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TN12 2014: EDC at heart, tactical in a pinch, always awesome!

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  • TN12 2014: EDC at heart, tactical in a pinch, always awesome!

    Hi there, everybody, thanks for tuning in! Welcome to another exciting edition of Trick or Treat! Here you either answer the ques-

    Wait a second... you're not holding a steel pipe, standing in an otherworldly elevator beside the idealized version of your wife! Oh, sorry, wrong universe.

    Ahem. Let's try this again...

    Welcome, everybody, to another episode of Editor Beetle's Thrunite Reviews! On this third episode, I have a special treat for you: a review of the TN12 2014, my very first flashlight from Thrunite!

    One more, this is purely a text review. You guys should know what a TN12 looks like by now, right? And also, not a single thing will be held back in this review, so be prepared.

    Strap up, kids, this is gonna get even wordier than usual!


    As I said, the TN12 was the very first flashlight I ever bought from Thrunite. Before it, all I had as my primary torch was a Fenix E11, and even without knowing a third as much as I know about flashlights today, I knew that tiny light was lacking for what I had in mind. Sure, it's lightweight, hecka hard, can withstand a nasty beating, and the build, rubber tail switch included, has quality painted all over it, but none of that accounts for the facts that low mode is too bright, high mode is too dim, it has no spill whatsoever because of the optics it uses, and it disappears inside my fist in a way that makes the switch at best awkward to access if I don't want my hand to cover the beam. Plus the switch, despite looking good and having a very nice rubber boot, is stiff as a board and has a long travel time, not to mention that it's totally exposed so tailstanding is a no-no even when it's propped against something. People out there may love this one, but it's just not the light for me.

    So one day, I tuned to PREPAREDMIND101 and saw Chris Tanner making a good, detailed review of the TN12. It wasn't just the specs and his favorable views on it that got me interested, Thrunite's "no middleman" policy weighed heavily on the hook. It was the cheapest "big EDC" flashlight I could buy, and also the most attractive, so I decided to give it a chance. It arrived one day before my winter vacation of 2014 ended, so I could almost immediately put it to good use. Well, kind of - I was young and gullible and didn't want to spend much on batteries, so I ended up some "Ultrafire" ones in the national internet market. End result? A flashlight that felt great but didn't go any brighter than medium. It was only after I wisened up, with help of a few forum posts elsewhere warning us suckers about how these minimum-cost batteries are semi-dead pieces of crap pulled from laptop packs and rebranded with RIDICULOUS capacity statements, that I girded my loins, took a deep breath, and committed to Thrunite's bundle of two 3400 18650's plus the MCC-2 universal charger (which I did a review on, available here) that I saw what this bruiser is capable of. As a full-time worker and nocturnal student that doesn't leave the university campus – which has a... dodgy power grid – until well after the sun has set even in Daylight Savings Time, this was all I could hope for, both in the regular "light my way" capacity and in the "tactical eyeball-buster" one. I felt safe at night with mine at hand.

    Here's what I like in it:

    • The light's anatomy. It feels nice (maybe a bit too gentle with the knurling: it's good enough to grip it with, but it doesn't feel as secure as, for example [size difference aside] a Ti3, one that has a generous knurling that I learned to love) and fits my hand well, at just the right width for a firm grasp where I'm not squishing the meats of my palm against each other and with the length to protrude both at the bezel for an unobstructed beam and at the tail for a comfortable sit of the thumb at the tailcap, ready for a super-fast momentary activation or a full click; all of it comes with the added benefit of the side switch ending up right underneath my pinky finger, so I can one-hand the torch particularly easily, changing modes with a quick squeeze or accessing strobe by doing the unassuming gesture or gripping the TN12 a bit more tightly. Weight is enough to tell me I'm holding on to something hefty, but far from heavy enough to be a burden, be it on my hand my belt holster or on a pocket - Cheezee Pooz, I can hang this one on the collar of my T-shirt if I have nowhere else practical to hang it on to, and it won't be a bother (besides looking goofy, that is) even after a good few hours.
    --Although there's one point I don't like that I'll detail under the POSSIBLE CONCERNS section.

    • The mode spacing, for the most part - check POSSIBLE CONCERNS for more on that. From Firefly to Turbo, there's one mode for literally every single EDC situation no matter where you are, even more than the Ti3. Just like I did with the Ti3's review, I'll elaborate under the MODES section.

