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Thrunite Catapult V6 Review: Thrower Flashlight
Thrunite Catapult V6 specifications
|Thrunite Catapult V6
Thrunite has been producing the Catapult series of portable, handheld throwers for a while. Initially, Catapult V6 had a Cree XHP35-HI emitter, but with that emitter’s discontinuation, Thrunite decided to update Catapult V6 with a new emitter (Luminus SST70) and some other goodies.
When I saw the box I was surprised at how small it was. It’s packed more efficiently than most. It’s a board game type box with a thick, sturdy bottom and lid that slides on. There’s a bit of Thrunite branding on it and a sticker indicating the model, and it’s held closed by a clear rubber band. As usual, they did a great job spending money where it counts and didn’t waste any on magnets or fancy printing. The following items are included in the box.
- Thrunite Catapult V6 SST70
- Thrunite branded protected flat top 26650 battery
- Nice belt holster
- Manual & other misc. paperwork
- USB A-to-C charging cable
- Split ring
- Two spare o-rings
- Replacement button insert
- Two replacement port covers
Flashlight in use
The design of Catapult V6 is fairly good, if a bit aged. All the expected stuff is here: a well-placed electronic side switch, a big deep reflector, some cooling fins, and texturing on the body for grip. There’s nothing about the design that specifically stands out, but it just looks like a flashlight. That’s kind of refreshing when many lights these days look like lightsaber hilts, vape mods, or steampunk electric razors. It’s too big to fit in a pants pocket but it’s not too cumbersome in a jacket. There’s a nice belt holster and lanyard included for carry too. It will tailstand no problem and there are anti-roll cuts on the tailcap that will keep it from rolling away but won’t stop it if it’s already rolling.
The electronic side switch appears to be the same as many other Thrunite switches. It’s small, flat, hard (metal or plastic), and slightly proud. There’s a small indicator LED in the center that will glow while the light is on. Blue indicates a fair bit of charge left in the battery, red indicates low charge, and flashing red indicates critically low charge. It also lights up when charging (more on that later). Functionally it’s fine, but it’s not very nice. There’s a fair bit of travel before the click and the switch can rock from side to side more than most e-switches. It feels kind of cheap. Catapult Mini’s switch doesn’t have any pre-travel or rocking like Catapult V6’s switch does.
The ergonomics of Catapult V6 are excellent, and it fits my hand well in a variety of grips. Even a reverse grip works well if I use my middle finger to actuate the switch. There aren’t any sharp edges that you touch during use (the bezel can be a little sharp but you don’t hold it by the bezel). The switch is in a good spot, the body tube is long enough to get a grip on, and the milling provides enough texture without being aggressive.
Thrunite includes a couple of different ways to carry Catapult V6. There’s no pocket clip because it’s too big for most people to fit into a pocket, but a nice belt holster and lanyard are included. The holster is nylon with a velcro closure and some holes on the bottom for dirt and grime to escape. The belt loop does not detach, so you will have to undo your belt to attach the holster. That does make it quite secure though. There’s a plastic d-ring on the holster as well. The lanyard is good quality and has plenty of room to fit it over large hands, even with gloves on.
Build Quality, and Warranty
Build quality is fine but not great. The anodizing is a nice grey color, but you can also get it in black or brown. It’s mostly even but there are one or two spots on the light that are ever so slightly discolored. The threads are all thick and square cut, but the ones on the tail are unanodized, unlubricated, and fairly gritty. I cleaned them off with a wire brush and added some silicone grease and that helped, but I don’t recommend unscrewing the tailcap unless you absolutely have to. The threads on the head end are anodized, lightly lubricated, nice, and smooth. Mechanical lockout works well from the head. The stainless bezel has a black coating on it that looks nice, but the corners are a little bit sharp and the coating makes it impossible to fix without it being obvious that you broke the corners over a bit. The milling on the body tube is nicely executed and it adds a bit of grip. There are stiff, dual springs in the tailcap for high current handling.
The warranty, per the manual:
- 2-years free replacement if problems develop with normal use
- 30 days refund by Amazon if you bought it there and the item is unopened
- Lifetime limited maintenance: after 2 years they will fix it if it breaks but you will have to pay for parts and shipping
LED, Lens, Bezel, and Reflector
Catapult V6 SST70 uses, you guessed it, a Luminus SST70 emitter. It’s a 5050 footprint consisting of four SST20 dies under one dome running at 6 or 12 volts. It’s currently only available in cool white with low CRI. This is a change from the previous Catapult V6, which used a throwier XHP35-HI emitter. Thrunite’s website lists “neutral white” as an option despite this emitter not being available in neutral white, so don’t count on that version being made available. Thrunite does this with several lights and they should just remove the option completely unless the light is actually available with a neutral white emitter.
SST70 is an interesting choice here. It’s not an especially intense emitter, being a 5050 footprint and domed. Something domeless and higher intensity like an XHP35.2-HI or SFT40 would have provided more candela per lumen and may have provided a cleaner looking beam as well. The emitter sits in a deep, smooth reflector which I was unable to remove. With SST70, the beam does throw far which is what it’s designed for, but the hotspot is wide enough and the spill is bright enough that it’s still useful at close ranges like around the house. I estimate the cd/lm ratio at ~54, which is on the throwy side but not in pencil territory like Catapult Mini (196cd/lm).
