Elzetta Charlie High Output

Review: Elzetta High Output Flashlights

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Elzetta High Output Flashlights – Overview

Elzetta Designs is making a big splash with the introduction of their new high output head with Automatic Voltage Sensing (AVS) Technology.  Available with a plain or crenelated bezel, and with two choices of lenses, the high output head utilizes a Cree XM-L2 LED to pump out 650 lumens when powered by two lithium CR123 batteries and a scorching 900 lumens when used with a 3-cell body.  

Staying true to their philosophy that all parts should be interchangeable and interoperable, the new high output head is fully compatible with each of Elzetta’s tailcaps and bodies.  As a result, it is now possible to create 120 unique configurations of the Elzetta flashlight.

Elzetta 120 Configurations

Older versions of the High/Strobe tailcaps were not designed to handle the higher current draw of the High Output head and need to be upgraded to reliably operate in strobe mode. This upgrade will be performed free of charge to those who send their old High/Strobe tailcaps to Elzetta.

MSRP for the High Output head is $110 with the standard bezel and $115 for the crenelated version.  Depending upon the options selected, MSRP for a complete flashlight with the new head ranges from $190 to $259.

This review is based upon the Model C133 configuration which consists of the High Output head with standard bezel, 3-cell “Charlie” body, and High/Low tailcap (MSRP $225).  A separate “Bravo” body was also used to test the head in the 2-cell Model B133 configuration (MSRP $210).

Elzetta High Output Flashlights – First Impressions

I have been aware of Elzetta flashlights for a few years but, until now, I never pulled the trigger and bought one.  Why not?  Well, I already owned the excellent Malkoff M60 LED module that was at the heart of the original ZFL-M60 Elzetta and I had plenty of Malkoff and SureFire hosts to give it a home.  Purchasing an Elzetta was always on my “to do” list but I just never got around to it.  Finally, about the time the hype started for the new high output head, I decided I had waited long enough!

Elzetta Charlie Flashlight

To say I had high expectations would be an understatement and I have not been disappointed.  As soon as I opened the package, it was no surprise to discover there is nothing “consumer grade” about an Elzetta flashlight.  The sturdy construction, aggressive knurling, and durable hard anodized finish are all clues that this is a serious tool designed to survive hard use, while at the same time, there is a level of precision that is obvious from the quality of the machining along with the fit and function of the parts.

The light comes complete with Battery Station CR123 batteries, additional o-rings, and a liberal coating of Molykote 55 on the o-rings and threads at the head and tail.  Springs are used at both the head and tail to protect the batteries and maintain contact under shock or recoil forces.  The light can be “locked out” by loosening the tailcap one full turn, preventing accidental activation.

Elzetta Charlie with High Output Head Disassembled

It’s also worth mentioning that the spare “Bravo” 2-cell body also arrived with a full complement of extra o-rings, a pair of batteries, and fully lubricated.  It was ready, straight out of the box, for use with any of Elzetta’s heads and tailcaps.

Rather than use a reflector to focus the output from the Cree XM-L2 emitter, Elzetta chose to use a 32 mm acrylic lens which is available in two varieties – a clear lens suitable for down-range lighting or a flood type lens for a broad diffuse beam.  Supported by a plastic holder, the lens may be easily replaced without the use of tools by simply unscrewing the bezel ring.  O-rings are used on the bezel threads as well as between the lens and bezel ring to maintain a watertight seal.

Elzetta Bravo Charlie Clear and Flood lens

Within the aluminum bezel, all electronics are fully potted to protect against damage.

Elzetta High Output head potted electronics

The knurling and circumferential grooves of the Bravo and Charlie bodies provide secure grip, whether in hand or in a weapon mount. Both bodies are a nominal 1″ in diameter so they fit well in most holsters and pouches made for tactical lights.

