I’ll admit, my first reaction was laughter. This light looks to me like it fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down. I try to begin every review with fresh eyes, but, with a new light from a company I had never heard of before, I was having a hard time moving past my initial impressions here.
Meat and Potatoes
Mine wasn’t the only first reaction that consisted of laughter either. Most of the people I showed this torch to thought the same thing as I. What IS this thing? Oddly enough though, that reaction seemed to be short lived once I, and others, got more into function than form. The F40C is a surprisingly nice light.
First off, it sits well in the hand. First glance at this monstrosity gives the impression of an extremely top-heavy torch. That is not the case. I don’t know why it is, but the F40C is actually decently well balanced, even when using the classic cigar grip to activate the tailcap switch. Sure, the nose dips a little, but not nearly as much as looks would indicate. On a related note, Nitefighter actually gets the concept that when you are using this grip, the “tactical” grip ring should be something comfortable to hold, not sharp and painful, and has manufactured theirs out of a soft flexible rubber. This is a nice change from a number of other lights I’ve tested, and for once I will be leaving the ring in place.
Moving onward in my list of pleasant surprises. Thank you Nitefighter for the chance to review another light that doesn’t feel the need to both tailstand AND have a protruding switch. This time, logically, tailstanding was completely thrown out. This forward clicky is smooth with positive engagement. It’s actually one of the nicest ones I’ve used, though most lately have lived up to similar descriptions. The tailcap is dedicated to powering the light on and off, while the forward mounted electronic button cycles through 4 increasing output modes with memory. That memory even extends to the strobe accessed by holding the button down for a couple seconds, allowing instant access to its debilitating effects when desired. Relatively unique is the ramping effect that takes place when modes are changed. Rather than instantly switching to the new output, the F40C quickly transitions between the current and next modes. PWM is in play for controlling the output, but it is an incredibly high frequency, and thereby not distracting in the least. I can only see it when I’m specifically looking at the business end and waving it around.
Packing a duet of neutral white Cree XM-L2 LEDs in its ungainly fore end, the F40C is capable of an astounding 1200 lumens of beautifully creamy white power. Yes, that’s right. This torch is rocking neutral white. The color temperature is so much more pleasing than the vast majority of my torches that it was immediately noticeable. These LEDs sit at the base of twin smooth polished reflectors that produce a relatively mid-range beam with almost no artifacts. Mid-range though with 1200 lumens on tap really equates to a decent amount of throw through brute force. Now, that much power can come at a cost. To handle the energy requirements, the F40C runs on either a pair of 18650 cells or a quartet of CR123A’s. Having the ability to choose between primary and rechargeable is very nice, especially with such a voltage difference between those options. What about heat? you may ask. Nitefighter claims active thermal protection here. Supposedly when the light is run on turbo indefinitely, the internal circuitry will step it down to high when the light reaches 60°C. I haven’t seen this happen, but it is equipped with quite a set of heat sink fins. Maybe it never got that warm.
Compared to the last light I reviewed, which came with an incredible hardcase of included items, the F40C comes in a barebones clamshell plastic package, with naught but a couple o-rings and a lanyard. Though the lanyard is a decent quality, its attachment point is nothing but a stamped out piece of steel that retains all of its harsh edges. I quickly removed mine and misplaced it even before these photos were taken. It won’t make it back onto the light even if I do find it. This leaves this torch with no methods to ease portability. While quite a number of lights follow this same pattern, a simple belt clip or holster would be much appreciated.
While I’ve mentioned it throughout this review, I’ll say it again here, in a little more politic tone. This light is aesthetically unpopular at best. I’m not exactly sure what could be done about this short of a complete redesign, because I have nothing bad to say about the actual fit and finish. It has quality machinework, seems durable enough, and was coated in unblemished anodizing over its entirety. I just don’t appreciate its looks. Maybe you do. If so, please ignore me. Remember, this is an opinion blog. Also remember, I’ve had lights pass through here with simply superb aesthetics that are so extremely outclassed performance-wise by the F40C that they are only useful as paperweights in an executive office. Performance should outweigh appearance any day.
I’ve been taught a lesson once again. Don’t judge a book by its cover. My initial reaction to this light was one of doubt, but it has really proven itself to me as having the guts to back up almost any odd design choices that Nitefighter could make. It is bright, easy to operate, and comfortable to hold. In the end, remember, a flashlight is most useful in the dark. Form should always take second fiddle to function, and the F40C nails that.
Provided for review by the kind folks at Nitefighter.