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Thrunite TC15 V3 Review: Utility Flashlight
Thrunite TC15 V3 specifications
|Thrunite TC15 V3
|Cree XHP35.2 HD
|Max. Beam intensity
This is my fourth Thrunite light I’ve reviewed, and so far they have all been excellent, with each finishing with flying colors. In case you don’t know Thrunite as a brand, they’re a big one, with an expansive portfolio to choose from for every application. Moreover, I’ve found them to be high quality, and great performing lights. If you need a dependable, reliable, and (accurately spec’d) flashlight, check out Thrunite. They do all their own manufacturing, R&D, and have been in the business a really long time. Although they’re based in the (unofficial) flashlight capital of China, Shenzhen, Thrunite has distributors all over the world (yep, even the USA), like the other big-name brands, and pride themselves on innovation and product improvement.
In fact, a lot of the products they sell are improved and upgraded versions of lights that have been in production for years. Take the TC15. This is an 18650 tube light introduced in 2018, but it has gone through 2 updates, (with a special co-branded Outsider Edition) since its release, with subtle changes for each version, but overall, it hasn’t changed much.
Thrunite was nice enough to send out the latest version of the TC15, the V3. Although it’s sporting some nice improvements to keep it modern compared to the original TC15, it doesn’t represent a significant upgrade from the V2. All things considered, it should be good, right? Well, maybe not. Read on to see why.
Once again, Thrunite sticks the TC15 V3 in the same plain-Jane recycled cardboard package, and that’s totally fine. Even the ultra-expensive TN50 came in a similar package. It’s a 2-part box with just some branding and product specs on it and not much else. To get to the goodies you remove an elastic retaining band and lift off the top half. It’s pretty basic, but still elegant and does a good job protecting the light. Inside, the light is secured in dense foam wrapped in a plastic bag. Here’s what you get:
- Thrunite TC15 V3
- Thrunite 3100 mAh battery (mounted in the light)
- 2 Spare o-rings
- Pocket clip
- Spare charge port cover
- Spare switch boot
As usual, Thrunite includes their very comprehensive kit, something mirrored across their product line. It’s great for a first-time buyer, who doesn’t need to make additional purchases (li-ion charger, batteries) to get up and going. It’s a great way to market to enthusiasts and professional-users alike. The accessories? Good quality as usual with a nice lanyard and decent USB cable, with some nice extras like a spare switch boot and charge port cover.
Flashlight in use
The Thrunite TC15 V3 is the latest iteration of the TC15 18650 size tube light. First off, it’s smaller than I expected, and about the same size as a Convoy S2+ and very lightweight (under 6 oz) when loaded. That doesn’t detract from the handling. It feels great in the hand even though it doesn’t have the girth of a 21700 light, and the battery tube has milled grooves in place of knurling.
Although not as grippy as knurling due to their directional nature, I didn’t have any trouble hanging onto the light. It’s nicely balanced as well for a nice neutral feel. There’s no tail switch like on most tactical flashlights, and switching duties are handled by a single e-switch. The switch sits below the bezel with a USB type C charge port to the right. The bezel is made of a handsome matte finish metal like the switch and is raised slightly so you can find it by feel.
The switch button sits flush with the bezel with very little discernible stick out, and the travel is longer than I expected before it activates. I found myself pressing it below the level of the bezel to get it to function properly. Thrunite sent another test light because the first sample had functionality issues requiring multiple attempts with double-clicking to get Turbo work. The replacement light works much better, but the vague switch continued to give me issues with consistent mode switching, especially when double-clicking into Turbo.
If switching to Turbo from set modes, the first attempt may switch to Turbo, but immediately step back to whatever mode you were in, requiring at least two tries to get Turbo mode to set. It will work eventually, but it’s pretty annoying. There’s a single LED indicator smack dab in the middle for operation, charging, and battery state. The indicator will light up for a few seconds on initial activation to show battery state, but doesn’t stay lit during operation or on standby. standby.
Retention-wise, unlike the V2, the you get a dual-position pocket clip for bezel-up or down carry on the V3. The clip attaches to a single groove in the battery tube, and it’s removable and reversible for extra versatility and mounting positions. I was able to reverse the battery tube and tailcap, but the light wasn’t functional afterward. You also get a nice holster with elastic sides and a Velcro-secured belt loop and D-ring for clipping to things on the back. Bezel up or down carry is possible, and extracting the light from the holster was also easy and unencumbered.
