As I mentioned in my last post, I’m on the hunt for the perfect everyday carry flashlight. My searching led me to run across the ThruNite Archer 1A V3, a light that – at least on paper – met the majority of my needs. It failed in one spectacular way. I am not keeping mine and I don’t recommend you buy one. Let’s get into it.
Flashlight Review Protocol
This review is a review of the ThruNight Archer 1A V3, but it’s also an introduction to my technique of reviewing flashlights. I’m going to review them based on factors that are important to me. I know there are all types of factors that are important to other people, like the color temperature of the light, etc. If it’s not in the table below, I don’t care about it. You will notice there is a score for each category listed. These are weighted to reflect my preferences. If my math is right (and it might not be) the total possible should be 100.
I plan to review a number of lights. . . mostly because I’ve bought a bunch in this vain pursuit of finding the perfect one. Each category will be addressed in the ensuing article. Since I don’t know how this stupid table plugin works, you’ll have to hit the drop down and show at least 25 rows to see the entire table. Sorry about that.
ThruNite Archer 1A V3
|Instantly Access High||Yes, Memory||3/5|
|Single Battery||Yes, AA||10/10|
|High Mode 200-300+ lumens||Yes, 200 lumens||3/3|
|Low Mode 20-30 lumens||Yes, 17 lumens||3/3|
|Firefly Mode < 1 lumen||Yes, 0.1 Lumens||3/3|
|No/Removable Strobe||Sort Of||3/3|
|Method of Accessing Modes||Bezel switch, No Programming||10/10|
|Form Factor: Size||Length: 4.33 inches|
Dia: 0.78 inches
|Form Factor: Weight||2.1 oz, with AA battery||5/5|
|Form Factor: Pocket Clip||Yes||9/10|
|Form Factor: Reversible Pocket Clip||No||0/5|
|Form Factor: Knurling/Grip||Yes||5/5|
|Form Factor: Anti-Roll Flats||Yes||3/3|
|Durablility/Water Resistance||IPX8 (not tested)||0/10|
Category 1: Tail Switch
Tail switch actuation is one of the most important factors to me. I find the tail switch easier to operate than bezel switches and twist-tops, and certainly more positive than twist-tops. My preferred “ice pick” grip also works well with a tail switch. Let’s go through all the factors that contribute to a good tail switch.
Tail Switch: The Archer’s tail switch is fairly well-executed. The rubber switch itself is nicely knurled and the perfect size for my thumb. It has good springiness and good travel. The travel is long enough that you can safely utilize the momentary ON function without accidentally clicking it all the way ON. Turning it on is nice and positive, with a pleasing click. Well done, ThruNite: 10/10.
Instant Access to HIGH: The ThruNite Archer 1A V3 does allow you to instantly access the HIGH mode via memory. When turning the light on, the tail switch will access whatever mode was most recently accessed (except strobe). This isn’t perfect; it’s very possible that when you really need HIGH, the last mode you accessed was LOW. Still, it’s a lot better than a lot of lights that start you at LOW or MEDIUM. 3/5.
Momentary ON: As I mentioned earlier, the tail switch is nicely done and the momentary ON function should work well. . . assuming the light turns ON at all. More on that later.5/5.
Tail Stand: This light has a tail stand. It works well for standing the light up, and offers really good protection for the switch. My only beef: the protective ears around the switch are large. I found that if I picked the light up wrong, the ears would prevent my thumb from hitting the switch. Basically there’s a channel running perpendicular to the ears that you have to hit. Good stand-upiness, great protection, can be difficult to turn on the light. 4/5.
Category 2: Powered by a Single Battery
The “1A” in “ThruNite Archer 1A V3” indicated the light holds a single battery. In this case, it is a single AA battery. As I mentioned in the introductory article, AA is my preferred battery. 10/10.
Category 3: Modes
The Archer really shines in this category. The HIGH mode is 200 lumens, which is within my ideal range. I know it’s pretty low for the tactical guys but it’s great for me. The LOW is 17 lumens. This falls nicely into my range of 15-30. The Archer also has an excellent firefly mode of 0.1 lumens.
