Review: Malkoff M361N-LMH Drop-in

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About the Malkoff M361N

The Malkoff M361N is the neutral tinted version of the the M361, the first multi-mode P60 drop-in available from Malkoff Devices.  Following the same design as previous Malkoff drop-ins, the M361N features solid brass heat-sink construction and utilizes a custom orange peel reflector designed by Don McLeish.

Using a neutral binned (4000K color temperature) Cree XP-G2 LED, the M361N is rated at 15, 75, and 375 lumens output in its three modes and is designed to run on a single protected Li-Ion rechargeable battery.  The operating range of the M361N is a relatively narrow 3.4 – 6 volts, with the module dropping out of regulation below 3.4 volts and continuing to run in direct drive.  The module also features reverse polarity protection, a welcome feature appearing in some of the newer Malkoff products.

At first glance, the user interface of the M361N appears to be just like the click-to-advance low/medium/high sequence used on many other lights.  However, there a few key differences that may surprise a first time user.

To begin with, the switch must be depressed for at least 250 milliseconds for the mode to advance.  What this means in practice is the M361N can be used as a signalling device by first advancing to whichever output mode is desired and then rapidly pressing and releasing the switch.  As long as the momentary switch is not held longer than 250 milliseconds, the light will provide a consistent “flash” each time, without changing modes.

If the switch is depressed longer than a quarter second, but less than 5 seconds, the M361N will always advance to the next mode, regardless of how long it is off between presses.  Although this behavior is predictable, it could lead to the M361N coming on in a higher mode than expected if used for very brief periods (less than 5 seconds) and then not used again for a while.

Finally, if the switch is depressed for more than 5 seconds and then turned off, the M361N will start in low the next time it is turned on.  In most normal usage, the M361N will always turn on in low but it could create issues for some users.

Malkoff M361N Performance

Malkoff drop-ins are known for their beam quality and the M361N doesn’t disappoint.  The beam has a nicely defined hot spot for additional reach while at the same time providing plenty of spill for peripheral vision.  The neutral tint does an adequate job a rendering colors and overall is pleasing to the eye.

The modes are well spaced with low suitable for close task lighting, medium for general area lighting, and high for longer range.  My initial impression is the output on high is greater than the M361N’s 375 lumen rating.

For those interested in lower levels of output, the M361N works flawlessly with a MD2 equipped with the Malkoff High/Low switch.  If you go this route, you will effectively have 6 outputs available – High, Medium, Low, Low-Low, Low-Low-Low, and Low-Low-Low-Low.  Try saying that 10 times fast!

Malkoff M361N Output Levels

Beamshots of the M361N to be added later

Malkoff M361N Runtime

Runtime was tested on High and Medium modes using AW 3400 rechargeable Li-Ion batteries.  The lower modes were not tested.

Malkoff M361N Runtime on High

The M361N maintained 90% of its initial output for 102 minutes before beginning a decline as it dropped out of regulation.  The M361N demonstrated that it will run for a considerable time after dropping out of regulation as it was still producing a usable amount of light when the test was ended an hour later (not shown on chart).

Malkoff M361N Medium Runtime

While in medium mode the M361 maintained steady flat regulation for over 8.5 hours.  It then dropped out of regulation and continued to produce a usable amount of light well after the 11 hour mark when the test was ended.

The M361N will not leave anyone stranded without warning due to the batteries going dead.    In both high and medium modes, the M361N is capable of running for hours after dropping out of regulation and there is no doubt that in the lowest mode, it would give many hours of runtime.  Due to the drop-ins ability to run in direct drive at these levels it is strongly recommended to use only protected Li-Ion rechargeable cells.

Conclusions

The M361N, like its counterpart the M361, are welcome additions to the Malkoff drop-in lineup.  As the first multi-mode drop-ins they finally allow users of SureFire hosts to have Malkoff quality and multiple outputs in the same drop-in.  They also offer a taste of what the future may hold for products from Malkoff Devices.

Strengths

  • Quality, usable beam pattern
  • Nice neutral tint
  • Well spaced output modes
  • Good balance of output and runtime
  • Compatibility with High/Low ring when used with MD2

Concerns

  • Narrow voltage operating range allows little flexibility in battery choices
  • Mode switching UI takes some getting used to

The M361N sells for $69.00 and is available on the Malkoff Designs website.

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Posted in Flashlight Reviews, Malkoff Reviews and tagged , , , .

6 Comments

  1. Wow! I’m glad to see that the output levels I observed were validated in your tests. I sometimes worry about my inexpensive lux meter’s ability to tell the whole story.

    Also, thanks for the run time data. I’m shocked at the regulated run time on high given the output at nearly 400 lumens. I remember when the old M61s were getting about that and only making ~250 lumens or so.

    • You called it right! All I did was confirm what you had already posted on CPF.

      Gene’s drop-ins are terrific at providing long regulated runtime. People ask why they don’t have higher outputs without realizing that is not the design consideration for him.

  2. Thanks for another useful review.

    Geobruin over at CPF (thanks!) suggested this drop-in for me, as im looking for a way to convert my Z2 with a Malkoff M61 + Z49 to a dual-stage light. Ive got a couple of questions though. Will the M361 work with primary CR123’s and the Z49 tailcap? Is it just a matter of clicking the switch and then itll cycle through the modes with no issues, or will it require additional mods to work?

    Thanks,

    • You’re welcome Mads, thanks for reading!

      The M361 will work fine in your Z2 with two primary CR123s and the Z49 tailcap with no other modifications. The light will work in momentary mode with a partial press of the Z49’s button or in constant-on mode with a full press and click.

  3. Interesting review 😉 , I bought the M361 Cool (6200K).

    I do not like the tint of neutral 4000K, the color seems too hot, I prefer the 5000K.

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