Tail standing is doable, but the tailcap has a cutout for the lanyard hole, so it’s not as stable as a totally flat tailcap. The cover for the USB charge port was annoying in that it doesn’t fit flush to the flashlight body unless you firmly seat it, or the lift tab snags on things and had a tendency to lift up. My Astrolux EC03 has the same issue and it’s super-annoying. Although you do get a lanyard hole in the tailcap, forget about it threading in without a fight. I had to resort to a toothpick to get it started. C’mon, what’s a guy gotta do to get a properly-sized lanyard hole?
Build Quality, and Warranty
Like my other Thru
Like my other Thrunite products, the TC15 V3 is well made. It retails for around $60 US, and comparatively, this is a good value for what you get. Milled from 6061 T6 aluminum, the machining quality is nice and tidy, with no tool or machine marks, and everything fits together with no gaps or parts that don’t line up. Sharp edges? Not really, but there was an abrupt edge on the lanyard hole. The anodizing is the typical type III HA in semi gloss black. While not as nice as Acebeam finishes, it’s more matte than something from Fenix and will hold up great. The finish was imperfection-free.
The light breaks down into three parts: Head, battery tube, and tailcap. I couldn’t remove the bezel with brute strength and meat wrenches (hands) so it’s been given the Loctite treatment. Earlier versions could be relatively easily disassembled, so I may revisit that (with a heat gun) in the future for an LED swap. Each joint is sealed with a decent-sized o-ring. Unfortunately, the o-rings were dry and that made removing the tailcap difficult. On top of that, the threads were a bit gritty, but that cleared up after some SuperLube. The threads are shorter than I expected, and combined with the somewhat-stiff spring made starting the tailcap a bit tricky. The threads are precisely rectangular cut and fully anodized for manual lock out. The rear tail spring is adequately thick and should easily handle the current demands fine.
The head omits a spring for a solid brass contact. All that Loctite, o-rings, and charge port seal did a good job sealing the light, and Thrunite says it’s good enough for an IPX8 rating (although not a proper IP rating, mind you), for up to 2 meters of temporary submersion.
Thrunite’s warranty is a good one, and while not as comprehensive as the other big name brands, it should cover the light for a good, long time, so take it away, Thrunite: 30 Days RETURN/REPLACEMENT: Any item sold by thrunite.com/ThruNite Direct at Amazon Stores can be returned to get refund within 30 days of receipt in new condition(means the intact condition for secondary offering) with all included accessories, manuals, warranty card（if any), and combo items if you don’t like it. If anything is missing, a fee of 15% of the order or higher (at our discretion) may be charged. The freight caused in return will be paid by the customer. Any item sold by thrunite.com/ThruNite Direct at Amazon Stores can be returned to get refund or replaced within 30 days of receipt if it is defective. 24 Months REPLACEMENT: Any product(not battery) sold by thrunite.com/ThruNite Direct at Amazon Stores which is found to be defective under normal use and service within 24 months and more than 30 days counting from the date of purchasing with proof of purchase(eg: order ID) can be replaced with new ones. Lifetime Limited Warranty: For items purchased after 24 months, we will still provide warranty service, but the cost of the parts and freight(both ways) will be paid by the customers.
LED, Lens, Bezel, Beam, and Reflector
The TC15 has only been offered with one emitter throughout its lifespan, the Cree XHP35 high density (HD), . The original had the 1st gen, and the V3 has been equipped with the 2nd gen 35.2. The 2nd gen emitter has the entirety of the die coated in phosphor, which doesn’t help beam quality or uniformity much. A bit of history: The XHP35 was introduced around 2017 as part of Cree’s XHP series of quad-die high performance white LEDs. This emitter consists of a 3.45 x 3.45 mm package with 4 dies connected in series by 2 bond wires. The LES is a little over 5mm2 and it runs on 12 volts, so it needs a 4S (16 volt) cell configuration or a boost driver. It’s also available in a domeless high intensity (HI) version. This is a pretty special emitter capable of 2000+ Lumens at low drive currents, and it’s available in a ton of tints from the cool white to 2700K with a few high CRI options. Due to the 3535 footprint, it fits anywhere an XP-size emitter would, and compared to the XP-L HI, in a large reflector, is capable of extremely high candela. It’s been featured in quite a few flashlights over the years including the OG BLF GT, Astrolux MF04, various Nitecore lights, and (before switching to the SST70) Thrunite’s own Catapult V6. In the TC15, although neutral white is an option, it’s sold out, so the test light is cool white.
