Friday, April 8, 2016

Thorfire VG25 compact 1x18650 flashlight REVIEW

Hello
Thorfire is adding another single 18650 flashlight to their product line. The new model is VG25.
I have tested sufficient number flashlights of this brand and what I see is that Thorfire is taking seriously their work.
I see improvement in every next model,practical form factor,pretty good build quality and well thought out user interface.
Biggest disadvantage of the low priced flashlights,at least for me,is the PWM controlling of the output modes.
If the PWM frequency is low,this often leads to visible flickering and unnatural behaviour of fast moving objects.

In the latest models,Thorfire is leaving behind this type of adjusting the brightness and their newest flashlights,including the reviewed below VG25 are PWM free.
This makes these flashlights much more useful and convenient.


As I already mentioned above,I am reviewing Thorfire VG25.
The flashlight was provided by Thorfire for test and review.
As long as I know,it is a regular VG25 and should not differ in performance from the VG25 flashlight you can find on the market.

Let's start with a few words about the finish.
Black anodizing. The finish is on the glossy side. Very good anodizing on all parts with some minor imperfections on my sample.
Precize knurling and machining of the cooling fins.
The head is of two different parts-front part with a straight zilindrical shape and second part (with the side switch) in oval shape.
At first look the shape is somewhat unusual,but in use it provides excellent grip and operating the side(mode) switch.

Size comparison left to right-
Thorfire 18650 battery,Thorfire VG15,Thorfire VG25,Thorfire VG10,ThruNite TN12,Olight R20 Seeker


The VG25 is equipped with a Cree XP-L LED and smooth aluminum reflector.
This results in a good balance between throw and beam pattern.


Here is the VG25 disasembled on three main parts.
All parts are precisely machined and fit perfectly with no gaps.
Thorfire is already known for their good machine work.


The VG25 has an aluminum grip ring.It ensures excellent grip in the hand.
The ring is attached tightly-it is on thread and does not rattle,at all.
It is also well placed behind the pocket clip,which gives a little more protection against unwanted detaching of the clip.

The tail switch is a mechanical forward clicky switch-momentary On is possible.



What I always notice in Throrfire's flashlights is that all mounting elements are made of metal.
Brass retaining rings on the switch and driver board. No plastic rings or unusually complex assemblies as seen in some 5 times more expensive flashlights.
A thick spring at both ends for good electrical connectivity and impact protection.
Most protected 18650 batteries fit well.There is enough space even for the longer ones.


Square cut threads at both ends. Well anodized.


Close up look at the switch.The semi-tansparent white silicone switch cover has a nice T letter.
You can see also the cooling fins form and anodizing.
The switch has a red LED indicator underneath,which does alert for low battery voltage.
Good laser engraving of the Thorfire logo onto the aluminum.

The grip ring,together with the oval head and also the side switch act pretty well as an anti-roll "design".
Large pocket clip.Good thickness of the metal material. It is not too tight or too loose.
Thanks to the not aggressive knurling,you can attach the VG25 to your pants without tearing them off.



Close up of the tail design. Access to the switch is comfortable.No sharp edjes. Good tail-standing option.
I really like the grip ring,even on a compact flashlight like the VG25.
Four holes for lanyard attaching.
There is knurling on the battery tube,also on the tail cap.
However,it is shallow and does not improve anti-slip ability so notably.
Here is where the grip ring helps a lot.

Different views of the tail cap.



Thorfire VG25 as all other Thorfire flashlights,comes in a sturdy cardboard packaging.
Nice thick lanyard,two spare O-rings,two spare switch caps in colors different than the default black one-Orange and Blue color.
Thorfire is giving you a good option to personalize your VG25. The orange cap is definitely easyer to recognize in the dark.
Of course,you will need some good tools as pliers or twizers with thin tips,to be able to unscrew the retaining ring in the tailcap.

A holster is also included,though not that thick and overall nothing special. You may decide to use another tighter holster.




Pictures from the User Guide:





User Interface
Using the flashlight is easy.
Five brightness levels plus Strob mode.
Press the tail switch all the way down to activate/deactivate the light.
Briefly click the side switch to choose from the base modes Moonlight-Low-Mid-High
Turbo mode is only accessible after double clicking the side switch.

Press and hold the side switch to activate Strobe mode.

Mode memory applies to all modes,including Strobe.
The VG25 can be started dirrectly on Strobe mode.
Can be useful in case you would like to use it for self defense.

