Saturday, July 9, 2016

Muyshondt Aeon Mk. 3 Review

It's perfect.  Go buy it.

Want me to run through the whole thing?  Alrighty, if I have to :)

How good is the Aeon Mk. 3?  Its significantly better than the Mk. 2 and that was a light that Enrique made to my specifications.  It is significantly better than the prototype, which I was lucky enough to handle and use.  It is better than the S1 Baton--more refined, smaller, with a better tint, and with better runtimes.  It is better than the Surefire Titan Plus, with a better UI and a superior clip.  Its better than the Spy 007, significantly smaller and better in the pocket.  Its not a firebreather, but we have all moved beyond judging a light by its lumen count, right?

This is the best light available, price no object.  And if you want exotic, Enrique has you covered with both a Moku Ti and Mokume Gane version.  For normal folks there are aluminum versions and titanium versions.

Here is the product page. There are five versions: aluminum ($295); copper ($385); titanium ($450); mokume gane ($1,495) and moku ti ($1795).  Here is the link to my assessment of the prototype.  The only place to buy them is either Enrique's site or for an exclusive bead blasted version, try Urban EDC Supply.

Here is my review sample (Enrique sent me both a titanium and blue anodized aluminum version to check out):


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Twitter Review Summary: Don't mess around...this is the light to buy.

Design: 2

There is simply nothing I would change here.  It is notable that the few issues I had with the prototype--the gushy button, the sharp tailcap edges, and the clip, are all fixed.  So everything that I said in that post, works here.  But repetition isn't enough to convey the design's greatness.  Sure, it's small, compact, and convenient, but this isn't a dainty flower.  Enrique pushes and tests his stuff to the limit, doing things to flashlights that make Cold Steel's "Proof" videos look positively cuddly.  It's one thing to stuff a boot full of meat and cut it with a folder.  It is another thing entirely to send a flashlight into near-space, recover it, and demonstrate that it still functions perfectly.  On a recent trip, Enrique took the light to the gear equivalent of Hell--the Dead Sea--exposed it to the salty elements and reported no damage or loss of function.  This from the guy that used his previous design to saw through lesser flashlights on a lathe.  Even without this nuclear grade toughness, the Mk. 3 would be awesome.  With it, I think it is safe to say that we have reached a new pinnacle in light design.  If you want to know what justifies the increase in cost over something like the Olight S1 Baton, this is it--the zenith of convenience and performance coupled with ruggedness that exceeds what almost everyone on Earth would ever need.  

The lumens:weight is 114 (160/1.4); the maximum total output cannot be given because there is no runtime data available at this time.

Fit and Finish: 2

The prototype was gorgeous with smooth threads and nice surfaces.

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This light is better.  The pokey points on the tail end of the light are gone and the clicky feels just right.  The anodizing on the blue model is flawless--a bit purple, but flawless.  The polish on the titanium model is downright crazy--gleaming without a single imperfection or machine mark.  After two months of use, I could not find a single flaw.  

Grip:  2

Flashlights this tiny can be a bear to hold on to, but with a rear clicky and some knulring on the body, not to mention a very good clip, this light is just right in the hand.  I never got that "trying-to-squeeze-a-BB-in-the-palm-of-my-hand" feel.  It was small, but always enough to hold on to.  This is just a damn fine design.  

Carry:  2

The prototype had a friction fit clip, which are, universally, terrible.  This clip is both sturdier and a bolt on design.

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But it is not so bulky that it interferes with the lights ability to ride in your jeans.  Everything about this light just works.  It hides well, it rides well, and thanks to a clip you have the option of making it readily available at a moment's notice.  

Output: 2

You'll have a no difficulty finding a light this size that is brighter.  The S1 Baton is basically the same size and the FourSevens CR2 light is as well, and both are brighter.  But I feel safe in saying that if you are reading this site you have moved beyond evaluating lights SOLELY based on their lumens.  But lumens do matter to some extent and here, with an output around 200 lumens, you have plenty of photons to do what you'd need to do.  The low is perfect, around 1-5 lumens, and the medium hits right at 30-40 lumens, giving you a nice spread as well as a useful low and a very good high.  In short, if you have moved on from lumens=awesome, then you'll be more than satisfied.  As a EDC light this does a lot quite well. 

Runtime: 2

If you have read even one Muyshondt review you know this is Enrique's thing.  He coaxes run times out of batteries that no one else can.  Maybe he was across the street from Robert Johnson when the Devil gave him his musical ability and Enrique asked for electrical engineering prowess.  Whatever the source, Enrique does what no one else can do.  In other words, best runtimes out there. 

Beam Type: 2

This is a very compact reflector and so the beam is all flood.  In an EDC light that's not a problem.  You don't expect to search mountaintops with this light, so all flood is not really a problem.  But, and this where it is nice to have the touch of a custom light, there is a good balance between hotspot and spill. I have reviewed enough lights that I feel like I can almost identify a light by looking at the beam pattern. Huge halo with tight hotspot--Surefire.  Very nicely blended hotspot into a tight spill--Armytek.  Big hotspot and big spill--HDS.  Here you get basically the same pattern as the original Aeon and the Aeon Mk. II--a smallish overall profil with a tight hotspot and a good spill.  It's not quite Surefire-level distinction between the two areas of the beam, but it is close.  

