Fenix PD35 TAC tactical flashlight review: XPL LED, 1600 LUMENS
The Fenix PD35 TAC is probably one of the most sold tactical flashlights on the market. Fenix added the TAC behind the model name in order to show the difference between the original PD35 and this Tactical version. Originally launched in 2015, it still holds its own. While shopping for the newest Fenix PD36R I wanted to test its little sibling, the PD35 TAC, as well. We’ll see how it is holding up against its bigger brother.
If you are considering buying a Fenix TK36R you might want to read this review, especially if you can get one at a great price.
What you’ll get:
Fenix provided a very simple and basic package. They seem to always add some nice accessories, unlike the cheaper brands that mostly add a few o-rings and call it a day.
- Fenix PD35 Tac
- Spare rubber boot
- Warranty card
- Small brochure
Fenix PD35 Tac specifications
|Brand / Model||Fenix PD35 TAC|
|Beam intensity||10,000 cd|
|Review date||October 2019|
Handling of the light
The Fenix PD35 family has a rich history, and they haven’t been popular for no reason. The body is rather slim, like most 18650 flashlights, and it’s relatively compact for a side switch + tail cap flashlight. (please check the pictures in the review below for size comparison). You can carry it either in your pockets using the belt clip. If you like to carry it on your belt, you can use the included holster. The holster is of good quality with velcro tape.
The side switch is to change modes, so you can put your thumb on the tail-switch or the side-switch. If you look at the second picture below, you can see that my pinky almost rests on the side switch. You could use your pinky to change modes while resting your thumb on the tail-switch.
It’s a great size for your daily tasks, around the house, or for military and police.
- Nope. This is not meant to tail stand.
Build Quality, knurling, threads, and anodization
Fenix is a premium flashlight brand, or at least it’s one of the most famous brands besides Surefire or Streamlight. The flashlight market evolves quickly, so other models in brightness advanced UI have surpassed the PD35 TAC. But quality-wise, there hasn’t been much change. This Fenix light is a high-quality product with high-quality materials. There isn’t anything to complain about.
Anodization is done well, just like the knurling. Threads are very well machined but miss some lube on them. I don’t know why Fenix doesn’t add much or any lube on the threads. But I kind of like it since I can clean them (if necessary) and apply my lubrication.
LEDs, Lens, Bezel, and Reflector
The LED is a Cree XP-L V5 with a max output of 1000 lumens. I don’t care much about the tint, but it isn’t too green or anything. No complaints there either. The temperature seems just fine without any noticeable problems. The XPL is more of a “throw LED” since it doesn’t have a round silicone dome on the emitter but rather a flat one. This increases throw.
The bezel is just slightly crenulated. I kind of like that. I often put my flashlight face down. If the light is still on, it may overheat or even damage the table it is standing on. Having this slight crenulation helps to spot whether the light is on or off.
The LED is pretty well centered and sits below a smooth reflector. A toughened ultra-clear glass lens with an anti-reflective coating protects it from dirt entering it.
- Length: 136.7 mm / 5.378 inch
- Head diameter: 25.5 mm / 1 inch
- Empty: 87.4 g / 3.08 oz
Some of the best tactical flashlights compared.
The last image with other Fenix flashlights:
Fenix E12 v2, Fenix E35 v3, Fenix PD35 Tac, Fenix TK11 Tac, Fenix PD36R, Fenix TK22 v2, Fenix TK30.
Driver & User Interface:
The Fenix PD35 TAC has 2 mode groups, namely Tactical mode, and Outdoor mode. By default, the PD35 TAC is set to Tactical mode. The tactical mode group has 3 settings, Turbo, Medium, and Strobe. You have to press the tail switch to cycle through the modes. You can’t do morse coding in Tactical mode because of this. But it gives you quick, not instant, access to strobe.
In the Outdoor-mode group, you have Momentary On, for signaling and morse coding.
From ON: press the side switch for 5 seconds, and the light will blink twice to tell you that the mode group has changed. You can do this in every mode.
