Malkoff MD2 Flashlight – Overview
Over the years since its introduction, the Malkoff Devices MD2 has firmly established itself among the favorites of flashlight enthusiasts and those who demand the most from their illumination tools. Designed to accept Malkoff drop-in LED modules, the MD2 can be purchased as a host (with no LED drop-in module) or as a complete “turn-key” flashlight with a M61 drop-in already installed. The latest version of this drop-in, featuring a Cree XP-G2 emitter, is rated to produce more than 300 lumens of output for approximately 1.5 hours when used with lithium 123A primary batteries.
Current pricing for the MD2 is $63.00 for the host only, $99.00 for the turn-key version with M61, and $119.00 for the turn-key version with M61 and High/Low Bezel Switch. Numerous other drop-in modules and accessories are available for purchase separately.
This review will focus mainly on the turn-key MD2 when equipped with the M61 drop-in module and High/Low Bezel switch.
Malkoff MD2 Flashlight – First Impressions
Solid is probably the best word to describe the Malkoff MD2. Whether talking about the body, the head, or the M61 drop-in housed inside, every piece of the MD2 has a substantial feel and is obviously built to last.
Made of 6061 T6 Structural Aircraft Grade Aluminum, the MD2 features exterior Type III anodizing and interior Chemfilm coating for durability and corrosion protection. Currently available only in black, the MD2 has also been produced with other finishes, including Camouflage and Pink.
Conspicuously absent of logos or flashy design elements, markings on the MD2 are kept to a minimum with only the manufacturer’s name, model, and “Made In USA” laser engraved on one side of the body and the serial number on the opposite side.
With a 1″ diameter body, the MD2 is compatible with most mounting accessories and holsters used with tactical lights. Both the body and tailcap feature knurling and several ridges to enhance grip.
The Cree XP-G2 emitter is protected by a scratch and shatter resistant hardcoated acrylic lens which is designed to allow 95% of available light to pass through. The M61’s output is focused by a custom orange peel reflector, designed by Don McLeish, to produce a beam that is balanced between throw and spill. A gasket is used to provide a weather tight seal between the lens and bezel.
Switching is handled at the other end of the MD2 by a McClicky tailcap switch. This forward-clicky style switch allows momentary operation with a partial press and constant-on operation with a full press and click of the switch. Actuation is smooth and positive with an audible click when latching into constant-on mode.
A raised edge around the tailcap allows the MD2 to tailstand on a flat surface and helps reduce the possibility of accidental activation. The rubber boot and the switch itself are user replaceable.
Both the head and tailcap of the MD2 are removable and batteries may be loaded from either end. Shock isolation for the batteries is provided by springs at both ends and O-rings are used to maintain a weather tight seal. The battery compartment measures 18.7mm in diameter to accommodate most 18650 lithium-ion rechargeable batteries.
The head can also be disassembled allowing easy replacement or upgrade of any component. Housing the fully potted electronics, the M61’s solid brass heatsink provides an effective thermal path to draw heat away from the LED itself.
With an input voltage range of 3.4 to 9 volts, the M61 drop-in can be operated with nearly any battery combination that will fit inside the MD2 body, including lithium primary 123A cells as well as 16340 and 18650 lithium-ion rechargeable batteries.
When purchased as part of the turn-key package, the MD2 comes equipped with two Battery Station 123A lithium primary batteries.
In its basic configuration the MD2 has only one output level. However with the addition of the High/Low Bezel Switch, users have a choice between full output with the head fully tightened or low output with the head loosened a fraction of a turn. The brass High/Low Bezel Switch is completely housed inside the head of the MD2 and replaces the usual aluminum lamp retaining ring.
The High/Low Bezel Switch utilizes a resistor to produce the lower output level. As a result, the low level output may vary depending upon the type of battery used.
325 lumens (1.5 hours*)
20-30 lumens (Approx)
5.1 inches (129 mm)
|Weight (w/ Batteries)||
6.1 ounces (174 grams)
1.22 inch (31 mm)
* Runtime at full output
Malkoff MD2 Flashlight – Performance
For many users, myself included, the Malkoff MD2 with M61 drop-in is one of the standards other lights are compared to. When equipped with the M61 drop-in, the MD2 produces what I would consider to be a general purpose beam, which is good for a wide variety of tasks.
The overall beam is very white with a slightly cool tint and a noticeable center hot spot. Moving outward from the center the beam transitions smoothly into the spill beam which is very clean and even. Although it is capable of reaching much further, the beam is seems ideally suited for illuminating objects out to 150-200 feet.
The following slides show the MD2 with M61 drop-in compared to a variety of other lights to give some perspective with regard to output and beam profile. The images can be compared across their full widths using the slider and additional comparisons can be viewed by using the navigation buttons in the bottom-right corner of each image.