Beam Quality: 2

It goes without saying, simply because Enrique is one of the best out there, that there are no holes, rings, or oval shapes in the beam thanks to a perfectly designed, custom parabolic reflector.

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Perfect circles, with even disbursement of light.  But, unlike all of the production lights in this size, you get a wonderful Hi CRI emitter.  It's so nice you'll be shocked if you are coming from a traditional emitter.  This, along with the runtimes, are what set this light apart from production models.  

UI: 2

The clicky is really good--much improved.  The UI, of course, is simple.  Click once for on, while on press and release quickly to go up a mode.  The light defaults to low, which is how it should always be on a general purpose light.  If you need high right away, get a tactical light.  There are no hidden modes and the denounce time is just right (the time you have to hold and release to switch modes).  Awesome, simple clicky.

One thing to note--if you are a person that wants to be able to get to high or low immediately from off, you can't do it here.  Also, while us flashoholics are used to all the finger gymnastics, a twisty like on the Aeon Mk. II is more newb-friendly.  Still, for us, this is a perfect, simple, implementation of the clicky UI.

Hands Free: 2

Tailstands like its waiting in line, won't roll thanks to the clip--this light does everything in this regard.  It's even easy between the teeth, though as always, I don't recommend that.  

Overall Score: 20 out of 20, PERFECT

The Aeon Mk. III is a notable upgrade from an already great light in the Aeon Mk II.  It is small, bright, and has a wonderful double dip clip.  All of the flaws from the prototypes have been corrected.  It's just a wonderful piece of gear.  How good is it?  Well, it easily got a perfect from me (though if you are Mr. Scurvy, you'll eschew its inability to go directly from off to high or low and in that case, drop a point).  The real question is whether this is best product I have every reviewed. It just might be.  It's right there with the MBI HF-R and the Spyderco Dragonfly II in ZDP-189.  This is one of my favorite pieces of kit ever.

Its pricey, sure, but the aluminum version is fine for everyone that is not a hoarder of pocket frosting.  Is the price justified compared to something like the S1?  I think it is.  Getting that last bit of performance is always a daunting and expensive proposition and here you get a truly superior clip and a Hi CRI emitter.  Its not something everyone will purchase, but if you crave that absolute pinnacle of EDC flashlight performance, this is it.  And that is expensive.  

Oh, and by the way, I had planned this out pretty carefully and now that it has worked out, its quite nice that the Mark III is my THREE HUNDREDTH product scored and reviewed on the site. 

The Competition 

There is really only one light I think that is in the same league as the Mk. III and that is the aforementioned MBI HF-R.  That light is smaller, brighter, and has a UI that is both easy to use and let's you go from off to high or low with one input.  But it runs on batteries that are positive hassle to charge and there are no primaries that work.  But both lights are so good that you are basically going with preference.  For me, I don't know which I would choose--the insane runtimes of the Mk. III or the photon bomb high of the HF-R.  Either way, these are world class lights and objects of thoughtful creation and design.  

30 comments:

  1. Thank you once more for a brilliant review. In order for you to get an unfailing 20/20 PERFECT rating for the quality of your flashlight reviews, can you please mention what kind of battery does each flashlight take? For less flashaholic readers this cannot be immediately deduced from the size/photos/specs.

    Many thanks once more.

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    1. Like all Aeons it runs on a CR2 battery.

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  2. Nice - this is the review I’ve been looking forward to, and it answers all the questions I had. I think I’ll own one at some point, but now that I’m reconciled to the crappy pocket clip on the S1, I’ll hold off for the time being until I have $295 to spare.

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  3. I just received a L3 illumination L11C (nichia 219b version) as a gift. Having questioned the importance of high cri before (especially vs the Cree emitters in the mid-range), I am now sold. The nichia really is a revelation for me. Tony, you've been harping on that point for a while and I have to admit you've been very right.

    On that note, the L11C is a pretty good way to experience something similar to the mkiii if you aren't willing to drop the $$$ on the Aeon. Just from the spec sheet, the l3 has the same emitter, similar modes, and a similar ui. I'm not trying to argue for the L11C over the Aeon obviously, but it's a much cheaper way to try out a 219b.

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    1. I had two of them, both had the problem that using a regular Eneloop, the spring became compressed to the extent that it wouldn't make contact to switch on after a few months. I now have the Eagletac D25A which is practically the same but better quality and a drop smaller too. Good luck with yours, hope it doesn't have this issue.

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    2. Ameer, I had an L11C last year when they came out. It quit after about 3 months, and the replacement did the same thing. It's a great light, but mine kept breaking. I've also heard of others having similar F&F trouble. Let us know if yours holds up.

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    3. L3's quality control gives me bad vibes even though they have some great designs.

      My L10C crapped the bed and so did a whole lot of other folks in the comments thread to Tony's L10C review -- with some L11C complaints added recently too.

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    4. I do agree with Ameer that the Nichia 219b is sweet and often worth the lumens hit on a civilian EDC light.

