Black Shadow Terminator (2012-12-31)

 

 

 

 

Manufacturer Specs:

Dimensions: 69mm(HD)×132mm(L)×93mm(Grade
Weight: 395g(Without battery)
Color: Dark brown
Emitter: 4×CREE XM-L U2/U3 LED
Battery: 4/18650
Circuit: Digital CC circuit, Low-voltage alarming system, Power indicating system
Mode: High-Mid-Low-OFF, hidden Strobe mode
Dimming: Smart button switch
Lumens: High 3500Lums – Mid 1500lums – Low 400lums – Strobe 3000lums
Runtime: High 1h10min – Mid 2h40min – Low11h25min – Strobe 1h40min
Material: Aluminum alloy
Lens: Impact-resistant optical lens with AR coating
Reflector: Metal reflector
Head & Tail: Stainless steel bezel ring, tail standing tailcap
Waterproof: IPX-7, unable to support dive use.
Accessories: Tactical parachute-cord, Spare O-ring, User manual and Warranty card.
Mark: LED and mode are optional on your preference.

My Measured Specs:

 

Dimensions

Head diameter (widest across bezels) 76.47mm
Base diameter: 53mm
Overall length 132mm
Bezel diameter 31.5mm
Individual Head height: 28.23mm
Lens diameter: 28.9mm
Lens thickness: 1.82mm
Individual Reflector diameter: 26.3mm
Individual Reflector depth: 26mm
Weight w/o cells: 426.7g
Weight w/cells: 610g
Output (U3 1C emitters):
Mode OTF Lumens
Firefly: 0.15
Low: 489
Medium: 1685
High (initial) 3174
High (10-15 seconds) 3044
Lux
Lux @ 15ft 2380
Lux @ 1m 59292
Distance @ 0.25lux 487yds
Protection: Thermally regulated step-down
Color: Machine Gray
Anodising: Type III
Current Price (USD): $134.42

 

 

 

Pros:

  • Excellent construction and design.
  • Waterproof
  • Regulated output in all modes.
  • Excellent thermal management.
  • Simple and easy to use UI.
  • Unintentional moon/firefly mode.
  • Power lockout  for zero parasitic drain.
  • A/R coated lenses.
  • Excellent throw and satisfactory spill.
  • Tail stands.
  • Tripod mount.
  • Excellent packaging along with lanyard and spare o-ring
  • Stainless steel glass breaker.

Cons:

  • Maximum output in some early examples is inconsistent and some report lower than claimed maximum output.
  • PWM in lower modes.  On par with PWM in SR King.

User Interface:

The Terminator has four main modes plus a quickly accessible Strobe mode. When the main body is tightened the switch will be lit (green or red depending on battery charge) and the light will be in Standby mode.  First press will turn on Low, second press Medium, third press High, then back to Standby with a 4th press.  Strobe is accessible from any mode by holding the switch for 1 second or longer.  To deactivate strobe mode a quick click of the switch will return you to the mode the light was in before Strobe was activated.  Strobe can also be activated directly from Standby mode.

A feature I really like about the Terminator is that the green LED in standby mode can double as a firefly/moonlight mode, effectively giving you four output levels instead of the advertised 3 levels.  If you want no light at all, just give a few degrees of twist on the battery tube and all power is locked out.  Black Shadow considers this to be the main power switch so you could say that the Terminator is a twisty light with mode selection via the electronic handle switch.

The switch falls to hand easily whether it is held by the handle or held by the body like a regular torch.  Switch feel is very solid for an electronic switch and has wonderful feel and should hold up very well.