Dimensions and size comparison
- Length: 13.8 cm / 5.43 inches
- Head diameter: 5.8 cm / 2.28 inches
- Body diameter: 3.25 cm / 1.28 inches
- I don’t have a scale so these are the official weights taken from the product pages of the light itself and of the battery.
- Without cell: 203 grams / 7.16 oz.
- With cell: 301.5 grams / 10.6 oz.
From left to right (thrower comparison photo): Convoy 4X18A SBT, Convoy Z1 (extended), Thrunite Catapult V6 SST70, Noctigon KR1, Thrunite Catapult Mini
From left to right (extra comparison photo): Skilhunt H04 RC, Convoy S12, Thrunite Catapult V6 SST70, Convoy M1 with Thyrm Switchback, Sofirn SC21
Driver & User Interface:
Available modes: Firefly, Low, Medium, High, Turbo, & Strobe
- Press and Hold: Firefly (not memorized)
- Single click: On (mode memory)
- Double click: Turbo (not memorized)
- Triple click: No action (technically on, turbo, then off again)
- 4x click: Strobe (technically on, turbo, off, then strobe)
- Press and Hold: cycle through main modes (low-med-high)
- Single click: Off
- Double click: Turbo (technically off then turbo)
- Triple click: Off (technically off, turbo, then off)
- 4 clicks: Strobe (technically off, turbo, off again, then strobe)
- Yes, but only low, medium, and high are memorized
- To Firefly: hold from off
- To Turbo: double click from anywhere
- To Strobe: double click from turbo, but 4 clicks from anywhere technically works too
Low voltage warning:
- There is no low voltage warning from the main emitter, but the switch emitter stays lit any time the light is on. It will turn red when the cell is low and will blink red when the cell is critically low.
- Strobe is accessed by a double click from turbo, but 4 clicks from anywhere technically works too
- There is no electronic lockout mode, but mechanical lockout works great by slightly unscrewing the body from the head
- No PWM is visible
Additional info on the UI:
- This UI copied from the original Catapult V6 and it’s serviceable. There are no glaring issues, but it does have a few weird quirks. For one, it reacts to switch presses instantly. Other UI’s usually wait a few milliseconds after a click to see if you’ll click again before they take action. This means that on Catapult V6, any multi-click shortcuts do all the things fewer clicks would do as well. For example, double clicking from on turns the light off on the first click and then goes to turbo on the second click.
- Another quirk is that you have to go through Turbo to get to strobe. I would expect a double click from Turbo to jump back down to the memorized mode but instead it goes to strobe. Most UI’s have strobe behind a triple click, so this takes some getting used to. There are also no additional blinky modes like Beacon or SOS like there are on Catapult Mini.
- The final quirk is that it doesn’t always change modes in the same direction. If you turn the light on medium and quickly hold the button to change brightness, it will go up to high like normal. But, if you have the light on medium for more than a few seconds and then you hold the button down, it will go to low first and then back up to medium and then high and so on. I’ve seen this on another Thrunite model, the TN12 V2, and I don’t like it. It makes the light unpredictable, which is worse than having to cycle through high to get to low from medium mode.
- This UI just feels a little bit dated. I think I would have preferred to see Catapult Mini’s UI re-used here (plus a voltage check mode!) because it’s a little bit more polished. One thing I do really like is that Turbo and Firefly aren’t memorized. That way I don’t lose my memorized mode when I use one of the shortcuts.
- Since Thrunite used a 6/12V emitter and a single cell, we know this must be some kind of boost driver. Though, I can’t tell whether it’s boosting to 6V or 12V. I did notice during my testing that there is no thermal management present. The turbo stepdown is timed at 3 minutes exactly, regardless of the temperature of the light. Unfortunately this means that you won’t get a higher/longer output in cooler temperatures and it also means it’s possible for the light to overheat. I found that just two minutes after activating turbo the light was too hot to hold by the head and the body tube wasn’t far behind. Active thermal regulation has been the industry standard for a few years now, so seeing Thrunite use a timed turbo stepdown is disappointing. I can’t tell exactly how the driver is held in and it’s 29mm in diameter.
Batteries & Charging
The Thrunite Catapult V6 is a rechargeable flashlight and includes a Thrunite branded, 5000mah, protected, flat top, 26650 cell with the light. Curiously, it has Thrunite branding on the negative terminal which I’ve never seen before. I also tried out an unprotected flat top 18650 and an unprotected flat top 21700. The 18650 was just barely long enough to make contact, so it flickered if I moved the light and you would need some kind of adapter for it to be reliable. The 21700 worked perfectly. There wasn’t even any cell rattle if I shook the light from side to side. The light does have LVP so unprotected cells are fine. The unanodized tail threads mean that you might even be able to squeeze in an unprotected flat top 26800 cell if you unscrew the tailcap most of the way.
