UniqueFire UF-2220: the budget Thrunite Scorpion?
So is the UniqueFire UF-2220 as good a light as a Thrunite Scorpion (to which it has more than a striking resemblence)? Heck no! For 1/5 of the street price is the UF-2220 a pretty decent budget alternative? Heck yeah! Let’s look at a breakdown of the common feature and specs of each:
|Uniquefire UF-2220||ThruNite Scorpion|
|Street Price:||$25 USD (avg)||$125 USD|
|Emitter:||Cree XM-L U2||Cree XM-L T6|
|Modes:||5 (High/Medium/Low/Strobe/SOS)||4 (FireFly/Infinite 5%-89%/Momentary Strobe/Momentary On|
|Output on High (18650 cell):||2.68||3A (660 Lumens) for 1 minute then auto lowering to 2.5A|
|Bezel material:||Aluminum||Stainless Steel|
|Anodization:||Type II||Type III|
|Tailstands||Yes (with switch button change)||No|
|Weight:||5.3 oz||5.4 oz|
Is it fair to compare a $25 budget torch to a $125 legendary torch known for it’s quality and performance? Not really, but we are BLFers and if we can have something that performs near or as close to what a high end light performs we will certainly sit up and take notice. Enough of the comparisons to the Scorpion. Let’s look at the UniqueFire UF-2220 for what it is.
Is it a perfect light? Not at all. Can it be improved upon relatively easily? Yes it can, and as it is it’s really not a bad little light. It’s biggest flaw is it’s ability to shed heat and I will get into that later in the review. It’s biggest pluses are it’s hot “tactical” looks, decent build quality and what appears to be an excellent reflector that turns a fairly small headed light into what could be a great thrower and an all-around great light. The head of the UF-2220 is roughly the same size as a Thrunite Scorpion with it’s available “Turbo” head, all the while keeping the awesome look of the standard Scorpion’s head. It is deeper than it is wide and while the general consensus of flashaholics is that an XM-L needs a wider head to throw, I have to say that the hot spot on this light is very small and well focused. I will need to break out my HD-2010 to compare but IIRC this looks about as tight. I’m looking forward to my Lux meter and IS testing this evening. Results will be posted as soon as I am finished with those.
|Model||UF – 2220|
|Emitter Type||CREE U2|
|Lightbulb / LED Lifespan||100000 hours|
|Mode Arrangement||Hi > Mid > Lo > Strobe > SOS|
|Lighting Distance||200 m|
|Battery Configuration||1 x 18650 batteries (not included)|
|Input Voltage||3.7 – 4.2V|
|Runtime||2 – 3 hour|
|Switch Type||Clicky / Clickie|
|Switch Location||Tail – cap|
|Lens||Coated Glass Lens|
|Reflector||Aluminum Smooth / SMO Reflector|
|Material||Aerospace aluminum alloy|
|Dimensions||6.14″ x 1.50″ x 1.10″ / (15.6 x 3.8 x 2. cm (L x Head Dia.x Body Dia.)|
|Weight||120g / 4.23oz|
|Model:||UF – 2220|
|Purchased from:||Tmart (ships from US warehouse)|
|Price Paid||$28 USD EDIT: Now only $22.73|
|Emitter Type:||CREE XM-L U2 CW|
|LED PCB diameter (max star diameter):||16mm (20mm max)|
|Pill Dimensions (diameter / height)||21.97mm / 13.47mm|
|Driver Regulation:||Yes (no direct drive on high)|
|Mode Arrangement:||Hi > Mid > Lo > Strobe > SOS|
|Current draw at tail:||High: 3.04A / Med: 1.262A / Low: .540A|
|OTF Lumens on High (initial / 30 seconds)||822 / 721|
|OTF Lumens on Med||404|
|OTF Lumens on Low||178|
|Lux @ 1m & ANSI Throw||15,700 lux / 230m ANSI throw|
|Battery Configuration:||1 x 18650 batteries|
|Input Voltage:||3.7 – 4.2V|
|Switch Type:||Reverse Clicky|
|Lens Material:||Coated Glass Lens|
|Lens (Diameter x thickness):||34mm (33.96mm) x 1.6mm (1.59mm)|
|Reflector:||Aluminum Smooth / SMO Reflector|
|Reflector (Width O.D. / Width I.D. / Depth):||34.86mm / ? /36.74|
|External Dimensions (Length x Head x Tail):||156mm x 38mm x 28mm|
|Weight:||150g / 5.3oz|
