Forget everything you knew about flashlights so far. This, quite unambiguous and strong statement, can be found on the website of the Canadian flashlight manufacturer Armytek.
Certainly, some airsoft players will know this company. It manufactures, among other things, to the Predator tactical flashlight which, despite being less popularity than the counterparts of Chinese manufacturers, is very highly valued (not only within our hobby).
If someone does not recognize this company after all, it's worth getting acquainted with some basic facts. Armytek Optoelectronics Inc. was officially founded in 2010 in Ontario, but the experience of its founders in the field of lighting goes back even further. Products launched on the market under this brand are designed from scratch in cooperation with engineers and designers from the military, aerospace and space exploration sectors. Their production takes place in their own factory in China, using only American and Japanese components. Armytek's products are characterized by resistance standards well above the ones found in many other flashlights. For example, the tested product is resistant to a fall from a height of 10 meters and immersion in water for two hours at a depth of up to 10 meters. In addition, it is covered by a 10-year warranty period.
Thanks to the courtesy of High Value Targets - Wojciech Jagielski - armytek.com.pl - I had the opportunity to test the advanced Armytek Wizard Pro USB Warm headlamp/angle flashlight in airsoft conditions.
PACKAGING AND CONTENTS OF THE SET
Armytek Wizard Pro USB Warm flashlight, with its whole set of accessories, is packed in a modest cardboard box. It is maintained in pleasant, white and green colors and perfectly fulfills its marketing and informative role. The quantity of technical details concerning the product, its features and specs printed on the box, presents an almost complete list. Inside the package, the kit parts are placed in a blister. In the context of the packaging itself, everything is done correctly. I would be even better if the manufacturer had decided to put the flashlight and its components in a small case so that you can always have them with you.
In addition to the light itself, in the packaging the buyer will find a detailed illustrated instruction manual in Polish, spare o-rings, a head mounting strap, a clip, a wrist strap, a battery and a magnetic charger.
The head mounting is made of elastic straps in yellow and black colors. The plastic buckles allow you to carry it along with an additional strap passing through the top of the head. Due to the slightly higher weight of the Wizard model, in comparison to the more compact headlamps, the use of this centre strap may be necessary. The head mounting itself has is adjustable, fits well and does not slip of ones head. In the front there is a plastic clamp (which gives the impression of being durable), to which the flashlight is mounted.
Alternatively for the head mounting, a steel clip can be used. It's well made, it snaps on on the flashlight firmly and it's difficult to take it off.
A very useful part of the set is the already mentioned magnetic charger. On one side it ends with a module that has a magnet that works with the flashlight, and on the other side is a USB plug. Thanks to this, you can use it both with the phone charger, as well as directly, e.g. with a computer. The charger is equipped with a two-color diode, which informs us about the state of the charging process (green color means that that charger connected to a power supply or that the charging process has ended, red: charging is in progress, flashing red: the flashlight is not in charging mode).
DESIGN AND MANUFACTURING QUALITY
The Armytek Wizard flashlights (there are several models differing in the diode used, programming possibilities and the spectrum of light produced) have a design characteristic of headlamp/angle flashlights. What distinguishes such flashlights from others is the placement of the optics and emitter on the side of its head, instead of its top. Such design allows both to mount the flashlight on an appropriate head mounting as well as fastening it with a clip onto your gear. However, it is practically impossible to mount such a flashlight on a weapon or its replica in any useful way.
According to information found on the Internet, this equipment is made of durable aircraft grade aluminum coated with an anodized, matte coating. The design is compact, devoid of any clearances and gives an impression of being very robust . It can not be otherwise, given that the manufacturer declares that flashlight is resistant to falls from a height of up to 10 meters. The Wizard consists of three main parts: a rear cap, a tube and a head. Each of these parts is very thoughtfully and carefully designed because, in addition to aesthetic issues, all parts play an important role in the operation and functionality of the flashlight.
