Armytek Partner Series (A1/A2/C1)

Armytek Partner C1 (XM-L 1*CR123A/16340), A1 (XM-L 1*AA/14500), A2 (2*AA only)

*Armytek Partner lights provided for review by Armytek.com

PROS

  • Outstanding build quailty and reliability!  Excellent HAIII anodizing.
  • Fully potted and sealed components for excellent impact and water protection.
  • Creamy white 5500K tint from Cree emitters.
  • Interchangeable TIR optics
  • Hardened glass lenses with Sapphire and AR coatings
  • Simple 2-mode user interface
  • Excellent output on Li-Ion or primary cells
  • Regulated output
  • Holster, lanyard, spare switch boot and o-rings
  • Great pricing.

CONS

  • Only 2 modes.  Would be great if they had a third, low sub-3 lumen mode.
  • Low voltage protection claimed but not seen in my examples.  Be very careful with unprotected Li-Ion cells.
  • C1 cannot fit standard protected Li-Ion cells.  Unprotected only.

The Armytek partner series of lights are designed to be the perfect backup lights for LEO and professionals everywhere who require a light that can be counted on when failure is not an option.  They are also the prefect companion lights (hence the name “Partner”) that one can count on to work every time one turns one one.  Overbuilt to the same high standards as all Armytek flashlights to withstand 30m of water submersion with their dust and waterproof rating of IP68 and impact resistance of 10m, they are prefect for anyone that needs a reliable light that will withstand the knocks and drops that occur under harsh conditions, such as LEO, mechanics, cavers, and anyone that is tough on their lights.

Since I am reviewing 3 separate models in one review, I will cover the common features up front and go into individual particulars for each light further down.

Armytek offered to send me some examples of this fine little light for review and they didn’t disappoint (note to self – reviewing 3 lights at a time is a bugger!).  While only 2 mode lights with no blinkies, they will run on just about any cell you can fit into them from Li-Ion, IMR, NiMH, and Alkaline.  The matte black HAIII finish on all 3 examples was exemplary and consistent between all models.  It provides great grip dry or wet as well as being extremely resistant to scratches and drops.  Machining is about the best I’ve seen on any light with smooth, deep, trapezoidal threads that are fully anodized and able to be locked out so they don’t get turned on accidentally in the pocket or pack.  All partner models come with hardened glass lenses over TIR optics.  The lenses on all are Sapphire and AR coated for maximum durability and output.  Reverse clicky tactical switches on the Partner are easy to engage even with gloved hands.  All come with a well constructed holster, lanyard, and 2 spare o-rings.

My examples arrived packaged, like all larger Armytek models, in sturdy corrugated boxes.

All 3 Partner models share the same tail cap and switch and are interchangeable between each other.  The bodies on all share the same outside diameter with only the inside diameter being milled to different size to accommodate the difference in intended cell use.

All etching for the logos are clean and solid.

The C1 and A1 examples sent to me are equipped with XM-L U2 emitters with a 5500K tinit. Armytek considers them to be CW but their tint is right on the border of being considered NW and, IMO, are the perfect shade of white with no hint of blue, purple, or green tinges.  They are also available with XP-G R5 emitters with the same tint of 5500K.  The C1 and A1 are also equipped with diffused TIR optics for a floody output with a center spot angle of 50 degrees and 90 degrees of spill.

The A2 example I was sent is equipped with a Cree XP-G R5 emitter in the same perfect tint of 5500K.  It is equipped with a clear TIR lens designed for a combination of flood and throw.  The XM-L U2 5500K is also available in the A2.  The lenses on all Partners are made from hardened, scrat resistant glass and are both Sapphire and AR coated for maximum output and performance.

Performance and Output

It is important to note the following quote from the User Manual:

You cannot use rechargeable Li-Ion batteries with voltage 2.7-4.2V (RCR123 or 14500) more than 30 minutes without active cooling. These batteries can make small flashlight much brighter and hotter. This can bring the flashlight out of operation and damage the batteries. And battery damage can cause combustion or explosion.