|Waterproof:||No. Water-resistant? Mmmm…yeah…I wouldn’t be afraid to use it in the rain.|
|O-rings:||4 (Lens/Pill/Neck/Tail) *all properly sized|
|Clip:||Yes (head down)|
|Tailstand:||Yes (after replacing switch boot)|
Your basic glamour shot lit up
I will let the light speak for itself in this area. It’s nicely made (certainly not TrustFire Z8 standards) for a Chinese light and is solid and robustly built. My example arrived completely free from any dents, scratches, or machining errors. The finish on the ano is very heavy and evenly applied. The rest I’ll let the pictures explain…
Very decent machining and finish. Not Solarforce quality but not too shabby either.
A look at the deep reflector.
The emitter is perfectly centered.
Very nice pocket/belt clip. It is removable and is firmly anchored in place by the tactical ring.
Very solid tail cap. If not for the switch boot that is a tad too tall it would tail stand nicely. Replacing it with a shorter boot will not only allow it to tail stand nicely but will also improve on the squishy feel caused by the original boot.
Decent knurling, not too aggressive, and uniform anodization throughout the light. Also free from any defects or marks in the finish.
Plenty of fins, all nicely machined.
Overall look at the head. Notice that each light has it’s serial number printed on it. First I’ve seen of this on a UniqueFire light.
“CAUTION HOT SURFACE” is not just an expression. It’s a FACT! More on that later.
XM-L yes… U2? Honestly I have no clue. Nothing on the LED PCB that says it but I have no way of proving it is or it isn’t.
Nice shot from the front…
Another nice shot from the tail. It really is a nice looking light IMO.
A closer look at the bezel and the nice finish on the head. The bezel is alloy and not stainless steel. I suppose it saves a small bit of change in manufacturing costs.
Another shot of how deep this reflector looks compared to most lights in it’s class.
Here are all the bits and bobs separated from each other.
Close look at the tail cap with the guts removed. Very thick and solid.
Very thick switch housing/retaining ring. Nicely threaded.
Underside of the switch ring with the brass button for the battery. Solid button for little resistance.
Standard switch PCB. Spring is soldered on nicely in two spots.
A look at the tail threading. No tail lockout on this one. You can see where the clip attaches inside it’s groove. The tactical ring threads down over the clip retainer and anchors it securely.
A close look at the tactical ring threading. The ring has 4 points where it stands out, each with a lanyard hole in each just big enough for paracord to go through.
A look at the well machined pill. it is brass but it’s also heavy and pushes the heat from the emitter through to the body and from there into the head. It also makes a great candle with the head removed if you don’t run it in high mode (far too much heat if you do).
Nice threading on the body where it threads into the head. O-rings on the body are well sized and provide good seal.
Clean threading on the head. The ano finish makes threading smooth and easy.
A close look at the threading on the body where the pill screws in. Very clean and smooth.
Nice machining on the inside of the battery tube. Very little in the way of machining marks.
The insulator and reflector centering ring.
Great machining on the pill. Clean and smooth threads and an O-ring to seal the battery compartment.
Button top cells only on this light since there is no anode spring. Fair soldering should keep the driver solidly grounded.
Heavy pill @ 16.4g
Nicely machined and finished alloy bezel. Threads on smoothly.
Extremely clean threading in the head for the bezel.
A look at the head with the reflector removed.
