TorchLAB BOSS

Review: TorchLAB BOSS

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Continually finding ways to squeeze ultra-high output levels out of increasingly smaller flashlights, OVEREADY has introduced a completely new flashlight system, the TorchLAB BOSS.  Designed to provide Bright Output in a Small Size, the BOSS is capable of producing nearly 3500 lumens of output using the same triple LED light engine found in the TorchLAB Wasp (review) and their P60 style drop-ins.

TorchLAB BOSS 70

Although the electronics are the same as other TorchLAB products, they are housed in a completely new head measuring only 1″ in diameter.  A pair of newly designed bodies, the BOSS 35 and BOSS 70, round out the package and accommodate a single 18350 battery or single 18650 (or two 18350s) respectively.  All components are made of 7075 aluminum and feature a new “patina” finish intended to evolve over time as the flashlight is handled and used.  More traditional hard anodized finishes will be available at a later date.

The initial production run will use Cree XP-L HI emitters (4000K color temperature).  Cree XP-L Redome (4500K color temperature) and High CRI Nichia 219B emitters will be available later in the year.  The BOSS heads will also be available with a choice of red or amber secondary LED.

One of each body style along with a triple XP-L HI version of the BOSS head (with red secondary LED) were provided by OVEREADY for use in this review.  Product packaging had not been finalized at that point but it has been announced that production units will arrive in a custom box and cloth pouch identified with BOSS branding.  (packaging photos provided by OVEREADY).

Pricing will vary according to options and is expected to start at around $350.  General production versions will have a slightly darker finish than what is shown on the review samples.

TorchLAB BOSS – Overview

The BOSS flashlight system is made up of three primary components – the BOSS head, BOSS 35 body, and BOSS 70 body.  The bodies measure 1″ in diameter at their widest points and have a retro look with tapering side channels.

The head also measures 1″ in diameter and features a removable bezel to allow easy swapping of optics or upgrading the light engine.  See the Wasp Triple Optics review for more information about the available optics.TorchLAB BOSS

The frame which holds the optic in place is custom molded with self-charging glow in the dark material.  Brief operation of the BOSS or exposure to other strong light sources provides more than enough illumination to find the flashlight in a dark room or even illuminate objects at very close distances.

Both bodies are equipped with a stainless spring steel pocket clip to allow bezel-down pocket carry.  The clip is secured by a pair of custom titanium T10 screws to facilitate easy removal or replacement with custom aftermarket clips.

TorchLAB BOSS 35

The McClicky tail switch is integrated into the body and shrouded by a shrunk down version of the TorchLAB Triad tailcap which also allows the light to tailstand.  The lobes reduce the possibility of accidental activation and provide a secure mounting point for the pocket clip while still allowing easy thumb access to the switch.

TorchLAB BOSS 35

The pocket clip screws are threaded into blind holes to maintain a smooth surface on the inside of the shroud.  The switch boot has a wider flange than found on other TorchLAB switches and is kept in place by a captive o-ring inside the tail shroud.  It  should be noted that, although regular McClicky switch boots may fit and function, they will not provide the same level of sealing due to their narrower flanges.

TorchLAB BOSS

The head threads smoothly onto the body using ACME threads and a bright green Hydrogenated Nitrile Butadiene Rubber (HNBR) o-ring provides a water tight seal.  HNBR o-rings are known for their ability to withstand long-term exposure to heat and have an operating temperature range from -40° F to 325° F.  Brass contacts and springs at both ends ensure reliable electrical contact between the head, body, and batteries.

TorchLAB BOSS

Battery bumpers inside the body help shield the switch mechanism from the effects of hard impacts.

