Black Shadow Terminator T70 (2014/06/14)

Black Shadow Terminator T70  (4*XM-L2 U2/4*18650)

* T70 provided for review by Black Shadow

MANUFACTURER’S SPECS

Dimensions: 69mm(HD)×132mm(L)×93mm(H)
Material: Aluminum alloy
Color: Dark gray
Weight:440g(Without battery)
Emitter: 4×CREE XM-L2 LED, CW
Battery: 4/18650
Circuit: Digital CC circuit, with Low-voltage alarming system and Power indicating system
Mode: High-Mid-Low, hidden Strobe.
Dimming: Smart button switch
Lumens: High 3500Lums – Mid 1500lums – Low 400lums – Strobe 3000lums
Runtime(4*2400mah 18650 batteries): High 1h10min – Mid 2h40min – Low11h25min – Strobe 1h40min
Lens: Impact-resistant optical lens with AR coating
Reflector: Metal reflector
Head & Tail: Stainless steel bezel ring, tailstanding tailcap
Waterproof: IPX-8, unable to support dive use.
Accessories: Tactical parachute-cord, Attacking cone, Spare O-ring, User manual and Warranty card

Black Shadow has released an updated version of their deservedly popular Terminator.  While the overall output has improved only negligibly, it’s the subtle changes that make the T70 a much better light than the already good Terminator.  The most important change made to the driver is reprogrammed PWM frequency.  Visible PWM is now non-existent and frankly that was the one thing about the original Terminator that hurt it’s performance and reputation as a great light.  While they were reprogramming the driver they also gave it momentary on for people who prefer that in a light.

Other changes are a switch to XM-L2 U2 emitters, and the handle is now removable.  Since the original Terminator had the power switch located in the handle, to make the handle removable they had to move the switch to the head.  Some will like this change and others might not.  The switch position is less convenient now and hard to reach if using the handle.  Without the handle it’s great.  Overall, it seems that with two steps forward they made another step back leaving this new model, IMO, a better light than the original but only half as good as it could have been.

PROS

  • No visible PWM at all in any modes!
  • AR coated lenses
  • Removable handle
  • More waterproof than the original Terminator which allowed water in through the handle mount.  No water ingress any longer with the T70.
  • New switch location provides great function without the handle attached.
  • Same awesome switch as the original.  My favorite electronic switch on any light I’ve tried.
  • Momentary On
  • Great build quality, machining, and anodizing
  • The driver is reliable and built like a tank.  This light will last longer than most users.
  • Twist the body a hair and lockout current for zero parasitic drain.
  • Switch lights green when batteries are good.  Drop too low and the switch lights red.
  • Everything that made the Terminator so good only better.

CONS

  • I hate the new UI.  Point blank…it sucks.  I will go into that later.
  • No mode memory.
  • Switch hard to reach when handle is in use.
  • Output on the new model is the same as the old one.  Black Shadow refuses to increase current beyond 2.8A.  Marginal increase only due to 2nd gen XM emitters.
  • Handle on the T70 is 1-2mm longer than the body of the light.  Tail standing not as stable as it should be as it sits on the handle and wobbles a bit.

USAGE

The Terminator was known for being a super compact light and a powerhouse with superb build quality.  In that respect the new T70 carries on that tradition.  The little improvements like the removable handle and zero visible PWM add greatly to the value of the T70.  That said, I did find a few things that disappointed me.  The one that disappointed me the most is the user interface.  The original Terminator had a nice, clean, simple UI – click the button and it came on in low.  Click again for medium and once more for High.  One more click turned it off.

This new design has added a momentary on.  Press the switch and the light goes on in high.  As long as you let go before 2 seconds pass by it will turn off.  Do this as much as you want to signal but don’t click too quickly or you will activate the strobe mode.  To keep the light on press and hold the switch for 2 seconds before letting go and the light will be on in high mode.  Click again and you are in medium mode.  Click once more to go low.  The next click goes back to high and so on…  To turn off the light press and hold the switch for 1 second until it goes out.  Strobe mode can be turned on from any mode, including standby with two quick clicks.  Wondering why I hate the UI so much?  Some of you will already know why but for those who don’t here are my reasons.