My testing was done with a fan cooling the lights through their run time testing.  “Active cooling” does include natural “blood cooling” from holding the light in your hand.  As long as you do not leave the light on high and laying on a table unheld you should be fine.  As with all things, common sense goes a long way.

The Partner A1 returned respectable output figures on both Li-Ion and primary cells.  On High the A1 turned in 550 lumens OTF and 233 OTF lumens in Low mode using a 14500 Li-Ion cell.  Using a NiMH cell output on high was 232.6 OTF lumens and on Low it put out 51.1 OTF lumens.

The Partner A2 only uses primary cells unless you were to use one Li-Ion 14500 cell and a dummy cell.  output with that arrangement should be identical to the A1 using a Li-Ion 14500 cell.  Using two Duracell AA cells at 1.59v each the A2 turned in a respectable 267 OTF lumens on High and 65 OTF lumens on Low.

The Partner C1 can use either 3v Primary cells or 16340 Li-Ion cells.  Since I really never use primaries in that size I only conducted my testing using unprotected 16340 cells.  The C1 cannot fit protected Li-Ion cells so unprotected had to be used. Output on High mode was nearly identical to that of the A1 with 539.OTF lumens and on Low it turned in 226.5 OTF lumens.  Armytek claims that all 3 models have low voltage protection. I was very dismayed when the C1 drained my unprotected 16340 cell to just 0.656v immediately after it stopped working.  After several minutes of recovery time the cell climbed to 1.45v.  Very dangerous and undesirable for unprotected Li-Ion cells to be drained this low.  If you do use a 16340 cell in the C1 make sure you remove and recharge the cell once you begin to see a significant drop in output.  It is ONLY safe to rundown the cell in this when using a 3v primary.

Since all 3 lights appear to use the same driver configuration so the same warning goes for all 3 models, not just the C1. The A1 does take protected cells (as you can see from the runtime testing where battery protection kicked in).  I only wish the C1 was a few mm longer to take protected cells.

Tint on all 3 lights is a creamy white 5500k with no tinges of blue, purple or green.  Output on the Diffused A1 & C1 is broad, as expected, and great for close up work or indoors or out when you need to see the area in front of and around you other than far away.  The A2’s XP-G R5, with it’s clear TIR optics, offers up the same creamy white 5500K tint with a more focused output for greater long range illumination.

Surprisingly, or not, output in lux is actually higher with the diffused XM-L emitters than the clear XP-G emitter.  Here are the lux and throw results using Li-Ion cells in all 3 lights (except for the A2 which is 2*AA).  With primary cells in the A1 & C1 the A2 would have greatly out thrown the other two.

For the beam shots, my main camera was acting flaky tonight so I was forced to use my cell which overexposed the shots in the darkened room.  The XM-L A1 & C1 simply dominated the camera, leaving the majority of spill unshown.  In real life the spill is far greater.

The beam from the A2 shows a little better since the output is roughly half of the other two lights but the throw is nearly as high due to the narrower angle of the XP-G coupled with the clear TIR optics.

Let’s move on and look at each light individually…

Partner C1

Specifications

Length: 3.15 in./80mm
Diameter: 0.95 in./24.13mm
Weight (without Batteries): 1.55oz
LED: XM-L U2
LED Tint: 5500K
Optics: TIR (flood)
Hotspot: 50 degrees
Spill: 90 degrees
PWM
Outer lens: Glass with Sapphire and AR coating
Body Material: Aircraft grade aluminum
Anodizing Matte HAIII
Waterproof: IP68 (30m/109ft)
Impact Resistance: 33 ft (10m)
Number of modes: 2 (High & Low)
Switch type: Reverse Clicky
Tail lockout: Yes
List Price: $51.00 (currently $42.95)

The C1 is the smallest of the 3 Partner models but shares the same holster as the A1.

The package includes the C1, a superb holster, a nice, long lanyard, spare switch boot, and two spare o-rings.  It also comes with a well written user manual.

The diffused TIR optic has a honeycomb pattern to it.  It does a pretty great job of keeping a large center hotspot while limiting the spill to only 90 degrees.  Other diffused TIR optics I’ve seen have a 120-160 degree spill angle.

