery, some small niggling detail that, if wrong, would ruin the whole experience.  There were also lights that looked amazing but their availability was limited and their producer wasn't exactly mainstream.  CPF is populated by these lights and some guys turn out to be awesome (Enrique Muyshondt) and some turn out to be the forum equivalent of pirates--robbing you over the high seas (Rob from Lummi, get the pun?).

But with this site and its increasingly high profile (thank you, by the way, for reading) and the income stream it provides, I can take those risks, buy some exotic item and if it goes bad, well, let's just say karma's a bitch and Optics Planet changed their site around a bit.  I can risk the site's money so that you don't have to risk yours.  Sinner's Tri-EDC light fell perfectly into that niche--awesome but low profile.  As it turns out Sinner is 100% legit (from my experience and research), a fast shipper, and one hell of a flashlight maker.  The Tri-EDC is not just an awesome light, it is something exceedingly rare in the high end gear world--its a damn good value too.  Sure you can bling the shit out of the light and have it cost half a grand, but for around $130 you get a custom light that competes quite favorably with the best the production world has to offer, in a small form factor, with all of the features you want and none you don't.

Here is the product thread.  The Sinner Tri EDC, as configured, costs $139.  There are myriad of options--different materials, emitters, and battery tubes.  There are are no written or video reviews.  You can purchase the site through Sinner's CPF page, found here.  

Finally, here is my review sample:

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Twitter Review Summary: A high performance, firebreathing dragon made with two small flaws.

Design: 2

The Tri-EDC isn't terribly cutting edge--a tube, a clip, a tail clicky. But it is quite small and the three LED array is very well done.  The form factor is very nice, slipping into your fingers with ease.  I still haven't figured out how to quantify this, but there is some magic ratio between length and diameter and whatever that is the Tri-EDC has it.  I know some gear aesthetes are going to gasp at this, but really aluminum is fine.  It conducts electricity better (though the difference is negligible for our purposes) 

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Fit and Finish: 1

Here is the ding that you will find on most forum posts about the Sinner--the threads are poorly machined.  I am not sure this is the case, but I see why those complaints arise.  Here is what happened to me. When the light arrived the threads were very, very tight.  To get the pieces to screw together completely I had to use one of those anti-skid drawer liners.  Even then it was very tight fit.  I thought this was a problem and agreed with the feedback on the forums.

But this light is a perfect example of why long term reviews are necessary.  Over three or four months of pretty regular use, switching batteries, taking the light apart, and all sorts of other things, the threads have become quite manageable, in fact, if I handed you my Sinner Tri-EDC right now and you knew nothing of the forum complaints, you'd have no idea it is an issue.  

I have gone back and forth on the score in this category for a while and here is where I am at right now--the threads smoothed out on their own and the rest of the light is fantastic in terms of fit and finish.  This wasn't a long process.  Its not like it took a year to smooth out.  If folks tolerate "break in" on handmade knives, I don't see why the thread issue here is a problem.  If you are SUPER picky (Grayson) and things must be buffed to perfection out of the box or package, then this will bother you. But if you give it some time, the end result is a light put together as well as anything even twice its price, such as the HDS Rotary.  This isn't mind-alteringly awesome machining like on a McGizmo or a Cool Fall light, but it is pretty damn good. 

Grip: 2

This is a pretty simple thing to get right on a flashlight--get the right diameter and you are golden.  Here the tapered waist of the light provides just the right amount of stuff to hold on to.  One thing I would note is that because the light is so small, the clip does cause some minor problems if you are holding the light for a long time or squeezing tight.  I very rarely encounter these problems so I don't think it is a big deal.  

Carry: 1

No question about it, the Sinner Tri EDC has the worst clip I have ever seen.  It works okay, but it gets more bent out of shape than one of those annoying manners police, uber PC people on board a pirate ship--you know, one of those people that is constantly correcting you about your language (THEM: "We don't like the phrase 'convict' or 'felon', how about 'justice involved' instead?  ME: What? What the hell does that mean?  Is he in trouble or is he Green Arrow's sidekick?").  I think it is made of aluminum but for all its durability it may as well be soggy cardboard. This is an easy fix though.  Sinner, go source better clips.

Clip aside, though, this thing is quite nice.  It is small enough to fit into the coin pocket on your jeans, though its diameter makes it a snug fit.  It is one of the smaller CR123a lights with a clicky, and that alone makes it pocket friendly.  It also has zero snag points.  But for the clip, this thing would be a pocket superstar. 