The rear cap unscrews and turns silently and with a clear, uniform resistance. The thread is made very precisely. The diameter of the cap is 24 mm, and its length is 21 mm. On the side wall you can find the manufacturer's logo, basic information about the standards it complies with, as well as a concise graphic reminding you to slightly loosen the back nut in order to charge the battery inside the flashlight. The nut works with the magnetic charger from the set, so that it is possible not only to charge the device without removing the battery, but also to charge another standard 18650 or 18350 type cell (the manufacturer provided such a possibility and put an appropriate annotation in the manual).
And that are not all the functions that the cap provides to the flashlight. Due to its flat bottom and good balance of the whole flashlight, it is possible to use the light "in candle mode", which means putting it vertically. Not only that, as the manufacturer has put a strong magnet in the cap! This is not a very useful function in airsoft, but when using the flashlight as an EDC (everyday carry) device, it will certainly be useful many times during various small jobs, when the Wizard can be attached to many metal surfaces, both horizontal and verical.
The rear cap also influences the way the flashlight works and is programmed. This can be read in the further part of the article describing on the operation of the device.
In addition to all these goodies, the rear cap also fulfills its basic role, that is, provides access to the inside of the tube, which in turn is a compartment for a 18650 battery (as well as a 18350 battery or two CR123 batteries).
Another part of the Armytek flashlight is its tube. Its length is about 65 mm, and the diameter on most surfaces: 20 mm. In another piece of equipment it would probably be an ordinary tube, not worth much attention, but not here. In addition to the model logotype of the flashlight (Wizard Pro Multi-flashlight USB), you can find on it two grooves which act as support for the mounting clip or for the dedicated head mounting. Both types of mountings fit perfectly and stiffen sufficiently to maintain mental comfort of not losing the flashlight. There only thing to remember. You can use either the clip or the head mounting, you can not mount them both on the flashlight at the same time.
On the connection side with the rear cap, the tube thread is double-sealed with o-rings and a lubricant. According to the manufacturer's assurances, the Wizard flshlight can withstand 2 hours of continuous immersion in water up to a depth of 10 meters.
The last part of the flashlight is its head. It has a very characteristic shape: on the side of the connection with the tube one can see several ribbed rings that act as a heat sink, while the actual part of the head resembles a cube with rounded sides. The front side houses the TIR optics with knurled lens that facilitates even distribution of light. Behind it lies the heart of the flashlight, a relatively modern and efficient CREE XHP50 LED emitter. On the neighboring (left from the optics) side there is a rubber switch (yellow in color). This single button, together with the rear cap, is responsible for the full control of the flashlight functions. Armytek made sure that the Wizard's switch could communicate with the user and equipped him with a two-color illumination that fulfills many functions (details later in the article).
The upper part of the head is adorned with the information that the CREE XHP50 LED is a premium class emitter and that the flashlight itself is a Warm version, characterized by a warmer color of light. There is also a warning about the hot surface of the head.
To start using the Wizard flashlight, unscrew the rear cap and insert the popular 18650 battery into it. The plus polarity pole is located on the side of the head.
The manufacturer supplies the set with a high quality Li-Ion 3.7V 3200mAh battery, without a PCB protection. It is flat top type (with a flat plus pole), but you can use a standard type cell instead.
After inserting the battery, tighten the rear cap. Unscrewing it by 1/4 turn will switch the flashlight into the standby mode for charging, as well as protect it against accidental activation.
The charging process is simple. To start it, attach the included USB charger to the top of the rear cap. The charging time will be marked by a red charger LED, green LED means a full charge, and if the user forgets to loosen the read cap, the charger will inform him about it with a pulsating red light.
The flashlight has a memory of the last mode used, as well as a group of modes. In an airsoft application, this is a big advantage, because in many situations the player may not have time to find the desired mode and must have it available as soon as possible.
Wait a moment ... What group of modes are you talking about? Armytek Wizard in the Pro version is programmable to some extent. At first, this operation is not intuitive and it is necessary to familiarize yourself with the instruction manual. From it you can read that the light has four groups of modes predefined (TURBO, MAIN, FIREFLY, SPECIAL), which you can switch between by pressing the switch an appropriate number of times:
a) by double-clicking the switch, the flashlight switches alternately between the MAIN and FIREFLY groups;
b) by clicking the switch three times, the flashlight will switch to the TURBO group;
c) by clicking the switch four times, the flashlight will switch to the SPECIAL group.