  • I prefer all lights, except for dedicated throwers, to start in low mode.  I despise being forced to be blinded with high before I can turn a light down to low mode.  It destroys my night vision, especially indoors or outside when I don’t want the entire yard, and the neighbors yards, lit up.  The T70 not only starts in it’s highest mode blinding you with nearly 2800 OTF lumens, but it forces you to endure it for two seconds before you can even think about switching it down to medium and then to low.  At best it will take 2.5 to 3 seconds until you can be in low mode.  Unless you are timing it and know exactly when it will stay on if you let go you just may let go of the switch a split second before you hit the 2 second mark.  Let go a hair too soon and guess what?  Repeat the process all over and be blinded yet again.  WTF?  The original Terminator started in low mode like a good light should.
  • Try to change the modes by clicking quicker than 1/4 second and you enter strobe mode.  This makes the momentary on nearly useless for signaling in Morse code.
  • To turn the light off you have to hold the switch down for a full second before it will go out.  You could always twist the body a 1/4 turn to kill it instantly but that is a pain and impossible unless both hands are free.  I hate this.  I want a light to go off when I need it to.  Having to wait a second can be inconvenient at best and a detriment at worst.  They should have left the interface the same as the original Terminator.  If they had to add functions to the switch then they should have programmed it to turn off if held 0.3-0.5 seconds.  1 second is far too long.

The removable handle is a great touch and many will enjoy this feature.  You do need to have large hands to carry the light securely without the handle due to it’s girth.  Your back two or three fingers will be on the narrower battery tube but your index and thumb will be over the first finned section which is substantially thicker than the battery tube.  The switch placement is awesome when not using the handle.  With the handle on it’s a stretch of the thumb to reach the switch.

OUTPUT

When I measured the first Terminator with the XM-L U3 about a year ago I measured just under 3200 OTF lumens in my Integrated Sphere.  For some unknown reason I am unable to duplicate those measurements with the same exact light.  At first I was disappointed by the T70’s 2712 OTF lumens until I pulled out my original Terminator and popped in the same cells and managed 2646 OTF with identical cells and conditions.  Two different sets of cells revealed the same results.  At this point I was concerned that my light meter of IS was off but a test with a purpose built light when I created and calibrated the IS resulted in the exact proper output it should.  Something must have been off a year ago when I measured the original Terminator but I can’t get that reading from it now.  The good thing is that the new T70 is about 100 lumens brighter than the original Terminator.  I honestly didn’t expect more because there were no changes made in driver output.  The only changes to the driver were the modes and increased PWM frequency.  All that said and out of the way, here are the results…

OTF lumens are measured on a calibrated Integrated Sphere and lux is measured from a distance of  roughly 9m and converted back to 1m.

Mode                   Terminator          Terminator T70
Initial High             2696                     2756
High @ 30s           2640                     2712
Medium                 NA                       1421
Low                      NA                        298.7

Lux Readings
Lux @ 1m
Throw in meters (ANSI) to 0.25lux

BEAMSHOTS

It’s been raining all week here and I haven’t had a chance to get out for the beam shots.  I will take them in the next few days as long as the weather improves like it is supposed to.  I will update with those shots as soon as I get them taken and sorted.

DETAILS

Lets now go to my favorite part of reviews, the pictures.  Nothing says more about what you are getting than a close-up, honest look at a light in pictures.  They really do say a thousand words.  Like usual, clicking on a picture will take you to the full resolution version in a new tab/window

The T70 arrives in a heavy cardboard storage box nestled in a custom fit foam insert for transporting and storage.  You will notice 4 additional holes for 18650 cells.  There are no cells included with the light but if you wish to store your T70 and it’s cells when not in use I found it to be a nice touch to give you a secure spot for the cells outside of the light’s battery compartment.

Accessories include a good quality lanyard and a spare O-ring.


The lanyard attaches into the tripod mount hole using the included lanyard spike.

The lanyard spike doubles as a window breaker

Pretty small little light.  It fits great in the hand with the handle.

The T70 will tail stand with the handle on it but it’s a touch wobbly due to the fact that the handle is 1-2mm too long and protrudes beyond the rear of the battery tube.  It removes easily with just a coin for a screw driver.  Loosen the thumbwheel nut then slide the handle out the rear of the mount.  This leaves a nice clean light behind.


