The Maelstrom G5 by the popular newcomer 4Sevens has to be one of the most highly anticipated new lights this year. Much more than just an update to any of their existing line, the Maelstrom attempts to redefine the tactical light market once again.
Meat and Potatoes
The Maelstrom’s unadorned exterior design may strike some as overly simple, even boring, but 4Sevens has intentionally left the design spartan, instead focusing on usability and functionality. Simple knurling and very little special machining are the order of the day with the only indication that something is unique being the heat sink fins surrounding the flared head and the tactical cigar grip ring at the tail. At first glance the family resemblance to the existing Quark Turbo lights is evident, but that however is where the similarity ends. This solid, durable torch is built to survive all the rigors of a tactical use, or any other hard working environment. The anodizing is flawless over every ridge, knurl and fin. The excellent stainless steel bezel is devoid of machine marks or over-sharp edges. The fit and finish is, in a word, superb.
4Sevens chose to engineer a completely new user interface for the Maelstrom, eschewing even their own existing Tactical Quark interface. The available mode selections are familiar still, sporting the same basic output levels and blinky modes as the Quark line, but their access has been drastically changed. No longer do you have to cycle through output modes to find the brightness you are looking for. The Maelstrom G5 has taken the classic head rotation mode selection and added two more stages to it giving you 4 total independently selectable outputs in each of two mode groups. Depending on how much you loosen the head of the light, the Maelstrom G5 begins at a dazzlingly bright “High” output level and dims down to a minuscule “Moon” mode very reminiscent of the Quark series. Alternatively you can switch over to the second group of outputs for all of the blinky modes combined with “Max” output in case you still need a more constant light. Think of the entire head of the flashlight as a volume knob for output.
At first I questioned the use of a smooth reflector in a light as high quality as this. In my experience, every single light I have used with a smooth reflector has had significant gains to be had from refining the beam with a light stipple. The Maelstrom however, does not necessarily succumb to this guideline. The beam of the G5 is quite exceptionally smooth with only the barest hints of any artifacts to be found. It is definitely focused for throw with a very well defined spot in the center of the beam, but thankfully it also has an adequate corona blending things into the ample spillbeam to allow for a more useful light at many distances. Utilizing a top of the line Cree XP-G LED driven relatively hard, 4Sevens has achieved an outstanding 350 lumens of light out of the front of this torch in “Max” mode, upping the ante in this highly competitive power leapfrogging market.
Designed to accept both a pair of CR123A cells or a single larger 18650 Li-ion rechargeable equally well, the Maelstrom G5 has been cleverly designed not to require the battery magazines utilized by other manufacturers, nor does it suffer from the battery rattle typical of lights that ignore it. Its unique method manages to absolutely eliminate battery rattle at least in the primary and secondary mode settings in either group, while still allowing the use of an 18650 without any adaptation. Simply brilliant.
Removable tactical grip rings have always been a bit of a pet peeve of mine. I’ve seen them made from metal, rigid plastic, and pliable rubber, and it’s only the rubber ones that have had any longevity in my collection. Every other grip ring has always been deemed too harsh and uncomfortable to use and been removed permanently immediately following the photo shoot. The only rubber grip ring I used was actually a joy to use. It was unobtrusive and very handy. It would be nice to see the Maelstrom updated with something similar. Since the Maelstrom G5 is actually a pre-release evaluation copy I do not have any information as to what accessories may be included in the final packaging, I assume that since the threaded grip ring is also used to hold the high quality clip in place that a smooth option will also be available.
The method of adjustment employed by the Maelstrom G5 is in its implementation very similar to the selector ring utilized by other companies. The biggest drawback to this method that I have seen is not the lack of physical indicators but rather the lack of visual ones. A series of 4 indicator marks depicting the rough locations of the 4 output modes would, in my opinion, be immensely helpful in pre-selecting your output.
Lastly, I have a very slight point of fussiness that is probably just my own idiosyncrasies coming into play. The two output groups available on the Maelstrom are very well chosen, in my opinion. There is just the slight issue I take with the fact that “Max” output is not in the same circuit as the remainder of the constant modes, but rather grouped in with the Strobe, SOS and Beacon modes. I would rather that the “High” mode be equal to “Max” to keep the full range of outputs available without having to change groups. Thankfully, the 4 modes that are instantly available when in this set offer a very wide range of usable light. The actual need to visit the “Max” output is entirely debatable since “High” is already copiously bright with likely a considerable runtime advantage.
The Maelstrom G5 is an incredibly durable flashlight that is a collection of extremely well thought out decisions. Spectacular brightness, tightly focused beam, and intuitive UI all come together in one solid, attractive package. It has been quite a wait for some who have been anticipating this light since the early hints to its existence, but my opinion is that it was well worth your patience.