Nitecore P12 Flashlight Review

The Precise Series from Nitecore, has yielded some very snazzy and super-functional LED handheld lights. One of its latest in the series, the Nitecore P12, is no exception. In this review, I’ll examine its features which will hopefully give YOU, the consumer, all the information you need to make an informed buying decision.

Nitecore P12Just the Facts

As with other P series Nitecore lights, the box is a familiar one. It’s securely packaged with a sturdy belt holster, a spare o-ring, spare tail cap switch, lanyard, tactical grip ring and a pocket clip.

Also pretty standard is a pocket-able length of just under 6″. The pocket clip secures well, and when attached toward the head, the light protrudes from the pocket about 1.5″.


Looking into the P12’s smooth reflector

At 950 lumens on high, the light will cut through the darkness with a 222 meter beam. Its CREE XM-L2 (T6) LED is well seated at the base of the smooth reflector.

The P12’s other light levels are medium at 210 lumens; low at 50 lumens and lower-low (think “moonlight”) at 1 lumen. The package boasts a run-time of 520 hours. Obviously this is when the lowest setting is used. On high – expect not much more than about 75 minutes. After three minutes of continuous use on high, the P12 enters a gradual step-down stage. It’s resting output at that point is not given, but suffice to say, it’s just lower enough to prevent serious heat issues with the light, and chances are, the lower output won’t make much of a difference….as far as your eyes are concerned.

The Power Within

The Nitecore P12 is a lithium based light. Your battery options are as follows. You may use (1) 18650, or (2) disposable CR123’s, or (2) rechargeable 16340’s, or even (2) rechargeable 18350’s. I’ve read a report or two claiming that the P12 is not so bright with a 18650. I’ve not found this to be the case. With a side-by-side comparison of its cousin, the P16, and a 18650 installed in both lights, (and the P16 being only 10 lumens higher output)…I can see NO measurable difference.

Okay, Let’s Turn it On!

Nitecore P12 mode switch

The side mounted mode switch

After a firm click of the tail cap switch (which when lightly pressed will also operate tactically) you’re ready to select a level of brightness. The handy side-mounted mode switch is fast and efficient.

With each press the light will advance from low to high. You can press as fast as you want with no delay in the switching.

A “holding press” from ANY mode will produce a very disorienting “strobe” effect. A second firm press will put the light into ‘Location Beacon’ mode. A third firm press, will enter SOS mode. A quick press from ANY of those, will return the P12 to the original constant mode from where you began.

When the installed batteries are starting to lose their juice, the mode switch will “blink” in blue (about every 2 seconds). With continued use of the same cells, the frequency of the blink will increase. This feature will work whether you’re using two batteries or just one.


It Will Light Up Your World!

P12 on lowest-low mode

on lowest-low

Nitecore P12 on low mode

on low

P12 on medium

on medium

P12 on high

on high

nitecore p12 on low

Low mode at 65′

Nitecore p12 on medium

medium at 65′

Nitecore p12 on high

high at 65′











Notice in the high mode photo, that the distant tree behind the white building is quite legible. In feet, the P12’s maximum reach is over 700!

In Conclusion

Yes, there are a great many flashlights out there today that appear very similar in styling and functionality to the Nitecore P12. What might possibly set this one apart, is the multifunctional mode switch, along with its “flashing” capabilities. Couple that with the high lumen count, and a beam that travels an impressive distance, and it’s my opinion that you have a light capable for both general and professional use.

2016 Update

Nitecore has updated their P12 for 2016. It’s now the P12GT and features a Cree XP-L HI V3 LED. Its output has increased to 1000 lumens, and beam distance rates to 320 meters.

Nitecore P12GT

Here’s a photo showing beam throw;

Nitecore P12GT - long distance beam

Long distance on tree



Click here for a nice bundle offer on the Nitecore P12

OR… For a “super-duper” P12GT bundle …click here!

I’d love to know what you think about this review. Please leave your questions and comments in the spaces below.

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  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the pictures that show what the flashlight can do! It makes all the difference in the world in my purchasing decisions.

    A really great review. This is quite the flashlight!

  2. I got to say the images made it so clear of the magnitude of this light. Thanks for the images

  3. This is incorrect “A second firm press will put the light into ‘Location Beacon’ mode. A third firm press, will enter SOS mode”. You have these the wrong way around, a second press brings on sos while a third press will give you beacon mode. I can’t find anywhere that says how long it will last in beacon mode. If I am lost at sea I want to know if SOS or beacon mode is more efficient or effective?

    • Hi Ray,

      Thanks for raising the question. On high mode, using a 18650 battery, the runtime is rated at 75 minutes. With that calculation, you would assume that in Beacon mode, the light would run for several hours.

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