A single click of the switch in each case causes the flashlight to be switched on and off with the previously group selected being memorized.
Within each group there are several modes that can be changed by holding the button for a brief moment and then releasing it in the desired mode. While holding the button pressed, the modes change "over and over" within a given group.
Practically in each group there are modes useful from the airsoft point of view. In addition to the strongest mode in the TURBO group (which will be useful in both CQB and night games), certainly at least one of the MAIN group modes (from 28 to 363 lumens) will prove useful, for example, to move economically in the game area with then there is a low probability of having contact with the opponents, e.g. during mil-sims. In the FIREFLY group, the 1.4 and 0.14 lumens mode will be particularly useful (for discreet reading of a map for example). In the group of SPECIAL modes, the strobe and signaling mode will also provide benefits, both during mil-sim games and fast actions in airsoft CQB.
Speaking of specific types of games, enthusiasts of close combat should appreciate yet another functionality of the Wizard Pro. Just loosen the rear cap, press and hold the switch, then tighten the cap and release the switch. From that moment the last saved flashlight mode (also in the case of strobe) will work in momentary mode, i.e. only when the switch is pressed! To leave this mode, press and hold the switch, loosen the rear nut, release the switch and tighten the cap.
The flashlight has one more function, however this one does not seem to be useful in airsoft. The switch can be programmed to flash every 5 seconds, indicating the position of the flashlight. The light generated by the switch, however, is too weak to be used as a marker in a forest area, and at the same time strong enough to accidentally reveal the user's position. Anyway, to activate this function, loosen the rear cap, press and hold the switch, tighten and loosen the cap again, release the switch and tighten the cap. It's simple, right? Disabling this function is done in the same way.
The diode hidden under the switch has two more functions:
a) informs us about the battery charge level:
- green: above 25% - 1 flash every 5 seconds;
- orange: 10-25% - 1 flash every 2 seconds;
- red: less than 10% - 1 flash every second.
Below the 25% charge level, the flashlight will alter the brightness of the light.
b) informs us about the flashing overheating:
- orange: reaching 60 degrees C - 3 flashes every 2 seconds;
- red: reaching the critical temperature - 3 flashes every second;
In case of overheating the flashlight will also alter the brightness of the light to avoid failure.
The seemingly complicated operation becomes quite intuitive, if you study the instruction manual with the Wizard in your hand. After two days of playing with the flashlight, the user manual ceases to be needed.
The manufacturer's approach to the technical specification and lighting parameters can be very pleasing. In contrast to many competing products, Armytek gives the value of luminous flux not only on the diode, but also on the exit of the reflector. Also, the angles of illumination, the color of the light, the times of operation and the range of the light beam do not remain a secret.
The light emitter used in the flashlight is a relatively new CREE XHP50 LED, which in this version of the flashlight (Warm) shines wth a light very pleasant to the eye colour temperature of 4000K (neutral white light). For comparison, the colour temperature of the standard version is 5500K.
In the strongest mode (Turbo 2), the luminous flux reaches 1675 lumens (2150 lumens on the diode). In this mode the flashlight, using a dedicated 18650 Armytek 3.7V 3200mAh battery, can work for a maximum of one hour. However, it should be noted that in the case of stronger lighting modes, the flashlight prevents overheating and can reduce the luminous flux value by itself. When it cools down, the luminous flux will return to its original setting.
The values of all modes (measured at the output of the reflector) are as follows:
Turbo 2 - 1675 lumens (1h);
Turbo 1 - 837 lumens (1h 40min);
Główny 3 - 363 lumens (3h 30min);
Główny 2 - 167 lumens (8h 30min);
Główny 1 - 28 lumens (50h);
Świetlik 3 - 5 lumens (12d);
Świetlik 2 - 1.4 lumen (40d);
Świetlik 1 - 0.14 lumen (200d);
Strobo 3 (SPECIAL group) - 1675 lumens, 10Hz (2h);
Strobo 2 (SPECIAL group) - 1675 lumens, 1Hz (5h);
Strobo 1 (SPECIAL group) - 153 lumens, 1Hz (52h)
Yes, everything indicates that leaving the flashlight turned on in the weakest FIREFLY mode (0.14 lm - this is a sufficient value, e.g. to read the map at night), will not discharge it within more than half a year.
