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Acebeam TAC AA review
Acebeam TAC AA specs
|Brand & Model
|Acebeam TAC AA
|EDC flashlight /Tactical
|“Cool White” 6500K (as tested)
/Nichia 519a 5000K
|Max. beam distance
|Max. beam intensity
|N/A, but the included battery has onboard USB-C charging
|Review publication date
Acebeam has brought to market a small tactical light by the name of TAC AA. Being a dual-fuel light, the Acebeam TAC AA brings 14500 (and AA, hence the name) support to an underserved area of the tactical market. It’s small enough to fit in a pants pocket but also is claimed to have the high output that is a staple of tactical lights. Without further ado, let’s take a look at it.
The Acebeam TAC AA comes in a simple black box. The front has an illustration of the light itself, though the back and sides only display minimal information about the product. Inside is a molded plastic tray holding the light, and a few accessories underneath. There’s not much to it, but it gets the job done. The full contents of the box include:
- Acebeam TAC AA, with 920mAh Acebeam 14500 battery inside
- Acebeam-branded lanyard
- Short USB-A to USB-C cable for charging
- Plastic zip-top bag with two o-rings and a replacement button boot
- Instruction Manual
Flashlight in use, Build Quality, and Warranty
The Acebeam TAC AA meets some of the standard requirements for a tactical flashlight: Forward-clicky tail switch, few modes, deep reflector, and aggressive styling. My review model is OD Green, though it also comes in gray, black, and coyote (tan). Note that green and gray only come with the cool white emitter, and black and coyote only come with the 519a.
The light has two main components; the head and the body. While the tail cap does come off, it only exposes the captured clip and the actual switch under the rubber boot. Speaking of, the rubber boot is slightly taller than the three arms surrounding it, making it slightly wobbly when tail standing. The spare switch boot is identical, so changing that out won’t make a difference. Unlike many lights, these arms do not have holes for threading the lanyard through; that has to be done on the clip which has one cutout section.
The lanyard itself has a plastic cinch sleeve for tightening it against your wrist, but is pretty plain otherwise. The clip is one way and slides nicely over the pocket. I appreciate that the clip lands on the body and not the head, so it doesn’t scrape against the head if you’re unscrewing it. Speaking of unscrewing the head, the threads are anodized, so you can mechanically lock it out.
The body tube itself is simple, with only crosshatch knurling on it, same as the head. It’s very grippy. The head does feature four small, flat surfaces on it, which Acebeams uses to display its branding. Also on the head, around the driver, are some deep cooling fins. I feel like they do a good job, because I didn’t feel the body getting as hot as other lights do on the higher levels. There’s also an ever-so-slightly crenulated bezel which could barely be called “tactical” but generally speaking, I don’t think many people buy lights for the bezel. It’s held tightly in place with threadlock and holds the anti-reflective coated glass lens and smooth reflector down.
If you’re in the market for a tactical light, I think a primary selling point of the TAC AA is the size. Now, for a 14500 light, the Acebeam TAC AA is big. You can see from the group pictures below that not only does it tower over other 14500 lights we’ve reviewed, it’s even longer than some 18650 lights. However, compared to other true tactical lights, it’s rather compact! The TAC AA can easily be EDC’d in a pants pocket, as opposed to full-size tactical lights which require a jacket pocket or even a holster.
It’s easy to carry the TAC AA and to use, and with the included USB-C charging battery, recharge on the go. The knurling and forward-clicky button make it easy to handle and use, even with gloves on. Sounds good, right? Should make for a good tactical flashlight, right? Well, a little more on that later…
The TAC AA is covered by Acebeam’s standard warranty, which can be found on their warranty page. To summarize,
- The dealer will replace a defective product within 15 days of purchase
- The dealer is responsible for warranty work within 5 years of purchase
- After 5 years, the dealer will attempt repair for the price of parts and shipping
- If the dealer is unable to assist, Acebeam can be contacted for warranty service
LED, Lens, Bezel, Beam, and Reflector
The Acebeam TAC AA can be had with either a “cool white 6500K” (covered by this review) or Nichia 519a 5000K emitter. It’s good to see options! The cool white will give you longer throw and higher output, while the 519a will be more neutral and have high CRI. If you can get the bezel off, dedoming the 519a would increase the throw, maybe even to match the cool white emitter. On that note, what is the cool white emitter? No one knows. It’s only listed as “cool white 6500K” on Acebeam’s site.