Elzetta Bravo and Charlie bodies

Model B133

Bravo body, High/Low Tailcap, High Output Head

Model C133

Charlie body, High/Low Tailcap, High Output Head

Output (high)

650 lumens (1.5 hours*)

900 lumens (1.75 hours*)

Output (low)**

 15 lumens (60 hours*)

30 lumens (50 hours*)

Length

5.6 inches (142 mm)

6.8 inches (173 mm)

Weight (w/ Batteries)

6.2 ounces (174 grams)

7.4 ounces (210 grams)

Bezel Diameter

1.45 inch (36.8 mm)

1.45 inches (36.8 mm)

* Runtime until output drops below 10%         ** With optional High/Low Tailcap

Elzetta High Output Flashlights – Performance

When equipped with the clear lens, in conjunction with the big Cree LED, the Elzetta High Output flashlight produces a beam that is capable of substantial reach while still allowing plenty of surround light for peripheral vision. Touted as having a “soft edge” the Elzetta’s beam does not create tunnel vision like most reflector-based lights.

In this configuration, the lens produces a beam ideally suited for target acquisition at distances out to 100 yards with its clearly defined center hotspot and very broad secondary spot.  The spill portion of the beam is quite wide and shows no dark spots as output tapers toward the edges of the beam.  The beam has a warm white appearance with very little of the tint shift found in many other XML based lights.

With the flood style lens in place the Elzetta takes on an entirely different personality producing an extremely broad and even beam which is well suited for close quarters illumination.  Beamshots and additional information about the flood lens can be found in the Elzetta Flood Lens mini-review.

The following slides show comparisons of the Elzetta High Output head with clear lens, in both Bravo and Charlie configurations, to a variety of other lights, including some that are much larger and/or more powerful. The beamshots can be compared across the full width of the image using the slider, while additional images can be accessed by using the navigation buttons in the bottom-right corner.

The comparison lights include:  Malkoff M60 (in MD2 host), SureFire P2ZX (320 lumen version), SureFire Fury (review), SureFire EB2 Backup (review), Streamlight ProTac HL, Malkoff M91A (in MD3 host), SureFire M6LT, Malkoff Hound Dog (XM-L2 version), and Malkoff Wildcat XP-G2 (review).

Beamshots – 30 Yards to Wooden Swing (650 lumen Bravo Configuration)

Beamshots – 30 Yards to Wooden Swing (900 lumen Charlie Configuration)

Beamshots – 45 Yards to Wooden Swing (650 lumen Bravo Configuration)

Beamshots – 45 Yards to Wooden Swing (900 lumen Charlie Configuration)

 

Runtime

Elzetta calculates runtime for their lights according to the ANSI FL1 Standard which considers runtime until output drops below 10%.  Based upon their results, the new High Output head is rated at 1.5 hours of runtime on 2 CR123 primary batteries and 1.75 hours with 3 CR123’s.

One test was conducted with each light using new SureFire CR123 cells to verify the manufacturer’s runtime claims.  Temperature readings were recorded from two points on the exterior of each light, the mid-point of the head and the mid-point of the body, to give an indication of how hot the lights become under continuous use.  Each light was mounted in a holder with no air movement or external cooling provided during the test, creating what should be considered a “worst case” scenario.  In actual use, temperatures should be somewhat lower.

Elzetta Bravo High Output Runtime

In the Bravo configuration, the high output head demonstrated very tight regulation for one hour, maintaining an impressive 95% of its initial output.  After one hour, the light began a long period of tapering output, surpassing its rated runtime of 90 minutes (to 10%).  Head temperature reached a peak of 122 degrees Fahrenheit after 61 minutes of continuous runtime with a peak body temperature of 115.5 degrees registered one minute later.

Elzetta Charlie High Output Runtime Test

In the 3-cell Charlie configuration, the high output head remained in regulation for 55 minutes, maintaining at least 86% of its initial output.  Over the next 15 minutes output declined to approximately the same output level as the 2-cell configuration before the light dropped completely out of regulation.  This was followed by a long taper in output as the batteries were depleted.  In this one test, the High Output head fell a few minutes short of its rated runtime of 105 minutes.

