Why I bought this light
I bought this light on impulse. With the Cree XP-G R5 lights out, I was looking for something that would be brighter than my Fenix L1D. The L1D is good, but if you use a lithium-ion battery it loses the lower modes. I found some R5 lights, but they all used 18650 batteries. So I searched for R2 and came up with the S10, which advertised 250 lumens. I know to be skeptical of DX and KD claims, but that is what got me interested, even though it is an XR-E, not an XP-G LED. Really, the R2 is only one bin above the Q5 I have in my Fenix and the same as the Trustfire XP-E F23 that I had on the way already. DX has some S10 lights available which they say have mode memory and can take a 14500 lithium-ion battery. I checked Kai’s Domain and they had S10’s as well for a couple of dollars less. None of the lights had reviews from owners, which should have kept me away. And I just assumed that KD was carrying the same light as DX, but it turns out that KD does not claim memory mode and says the light is AA only with a maximum voltage of 1.5. If I could get 250 lumens out of an AA, that would be fine, but nobody else is making anything like that, so I should have know the claim was bogus. Anyway, I ordered it. I don’t even like having 3 flashy modes. So it was pretty much a mistake from the beginning and I was too quick to buy.
Uniquefire S10 above and Fenix L1D below:
Features and build
The light arrived from KD in 2 weeks from the shipping date, which is pretty good for December. Cosmetically, this is a good looking light. It seems to be a near clone of the Fenix LD10 (pre-clip version) except that it adds some fairly sharp crenelations on the bezel (could damage pockets). The silver exterior color is nice with no blemishes and has a slightly green tint, which I like. The power button functions well. The two tail cap o-rings seem watertight (they actually make it a little difficult to get the tailcap on) and seemed to have been lubricated. There is a big o-ring for the head, but I’m not sure if it engages or not. I dunked the light in a jar of water for about 5 minutes (head down and head up) and it stayed lit with no apparent leakage after I took it all apart.
The LED appears to be a Cree XR-E as advertised. Has a mild anti-roll shape near the head (won’t stop much rolling, but it comes with a lanyard which helps). The pill was easy to remove by sticking a tiny phillips head screwdriver in one of the two holes and pushing to unscrew it out of place. I was also able to remove the tail switch the same way, though the boot and spring seemed to be lightly glued or sealed in place. The reflector is metal with orange peel texture and the lens is glass with an o-ring tucked into the rim of the head.
The low is very nice, about 10 lumens (I don’t have a light box or even light meter so I am eyeballing the lumens by comparing with what Fenix claims for the L1D). The beam tint is cool white, but not all that blue. The beam pattern is good with no rings with a fuzzy hotspot similar to the L1D and the Trustfire XP-E F23: some spill, balanced for decent throw. Maximum output is more like 120-140 lumens on a AA NiMH, nowhere close to the advertised 250 lumens, but similar to the Fenix L1D I have. It can not be used with a 14500 lithium ion battery (more on that later). Runtime on a 2000 mAh Rayovac NiMH AA cell was about an hour before the light was significantly dimmer. The light got warm during that time, but definitely not hot. Slow strobe or what I’m calling Beacon is about 72 blinks per minute. There was a piece of glue or dirt on the LED dome so I had to unscrew the pill out of the head to get to it and clean the dome off. Now sometimes the light won’t turn on with the first click and when it does it makes a high-pitched noise (sometimes not that noticeable, sometimes very noticeable) and the noise goes on and off with the light in the different flashy modes. When putting the light down to tailstand, it changed modes by itself, not because the switch protrudes a tiny bit, but any time you audibly knock the metal base (not hard), it changes modes.
The problem with the modes is the light always comes on in the next mode from the last time. With a sequence of High-Medium-Low-Strobe-Beacon-SOS, if it was in Low last time, it will come in Strobe next time. If it couldn’t have memory, the next best thing would have been to come on in High every time. This type of memory is just one step above having the light come on in a random mode when you turn it on. So this by itself makes the light pretty useless. [Note: reviews on DX indicate that if you leave the light off for 25 seconds or longer, that the memory works. In playing around with it to test it out, I wasn’t usually doing that.] The one thing I bought the light for was to outperform my Fenix in brightness and still allow lower modes to work. In an effort to get the advertised 250 lumens, I decided to risk killing an otherwise pretty lousy light by using a 14500 lithium ion cell, even though Kai says the light is meant for AA only. I inserted a 14500 lithium ion battery and, without so much as a flash, the light was dead. Ding dong dead (Well, not quite. I was able to convert it to direct drive and now it is a 1-mode light using a 14500, buzz-free and bright, maybe even the 220 lumens advertised at DX, but still not 250 lumens that KD claims). I should have taken some beam shots first, sorry.
I took these pictures after I burned out the driver and converted it to direct drive, so this is much brighter than with AA’s and the original driver. The stick is 25 feet away. The fencepost to the left of the stick is 120 feet away. The exposure time is 4 seconds. Here’s a control shot:
Direct driven with a fresh 14500 lithium ion battery (4.2 volts):
For comparison, here is a Fenix L2D Q5 in turbo mode with 2 2000mAh Eneloop NiMH AA’s:
The biggest reason I bought it was to get something brighter than what I have already, which it is not. I was hoping to get some additional brightness using lithium-ion batteries and keep the modes, but the light from KD absolutely can not be use with li-ions. The cruel version of mode memory makes this thing useless to me since I usually only use a light in short bursts and if I want it in High most of the time, I don’t want to have to flip through 5 modes to get back to that level every time I use the light. DealExtreme sells S10’s advertising memory (only if the light is off for 25 seconds) and the ability to use lithium-ion batteries (unconfirmed). The light’s tendency to change modes by itself when it gets knocked isn’t acceptable either.