Quark X 123² Tactical

September 7th, 2011
by Dave Wise

4Sevens Quark line has undergone a continuous evolution of change ever since its introduction back as one of the companies first steps into manufacturing. The new Quark X line is the latest iteration of this venerable line. Does it have the panache to follow in the footsteps of its predecessors?

Quark X 123² Tactical

Quark X 123² Tactical

Meat and Potatoes

Pocket sized power. It’s hard to find a better descriptor for this little torch. The original Quark 123² has always been one of my smallest and most compact 2x CR123A lights. It’s really fairly hard to imagine a smaller package for that particular power source. As I said in my previous review, this is the smallest 2 cell CR123A design I have yet come across.

The new Quark X line is a rehash of the now classic originals updated with new Cree XM-L LEDs. Putting that large of a diode into such a small light does wonders for beam shape. It creates a much wider spot and brighter spill giving a floodier output to a light that still manages to squeeze into an EDC category (authors opinion, obviously). The LED is perfectly centered in a very slightly textured reflector which gives an excellent transitional corona and bright spillbeam to the already wide spot turning the previously throw centric quark into a near wall of light flood beam.

Cree XM-L

Cree XM-L

Over the past few years, 4Sevens has developed and cultured a reputation for quality products. Their every facet has been considered and conscious choices made about every aspect. This continues to show through in the Quark X 123²’s fit and finish. End to end it is nearly completely covered in knurling that is both grippy and attractive while not being overly aggressive. 4Sevens continues to use a very uniform, thick appearing anodizing that protects the light well over time. It is not immune to scuffs and nicks, but they are kept to the level of an attractive patina rather than defective wear. One of my previous gripes about the first Quark 123² was that 4Sevens had managed a glaring oversight in the location of the clip. It originally rested directly over the transitional ridge between one of the machined flats and the knurled portion of the body. This resulted in a near guaranteed pocket shredder to the point where my only recourse was to remove the clip from service permanently. 4Sevens has heard my lament. Sometime between then and now the body has been redesigned with larger, longer flats that fit the clip the way it was originally intended to.

Quark X 123² Tactical

Quark X 123² Tactical

This time around I get to try out 4Sevens alternate “Tactical” user interface. This UI is based around the light memorizing your two favorite and most used levels and giving you simple easy access to those. Programming the modes is quite simple, with just a few twists of the head to enter programming mode leaving the head in either tight, or slightly loosened position to program that mode. From there, simply cycle through the 8 available modes (the same modes as the original Quark line) until you find the ideal output level, at which point all you have to do is wait a few seconds for it to memorize the new mode and you are good to go. It’s a fairly simple, no-nonsense programming method, but it gets the job done. I chose to set mine to Medium with the head loosened, as a good general purpose lighting, and Turbo with it tightened, for full fledged show-off light.

One thing that 4Sevens has done that I have always strongly approved of from the very start is choose camps when it comes to tailstanding or protruding tailcap switches. The general purpose Quarks have always had a full tailstanding ring surrounding the recessed reverse clicky whereas the Tactical Quarks have had an irrefutably protruding forward clicky. There is no cutting corners and trying to unsuccessfully bridge the gap between the two sides with oddball scalloping or other gimmicks. For this I thank them thus far, and I hope they continue with this practice.

Protruding switch

Protruding switch

Constructive Criticism

I don’t know if it is because my evaluation copy is possibly a late production prototype, or if there is something inherently different in the XM-L version of these lights, but my Quark X 123² is experiencing something that was very surprising when I noticed it. I generally do the largest amount of testing of my lights in every day use scenarios in the print shop where I work. This means a lot of poking around inside machines and looking into dark recesses (often searching for a dropped screw or other small part). It just so happened the other day that I pointed my torch (running in Medium mode at the time) at a still spinning fan deep in the bowels of a press and was very shocked to discover a prominent strobe-like effect. It almost looked like an automotive timing light. I quickly shifted to turbo to see if it continued, and thankfully found it eliminated. What appears to be happening is the light seems to be using a PWM like effect for its power regulation.

I have since spoken with representatives at 4Sevens and was informed that it was definitely NOT supposed to have any PWM, but rather it is designed to be constant current controlled. As I understand it (feel free to correct me if I have something wrong) current regulated lights are similar to PWM based lights except that roughly speaking the output of the switching power source is filtered through capacitors to even it out at the lower level, instead of spiking all the way on and off. It is likely that my particular unit is having some trouble with that aspect of its electronics. They have informed me that they will be checking with the factory and let me know if there are further developments. In the mean time, these fluctuations are really only visible when you are aiming the light at very fast moving items (such as spinning fan blades) or waving it directly in front of your face (which I guarantee you won’t do too much of, with these output levels).

Quark X 123² Tactical

Quark X 123² Tactical

Conclusions

The new “X” model is definitely a positive upgrade for an already quality light. Floodier is almost always better for EDC in my opinion and the Quark pulls it off with aplomb. Having the option to choose either the standard or Tactical UI makes the series that much more useful.

Provided for review by the kind folks at 4Sevens.

Tags:
Posted in 16340, CR123A, Cree XM-L, LED, Rechargeable | Comments (2)

2 Responses to “Quark X 123² Tactical”

  1. Joe Says:

    Can this light take rechargeable CR123As?

  2. Dave Wise Says:

    4Sevens lists the voltage range as 3.0-9.0V which would accommodate 2xRCR123A (at 4.2V each) just fine.

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