Sofirn SP10S EDC flashlight review
Sofirn is well known for making very affordable and high-quality lights. They are also known for listening to customer feedback and utilizing it to make improvements to their products and even working with members of the enthusiast community to create new products, including the BLF (Budgetlightforum) BLF Q8, BLF SP36, and LT1. The SP10S is the latest version in the AA/14500 SP10 series. While prior versions of the SP10 came with the Cree XP-G2, this version uses the Samsung LH351D emitter (yes, the dog fart one. Check the part number: SPHWHTL3DA0GF4RTS6). This is a big upgrade because the LH351D is capable of both high output and has a high 90 CRI (color rendering index), so you get a very nice beam. Let’s see how it does!
What you’ll get:
The SP10S came in a really simple package with the bare necessities, but more than what you get with something like a Convoy. Inside was a molded plastic clamshell that held the flashlight, a simple multilingual manual (with tiny font), a promotional card for Sofirn’s Facebook page, and a small baggie containing o-rings and a lanyard with a keyring attachment. No battery was included.
- The Sofirn SP10S
- Two spare o-rings
- Lanyard with keyring attachment
|Brand / Model||Sofirn SP10S|
|LED||Samsung LH351D 5000k 90 CRI|
|Lumens||800 Lumens (on 14500 lithium ion)|
|Beam intensity||2105 cd (on 14500)|
|Battery config.||1*AA alkaline, Nimh, Nicad, or 14500 lithium-ion|
|Review date||August 2020|
Handling of the light
The light feels really nice in the hand. The knurling makes it nice to hold and it never felt like it was going to slip out of my hand. I had no trouble reaching the front-mounted electronic side switch with my thumb or index finger. I will say that the switch button is small and sort of feels fragile, but it is made of metal and has held up fine. It sticks out just enough to find it in the dark by feel.
Before I got into the habit of locking it out, the light did come on a few times in my pocket.
The pocket clip has good tension and even on thin clothing, I didn’t worry about it falling out. Also, the battery tube is reversible in the event you wanted to switch the clip direction point up or down. This makes it really handy for clipping to your baseball cap to use as a headlamp.
The flat tailcap allows it to tail stand no problem.
Sofirn SP10S Build Quality, knurling, threads, and anodization
Sofirn is regarded for making good quality lights, and the SP10S is no exception. Sofirn specs it with type III hard anodizing, which is nicely done and more glossy than matte. I would have liked a more matte finish, but it’s still nice. The battery tube and end cap are both diamond knurled.
The machining is nicely done. I couldn’t find any defects and all the parts fit fine. The heatsink fins on the head are a little sharp though on the edges, but nothing major. The pocket clip is very sturdy and made from stainless steel. The triangular threads on the battery tube are a little fine, but nicely cut with no burrs or defects, and everything screwed together smoothly. It never felt like I was going to cross-thread anything. The threads are also anodized on both ends so you can lock out the light by unscrewing the tailcap slightly. Everything is o-ring sealed, but the o-rings and threads were either dry or very lightly lubricated. The gold-plated negative contact spring looks good and is pressed into the tailcap.
The finish is very durable. I’ve been carrying the light for several weeks in my pocket with my keys, rocks, and loose change. I’ve dropped it, rotated the pocket clip around in the groove quite a lot, and the finish has held up great with only minor wear around the heatsink fins, switch, and knurling.
LEDs, Lens, Bezel, and Reflector
The centerpiece of the SP10S is the Samsung LH351D LED, which Sofirn specs as 5000k and 90 CRI. I had been used to my other EDC lights and their cool white Cree emitters, and switching to the SP10S was like night and day. The high CRI makes colors look more natural in the beam, and the absence of tint shift I had been used to with my Cree emitter lights was nice.
The bezel seems glued on and probably needs tools or heat to remove, so I didn’t try to open it up. The lens is toughened mineral glass with AR coating. Behind it is a light orange peel (LOP) reflector. I found the beam to be very nice at all brightness levels. It has a medium-size hotspot surrounded by a good amount of spill. I couldn’t detect any tint shift. The throw is respectable despite the LH351D being on the floody side.
- Length: 88mm / 3.46 inch
- Head diameter: 21.3mm (at switch) / 0.83 inch
- Body diameter: 20mm / 0.78 inch
- Without battery: 38 gr / 1.3 oz ,
- 57.9 gr / 2.04 oz with Shockli 1000mah 14500 battery
EDC Flashlights Size Comparison
Here’s the SP10S next to some other EDC AA flashlights.
