Thursday, November 3, 2011

Fenix PD32 Review and Testing

Well I just got a Fenix PD32 in Tuesday (10-25-11) and I happened to have a day off! So I decided to get a start on testing it and seeing how I liked it. The awesome part is how I got it:
Fenix recently put up a promotion on their website asking
for people to test their new PD32 flashlight, I filled out the form and forgot about it. Then I got an email saying I had been selected as a tester, when I checked the list to make sure I found out I was #1 on the list (Because of my last name).
When I got the light I not only had a day off but I also had my Fiances' camera so I started taking pictures and testing. The people at Fenix want my testing done in 20 days or less so I don't have any long term tests planned but I do have quite a few good tests I want to do. Here's the rundown:
1.  Submergence Test - Nothing fancy here, I just want to know I can drop it in a pool and not worry.
2.  Drop Test - 5 and 10 foot drops onto concrete, wood, and grass.
3. EDC Test - EDC Duty for 2 days (longer if I like it more than my V10R Ti).
4. Mechanic Test - I work on cars enough so how well would this light do for a mechanic? - Omitted for now
5. Weapon Test - Will the light stand up to being used as a weapon light?
6. Freeze Test - Freezing the light in a jar of water while it is on (this should be cool).

1. Submergence Test: Light functions as normal during and after submergence in ~1ft of water, I'm confident it will survive in more. Possible further testing. IPX-8 tested to 2 meters (10-25-11)
2. Drop Test: Not tested, The PD32 is only rated to 1 meter impact resistance, I'll stick with that. (10-25-11)

3. EDC Test:
I wanted to see if this is a light I could live with carrying every day, I used to carry a Surefire E2DL as an EDC until I got the V10R, single cells have spoiled me so can I EDC a 2 cell again?
Day one: (10-26-11)
I really did not use the light all that much while at work other than just to kill some time. When I got home  I talked to my Fiance about which light (Fenix or Sunwayman) she liked better and generally compared the two. I also compared the beams of both and checked to see which one worked better at night to check out the backyard (we sometimes get deer that jumped the fence). My Fiance likes the Sunwayman V10R Ti better (As do I). The Fenix has very well done checkering for grip, it's not too grippy as to tear your hand up but it will hold very nicely. Also, in general the light is quite attractive (as far as flashlights go) and nothing screams "Look at me!" like most newer Surefire lights do (Surefire's designs are the result of a drunk CNC operator going "Hold my beer and watch this"). I'm not a Surefire hater now, I love quite a few of their lights, but I think most other flashlight companies are doing a better job. My problems with this light as of today are: 1. It can't tailstand
2. You go down in brightness modes, only up.
3. It's too big for my personal EDC comfort
4. The beam is too "ringey" and cold
5. The clicky protrudes too far from the tailcap, it can be activated easily that way
6. The low is too high, it's lowest setting is 9 lumens which is high for night when less than 3 lumens will do.
Both lights are on their lowest setting
 What I like about the light:
1. The forward clicky to switch modes is intuitive.
2. The modes for the most part are well spaced and thought out.
Correction, line 3: "Low 3L" should read "Low 9L"
3. The checkering is grippy while not being too aggressive.
4. The crenelation is perfect for my taste, not too aggressive. 
5. The light is reversible, the tailcap and head can be screwed on "backwards".
6. The haptic of the clicky is quite nice, I like it.

Some of these observations are general and can be applied to everyone like the fact that it can't tailstand, but others are purely my personal opinion such as the crenelation and haptic. I still prefer my infinitely variable V10R but it's comparing apples to oranges at this point, and I can't compare it to my old E2DL because I sold that. My only 2 cell light other than the Fenix is an old Surefire G2 (Which I love btw) and that is a plastic incan tactical light so I can't compare that either. Sunwayman's 2 cell lights are just plain ugly and I wouldn't touch any apart from the M20C R5 which isn't as bright and costs more anyway. Surefire's niche is really in the 3 cell lights, Sunwayman kills it with the single cells, and I think Fenix makes some good 2 cell lights.

Day two: (10-27-11)
Ok, day two of carrying the PD32 is over, I actually used the light today trying to see inside of a dark corner while trimming a house. It was quite bright outside with the sun shining in my eyes but not in the crevice I was trying to see in to. I put the PD32 on Turbo but it was just too bright, and high was just a little too much with medium not being enough, one of those things where I like my V10R better. Also because of the size I carry it in my back pocket bezel down, I had the misfortune of sitting directly on the crenelations and that really does not feel good. The best methods for carrying this would be a belt holster (no), bag carry (which is what I will probably end up doing), or truck backup duty, with the possibility of jacket carry during colder seasons (good chance). Again, not the best EDC light due to size.