Not surprisingly, temperatures were much higher in the three cell configuration with a maximum head temperature of 139.5 degrees Fahrenheit and body temperature of 132 degrees recorded after 55 minutes of runtime.

When compared directly to each other, the 3-cell Charlie configuration starts out at over 150% of the output of the 2-cell Bravo. In both configurations the long tapering output after dropping out of regulation gives the user ample warning of the need to change batteries or switch to a backup light.

Elzetta Bravo and Charlie High Output Runtime Graph

Elzetta High Output Flashlights – Conclusions

The new Elzetta High Output head has given me a case of buyer’s remorse.  Not because I bought it, but because I waited so long to purchase an Elzetta product.  There is a feeling of great satisfaction in owning a quality tool that can be counted upon to provide years of reliable service.  It is also very encouraging to see a manufacturer dedicated to ensuring their products never become obsolete, instead designing their new products so they are compatible with previous offerings.  When compared to similar tactical lights, the Elzetta High Output Flashlights appear to be clear winners with their combination of solid construction, high output, steady runtime, and beam quality.

Elzetta High Output Head

Over the course of the review, all components have performed flawlessly.  While taking photos and performing tests I have disassembled and reconfigured the Bravo and Charlie bodies dozens of times, probably inducing about a year’s worth of wear on the head and tail threads.  Everything still goes together smoothly and the High/Low tailcap is a pleasure to use.  It functions exactly like the Malkoff Hi/Lo bezel ring, just at the opposite end of the light.

Elzetta Flood Lens

There is a lot to like about this light but the one thing that has impressed me the most is the High Output head’s thermal management.  The huge heat sink is mated perfectly to the body to help transfer heat away from the LED.  Granted, the light gets hot, particularly in the 3 cell configuration, but that is to be expected from a compact light producing 900 lumens.  It’s what it manages to do with that heat that is impressive.

The tail switch seems to be designed to make it harder to accidentally latch into constant-on mode, a good feature for a tactical light.  As a result, when clicking into constant-on mode, the switch is a little stiffer and requires slightly more travel than what I am accustomed to from using SureFire and Malkoff lights.  After a week’s worth of use and a slight change to my grip I have begun to adapt to it but some users may not like it the first time they try it.  However, like with any new tool, practice makes perfect.

Strengths

  • Made in the USA, right here in Kentucky!
  • Lens options allow customization based upon needs
  • Variety of switching options available – Tactical rotary, Clicky, High/Low, High/Strobe, and 2 remote switches
  • Big output but still compact
  • Excellent output regulation, particularly in the 2 cell configuration.
  • Body design provides plenty of grip

 Concerns

  • Tail switch may be uncomfortable for some users initially.  As mentioned above, this should only be a temporary problem as the user adapts to the light.
  • $200 is a big chunk of change for a flashlight but you have to pay if you want to play with the good stuff.

Visit the Elzetta Design website for more information about their High Output heads and other products.  Also, be sure to share your thoughts, feedback, or questions in the comment section below.

Thanks for stopping by!

Elzetta High Output Flashlights – Photos

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Posted in Elzetta Reviews, Flashlight Reviews and tagged , .

24 Comments

  1. Outstanding info as always. Thanks very much for the review. I’m back and forth between a Bravo vs an E2D Ultra. Your reviews on both have been very helpful.

    • Thanks for the comment! The E2D Ultra and EB2 make for an interesting comparison to the Bravo with regard to their beams. The E2D/EB2 definitely has more throw due to its tighter beam but the Bravo with High Output head has its own advantages due to its much broader beam.

  2. would be nice to see some actual field testing; freeze it and squeeze it…. I can get the same for $5. at harbor freight.

