David Chow of 4Sevens.com is no stranger to many flashlight enthusiasts. His online stores have been a mainstay of many “Flashaholics” for many years now. The Quark series of lights however represents the first foray of the 4Sevens brand into the world of lights that David is so passionate about. Already renowned for listening to his customers as a retailer, David has attempted to bring that same Customer-centric approach to manufacturing as well.
Meat and Potatoes
At first glance the entire quark line appears similar to offerings by Fenix. The Quark 123² seems to be a maturation of the Fenix P3D/PD30. Further inspection however, reveals that 4Sevens has taken pointers of what people love about that stellar series and added many of his own improvements to the mix both correcting things people dislike and improving things people love.
One of the biggest complaints about any multimode light is the level of the lowest power beam. 4Sevens has taken this to heart and delivered in a big way. The entire Quark series includes a super-low “Moonlight Mode” clocking in around .2 lumens. This incredible level not only is excellent for nighttime navigation without the usual destructive effects on dark adapted vision, but is also amazingly efficient enough to be used as long as needed without any fear of battery depletion. In Moonlight mode, runtimes are measured in days rather than hours.
Of course, you cannot have a good multimode light without also covering the High end of things. The Quark series accomplishes this with aplomb. 4Sevens has taken a very wise route with the lumen ratings of their lights. Right from the start they have purposed to underrate whatever they can. They are using this as a way to better establish themselves as honorable manufacturers and let the lights speak for themselves rather than focusing on inflated “facts” and figures. These lights are brilliantly bright for their size and appear to definitely fall within range of their stated figures.
The Quark 123² is very interesting to me being absolutely the smallest 2xCR123A form factor light I have yet had the pleasure of coming across. I am really quite impressed with way that 4Sevens has managed to shrink this light down so well and yet retain so many features.
By using Cree’s XP-E emitter and combining it with an expertly focused textured reflector, the Quark series succeeds in producing one of the most amazingly smooth beams I have encountered to date. The XP-E once again seems far better suited for flashlight use than it’s XR-E sibling, eliminating the characteristic dark ring surrounding the hotspot and bringing back the concept of a transitional corona that evens out the light distribution to a much more usable shape. Add to that 4Sevens ingenious design that absolutely guarantees a perfectly centered emitter and you find that the likelihood of variance between beams is virtually eliminated.
4Sevens has also given great thought to attachment and carry methods for these lights. Each model comes with not only the stainless steel belt/pocket clip but also a high quality neck lanyard, a durable nylon holster, and also some newly minted hands-free use options pioneered by 4Sevens. All of these show the level of conscious decisions that have gone into every facet of these lights design.
One ailment that the entire Quark series appears to suffer from is known around enthusiast circles as preflash. Preflash is when a brief burst of higher intensity light is emitted when a low level light is first switched on. The 123-2, unlike most of the Quark line, is the only of the Quark line that has this occur with every single usage on low mode. The remainder of the Quarks have a much more sporadic timetable for this aspect. This characteristic quantifies as more of an annoyance than actually detrimental to usage, due to it’s brevity and still low power level in comparison to the light’s capabilities. The problem is, annoyances oftentimes are what causes another light to be chosen for usage when a need arises. It would be in every one’s best interest if this flash were to be either eliminated completely or at the very least, reduced in duration so far that it becomes imperceptible.
4Sevens made a big deal prior to release about the amount of conscious decisions going into the design of these lights. Every angle was being considered. Every location of knurling and flat was purported to be specifically chosen for maximum usefulness. Yet at the same time, the clip for the 123² rests not only on a knurled portion, but on the transitional ridge between that and the milled flat that appears designed to accept it. I can think of no sharper edge to place the contact point on the entire light. After only a matter of a few days, the clip is beginning to show wear on the pockets in which it was carried. The clips on my AA powered Quarks are excellent, however I have troubles with them on both 123 models. I suspect this indicates that 4Sevens might be better off redesigning these clips and producing more specialized versions rather than attempting to use the “one size fits all” concept. I suspect that I will be choosing one of the other available retention methods.
Though this is merely 4Sevens initial engagement in the realm of manufacturing illumination tools, I believe that the results are positive for both sides of this initial sortie. 4Sevens still has some small hurdles to overcome, but even now, the Quark series is quite the testament to solid engineering. I am definitely looking forward to the continued expansion of their newly developed line.
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