Image 1-2: From left to right: Sunwayman R10A, Thorfire TG06, Sofirn SP10S, Solarstorm SC01.
Don’t forget to check out our overview with more great and cheap flashlights.
Driver & User Interface:
The UI seems perfectly suited to this light and very simple with Eco (moon), low, medium, high, and turbo, and a single strobe. Turbo is accessed from on or off with 2 clicks, and a single variable strobe is accessed with 3 clicks. Turbo is accessible at any time which I liked. If accessing turbo or strobe from off, the light turns off with a single click. 4 fast clicks from off activates the electronic lockout. It will blink twice to confirm the lock, and when you press the switch it will blink twice to indicate it’s locked. Another 4 clicks unlocks the light. You can also do a mechanical lockout by unscrewing the tailcap slightly about 1/8th turn.
It does have mode memory, but only when using a lithium-ion battery. I did run into some quirks with the UI. The light is supposed to always start in Eco mode with the lithium-ion battery, but my light starts on low with both the lithium and Nimh battery. This is kind of annoying since I had to cycle through the bright modes to get to the Eco mode, and my eyes didn’t care for that in the middle of the night. Maybe I’m being picky though as the UI is pretty simple to master. I am really glad Sofirn included an ultra-low mode as it’s extremely useful with an EDC light.
Mode spacing is very good as well. No crazy increases in brightness between L-M-H.
- Press and Hold: N/A
- Single-click: Turn on in Low/Eco. Click again to change to next mode
- Double click: Turbo
- Triple-click: Strobe
- 4x click: Electronic lockout
- Press and Hold 1 sec. turns the light off
- Single-click: Low/Eco. Click again to change to next mode
- Double click: Turbo
- Triple-click: Strobe
- 4 clicks: N/A
- Yes, last mode memory
Low voltage warning:
- No warning that I noticed. It just gets dimmer and then shuts off. I measured the battery (14500) after it shut off (waited for a minute for the voltage to recover) and it drained it a little low for my liking, down to 2.5 volts. I suspect the LVP is present with the lithium-ion cell, but not the Nimh.
- Single variable strobe mode accessed with 3 clicks from off or on.
- Yes, 4 fast clicks from off.
- I could not detect PWM with the naked eye, but it is present at higher settings using my digital camera
Additional info: The light has a timed turbo step down. From turbo on both 14500 and Nimh, it steps down after 3 minutes to high. The good thing about timed step down is you can go right back to turbo, although use it with caution because the light gets really hot. I measured 60 degrees C at the switch area after only two turbo runs.
Batteries and charging:
The SP10S can use standard Alkaline (not recommended) or rechargeable NiMH, NiCAD, or 14500 lithium-ion batteries. This is a great advantage since you will never be without a power source because AA batteries are readily available. However different batteries will have different light output and runtime. For example, don’t expect to get 800 Lumens on turbo unless you use a quality 14500 lithium-ion cell. Also important to note is do not store it for long periods with Alkaline cells installed since they can leak and ruin the light.
I didn’t test it with a flat top 14500, but I suspect they would work fine since the driver’s positive contact is a brass button. I didn’t test it with a protected 14500 so I can’t say for sure if those fit. The light doesn’t have built-in charging, so you need an external charger if you use rechargeable batteries.
Sofirn advertises the turbo using a 14500 at 800 Lumens and that’s a lot for an AA-size flashlight. Heatsinking on small lights with high output is not ideal, so it was interesting to see how the SP10S handled the heat.
For the amp measurement, I used my Radio Shack T-RMS multimeter with short 16 gauge wires inserted directly into the meter. Since this is an e-switch light, there is a parasitic drain, which I measured at 0.14mA so if you plan to store this light for a while unattended, it might be good to unscrew the tailcap slightly to lock it out.
I used the fully charged 14500 cell for my current tests.
- Eco: 2 mA
- Low: 40 mA
- Med: 200 mA
- High: 870 mA
- Turbo: 2.47 A
I tested the runtime with the Ceilingbounce app inside my homemade lightbox with the aforementioned fully charged 14500 and an IKEA Ladda 2450 mAh Nihm cell. I tested both high and turbo settings for each battery type.
The turbo step down on the 14500 happened as expected at around 3 minutes down to the high mode where it stayed for a short time before stepping all the way down to Eco. After the light went into the Eco mode it stayed there until I ended the test after 140 minutes.