    • You should check out John Shirley’s excellent review if you would like to see the results from freezing and then boiling the Charlie version of this light. As far as field testing and squeezing(??) is concerned, I will let someone else handle that.

      And if you can get the same for $5, then I suggest you buy it. In fact, you should buy all of them.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  3. “… same for $5. at harbor freight.” That will make a lot of flashlight hobbyists (or just serious users) giggle!

    Great work on the redesign, Jim/880arm: eye-catching and clean, although I didn’t have complaints about the previous layout. Mobile compatibility is always good, though! Got an error message popup saying an image was not found, but that went away after reloading the page. You and Robin (LED-resource) are my foremost resources for reviews on the latest and greatest from SureFire, Malkoff and the like.

    Anyway, ditto on the Elzetta – they’ve been on the to-buy list for the longest time…

    • Yes, anyone who could buy a light like this for $5 would stand to make a lot of money re-selling them!

      Thank you for the comments on the site. I’m gaining a better understanding of what I want and hopefully this layout will fit my plans better than the old one. I also had a little bit of trouble with the new site until I cleared my browser cache. However, there are still some issues with the photo gallery portion. If you (or anyone else) have any problems or see errors, please let me know!

  4. Thank you for this excellent review jim/880arm, I’ll buy two bravo, one for my shotgun and the second as a flashlight. 😉

  5. I’ve been reading your reviews over and over trying to figure out what light i should buy to get more throw for spotting varmints late at night and just can’t decide between the p3x fury, the elzetta charlie with AVS head, or something like the lenslight KO 2×123 (because of the adjustable focus).

    You note that the p3x fury has more throw than the elzetta charlie. How much farther does it throw? I’m looking to see reflections on varmint eyes from 100-200 yards out. If the difference between distances that they throw is minimal, I might just get an Elzetta charlie instead for the fact that they also maintain the high output longer.

    Does the p3x fury throw noticeably farther than, say, a p2x fury? Because I was severely disappointed in seeing that the p2x doesn’t throw very far at all and is practically useless for me while varmint hunting (as was my 320lumen 6px defender). My 100 lumen stock LED maglite was able to focus the beam and spot varmint eyes so much better at distances greater than 100yds that I ended up using it the whole night instead of my Surefires.

    I’m really just trying to make sure whatever I get I’ll be able to use it for varmints this time, so I’m looking for something that throws a pretty tight beam over 100yds. I don’t need to light up the whole animal, just see the reflections on their eyes. Again, my considerations are the Lenslight KO, the Elzetta Charlie, and the Surefire p3x Fury.

    I’d greatly appreciate any insight, and by the way this is a great source for flashlight reviews and I have been constantly on this site since finding out about it. Keep up the good work.

    Bryan

    • The P3X will throw nearly twice as far as the P2X Fury. However I wouldn’t consider either of those lights to be well suited for illuminating targets at those ranges due to their wide beams which can cause a lot of light to reflect back at you from the ground and your surroundings. It’s possible you are experiencing this with your P2X Fury already, however I don’t think it would be effective at much over 100 yards under the best of circumstances. You can test this by temporarily attaching a cardboard tube (a toilet paper tube will work) to the head of your Fury to see if you can notice a difference. Of course this won’t enable the light to throw any farther but it may make a difference in what you’re able to see at distance.

      Ultimately, how far a light will throw is a factor of the beam intensity which is measured in candela. I do not currently measure this during my reviews so I can only go by what is published by the manufacturers. For the lights you mentioned above, these values are 9,200 for the Lenslight KO, 12,200 for the Elzetta Charlie, 12,600 for the P2X Fury and 22,000 for the P3X Fury. You can compare these values to the rating of your Maglite to get an idea of where you’re starting from. Some of the Maglites have values over 30,000 so it may be a considerable difference.

