FENIX TK35 Ultimate Edition MT-G2 Tactical

 

FENIX TK35 Ultimate Edition



 


Features of
Fenix TK35UE:

• Cree MT-G2 LED with a lifespan of
50,000 hours

• Uses four 3V CR123A batteries (Lithium) or two 18650 rechargeable
batteries (Li-ion)

• Output mode / Runtime:

Turbo

1800 lumens

1h

 30min

High

750 lumens

4h

 

Mid

250 lumens

13h

 30min

Low

25 lumens

150h

 

Strobe

1800 lumens

 

 

SOS

250 lumens

 

 

• Dimensions and Weight:

Length

6.49″

165mm

 

Diameter

1.73″

44mm

 

Head
Diameter

2.03″

52mm

 

Weight

9.35oz

265gm

(excluding batteries)

• Digitally-regulated output,
maintains constant brightness

• Reverse polarity protection, to prevent damage from improper battery
installation

• Dual-button switch in tail cap for convenient operation

• Made of durable aircraft-grade aluminum

• Premium Type-3 hard-anodized anti-abrasive finish

• Toughened ultra-clear glass lens with anti-reflective coating

• Included accessories: holster, lanyard and spare o-ring

To see my final thoughts and opinions in summary just scroll to the bottom of
the review if you want to skip the details and pictures.  In the mean time
let’s have a closer look at the light…







The packaging includes the TK35UE light, a holster, braided lanyard, spare
O-ring, warranty card and user manual.


The user manual was in Chinese only and pretty much useless to an English
only user like myself.  Fortunately everything about the TK35 is pretty
self explanatory.

*English version of

TK35 User manual




The holster that Fenix provides with the TK35 series is pretty much useless.
It holds the light just fine but it’s a real PITA to use and offers zero lens
protection like a standard top-flap design would provide.  The back and
top-strap are pretty heavy duty but the lower pouch for the base of the light is
pretty thin nylon in comparison to the rest of it.  Why is it a PITA to
use? Because the top-strap design requires two hands to remove and insert the
light – especially to insert the light.  It’s just plain stupid and it
sucks.  Stick it in your jacket pocket or make your own holster with a
standard top-flap.  Toss this one in the bin.




The included lanyard is the opposite of the holster.  It’s looks great
and works well enough although it’s not adjustable to tighten to your wrist.
A lesser lanyard than other lights of similar price class.  The braiding is
a nice change of pace and at least looks great.


Physically the TK35UE is identical in appearance to it’s sibling, the TK35,
aside from the engraving.




The tail cap on the new TK35UE is machined from aluminum instead of the older
plastic tail cap of the previous versions.


The look of the TK35 series lights is iconic and functional.  One of the
most easily recognized flashlights in the industry.


The one-piece head has three grooves machined into it creating 3 fins in the
main pill area.


The simple ribbed “knurling” in the battery tube provide comfortable
and secure grip.

Two switches control all functions.  The larger switch is a main power
switch and is a forward clicky design that provides momentary on.

The smaller button controls mode selection.


The threading came pre-lubed with ample silicon lube.  The fully
anodized threads are well machined and have decent tolerance without much slop
in them  but they are anything but smooth.  They felt like Fenix used
silicate grit in the lubricating gel.  They have an extremely gritty feel to them and
not the buttery smooth feel I expect in higher quality lights.  Even after
a thorough cleaning and lube they still feel like there is a fine grit.  My
guess is it is the anodizing that imparts the gritty feeling.  The O-ring
seals snugly inside the head and feels like it should be water resistant.




All inner components of the head are inserted and removed from the rear of
the head.  There is no removable bezel in the TK35 series.  The only
visible part of the back of the head is a contact plate for the current to run
the Cree MT-G2 emitter.  There is no driver in the head.  This is
merely a mounting surface for the contacts to the brains of the TK35UE in the
battery cartridge.  I wasn’t able to remove the pill as it is locked in
hard and I believe it to be glued in with thermal epoxy or Loctite.




With the cartridge removed from the main body tube you can see the switch
pins under the power and mode buttons.  There are no springs in here. You
can also see the notch in the sidewall at 9:00 position.  This ensures the
cartridge can only be inserted one way.

The battery carrier is made entirely of plastic aside from a few metal
hardware bits.  The front face of the battery cartridge contains the anode contact (center)
and cathode ring (outer).  In the pic above you can see the alignment bump
in the outer surface of the cartridge.  This ensures it only inserts one
way so the switches interface with the buttons correctly.  While sturdy
enough for hard use I find it to rattle excessively.  It gives the Fenix,
IMO, a feeling of cheapness that contradicts it’s high price tag.




With the driver so easily accessed by removing just 4 screws, performing
resistor mods to increase output should be really easy for those inclined.




With the driver in the front of the battery carrier it’s only fitting that
the switches are in the rear of it.