On the high mode with the 14500 the output gradually dropped until around 75 minutes when it slightly increased, then dropped. It stayed at that level for another 8 or so minutes, then dropped steadily again for another 8 minutes before turning off at the 98 minute mark. After the test, the light would only work in Eco mode.
Switching to the Nimh battery on the high setting, the results show it ran for around 90 minutes before the output dropped dramatically and the light turned off. I could turn it back on, but only the Eco mode was available. The light didn’t get as hot as it did on the lithium ion battery, only to about 40 degrees C at the most.
Turbo with the Nimh was similar to the lithium-ion with the step down happening at the roughly 2 ½ minute mark and running in Eco mode until I stopped the test at the 211 minute mark. The graphs show similar behavior between the two modes/battery types on turbo and high, just longer runtimes on Nimh (and lower output).
Overall I feel this is a good performance. The boost driver seems to work with good efficiency, and I like how the turbo is timed and can be reactivated immediately. The caveat is that the light will eventually shut off automatically to keep from overheating. This happens at around 60 degrees C and by then the light is uncomfortably hot. I could only grip it by the tailcap and touching the metal button to turn it off was unpleasant to say the least.
Lumen measurements (for each mode)
Output figures are relative to my 30cm homemade integrating sphere. Lumen measurements are taken with a Digi-Sense 20250-00 data logging luxmeter. Batteries used were a fully-charged Shockli 14500 and IKEA Ladda Nimh cell. All readings taken at 30 seconds. I did not test the strobe mode.
|Mode||14500||NiMH||Sofirn’s Spec (14500/Nimh)|
|Eco:||1.35 lm||1.35 lm||0.5 lm (both)|
|Low||13.6 lm||12.8 lm||13 lm, 8 lm|
|Medium||67.5 lm||62.7 lm||80 lm, 55 lm|
|High||290.2 lm||145.8 lm||310 lm, 120 lm|
|Turbo||870.7 lm||294.8 lm||800 lm, 255 lm|
My numbers are close to factory and high on turbo which is nice. Eco doesn’t seem to be a true sub-lumen mode by my testing, but nonetheless, it is pretty dim and didn’t demolish my night vision.
Throw was measured indoors at 5 meters with the fully charged 14500 cell and the Digi-Sense 20250-00 data logging luxmeter. Eco was too low to register on my luxmeter at 5 m.
|Eco||N/A too low to measure!||Sofirn’s Spec’s Spec 1 cd, 2 m|
|Low||160 cd, 12.6 m||33 cd, 11 m|
|Medium||237.5 cd, 30.8 m||215 cd, 29 m|
|High||1055 cd, 64.9 m||865 cd, 57 m|
|Turbo||3637.5 cd, 120.2 m||2105 cd, 92 m|
- White wall beamshot from about 30 cm: Sunwayman R10A, Thorfire TG06, Solarstorm SC01, Sofirn SP10S. The TG06 and R10A both have cool white Cree XP-G2 emitters, while the SC01 and SP10S have neutral white emitters.The SC01 has an XM-L2, and in real life the hotspot size between the LH351D and the XM-L2 are similar. The R10A has a LOP reflector, while the others have SMO reflectors.
- SP10S outdoors on low, medium, high, turbo. The Eco mode was too dim to show up on my camera. The picnic bench in the pictures is 25 meters away and the large log is about 2 meters farther. The Trees in the other pictures behind the log are about 40 meters away.
Disclaimer: This flashlight was bought from my own money. I have not been paid to review, nor have I been holding back on problems or defects.
- High output with a nice beam
- Good quality, fit and finish
- 90 CRI LH351D LED from the factory
- No visible PWM
- Uses Alkaline Nimh, and 14500 batteries
- Gets hot quick on turbo
Rating: 5 stars ★★★★★
Sofirn has done it again and made an excellent AA-size EDC light. Sofirn could have gone with an XP-L2 like other companies chasing lumens, but they listened to their customers and went one better with the LH351D. Moreover, before the SP10S came out, if you wanted an AA/14500 light with this emitter, you had to resort to modding or buy something like the Skilhunt M150 (the LH315D is an option) which is perpetually sold out and quite a bit more expensive. The SP10S checks all the right boxes for me: Easy to use, durable, and it sure throws out a crazy amount of light for its size. To be honest, I really had to dig deep to find faults with this light to the point of nitpicking because for the money, in my opinion, it is (dare I say) nearly perfect. I give it an excellent rating and 5 stars.