Tested with a souncard ozsciloscope and camera I don't detect any sign of PWM flickering.As always this is a great news.

There is something speciffic in the process of cycling the modes.Changing the mode comes with a delay of about half a second after pressing the switch.
It is not so distracting and does not affect the usability of the flashlight or its performance,but it has to be mentioned.


Run/time performance.

I tested Thorfire VG25 on Turbo and High modes.
Thorfire 18650 battery was used in both runs.
Nominal battery capacity 3000mAh.
Turbo mode runs on its maximum possible level for three minutes.
To save the battery and protect the whole flashlight from overheating,the VG25 does devrease the output automatically after first 3 minutes.
Lumen output after step down ~39% of the initial output.
This is a lower output than what we can see as performance in other flashlights. Maybe overheat precaution is too much here.
I would prefer and think there are no obstacles to decrease the brightness to about 60% after the timed step down.
As we can see in the graph,the output after step down on Turbo mode is exactly the output of the lower High mode.

It is a little unexpected,but the driver takes a second step down 30 minutes after the first step down on Turbo mode and 30 minutes after activation on High mode.
The output in this state is about 200 lumens.
Because of this dual decreasing the output,battery discharge continous for quite a long time.

The second step down may be an advantage or disadvantage,depending on the way you use it.
If you need a light for short periods of time,this step down could be very useful in case you forgot the flashlight turned on.
The VG25 will run on Mid mode for quite long time,eventually keeping sufficient voltage in the battery,which will allow using the light again on a higher mode.

If you use the light for extended periods of time,as a work light or emergency room light,the second step down may come in an inopportune moment when you can't restart the light to get again the needed high brightness.

There was a Low voltage warning at the end of each run test-the light is flashing and the side switch turns on its red backlight.



Here is the first 60 minutes of the discharge curve,for a better visibility of the two step downs.

In my latest reviews I am testing the flashlights for low voltage protection availability.
Unfortunately the VG25's driver does not feature LVP. Discharging the battery will continue until you turn off the light by pressing the tail switch,or if you are using a battery with a built in protection,it will kick in on time.
So a good trusted battery with a built in protection is the recommended choise,if you tend to leave the flashlight unattended while the light is turned on.
The red LED turns on at 2.9V battery voltage.At 2.6V the LED can not longer produce light,but the circuit still runs. At this state current draw is 1.8mA.
(All measurements taken with an externel power supply and may not represent absolutely identically the process when using a single 18650 battery.)

Lumen measurements
-taken with my amatour equipment.

Turbo mode:970 lumen initial output / 930 lumens 30sec later;
High mode: 360 Lm
Mid mode: 223 Lm
Low mode: 17 Lm
Moonlight mode: 1 Lm

As opposed to the stated 740 lumen high mode,my VG25 sample reaches 360 lumens maximum when powered with an 18650 battery.
Obviously,Mid and High mode on my sample are very close brightness.The differense is visible in use,so both modes can be useful.And yet,there is a gap between Turbo and High mode.
I've contacted Thorfire about the specifications difference,but don't have information provided yet,if all the VG25s on the market have the same mode spacing.

Let's take a look at the beam.
Perfectly centered Cree XP-L LED.
Aluminum reflector with a smooth reflective surface.
There are few imperfections at the front end of the reflector-visible on the picture below.
I don't see bluish coloring of the glass lens or any limitting of its reflection,so I assume the glass is not anti-reflective coated.



Beam Shots

Beam is clean Cool white.
There is no noticiable artifacts or rings,even on a white wall.
Thorfire VG25 performes quite well on different distance illumination.
11300cd according to manufacturer specifications.

1 meter, 1/20sec White wall, All modes and comparison with Thorfire VG10, ThruNite TN12(2014) and Olight S30






1 meter, 1/250sec White wall
The Cree XP-L LED gives nice smooth beam with no distracting rings or dark zones in the hotspot.


1 meter, 1/1000sec White wall



5 nmeters,1/6sec All modes


5 meters, 1/6sec



5 meters, 1/50sec



5 meters, 1/125sec




Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed the review and found some helpful information.
As usual excuse me for any typos in my writing. I make all possible to explain clearly what's in my mind,but yet English is not my native language.



Thanks to Thorfire for providing the VG25 for test!
These people are always sending few coppies of their new flashlights to different reviewers with no concerns.
They work hard for improving their lights,keeping the price resonable in the same time.They have nothing to hide,no matter pros or cons of their products and I appreciate that.

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