Gear Review: FourSevens QPL-AA flashlight

I recently reviewed my latest EDC flashlight the FourSevens QT2A-X, and was extremely pleased with the light. The folks at FourSevens were kind enough to send me one of the new Quark Pro QPL-AA lights for evaluation, prior to its release.

This light is an upgrade to the existing QPL using the new CREE XP-G2 emitter. The use of the Gen2 XP-G provides a 20% increase in output (on all output settings) while maintaining the same runtime as found in the QPL light. In my testing the light set to maximum output ran for approximately 55 minutes while maintaining a high output. At 90 minutes it was still outputting approximately 50% of the high setting. At the time of this post, FourSevens is one of only a handful of vendors to have a light to market using the new Gen2 XP-G emitters.

The QPL and QPL-AA are powered by a single CR123A battery.

Specifications for the QPL-AA from the FourSevens website:

DIMENSIONS Length: 3.2 inches/Body diameter: 0.86 inches/Head diameter: 0.86 inches/Weight (without batteries): 1.4 oz
LED EMITTER CREE XP-G2
VOLTAGE RANGE 0.9V-4.2V
SPOT BEAM Angle: 11°/Diameter at 3mm: 580mm
FLOOD BEAM Angle: 71.9?/Diameter at 3mm: 4.3M
BRIGHTNESS LEVELS Moonlight: 0.2 lumens, 15 days, 1ma / Low: 4 lumens, 2.5 days, 10ma / Medium: 22 lumens, 13 hrs, 50ma / High: 85 lumens, 2.7 hrs, 250ma / Maximum: 205 lumens, 0.8 hrs, 700ma
SPECIAL MODES Strobe: 205 lumens, 1.6 hrs / SOS / Beacon: 0-205 lumens, 12 hrs
REFLECTOR Textured
BODY MATERIAL Type-III hard-anodized aircraft-grade aluminum
BEZEL MATERIAL Type-III hard-anodized aircraft-grade aluminum
LENS MATERIAL Impact-resistant glass, sapphire coating, antireflective coating
INCLUDED ACCESSORIES Battery, lanyard, split ring for keychain attachment, spare o-ring, holster, finger-grip

Click to enlarge

The output levels listed are for the Gen1 XP-G emitter. As the FourSevens site notes, the Gen2 XP-G emitter will increase the output at all levels by 20%, so that gives an output of ~246 lumens on the maximum setting. That’s a pretty bright light for running on a single CR123A cell.

As was the case with the QT2A-X, the specs list a spare o-ring, and the retail packaging I was sent for evaluation actually contained two. I continue to be impressed with FourSeven’s commitment to providing good customer service.

In my evaluation of the light, I tested it against the modified version of the QT2A-X that I carry daily. I found the QPL-AA to be extremely comparable to my EDC light in output (which puts out somewhere around 280-300 lumens). I suspect that my EDC light’s use of the XM-L emitter (which is more “floody”) accounts for the perceived narrow difference between the two given that the XP-G2 emitter is more “throwy”.

Speaking of throw, I tested the QPL-AA’s rated maximum distance of 107 meters against the QT2A-X’s rated maximum of 112 meters by using the lights to illuminate some homes that are being built almost exactly 100 meters from my property line (give or take 10 meters). The difference in the emitters is very evident at this distance. The QPL-AA’s XP-G2 emitter delivered enough light to clearly illuminate the driveway and garage door of the target house. The QT2A-X’s more “floody” XM-L emitter illuminated the entire front of the target house, and part of the neighboring house (I wonder if the neighbors noticed the test?).

Let’s look at some beamshots for comparison (white balance set at 5400K for all shots, distance to target: ~6 feet, click to enlarge):

Fenix LD10 at ~120 lumens

FourSevens QPL-AA at ~246 lumens

Modified FourSevens Qt2A-X at ~300 lumens

One of the interesting differences between the two lights is the Pro interface UI in the QPL-AA (the QT2A-X uses the Tactical interface UI). While it is nice having ready access to all of the light’s modes, I find the lack of a momentary on feature very disappointing (this is not a shortcoming of the light, it is the intended design of the Pro interface UI).

The FourSevens website has this to say about the Pro Interface:

The interface used in our Quark Pro lights. Lights with the pro interface have quick and easy access to the Max and Moonlight modes by tightening or loosening the head of the light. The other modes can be accessed by momentarily depressing the tailcap button while the light is on. The mode sequence is determined by whether the head is tightened or loosened.

What I also noticed is that when you turn the light off (in say, maximum mode), and then activate it again right away the light comes on in the next mode (strobe mode given the starting point of maximum mode). I do not like this. It is not intuitive, but then that is why they offer the light in models with two different UI’s.

A feature of the Pro series that I like better than the Tactical series is the ability to tailstand. The tailcap switch on the Pro series lights is flush with the body of the tailcap, allowing you to set the light on a flat surface for use as a “torch”. This is quite handy, and I had not realized how much I missed the feature on my EDC light. I’ve previously mentioned that the Quark series lights are like legos in that the parts are all pretty much interchangeable, so I briefly considered ordering a Pro series tailcap for my EDC light, but the loss of the momentary on feature outweighs the gain of the tailstanding feature (for me anyway).

The only surprise this light gave me was during my runtime testing. After approximately 5-7 minutes of the light running on the maximum setting, I picked it up to move is to a more convenient location and noticed it was HOT. I grabbed a laser thermometer and the entire body of the light was reading right around 130(F) degrees. It was hot enough that it was uncomfortable to hold the light tightly, as you would if you were using it to search an area. The ambient temperature in the house was 68 degrees (yes, I like living in an icebox). I’ve never owned a single CR123A light this powerful, so I don’t know if this is normal or not. Just something to keep in mind.

One thing to note is that the QPL series lights come in two minor variants, the QPL and the QPLC line. The difference is that the QPL lights have a non removable pocket clip attached to the head, and the QPLC does not have a pocket clip at all. I’m not sure how I feel about this. I would definitely prefer a removable pocket clip to either configuration, but with the short length of the light I understand why they do it this way. I definitely do not prefer the clip being attached to the head of the light, as this results in the lens being exposed when the light is clipped to a pocket (now I’m just nitpicking).

While I’m nitpicking, the model numbers of FourSevens lights are kind of confusing, and FourSevens hasn’t made that any better by tacking an -AA suffix onto a model number for a light that is powered by CR123A batteries. You’ll notice that the QPL-AA page on the FourSevens site lists the model as simply QPL, but the model number on the box is shown below:

 

Summary

MANUFACTURER:  FourSevens
MODEL: 
Quark Pro QPL
POWER SOURCE: CR123A  (x1), RCR123A (x1)
COLOR:
 Black
MSRP: 
$59.00
WARRANTY:  
10 year manufacturer’s warranty on everything that comes in the package (except batteries)
VERDICT: 
 I think this is a worthy upgrade, and the 20% increase in output is definitely worth the $8 price difference between the QPL and QPL-AA.

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