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FireFlies E12R Review: High Power Flashlight
FireFlies E12R specifications
|LED||12x Nichia 219B|
|Beam intensity||42,000 cd|
|Battery config.||1*21700 / 22430|
|Modes||Multi (Anduril 2)|
|Blinkies||Multi (Anduril 2)|
|Review date||February 2021|
FireFlies made a big splash on the enthusiast flashlight scene (at least over on BudgetLightForum) back in mid-2018 when they announced their first flashlight, the ROT66. And what a flashlight! The ROT66 was a 9-emitter soda-can light with HAIII anodizing and a stainless steel bezel, Lexel-designed triple channel driver running Narsil, and tint-snob approved Nichia 219B SW45k LEDs (or XP-L HI if that’s your thing). What a way to enter the market! Since then, FireFlies (aka FireflyLite) has produced some other outstanding lights. So I am quite excited to see what’s in store with the new FireFlies E12R, their new 21700 based multi-emitter, high-output light.
The E12R arrived in a very handsome box consisting of an outer sleeve with the FireFlies logo on one side, and specifications. Inside that sleeve was a nice magnetic-closure box with a sturdy custom-cut foam insert. Nestled inside that packaging was:
- FireFlies E12R
- 22430 short tube (installed)
- 22430 battery
- 21700 long tube
- 18650 adapter
- Spacer (to replace magnet in the tail cap)
- Spare o-rings
Flashlight in use
The FireFlies E12R handles very nicely. Size-wise, it’s a bit like a short C8 (with the 21700 tube installed). I find the switch to be in a natural position for thumb activation. And overall, it just feels like a solidly-built light. When used with the short tube (and the accompanying 22430 battery) the E12R becomes quite a stubby little thing. I wouldn’t say it’s much more pocketable, though, with its fairly wide head.
The E12R has a single switch on the side, an e-switch covered in polished stainless steel with a hole in the middle that houses a charging indicator. The switch is a bit… unusual. It protrudes quite a bit, so you may want to lock out the light while you’re not using it (Anduril2’s auto-lock, anyone?). But it also has a very short travel distance. It’s difficult to explain, but it just feels different. It took some getting used to, but not a deal-breaker.
The tail is completely flat and so the E12R can tailstand reliably. Speaking of the tail, a very strong magnet comes pre-installed in the tailcap; it can be removed if desired. A strong, captive pocket clip comes pre-installed between the body tube and the tailcap. This clip is the only thing to prevent the flashlight from rolling around if placed on its side. The short tube does not have a clip, but it does have two threaded holes that look like they could be for a clip. Otherwise, I’m not really sure what to think about those two holes in the base of the short tube… maybe the clip didn’t get finished in time? Or the idea got scrapped?
Build Quality, and Warranty
My E12R sample came with black HA-III anodizing. It is matte and fairly grippy, but not chalky. FireFlies also offers the E12R in “Desert Yellow” (sand) – the same anodizing that was on my Fireflies T9R sample. The body tube has a large square pattern for additional grip. The anodizing is very even and good-looking. There are no apparent blemishes.
The threads on the head-end are somewhat fine but anodized, pre-lubed, and very smooth. The threads at the tail-end are wider, square-cut, and not anodized, but still smooth. I’ve heard folks on BudgetLightForum express concerns about the tailcap feeling a bit unclean / non-smooth to take on and off. Like some others have pointed out, part of that is because of the pressure from the pocket clip. I feel like the intention is actually to use the front end of the battery tube to remove and install batteries, should you need to do so.
Another thing worth mentioning are the springs. Both the tailcap and driver springs are made of silver-plated 17530 BeCU and both are factory bypassed. Overkill? Maybe, but very nice.
Overall, the quality of the FireFlies E12R feels absolutely great. Everything just feels solid, clean, and well put together.
Warranty: FireFlies states that they provide a 3 year warranty, excluding batteries which are a consumable.
LED, Lens, Bezel, and Reflector
The FireFlies E12R comes in astounding 7 different LED choices:
- SST20 6500K CW
- SST20 5000K NW
- Nichia 219B SW45k D220 R9080 4500K
- Samsung LH351D 5700K W2 CRI80
- Samsung LH351D 4000K CRI90
- SST20 NW 4000K CRI95
- CREE XPL2 HD W2 6500K
My sample came with the beautiful (and somewhat legendary) Nichia 219B SW45k LEDs. These are known to be rosy (below the BBL) and have amazing color rendering capabilities. The beam coming from 12 of these is really really nice. The LEDs are surrounded by an RGB aux board. That assembly sits below a large TIR optic which is protected by glass. The bezel is smooth and flat, made of polished stainless steel. The combination of black anodizing and polished stainless give the E12R a refined look.