A look at the inside of the head. nicely machined but a few weird machining marks in it. Nothing to effect performance.
A close look at the nice thread machining at the base of the head.
All the measurements…
Easily accommodates protected cells. Here it is with an Xtar 16700.
The tactical ring makes it very comfortable to cigar hold.
It’s a large light compared to the others in it’s class but it doesn’t feel large in the hand.
Solarforce L2T, Beamtech BT-950L, UniqueFire UF-2220 and the UltraFire HD2010
Waterproofing test: Fail
I let it sit in the water on high for @ 25 minutes. Worked fine while submerged.
Well, it seems the lens gasket leaked a bit and let a bit of water inside. It is the one gasket in the light that is too thin and got pushed between the reflector sides and the head, and not in a good way. No harm done though as the light was on it’s side and no water got into the emitter & pill from the front end.
Water inside the head behind the reflector.
No moisture in the battery compartment.
Here is where I can’t give this light my “Johnny Mac Approved” stamp of approval. Heat is just so much an issue that it becomes too hot, not only to hold, for the Li-Ion cell. We’re talking 70c after 20 minutes on high mode. Granted it was in still air so the fins really didn’t get a fair lick at syphoning off heat into the surrounding air but this light gets hot!
Lots of heat should at least mean lots of light, too, no? Yeah, I figured it would to and it does…yet it doesn’t. I’m totally confused at my testing results but could use any thoughts you may have to explain things. IS results show it to be as bright as the BT-950L (822 lumens initially) and current draw at the ail is 3A. Why the hell isn’t it as bright as the BT-950L? The hot spot is far tighter yet no where near as bright. The lens is clear…could the reflector cause that much loss in lux? Anyway, here are the results of my testing:
OUTPUT: Results taken from my Integrated Sphere
|Cold start High:||822 OTF lumens|
|After 1 minute on High:||721 OTF lumens|
|Settled after 10 minutes:||505 OTF lumens|
|Medium:||404 OTF lumens|
|Low:||178 OTF lumens|
So why the drop in output on high during the first 10 minutes? Thermal sag. Lots of it. Still doesn’t explain why on a fresh charge it just doesn’t put out as bright a beam as a similar light with the same output numbers.
|100% charge||50% charge|
|Time in Minutes||Head||Body||Head||Body|
And how hot was the battery after 20 minutes? 70c!!
Here is what I mean. All shots are with AWB turned off.
Ceiling shot from 6-7ft away and black level lowered to show the beam characteristics better. This is in High mode.
Here is the UF-2220 along side the BT-950L. The hotspot on the 2220 is way tighter than that of the 950L but look at how much brighter the 950L is. This light truly puzzles me. They both draw the same amperage at the tail cap and put out similar numbers in the IS. WTH???
Easily fixable issues:
I noticed a few times that depending on how tight the head was screwed onto the body, the light would flicker out or not turn on. A quick look at the emitter revealed the source of the short. As you will see in the pic below the solder point for the emitter ground can make contact with the reflector base. Honestly it hasn’t done it since the first few times and I can tighten it down hard now without it shorting. A simple this insulator ring added in or a small piece of kapton tape should resolve the issue.
Next up is the tail standing, or lack of it. The original switch boot was 1-2mm too tall and a bit squishy to boot (no pun intended) so a quick replacement with a shorter switch boot fixed the issue with just under 1mm (way under but enough) to spare.
Tail standing nicely now.
As much as I like this light I just can’t give it my recommendation. If anyone has any thoughts on what might be done to resolve the output-to-beam profile quandary I’m all ears. As for the heat issues, I’m not sure how the Thrunite Scorpion handles the heat any better. It too has a pill that threads into the body (even more so as it is flush inside the body) and has the same head design but even less finning and surface area.
A thicker O-ring should resolve the water intake issue at the lens (maybe).
It’s up to you if you want to take a chance on one of these. I’ve given you all the info I think I could give but as for me I give it a solid…