The reflector is a small deep OP unit, which should help clean the beam up a bit, with the LED perfectly centered at the bottom with a white plastic centering gasket. It’s topped by an AR coated mineral glass lens for good light transmission, and the bezel is not crenulated. Being a 2nd gen domed Cree emitter, you are going to get the obligatory white-blue tint shift and pee yellow corona, and even with the OP reflector, it’s still present, but the beam is still fine for the application. There’s a defined hotspot that nicely blends into the spill for a combination of side illumination and throw. It’s a nicely balanced beam for a general purpose light, and c’mon, 99% of users won’t pine over white wall beamshots, right? The Opple Lightmaster 3 showed the CCT around 7000-7400K on High mode with a CRI of 72 and the duv value is -0.0005.
Dimensions and size comparison
- Length: 12.25 cm / 4.82 inches
- Body diameter: 2.7 cm / 1.06 inches at widest point
- Without cell: 79.9 grams / 2.81 oz.
- With included cell:132.7 grams / 4.68 oz.
The TC15 V3 is pretty compact for an 18650 size light, and I compared it to some similarly-sized lights.
Group 2 left to right: Acebeam L17, Thrunite TC15 V3, Thorfire C8, Cyansky K3
Group 3 left to right: Sunwayman R10A, Sofirn SC31T, Thrunite TC15 V3, Acebeam P15 Defender, Fenix PD35 V3, Thrunite BSS V4
Front shots left to right: Sofirn SC31T, Thrunite TC15 V3, Fenix PD35 V3, Thrunite BSS V4, Fenix PD36 Tac.
Driver & User Interface:
The 12-volt XHP35 requires a boost driver to bump the 4.2 volts from the battery, and bost drivers are great because they offer linear, regulated output that doesn’t change as the battery drains. A simple FET driver has output proportional to the battery voltage, so the light output dims as the battery drains. True to its consumer-focus, the TC15 also features a simple UI (no surprise), and that’s fine with me. In fact, nary has an advanced UI graced a Thrunite light. Anduril? Nope. NarsilM? Nada. Multi-level dimming or configurable ramping? Sorry, not here. This is excellent for regular consumers who won’t want to bother with such things and just want a light that turns on, is easy to ‘make brighter’ and turns off when called upon.
The UI has 5 modes, including Turbo, a Firefly mode, and a single Strobe. Yep, easy. The only shortcut is a double-click for Turbo, press and hold for Firefly, and triple-click for Strobe, and the UI includes niceties like electronic lockout, which wasn’t present on the V2.
Available modes: Firefly, Low, Medium, High, Turbo, and Strobe.
- Press and hold: Firefly. Continuing to press activates the lockout.
- Single click: Turns on in last mode
- Double click: N/A
- Triple click: N/A
- Single click: Turns off
- Press and hold: Switches between modes L-M-H-L
- Double click: Turbo
- Triple click: Strobe
- Quad click: N/A
- Yes, recalls last used mode for all modes except Strobe, Firefly, and Turbo
- Press and hold from off activates Firefly mode. Double-click in any mode for Turbo, and triple click for Strobe.
Low voltage warning:
- The switch indicator shows battery status, but nothing is mentioned about a visual LVP notification, but the switch LED is blue for >90% to 20%, red 20% to 11%, and flashing red 10% down to 1%.
- Single Strobe
- Lockout is accessed from off by pressing and holding for about 5 seconds. The light can also be locked out by unscrewing the the tailcap 1/8th turn
- Yes, but only on Firefly mode and it’s fast PWM not visible with the naked eye.
Additional info on the UI:
- I like the UI, which isn’t surprising because I liked the UI on the TC20 V2 and the BSS V4 has one of my favorite tactical UI’s. Thrunite says there’s thermal regulation present to step down the brightness when the internals hit 80 C (!). Of course I’ll validate that with testing. The UI is nice and simple, great for professionals, or folks who just want an easy-to-use flashlight. One click on/off, quick mode switching, and nice mode spacing, although the difference between High and Turbo is barely noticeable.
Batteries & Charging
The TC15 V3 is an 18650 size light, and comes with Thrunite’s 3100 mAh button top IMR3100 18650 cell. It features a protection circuit and represents one of the better factory batteries out there, and it’s standard equipment with their high-performance 18650 lights (I suspect there’s a Samsung 30Q under that wrapper). It’s not proprietary, and at about 4 mm longer than a standard 18650, can be used in other lights. Plus, it can be charged in any li-ion charger. My button-top and solder blobbed cells fit, as did other manufacturer’s protected cells, but regular flat tops, although they worked, were too loosey-goosey in the tube to the point I quit using them.