Dimensions and size comparison
- Length (long tube): 120 mm / 4.7 inches
- Length (short tube): 83 mm / 3.3 inches
- Head diameter: 47.6 mm / 1.9 inches
- Body diameter: 26.5 mm / 1.0 inches
- Short tube, without cells: 136 grams / 4.8 oz
- Short tube, with FireFlies 22430: 178 grams / 6.3 oz
- Long tube, without cells: 171 grams / 6.0 oz
- Long tube, with Vapcell T50: 241 grams / 8.5 oz
EDC flashlight size comparison
- Multi-emitter lights from left to right: Wuben TO50R, FireFlies E12R, Mateminco MT07 (aka Astrolux MF01 Mini), Sofirn IF25A
- New FireFlies models from left to right: FireFlies E12R, FireFlies T9R, FireFlies NOV-MU
Driver & User Interface:
The new FireFlies models, such as the E12R, use Anduril 2. They’re one of the very first to pick up with the new version of Anduril (the other being Emisar/Noctigon, I believe). It has many similarities to the original Anduril UI, but with some key differences. Primarily, “Simple UI” has now replaced Muggle Mode and is the default UI. It is intended to be an easy-to-use UI for the crowd that prefers less-complex UIs. That’s something I can really appreciate. For users that prefer all of the settings and extra modes, getting into Advanced UI is a 10H away.
Or the full manual:
- Unlike most Anduril lights, this FireFlies E12R uses a constant-current buck driver (+ FET for Turbo). There is no PWM present whatsoever.
- The driver, designed by Loneoceans for FireFlies, also includes a pre-calibrated thermal sensor. There is no need to perform thermal calibration on this light.
- The driver design also included 6-pin programming pads on the spring side of the driver. This is the same layout used by many other lights including those from Emisar/Noctigon. Same flashing equipment and process.
Batteries & Charging
The E12R takes 21700 batteries. It also comes with an adapter for 18650 batteries, but it’s best to use the 21700’s if you have them available (you’ll want the extra capacity). I primarily used a non-protected Vapcell T50 battery, which seemed to be a good fit for this light.
The E12R is also compatible with long, protected (including USB rechargeable) cells… after modifications. Like I found out the hard way with my T9R, you must first remove the tail spring in order to use long cells. Failure to do so can result in a damaged driver. I couldn’t find this in the manual, but it is stated on a sticker on the baggie for the spacer.
My light also came with a short tube and a matching 22430 battery. It’s an unusual size that I had never heard of before. That tube and cell work well together. You can charge the battery in the flashlight, so you never really need to remove the battery. But when you want to remove the 22430, it’s actually quite difficult. The magnet in the tail is so strong, it keeps the battery firmly in place. I had to repeatedly and firmly (though carefully) smack the tube against a table to get the cell to pop out.
The FireFlies E12R features a USB-C charging port and is rated at a 2 amp charge. I tried it with my 18w USB-PD charger and a Fnirsi FNB38 USB power meter. The USB meter indicated that 1.7 amps were being drawn from the charger. At first, I was slightly disappointed to not be getting the full 2 amps, but then I remembered something: a modern, proper USB charging implementation effectively uses a buck regulator whereas our old charging circuits (like the TP4056) used a linear regulator. This is exactly like our LED drivers. So while there was “only” 1.7 amps going through the cable at 5 volts (8.55 watts), the charging circuit was bucking the voltage down and providing the full 2 amps to the battery. Completely charging the Vapcell T50 (a 5000 mAh cell) took 2 hours and 55 minutes. When I charged the FireFlies 22430 (a 1850 mAh cell), it took 1 hour and 20 minutes.
For current measurements, an ANENG AN8008 multimeter and UNI-T UT210E clamp meter were used. Lux was measured by a UNI-T UT383 BT at 5 meters. Lumens were measured in a homemade lumen tube using a TSL2591 sensor, calibrated with a Maukka calibration light. The temperature was monitored with an MLX90614 IR temperature sensor. Testing was performed using a (frequently recharged) Vapcell T50 21700 cell and the included 22430 cell.