      Of course, that number only tells part of the story. For example, the P3X Fury only maintains that level for a brief period after it is first turned on. After about 2.5 minutes it drops down to a level only slightly higher than the P2X Fury and Elzetta Charlie. Another factor is the size of the hotspot. Although the Charlie has a lower beam intensity than the P3X Fury, it has a comparatively huge hotspot, when compared to the SureFire, allowing you to see a larger area.

      I have never used a light as you describe so I’m afraid I can’t offer any more definite advice based on experience. Thank you for visiting and your compliment as well!

  6. Your beam shot comparisons are the most useful technique I have ever had the pleasure of using! I now will go back and look at other reviews of lights that interest me. Thanks so much for all your hard work 🙂

  7. On thing that may become a problem in the long run (read 10-20 years) – how chemically stable is the acrylic lens? Will it yellow over time? Will/can it crack due to age and thermal stress over time? With most regular lights, a replacement lens can be found or even fabricated (old SF Lexan lenses). But what about the Elzetta AVS lens?

    Cheers
    Thorsten

    • Hi Thorsten, you have a point about the windows in conventional lights being much easier to replace. I don’t know enough about acrylics to say what would make them fail. I have lots of lights with optics (I think the oldest is about 7 years old) and I haven’t experienced any failures or changes over time.

      On another note, I think it’s pretty neat that we are talking about the possibility of obtaining replacement parts for a flashlight after it is 10 or 20 years old. Most “normal” flashlights would last only a fraction of that time!

  8. Jim, first off youre awesome at what you do and I really do appreciate what you have done for the hobby. My question to you is if I went out and bought the charlie with the avs head, the charlie would be modular kind of like the overeadys? As far as being able to pretty much put what ever p60 drop in I want?

    • Hi Darren, thank you for your comments.

      The AVS head is pretty much entirely self contained so it isn’t compatible with P60 drop-ins. However, you could pick up one of their original style bezels for $20-$25 and use it with some P60s. The Malkoff drop-ins will definitely work but I haven’t tried any others.

  9. Anytime Jim, I looked a little closer after I wrote the message and realized the AVS Head differs from a P60 drop in lol. Keep up the good work buddy. On another note, when I see a flashlight like the P3X and the new Dominator for example, in my opinion they both and others dont leave much to be desired when they lose a good chunk of there max output in the first few minutes of runtime. Am I wrong to think that the charlie just straight up ate the Fury for breakfast as far as total max output?

    • Depends on what you mean by total max output. The Fury definitely produces more light but only for a couple of minutes before output is reduced. The Charlie, on the other hand, has a little less output but sustains it better over time.

      I guess it would come down to how you use the light. If it’s typically for a few minutes at a time then the P3X would have the advantage due to its sheer output. If you normally use a light for longer periods then it would swing in favor of the Elzetta due to it maintaining its slightly lower output for a longer time.

  10. As usual you’re reviews are top-quality. My question is for the Elzetta bravo. How much different is the throw for this flashlight compared to the Surefire EB2? I am more than impressed with the flat regulation of the Elzetta Bravo. I am not happy with the sloppy regulation of the Surefire. I just want to make sure there is enough throw with the Elzetta

  11. Thank you for this review. Largely based on your reviews here, I purchased a CHarlie with AVS head and hi/Lo tail cap. It is a beast. Low works welll emough outside at night to walk around and if I need light it up, the high is a quick 1/4″ turn and wham its like someone turned the lights on. I considered the Fury but didnt like their trickery regarding runtime. I also like being able to select if Iwant my light on Hi or Lo by adjusting the tail vs. having to click through every level to get what I want when I want it.

  12. Hi,

    Just wandering if B333 works fine with a single 3.7V 16650 Lithium Ion battery? I normally use Li-Ions for my flashlights and keep CR123 Lithiums for backup.

  13. TG, I use 16650’s in my Bravo and Bones at all times and like you said, store CR123’s as backup. They work very well. Suggest Keeppower 16650 2500mah.

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