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Mateminco FW3 review: LEP + LED flashlight
Mateminco FW3 specifications
|Flashlight category||LEP / long-range / searchlight / hybrid flashlight|
|LED+LEP||Red LED + LEP|
|Max. output||1,550 Lumens|
|Max. beam distance||1356 meters|
|Max. beam intensity||460,000 cd|
|Review date||December 2022|
Oh boy… the features make me want to finish this review ASAP. This could be a winner.
The Mateminco FW3 is a hybrid flashlight with 2 types of light sources. It has an LEP module for a throwy beam and 9* LEDs (CREE XBD) for a flood beam. (LEP stands for Laser Excited Phosphor, and is using a laser as its light source). With the help of a phosphor layer and some lenses, turns the beam into a yellow/white beam, just like you would expect from an LED. Except, it’s more intense.
The CREE XBD LEDs on mine are red.. but the default color is white (6500K or 5000K), and it’s also available with orange LEDs.
So, you get to choose what you like. And just looking at the specifications, and the price, this might be a very interesting flashlight! So, let’s quickly move on, to see if it is indeed as good as it looks.
This is what I got:
- The flashlight: Mateminco FW3
- Pocket clip
Flashlight in use
The Mateminco FW3 looks like a regular LED flashlight, with a bigger head, and a relatively large tailcap. Just before the tailcap sits a tactical-grip ring (or cigar ring) that helps enormously with the grip.
There’s a single switch in the tailcap, that is lit from within with a blue light. I actually think it might be UV. The reason I think it is that the tritium slots have holes bored in them, so the light shines through the holes into the slot. These holes are filled with transparent glue, so water shouldn’t be able to drip in. But it does add an extra layer of possible water problems.. just saying.
Anyway, so I assume it’s UV, so it can charge the glow tubes that would fit in those slots. UV charges glow-in-the-dark stuff very quickly! And since tritium vials aren’t very widespread, I assume it’s mainly made for glowtubes anyhow.
In terms of carrying, the light can be used in an underhand position, as well as in an overhand position. The latter will be helpful in tactical situations, where you have your thumb near the switch. But I don’t recommend using this flashlight for tactical purposes. It’s not built for that.
I don’t particularly know whether this light was built with a certain use-case scenario, but at least it’s not for tactical purposes. Mine, with the red LEDs could be used for hunting etc. The red LEDs are pretty powerful. But if you choose the white LED version, you could use it for many instances. I just don’t think the UI is very well thought through.
The body has vertical reeding, which also helps with grip. Mateminco also included a pocket clip, that can be attached just below the tactical ring. And by the way, that tactical ring can spin around, and help with laying it on an inclined surface without the flashlight rolling off.
You can also make it tailstand, albeit a bit unstable.
Build Quality, and Warranty
I can’t really complain anything about the build quality. The anodization looks very decent with a very nice matte finish. I don’t see any blemishes or anything. The threads are a little sharp, anodized, and are protected with 2 o-rings. So there’s nothing wrong with this.
Except for the holes inside the slots in the head and tailcap. I already mentioned them earlier. And I assume they are used to ‘charge’ the glowtubes when they are installed. When you turn the light on, they will be lit from the inside.
The head has 8 short slots all around the head, with 4 sets of 2 slots. The tailcap has 6 long slots.
The included pocket clip is relatively easy to attach and removed. The lanyard can be attached pretty easily as well. Plus, you can choose to attach it to the tailcap or to the tactical grip ring.
Mateminco didn’t include a holster.
Mateminco doesn’t have a website, nor does the manual say anything about warranty. But the manual includes the address of the company, including a phone number, and 2 QR codes for Facebook and their AliXpress store. So there are a couple of ways to get in touch with them, but it’s unclear what kind of warranty they give.
LED, Lens, Bezel, Beam, and Reflector
I would normally test the LEDs and see what kind of color temperature they have. And it would also show the CRI values, as well as the DUV.
But since this doesn’t have your regular white LEDs it doesn’t mean too much to measure this.
Mateminco gives you 4 options to choose from in terms of LEDs.
There are 2 white options (6500K and 5000K), an orange, and a red option. The one I am reviewing has the red LEDs. This is a bit unusual, so I am not too sure how well the FW3 would work with normal white LEDs..
And since I don’t really use red light, I don’t know whether it works very well, or not.
When you look at the front end, you’ll notice a ring of LEDs and a clear center. The center is used for the LEP module, and the outer ring is for the 9 LEDs. And since the LEDs have no reflector, the beam is very, very wide. But I have to admit that the red light is still plenty bright!
The bezel is slightly crenelated so when its put face down, you can still see whether the light is activated or not.
Dimensions and size comparison
|Mateminco FW3 dimensions:||Millimeters||Inches|
|Length||147 mm||5.8 in|
|Head diameter||41 mm||1.6 in|
|Body diameter||25 mm||1 in|
Dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter, and to the nearest tenth of an Inch.