The TK35 can take 2*18650 cells or 4*CR123 primaries in series.  Molded
symbols in the battery tubes show which direction to insert the cells.  One
problem I have with it is the springs could have more movement on them and be
larger.  While the cartridge as is will accommodate the longest of
protected cells, use of unprotected cells of the the designed for length of 65mm
fit very loosely in the holder with very little tension on the cells.  I
have slowly moved the majority of my cells to unprotected IMR 18650 cells and am
disappointed at how they barely put any tension on the thin carrier springs.
The springs used should definitely be longer as well as stiffer.

4 Phillip head screws hold the tail cap in place on the end of the battery
tube.  The O-ring around the base of the top cap seats inside the channel
in the base of the battery tube.


 

A metal plate secures the switch button internals. The switch button posts
only mate up one way so if you do disassemble the switch buttons for any reason
make sure you reassemble it in the right orientation because the battery
cartridge only inserts one way.


 

The plate holds in button internals and secures the O-ring that seals the
switch to the battery tube.


 

Each plastic switch button post is held in with a machined aluminum bushing
The rubber switch boots seat onto lip machined into the bushings.


 

Here are all the components in the tail cap.  Unfortunately the plastic
pins in the switch button rattle excessively and give the TK35 series a cheap
feeling.  The battery cartridge also rattles quite a bit further adding to
a cheap feeling which is very unfortunate as it’s not a cheap light.

Output Specifics

I measure OTF lumens using a calibrated Integrating Sphere.  highest
output is measured using the ANSI standard of 30 seconds run time.  Lux is
measured form a distance of 8.89 meters and calculated back to 1 meter.
The longer measuring distance allows for reflector focus and gives a more
accurate reading than those taken between 1 to 3 meters.  Lux output is
also measured to ANSI standards which is 30 seconds runtime and distance is
calculated to 0.25 lux.

Airflow makes a huge difference in the cooling of the TK35UE in Turbo mode.
I took my output vs temp testing in my dining room with the AC running and some
airflow.  It didn’t get anywhere near as hot as one night I had it outside
on a warm summer night with little to no airflow.  It is a good thing that
airflow, as well as ambient temperature, makes such a difference in a light this
small with not much mass to it.



 

The nice big emitter at the base of the TK35UE’s reflector is what makes this
light special.  The Cree MT-G2 emitter is known for its massive output and
gorgeous tint. In the smaller reflector of the TK35UE this means lots of smooth
floody light, especially with the nice MOP finish of the reflector.

Four very utilitarian and useful main modes plus the usual hidden Fenix rapid
strobe and slow SOS grace the TK35UE.  Output ranges from 27.5 lumen low to
a 1733 lumen high.  I am disappointed this light, with
it’s all-purpose design, doesn’t have a moon low.  It’s a good low for
those who don’t like moon lows but those of us who use nice low moon modes as
much as we do high modes (sometimes more) it is a negative for this light.
Fenix utilizes a cycling strobe for more effective disorientation.  It will
cycle between rapid and slower strobes.  Not as effective as a truly random
strobe utilized by some other high end flashlight manufacturers but more
effective than a constant single cycle strobe.  SOS mode is a proper SOS
(SOS SOS SOS…), not the usual SOSOSOS as seen in some lesser lights.  It
is a very slow SOS though and takes roughly 14 seconds to complete each SOS
cycle.

With the addition of the MT-G2 emitter in the Ultimate Edition, the TK35UE
becomes more than just the good tactical light the TK35 was.  It also
becomes a great camping and hiking light with great runtime for its size.
I would have like to see the addition of a locator beacon added to the secondary
modes.

User Interface

Primary Modes:

The larger of the two buttons is a mechanical forward-clicky power button.
It allows for momentary on function for signally or quick, silent bursts of
light.  The momentary output depends on the last mode used on the light.
When turning on the light in full or momentary use it will always come on the
last of the 4 main modes you used.  If you turned off the light while using
strobe or SOS modes it will always return to the last used main mode when turned
back on.

The smaller of the two buttons is an electronic soft switch with a firm but
audible click.  This button controls your mode selection In normal use
clicking it will move you through the modes in order from lowest to highest
starting with the next higher mode from the one you are currently in.  To
move from medium low back to low you must cycle through medium high then to high
and then into low.

Secondary Modes:

Rapid Strobe:  With the TK35UE on in any primary mode,
press and hold the Mode selection button for 1 second to engage.  To
disengage rapid strobe click the Mode selection button to return to the last
used primary mode.  You could also simply hit the main poser button to
disengage rapid strobe

SOS:  To engage SOS mode while in on in any other
(including rapid strobe) press and hold the mode selection button for 3 seconds.
If  engaged while in a primary mode please be ready for it to engage strobe
after 1 second and for rapid strobe to remain on for an additional 2 seconds
before SOS will come on.  To disengage SOS mode click the Mode selection
button to return to the last used Primary mode.

Output in Real Life Use

It’s high mode output of 1733 OTF lumens (measured in my calibrated
Illumination Sphere) is a tad lower than the Fenix’s claimed output of 1800 OTF
lumens.  This is within an acceptable 5% which can allow for variations in
emitter tolerances as well as environment and measuring devices.  Is
1733-1800 lumens a lot of lumens for an MT-G2 light? Not really.  Only the
SWM 7G10 and Solarforce S2200 have MT-G2 emitters with such low output.
Almost all other MT-G2 lights I know put out 2400 or more lumens.  A hard
driven XM-L2 can provide 1650 OTF lumens but it will be working super hard to
accomplish this creating tons of heat and sucking the juice from your batteries
like a fat kid drinking root beer.

