How small can you build a light that still crosses the kilo-lumen level? Well, Foursevens has taken it upon themselves to push the technology to find out.
Meat and Potatoes
I’ve seen a lot of companies rally around the single CR123A flashlight format over the years. It was the 123 conversion body for the old Fenix L2T that probably gets credit for first intriguing me about EDC flashlights. The Nitecore EX 10 is much to blame for starting me on this path to writing and publishing flashlight reviews. I’ve been in this arena since the days of the old Luxeon models, and have followed Cree’s dominance quite closely. It’s been an ever changing industry since those early, formative days, but the pursuit of tiny pocket rocket flashlights has not disappeared.
The Mini Mark II is the latest iteration of the mini line of lights from industry staple manufacturer Foursevens. While it’s probable that it’s not the first pocketable single cell torch to cross that mystical 1,000 lumens, it’s likely that it’s the smallest so far to do so. Even as experienced as I am in the world of quality flashlights, I am seriously impressed by the impossibly small portion of the overall volume of this light that has been conceded to electronics, instead of simply battery.
You guys have heard me proclaim for years that the reign of the reflector drawing to a close. They were ideally constructed to condense the light from a glowing incandescent filament into a usable beam of illumination, but there was always something lacking when applying this same principle to a power LED. The difference in physical structure was the majority of the deficit. I’d like to propose that now the Mini Mark II is yet another indication that the reflector era is now over. The beam from this little beast is the beauty that’s hidden inside. It’s exactly what I’m looking for from an EDC light. Floody enough for close up tasks, without the pure defocused look of a raw LED. There’s still just enough throw to be useful at middle distances, especially at full power.
User interface for the Mini Mark II is apparently the same as their newer versions of the Preon line of lights. There is a user setup menu accessible by rapidly switching the light off and on 10 times in succession. At that point, it will blink a number of times, depending on the configuration it is using currently. There are 6 different mode configurations available.
Config. 1: High
Config. 2: High – Low
Config. 3: High – Strobe
Config. 4: Low – Med – High – Strobe
Config. 5: Low – Med – High – Strobe – SOS – Beacon (hi) – Beacon (lo)
Config. 6: Low – Med – High – Moonlight
As far as I can tell all of these configurations have mode memory, always switching back on in the last mode you used. This is both a blessing and a curse. I’m not overly fond of mode memory, since it can sometimes be questionable what mode you left the light in, but I also can’t think of a method to offer direct access shortcuts, like straight to high or moon modes. Each manufacturer chooses what they deem to be the best UI, and the user has to decide if it’s right for them. I really appreciate Foursevens for offering semi-programmability to the end user. It’s especially interesting to me, since I’ve always thought extra computational power like that requires more space, at least at some scale. They’ve included it in this light, even where physical size is absolutely premium.
Included this time around is both a keychain attachment option, and a 2-way pocket clip. Despite still being just tension held, this pocket clip seems to be very secure. The two-way feature means you don’t have to worry about removing and replacing it to switch between deep-carry, bezel down in your pocket, or clipped to the brim of your hat to function like an impromptu headlamp while you jump the car at 5 AM (yes, this is a firsthand observation). I’m sure the keychain attachment would have equally as solid lockup, but there’ something about a light with that kind of girth on my keychain that doesn’t work in my book. To each his own, I guess. It would obviously function equally as well with a neck lanyard or any number of other attachment options.
First off, let me specify that the version of this light I’m testing is strictly a prototype. It is not a completed version, but I believe it is representative of the final versions we’ll be getting. There still could be some late-production changes. That being said, it is largely complete. There really aren’t any glaring faults in this light at all. Obviously there’s a lack of any markings, but I’m sure that will change. If not, the full stealthy black is kind of nice. There’s still the light 47 logo machined into the tailcap.
I’m a little surprised that this light doesn’t have a magnetic tailcap, as I’ve gotten far too used to seeing lately, but I’m guessing that any such convenience would have required concession in size, at least equal to the thickness of the magnet. If you’re literally trying for the smallest possible torch, those features apparently disappear. It still would have been nice though.
My largest complaint though comes from the nature of the 1,020 top end. This comes courtesy of a time-limited turbo mode. After 15 seconds the light starts to dim, and once it reaches about 30 seconds, it has settled into a much lower light level. Now, by “lower” I mean somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 lumens, so It’s not dim, by any stretch. The transition is incredibly subtle too, but it still exists. 1-3 minute turbo runtimes are something I’ve gotten used to, and honestly, the way I use super high outputs most of the time, I’m not terribly likely to hit a 3 minute cutoff. A 15 second cutoff however is going to be hard to miss. Thankfully, the transition is very gradual and smooth, and therefore not terribly obvious. It’s still something that I’ll notice, and it will grate.
This is a serious light, in a miniscule package. Even if you pretend the 1,020 lumen top end doesn’t exist, having an incredibly small, supremely pocketable light with 300 lumens with you all the time is an EDC dream.