Weight: with pocket clip
|Mateminco FW3 weight:||Weight in grams||Weight in oz.|
|Without battery:||141 g||4.98 oz|
|With battery||208 g||7.35 oz|
Weight is rounded to the nearest gram, and to the nearest tenth of an Oz.
Mateminco FW3 flashlight comparison
Size compared to other LEP flashlights
Group 1, from left to right: Lumintop Thor 2 v2, Amutorch BT35, Lumintop Thor 4, Mateminco FW2, Acebeam W10 gen2, Mateminco FW3.
Group 2, from left to right: Tank007 PTL01, Weltool W3 PRO, Jetbeam M2S WP-RX, Olight Odin Turbo, Jetbeam RRT M2S Raptor, Fenix TK30, Acebeam W10 Gen2, Mateminco FW3.
Driver & User Interface:
The driver is a little strange. The general menu has 4 normal modes (LED) 2 LEP modes, and a combination LED+LEP. But, personally, I would have liked to see a different UI, where the LEP wasn’t in the same
Available main modes:
- Low, Medium, High, Turbo, LEP low, LEP high, LEP+LED
Available special modes (blinkies):
- Strobe with LED + LEP combined
- Half-press: momentary on
- Half presses: move between modes, from Low to Turbo, and then to LEP low, LEP high, and LEP+LED.
- 2 quick taps: High LEP
- 3 quick taps: Strobe (LEP+LED together)
- Single-click: activates light
- Single-click: turns off
- To Low: always starts in low
- To Strobe: 3 quick taps from off
- To High LEP: 2quick taps from off
- No, it will always startin Low.. but you can go to LEP with 2 quick taps.
Blinky modes menu:
- Only accessible from OFF with 3 quick taps
Low battery warning:
- Not that I could see
- No, just use the mechanical rear switch
- Not visible
Firmware / UI Conclusion:
I totally understand that it’s difficult to have 2 light sources work with only 1 switch. Especiall if it’s a forward clicky switch. I’m not 100% convinced this is the right approach though. Still, you can get quick access to the LEP in High mode with a quick double tap, so that’s an okay way to get to the other light source. An electronic side switch might have been a better option, or 2 switches.
I personally also think it’s strange to have 4 normal modes, and then 2 LEP modes, and Turbo mode with LED+LEP in 1 mode group. I would prefer to separate them altogether.
Also, I don’t think 3 clicks for a strobe is necessary for this light. You could have used the 3 clicks to switch between the LEP and LED. So, you could choose which light source to use, and not have the other light source in the same menu.
Having LED and LEP in 1 mode group sounds like the UIs we saw 10 years ago, where you had 3 normal output modes, followed by strobe and SOS. This is just not very well laid out. Nice idea, but the execution could have been better.
Batteries & Charging
The FW3 takes 21700 type batteries. These are rechargeable lithium-ion batteries with a length of 70mm by 21mm. I did all the tests with a Samsung 21700 50G, unprotected, flat top battery. However, this battery has quite a bit of play and is relatively short.
I also tried fitting a long, protected battery with button top, and it fit just fine. I then also tried a button top, protected battery, and USB-port (these tend to be the longest cells) and it also fits just fine.
This means, you can use any kind of battery you have laying around.
Just 1 word of warning. If you bump the light, loaded with a short, unprotected cell, you might see a change in output, as the battery loses connection shortly, that may be registered as a tap. It will go to the next mode in line.
There is no onboard charging on the FW3!
The output measurements in this review are based on my homemade integrating spheres, each equipped with an Extech SDL400 Lux Meter. For consistency and accuracy, a calibration light (Convoy S2+ with 249lm and a Convoy S2+ with 261lm) is measured prior to each set of lumen measurements.
For high-output lights, one of the lux meters uses an ND camera filter to prevent the lux meter to max out. This is either the Kenko PRO1D ND16 up till about 80,000 lumens or Gobe ND32 for anything above.
All of my readings were taken from a fully-charged Samsung 21700 50G. This is a high capacity battery with a decently high discharge rate. A great in-between battery.
The measurements were taken manually at turn on and 30 seconds. The 10-minute numbers are taken from the runtime graph. Keep in mind that the specified numbers are likely for the white LEDs.. Mine were quite a bit off. Also, I’m not sure how accurately my Extech SDL400 can measure red light.
|Mode||Specified||at turn on||30 sec||10 minutes|
|Low||5 lm||2 lm||2 lm||–|
|Med||75 lm||36 lm||36 lm||–|
|High||620 lm||546 lm||508 lm||390 lm|
|Turbo||1300 lm||1083 lm||667 lm||28 lm|
|LEP low||180 lm||129 lm||133 lm||133 lm|
|LEP high||255 lm||269 lm||221 lm||156 lm|
|Turbo LED+LEP||1550 lm||1186 lm||803 lm||307 lm|
I try to use rounded lumen numbers, except for maybe Low or Moonlight/Firefly modes.
