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Fenix PD40R v2 review
Fenix PD40R v2 specs
|Brand & Model||Fenix PD40R V2|
|Flashlight category||General Purpose|
|Max. output||3000 lumens|
|Max. beam distance||405 meters|
|Max. beam intensity||40,567 cd|
|Onboard charging||Onboard USB type C|
|Review publication date||March 2023|
Unless you’re new to the flashlight hobby, you’ve probably run across a Fenix light (or two) on your forays into Reddit or your forum of choice. Fenix has been around forever, and have lots of retailers selling their products in stores around the world. Operating as Open Air Brands, they make flashlights for the vast majority of the flashlight consuming world. They’re simple to use, have high performance, reliable, high quality, and offer features that professional users (guys and gals who actually use their lights on the job), need. I’ve reviewed several Fenix lights, and they’ve all been high quality, rugged, and good performing lights.
Fenix sent over their PD40R V2. This is part of their PD series, which are designed for the professional user. They’re good multi-purpose lights and the PD40R V2 represents the top-of-the-line in the PD series. The original PD40R was released in 2017 and featured a Cree XHP70 LED, 26650 battery, dual switch UI, and micro USB charging. For the time, it was quite a performer, good for 3000 Lumens and 1000 Lumens of sustained output, but the dual switch UI was unrefined and a bit clunky, and…micro USB. The v2 was introduced in 2021 and brings some welcome updates: a 21700 battery, a throwier, more efficient LED, and a new UI and switchgear. Newer is better, so let’s see how it does.
Fenix packaging is well, best described as functional, if lacking in classiness and style. It’s usually a graphically busy box with a slide-out insert of molded thin plastic holding all the bits. I’m not a huge fan of these packages since they have a tendency to eject the contents when opened (some items are stored under the insert). Here’s what you get:
- Fenix PD40R V2 flashlight
- Fenix ARB-L21-5000 21700 battery
- 2 spare o-rings
- USB type C cable
- Warranty card
This is a pretty standard loadout in this segment and everything you need to get going, even if you’ve never owned a flashlight before, and adds features like a holster. All good stuff from Fenix. You also don’t need a battery charger as any 5 volt output wall wart will suffice.
Flashlight in use
The PD40R V2 is a general-purpose flashlight. It’s adaptable and would be great in a variety of use-cases whether you’re walking a dog, inspecting, or looking for your lost shaker of salt. Note, before use, remove the plastic isolator under the tailcap or it won’t turn on.
The 21700 size battery tube lends itself to a comfortable, all-position grip despite the absence of any rear switches. There’s the familiar Fenix reeding on the battery tube and tailcap. It’s pretty grippy and just works. Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? For switches, the V1 of the PD40R had dual e-switches for mode changes. This V2 eschews the push buttons and momentary switches for a rotary control ring. I’m used to rotary switches on diving lights where magnets and hall effect sensors are used to control mode switching. Directly aft of the bezel (where I’m used to seeing heat-sinking fins) is the control ring.
The ring is very nicely detented with 5 stops for each mode encompassing about 60 degrees of rotation left to right, with off at zero degrees and strobe at 60 degrees. The movement is smooth, and getting off the first detent from off took more force than I expected. There’s cutouts in the ring that aid in grip, but even with my strong hands and fingers, I couldn’t rotate the ring without using two hands: one on the light, the other rotating the ring. I’d like to see this redesigned with a better gripping surface to aid in one-handed operation since when you really need a free hand, you really need a free hand, and this is important in a working-class light.
This detracts from the overall user-friendliness since it requires two hands to operate whereas a single switch would only need one hand. I still think switches would be the better option, and if you’re used to switches, or need a light that can be used one handed, this might be a deal-breaker.
The light features onboard charging via USB type C. The port is directly to the rear of the control ring and has a somewhat rigid rubber cover with a charge status LED off to the side. The cover is firmer rubber than I’m used to and took a bit of effort to seat, which could be an issue if one wasn’t careful to fully seat the cover after charging since it could let in dust or water. Tail standing is possible and there’s two lanyard mounting positions on the tailcap, one on each side. Fenix also includes their backend stainless friction fit pocket clip I’ve grown accustomed to on the other PD and TK series lights. It’s not deep carry, but provides enough tension for a secure hold. If you will be predominantly holstering the PR40R V2, you can remove the clip. The holster is of decent quality and has a plastic D-ring out back with a hook and loop belt loop. It can accommodate bezel up or down carry.