TorchLAB BOSS body

 

TorchLAB BOSS - Specifications

 BOSS 35BOSS 70
Diameter (widest point)1"1"
Length3.3"4.6"
Weight (w/o batteries)56 grams68 grams
Max Output (XP-L emitter)*1933 lumens3498 lumens

* LED Lumens.  Actual out the front lumens will be less

TorchLAB BOSS – Operation and Programming

Like other TorchLAB products based on the V5 light engine, the BOSS can be ordered with any of several different preprogrammed operating modes. The sample used in this review was delivered with “RLMH” programming (Red/Low/Medium/High). After turning the light on, the various modes are accessed by a quick off/on cycle, with the mode advancing each time.

While simple to operate, users can go almost as far as they could possibly want with regard to customization of its operating modes. To begin with, there are two separate sets (banks) of operating modes which can be programmed independently of each other. By taking advantage of the head’s ability to detect the battery configuration, this allows one configuration for single battery set-ups and another for dual battery configurations. The light can even be powered by a pair of CR123a primary batteries when configured properly.

Programming is accomplished through a web-based interface on the LUX-RC website. Users are able to select their desired battery configurations and up to 4 operating modes for each one.

OVEREADY Moddoolar Triple V5 Wasp Programming

38 operating modes/output levels are available to choose from:

  • Red Moonlight (6mW)
  • 33 white light output modes ranging from 1.5mW (0.005%) up to 30W (100%)
  • SOS Signaling
  • 10Hz strobe
  • Colored beacon (red or amber depending on choice of secondary LED)
  • Custom signal with adjustable on/off times and a choice of white or red/amber LEDs

To avoid damage to the batteries, maximum white light output is limited to level 17W (Level 28, 55%) when powered by a single lithium-ion rechargeable battery and 8.8W (Level 25, 29%) when powered by two CR123a lithium primary batteries.

In addition to the output modes, users may select additional options that affect how the BOSS operates.

OVEREADY Moddoolar Triple V5 Wasp Programming

Memory (3 options)

  • No memory – When first turned on, the light will always start with the first mode.
  • Standard memory – When first turned on, the light will start with the last mode used.
  • Hybrid memory – When first turned on, the light will start with the last mode used but, when modes are changed, it will go back to the first mode.

Battery Protection (2 options)

  • Active – The light will automatically shut off when the battery voltage drops to 2.8V per cell. This is intended to protect against over-discharging unprotected lithium-ion batteries.
  • Disabled – This option should only be used with protected lithium-ion batteries or CR123a primary batteries.

Battery Stretch (2 options)

  • Active – When battery voltage drops to 3.2V per cell, the light will automatically reduce its output to extend runtime.
  • Disabled – The light will attempt the maximum output the batteries can sustain. Runtime may be greatly reduced.

Bounce Switch (3 options) – The Bounce Switch is a safety feature that, when activated, can detect reflected light and automatically switch the Triple V5 Wasp to the low-powered red or amber output mode. This is useful, for example, if the light turned on in high mode while being carried in a pocket.

  • No Change – Leave the bounce switch setting in its current state.
  • Not in use – Disables the bounce switch
  • Active – Activates the Bounce Switch and allows the user to adjust its sensitivity.

The following video provides a detailed overview of the programming and operating features using the TorchLAB Wasp.

TorchLAB BOSS – Performance

The BOSS was designed to pack the usual TorchLAB performance into the smallest package possible.  True to its heritage it has extremely strong output and produces a very broad beam with bright spill and a clearly defined hotspot when used with the “Narrow Clear” optic.  See the Wasp Optics Review for a comparison of the different optic types.

The following slides show the BOSS compared to a variety of other lights to give some perspective with regard to output, beam profile, and tint.  The images can be compared across their full width using the slider and additional comparisons can be viewed using the navigation buttons in the bottom-right corner of each image.

The following lights were used in the comparison:

  1. Malkoff Hound Dog V3 Warm White (Review)
  2. Elzetta Charlie with AVS head (Review)
  3. Malkoff Wildcat V6
  4. SureFire P3X Fury (Review)
  5. Streamlight ProTac HL 3 (Review)
  6. Malkoff Hound Dog V3 Cool White (Review)
  7. Malkoff Wildcat V4 (Review)
  8. TorchLAB P60 Triple XPG2 Neutral (Review)
  9. FourSevens MMU-X3R

In this first set of photos, the BOSS 70 is powered by a pair of AW 18350 IMR batteries providing full output.