I just copied the numbers from the manual. And this is another reason why I think they didn’t properly test it, because there is just 1 group of numbers. There is no mention of the different outputs with the red or orange LEDs.
- I couldn’t measure it, but the backlit tailcap is likely draw a few mA. So, it’s better to unscrew the tailcap to protect your battery from discharging too deeply.
Mateminco FW3 battery life and runtime graphs
The runtime tests were done in the 50cm home made integrating sphere, combined with the Extech SDL400 data logging Lux Meter.
Please keep in mind that I haven’t tested Low and Medium mode, since they were supposed to run for 100h and 50h respectively.
|Mode||Specified runtime||Measured runtime (ANSI FL1)||Time till shut off|
|High||4h 10min||1h 01min||1h 01min|
|Turbo||3h 30min||9min 20 sec||12h|
|LEP low||2h 30min||3h 13min||3h 13min|
|LEP high||3h||2h 45min||2h 45min|
|Turbo LEP+LED||1h 30min||1h 08min||1h 08min|
It’s a little strange to see LEP high having a longer specified runtime. Here’s the LEP runtimes. 1 with lumens, and the next with candelas.
But yeah, this light seems to be pushed out without any proper testing, and fine-tuning. That’s a pity.
ANSI FL1 standards: The runtime is measured until the light drops to 10% of its initial output (30 seconds after turning it 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.
Mateminco FW3 compared to other medium LEP flashlights:
With the medium sized LEPs (black line) it’s not doing too well. Compared to the small LEPs, it’s not a bad performer. But those lights have smaller heads, with smaller lenses, so not a 1-1 comparison.
Mateminco FW3 peak beam intensity and beam distance measurements
Measurements were taken outdoors with a Hagner E4-X Lux Meter at 20 meters. I used the Samsung 50G again for this test, and also tested High with a Samsung INR21700 40T
|High (Samsung 40T)||460,000||284,000 cd||1066 m||1166 yd||0.66|
|High (Samsung 50G)||460,000||280,000 cd||1058 m||1157 yd||0.66|
|Low (Samsung 50G)||–||176,400 cd||840 m||919 yd||0.52|
You can see that 460,000 is very exaggerated. It’s almost half of the claimed intensity.
Extra info: 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).
For the following tower beamshots, I used a Canon EOS 5D mk2 with a 100mm lens. Manual settings: ISO1600, 0.5sec, F4, 5000K
The tower is 450 meters away. In one of the beamshots you can see that the beam is very bright. That is because of the distance to the camera. I normally walk a few meters away, so you can better see the amount of light hitting the tower, and don’t get distracted by the beam itself! That’s what you normally see in videos on YouTube… but in reality it may not throw very far!
For the shed and reflective fence beamshots, I used a Canon EOS 5D Mk2 with a 50mm lens. Manual settings: ISO1600, 1/4sec, F4, 5000K. The shed is about 65 meters / 71 yards away, and the reflective fence is about 200 meters.
Compared to the following flashlights:
- Mateminco FW3
- Mateminco FW2
- Lumintop Thor 2 v2
- Lumintop Thor 2
- Lumintop Thor 1
- Tank007 PTL01
- Amutorch BT35
Disclaimer: This flashlight was sent to me for review at no cost by Mateminco. I have not been paid to review, nor have I been holding back on problems or defects.
- Nicely produced flashlight
- LEP+LED hybrid flashlight. Great for throw and flood.
- You can choose the LEDs, to be either white, orange or red.
- Relatively budget friendly
- UI is strange. Please read that part of the review!
- Red and Orange LEDs, in combination with an LEP?
- Not sure what type of warranty you get? Or if there is ANY warranty.
- Exaggerated claims in terms of beam intensity/beam distance
- Product seems to be rushed without a proper UI, testing, and specifications.
Explanation on star ratings:
1: Avoid: my phone flashlight 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: ★★★⋆
Let’s start with the cons. This looks to be rushed for production a bit. It seems to me that they haven’t properly looked at the UI, and they haven’t really tested it, so the specifications aren’t very accurate. The beam intensity claims are highly exaggerated. I also don’t know why they give the option of red, and orange LEDs.. but maybe they did their research and people were looking for this?
I went with 3.5 stars, because, in my opinion, Mateminco could have had a very nice hybrid light, if they hadn’t failed in the execution of it.
Now on to the positive side.
Not long ago, most LEP flashlights were a couple of hundred bucks. Too expensive for most people. And even at those prices, there were less than a handful of options that have a hybrid setup with LEP and LED in 1. But the FW3 happens to be the most affordable option to date, with a hybrid setup. That’s cool.
You get a very floody beam with the LEDs and a very intense, and far-reaching beam with the LEP.
So, if this is exactly what you were looking for? Go for it. If you were on the fence to look for a great hybrid option? Read the whole review and decide whether this will actually fit any of your needs.