Swift | Silent | Deadly

EDC Flashlight Review: NiteCore MT1A

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This month’s flashlight is the NiteCore MT1A EDC flashlight. The MT1A is a single-AA light at a mid-range price point. Overall it seems like a well-built light, but one with a few design strikes against it. Let’s take a look at its features.

This post contains affiliate links. I paid for the light in this review out of pocket.

NiteCore MT1A

Let’s begin by looking at the features of the NiteCore MT1A on the table.

Important Note: I’m modifying the chart yet again in an effort to fine-tune. Rather than use the verbiage “No/Removable Strobe” I’m going to use “No/Unobtrusive Strobe“. Reason being: too many lights have strobes that you can’t do much about, but as long as I don’t have to toggle through them every time I’m changing modes, I guess that’s OK.

Tail SwitchYes
Instantly Access HighYes
Momentary ONYes
Tail StandNo
Single BatteryYes, AA or 14500
High Mode 200-300+ lumensNo, 180 lumens
Low Mode 20-30 lumensYes, 22 lumens
Firefly Mode < 1 lumenNo, 5 lumens
No/Unobtrusive StrobeMust be deliberately accessed
Method of Accessing Modes
Form Factor: SizeLength: 4.13 inches
Dia: 0.94 inches
Form Factor: Weight2.4 oz, with lithium AA battery
Form Factor: Pocket ClipYes
Form Factor: Reversible Pocket ClipYes
Form Factor: Knurling/GripYes
Form Factor: Anti-Roll FlatsYes
Durablility/Water ResistanceIP68
Price (Amazon.com)$34.72

Category 1: Tail Switch

A tail switch is one of the most important features in a light (for me). Let’s look at all the ins and outs of the NiteCore MT1A’s tail switch.

Tail Switch: Yes. The tail switch has the right amount of travel and resistance, and strikes a good balance of being protected enough and accessible enough. The switch itself is a great size, and seems to be made of a really good material. The tail switch’s protective “ears” seem sufficient without being obtrusive. So far, so good.

Instant Access to HIGH: Yes. Like the EAGTAC D25A I reviewed last month, accessing some modes is done by slightly loosening the head of the light. When the NiteCore MT1A’s head is fully tightened, the only mode available is HIGH, and it is instantly accessible.

Momentary ON: Yes. A very slight press is sufficient to activate the momentary ON. Clicking the switch requires about the perfect amount of travel and pressure.

Tail Stand: Um…sort of? But really, no. If this light is on a perfectly level surface with no ambient motion/vibration it will tail stand. I wouldn’t depend on that. If the surface is ever-so-slightly uneven or there is the slightest vibration it’s going to fall over.

Category 2: Powered by a Single Battery

Yes! The NiteCore MT1A takes a single, AA battery. It is also compatible with 14500 rechargeable batteries. I used this one with Eneloop Pro rechargeable AA batteries during the entire testing period.

Category 3: Modes

The modes on this guy aren’t bad, but they’re certainly not great. The highest mode is 180 lumens. Out of a light this big that seems, well, wrong. That is not a lot of light. In fact, the Olight IT3 – which is a AAA light, mind you – puts out 180 lumens. The 22-lument LOW isn’t bad at all. I question the 5-lumen “ultra-low” though. If you’re going to go that low…keep going and make it a genuine firefly, around 1 or 2 lumens max.

HIGH: 180 lumens
LOW: 22 lumens
FIREFLY: 5 lumens
NO/UNOBTRUSIVE STROBE: Yes, the strobe is in the second mode (head loosened) and is not available when the light’s head is fully tightened.  Strobe is only a single mode to toggle through.

Mode Switching: The NiteCore Mt1A has one very cool feature. When the head of the light is fully tightened, the only mode you can access via the tail switch is HIGH. This means you have an instant HIGH, with no way to inadvertently end up in another mode.

If you want to access your other modes, simply loosen the head of the light a tiny, tiny bit. This will give you access to HIGH, MEDIUM, LOW, strobe. This light is similar to the EAGTAC D25A in that way. Not bad.

Criteria 4: Form Factor

The form-factor accounts for a lot of strikes against this light. Mainly, it is big and heavy for what it is.

Size: This is a big strike against the NiteCore: it’s BIG. It’s not any longer than the ThruNite that I’m always referencing, but it’s way fatter. It’s also fatter than the Fenix LD12 (2017 Edition) that I’ve really come to appreciate. I’ll be honest – the size kept me from carrying the NiteCore MT1A as much as I should have – it’s big and girthy.

The MT1A flanked by the Thrunite Archer (left) and the Fenix LD12.

Weight: Without a battery the MT1A weighed in at 1.94 ounces. Since most of you aren’t going to carry a light without a battery, let’s look at those numbers. With a single lithium AA it weighed 2.469 ounces, and with a single Eneloop Pro rechargeable it weighed in at 3.033 ounces.

Pocket Clip: There is nothing to like about this pocket clip. This was my other big complaint about this light (besides size). The pocket clip has a very pronounced bow, and very little of it contacts the pocket. Honestly, it doesn’t do a great job of holding the light in place.

And one other thing: it’s not particularly deep-carry. Now, that’s not the end-all, be-all criteria in my book. I’ve found that the deeper a light carries the more difficult it is to get out of the pocket quickly, so take that for what it’s worth – just a recitation of the fact.

Reversible Pocket Clip: Yes, the pocket clip is reversible.

Knurling/Grip Texture: Yes and no. The MT1A has good knurling on the grip surface. This includes the barrel and the rear battery cap. Knurling is notably absent on the bezel, which has to be loosed and tightened to swap between the two mode settings. I found this a bit difficult to twist, especially with very dry or (ironically) wet hands.

Anti-Roll Flats: Yes, lots and lots of them.

Criteria 5: Durability & Water Resistance

I’m not going to lie to you guys – I hardly carried this light. The size and the crappy were strikes one and two, but the mediocre modes put this one firmly into the “no” camp. I did play with it quite a bit, but it didn’t survive the normal knocks, falls, and spills a light that actually gets carried is forced to survive.

So really, I can’t tell you a whole lot about durability. The light survived my “5-minutes in a glass of water” test, so that’s good. NiteCore ambiguously says it’s “impact resistant” to 1.5 meters, and unambiguously that it’s IPX8-rated for waterproofness.

The Final Tally

Obviously I’m not the biggest fan of the NiteCore MT1A EDC flashlight. It has the bulk and weight of a CR123 flashlight, coupled with the light output of a good AAA light. I think there are much better lights out there for the money; the EAGTAC D25A is only $15 more than this one but it’s much smaller and brighter. I’d have a hard time recommending this one.

On the other hand, some people like things that I don’t like. Some people even have good reasons for liking things I don’t like. Like big hands. If you have really big hands you might have a problem with the smaller lights that I gravitate toward. If you want a larger, hand-filling light, this might be for you.

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