Modifying the FourSevens QT2A-X for daily carry: the Quark Tactical Exigent Circumstances Edition

In my last post I mentioned that the QT2A-X was larger than my previous carry light (the Fenix LD10). In this post I’ll show you what I did about that.

After carrying the QT2A-X for a week There are some things I would like to change about it. The length needs to be brought down to something smaller (I can manage with the QT2A-X’s size, and for prolonged use it’s actually pretty comfortable, but at 5.8 inches I have to use the pocket clip, as it won’t sit right in my pocket unless it is clipped to it. On that note, with the standard pocket clip it rides a wee bit too high to be comfortable when I am sitting and standing frequently (I am constantly getting up and sitting back down in my job, so this became apparent pretty rapidly).

So how do we make it better?

My ideal carry light would have the following characteristics:

  1. High power – at least 100 lumenspreferably 200 lumens (more is better).
  2. Tailcap switch with momentary on capabilities.
  3. Small enough to carry comfortably, but big enough to fit comfortably in my hand (so right around 4 inches long and an inch around, for me).
  4. Runs on common cheap batteries (CR123A’s are ok, AA’s are better).
  5. Water resistant (waterproof would be better).
  6. Impact resistant.
  7. Grippy but won’t shred my pocket.
  8. Detachable pocket clip.
  9. User replaceable parts (at least of high wear parts like the tail switch boot and switch).
  10. Multiple light modes for use as an actual flashlight when I need to see something.
  11. Won’t roll off a table or car hood if set down.

So, with that feature set in mind how does the QT2A-X stack up?

  1. Yes (280 lumen max output!).
  2. Yes.
  3. Not really.
  4. Yes.
  5. Yes (waterproof).
  6. Yes.
  7. Yes.
  8. Yes.
  9. Yes.
  10. Yes.
  11. Kinda (with the pocket clip attached it won’t).

So it looks like length is the only issue. In my last post I mentioned how my friend was telling me that the Quark series lights are like legos. He’s right. There are a huge variety of interchangeable parts. I could put an L series body on the QT2A-X, which will shorten it considerably. The drawback being that the light would have to be run on a CR123A battery. The ability to run on AA batteries is a huge bonus for me as I have a ton of things that run on AA batteries, and consequently I have a big pile of Sanyo Eneloop AA batteries. This cuts down on the total cost of ownership, in that I essentially don’t have to buy batteries for a light that runs on AA cells. I’d really like to keep the light running on AA batteries, but that length has to go if I’m going to carry the light on a daily basis.

I could put an A series body on the QT2A-X, but this would bring the light down to approximately 110 lumens max output, and then I might as well have just bought a QTA and saved some money. The head on the QT2A-X light can operate at anywhere from 0.9v to 4.2v. What I need is a battery the size of an AA that puts out 3 volts or better (AA batteries are 1.5 volts, CR123A batteries are 3 volts).

Enter the 14500

In doing some research on batteries I discovered that this problem has already been solved! The 14500 lithium-ion cell has a nominal voltage of 3.7v (with max being 4.2v), and is the size of an AA cell. Like it was made for this flashlight. It will drive the XM-L emitter at slightly higher output than two AA cells, or even a single CR123A. This gets me a light that can put out 280-300 lumens (this is a guess, per FourSevens technical support a single CR123A or two AA batteries will put out the same amount of light, and an RCR123A or 14500 cell will put out just a bit more), and if the battery dies before I can recharge it, I can run a single AA cell in it for approximately 110 lumens of output. Perfect.

So what do I need to reconfigure this light?

Since I’m already tearing down the light I might as well change out the pocket clip for the “Deep Carry” pocket clip that FourSevens sells. So I placed two orders. One from FourSevens for an A series body and the Deep Carry pocket clip, and one from Lighthound for an AW 14500 Protected battery, and an Ultrafire WF-139 Charger.

WARNING:

If you are going to use 14500 cells in a flashlight I really recommend that you only use protected cells. This page on the lighthound website details very well why this is.

Reconfiguration

All the parts arrived in about 5 business days (I’m in California and used USPS standard shipping for both orders), so now it’s time to get to work reconfiguring the flashlight.

Click to enlarge

You’ll notice that there are two Deep Carry pocket clips, and a regular clip on the A Series body in this photo. The FourSevens site lists the Deep Carry pocket clip for $7. I ordered one, they sent two. That’s good customer service.

First thing I noticed is that I couldn’t get the pocket clip off. There is a retaining ring that screws down over the tension band that holds the clip on the light which must be loosened all the way to remove the pocket clip (which I did, but it still wouldn’t come off) shown here:

Click to enlarge

As it turns out, you’re going to have to remove the o-ring that is above this band and under the tailcap to get the pocket clip off. Here is the light all disassembled:

Click to enlarge

Let’s reassemble the light into it’s new configuration, the QTECE (Quark Tactical Exigent Circumstances Edition):

Click to enlarge

How does this compare (in size) to the Fenix LD10 that it is replacing?