Build Quality and Warranty
Fenix lights are consistently very high quality and set the quality benchmark pretty high. Professional-use lights require tight quality control and Fenix delivers here. All the parts fit together perfectly. The Fenix logo on the bezel lines up with the other markings on the head and body, and the silkscreening and text are perfectly done.
The light is precisely milled from 6061-T6 aircraft grade aluminum, and the machining is perfect with no sharp or abrupt edges anywhere. The finish is replicated across the Fenix product lineup. It’s more glossy than matte finish and isn’t as grippy as Acebeam or Cyansky finishes (my favorites), but nothing that detracts from the usability. It’s perfectly done and advertised as type III HA. It’s pretty durable and I have no doubt it would withstand some heavy use.
However, one potential weak link is the absence of a driver spring, which instead has a flat contact with interference bars on either side for reverse polarity protection. The battery tube is one piece, so loading the battery is facilitated by removing the head. The threads on the battery tube are fully anodized, decently robust rectangular threads. They came pre lubed and were super silky smooth. The tailcap has a single spring and it’s decently thick and gold-plated for low resistance. I’d have liked to see dual springs here on a working-class light since they prevent connection breaks under shock loading and protect the driver from damage. The charge port creates a nice seal, and with a glued-on head and an o-ring sealing the battery tube, Fenix rates the PD40R V2 to 2 meters for impact resistance and IP68 for water and dust resistance.
For the warranty, it’s commensurate with the competition and one of the more robust in the industry. Take it away Fenix: Open Air Brands LLC, dba Fenix Lighting US, guarantees all Fenix products purchased from retailers to be made of first-class materials and therefore provides a lifetime warranty against any defects in material and workmanship. Excluded from warranty coverage is any damage to the exterior deemed reasonable wear and tear such as scratches and/or fading of color. In addition, the warranty does not apply to damage caused by abnormal or unreasonable use of any of the components. This includes use of unapproved batteries in Fenix products (see user manuals). This warranty is in place of all other warranties, including warranty of fitness for a particular purpose and warranty of merchantability and excludes any liability for incidental or consequential damages. If your Fenix product has a manufacturer’s defect covered by our warranty, we will either repair or replace it, at our option, without charge. Most damaged Fenix products not covered by the warranty can still be repaired. If repair costs and handling charges apply, you will be notified prior to any service.
LED, Lens, Bezel, Beam, and Reflector
The PD40R V1 featured the Cree XHP70 LED, but for the V2, Fenix went with the Luminus SST70. Fenix is no stranger to this LED and it’s a staple across the PD and TK series. This is a 6 or 12 volt LED with 4 SST20 dies tightly packaged on a 5050 size die utilizing the bond wire design. This LED has been around for a while and has proven itself as a high output LED capable of long throw out of small reflectors.
The LES is a bit smaller than the Cree XHP 50.2, so the SST70 has higher luminance (cd/mm2) and thus better throw. The high vF keeps the current low, but does necessitate series batteries or a boost driver. For CCT, it’s cool white only with low CRI, which is totally fine for this application since general purpose doesn’t include pristine tints and accurate color rendering. The reflector is smooth, and pretty deep, but smaller in diameter than a C8, about the same size as the TK20R. The SST70 is known to have a case of the greens at low output, and it does, but it completely goes away as the output increases. At one meter from the sensor on High, the Opple Light Master Pro has the tint coming in at 5867K and 63.4 CRI Ra. Duv is 0.0101, so a bit towards the green end of the BBL.
The beam is very useful, with a large hotspot with bright spill typical of a domed LED in a smooth reflector. The throw is also very good, with more than enough reach for even long-range observing past 200 meters.
Dimensions and its competition
|Fenix PD40R V2||Millimeters||Inches|
|Length||138 mm||5.4 in|
|Head diameter||33 mm||1.3 in|
|Body diameter||26 mm||1.0 in|
Dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter, and to the nearest tenth of an Inch.
|Fenix PD40R V2||Weight in grams||Weight in oz|
|Without battery:||189 g||6.1 oz|
|With battery||118 g||4.2 oz|
Weight is rounded to the nearest gram, and to the nearest tenth of an Oz.
