Convoy L21A

Convoy L21A flashlight review: XHP35 Hi LED

Introduction:

In this review we will look at the Convoy L21A, a traditional shaped flashlight with a large head. It looks like a very well built 21700 flashlight with a Cree XHP35 Hi LED.

Unfortunately this review was delayed due to logistic problems. Luckily, Simon, the owner of the official Convoy flashlight store is more than helpful and was kind enough to send me a new light when the first one did not arrive after more than 60 days.

This excellent service makes it great to buy lights from Convoy, thanks again Simon!

What you'll get:

The L21A arrived in the same sturdy brown eco-friendly cardboard box as the previously reviewed Convoy 4x18A. Just like with the 4x18A, the only thing that reveals there is a flashlight inside is the small adhesive label placed on the outside of the box with the Type and Tint configuration of the light.

After opening the box, you will find the light well protected with soft cut grey foam which fits precisely and protects the light more than adequately. The cutouts of the foam were inserted in the box on top of the light to protect the light even better. Lol

Again, the light is the only thing that comes in the box, there are no accessories are delivered with the light.

  • No accessories
Brand / Model Convoy L21A
LED Cree XHP35 Hi
Lumens not rated
Beam intensity not rated
Battery config. 1*21700
Material Aluminum
Modes 4
Blinkies No
Reflector Smooth
Waterproof not rated
Review date January 2020

Handling of the light

The tube diameter if the light is larger than a standard 18650 flashlight since it uses the 21700 cell form factor. A 21700 is better performance-wise since it can hold more energy than a 18650 battery. Because it has a larger tube diameter, the comfort of holding the light is even better than with a 18650-sized light.

Obviously the head is quite large, but it is in no way annoying, Handling of the Convoy L21A is very good, despite its size. The reverse clicky tail switch can be accessed easily since there are two cutouts on the side of the tailcap.

The light provides more than enough grip and has the exact same high quality as other Convoy flashlights.

Knurling is the typical convoy style, knurled and milled into squares. 

The cutouts on the head are an anti-roll, and are identical to the Convoy L6 and Convoy L2. This is quite logical since it is the L2’s little brother. The size of the head is identical, and only the tube diameter is different!

Since the tailcap has two cutouts on the side to get better access to the tail switch. Tail standing is suboptimal, but it works.

Build Quality, knurling, threads, and anodization

As mentioned earlier, the build quality of the Convoy L21 is very good, as is the anodization (coating of the flashlight).

The older Convoy L2 was well known for its durable design, modding friendliness, and high quality. The L21A is almost identical, with the same Convoy quality, including the same design and knurling.  Only the size of the batterytube is different. It came without any markings, scratches or damage. Even and after a few days of use, there are no signs of damage.

The matte type Convoy anodizing feels good and provides excellent grip.

A thick rubber O-ring is placed below the AR coated glass lens, and two rubber O rings are placed on both ends of the body tube.
The body tube unscrews easily, as well as the tailcap, where the tail cap end of the tube is coated. Simon, the owner of Convoy, is well known for spring bypasses on his higher-end lights, and this L21A came with a spring bypass in the tail cap as well.

One thing that drew my attention, after removing the tube and tailcap, is the perfect threadings; durable deep and wide. The threads are rectangular cut and are well lubed. They screw together perfectly, which gives it a premium feel, unlike other cheap brands. This makes Convoy one of the best cheap flashlights on the market!

One other important thing to mention is the tube inner diameter and the tailcap. I was disappointed when I bought my firstL21A (of which I made a super thrower, like the Noctigon K1, with an Osram 1mm2 High Intensity emitter), simply because it would only accept genuine Samsung cells (or equivalent).

This copy is an updated version (Batch 2 according to Simon). The tube diameter of this L21A has changed from 21.5 to 22mm.

The size of the tail cap has also shrunk, as you can see in the following pictures.

LEDs, Lens, Bezel, and Reflector

  • LED Cree XHP35 HI 4000K
  • CRI Unknown
  • Smooth reflector
  • AR coated glass

The Convoy L21A comes with a Cree XHP35 HI LED on a copper DTP LED board. The L21A has 2 tint options; 4000 Kelvin or 6500K.
Since my personal preference is Neutral White, I chose the 4000K. The tint is actually quite warm but it doesn't end up in the yellow spectrum. You can compare it with Car Halogen H7 headlight tint that is not white, but with a more natural feeling. (Personally I don't like Cold White flashlights since they often a little on the blue side).

The beam profile is excellent. This is probably a combination of the depth and with of the reflector and the chosen LED. The Convoy L21A produces a very usable, but intense beam, with enough throw and more than enough spill. This means that your beam can reach far, and you can still see the street in front of you.

The beamshots down below compares the L21A with the famous Astrolux FT03 NW. You can see the open field with the treeline in the background at 400 meters,  according to Google maps.