4. Mechanic Test: - Omitted for now
5. Weapon Test: The light works perfectly after use as a weapon light on a Mossberg 500 with bird and buck shot. Here's a video: (10-25-11) 

6. Freeze Test: I actually thought I broke the Fenix with this one, I put it in the freezer on the night of the 28th and took it out around 12 hours later (9pm to 9am roughly). I left the light on medium (70 lumens) figuring I had around 20-30 hours of runtime, but I forgot medium is a 16 hour runtime and I had used it extensively prior to doing this without changing the batteries. When I took it out the following morning the light looked fine:
I was honestly not sure what to expect because water actually expands when frozen. I was thinking the expansion may cause enough pressure to force water into the light or possibly bend the casing, fortunately neither happened, in fact the light was completely free from damage! I cut the bag off and ran some hot water over the ice until the light came out and then I saw the problem...
The light would not go any higher than medium, I was wondering how this had happened when I switched it to strobe and saw that the strobe was quite low, around the same brightness as the medium level, so I switched out the batteries and it worked perfectly. (10-29-11)

Light modes:
Low: 9 Lumens
Medium: 70 Lumens
High: 130 Lumens
Turbo: 315 Lumens
Strobe: 315 Lumens
Yeah I'm not doing a video of this, it's a strobe. It strobes in intervals of extremely rapid and a slower blinking with each interval being around 4 seconds. It's freaking bright and could easily disorient someone especially with the interval strobe, someone did a good job on that.

S.O.S.: 130 Lumens
It blinks the morse code for S.O.S. and is pretty well hidden. 

Honestly this is neither a tactical nor survival flashlight so I find it odd that it even has these features which thankfully are hard to accidentally activate. Yeah they can have their uses but it seems that everyone is jumping on the "let's give out flashlights extra features" bandwagon. At least the UI is mercifully easy. 

Overall I like this light, it will retail for just shy of $70 and I see it ships out November 5th. Personally, I don't carry 2 cell lights as EDC and my V10R Ti has a very good runtime as I haven't replaced the batteries yet. I will say that I like this light better than my old Surefire E2DL. The E2DL retails for well over $100 and the only thing it can do that the Fenix can't is tailstand, the Fenix is brighter, has more brightness levels, and is generally more useful. However if you are in theater and getting shot at, I would still choose the E2DL because of Surefire's reputation and the fact that if you are in the military you probably got the Surefire issued to you anyways. For general EDC and non-warfare purposes, the Fenix is my choice. 

Glamor shots! I like taking pictures sometimes!


  1. Yes and no, I don't have any equipment to test exact numbers on anything, I just thought of something and did it, the shotgun was where I thought I would kill it.

  2. Thanks for taking the time! I got a brand new one for $10 at an REI used equipment sale (the light is brand new) and am smitten with it altho it's irritating some of my friends......

  3. You mention this being a 2 cell flashlight (2x cr123a). I prefer to use it with an Panasonic 18650 TRUE 3100maH battery. I found runtimes to increase by over 75% from testing done by phoenix with 2 cr123a batteries. On turbo mode my light ran for 3 hours and 36 minutes approximately. However mine is the new model, PD32 S2 (330 lumens), other than that not much difference. You mentioned low (9 lumens) not being low enough, the S2 has decreased low to 6 lumens, so they must have agreed with you. I agree with you the v10r is a great flashlight, for its size, but is half as bright at 160 lumens, and has a fairly poor max runtime of 35 hours vs PD32 240 hours, over 10 days @ 6 lumens. I think the Fenix PD22 S2 would be a better flashlight to compare to the v10r, single cell cr123a, 200 lumen max, 97 hours max run time, and can be used as a candle light (stands freely upright). PD22 > v10r. PD 32 is a different type of light.

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  6. Will this light hold a 18mm wide battery? I bought five -AW 18650/3400 Lithium Cobalt (LiCo) batteries thinking the width would be the same as lower other 18650 batteries (17mm). The wider batteries fit my PD35 light, but not my PD30. I'm looking to purchase another light that the batteries fit, and I am considering the PD32 UE