- Eco, Low, Medium, High, Turbo
Tail Switch, from OFF:
- Half-press: cycling through Strobe, Turbo, and Med
- Single-click: On (either strobe, turbo, or medium)
Tail Switch, from ON:
- Half-press: n/a
- Single-click: Off
Tail Switch, from OFF:
- Half-press: momentary-on (Using the last memorized mode, output)
- Single-click: On (last used mode)
Tail Switch, from ON:
- Half-press: n/a
- Single-click: Off
Side Switch, from OFF:
- Nothing. The side switch has no function when off.
Side Switch, from ON:
- Single-click: change modes
- Double-click: just changing modes, no special function
- Press-and-hold: Strobe
- There is only a strobe mode.
Low battery warning:
- The light drops in output. So that is your warning.
- No, since it has a mechanical tail cap switch.
- Not noticeable by eye. That is all that counts.
Firmware / UI Conclusion:
Being a Tactical Flashlight, you have to live with a simple and effective UI. I can totally understand there are no special modes. Also, the PD35 TAC is an older model, and they didn’t have so advanced firmware as some have these days.
Batteries and charging:
Batteries can be a problem for some lights. Smaller lights usually have problems fitting protected or button top cells. The Fenix PD36 TAC has reverse polarity protection in case you insert your battery in reverse. I tried my longest 18650 cells, the protected Panasonic NCR18650B, and they fit fine. Looking at my tests, there is no need for buying High Amp batteries. High capacity batteries like the NCR18650B do just fine! You don’t need to spend more money on batteries.
That being said, my Nextorch 2600mAh protected battery doesn’t fit. So keep that in mind.
The PD35 doesn’t have a built-in charger, so you need to have a dedicated lithium-ion battery charger to charge your batteries.
It is possible to use 2* CR123A batteries with 3V each. But you shouldn’t use 16340 3.7V batteries!
All of my readings were taken from a fully-charged Panasonic NCR18650B protected battery and a pink Samsung INR 30Q flat top, unprotected. I tested Amps with a Fluke 77III and standard Fluke probes. I only need to use solid copper wires with lumen monsters.
- Eco: 0.023 A
- Low: 0.12 A
- Med: 0.33 A
- High: 1.15 A
- Turbo: 2.38 A
All output numbers are relative to my home-made integrated Sphere, which is now set up with an Extech HD450 Lux Meter for measurements. For extremely bright flashlights (above 5000 lumens), I am adding a Kenko PRO1D ND-16 filter. The base measurement is done with a Convoy S2+ that has been tested at 137 lumens. I am surprised at how close the measurements are to Fenix’s output numbers. Measurements were done within 10 seconds of switching the light on.
|Fenix PD35TAC||Eco||8||10,69 Lumens|
|Panasonic NCR18650B protected||Low||60||65 Lumens|
|Fenix PD35TAC||Eco||8||10,69 Lumens|
|Samsun INR 30Q||Low||60||65 Lumens|
I don’t really know why Turbo had a few more lumens on the Samsung battery, but it’s only a matter of a few %.
Turbo mode Runtime:
From the runtime graph, we can see that Turbo lasts for about 5.5 minutes before it drops to a constant 500 lumens.
The graph is really clean, and from 2 hours and 37 minutes, it drops to eco mode, and that’s the end of the runtime. But the light still produces a few lumens. The Fenix PD36R with a 21700 battery has the same runtime length but at 800 lumens instead of 500 lumens. If you want the brighter one, get the PD36R. If you can find a great deal on the PD35 TAC, this is not a bad flashlight at all. The PD36R ran with a 21700 5000mAh battery, so this means that the PD35TAC has great regulation, and I still think 2.5 hours is a great runtime in Turbo mode, even though it stepped down in brightness.
The resting voltage of the battery was 3.18V.
Total runtime Turbo: 2 hours and 37 minutes!