Whatever it is, the cool white emitter packs a punch. High mode really does throw far, yet still has usable spill. The deep, smooth reflector helps with that, focusing the output downrange rather than everywhere else in a very tight hot spot.
Acebeam’s site says it has a scratch-resistant polycarbonate lens, but it really feels like glass to me. Reflections in the lens are blueish, which tells me there’s an anti-reflective coating that allows for better light transmission, but Acebeam does not mention this.
At very short range, within a meter or so, high mode has several blue rings around the beam (likely blue from the AR coating), but at that distance, you would probably be using a lower mode in which those rings are barely visible, so it shouldn’t matter. You’ll never notice them at a distance.
Surprisingly, my Opple measured the CCT in the 5400K region as opposed to the stated 6500K. I double checked my Opple with other lights to make sure it was giving an accurate reading. DUV is good though, meaning that you get a nice, white hotspot without green tint.
I used an Opple Light Master Pro to measure the flashlight at 1 meter distance.
Dimensions and its competition
Here’s where you can see how the TAC AA stacks up to other lights. It’s much longer than other 14500 and even shorter 18650 lights, but is tiny compared to full-size tactical lights.
|Acebeam TAC AA
Dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter and the nearest tenth of an Inch.
|Acebeam TAC AA
|Weight in grams
|Weight in oz
Weight is rounded to the nearest gram and tenth of an Oz.
Flashlight size comparison with its competition:
Group 1 (vs 14500 lights): Lumintop FW1AA, Skilhunt H150, Skilhunt M150 v2, Acebeam TAC AA
Group 2 (vs 18650 lights): Zebralight SC64c LE, Sofirn SC32, Sofirn SC18, Acebeam TAC AA
Group 3: Emisar D4V2, Acebeam TAC AA, Convoy S2+
Group 4 (vs tactical lights): Nitecore P23i, Acebeam TAC AA, Nitecore SRT6i
Acebeam TAC AA UI: User Interface and Driver
- Ultra-low, low, medium, high
Available blinky modes:
- Half-press: Momentary memorized mode
- Subsequent half-presses: Advance mode
- 1 click: On to memorized mode
- 1 click: Off
- Yes. The TAC AA will memorize the current mode after 3 seconds of being off
Low voltage warning/protection:
- It does appear to flicker slightly before simply shutting off.
- No electronic lock out, but you can use mechanical lockout
- The TAC AA does use PWM, but it’s too fast to see.
Additional/summary info on the UI: Here’s where I would say the TAC AA comes up short in the tactical department. While it looks the part, another trademark of tactical lights is that they have easy access to the highest mode and to strobe. First of all, the TAC AA doesn’t have strobe at all. (That doesn’t bother me because I don’t use it, but in terms of being truly tactical, it matters.)
Secondly, while you can leave it on high mode for ease of access, if you turn it off and back on again within 3 seconds, it will switch modes and since high is the highest mode, it will cycle down to ultra-low, which is definitely not tactical. I often turn a light back on right after turning it off, but with the TAC AA, I have to remember to wait 3+ seconds if I want to use the same mode.
Acebeam TAC AA Charging and batteries
Acebeam includes one of their 14500s with the TAC AA. This battery has onboard USB-C charging and a capacity of 920mAh, though a 250mA capacity test on my Vapcell S4+ charger showed 936mAh. Despite having onboard charging, the battery is the same length as a standard 14500 button top battery, so it should be pretty interchangeable. It does require a button top, though, as there is a post on the driver board which will prevent a flat top battery from making contact.
One thing to note on the battery which came with my test unit: When I plugged the battery in, the indicator LED did not come on so I thought it was defective. However, I measured the voltage and it was indeed charging. After leaving the USB-C cable plugged in for nearly a minute, the indicator LED did eventually come on, though on subsequent chargings, it sometimes did not come on at all. This is not standard behavior, but just an FYI in case you see this with an Acebeam battery. I have an identical Acebeam 14500, and the indicator LED comes on immediately when plugged in. In my testing, I found it took 2.5-3 hours to charge, depending on the charger used. The included short USB-A to USB-C cable is nice for easy stowage.
The AA compatibility of this light is another nice selling point. If you find yourself without the ability to charge your 14500, you can stick any old AA battery in and it will work, though obviously at lower output.