Just for fun, I also included a comparison with my modded L21A, with a 1mm2 Osram LED ;--)

The lens is thick and made of AR coated glass. The aluminum bezel has the same styling as the Convoy L2 and Convoy L6. Removing the bezel gives access to the lens and perfectly smooth reflector. At the bottom of the reflector, you can see a plastic insulating gasket. It's there to protect and center the LED in the reflector. The LED is mounted on a 20mm MCPCB with copper DTP. To increase dissipation, the board is screwed onto the shelf of the light.

Dimensions:

I measured:

  • Length:  175mm 
  • Head diameter:   63.5 mm 
  • Battery Tube diameter: 22mm 

Weight

  • Empty: 358 g 
  • With battery:  425 g 

Size comparison with some very popular long-range flashlights:

Photo 1: BLF Q8, Astrolux FT03, Convoy L21A

Photo 2: Convoy C8, BLF Q8, Astrolux FT03, Convoy L21A, Convoy L21A

Photo 3+4: Astrolux FT03, Convoy L21A, old, Convoy L21A new.

Driver & User Interface:

The light distinguishes 2 clicks:

  • A full click
  • Half click

Lock out

  • Only mechanical by unscrewing the tube

Modes: 4

  • 1%-10%-40%-100% max current output is 2300mA

From OFF:

  • Single click: ON, to last memorized mode. To cycle through the modes, half press the switch to cycle through Low, Medium, High, and Turbo.
  • Double click: will result in switching the light ON and OFF again

From ON:

  • Press and Hold: N.A.
  • Single click: OFF
  • Half press: cycle through the modes; Low, Medium, High, and Turbo.
  • Double click: will result in switching the light OFF and ON again

Mode memory:

  • The light features mode memory, by switching on the light it always goes to the last used mode.

Low voltage warning:

  • The light features Low voltage Protection, it steps down to a lower level and completely shuts off below LVP level (2,89 V).

Strobe/blinkies

  • The light does not have any strobe modes (and I am happy with that, who uses them anyway?)

Lock-out mode:

  • Mechanical Lockout is possible by unscrewing the tube from the head. There is no electronic lockout.

PWM

  • I could not detect any PWM.

Batteries and charging:

The Convoy L21A takes protected - and unprotected batteries. Since this light draws a lot of Amps, I don't recommend using protected cells.

Convoy recommends using original 21700 batteries from LG, Samsung, Tesla or Sony. They discourage to use: Vapcell, Sofirn or LISHEN for the simple reason of the shrinkable tubing they add onto the batteries.

As mentioned earlier in the review, this was especially the case with the first batch of L21A lights. This is what I experienced, but the newer batches have an increased inner tube diameter!

It doesn't have a built-in charger, so you need to use a separate charger.

Performance:

Lux readings are done with a UNI-T UT 383 S lux meter, temperature readings are recorded with an infrared Non contact thermometer, type Benetech GM-320. Current readings are done with a UNI-T 210E Digital Clamp Meter

Amp measurement

  • Low: 0.161 A
  • Med: 0.79 A
  • High: 3.23 A
  • Turo: 9.4 A

Runtime graph

In the test, I used a Samsung 40T cell, fresh off the charger.
Note, For the Lumen/runtime results a deviation of +- 10% should be taken into account since I am using an integrating Lumen tube which is not officially calibrated, it is calibrated against lights with a known Lumen output.

Convoy has rated the maximum LED current output at 12V 2.3A. Considering it uses a single cell, the efficiency of the boost driver is about 75%. Also, the L21A features temperature regulation set fixed at 55 DegC.
The graph shows the temperature regulation works very well.

Throw numbers:

Convoy doesn't supply and Lux, Lumen or Candela ratings.
The results I have measured @5 m are:

  • Low: 1% 177 Lx ≈ 4,425 Cd
  • Med: 10% 1493 Lx ≈ 37,325 Cd
  • High: 40% 5058 Lx ≈ 126,450 Cd
  • Turbo: 100% 9103 Lx ≈ 227,575 Cd

This light performs extremely well!

Disclaimer: This flashlight was provided for review at no cost, by Convoy Store. We have not been paid to review, nor have we been holding back on problems or defects.

Overall conclusion

Pros:

  1. Excellent quality, machining, and finish
  2. XHP35 Hi versatility, good beam profile
  3. Nice output
  4. Great mode spacing
  5. Easy, straightforward UI

Cons

  1. No accessories
Peter

Author: Peter

Overall Rating: excellent

I already knew the Convoy L21A is a very well built light, but the single-cell copy with a XHP35 Hi emitter is actually more versatile than a narrow beam version (which you’ll get with a Noctigon K1 or a self-built light like the one I built with the 1mm2 Osram emitter).

The L21A fits perfectly into the Convoy product range. It’s the little brother of the well known L2. The L2 with XHP LED uses an extension tube and doesn't work with a single cell, as this L21A does.

Its size makes the L21A very versatile. It produces a good intense beam but with a usable spill. It is designed very well and built like a tank. The only limitation is its size. A good thrower needs a large reflector, so you need deep pockets, or you have to use a holster (or a lanyard).

The only negative I could think of is the lack of accessories.

I am very pleased with this L21A, and rate it 5 stars!

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