Beamshots – 25 yards to blue barrel (white barrels are 10 yards downrange and 10 yards apart.  Tree is approximately 15 yards behind blue barrel)

Beamshots – 40 yards to blue barrel (white barrels are 25 yards downrange and 10 yards apart.  Tree is approximately 15 yards behind blue barrel)

For the next set of photos, the BOSS was powered by a single AW 18650 IMR battery at level 28 (17W, 55%)

Beamshots – 25 yards to blue barrel (white barrels are 10 yards downrange and 10 yards apart.  Tree is approximately 15 yards behind blue barrel)

Beamshots – 40 yards to blue barrel (white barrels are 25 yards downrange and 10 yards apart.  Tree is approximately 15 yards behind blue barrel)

Runtime

The BOSS has an operating range of 2.5 to 8.8 volts allowing it to be powered by either one or two lithium-ion rechargeable batteries or two CR123a lithium primary cells. Due to the heavy current draw when using rechargeable batteries, 18350 IMR batteries are the recommended minimum size.

Active thermal management helps keep temperatures within the head at a safe level. Rather than using timed step-downs like some flashlights, the BOSS monitors the internal temperature and as it approaches 65° C (149° F) it begins to reduce output just enough to keep temperatures in check. When operated in its higher output modes this ensures the light is always producing its maximum safe output.

Once consequence of this type of thermal management is that runtimes can vary greatly depending upon the amount of airflow around the head. In situations with good airflow, output remains high and runtimes will be shorter. When airflow is restricted, output will decrease and runtimes will grow longer.

A series of tests were conducted using AW 18350 and 18650 batteries, with and without additional airflow provided by a fan. No single test will be indicative of every real world scenario but these may give some idea of what to expect from the BOSS.

TorchLAB BOSS

The first graph shows the relative outputs and runtimes for the longer BOSS 70 configuration when powered by a pair of 18350 batteries and a single 18650. To determine the effect of the thermal management system, two tests were run with each battery configuration, one with no external cooling and the other with a small fan moving air across the flashlight.

TorchLAB BOSS 70 Runtime

As expected, the tests conducted without additional cooling resulted in longer runtimes with ever decreasing levels of output as the thermal management system worked to keep temperatures inside the head below 65° C. When a small fan was used to provide additional cooling, it appears temperatures were held in check and any reductions in output were simply due to decreasing voltage in the batteries.

Similar tests were also conducted using the shorter BOSS 35 configuration powered by a single AW 18350 battery. As before, the absence of external cooling extended runtime at the expense of overall output.

TorchLAB BOSS 35 Runtime

The BOSS generates a tremendous amount of heat during continuous operation if there is not good air circulation around it. When powered by a pair of 18350s or a single 18650 in the BOSS 70 configuration, the body of the light becomes very warm, almost to the point of being uncomfortable to hold. With a single 18350 in the BOSS 35 configuration, it becomes too hot to hold after 15 minutes of operation.

All tests were conducted with the default 65° C temperature setpoint.  Users may opt to program their BOSS with a lower temperature limit which will reduce output more aggressively and keep overall temperatures lower.

Tests were not conducted with CR123a batteries or with the battery stretch feature active. Results should be similar to those found in the TorchLAB Wasp review. Reminder: The BOSS head must be programmed properly for safe use of CR123a batteries.

TorchLAB BOSS – Conclusions

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I received the BOSS for review. Sure, I had some idea of what the performance would be like based on my past experience with the TorchLAB Wasp but I was not prepared for just how small the BOSS really is. To put things in perspective, in its longest configuration, the BOSS 70 is only slightly longer than many single CR123a powered flashlights. In the BOSS 35 configuration, it’s about as short as you can get for a flashlight with a rear click-type switch, even shorter than the classic 15 lumen SureFire E1E!