Low voltage protection activates at 3V, and the battery charging stops around 4.15V.
|Included 14500 has onboard USB-C charging
|Button top 14500; all AA sizes
|Flat top 14500
Lumen measurementsHow Lumens are Measured: Understanding ANSI FL1 Standards How Lumens are Measured: Understanding ANSI FL1 Standards: The ANSI FL1 standards specify that output in lumens should be measured 30 seconds after turning on, as this is the standardized time for measuring brightness according to the industry standard. This is why we focus on this part in our measurements.
To obtain these numbers, I used a very rudimentary integrated shoebox and ceilingbounce on my Samsung Galaxy S10. Measurements have been calibrated using a standardized calibration light provided by 1Lumen.
Interesting how low and ultra-low are much lower than spec. They’re all low, but medium and high are pretty close.
Acebeam 14500 920mAh
|Turbo at 3.6V
Ikea Ladda AA 2450mAh
Due to the fact that I can only remove the head, I was unable to test the amperage draw of the light under load.
Acebeam TAC AA Battery Life: Runtime graphsHow Runtimes are Measured: Understanding ANSI FL1 Standards About ANSI FL1 runtime standards: The runtime is measured until the light drops to 10% of its initial output (30 seconds after turning on). This does not mean that the flashlight is not usable anymore. The last column shows how long the light actually works till it shuts off. If there is a + symbol, it means that the test was stopped at that particular point, but the light was actually still running. This happens on certain occasions, with certain drivers, firmware, or batteries.
Acebeam’s run time measurements for medium and high with a 14500 were pretty accurate.
From the graphs, you can see that the light is regulated in AA mode, but more directly driven when using 14500. The regulation is good, but it’s a shame to see the li-ion output drop as voltage drops.
Low and ultra-low were not measured due to claimed length.
Acebeam 14500 920mAh:
|Measured runtime ANSI
|Time till shut off
Ikea Ladda AA 2450mAh
|Measured runtime ANSI
|Time till shut off
Peak beam intensity and beam distance measurementsAbout Peak beam intensity: Understanding ANSI FL1 Standards About peak beam intensity The calculated value of distance in meters at which the flashlight produces a light intensity of 0.25 lux. (0.25 lux is about the brightness of a full moon shining on an object). This means that the intensity has decreased so much, it becomes difficult to see darker objects, or objects that don’t reflect light. The columns ‘Meters’ and ‘Yards’ use rounded numbers.
The numbers for candela were obtained with a UNI-T UT383S luxmeter at 5 and 15 meters, then averaged.
Acebeam only offers one number for candela, and high mode with 14500 almost makes that, which corresponds with the slightly lower output for lumens, too. To me, that’s still pretty good. Even with a NiMH AA, the TAC AA still throws a good distance!
Acebeam 14500 920mAh:
Ikea Ladda AA 2450mAh:
These were taken with a Samsung Galaxy S22+ using pro mode and the following settings:
- WB 5000K
- ISO 200
- Speed 0.5
Distance to the other end of the playing field is 100 meters.
Beamshots of the following flashlights compared:
- Lumintop FW1AA
- Nitecore P23i
Please note that the following beamshots are mainly intended to showcase the beam pattern and beam quality, rather than overall performance. These images are typically taken directly after activation, and in different seasons or weather conditions, and therefore do not fully represent its overall performance. For accurate performance metrics, such as output, beam distance, and runtimes, you need to look at the performance section of this review.
Disclaimer: This flashlight was sent to us for review at no cost by Acebeam. We have not been paid to review, nor have we been holding back on problems or defects.
- Powerful throw for a 14500
- Tiny for a “tactical” light
- Regulated AA output
- Long for a 14500
- UI is not tactical
- Unregulated 14500 output
Explanation on star ratings:
1: Avoid: a match would be a better choice – 2: Poor: significant defect or issues; almost unusable – 3: Average: some defects or issues; but still usable 4: Good: recommended (minor issues) – 5: Great: highly recommended
4 stars: ★★★★
While our star rating provides a reliable indicator, we encourage you to read the full review to make an informed decision based on your own needs and preferences.
If you’re looking for a tiny thrower, Acebeam’s TAC AA could be the light for you. However, despite checking many of the boxes which define a tactical light, the UI keeps it from being truly tactical. Lack of strobe and ease of mode switching from high (down to ultra-low, no less) are two strikes against its tactical branding, but it’s still a good light.
I’d recommend the Acebeam TAC AA with a 4 star rating, as it’s much more an EDC light than tactical.