Click to enlarge

The lights are almost precisely the same size.

Only the QTECE puts out nearly three times as much light as the Fenix LD10.

My only complaint (and I’ll admit it is a minor one) is that the bend radius on the Deep Carry pocket clip is too narrow to seat fully on the pocket of my jeans, but is still much better than the standard pocket clip.

Click to enlarge

Other than that, this light is now as close as anything I can find to my ideal carry light.

I’m all about versatility. I now have a light that can run on a single 14500 cell (at full 280-300 lumen output), one AA battery (at ~110 lumen output), or with a quick body change two AA batteries (at full 280 lumen output). If I want to increase the versatility of this light, I can also buy a Quark L Series body, and have a light that can run on a CR123A (at 280 lumen output) or a RCR123A cell (at 280-300 lumen output) as well.

If you noticed, the Quark bodies come with two delrin caps that not only protect the threads, they make the body into a convenient spare battery carrier, I can keep the 2A series body (with two AA batteries), and the L series body (with a CR123A battery) in my laptop bag, and I have multiple power source options that I can change out to in just a few seconds if my 14500 cell dies on me.

The only way this light could be better is if it could put out 500+ lumens on a single AA battery. Judging by the advances in LED emitter technology, I’ll only have to wait about another decade for that.

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11 Responses to Modifying the FourSevens QT2A-X for daily carry: the Quark Tactical Exigent Circumstances Edition

  1. Roman says:

    So why did you go through all of that hassle if you could just go for Quark Pro QPA and ran it on 14500?

    The only difference in QPA is led XP-G as far as I understand it. Will that emitter fail on 14500 battary or provide lover out put vs. XM-L?

    Thanks.

    • Sandman says:

      So the Quark QTA would have been the closest in size to the final light, which uses the CREE XP-G emitter. The Gen 1 XPG emitter tops out at about 220 lumens on a single 14500, and I wanted the extra light out of the XM-L emitter, which tops out around 300 lumens on a single 14500 (there are heads that could in theory handle two 14500s, but the head from the QT2A-X is not one of them).

      If FourSevens had a QTA with the Gen2 XP-G I might have considered that, were I looking for a more “throwy” light. One of the benefits of the XM-L emitter (at least for my application) is that it is more “floody”, and has a much larger hot spot in the beam.

      And really, swapping out the body wasn’t all that much trouble. The most time consuming part was taking the pictures and swapping out the pocket clip for the deep carry one 😉

  2. Roman says:

    Thanks for making it clear.

  3. Kevin k says:

    How does the Quark QT2A-X (with single 14500) stack up with the fenix ld10 (with single 14500) in terms of light output?

    • Sandman says:

      Well the LD10 I have is an older Cree XR-E Q5 emitter, and the QT2A-X is an Cree XM-L emitter. The XR-E Q5 will top out at about 180 lumens with the 800mA drive that comes off of a typical 14500, so the LD10 is about 100 lumens dimmer than the QT2A-X.

      The current LD10 uses the Cree XP-G R5 emitter will top out at about 280 lumens on a 14500 (which would be about the same as the QT2A-X). The XP-G and XM-L emitters are kind of like apples and oranges in that the XP-G is more “throwy” and the XM-L is more “floody”, so the same quantity of light will look very different at the same distance. This is especially important inside a structure, as “throwy” emitters like the XP-G will leave deep shadows in more of the room than a “floody” emitter like the XM-L.

  4. Matt says:

    I like it.
    I too just got a QT2A-X… and I agree 100% with your findings.
    I also would like to get a low ride clip and single AA body, but $$$ is my biggest concern.
    I think I will stick with Enloops and primary AA just for cost savings.
    After running the new light for a few months, how do you like it?

    • Sandman says:

      I still like it. It is plenty bright and still works as well as it did when I first started carrying it.

  5. GSO says:

    I’m holding a QP2A-X and I find myself with the same desires that you had. I searched around for several nights through dozens of models and brands before finding this page. Essentially, I’m holding the flashlight I’m searching for, and all I need to do is modify it. You are brilliant, sir.

    I also have an older Quark 123^2 using two CR123s. If I understand you correctly, I can use this XP-G R5 head with AAs or 14500s if I’m desiring more throw (but with slightly less lumen output)?

    • Sandman says:

      The 123^2 uses the “high voltage” head, which has a range of 3v to 9v. You could theoretically use either two AAs (barely) or two 14500s to power it. If you’re gonna run 14500s in it, ONLY use high quality protected cells. Stacking 14500s is not like stacking AAs, they can explode and or catch fire (and have). Proceed with caution, but yes it should work, and give you more throw with less lumen output than the XML found in the QP2A-x.

      • GSO says:

        Thanks for the info. Just placed an order for an A series body, tactical tail, and deep carry clip. Like you, I think I’ll begin moving away from my CR123 gear in favor of AA.

        Also took some time to look through your other articles. Lots of good reading ahead.

  6. 8xqtw3 says:

    Great review. Bookmarked.

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