The TIR optics ensure that the light is evenly distributed. Nevertheless, the hotspot (the manufacturer estimates its angle at 70 °) and the spill (120 °) can be distinguished here.
For the purpose of this test I conducted a short, photographic comparison with several different, popular models of flashlights:
Mactronic Nomad 03 (340 lumens, LED CREE XP-L, diffuser)
Olight S1R I (900 lumens, LED CREE XM-L2)
Fenix TK35UE (1800 lumens, LED CREE MT-G2, neutral white)
Olight X7 Marauder (medium mode: 3000 lumens, 3x LED CREE XHP70)
Pictures were taken using a Nikon D5100 camera and the following settings: f/3.5, t = 2s, ISO = 200.
The following photos do not reflect the actual way of how the flashlight illuminated the area and are used only for comparative purposes.
An image showing the area during the day:
Ekhm, come back. I did not take this picture, I'm sorry. Given that this is just to show how the area looks during the daytime I used a bit older photo. Yes, that's right, there is no snow and trees on the proper pictures.
Mactronic Nomad 03 (maximum mode, 340 lumens, first picture with a diffuser, second without it):
Olight S1R (maximum mode, 900 lumens):
Armytek Wizard Pro Warm (maximum mode, 1675 lumens at the output of the reflector):
Fenix TK35UE (maximum mode, 1800 lumens):
Olight X7 Marauder (3000 lumens mode):
In terms of differences between the individual flashlights, the visual observations are, to a large extent, almost identical with what the photos depict.
It is noteworthy (the above photos do not show this) that, in fact, even the weakest of flashlights used for comparison the Mactronic Nomad, with full batteries, provides 100% sufficient luminous flux to strongly illuminate the area within a radius of several meters (with the diffuser) or even tens of meters (without the diffuser). But Mactronic headlamp uses three AAA batteries as a power supply which, in combination with the applied electronics and powerful diode, causes a fairly rapid drop in brightness.
The second flashlight, the Olight S1R (old series), generates a luminous flux of 900 lumens. Due to the emitter and the design of the optics, the light beam is not strongly focused. 900 lumens is a value that allows to light the area within a radius of several dozen meters very well. Many tactical flashlights used currently by airsoft players have very similar characteristics (although in popular models such as the Solarforce L2, the light beam is more focused).
Armytek Wizard Pro Warm flashlight, in terms of luminous flux, leaves weaker products far behind. It provides a much larger beam angle while maintaining a similar range. In addition, the color of light seems more pleasant to the eye.
The first of the compared flashlights, which in any respect can match the Wizard, is the Fenix TK35UE (version with a CREE MT-G2 LED released a few years ago). However, this is a handheld flashlight with meant for a completely different use. I chose it for two reasons for this comparison: it has a similar value of luminous flux (1800 lumens) and a specific color of light (it is still Neutral White), which in TK35UE MT-G2 emitter generates. The Fenix flashlight has a slightly larger range than the tested Armytek, but noticeably smaller angle of illumination.
The last of the products selected for this comparison is the Olight X7 Marauder handheld torch, set in the 3000 lumens mode. As you can see, even in the average light mode, it does not give the Armytek Wizard Pro Warm any chances, but hey! Have you ever seen the Olight X7 with a head mounting? Me neither. And I do not think anyone will ever see.
There are other products of competing companies on the market with similar applications and similar parameters to the tested headlamp/angled flashlight, but I had not opportunity to use them in the test. However, in direct comparison with various popular lights, the Wizard Pro Warm really has nothing to be ashamed of. Its maximum luminous flux exceeds that of many other products (not only headlamps!), and even if there is a flashlight that can beat the Armytek, this flashlight still stands out with the color of the light and the multitude of functions.
The next page describes, among others things, my impressions of using a flashlight in the field.