The following lights were used in the comparison (with links to full reviews):
- Malkoff MD2 with M61 drop-in module
- SureFire G2X (200 lumen version)
- SureFire EB1 Backup
- Malkoff MD3 with M60 drop-in module
- Elzetta Charlie with Malkoff M60F drop-in module
- SureFire Z2X (320 lumen version)
- Malkoff MD2 with M361N drop-in module
- Malkoff MD3 with M61SHO drop-in module
- SureFire P2X Fury
- Malkoff MD4 with M91A drop-in module
30 Yards to Swing
25 Yards to Garage
20 Yards to House
Due to the wide selection of available power sources for the MD2 with M61 drop-in, runtime tests were conducted with a variety of battery types:
- 2 x 123A Lithium Primary (SF123A)
- 2 x LFP123 Lithium-Phosphate Rechargeable (K2 Energy)
- 2 x RCR123 Lithium-Ion Rechargeable (AW 16340)
- 1 x 18650 Lithium-Ion Rechargeable (AW 3100mAh)
When operated continuously in high mode, the head of the MD2 gets warm but not overly hot, reaching a maximum temperature of 110 degrees Fahrenheit (72 degree ambient). With all battery types, output is stable the entire time the light is running in regulation.
When powered by two SureFire 123A Lithium Primary batteries, the MD2 produced its full output for just over 90 minutes and then began a long taper as the batteries were depleted. In this configuration, the MD2 was still producing a usable amount of light when the test was ended after 3 hours of runtime.
The K2 Energy LFP123 Lithium Phosphate rechargeable batteries powered the MD2 for 45 minutes at full output before beginning a rapid decline. When the test was ended at 52 minutes, the MD2 was still producing 4 or 5 lumens of output.
With two AW 16340 (RCR123) Lithium-Ion rechargeable batteries, the MD2 produced its highest output, approximately 7% more than with 123A lithium primary batteries. This output was sustained for just over 52 minutes until the batteries’ own protection circuit kicked in to prevent over discharge. I recommend only using protected lithium-ion rechargeable batteries in this configuration.
Using a single AW 18650 (3100mAh) Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery resulted in a slightly lower output than the other battery options but gave the longest total runtime. Producing about 3-5% less output than with 123A lithium primary batteries, the MD2 with AW 18650 maintained regulation for just over 70 minutes before beginning an extremely long taper as the battery was depleted. Output was around 100 lumens after 4 hours of total runtime and approximately 30 lumens after 6 hours, when the test was ended.
The Malkoff MD2 is a solid, dependable flashlight that is built to last, even under hard use. In addition, the modular design and parts compatibility with other Malkoff products ensure the MD2 will never become obsolete as it can be easily upgraded as newer drop-in modules become available. Even now there are over a dozen drop-in options in a variety of beam tints and ranging from less than 100 lumens to nearly 400 lumens maximum output. Users wanting even more powerful options can choose a longer body, the MD3 or MD4, and utilize the more powerful M91 series of drop-ins with up to 825 lumens of output.
When outfitted with the M61 drop-in the MD2 is a terrific short to medium distance light which is able to evenly illuminate a fairly broad area. Due to its low current draw and solid regulation the MD2/M61 combination can also be counted upon to provide a consistent and predictable amount of light over the majority of a battery’s life. Compatibility with a variety of battery types also means that users can tailor their battery choices based upon their needs and usage.
The addition of the High/Low bezel ring provides a simple method of switching between full output and a lower mode by simply tightening or loosening the head. Even when using the MD2 with one hand, the action is smooth and easy to operate.
To put it simply, the Malkoff MD2 provides a combination of reliability, durability, and versatility that sets it apart from the competition.
- Made in the USA
- Versatile and useful beam perfect for near to middle distance illumination
- Compatible with primary and rechargeable batteries
- Good runtime with long taper as batteries become depleted (with primary batteries and 18650 Li-Ion).
- Modular design and parts compatibility allows easy upgrades
- Every component is user replaceable
- Perfectly round design prone to rolling away if left laying on its side.
Finally, no review of a Malkoff Devices product would be complete without mentioning the great service and support provided by Gene and Cathy Malkoff. Both are well known for their desire to satisfy customers and are quick to answer any questions or provide assistance. Cathy is also familiar to many for her handwritten “Thank You” note on the invoice accompanying each order. It’s personal touches like these are reminders that you are dealing with real people with a genuine interest in their customers.
Be sure to share your thoughts, questions, or Malkoff experiences in the comment section below.
Additional information about the Malkoff MD2 can be found on the Malkoff website.