The only ding against this light would be the medium mode. It’s just one more mode to cycle through to get between HIGH and LOW/Firefly. I don’t take away points for the strobe because it’s not in the normal cycle of modes. To get to it you have to turn the light on via the tail switch, then hold the bezel switch for two seconds. I’m perfectly OK with that. Scores for the various modes:
NO/REMOVABLE STROBE: 3/3
The method of accessing modes is a best-case-scenario for me. First, turn the light ON via the tail switch. To cycle modes, press the bezel switch. 10/10.
Criteria 4: Form Factor
The form factor on this light is pretty awesome. It feels great in the hand and isn’t bulky or heavy in the pocket. The head is only slightly larger than the body of the light, and the overall construction seems to be decent. I’m not going to lie: this is still the light I want to carry. Let’s look at the factors here.
Size: At 4.3 inches long, the ThruNite Archer 1A V3 is about the perfect size for me. It is long enough that I don’t have to worry about occluding the light with my palm, and short enough that it’s comfortable to carry. The diameter (0.78 inches) fills the hand but is still extremely manageable. This light is the closest thing to perfect in the “size” department I’ve found. 5/5.
Weight: With an Energizer Lithium AA the Archer weights 2.1 ounces.
Pocket Clip: A pocket clip is non-negotiable for me and my method of carry. The clip on the ThruNite Archer is decent. The tip has a reverse bias, allowing it to slip over the hem of the pocket. It is removable in case you don’t like or need a pocket clip. The clip is springy and holds the light securely. In my opinion, it could be a tad longer, and permit slightly deeper carry of the light. Still, not bad at all. 9/10.
Reversible Pocket Clip: this desirable feature allows the light to be clipped, bezel forward, to a hat for use as a headlamp. The Archer does not have a reversible pocket clip. I would be totally willing to overlook this shortcoming for the rest of the form factor of this light. 0/5.
Knurling/Grip Texture: Yet another area where this light shines (insert pun comment here) is in texture. Almost the entire gripping surface is knurled. This may not seem terribly important but I do drop smooth lights more frequently than lights with a knurled or otherwise textured surface. 5/5.
Anti-Roll Flats: OK, this one isn’t super important to me because the roll of the light could be arrested with the pocket clip. Still, I like this feature. If only for posing lights for photos. 3/3.
Criteria 5: Durability & Water Resistance
So far the ThruNite light is doing really well. this category is where it completely craps out. First, I’ll mention the IP-X8 water resistance that I was unable to test: it says it has it. Correction: I’m unwilling to test it because I do intend to send this back to Amazon and water getting into the light might be a problem.
The reason I was unable to test water resistance, and indeed test a lot of factors, is the light just doesn’t work. On the day it arrived I pulled it out of the package. I inserted the included battery and turned it ON. Nothing happened. I opened the battery compartment to make sure I had the battery in correctly. I did, and when I closed the compartment it worked. I assumed this was fluke and carried on.
The light worked for a while, let’s say two days. Once or twice during that two days it didn’t immediately come on. Toggling the switch fixed the problem, so I changed out the battery. It ran fine for another day or two, then it didn’t. A week in it wouldn’t turn on at all. There is no obvious physical damage to the light at all. This is a total deal-breaker and a huge disappointment. This light has almost everything going for it I want in a light. Except, you know, turning on. So there you have it: 0/10.
The Final Tally
This light scored very well on paper with a total of 82/100. If this light had actually worked it probably would have scored around 92 out of a possible 100. It still technically scored 82 out of 100, but only because I couldn’t give all the points to the Durability & Water Resistance category.
In the future I’ll be looking for something like the ThruNite Archer 1A V3. I like the features, modes the size and weight – hell, just about everything about the light. But regardless of the features, it has to work and be dependable. At $30 this isn’t cheap enough to be replaced every six months. It’s a shame, and I’ll keep looking.