Keeping with the times is important, and love it or leave it, onboard charging is here to stay on consumer lights. The TC15 originally had a micro USB charging interface, but the newer V2 and V3 feature the type C interface. This is a far superior connector in that it’s non-directional, sturdier, and allows for a more secure connection (and PD). The charge current isn’t specified, but either my wall charger ate its Wheaties this evening or the charge current is pretty high. On a 2.1 amp charger, I saw a max of 1.99 to 2 amps, which is a bit high for a 3100 mAh cell. In fact, the light got pretty warm during charging, but not alarmingly so. I’m not complaining since this is good for charging the battery quickly, and it should be charged in about 2.5 hours. The switch LED lights up red during charging, and turns blue when finished. If there’s a fault, it turns purple. The light can be powered over USB with or without the battery, but only Firefly mode is available.
Lumens were measured using my home made 30 cm integrating sphere that’s been calibrated with several lights of known output including a Makkua-calibrated Convoy S2+. I use a Digi-Sense 20250-00 datalogging luxmeter. I used the included fully charged battery for the test. I usually measure amps using my Radio Shack T-RMS multimeter with 16 gauge wires inserted in the meter for currents under 8 amps, and my clamp meter with the loop of 12 gauge wire for over 8 amps. I used the included battery for the tests.
|Amps at start
|@ 10 min
|N/A too low
The current figures are the input current to the battery and not the current to the LED since this is a boost driver. The battery is definitely up for the bit amp draw though. Obviously my numbers are down from Thrunites. I ran the Turbo test 3 times and this was the best of 3 runs. Believe it or not the factory Turbo spec for the V3 is actually lower than the V2 (2531 vs 2403). This is the first case of a manufacturer reducing the output in a new version of a light, but the difference between them is not discernable with your eyes, so unless you split hairs over specs, it’s a moot point.
- 2.1 µA
I couldn’t measure the working current due to the switch refusing to switch modes consistently!
I tested the light in my 30 cm integrating sphere calibrated using several lights including a Makkua S2+ with the Digi-Sense 20250-00 datalogging luxmeter with the included 3100 mAh battery. I tested Medium, High and (a sort-of-working) Turbo mode.
The output started at 1817 Lumens, and despite very little heat sinking or mass, the output was pretty stable, staying above 1600 Lumens for a full minute before dropping the output to under 800 Lumens over the next 2 minutes 30 seconds. The output stabilized and held over 700 Lumens for over an hour, and better than 600 Lumens for another 18 minutes before a steep drop to under 300 Lumens as LVP kicked in. The output was 200+Lumens until the 1 hour 39 minute mark when the light shut off abruptly. You’d think it got blazing hot with an 80 C thermal limit, but nope. Highest I saw was 61.7 C measured at 30 minutes, and it heated quick: from 23 C ambient to 36.1 by 10 seconds, 43.6 C by 20 seconds, and 50.2 C by 60 seconds, so although it’s sustaining decent output, it’s too hot to hold by about the 120 second mark. Thrunite specs 108.3 minutes for the total time, so 1 hour 48 minutes.
High was a facsimile of Turbo with lower output and after the initial step downs, track each other pretty closely. Starting over 1100 Lumens, the sustained output was very impressive for a small tube light, holding over 1000 Lumens for 4 minutes. 35 seconds later, it’s all even-steven with the Turbo mode, holding about 770-750 Lumens for 11 minutes, then gradual decreases over the next hour until 1 hour 23 minutes and a deep drop to a hair over 200 Lumens until an abrupt cut off at 1 hour 42 minutes. Thrunite says this mode should go for 1 hour 49 minutes, so I’m pretty close here also. It did heat up quickly, but not nearly as fast as Turbo. From 20.3 C ambient to 39.2 C in 60 seconds, and eclipsing 50 C by 5 minutes in. .
High was a facsimile of Turbo with lower output and after the initial step downs, track each other pretty closely. Starting over 1100 Lumens, the sustained output was very impressive for a small tube light, holding over 1000 Lumens for 4 minutes. 35 seconds later, it’s all even-steven with the Turbo mode, holding about 770-750 Lumens for 11 minutes, then gradual decreases over the next hour until 1 hour 23 minutes and a deep drop to a hair over 200 Lumens until an abrupt cut off at 1 hour 42 minutes. Thrunite says this mode should go for 1 hour 49 minutes, so I’m pretty close here also. It did heat up quickly, but not nearly as fast as Turbo. From 20.3 C ambient to 39.2 C in 60 seconds, and eclipsing 50 C by 5 minutes in.