Output: 2

One of the problems with production lights right now is that they are ignoring the low mode output. These beasts that high a 1,000 lumens all have proportionate lows, such that the low is some percentage of the high.  I am sure this is a cost saving measure as it allows the companies to use some of the same parts or programming across a series of lights.  While a 20% low is okay on a 200 lumen light, on a 1,000 lumen light it is practically useless as a low mode.  

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With the custom programming on the Tri-EDC, the low here is an actual low, clocking in somewhere under 5 lumens, looking no brighter than the low on my HDS Rotary.  This is the first kilolumen light I have seen with a truly low low.  Even the progenitor of this style of like Mac's Customs still had a very high low.  In my opinion, this alone makes the light worth purchasing.  You get firebreathing highs at the top end and whisper bright lows at the bottom.  You can't ask for more from your flashlight.  

Runtime: 2

Thanks to the slightly larger and higher capacity 18350 battery, the runtimes even on high are awesome.  How do I know?  Well, unlike every other light I have ever tested I have run the Sinner until it killed the battery.  Okay, maybe not me, but my 5 year old son has.  One Saturday while playing we constructed the "Super Laser."  It was a big cardboard tube, the Tri-EDC, a blue marble, and some tape.  The end result was a spectacularly focused blue spot.  I made sure the light was not on high as I did not want to start a fire and I let him play all day.  After playing we forgot about it and I came back the next day--still running. This was on the second highest mode. It was a bit warm but nothing bad.  Then I took the light on vacation and it still ran.  With this battery and judicious use of the high, you can get insane runtimes.  

Beam Type: 2

At some point on the lumens scale, horsepower overrides reflector design and here with no reflector you get decent throw through sheer horsepower.  Still, lets not be silly and think this is a thrower.  Its not, nor was it designed to be.  As a primarily floody light, the Sinner is quite good.  Given the light's size and name, the floody beam is nice and the fact that around a 1,000 lumens can get you a long way is also nice.

Carrying this light on July 4th and navigating a dark crowded city, I appreciated both the ability BOOM hit something a quarter mile away and still have a broad swath of deliciously Hi CRI light to see stuff up close.  I loved the Tri-EDC's beam profile.  

Beam Quality: 2

I was worried that a lack of reflector would make for a messy beam, but there are small optical lenses over the three emitters making them quite smooth in practice.  The three emitter array was also a cause for concern, but you'd have no idea looking at the beam that it was a three emitter array until you are shining the light on something six inches away.  Also, Hi CRI, did I mention that?

UI: 2

McGizmo's clicky UI, with mode memory, is here.  I don't think Don invented it, but he's the guy I associate with the dead simple, click and click again UI with memory.  I'd prefer a selector ring, but if you have to do a clicky, this is the best set up.  Also, no hidden modes.  YAY!

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Hands Free: 2

I mentioned it in the overview, but it bears repeating.  The light can tailstand, but the clicky protrudes just a bit resulting in what I called a "drunken sailor tailstand."  This is nota huge ding, but something Sinner should fix.  An 1/8 inch more of a shroud around the click and this thing would be rock solid.  Also, the clip does prevent a roll away and you can do the soft untreated aluminum between the teeth if necessary.  

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Overall Score: 18 of 20

Its not perfect.  The clip is horrendous.  But...and this is a Kim Kardashian sized but, this thing is an amazing value.  For under $150 (I purposely chose the cheapest configuration) you get a truly world class light.  The threading complaints abate in about a month of use, so don't worry too much.  If you are ultra picky it might drive you nuts, but if not, this is an amazing light and a great foray in to custom flashlights.  Mine came quick with no problems and despite the lack of coating it has held up well.  As a first offering, Sinner, you should be very proud.  This is one hell of a light.  I am glad I took a chance on it.  

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10 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. I'd resent that if it wasn't true.

    Seriously though, gritty threads wouldn't deter me from that light. Looks like a great performer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know your awesome. I'd nominate you for the entire industry's QC inspector.

      Delete
  3. Anyone know where the Al version went? Best I can see the minimum configuration is now $190... inflation?

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  4. Great review, and great value!
    There's another guy on CPF who is making replica's of the old Mac's Tri-EDC. He goes by OKluma. Check it out.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great review as always. But shouldn't the combined score be 19 out of 20?

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    Replies
    1. 1 for Carry, 1 for Fit and Finish. Add that 16 for the rest and you get 18.

      Delete
  6. It seems like the Al version isn't available anymore. This is less of a good value with the minimum cost right at $200 now. Tony, can you tell us how this would stack up at around that price point compared to others near the same i.e. HDS Rotary?

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