 

TorchLAB BOSS Size Comparison

Past TorchLAB products have been amazing but they always required compromises to maintain compatibility with other flashlight platforms, particularly the SureFire E-series flashlights for those who wanted the smallest possible size.  However, these old lights were built for use with CR123a batteries and could not accept larger 18mm lithium-ion batteries without first enlarging the battery compartment.  While this can be done, it results in thin metal at the very short threaded section typical of E-series lights.  With its totally new design, the BOSS does not suffer these limitations, due to being constructed of a stronger aluminum alloy and having a much longer threaded section.

TorchLAB BOSS vs SureFire E1E

Over the past couple of weeks, the BOSS has criss-crossed the country with me as an EDC flashlight and has been a joy to use.  Programming the BOSS using the web based utility is a breeze and, regardless of battery configuration, the light has always functioned exactly as it should.  Likewise, it powered through 6+ hours of full-output runtime testing without missing a beat.

TorchLAB BOSS

The various parts fit together perfectly and the threading is extremely smooth and secure where the body and head mate together.  Although the exterior design may appear fairly simple at first glance, there are over two dozen exterior design elements that serve aesthetic and/or functional purposes.  Ranging from the bezel scallops to the Triad tail shroud, the entire design is well executed and has a classic look.  The strong pocket clip is near perfection from my point of view, securely holding the BOSS in place while still allowing easy access, and the custom titanium screws are a nice touch.

TorchLAB BOSS

The Patina finish gives the BOSS the look and feel of a well worn tool that manages to be smooth in the hand without being slick.  I believe I can already see signs of darkening where I have handled the light contrasted by brighter wear areas on some of the sharper edges.

By its very nature, the tumbling and polishing process used to create the Patina finish produces a distressed surface that adds visual interest to the BOSS.  It is good at hiding fingerprints and can reflect ambient light in some interesting ways, giving the BOSS a different appearance when viewed from various angles.

TorchLAB BOSS

The jury is still out on how the Patina finish will hold up over time.  It has been pretty well established over the years that an anodized finish helps protect aluminum from wear but, in the case of the Patina finish, some wear may be desirable for aesthetic reasons.  Whatever the case, bare 7075 T6 aluminum has a Brinell hardness of 150 (50% higher than 6061 aluminum commonly used in flashlights) so I consider it unlikely that I will ever “wear out” the body.  I haven’t intentionally drop tested the BOSS but I did manage to drop kick it across my carport the first day I carried it.  The finish seems to do a good job of hiding small surface scratches and shrugged off the experience.  I view the BOSS as a tool, not a jewel, and plan to treat it accordingly.

It’s really amazing to consider what TorchLAB has accomplished in achieving their design goals of Bright Output and Small Size.  Of course nothing in life is free and the small size does come at the expense of the light’s ability to shed heat when operated continuously at its highest output levels.  However, the BOSS was designed as an EDC style flashlight not a search and rescue light.  If long duration continuous operation is desired users would be well served by programming the BOSS with one or more lower output modes, reprogramming the light with a lower temperature limit, or considering a larger flashlight like the TorchLAB Wasp.

Strengths

  • Web based programming with 33 output levels ranging from 0.18 to 3498 lumens (measured at the LED) and several other options
  • Options for secondary LED color and optics
  • Unbelievably small for the amount of output it can produce
  • Terrific pocket clip

Concerns

  • Small surface area and low mass make for a hot light when operated continuously at its highest output levels
  • Initial offerings are limited to Patina finish and XP-L emitters.  Other options will be available at a later date.

The TorchLAB BOSS is designed, machined, and assembled in the United States.  The electronics are made in Russia.  The BOSS is available for purchase exclusively from OVEREADY.

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Posted in Flashlight Reviews, OVEREADY.

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