Superb machining and anodizing.  Anti-roll flats on head and tail keep the C1 from rolling away from you.

Reverse-clicky tactical switch.

Good feel from the switch itself.  Doesn’t feel cheap or flimsy.  Hole in tail for the lanyard.

Threads are deep, clean, and well lubed.  The thick o-ring seals out moisture and dust.  A heavy spring with large contact area for the cell.  Retaining ring unscrews to remove the switch components and replace the switch boot if needed.

A better look at the excellent threads.

A large brass contact button graces the anode side of the driver board.  All components internally are fully potted and sealed against moisture, dust and impact.

The bezel and lens are removable as is the TIR optic itself.  One could switch out the diffused optics for a clear version if you didn’t want the floody output.

Here you can see the inside of the bezel with it’s o-ring removed.  The lens protects the TIR optic from scratches and provides AR attributes.

Here you can see the TIR and all the removable components from the head.

The Cree XM-L U2 emitter is mounted onto a unique MCPCB for good thermal efficiency and output.

Where the low voltage protection should have cut power to the light, it did not, and consequencially my unprotected 16340 cell was treated as a primary cell and run down until it could give no further output.  Regulation only seems to kick in once the voltage reaches 3V (primary levels) where it held for 48 minutes before dropping rapidly to 10 lumens then slowly degraded from there after some more time.  Primary cells won’t privide as much maximum output but should easily provide the 65 minute runtime quoted by Armytek.

Here you can see just how small this light is.  It is perfect for a tactical grip and is easy to switch on or off and change modes.

Fits easily into the palm of my hand.

Partner A1

Specifications

Length: 3.82 in./97mm
Diameter: 0.95 in./24.13mm
Weight (without Batteries): 1.98oz
LED: XM-L U2
LED Tint: 5500K
Optics: TIR (flood)
Hotspot: 50 degrees
Spill: 90 degrees
PWM:
Outer lens: Glass with Sapphire and AR coating
Body Material: Aircraft grade aluminum
Anodizing Matte HAIII
Waterproof: IP68 (30m/109ft)
Impact Resistance: 33 ft (10m)
Number of modes: 2 (High & Low)
Switch type: Reverse Clicky
Tail lockout: Yes
List Price: $50.00 (currently $41.95)

The A1 is the middle size of the 3 Partner models but shares the same holster as the C1.

The package includes the A1, a superb holster, a nice, long lanyard, spare switch boot, and two spare o-rings.  It also comes with a well written user manual.

The diffused TIR optic has a honeycomb pattern to it.  It does a pretty great job of keeping a large center hotspot while limiting the spill to only 90 degrees.  Other diffused TIR optics I’ve seen have a 120-160 degree spill angle.

Here you can see the TIR and all the removable components from the head. It is identical to that of the C1.

Just as with the C1, the bezel and lens are removable as is the TIR optic itself.  One could switch out the diffused optics for a ckear version if you didn’t want the floody output.

The XM-L U2 emitter is mounted on a unique MCPCB for good thermal efficiency and output.

Superb machining throughout the A1, just as with all the Armytek models.  Anti-roll flats on the head and tail keep the A1 from rolling away from you.

Lanyard hole and tactical switch grace the tail end.  The switch as great feel and is easy to use even with gloved hands.

Current is passed through the unanodized end of the battery tube.  The anodized threads allow you to lock out power to the light so it doesn’t turn on accidentally in a pocket or pack.

Threads are deep, smooth, and well lubricated.  The heavy o-ring seals tightly to protect against water intrusion.

The A1 is very thick walled, sharing the same outside diameter of the C1.  There is no noticable cell rattle.

The battery tube accepts and works with all unprotected and protected 14500 cells.  Pictured below is an unprotected IMR cell.

Heavy tail spring with large cathode contact area gives little resistance.  The threaded ring allows you to change out the switch boot with the provided spare.

Here you can see the lanyard hole and height of the tactical switch.

The A1 is a beefy little light as you can see here pictured along with a 14500 cell.