This leaves me with the opinion that a light this size is properly driven.
The light gets hot.  Real hot!  After 5 minutes of running outside
while sitting by the fire pit the TK35UE got uncomfortably hot in the head.
Could this light be jacked up to make over 3500 OTF lumens?  Hell yes it
could but would I want it that bright with the amount of heat that would be
produced and with unusable runtimes?  I don’t think so.  Who am I
kidding??  Hell yes I would but then I’m a lunatic for lumens with the
philosophy that medium and low modes exist for cooling down after a minute at
stupid bright output levels.

Do I blame Fenix for not doing such a thing with the TK35UE?  Hell no.
They did the right thing for the sake of compromise in runtime and warranty
claims.  Idiots like me can always bump up output later should we desire.
This is a light designed to run reliably for years and 1800 lumens for a single
emitter light is nothing to sneeze at while providing great runtime on two high
capacity cells.




The TK35UE will tail stand but barely due to the overly tall power switch
button.  I’ve no idea why they didn’t make the button the same height as
the mode button so that the light can tail stand flat stable. I know it is to
easily differentiate between the power and mode buttons using touch but the
increased width and smooth versus textured surfaces would have been enough to
accomplish the same thing while allowing stable tail standing.

In the other photo you can see the TK35UE alongside my only other MT-G2 light
(at this time), the ThruNite TN35.  It’s not really a fair comparison aside
from the fact that the TN35 can be had for the same price when on sale as the
TK35UE generally sells for.  Aside from the smaller, more pocketable size,
there is no contest between the two.



The TN35 has a far tighter, more concentrated, and brighter hotspot due to
it’s larger reflector.  The brighter spill is due to its higher output.
The TN35 also doesn’t get as hot as the TK35UE due to it’s greater mass and
surface area.  To be honest and to be as fair as possible to the TK35UE,
you can’t easily stuff the TN35 in your jacket pocket.  It’s just not as
compact and tidy as the TK35UE although the overall feel and build quality of
the ThruNite far surpasses the Fenix and its gritty threads, and rattling
plastic cell carrier and switches.



CONCLUSION

PROS

  • The usual Fenix quality (more or less)
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Good runtime
  • That gorgeous MT-G2 tint and output
  • Perfectly centered LED
  • Great output increase over the standard TK35 especially considering it’s
    size and mass
  • Great satin finished hard anodizing
  • Nice laser etching
  • Proven and well loved design the TK35 series is known for.
  • Large hot spot and smooth spill
  • Unique braided lanyard
  • Can be easily modded for increased output.
  • Tail cap is now machined aluminum instead of the plastic in older TK35
    models.

CONS

  • One of the lowest output of the available MT-G2 lights
  • Excessive cell carrier and switch rattle gives it a cheap feeling.
  • Unnecessarily tall power button makes tail standing just barely possible
    and very unstable.
  • Horrible holster design.
  • Non-replaceable head bezel
  • Gritty feeling threads
  • Non-adjustable lanyard

If you are in the market for a very compact and bright light and a fan if Fenix
lights then you should look into this light.  Fenix TK35 junkies will love
this light!  It all comes down to how much you love Fenix lights and in
particular the ergonomics of the TK35 series.

If you are not a diehard Fenix fan and are looking for a bright, reliable torch
with good runtime there are other options out there for far less money.  If
you are looking to own a good MT-G2 based light and size is not a concern then
you are better of looking at lights like the TN35. The Eagletac SX25L3 is far
smaller, has 1000 more lumens out the front, and can be had for $130.
There is also the Olight SR Mini with triple XM-L2 and a much smaller size and
2700 lumens.

With just a touch of hesitation I say the TK35 Ultimate Edition is “Mac
Approved”.  While the Fenix TK35UE is a good light, and a fun light, it’s
just not a $159 light.  There are several other MT-G2 lights in this price
range or less that might make my first choice.  This feels more like a
$90-$100 light to me.  It can be easily modded
for more output if you are handy with a soldering iron.  If you can find it
for $100 or less then you might want to pick it up if you have no other MT-G2
lights.  If you are already a Fenix fan and, in particular, a fan of the
TK35 series then you will definitely want to get your hands on one of these.

*Special thanks to Banggood.com for providing this light for review.

Feel free to discuss this light and review as well as field any questions you may have by visiting the review sub-forum on TheFlashlightForum.com
BAM3!JMR

2 thoughts on “FENIX TK35 Ultimate Edition MT-G2 Tactical

  1. Pingback: Fenix TK35 Ultimate Edition MT-G2 Tactical Flashlight | Johnny Mac Reviews

  2. Pingback: Flashlight Reviews Update 8-26-2014 SureFire P1R Peacekeeper, Olight ST25, EagleTac G25C2 MKII | FlashLight Packs.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s