Performance

Some initial examples of the light appear to be driven below the manufacturer’s output claims.  I have discussed this with them and their engineers are working to determine the cause.  They sent me their newest U3 version to be evaluated.  This version is to be available early January from what I’ve heard.  The U3 version can easily be differentiated from the earlier version by the stainless steel bolts mounting the handle to the body.  Initial models have dark carbon steel bolts to attach the handle.  Even the initial U2 model is still far brighter than other lights, such as the Skyray King.  The Terminator, while still providing some flood, is really more of a thrower than most multi-emitter flashlights.  I was thoroughly surprised by the lux measurements I was able to get.  It matches and even exceeds many dedicated throwers except for the high-end single emitter models (TN-31 and the like) and will easily keep up with lights like the Crelant 7G5, the STL-V2, the HD2010, and many others in that league. (400-500m)

Tail standing the light will flood an entire room with massive amounts of light.  I was skeptical of the Terminators ability to draw heat away from the emitters when I first opened up the pill but I have to say that this baby heats up quick and it left tail standing gets really hot and uncomfortable to hold.  Once the temperature reaches 60 degrees Celsius it automatically steps down to medium.  Black Shadow did a great job giving this light the ability to handle it’s thermal output.

Construction

Construction of the light is top notch.  I will go into details about the construction as I review the pictures I’ve taken of the light.  Needless to say it is impeccably machined and well engineered.

Detailed Look and Observations…

My Terminator arrived in a plastic bag…

And inside of that was a thick cardboard box…

Containing the flashlight box itself.  A nice sturdy box that arrived without any crush marks or bruises.

 

Inside was the light itself packaged along with the user manual, a spare o-ring, and a lanyard with the lanyard attachment/glass breaker.

The physical quality of the Terminator is exceptional.  It feels like it was machined from a single block of aluminum alloy.  Machining is well above average and as good as anything I’ve seen regardless of price.  The type III anodizing is consistent and without blemishes.  The color is a beautiful machine grey that has become the Black Shadow trademark color.

The stainless steel lanyard attachment threads into the tripod mount hole.  It also doubles as a glass breaker.  It threads in very easily but locks in tight once fully seated and takes a very deliberate twist to free it.  The threads are perfect in that aspect.  There is also a lanyard hole in the end of the handle if you’d rather attach the lanyard there.

With the lanyard attachment installed the torch will not lay stable if you need to set it down while you change a tire or something.  This is easily remedied by turning it upside down and using the handle as the stand.  I can’t help but think that it was designed for this very purpose.

All lettering is laser etched and it solid and sharp, just like the machining.

The most noticeable feature of the Terminator is the four individual reflectors.  The main head and “pill” itself is machined from solid billet and each individual head threads into that.  Each reflector is slightly larger than standard p60 size.  All are free of any blemishes and are remarkably smooth and well machined.

The handle contains the power/mode switch and is machined from a single piece of aluminum.  It is attached by two steel hex socket bolts.  The design is both comfortable and rock solid.

Pictured below is the U3 version.  This version, available in January, is easily distinguished by it’s stainless steel handle mount bolts.

Pictured below is the initial U2 version.  Note the dark carbon steel handle mounting bolts.

 

All of the emitters are well centered and the reflectors very clean and smooth.

 

The lenses are A/R coated and completely sealed with an o-ring at each lens and another thick o-ring at the base where it threads into the main head.

The switch is translucent silicon and carries the “X” theme of the Terminator with it’s molded design.  Behind this cap are red and green LEDs. When the main power is engaged (battery tube threaded snug to the body) the switch will light green.  Once battery voltage drops to 2.7 it will turn red and flash to let you know it is time to swap/charge the cells.  The green LED in the switch also doubles as a night vision preserving firefly mode.

According to an excellent review performed by CPF user, Candle Lamp, parasitic drain (or firefly mode draw) from the switch LED is 4.42mA.  With 2600mA cells installed, the light should run for about 3 months if the light is left on and not locked out.

The Terminator tail stands exceptionally well.

While an annoyance to some to have this label, in the case of the Terminator it is at least a truthful statement.  The light will automatically kick down to Medium mode if temperature of the head reaches 60 degrees Celsius.

Clean threading and anodizing even in the tripod/lanyard mount hole.

Plenty of cleanly machined fins on the head.  These do an excellent job of helping syphon heat from the LEDs.