- Standby: 41 uA
In my Turbo test with the included 22430 cell, the E12R started out at 3978 lumens and began to drop as the cell voltage sagged. At 2 ½ minutes into the run, the light dropped from FET mode (at 3254 lm) into the 6 amp regulated mode (1920 lm). Output decreased as thermal regulation took control, dropping to 293 lm for a second at 8 minutes before recovering up to a stabilized 638 lumens. Low voltage protection began stair-stepping the output at 74 minutes into the run. The E12R was still lit at 2 lumens when I terminated the test at 120 minutes.
Still using the 22430 battery, I ran a test at the Ceiling (High mode, top of the ramp). The FireFlies E12R started at 2022 lumens. At 30 seconds into the run, it was still at 1999 lumens. At 4 minutes into the run, temperature regulation began to take effect and the output decreased over the next 9 minutes, settling in at 686 lumens. Low voltage protection started kicking in at 72 minutes. I terminated the test at 102 minutes when the output hit 2 lumens.
Finally, I performed a runtime test in Turbo mode using the Vapcell T50 21700 battery. This time, the output started at 6564 lumens. By 30 seconds, it had sagged to 5538 lm and then immediately fell out of FET mode and into regulated mode. It sat around 1727 lumens for a few minutes before ramping further down to 759 lumens where it stayed until low voltage protection started kicking in at 165 minutes. I terminated the test at 197 minutes.
Lumen measurements (for each mode)
|Mode||Current||Lumens (measured)||Lumens (spec)|
|Moon||12.8 mA||4.4 lm|
|Low||148 mA||68 lm|
|Mid2||745 mA||354 lm|
|Mid1||1.8 A||958 lm|
|High||4.3 A||2022 lm|
|Turbo @ 0 seconds||21.8 A||6564 lm||6800 lm|
|Turbo @ 30 seconds||18.3 A||5538 lm|
|Turbo @ 10 minutes||937 lm|
While FireFlies does provide max lumen estimates for all of the emitter offerings, they only provided mode-by-mode estimates for the brightest emitter, the XP-L2. Likewise, they only provided throw numbers for the XP-L2.
- At 0 seconds: 24,800 cd = 315 m = 344 yd
- At 30 seconds: 22,325 cd = 299 m = 327 yd
- Throw specs with the 219B: unspecified
- Outdoor beam shots are taken at 16 m (52 ft) using a Pixel 3 set to ISO 200 with ⅕ second exposure time (in blustery conditions)
- FireFlies E12R 219B
- FireFlies NOV-MU
- Wuben TO50R
- Mateminco MT07 (Astrolux MF01 Mini)
- Sofirn IF25A
Disclaimer: This flashlight was sent to me for review at no cost by FireFlies. I have not been paid to review, nor have I been holding back on problems or defects.
- Great, comfortable size
- Wall of High-CRI light
- Nice, regulated driver + FET
- Flexible UI
- USB-C charging
- Stainless accents
- Complex (and new) UI
- Strangely short button travel
5 stars: ★★★★★
The FireFlies E12R is an amazing flashlight. This, like many recent FireFlies lights, is built around a laundry-list of the “must-have” features that you see people talk about over at BudgetLightForum: great LEDs (like the legendary Nichia 219B SW45k), modern driver technology, RGB Aux lighting, beryllium-copper bypassed springs, etc. The short tube and 22430 battery make a nice addition as well.
There are some things you’ll definitely want to keep in mind going into this purchase. That button is certainly different. If you’re picky about buttons, give it a close look. And being an Anduril2 light may sway you one way or another. The default UI is a 5-level, basic stepped UI going up to 6 amps but hides the powerful FET capability. To me, that makes Anduril much more usable for people that don’t like super-complex UI’s. But for the folks that do, the Advanced UI is a 10H (9 clicks + a short hold) away and has all the features you’d expect, even if some of the button sequences are reorganized.
There’s a lot to like about the FireFlies E12R. It’s pretty compact, especially when you consider just how bright it is. Even when equipped with the beautiful 219B LEDs, it can put out over 6500 lumens of 90-CRI light. And if you prefer other LEDs, there are plenty of choices. It has lots of great technology like a buck driver and 2-amp USB-C charging. The anodizing is great, and overall, everything just seems really well put together. The FireFlies E12R will definitely be one of my go-to lights for nighttime excursions.
FireFlies E12R For Sale
1lumen selects and reviews products personally. We may earn affiliate commissions through our links, which help support our testing.