High mode Runtime:
Runtime in High mode; 2 hours and 43 minutes. Just a few minutes longer than Turbo mode. I don’t know why this happens, but when I charge the Panasonic batteries up again, they only charge up to about 2800mAh… So there is still plenty of juice left in them when they switch to low mode. Maybe because at the last part, the battery doesn’t have enough Voltage.. hmmm.
Measurements were taken both indoors and outdoors with the professional Hagner EX-4 Lux meter. I took measurements at both 5m for indoors and 10m for outdoors. I used a Samsung INR 30Q 18650 battery, fully charged.
Using the high mode only, I get:
- Indoors (5m): 12250 cd = 221 m / 0.14 miles throw
- Outdoors (10m): 9400 cd = 194 m / 0.12 miles throw
This shows again that there is a difference between measuring closer to the lux meter. But I trust the measurement at 10 meters much more. Fenix claimed 10,000 and I measure 9,400. Not bad at all.
Some of the best Tactical Flashlights we reviewed: These numbers are NOT from the specifications but measured by our team. I removed the LEP flashlights, that could fall into this category, but they aren’t comparable.
|Flashlight||Battery used||Max. Output (lm)||@30sec (lm)||Candela (cd)||Distance (m)|
|Armytek Dobermann Pro||Armytek 3500||1071||1068||31,606||356|
|Armytek Predator Pro||Armytek 3500||1206||1193||40,850||404|
|Armytek Viking Pro||Armytek 3500||1999||1958||29,069||341|
|Brinyte PT18 pro||Brinyte 3100||1981||1925||45,675||427|
|Brinyte PT28||Brinyte 3100||1705||1636||17,800||267|
|Cyansky P20||Cyansky 2600||1740||1665||14,405||295|
|Fenix PD35 Tac||Samsung 30Q||1030||–||9,400||194|
|Fenix TK11 Tac||Fenix ARB-L18-3500U||1556||1488||27,600||332|
|Malkoff MDC Bodyguard||Nitecore NL1835HP||872||211||2,650||113|
|Nitecore MH25GTS||Panasonic 3400||1669||–||29,000||341|
|Nitecore P10 v2||Nitecore NL1835||956||956||12,725||226|
|Nitecore P20 v2||Nitecore NL1835HP||893||893||13,900||236|
|Olight S2R Baton 2||Olight ORB-186C32||1318||1289||7,500||173|
|Olight Warrior Mini||Olight ORB186C35||1609||1553||9,325||193|
|Olight Warrior Mini 2||Olight ORB186C35||1721||1658||12,250||221|
|Powertac E5R-G4||Powertac 2600||1718||1602||21,700||295|
|Sofirn TF84||Sofirn 3100||881||–||11,600||215|
|Thrunite BSS v4||Thrunite 3100||2336||2190||14,775||243|
|Thrunite TN12v4||Samsung 30Q||978||–||18,250||270|
|Weltool T2R||Samsung 30Q||1589||1486||41,750||409|
|Wuben E12R||Wuben 3100||1426||1200||10,575||206|
Here’s a comparison graph in output with some of the 18650 flashlights, I, Marco reviewed.
The first set of beam shots is for close distance.
The camera was set manually for each set of shots. This is critically important. If you watch Youtube videos, you see what I mean when people don’t manually set their exposure, aperture, and white balance.
- Feels good to carry around
- No visible PWM!
- Great runtime of 2.5-3 hours in Turbo and High
- 2 sets of mode groups, outdoor and tactical
- Realistic claims of output and beam intensity
- No shortcuts to Low or Turbo mode. (this is probably done on purpose, being a tactical light)
Overall Rating: excellent ★★★★★
There s a lot to like about this light. It’s one of the smaller tactical flashlights and 1000 lumens is still plenty bright. I personally like the newer PD36R a lot because of its size and the reason it accepts 21700 batteries. 21700 batteries have more capacity. If you can find a good deal on the PD35 TAC, it is still a nice light to get. As long as you don’t care about the 1000 lumens output and the dated emitter.
Fenix PD35 TAC for sale
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