Being basically a twisty switch light, main power is enable/disabled by tightening/loosening the head.  Only a few degrees rotation are needed to lockout/enable power.

Knurling is remarkably clean while being aggressive.  It is a pleasure to use and hold.

Two of the four flats machined into the battery tube carry the “X” theme of the Terminator.  This “X” is also on the electronic switch boot and tail cap.

The “X” theme carries on in the tail.

For storage, the Terminator can rest stably on it’s stainless steel bezels.  It’s stance feels like an earthquake couldn’t knock it over when stored this way.

Here is the Terminator in standby/firefly mode.  In a darkened room at night, sitting on my nightstand it lit up the entire room easily enough to see almost everything.  It truly operates as a moon/firefly mode.  The fact that it is green means it will not ruin night adapted eyes.  I was shocked how well I could see by just the light of the switch.  Need it dark?  Just twist the battery tube a few degrees to lockout power.  With 4.42mA draw in moon mode, using 2600mA cells it should run continuously for about 3 months.  Plenty long enough to be rescued from the mine or cave you happened to get yourself trapped in.  It would survive longer than you most likely.

When battery levels are above 2.7v the switch lights up green.  When cell levels are too low the right half will light red to notify you that it is time to swap or recharge your cells.

Here is the light in Low mode.

Medium mode…

And finally, High mode.

Let’s have a look at what is making all that brilliant light, shall we?  Removing the back half of the light reveals the face of the driver PCB.

Threading is smooth, anodized, came lubricated and is squeak free.

The acorn headed bolt in the center of the driver is what holds it into place.  It unthreads easily to reveal…

the very stout driver itself.  Note the very thick brass contact ring.  It will not wear like the thin layer of contact on the SR King and many other lights.  The Terminator appears to be built for the long haul.

Lifting the driver reveals a two level driver.  The mode switch and each individual LED is connected by it’s own plug.  This makes it easy to replace any of the LEDs or the switch.  It also makes it easy to remove the driver for repair or replacement without having to unsolder/solder a single thing.  Very nice!

The driver model is clearly marked.  All components appear to be top quality and well made.  All solder joints are well made.

Lifting the driver further reveals the inside of the pill.  In the Terminator the entire head is the pill.  I was worried at first that there wasn’t enough material under the LEDs to draw away the heat they would produce but my fears were unfounded.  Half of each LED MCPCB sits on the main body of the head.  An unanodized section of the head continues inward under the MCPCB forming a ledge to support and draw heat into the main body.  In practice it works very well since the head gets very warm, very fast when the light is on.  More than enough thermal grease is used during assembly.

With one of the individual heads removed, you can see the LED MCPCB.  A thin plastic insulator protects the LED from shorting to the aluminum reflector and also centers the reflector perfectly.

Lifting the MCPCB exposes the LED mounting area.  Looks iffy but works very well. Wink

Here you see one of the individual heads removed form the main head/body.  Very thick, durable o-ring seals water ingress and ensures the head stays threaded snugly.  It was a real bugger to remove this head but it went back on easily.  Just be patient as limited grip surface means only a few degrees of rotation with each turn.

Another view, this time from the rear.  All threading is anodized here as well.  The only thing I couldn’t do was remove the stainless bezel itself.  It requires a special 5 point contact tool to sit inside the 5 notches in the inside of the bezel.  I could only grip it well enough to unthread the entire head but not the bezel.

Any length of 18650 cell will work in the Terminator.  Protected or unprotected, from the longest to the shortest, they all work and there is zero battery rattle.  Button top cells are recommended due to the contact requirements with the anode ring on the driver.  As long as the anode contact is higher than the insulation it will work fine.

A look inside the battery tube.  Well machined in here as well and fully anodized.

The tail cap also unscrews.  Knurling is excellent as is the machining of the threads.  Again, even these were lubricated.

My apologies for the blurry pic.  You can still get an idea of the smooth, anodized threads and stout, durable o-ring.  All threaded parts seal tightly due to the properly sized o-rings used throughout the Terminator.

