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.
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!
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.
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.
Within the aluminum bezel, all electronics are fully potted to protect against damage.
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.
Bravo body, High/Low Tailcap, High Output Head
Charlie body, High/Low Tailcap, High Output Head
650 lumens (1.5 hours*)
900 lumens (1.75 hours*)
15 lumens (60 hours*)
30 lumens (50 hours*)
5.6 inches (142 mm)
6.8 inches (173 mm)
|Weight (w/ Batteries)||
6.2 ounces (174 grams)
7.4 ounces (210 grams)
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)
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
- 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
- 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.
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