And here she is without the handle.  A nice simple and attractive light.

The switch is easy to access in any handhold you might use.


COMPARISONS TO THE ORIGINAL TERMINATOR

Let’s compare the old and new to each other.  Nothing but a few little things have been changed from the original Terminator.  The individual heads are identical as are all the internals aside from the LEDs being upgraded from XM-L U3 to XM-L2 U2.

Overall size is the same.  The body tubes are identical except for the laser etching.  The differences that can be seen are the main meat of the head which is longer on the T70 to accommodate the new switch location.  Because of the increased length of the head there is one fewer fin behind it to maintain the same overall length.  The T70 also has flat sections between the corners instead of the more rounded look of the Terminator.


BACK TO THE T70!

Ok, now you’ve seen the differences and similarities between the old and new, let’s get back to the new.

The anodizing and machining is top notch.  The laser etching is crisp and clean.

Two of the flats on the battery tube are etched with one side bearing the Black Shadow log and model number while the other bears the Terminator design and serial number of the light.

The main power lockout and mechanical switch is a simple twist lockout.  When the two halves are tight the switch is lit to show it is in standby mode.  A simple 1/8 twist locks out current for storage.

The switch boot is a thick silicon type that not only has great feel, but just the right click to it and a good durable, grippy design.  When the T70 is in standby mode the green LED is bright enough to use as a night vision preserving moon mode.  I love it!

The knurling is clean throughout and not so aggressive that is scrapes anything or wears at a nylon holster.

You will notice the trademark “X” pattern machined into the flat surfaces throughout the T70

All threads are anodized to provide mechanical lockout as well as make for super smooth threads.  The driver board has a 1.5mm thick anode contact ring instead of the usual thin etched brass film.  This will last several lifetimes of cell changes with little to no sign of wear.  The driver is secured in the center with an acorn headed machine screw.

The driver is 47mm wide.

Everything on the driver disassembles for easy of repair or replacement.  All emitter and switch connections are plugin for solder free maintenance.

In the battery end you see the usual spring PCB at the base of the battery tube.  All the springs are even and allow for any length of protected or unprotected 18650 cells.

The tailcap unscrews and has a thick O-ring to seal it against water ingress.  The spring PCB is held in with 4 Phillips head screws.

Threading back here is as nice as everywhere else on the T70.

Back to the front we can see how each of the individual heads are threaded into the main body of the head.  Each has a thick O-ring to seal against dust and moisture.  The MCPCBs sit on a film of thermal grease on a shelf.  Each shelf has a slot for the emitter leads to pass through to the inside of the driver pill section.

Each head consists of a stainless steel bezel, AR coated lens, thick O-ring, and aluminum reflector.

OD of the reflector is 28.78mm while the ID is 26mm.

Reflector depth is 24.55mm and the lens glass is 28.87mm in diameter.

Here you can see how it is all stacked up inside the individual heads.  Head diameter at the smallest part is 63mm

CONCLUSION

My output measurements comparing the original XM-L U3 Terminator to the XM-L2 U2 T70 do show the T70 to be a tad bit brighter.  For those who avoided the original Terminator due to the bad PWM in the lower modes and the non-removable handle, you can now purchase the T70 as those drawbacks are resolved.  If you already have a Terminator you  may or may not want to spend the money on the T70 unless the PWM and handle changes are enough to justify it for you.

The short of it is that the T70 is everything that made the Terminator such a good light plus a few changes that make the T70 a great light.  If you didn’t buy the Terminator for whatever the reason then the new T70 comes highly recommended.  It could be brighter but I don’t think it could be more reliable.  Every part of it is overbuilt and under stressed and it’s a great all purpose light for the money.

Be sure to visit The Flashlight Forum to leave comment or ask questions about this review!

BAM3!JMR

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2 thoughts on “Black Shadow Terminator T70 (2014/06/14)

  1. Pingback: Black Shadow Terminator T70 | Johnny Mac Reviews

  2. Pingback: Flashlight Reviews Update 6-15-2014 Nitecore P12, Fenix E25, Niwalker MM15vn | FlashLight Packs.com

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