With the tail cap removed you can see the rear of the battery compartment.  The PCB grounds to the battery tube via the 4 screws that hold it into position.

Couldn’t resist another look at the machining on the tailcap.

OK…back to the cathode PCB.  With the screws removed the PCB is easily removed to reveal the thick, gold plated spring that the batteries sit on.  The PCB itself is very thick and solid.

Another look at the contact board from the back side.

All four screw holes are solid with no stripped threads.

The tripod mounting hole takes the standard tripod thread.  It’s a nice addition to a great light.

One thing I didn’t care for was the way the lanyard mounted from the factory.  The glass breaker/threaded lanyard mount was originally installed last and locked in with a plastic clip.  Not only did the clip stick out and look ugly at the mounting point, I didn’t feel safe with the piece of plastic as the only thing holding this great light form smacking the pavement.  I moved the mount to the other end of the lanyard where it not only looks better, it functions much better.  Now I can rest, assured the light will stay put.

The Terminator is an amazingly and deceptively compact light.  It’s actually smaller than the SR King, which is already one of the smallest multi-emitter heavy hitters.  Here it is seen among it’s siblings from Black Shadow.  This should give a good idea of just how compact a light it really is.

A quick ceiling shot from 7 feet shows just how much brighter the Terminator is than my SR King.  The hotspot is noticably more concentrated and brighter along with the spill being far brighter as well.  My King puts out 2237 OTF lumens.  The Terminator dominates it.  With the white balance set to neutral you can barely see the spill from the SR King because the Terminator is so bright.

With the white balance set to it’s lowest, you can see just the hotspots of both lights.  Notice how much brighter and focused the Terminator is.  This is why the U3 is good for 487yds of throw.

With my camera farther away and the white balance turned up so you can see the spill on the SR King, you can see how much tighter the spill is on the Terminator.  While the King is a flooder with hald decent throw, the Terminator is a thrower with half decent flood.  The difference between the two of them is night and day.

Here are some pics I took of my sample as soon as I got it out of the box at arrival.  Just look at how compact this sucker is.  I was blown away by how small it was compared to what I expected.

Held by the handle with your arm at your side while walking, the Terminator falls at just the right angle to shine in front of you while still pointing down enough to see where you are walking.  It’s a great dog walking light and what I grab when the mutt needs some exercise.

Lenses and reflectors are clear and focus the light extremely well.

If held by the body like a normal light, my index finger falls perfectly on the mode selection switch like the trigger on a gun.  Very comfortable to hold and actually thinner than the body on an SR King.

Held like this the green glow of the switch points perfectly in front of you and down to illuminate the floor whilst creeping about the house on whatever nefarious deed you are bent on.

Like I said earlier, very bright, actually.  On the nightstand in a darkened room, the switch alone illuminates everything in the room.  I actually had to turn it off so I could get some sleep.  It was too bright to leave on in standby mode.

Another front shot.

Conclusion:

And a final parting look at the Black Shadow Terminator.  I can’t recommend this light enough and if it’s in your budget to get it, do so!  If not, start saving!  It’s still far cheaper than any comparable light (and there aren’t many).  It is a perfect all around torch that so far, does everything exceptionally well, and is built as well or better than anything else on the market.  Currently the stallion of my light stable, I’m sure you will love it also. Wink

Hope you enjoyed this review.  Feel free to comment or ask questions.  I’ll do my best to answer them.

*The light for this review was provided by Black Shadow

One thought on “Black Shadow Terminator (2012-12-31)

  1. ‘Just got my U3 cool white BS Terminator last night… & JM is dead on… This light is head & shoulders above my SRK’s… Those are awesome lights, but the Term is on another level…

    While my Kings are solid at lighting up the area, the Term fills up the area much more; instead of a bright ‘murky’ hot-spot, there is light ‘everywhere’; a smooth transition from the hot-spot to the edge of the flood area…

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