Random Ramblings of Everyday Life

Review: Solarforce L2m

Posted in Gear Reviews by ziptrickhead on May 28, 2010

The Solarforce L2m is a Chinese made P60 drop in host. Just the body itself can be had for around $20. Solarforce also has it’s own branded LED drop ins, the Cree R2 version, which can be had from $15 to $20. Overall I paid around $35 shipped for my light, plus another $4 for the stainless steel flat bezel ring. The light is a bit cheaper on ebay, but that’s because it’s being shipped from overseas while mine was shipped from a distributor in the US.

I had bought this light to use as a host for Malkoff’s P60 drop ins, specifically the M61 since it’s really hard to find a regular M60 now. Since the Malkoffs had yet to go into full production at the time, I decided to just grab the light with the Solarforce drop in. I had ordered the 5 mode but got the 3 mode instead. Oh well, doesn’t really matter to me that much. I didn’t want to have to deal with shipping the drop in back to them.

The Solarforce drop in I got is the R2 version made for 4.2-8.4V. That means it can be used with either 1 or 2 cells (123a or 18650). Using single cell requires the use of rechargeable 3.7Vs because a single primary 123a will not drive the emitter enough and output is significantly lower.

The reflector is a orange peel texture that can be unscrewed from the rest of the drop in. I suppose if you could find a smooth reflector of the same size you can screw that on instead. It seems like textured reflectors are the big thing right now and almost no one is making smooth reflectors anymore.

Solarforce lists the output of the light as 325 lumens but that’s doubtful. From what I see, on fresh cells high mode, the output is probably around 200 lumens. The modes go from 100%, 60%, and then 40% the max output. I haven’t done any runtime tests, but the light will be sure to run over an hour, although I have no idea what the regulation looks like. The medium and low modes use PWM, and it is really noticeable on low. The drop in is really worth it because it has memory in my opinion. If there was no memory, I probably wouldn’t have bothered with it and would have just bought the body and waiting for the M61.

Another note is that Malkoff drop ins will not fit directly into the head. Most P60 drop ins use a large spring to keep the reflector up against the lens. The Malkoffs don’t have this so it’ll have to be wrapped with several layers of aluminum foil to make good contact as well as allow for better head transfer. This of course is not an issue with actual Surefires.

The light came with a crenelated bezel that would be very effective for its intended purpose. the edges on the flat parts are quite sharp though; the first time I unscrewed the bezel it cut the top layer of my skin. I wouldn’t necessarily EDC the light with the crenelated bezel since it’ll shred up clothing easily. I keep the crenelated bezel on when I think I’m going to need it, or just for when I have the light on my desk or bedside dresser. When I do carry the light for EDC or as a pack light, I swap in the stainless steel flat bezel. It’s not the greatest made, but it does the job of holding in the glass lens.

The switch is a reverse clickie, of decent quality. It’s a robust switch and I don’t have any issues with it other than the fact that its protruding. I would prefer the boot to be recessed considering there’s no momentary like with a forward clickie. The exposed boot isn’t necessary at all in this configuration, and in my opinion not even necessary in a forward clickie switch.

Generally with aluminum lights I don’t care that much about the finish. My lights are meant to be used, so I don’t care if the anodizing comes off in places. It’s a HAII so no where near as durable as the HAIII on the Surefire lights or the Solarforce L2P.

The reason why I got the L2m over the regular L2 is for modularity purposes.

Instead of having a single tube for the body, it has a single cell body and comes with the ECR extension (which can be purchased for around $8). With these extension tubes, you can basically make the light take as many cells as the drop in can handle the voltage. I believe the single mode drop in can take up to 18V, so thats a lot of primary or rechargeable batteries. The original L2m design would only fit 123a cells, but post 2009 L2ms are tapped for 18650s with still some rattle room. With 123a cells, there is a lot of battery rattle, but the cells made constant contact so I haven’t had issues with light reliability even with the rattle.

For EDC purposes, it might be easiest to take off the ECR extension and just run the light with a single rechargeable 123a cell.

No issues with water as the o-rings are quite robust and fit snugly into the body as the parts are screwed together.

Overall it’s a nice light. Worth the $40 dollars I paid for. The nice thing about these Chinese lights is that there are lots of accessories that can be bought for cheap to change around the light. Also, like many other P60 drop in style lights, parts can be swapped between other P60 lights.

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