Flashlight size comparison with its competition:
Group 2: Thorfire C8, Acebeam P17 Defender, Wuben C2, Fenix PD40R v2
Group 3 reflectors left to right: Fenix TK20R V2, Fenix TK16 v2, Fenix PD40R v2
Fenix PD40R v2 UI: User Interface and Driver
The driver is going to be a current-regulated boost driver to up the 4.2 volts from the single 21700 to the 6 volts the SST70 needs. Boost drivers are superior to direct drive or linear drivers because they can maintain fully regulated output for much longer at higher outputs than a direct drive configuration since the output to the LED does not decrease as the battery drains. For the UI, mode switching is handled by the switching ring and it’s about as simple as it gets. From the first position (off), turning the ring to the right turns on in Low mode and each position advances through the modes (off, Low, Medium, High Turbo) with the last position being Strobe. Turning counterclockwise goes backward through the modes: Strobe, Turbo, High, Medium, Low, then off.
- Low, Medium, High, Turbo
Available blinky modes:
- Turn the control ring to the right (clockwise): Turns on in Low mode
- Turn the control ring clockwise to advance through Medium, High, Turbo, Strobe
- Turn the control ring counterclockwise: Reverses through the modes: Strobe, Turbo, High, Medium, Low, off
Low voltage warning:
- The LED indicator shows the battery state during operation:
- Solid green LED 100% to 85%,
- flashing green LED 85% – 50%,
- solid red LED 50% – 25%,
- flashing red LED 25% – 1%
- Strobe. It’s the last mode in the mode configuration
- Manual lockout by unscrewing the battery tube ⅛ turn
- None visible
Additional/summary info on the UI:
- While I like the idea of switchless UIs, it took some time to get used to not clicking a switch or pushing a button for mode changes and on-off, but even after I got the hang of that, I’m still not sold on it. What the rotary selector contributes in simplicity, it detracts in overall user-friendliness since a switch is easier to use than a control ring for just about every situation since it cannot be manipulated one-handed like a switch.
- The mode spacing is very good, but you are stuck with what amounts to sequential mode switching with no shortcuts to Strobe, Turbo, or Low mode. Sort of like a motorcycle transmission wherein you can’t skip gears. Switching from Low to Turbo requires switching through 3 other modes first, and every mode to get to Strobe. If you want to start in Medium mode, you can’t. Want instant Turbo? Sorry. The lack of an ultra-low mode or moonlight is also a strike with a general-purpose light for those who don’t need more than 30 Lumens. There’s also no provision for mode memory (which can be good or bad). For LVP, Fenix reports that the onboard LVP notifications only work with the included cell, although I am sure LVP is still built into the driver.
Fenix PD40R v2 Charging and batteries
Power for the PD40R V2 comes by way of a single 21700 lithium ion cell, and Fenix includes their 5000 mAh protected button top Fenix ARB-L21-5000 21700 cell with the light. This is the mainstream, go-to battery type that’s largely relegated the 26650 obsolete and has all but replaced the 18650 size cell in higher power lights. Like the TK and other PD series flashlights, Fenix allows you to use your own batteries, so long as they are button tops.
The driver has interference bars on either side of the positive contact for reverse polarity protection, and that necessitates the use of button top batteries or the Molicel P42A. I tried an Acebeam protected 21700 with USB charging and that one fit, as did a button top Samsung 50G. Flat tops did not work.
There’s USB type C onboard charging present as well. Charge current is advertised at 2 amps, so it should charge the battery in about 3 hours. My Ruideng AT35 USB tester showed 1.65 amps and 5.1 volts on a mostly depleted battery for about 10 watts. Not super-fast, but enough to fully top the battery to 4.17 volts in about 3.2 hours.
Lumen measurements (for each mode)
Lumens are measured in my 50 cm integrating sphere with a Digi-Sense 20250-00 data logging luxmeter. The sphere has been calibrated with a Convoy S2+ measured to 260 Lumens and the figures are within 10% of actual. I used the included ARB-L21-5000 21700 and tested Medium, High, and Turbo modes. No amps this time due to the isolated current path.
|Mode||Specs||Lumens @turn on||Lumens @30 sec||Lumens @10 minutes|
Fenix specs mostly agree with mine, and are well within 10%, so no complaints.
