Просмотр полной версии : 4sevens Quark series review -- includes sneak preview of the AA^2 Tactical

01.05.2011, 03:46
by carrot

Many of us are familiar with one of CPF's most prominent flashlight dealers, 4sevens of Atlanta, GA. Still more, even outside of Candlepowerforums' sphere of influence, have bought from 4sevens (aka David), the entity behind Fenix-Store, EagleTac-Store, Nitecore USA, etc. But it came as quite a surprise to many of us when David decided to draw back the curtains on some projects that had been a longtime dream of his and two years in the making -- the Quark series.

While at first, the Quark series passes more than a striking resemblance in features and overall size to the ever-popular Fenix lights where David had his humble beginnings as a favorite retailer, one would do themselves and David's hard work a serious disservice to dismiss them as clones.

David took many features requested by flashlight aficionados and users, incorporating feedback he had received over the years, and unsatisfied with the market's current offerings, created his own brand of lights. I remember him telling us (never you mind who "us" is) how excited he was to be unveiling something new.. and well here they are now for all of us to enjoy.

Quick rundown (inc. min/max only):
Quark AA: 1xAA, Cree XP-E LED, 0.2/90 lumens, 240hrs/1.2hrs
Quark AA^2: 2xAA, Cree XP-E LED, 0.2/170 lumens, 720hrs/1.3hrs
Quark 123: 1x123, Cree XP-E LED, 0.2/170 lumens, 360hrs/0.8hrs
Quark 123^2: 2x123, Cree XP-E LED, 0.2/190 lumens, 720hrs/1.5hrs
Quark AA^2T: 2xAA, Cree XP-E LED, 0.2/170 lumens, 720hrs/1.3hrs

Quark AA: 3.8in
Quark AA^2: 5.8in
Quark 123: 3.2in
Quark 123^2: 4.5in
Quark AA^2T: -

Light Output and Operation:
I have no light meter with which to verify the manufacturer's claims on light output but based on experience it appears that the estimates are not far off from reality, and in fact are probably fairly accurate. 4sevens tells me that his lights are fairly severely underrated and are definitely putting out at at least as much lumens as advertised, and probably more. This is in line with Surefire's rating model, and one I greatly prefer. Integrity indeed.

The 4sevens Quark lights are no different in operation from the Fenixes they are butting up against -- there are two modes controlled by twisting the bezel (by tightening and unscrewing the bezel you get to select between general and turbo. Once you are in turbo, a light press on the tailcap will switch the light into strobe mode which is far faster and more disorienting/attention grabbing than that of Fenix's. In general mdoe, a light press on the tailcap will cycle between low, medium, and high. There is a brief flash the first time "in awhile" that you've activated general-low mode but it is not terribly problematic in usage, more of a curiousity.

The standard reverse clicky requires more force to activate than many of the other imported lights on the market. This is very reminiscent of the higher-end American brands, for our Strong American Fingers. To me this is a very good thing as my main problem with clickies is that they are far too easy to accidentally activate, turning on the light and wasting all your batteries.

Runtimes, I hear, are very good, and just about as advertised. Kudos to 4sevens for not lying like the other guys.

However, the tactical model (of which there is a preproduction unit in the CPF passaround) is far more interesting than the aforementioned lights, as they are something we truly have not seen yet before at such a price range -- you can program the two light levels however you like -- and it is easy but also nearly impossible to accidentally set.

To set the modes, you click the light on, and then unscrew and screw the bezel of the light "a few times" -- 4sevens specifies that you need to do it at least 4 times but who's counting? When you stop either with the bezel tightened or loosened (as these are the binary, the only two, possibilities for the bezel besides being completely unscrewed and not on the light body) the light will blink a few times letting you know it is ready to be programmed. Now all you have to do is click the tailcap a few times until it arrives at the mode you like, and then leave it on in said mode until it blinks again (roughly 10 seconds later). This is extremely easy to do and probably not something you are going to be using frequently -- although if you do need more than two modes frequently, I would recommend you just bite the bullet and get the non-tactical model.

