Mini CREE LED Flashlight Review

This is to put under scrutiny, a very popular no-name 300 lumen pocket flashlight. This CREE 300 lumen flashlightmini CREE LED flashlight review (and I use the term ‘300 lumen’ very loosely) will serve to illustrate both its popularity and shortcomings.

Cloning the Knockoffs

What we have here is one of many copycats to a popular pocket flashlight known as the Sipik SK68. For reasons that I cannot fathom, other than the fact that the light can be ordered from China for $4 (U.S.) every 8 out of 10 buyers of these “knockoff” lights are simply amazed at their functionality and brightness! The small percentage who aren’t, either received a light that either doesn’t work, or realize that they’ve been cheated in some way. Some of them can actually SEE that the light is nowhere NEAR the 300 lumen claim! Mainly this is because they might already own a classic Maglite, or other such big-box-store dime-a-dozen light and realize there’s not much (if any) difference.

Skimpy Package; What You See Is ALL You Get

mini cree flashlight wrappedTHIS is what I received when my light arrived from its slow trek halfway around the globe.

No box, no instruction manual, no accessories, no printed invoice. BUT…I got FREE SHIPPING! The light was mummified in that white bubble.
 

 

It has a bright orange tail cap which is reminiscent of a baboon’s butt. The pocket clip is VERY sturdy! The lens is aspheric, meaning that it’s part of a sphere (half round) and looks like one half of grandma’s corrective spectacles. It bulges out to the degree that if you set it face down on a table…too hard…that little ‘bubble’ might crack! The knurling is actually pretty good, and the light is small enough to fit in most any hand quite well.

Each of the images below will open to full-size when clicked.

flashlight tail cap

Mini CREE LED tail cap

The aspheric lens comes off

The aspheric lens comes off

The LED

The LED

 

 

 

 

 

One of my biggest complaints is the tail cap. It’s very slim, unlike the caps on every other light I own. Getting it to tighten onto the body of the light invokes a frustration unlike I’ve experienced with ANY light I’ve ever operated! And…even if you’ve already switched the light off, it’ll flash during this reconnection attempt.

It’s Showtime!

Okay, it’s time to find out why the 300 lumen led flashlight is so popular among its owners!

Mini cree full beam

Full beam of Mini CREE. NOT 300 lumens!

ONE BIG CIRCLE OF (blue) LIGHT, is why that is! There’s no arguing that it’s a wide beam! And I have to admit, it’s relatively flawless. This, by the way, is a 1-mode light. Many of these cheapies are 3- mode, with high, low and strobe. This photo is from only about 5 feet away.  I can’t vouch for the age of the LED, but I would have to guess it’s several CREE generations old. Probably an XR-E or Q5.

A Zooming We Will Go

The photo with the red circle is attempting to illustrate how the beam is seen when projected on an object (a tree in this case) at a fair distance using a 14500 cell. Please click on the image to see it full size.

Zoomed beam on tree

Zoomed in beam shines on tree – approx 200 feet

The shape of the LED is visible

The shape of the LED is visible

The zoomed beam as seen from 50ft

The zoomed beam as seen from 50ft

 

 

 

 

 

In the case of this tree, you can (hopefully) see both the distance that the light can project its beam, but also how small an area it actually illuminates.

The Powers That Be

As you peruse the gallery of photos, let’s talk batteries. Most users of the mini CREE flashlight will EXCLAIM over its glaring brightness. I don’t know what they’re comparing it to, because when compared to anything I own, there’s nothing glaring about it! What most users find convenient is that it takes only one battery, a standard 1.5 volt alkaline. It’ll also accept a 1.2 volt rechargeable NiMH. BUT…where the makers (or marketers) are getting their 300 lumen claim from, is the fact that it can also take a 3.7 volt 14500 Lithium-ion rechargeable battery. Only then, will it come remotely close to that level of brightness. Estimates are, that when using a standard 1.2/1.5 volt cell, you’re only seeing about 100 lumens…perhaps even less. 

Show Me More Pictures!

Sunwayman C15. 170 lumens

Sunwayman C15. 170 lumens

Okay, so what I’ve done is to compare the mini CREE LED flashlight with a ‘name-brand’ light of the same size. The Sunwayman C15 Dolphin also runs off a single AA (or 14500 lithium) cell. The C15 has three brightness modes. The C15’s top lumens on a standard AA is 170. I don’t have an accurate reading on the C15 when using a lithium rechargeable. So, I’ve put both lights on HIGH mode (the only mode available on the mini) and compared them at equal distance.

Please click on each photo for a full-size image.

Mini CREE light using an nimh battery at 75 ft

Mini Cree on 1.5 volt — 75 feet

Sunwayman C15 flashlight on high using an nimh

Sunwayman on 1.5 volt

CREE 14500

Mini Cree on 3.7 volt

shining a C15 Sunwayman at 75 feet, w/a lithium battery

Sunwayman on 3.7 volt lithium

 

 

 

 

 

Sizing Her Up

The Mini Cree LED flashlight isn’t ALL bad. I would recommend it for someone with “light” (no pun intended) flashlight needs. I would NOT recommend it for someone who needs a light for professional use. Those in law enforcement, security, airport personnel etc., need a reliable, tactical, waterproof light with multiple modes, long battery life and unflinching ruggedness.

In general, buying no-name flashlights can be problematic. This article explains why.

If you feel that this type of light is the right one for you, here’s your link! However once there you may shop for ANY type of flashlight or accessory.

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