Battery Life: Runtime graphs
Lumens are measured in my 50 cm integrating sphere with a Digi-Sense 20250-00 data logging luxmeter. The sphere has been calibrated with a Convoy S2+ measured to 260 Lumens and the figures are within 10% of actual. I used the included Fenix ARB-L21-5000 21700 and tested Medium, High, and Turbo modes.
|Mode||Specified runtime||Measured runtime ANSI||Time till shut off|
|High||3h 10min||3h 08min||4h 59min+|
|Turbo||2h 40min||2h 41min||4h 26min+|
The runtimes are mostly spot-on here, with the ANSI figures agreeing with my results. On Turbo mode, there was some step downs due to heat, and it seems the thermal limit is set to around 55 C since on Turbo and High the light was always cool enough for bare hands, never exceeding 50 C. It did heat up quickly on Turbo, from 21 C ambient to 50 C in about 60 seconds, it was never too hot to handle. The runtimes were mostly spot-on except for Medium mode, which seemed to ignore the ANSI spec and kept soldiering on until the light shut off at 11 hours. The other modes kept running at low levels after the last step down for a long time, and I ended those tests before shutting down. In all tests, the light was still usable after over 4 hours of continuous operation. On Medium however, after the light shut off, it wasn’t usable, so you have plenty of time to swap batteries or recharge. The battery was discharged to around 2.9 volts after each test, so it should stay healthy for a long time. Overall, excellent performance from the PD40R V2 as expected.
About ANSI FL1 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.
Peak beam intensity and beam distance measurements
Beam distances are measured using a Uni-T UT383S luxmeter measured indoors at 5 meters using the included fully charged ARB-L21-5000 21700. Measurements taken at 30 seconds.
This is respectable throw for a sub-40 mm reflector and more than enough for most work tasks. I’m a bit down from Fenix’s 405 meter figure on Turbo.
About peak beam intensity: Peak beam distance according to ANSI FL1 standards: 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). The columns ‘Meters’ and ‘Yards’ use rounded numbers.
I compared the PD40R V2 to some other tactical flashlights. Photos taken with my Samsung Note 8. The 40 meter shots with the camera set to 0.3s ISO 200 and 5000K WB.
Beamshots of the following flashlights compared:
- Fenix TK16 V2
- Fenix TK20R V2
- Fenix PD36 Tac
- Klarus XT11 GT Pro V2
- Olight Warrior 3S (copper)
- Streamlight Stinger 2020
- Thrunite BSS V4
- Thorfire C8 (XHP50.2)
Disclaimer: This flashlight was sent to me for review at no cost by Fenix Lighting US. I have not been paid to review, nor have I been holding back on problems or defects.
- Great build quality, fit and finish
- Simple UI
- Onboard USB type C charging
- Fully regulated output
- Doesn’t get too hot
- Bright with good beam distance
- Rotary switch requires two hands to operate
- UI has no shortcuts
- No mode memory
- No spring on the driver positive contact
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
3.5 stars: ★★★⋆
One thing I enjoy about reviewing flashlights is that I get to experience the full spectrum of designs, functionality, features, and different performance levels. Most of the time, I know what to expect from certain brands when evaluating those lights, and generally that’s that, but other times, I’m left a bit bamboozled. This Fenix PD40R V2 is one of those. First off, there’s a lot to like about it and it checks off a lot of important boxes: It’s properly bright, has nice regulated output, good beam distance, is easy to use, and has the fantastic build quality and predictably-perfect fit and finish I expect from a professional-use Fenix product.
While I like the new design and increased output, I kept finding myself a bit disenfranchised and the antagonist was the new rotary switch. Functionally, it was perfect with no issues. It always turned on and switched through the modes just fine, but I can’t get past the fact that it takes both hands to operate this PD40R V2, especially when turning it on since that requires a good amount of effort, and changing modes one handed is tricky at best. When you’ve got a tool in one hand and a flashlight in the other, and want to switch modes, it’s going to be mighty difficult if not impossible.
Fenix, if you’re reading this, I recommend integrating a forward tail switch for on/off and momentary use and give the ring more aggressive texturing and grippiness. The saying goes, when you need a free hand, you really need a free hand, and on a professional use light, it’s a bit of a deal-breaker if you can’t use it one handed. If you don’t mind that the PD40R V2 is a two handed light, by all means pick it up, but for the rest, you might be better served with a traditional clicky or e-switch light. 3.5 stars for the PD40R V2.
Edit by Marco: I have received several messages, and watched a couple of video reviews, showing the PD40R v2 being used single-handedly. From what I have read and seen, I could give this 4.5+ stars if it works as expected. I personally don’t agree with most of the cons listed.