Malkoff Wildcat V5

Review: Malkoff Wildcat V5

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Not content to rest on their past accomplishments, Malkoff Devices has released a newly revamped version of their popular Wildcat high-output flashlight head.  Utilizing the Cree MT-G2 emitter, a first for Malkoff Devices, the newest Wildcat is produced in two variations:

  • 5000K emitter:  Neutral tint, rated at 1600 lumens initially, 1400 lumens continuously
  • 3000K emitter:  Warm High CRI (Color Rendering Index), rated at 1000 lumens initially, 800 lumens continuously

The Wildcat head can be used with either the MD3 or MD4 Malkoff bodies and is designed to operate with lithium primary or lithium-ion rechargeable batteries.

Current pricing for the Wildcat is $169 for the head only, $224 when equipped with the MD3 body, or $228 with the MD4.  This review is based upon the 5000K version of the Wildcat. 

Malkoff Wildcat – Overview

Since it was first introduced in 2009, the Malkoff Wildcat has gone through several changes with this latest model being the fifth version (V5).

  • Wildcat V1:  4 Cree XRE-7090 LEDs with 4 optics.  5-12V input, approximately 500 lumens
  • Wildcat V2:  3 Cree XP-G LEDs with 3 reflectors.  6-9V input, approximately 700 lumens
  • Wildcat V3:  3 Cree XP-G LEDs with one triple optic.  6-9V input, approximately 900 lumens
  • Wildcat V4:  3 Cree XP-G2 LEDs with one triple optic.  6-9V input, approximately 1150 lumens
  • Wildcat V5:  1 Cree MT-G2 LED with Ledil reflector.  6.5-12V input, approximately 1400 lumens

This latest Wildcat head is the first to use a single LED and follows the same compact design as previous versions, measuring only 2″ long and 1.8″ in diameter.  When mated to the MD3 body, the complete flashlight measures less than 7″ and only 8″ long with the MD4 body.

Malkoff Wildcat with MD3

Construction is solid with the exterior surfaces made of 6061 T6 Structural Aircraft Grade aluminum finished with black Type III anodizing.  The Malkoff Devices brand name and the “Wildcat” designation are prominently displayed on the head.

Malkoff Wildcat

The Cree MT-G2 emitter and Ledil reflector are protected by a shatter resistant coated acrylic lens.

Malkoff Wildcat V5 MT-G2

As with previous versions of the Wildcat, a brass high/low bezel switch is included and all electronics are fully potted for reliability.

Malkoff Wildcat V5 MT-G2

Malkoff Wildcat – Manufacturer’s Specifications

With an operating range of 6.5 to 12 volts, the Wildcat can be used with several different battery combinations, depending upon which body is chosen.  The MD3 body allow the use of 3 lithium primary 123A cells or 2 lithium-ion 18500 rechargeable batteries while the longer MD4 body permits the use of four 123A cells or 2 lithium-ion 18650 batteries.

The inclusion of the High/Low Bezel Switch allows users to select 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 Wildcat head and utilizes a resistor to produce the lower output level, varying between 90 and 110 lumens depending upon the type of batteries used.

Malkoff Wildcat 5000K MT-G2

MD3 body

Malkoff Wildcat 5000K MT-G2

MD4 body

Output

1600 lumens initial / 1400 lumens sustained

1600 lumens initial / 1400 lumens sustained

Battery Options

2×18500 rechargeable, 3x123A primary

2×18650 rechargeable, 4x123A primary

Length

6.7 inches (170 mm)

8 inches (203 mm)

Weight (w/ Batteries)

9.4 ounces (266 grams)*

10.9 ounces (290 grams)**

Bezel Diameter

1.8 inches (46 mm)

1.8 inches (46 mm)

* With AW 18500 1500mAh cels     ** With AW 18650 3100 mAh cells

Malkoff Wildcat – Performance

With the huge MT-G2 emitter combined with the comparatively shallow reflector, the Wildcat produces a very powerful and even spread of light.  Although a center hotspot can be observed when illuminating nearby objects, it is almost undetectable a a distance of 10 feet.  The beam is free of artifacts and has a warm neutral tint.

Although range is limited by the flood-style beam, the Wildcat provides good resolution of detail out to 40 yards and is still somewhat effective at 60 yards when used in high mode.  In low mode, output is well suited for walking or very close tasks.

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 were used in the comparison:

  1. Malkoff Wildcat V4 (XP-G2 version) (link to review)
  2. SureFire M3LT
  3. Malkoff M91A
  4. SureFire M6LT (link to review)
  5. Elzetta Charlie with AVS head and flood optic (link to review)
  6. Elzetta Charlie with AVS head and standard optic (link to review)
  7. SureFire P3X Fury (link to review)
  8. Streamlight ProTac HL3 (link to review)
  9. Malkoff Hound Dog XM-L2 (link to review)
  10. TorchLab Triple XP-G2 Neutral (link to review)

Beamshots – 30 Yards to Swing











Beamshots – 40 Yards to Swing











Beamshots – 5 Yards to Wall




 

Runtime

Runtime tests were conducted with a variety of battery combinations using the MD3 and MD4 bodies.  The lithium primary 123A batteries used for testing were provided by the fine folks at Battery Station.  This type of testing would not be possible without their support.

