The Malkoff Devices “Wildcat” is a high powered yet relatively compact flashlight characterized by its blazing output and wide beam pattern. Utilizing three Cree XP-G2 emitters, the Wildcat is rated to produce up to 1350 lumens initially (1150 lumens continuously) and also has a low mode which provides 40-50 lumens.
The Wildcat can be used with any of the flashlight bodies and tailcaps from the Malkoff MD series and has an operating range of 6 to 10 volts, allowing for a variety of battery combinations. This review will focus on the Wildcat with the MD3 and MD4 bodies and powered by lithium primary as well as lithium-ion rechargeable batteries.
Note: This review is for the 4th generation Malkoff Wildcat which is no longer available. For a review of the current version, be sure to check out the Malkoff Wildcat V5 review.
While it was in production, pricing for this version of the Wildcat was $125 for the head only, $180 when equipped with the MD3 body, or $184 with the MD4.
Malkoff Wildcat Flashlight – First Impressions
Considering the amount of light it produces, the Malkoff Wildcat is surprisingly compact. Measuring less than 7″ long when fitted onto the MD3 body, the Wildcat is small enough to be easily carried in a pocket or holster and, even with the longer MD4 body, the light is only 8″ long and is still a very manageable size.
With a body diameter of 1″, the Wildcat is compatible with many mounting accessories and holsters made for tactical and weapon mounted flashlights.
The Wildcat is solidly constructed of 6061 T6 Structural Aircraft Grade Aluminum finished with black Type III anodizing. The interior of the MD3 and MD4 bodies is Chemfilm coated for corrosion protection.
The Malkoff Devices brand name and the “Wildcat” designation are proudly displayed on the head. Both the head and body are individually serialized for identification.
The three Cree XP-G2 emitters are housed behind an optic which, in turn, is protected by a shatter resistant coated acrylic lens. The head measures 1.8″ at its widest point.
At the opposite end of the light, a McClicky forward-clicky style tailcap switch allows momentary operation with a partial press and constant-on operation with a full press and click of the switch.
A raised edge around the tailcap allows the light to tail stand 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 are removable and batteries may be loaded from either end. The interior of the battery compartment measures 18.7mm in diameter and will accomodate most lithium-ion rechargeable batteries. O-rings are used at both the head and tail to maintain a weather tight seal.
The inclusion of the High/Low Bezel Switch allows users to select between full output with the head fully tightened and low output with the head loosened a fraction of a turn. The brass High/Low Switch is completely housed inside the Wildcat head and utilizes a resistor to produce the lower output level, varying between 40 and 50 lumens depending upon the type of batteries used.
Shock isolation for the batteries is provided by springs at both ends. Electronics are fully potted for protection.
With an operating voltage range from 6 to 10 volts, the Wildcat can be used with several different battery combinations, depending upon the body used. The MD3 body allows the use of 3 lithium primary 123A cells or 2 lithium-ion 18500 rechargeable batteries. The longer MD4 body permits the use of 2 lithium-ion 18650 batteries. Using four 123A primary cells will provide too much voltage and destroy the electronics.
1350 initial / 1150 sustained
1350 initial / 1150 sustained
|Runtime at full output||
6.7 inches (170 mm)
8 inches (203 mm)
|Weight (w/ Batteries)||
9.4 ounces (266 grams)*
10.9 ounces (290 grams)**
1.8 inches (46 mm)
1.8 inches (46 mm)
* With two AW 18500 1500mAh cells ** With two AW 18650 3100mAh cells
In addition to the MD3 and MD4 configurations, the Wildcat can also be paired with the Malkoff MD2 body and powered by a single 18650 cell with reduced output or 2 x 18350 IMR rechargeable cells for full output.
Malkoff Wildcat – Performance
The Malkoff Wildcat produces an initial 1350 lumen beam which is evenly distributed with only a hint of a center hotspot. The beam is white, with very little indication of the blue tint normally associated with cool white emitters and is very clean with no visible artifacts or rings.
Although the Wildcat is intended to be more of an area light, its sheer power enables it to produce a beam with up to 17,000 lux intensity and is easily capable of reaching several hundred feet. The wide spill beam can also illuminate details over 200 feet away.
The following slides show the Malkoff Wildcat 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 width 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 are shown in the comparison (with links to full reviews):
- SureFire EB2 Backup
- SureFire P2X Fury
- SureFire M3LT
- Malkoff MD3 with M91A drop-in
- Elzetta Charlie with High Output Head
- SureFire M6LT
- SureFire P3X Fury
- Malkoff Hound Dog
30 Yards to Swing
40 Yards to Swing
Runtime tests were conducted with primary 123A and rechargeable lithium-ion batteries:
- MD3 body with 2 x 18500 Lithium-Ion Rechargeable cells (AW 1500mAh)
- MD3 body with 3 x 123A Lithium primary batteries (SF123A)
- MD4 body with 2 x 18650 Lithium-Ion Rechargeable cells (AW 3100mAh)
When tested with 18500 and 18650 lithium-ion cells, the Wildcat was able to maintain at least 90% of its initial output for the majority of its runtime. As the cells became depleted, the Wildcat’s body became noticeably warmer providing some indication of the need to change or recharge the batteries.
Lithium primary 123A batteries sustained the high output for 14 minutes before dropping to approximately 300 lumens. This was followed by a slow rise in output over the next 75 minutes of operation before beginning another drop as the batteries were depleted.
Although the 123A cells cannot sustain the maximum output level for long periods of time, they are still adequate for shorter bursts and provide a long tapering output as they become depleted.
The Wildcat truly excels when used outdoors where the wide and powerful beam literally turns night into day. Although it is not designed to reach as far as some other lights, the combination of reach and spill sets the Wildcat apart. The low mode provides more than enough light for close tasks and most indoor use and the high mode is readily available with just a twist of the head. Operation of the High/Low Bezel Switch is silky smooth just as it is with the Malkoff MD2 and “Hound Dog.”
The Wildcat’s modular design is a key advantage as it allows users to exchange parts between the various Malkoff flashlights and configure the light based upon their specific needs. Also, support for 18mm batteries allows the use of more powerful 18500 and 18650 lithium-ion rechargeable cells providing an attractive alternative to using disposable primary batteries.
Due to being sized for 18mm batteries, there can be some battery rattle when used with the smaller 123A primary batteries. Movement is minimal and the head and tail springs maintain battery contact even under hard use.
The Malkoff Wildcat, quite frankly, is the type of flashlight that makes a flashaholic smile with its unique combination of price, power, modular design, and beam pattern. Backed by the solid reputation and support of Gene Malkoff there is no doubt it is a quality USA made product designed for years of use. It is definitely one of my favorites.
- Solid construction
- 1150+ lumens of sustained output when powered by two lithium-ion batteries
- Compatible with primary and rechargeable batteries
- Modular design and parts compatibility with other Malkoff products allows easy reconfiguration and upgrades
- The perfectly round design is prone to rolling if left laying on its side
- Body and head can get rather hot when operated continuously
Be sure to share your thoughts, questions, or Malkoff experiences in the comment section below.
Additional information about the Malkoff Wildcat can be found on the Malkoff Devices website.
Malkoff Wildcat Photos