Thrunite has upgraded the integrated charging from micro-USB to USB-C with this update to an SST70 emitter. That’s a welcome change, but their implementation lacks support for C-to-C cables. Only A-to-C cables work for charging. They did a great job with the port cover though. It’s well protected from accidental snags and it’s quite secure. It’s even a little difficult to open or close, but that means it won’t come open by accident. Oddly, the charging port is not directly opposite the switch, but offset to one side by a few degrees because the flats on the neck of the light are in a pentagon instead of the more traditional hexagon.
When charging, the button will glow red. When charging is complete the button will glow blue. Flashing purple means “abnormal charging”. Charging stopped at 4.17V and took just over three hours. Catapult V6 works when plugged in, but you only get moonlight, low, and medium modes, and it only works with the battery installed. Turbo and high are completely inaccessible when plugged in, and without a battery the switch just blinks purple.
Lumen measurements (for each mode)
For these measurements, I assume the light’s advertised turbo output is correct and then I calculate down from there based on the relative output of the other modes. I performed all lux tests using the Ceilingbounce app on my phone. My phone’s lux meter doesn’t go low enough to get a moonlight reading and my multimeter can’t handle enough current to get reliable readings on the higher modes.
|Amps at start
|@ 10 min
- 91 µA which should take over six years to drain the included battery
Turbo starts off just under 3000 lumens and drops over the course of three minutes to a little under 2500 lumens. That’s an impressive runtime before stepdown with such high output. Unfortunately, that’s due to Thrunite using a timed stepdown and not active thermal management, so the light did get too hot to hold during that time. At 3 minutes it begins a 40 second gradual drop to a perfectly flat 1378 lumens. It largely stays there with just a little curve down at the end until it shuts off at one hour and 22 minutes.
High mode looks similar to turbo, just without the initial burst of nearly 3000 lumens and it lasts 10 minutes longer before shutoff.
Medium is a delightfully flat 278 lumens. It curves down at the very end and shuts off at ten and a half hours.
I measured the throw outside at 19.4 meters using the Ceilingbounce app on my smartphone. I’ve verified that my phone’s lux meter is reasonably accurate by testing with several factory rated lights.
I measured the output of the light on various modes at various charge levels to see how well it handles a low battery. It performed about average. Higher modes are more drastically affected by a low battery, but you can still get a good, usable amount of light even right before low voltage protection shuts off the light.
I’ve included a moonlight comparison photo to demonstrate how bright it is. (see Beamshots below) From left to right, there’s a Fireflies E07x Pro with SST20 4000K emitters, an Emisar D4 V2 with SST20 4000K emitters, Thrunite Catapult V6 SST70, Noctigon KR1 with W1 emitter, and Thrunite Catapult Mini with its firefly mode set as low as possible.
Catapult V6 has a nice throwy beam without being too narrow or too wide. It reminds me of Convoy 4X18A SBT’s beam, just not quite as bright. It’s the perfect beam profile for a light that’s meant to be used as a tool rather than just as a toy. Some lights like Catapult Mini have such a narrow hotspot and such dim spill that they are not useful for much except seeing very far away. Catapult V6’s beam is useful up close and far away.
The beam does have some minor artifacts. There’s a ring in the spill, and there’s some significant tint-shift from a yellow-green-ish hotspot out to a blue-ish spill. That’s all perfectly acceptable on a thrower though so it’s not a big deal. Overall I’m quite pleased with the beam and I think it perfectly suits this light.
Disclaimer: This flashlight was sent to me for review at no cost by Thrunite. I have not been paid to review, nor have I been holding back on problems or defects.
- Complete package (comes with battery and charger)
- Great performance (better than advertised)
- Widely available through Amazon
- Multiple color options
- Minor update to aging design
- No C-to-C cable support
Explanation on star ratings:
1: Avoid: my phone flashlight would be a better choice – 2: Poor: significant defect or issues, much better options available at the same price – 3: Average: some defects or issues – 4: Good: recommended (minor issues) – 5: Great: highly recommended
4 stars: ★★★★
As an enthusiast, this light leaves me feeling that Thrunite is trying to stretch out the life of an aging product. Rather than taking the same old Catapult V6 design & ui, I would have liked to see them release a new Catapult V7 instead. Some awesome updates would have been using the UI from Catapult Mini, proper USB-C integration, a more interesting and throwy emitter like SFT40 or XHP35.2-HI, perhaps a more interesting battery format like a 21700 cell to make it a little more compact, or a 26800 cell for higher capacity, and actual thermal regulation instead of just a timed turbo stepdown.
With that said, Catapult V6 SST70 has a lot going for it that differentiates it from competitors like Noction K1 or Convoy M26C, for example. Catapult V6 is accessible. You can buy it on Amazon and have it at your door in a day or two. There’s no ordering from some guy in China running a small flashlight shop you’ve never heard of. The user interface is simple, with no fancy modes to get stuck in. The battery and a charging solution are included so you don’t have to buy anything separately. All of those things make this an excellent choice for the average consumer.
In summary, Catapult V6 SST70 is perfect for someone who wants a simple thrower that performs well, is easy to use, and is easy to acquire, but it doesn’t wow me. I give it a four out of five stars.