Medium was pretty boring, like most fully regulated flashlight modes behind a high capacity battery. The test started at 332 Lumens and held about 320 Lumens for the next 3 hours 47 minutes. The brightness adjustments were not noticeable unless I sat and stared at the luxmeter display. The light shut off abruptly at the 4 hour 18 minute mark with no warning other than a blinking switch LED. Thrunite’s spec is 4.6 hours, or for folks like me who are bad at math, 4 hours and 36 minutes total. Again, pretty close.
Regulated output is highly desired in consumer flashlights since you get consistent brightness over the battery’s usable capacity. Although they can’t match the raw output of an FET driver, if you’re a regular Joe (or Jane), you’d probably prefer this over a light that blinds you for 60 seconds, burns your hand off, and then manages 300 Lumens for the next hour or two. For the TC15 V3, the boost regulator maintains a constant current and voltage to the LED until the input voltage drops too low and the driver falls out of regulation, usually followed by LVP shut down. The XHP35.2, although having a forward voltage 4 times higher than a SST40, is capable of very high output at relatively low drive current. An SST40 at 2000 Lumens needs about 8 amps, whereas the XHP35. needs about 2.2. I’m pretty impressed with the TC15 V3’s performance here, even though my turn-on figure for Turbo is down quite a bit due to the issue I had. Good sustainability, high output, and no drama whatsoever with up and down thermal regulation. I almost forgot this is a sub-5 ounce light. The battery was discharged to 2.98 volts and unfortunately the light was inoperable after the test, not surprising though given the battery has a protection circuit.
I measured the throw with the Uni-T UT383S luxmeter indoors at 5 meters. I used the fully charged included battery.
|N/A too low
Firefly was too low to measure at 5 meters. Thrunite only lists a maximum candela figure (probably Turbo), and my figures are a bit higher. Surprisingly, the TC15 V3 throws pretty good for a small light, up there with similar-sized lights with the XP-L HI emitter (and much brighter).
I compared the Thrunite TC15 V3 with some lights of similar output. Olight Odin WML (2100 Lumens), Fenix PD35 V3 (Luminus SFT40, 1750 Lumens), Klarus K11GT Pro V2 (SST70 3300 Lumens), Sofirn SC31T (SST40, 2000 Lumens), Wuben C2 (SST40, 2000 Lumens), Fenix PD36 Tac (Luminus SST70, about 2900 Lumens), Fenix TK16 V2 (SST70 about 3000 Lumens). I also threw in a modified C8 with a 5000K SST40 behind a FET driver (about 1900 Lumens).
Outdoor pictures: The fence is about 40 meters away.
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.
- Solid build quality
- Great value
- Compact and lightweight
- Well-regulated boost driver
- Quick charging
- Includes battery and all accessories
- Intermittent issue with Turbo functionality
- Lanyard hole too small
- Abrupt shut down after LVP
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: ★★★⋆
Thrunite is definitely a brand I trust. Before the TC15 V3 showed up, I had reviewed 3 other Thrunite lights and they were all brilliant. Great build quality, fit, finish, and excellent performance with fully regulated drivers and very effective UIs. They’re pretty affordable for what you get as well. There are tons of great semi-tactical and general-use lights out there, so a prospective buyer has a lot of choices and the TC15 V3 has a lot going for it. The first copy Thrunite sent for review had issues with the Turbo setting and intermittent failures to power off (hang in the on-position), and random mode switching issues. Thrunite was quick to respond and send another light, and while this one addressed most of the prior light’s issues, I still had some difficulty with switching into Turbo. It took some finesse to get the setting to work reliably, and I was able to get all the tests done on this go-around. That aside, what do I like? Well there’s a lot here, starting with the small size, it’s also lightweight, easy to handle, and comes with all the accessories needed to get going. I liked the quick charging and the UI is simple, but effective. The overall performance is very respectable with decent sustainability and nicely regulated output from the boost driver. Even though my figures were down from spec, getting similar performance would require stepping up to an SST40 with an FET driver, or switch to an SST70, which requires a larger reflector with an overall size increase.
Although this light didn’t have the major functionality issues the first sample had, it wasn’t totally fixed, and the issues with getting Turbo to work persisted somewhat. I did a lot of ‘thumb time’ with this light, so I don’t think it’s a technique or user-error situation, either. I didn’t care for the too-small lanyard hole and the abrupt LVP cutoff. Some might abhor the beam quality from the 2nd gen XHP35 HD, but I don’t mind it for this application. A pristine, high CRI beam has its place in the flashlight nexus, but for everyday consumers, the tint and beam are just fine. 3.5 stars for the TC15 V3 (5 stars for Thrunite’s customer service).