I absolutely love the tactical model and cannot wait to get one for myself! I have always been a big proponent of "simpler is better" and the T lets you have your cake and eat it too -- you get to be able to have "the right levels for the right job" and simplicity of operation usually reserved for simpler lights.

Readers may be wondering whether the XP-E R2 LEDs used here really makes a difference. Let me say... oh yes, they really do! Many other lights in this size struggle to focus the output of the LED with such a tiny reflector, but with the smaller XP-E die (in contrast to that of the more popularly used XR-E), we get a very clean, smooth beam in a tiny flashlight that uses only a light orange peel reflector -- ensuring that the flashlight throws a beam exceptionally well while still being fairly pleasant to use at closer distances. Anyone who hasn't paid attention to the latest and greatest for the past two years will find these new lights to be absolutely astounding, although if you have been paying attention you will still appreciate that the beams here are absolutely gorgeous compared to many lights with the dreaded "Cree rings."

Design and Build Quality:
In any case, beyond the simple yet effective UI choices many take for granted is the physical improvements. The Quarks make pretty much all the other lights in its size and price range look like a terrible value!

The first four lights mentioned are pretty much all the same, but they vary slightly in size and the batteries they feed upon. Of curious note is that the 1x123 light, the Q123, has the pocket clip permanently attached to the bezel of the light and not on the body as with the others. On all the others, the pocket clip is able to carry the light bezel up and bezel down (the 123 only allows for bezel up), and is also removable.

The tactical model features a forward clicky, allowing for momentary activation without "clicking on" the light, which is a very handy feature and IMHO the final word on whether or not I could carry said light as an EDC. The clicky has a very strong, robust feeling action and unlike some, does not feel cheap or fragile at all. The regular models feature reverse clickies, which are flush with the tailcap (allowing for tailstanding of the light for use as a lantern in places with ceilings) as opposed to protruding, and are certainly better for the choice of UI on those models.

Besides the already mentioned clicky switch (which I find wonderful), the pocket clip is smartly designed and holds the light tight to your pocket, ensuring quick access and also security -- the light is not especially likely to come out of your pocket inadvertently. I would prefer if the pocket clip allowed for the light to go a bit deeper into the pocket as I do not like my toys displayed so blatantly but as it is they are a good compromise between ease of access and security.

While we're at it, let me also mention that the much vaunted square threads are as good as claimed, as they are cleanly machined and far better than the usual threading you see on lights in this price range (and higher). I have, on several occasions seen lesser threads on lights get stripped by accident (in cycling we would say "I was just riding along, when xxx broke") but square threading like this is robust and less likely to be stripped or cross-threaded than their sissier bretheren. Good stuff.

Each of these lights is hard anodized 6061-T6 aluminum (commonly called aerospace-grade) w and feature a clicky switch located on the back for quick activation and ease of use. The lights come with a velcro holster (nice), a lanyard (also nice), a swivel clip (tacky), and a battery (thoughtful).

4sevens, being a huge fan of knurling (the man reads my mind, I tell ya), covered almost the entire body of this light with knurling, with only small smoothed sections for aesthetics and such. Some other lights in this size range are slippery and hard to use under adverse conditions but you should have no problems holding these lights (wipe the butter off your fingers please).

Buy these lights. There is no reason not to add at least one to your daily rotation, and at about $60 they will hardly break the bank. I wholeheartedly recommend these lights because they are not only cool, but they are better made than almost anything else you can get in this price range, perform among the best, and have an American businessman behind the helm, listening to his customers every step of the way. The Q123^2T is absolutely going to be my next flashlight purchase.

TL;DR version:
What makes the 4sevens Quark lights special and stand out over the other competitors is: pocket clip, square-cut threads, robust clicky switch, and programmability for the tactical models.

About $60, give or take a few bucks. Free shipping at 4sevens.com

Sorry, no pictures at this point in time. There are plenty of photos floating about and many people are better at product photos than I am.

Also, I have to apologize to readers here:
I have been absurdly busy the entire month of June and only managed to bang out this review now (would have been out right by the launch of these lights) and so it may be shorter and a bit less comprehensive than I usually try to be.

Also, by way of apology, here's a shot of the preproduction Tactical model, taken on my iPhone.



And one of my sleeping cat.