EagleTac has again illuminated their capabilities in the larger format light market with this release of the M3C4. More than just an update to the previous model, the M3 series offers some significant improvements.
Meat and Potatoes
EagleTac has once again brought out the big guns. The new M3C4 is a worthy successor to the already impressive M2 series. This time, even though different variations are offered (including the SST-50 you see here, as well as triple XR-E and XP-G models) they have chosen to keep the naming scheme identical between the three rather than confuse the issue with more random alphabet soup. In my opinion that is just fine, since the different options behave so similarly anyway that the difference is really only in the details.
Unlike the Triple XR-E that I reviewed for EagleTac, this light is driving a Luminous Phlatlight SST-50 LED pushing a stated 800 lumens out the front. This is solidly up into a level that starts to really minimize differences between lights. The output here is enough to light up anything to comfortable viewing levels, even in pitch darkness. The ceiling bounce alone will allow you to not only navigate in the dark, but is actually bright enough to bring ambient light up to reading levels. The default focus of this variant of the M3C4 is really quite a tight focus, keeping pace with the JETBeam M2S quite nicely. However, if you are more in need of a broad floodlight, EagleTac has graciously included a spectacular diffuser with the light of the same caliber as seen in their ‘20’ series. Even without the diffuser though, the beam is still incredibly smooth.
The greatest area of improvement in the M3C4, makes its appearance in the UI. Previously, the M2 series had a strobe mode that was forced on you, causing you to attempt to disorient yourself nearly every time you used the light. The only options to eliminate it were either drastic, or unsophisticated. I chose the latter and glued in a shim to block the strobe from activating so that it could be reversible if necessary at a later time. The new UI still incorporates the strobe of questionable utility, along with a lower frequency beacon flasher and an SOS mode, however they are more hidden away to where you have to be a little more deliberate to find them. When you activate Max output, you need to cycle the light off and back on all the way quickly to advance to the next mode. The downside, in my opinion, is that the light has a memory, so if you activate the beacon for a one time use, the next time you grab the light the max output will still be replaced with its ~2hz. flashing; annoyingly blinking away when you are just wanting to see something.
The M3C4 now has 5 different outputs available and they’re very well spaced. EagleTac has long been known for intelligent placement of their outputs, providing good choices to allow you to balance output vs. runtime. This new light also has adopted the gradual ramping in brightness that EagleTac used with their ‘20’ series. Once again, this isn’t actually a needed feature, but it does add a level of sophistication and polish to their lights that many companies neglect. It just makes it feel nicer to use.
EagleTac is still offering the pushbutton tailcap switch as an included option with this light. Thank fully this cap has been redesigned significantly from its previous iteration, but even with the sharp edges removed, it still proves to be less than entirely comfortable. This is mostly due to the fact that the seriously head-heavy design of this light leaves an experience that isn’t exactly ergonomically excellent. Add to it, the fact that both the new models tailcap options are made from plastic rather than a more durable aluminum, and I can spot the weak link in the M3C4’s design. Also, when choosing the tailcap switch, you are forced to drop the excellent tailstanding that I find to be integral to its usefulness.
The bonus however of using the tailcap switch option is that it is the only way to guarantee absolute electrical disconnection when the light is off. If using the ring only, you are actually only putting the light into a standby mode that still allows a small amount of parasitic drain. I haven’t been able to actually measure this drain thanks to the unique battery magazine design. Over the course of using this light though I have had a couple of times where it has spontaneously switched off on me. There are a couple of options for the reasoning on this though that don’t speak against EagleTac’s design. It is possible that I was using less than completely charged 18650’s to run the light, and I wasn’t keeping track of my usage time at all. I may have had a decent runtime without knowing it since this light is so easy to crank to maximum when you have eliminated the financial guilt of using primary CR123A cells. Whether the drain is anything significant, or just mishandling of power options on my part, my wish is that EagleTac had included another option to lock out the light when it won’t be in use for any length of time, and yet retain the tailstanding ability of the flat tailcap. I will have to just partially unscrew the head of the light to accomplish the same state.
A reletively minor point, but one that is causing me a little consternation, is the pair of points on this light where it is labelled “EagTac”. I don’t know if this is an attempt at a rebranding by EagleTac, or if it is simply an abbreviation necessitated by space constraints, but in the mean time, the torch ends up bearing two apparently different brand names. Does this affect performance? Not in the least.
Well constructed, very polished and incredibly bright. This light has quickly ascended to be one of my favorites in this format. My gripes are all minor, and the positives are pretty overwhelming. In all, I think EagleTac has a home run in this light.
Provided for review by the kind folks at EagleTac.