Here are the run time results for the A1  First up is with an AA NiMH.  Output at this voltage level is very flat up until around 23 minutes in when it drops sharply for a couple minutes then drops at a more steady rate until it dies out completely at the 80 minute mark.

On a 14500 Li-Ion cell the output drops steady but evenly starting with 570 OTF lumens until it reaches the 230 lumen level at the 40 minute mark then levels out regulated until it drops like a stone around the 49 minute mark when battery’s own protection kicked in.

The A1 in tactical grip.  Works great and allows easy switching and mode changing even with gloved hands due to the tactical switch that protrudes just the right amount.

Still fits great in the palm of the hand and disappears in your pocket.

Partner A2

Specifications

Length: 5.83 in./148mm
Diameter: 0.95 in./24.13mm
Weight (without Batteries): 3 oz
LED: XP-G R5
LED Tint: 5500K
Optics: TIR
Hotspot: 20 degrees
Spill: 70 degrees
PWM:
Outer lens: Glass with Sapphire and AR coating
Body Material: Aircraft grade aluminum
Anodizing Matte HAIII
Waterproof: IP68 (30m/109ft)
Impact Resistance: 33 ft (10m)
Number of modes: 2 (High & Low)
Switch type: Reverse Clicky
Tail lockout: Yes
List Price: $50.00 (currently $42.95)

The A2 is the largest of the 3 Partner models (naturally) and comes with it’s own perfectly sized and sturdy holster.

The A2 package comes with the holster, long, well made lanyard, spare switch boot, 2 extra o-rings, and a well written and helpful user manual.

Anti-roll flats on the head and tail help keep the A2 from rolling away from you on less than level surfaces.

Excellent machining and heat fins to help keep the A2 from heating up badly.  it still gets pretty warm running on two Eneloops but not so hot as to be uncomfortable.  The finish and anodizing is as impeccable as the other Armytek models I’ve reviewed.

My A2 is equipped with an XP-G R5 and clear TIR optics with a 20 degree hotspot and 70 degrees of spill for much better throw than it’s brothers.

The Cree XP-G R5 is mounted on a unique MCPCB for good thermal efficiency and output.  Wiring is heavy gauge and appears to be silicone insulated.  Soldering on all 3 Partner lights is consistent and well done.

The clear TIR can be seen here along with the lens and bezel.

Threading is deep and clean.  The o-ring is there, it’s just still sitting in it’s groove at the front of the bezel.

Not as long as many 2*AA lights, it’s a very handsome and practical light.  I’m not usually a fan of the 2*AA format but I actually like this A2 a whole bunch.  It’s really almost impossible to not like these lights.

Runtime results show nearly 30 minutes of regulated 267 OTF lumens before dropping steadily to around 30 lumens then slowly declining until completely dying at around the 2 hour mark.

Pictured below is the A2 in a tactical grip.

Still fits well in the hand.

Compared to other lights

Pictured below are all 5 of my Armytek flashlights starting with the Viking V2.5 XM-L on the left followed by the Predator Pro V2.5  XP-G, the Partner A2, the Partner A1, then the Partner C1 on the far right.  THe A2 is about the same length as a P60 host.

All Armytek lights come with well made, sturdy holsters for those who prefer their lights on the hip.

Partner C1

Here is the Partner C1 next to similar CR123A/16340 flashlights.

Partner A1

The Partner A1 is smaller than my other AA/14500 sized lights.  The only non-AA light in this pic below is the Olight S20 Baton (18650).

The A1 is clearly smaller than some of my other AA/14500 lights.  My Naithawk M.a is positively huge in comparison to it.

Partner A2

I don’t have a lot of 2*AA lights (as I mentioned earlier they are not generally something I prefer) but I was able to compare it to my TaoTronics TF-TT01/Balder BD-1P

CONCLUSION

Definitely JohnnyMac Approved!!  Sure they only have 2 modes and normally I would be bothered by this but for their intended purpose they just can’t be beat.  The usual Armytek durability and build quality in a compact, more affordable line of lights.  The Partners truly are ready to have your back in a pinch and are the perfect backup lights and really great main lights in their own right.

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