      Have not been impressed with lesser high CRI LEDs -- e.g. TerraLux Lightstar 80.

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    5. Yeah, I have read about the QC issues and failing lights and those issues concern me too. I guess I was just giving a suggestion on a way to try a 219b in a similar format before going all out on something like the mkiii. I actually don't know of a cheaper way to get into that emitter.

      All that said, I bought my brother an l10c over a year ago. He's carried it every day since then without a problem.

      I have no idea if mine will last - if not, I'll be happy to have tried out this emitter and this form factor, and it'll help me decide what I want in my next light.

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    6. QC issues on a $30 light? No! Haha try and keep some perspective guys. On a $300 light quality should be 100% perfect. For 1/10th the price? Not so much. Be realistic!

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    7. @TDB I've had a Thrunite T10 for over a year without so much as a blink of bad behavior, and it's been through much worse than the L11C as in the meantime I delivered pizza for three months and now I work IT and actually use the light more often on a daily basis. If the L11C was as well-made it would be the best value in flashlights possibly in any price range given the battery, emitter, output, clip, and form factor. As it is, it's the Gerber Dime of flashlights: it might be excellent or it might fall apart.
      I just wish that the more mainstream manufacturers (Olight, Thrunite, 47s, etc.) would at least give us the option of a Nichia 219. Oh man an S1 with a Nichia and a better clip...

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  4. This appears to be a great light but more than I will spend on a light. Not denying value but I'm not that picky about the little things that this light excels at. The MBI would work for me but they have been out of stock for months. I've been on the email notification list since January 15 and have nothing from them. Anyone have more info on MBI?

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    1. I have also checked the mbi site a few times and I don't know what the heck is going on with them. If the fh-r was still on sale, I would own one.

      I'm with you on the price of this light. The problem isn't that I don't think it's worth it. It's that I think I would be too afraid to carry it for fear of losing it. This is also why I have trouble going over a certain price point on knives. I'm sure the Nirvana, for example, is worth what it costs in terms of quality/design/manufacturing. But I would just be to afraid to carry and use it.

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    2. There is no "them" for MBI it's one guy and he does it as a passion project in addition to a full time job.

      My advice is to closely follow the candlepowerforums.com thread on the light you want. He will always post there before they go up on the website.

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  5. Tony is your aluminum model the "Deep Indigo" or is there another variation that I am not seeing on Enrique's site?

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  6. Man is this tempting, even at three bills. The desert tan Al version looks great. What an EDC partner for a Mnandi.

    BTW I take this as Enrique's way of acknowledging the superiority of a good tail clicky UI. :)

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  7. I don't think the ability to go hi or low from off is a huge ask. That's all I'm saying. I still want one though.

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  8. Might have also dinged it a point for needing a specialized battery. I prefer basic batteries I can find in any store just in case.

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    1. Well then, specialized boutique luxury products such as this might not be what you want or need. Nothing wrong with that!

      If you can't stomach filling the Porsche you drool over with premium fuel, you should adjust your priorities or the products you are considering. Don't get caught up in fashion.

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  9. Very nice. Still can't go for anything but AA or AAA lights, single or double.
    So I've been longing for the AA light MBI has said is coming.

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    1. Do you have any Peaks? You should!

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  10. Don't you think that for $300, Enrique could include a battery?

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    1. Enrique kindly informed me that this is due to postal regulations regarding mailing lithium batteries.

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    2. I believe this is because of postal regulations regarding shipping of lithium batteries, and thus is beyond his control.

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  11. I can definitely appreciate the beauty of such pieces of gear, but this is absurdly overpriced man jewelry. Be honest guys.

    You can get any number of high CRI lights for $100 or well under! I truly see no reason to buy this, unless you just want a new icey chain to look fly, yo... or something haha.

    It's like cars: there are VWs and there are Audis... then there are Koenigseggs! The first two are reasonable and justifiable (depending on budget). The third is purely to show off, "because I can". Which is fine, if you're into that. Just own it. (Personally, I prefer modding VWs)

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  12. Hi Tony,
    I recently noticed that the Al versions of the Aeon Mk 3 have different specs than the other more expensive versions. Most notably max lumens and the lens (160 max lumens and mineral lens for Al, 180 max lumens and sapphire lens for the other versions).

    I wonder if at this price point it changes the value proposition. $295 is a lot for a flashlight and in that price range I sort of expect a sapphire lens.

    Mainly though, I wonder if you think the differences are worth calling out in your review since you seem to use the Al and Ti version interchangeably and it may lead a reader to think the only difference between the two is the metal they're made out of, when there are other differences too.
    Cheers,
    Adam

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    1. While they are technically different, in reality the lumens count doesn't matter. The eye's perception of light makes it very difficult to see a difference between 160 and 180. Any difference is likely tint more than output.

      I would prefer a sapphire lens.

      They aren't interchangeable but they are very close.

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  13. Hello Tony! Could you please elaborate why Haiku didn't get a "perfect" score but Aeon did? Thank you.

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    Replies
    1. Size. The Haiku is great but just not as pocketable as these gems.

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