Malkoff Wildcat V5

  1.  MD3 body with 3 x 123A Lithium Primary (Battery Station 123A)
  2. MD3 body with 2 x 18500 Lithium-Ion Rechargeable (AW 1500mAh)
  3. MD4 body with 4 x 123A Lithium Primary (Battery Station 123A)
  4. MD4 body with 2 x 18650 Lithium-Ion Rechargeable (AW 3100mAh)

 

Malkoff Wildcat V5 MT-G2 Runtime

Output is most stable when the Wildcat is used in conjunction with lithium-ion rechargeable batteries but it works well with lithium primary 123A cells.  With all battery types, the output begins to taper as the cells become depleted providing warning of the need to change or recharge the batteries.

The Wildcat will not run at all on a single lithium-ion rechargeable battery.  It will operate very briefly at a reduced level of output on 2 x 123A lithium primary batteries but this is not recommended.

Needless to say, the Wildcat becomes quite warm, or even hot, when operated continuously for extended periods of time.  A small cooling fan was directed onto the Wildcat head during these runtime tests.

Malkoff Wildcat – Conclusions

This latest Wildcat is a little difficult to describe as it is unlike any light I have ever used before; it almost has to be seen to be believed.  It’s common to refer to high-powered flashlights turning “night to day” but this Wildcat gives new meaning to the statement.  The power, breadth and uniformity of its output are mind-blowing.  In addition, the beam tint is very natural and pleasing to the eye.

The low intensity but very broad beam allows the Wildcat to be useful indoors or at close ranges without the blinding glare you would expect from such a high-powered light.  Even walking on snow covered ground presents no issues with glare or reflected light.

As a result of this completely different type of beam, the latest Wildcat should not be considered an upgrade over the previous version, at least not in the sense that it is “the same thing, only more of it.”  These are two completely different lights with the V4 Wildcat being a floody light that throws well and the V5 being a pure flood light.  It is important to have the correct expectations before purchasing a light like this.

Malkoff V4 XP-G2 Wildcat and V5 MT-G2 Wildcat

As with other Malkoff products, the Wildcat’s modular design is a key advantage as it allows the head to be used with both the MD3 and MD4 bodies, increasing options with regard to battery types and overall size.  Support for 123A lithium primary batteries is improved over the previous version.

When I wrote about the V4 Wildcat, I made the following statements:

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 product designed for years of use.

Based upon my initial impressions of this latest version of the Wildcat, I think those statements are still true, although I have to admit I did more than just smile when I first fired it up!  The new Wildcat is an awesome light.

Strengths

  • Made in the USA
  • Incredible flood-style output
  • Very nice neutral beam tint
  • Compatible with primary and rechargeable batteries
  • Modular design and parts compatibility allows easy upgrades

Concerns

  • Perfectly round design prone to rolling away if left laying on its side
  • The perfect flood beam comes at the expense of throw.  You can’t have everything!

I was very fortunate that I browsed through the Malkoff website and happened to notice the new Wildcats about 30 minutes prior to them being announced via e-mail.  If not for that good fortune I would be among the many that missed out on the initial production run as they sold out within minutes of the announcement.

As with previous orders, the Wildcat head was quickly shipped and safely arrived just a couple of days later, complete with a handwritten “Thank You” from Cathy Malkoff.  Anyone who has purchased a product from Malkoff Devices knows what I’m referring to and how nice it is to receive that personal touch.

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 V5 MT-G2

 

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13 Comments

  1. Thanks for the review. A side by side beam comparison between V4 and V5 would be nice later on. I just got the V4 a couple of weeks ago. I figured the use of multiple emitters would create an artifact free beam, similar to my MTB light. Is the V5 going to replace the V4 for good?

    • Hi Richard. The V4 is no longer listed on the Malkoff site so I suspect it’s gone for good unless something changes. With regard to the side by side comparison, are you speaking of something different than what is currently shown in the beamshot photos?

      You can compare the V5 to several other lights by navigating through the slides using the arrow buttons in the bottom right corner. I apologize if you knew this and were asking about something else.

      Thanks for visiting!

  2. Thank you for the excellent review Jim. I have learned about multiple lights, before purchasing, from your reviews. This new “Wildcat” looks very impressive! This, along with my Neutral Hound Dog, will be a perfect combination.

    • Glad you liked the reviews. I only have the cool white version of the Hound Dog but I have been thinking about trying the neutral. Maybe one of these days I will get one!

  3. Good review. It would be nice if flashlights were designed in a larger format (light heads/hosts) to accommodate the larger lithium ion rechargeable batteries such as 25500 or 32600 for longer burn times. Just a thought.

    • I agree it would be nice to have some longer runtime options available. I don’t have any first-hand experience with 25500 or 32600 cells but their capacities look pretty impressive.

      Thanks for visiting.

  4. Jim, could you please do a runtime test on low in the MD4 with two 18650 cells?

    Or, could you measure the current draw on low and then extrapolate runtime?

    I intend to use this light mostly on low and would like to know the current draw and/or runtime?

    Thank you!

  5. Finally had a chance to do the current draw tests myself:

    Two Eagletac protected 18650 cells.

    Cell One Resting Voltage = 4.06 volts
    Cell Two Resting Voltage = 4.06 volts

    Total Series Voltage = 8.12 volts

    Current Test Results On Low = 80mA
    Current Test Results on High = 2.25 amps

    • Hi Chris. I haven’t handled a neutral version of the Wildcat so I can’t say for sure. Based on their specifications, the output is essentially the same and the neutral will be a little bit warmer than this version but I suspect they will be very similar overall.

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