    • The beam profile was what I hoped for to go along with the modes. The TN12 has a nice floody spillbeam that gets everything within its cone of light illuminated, but at the same time, thanks for the smooth reflector, it has a considerable throw for its form factor. Sure, it doesn't beat a torch that has the head (and consequently the reflector) wider than the body, but I've so far seen no one that would need such athletic throwers for everyday carry. The beam is very smooth and evenly rounded, with a grand total of zero artifacts, even if my emitter was off-center by about a millimeter (since that affected nothing and the brand's getting better and better about these small defects as I've experienced it first-hand with two Ti3's and two Archers 2A, I don't consider it one of the possible concerns).

    • Runtimes. More specifically, how darn efficient this flashlight is. I know I'm toting extra-hi-cap 3400mAh batteries on it, and I'm not in a position of having to use the fast-drain high modes for any extended period of time, but wow, the time I stayed the longest without topping my batteries was a full 31-day month, and the one I was using was still at 3,9 volts. It's like the engineers went over to TV Tropes and stole the concept of Infinite Flashlight for themselves!

    • The price point. Simply put, to get a similar model of comparable quality from the competition, you pay a good bit more than fifty dollars. The bundles it comes in are killer deals, too, be them the "TN12+U1 charger+one 3400 18650" or the "TN12+ two 3400 18650's+MCC-2 charger", the two that a regular EDC user would have good use for. No opinion on the "TN12+two 3400 18650's+MCC-4 charger", as I have no conceivable use for a 4-bay charger and therefore no precedent to judge prices with.

    • The tint. Whatever wizardry it was that Thrunite and Cree put together, it made the TN12 in Neutral White (my pick on purchase) an incredible parallel to an incandescent light. And it just so happens that I'm a retro-maniac when it comes to flashlights, and very nostalgic of the ol' fiery tint of filament bulbs. You cannot possibly imagine how giddy I felt when I first cycled through the first three modes back when it arrived, guys, you seriously can't. And while it does look the reddish-yellow part of an incan, you folks that aren't interested in that will be glad to know that the color rendering of it, despite this coloring, is dang near perfect. At turbo mode, you really feel like you're carrying bottled sunlight.
    --Cool White, for what little I've seen of it, also has a beautiful tint. Perfect hospital-bleached white, no violet or green shifts.

    • The sheer durability. You may have noticed that I've talked about my TN12 a few times in the past when referring to my particular sample, and that's because I had to send it back to Thrunite because something in the head broke on a drop and the only mode that would light up was Firefly. BUT!, that was after a FULL YEAR of HARD use. Day in, day out, my TN12 got whipped and battered long, hard and often, surviving dips, dunks, splashes and drops on all kinds of stone floors (including ceramic and solid concrete - ouch), and that it held for so long is a testament to its toughness. Frankly, I'm still downright amazed that it tanked my assaults for so long! And I'm not just talking about the internal components either - all the drops resulted in were a thin ring of scraped anodizing on the bezel (even then only on the outer salience), and none of the drops, no matter how severe, ever deformed the aluminium body even a single milimeter, not even when it landed on the tailcap flaps once. Whatever you guys are doing with these flashlight shells, Thrunite, keep doing it because it's good.

    • It takes flat-top batteries. 'nuff said.

    All of this was stuff I gushed about to my uncle, who's a retired policeman and highway cyclist. It was so much that he wanted one just like mine, and so he ended up with the TN12 in cool white plus two 3400's and an MCC-2 charger of his very own. His had its anniversary on the 6th of this month, and whenever I ask him about it, he says it's going strong with zero fuss. According to his own experiences, the beam profile reaches FAR into a farm's crop field while at the same time lighting up the road he's walking on, and the LEO folks he knows are drooling over his light. And that's considering that this is an EDC-minded model that's at best considered semi-tactical, mind you.

    More to come in part 2...
    Last edited by Editor Beetle; 09-27-2015, 05:00 PM.

  • #2
    Here we go, part 2! I had to split it up because of the character limit. Sorry about that.


    Alright, so now's for the meat of the light, and that is what it does in the dark.

    FIREFLY: Whoever's read the Ti3's review knows that I'm a BIG fan of Firefly mode on flashlights. Well, this was the one that popped my figurative cherry, so it's no surprise that it's my favorite! The TN12 can whisper 0,3 lumens, a level of light that, when combined with the beam profile, means two things:
    ---- You can perform small tasks such as reading whole book pages without having to move the beam as long as the bezel's near your head, use the bathroom without it being turned your way, fix up a cold meal in the kitchen and so on. Just don't use it inside a car, it's strong enough to create glare on a reflective surface and distract the driver.
    ---- Due to the surprising reach (ranked 6m or so on the good ol' Eye-O-Meter), it's actually a super neat navigation light. Even if you're in strange surroundings, you'll still be able to comfortably navigate in not-so-close quarters. If you get trapped in a cave or abandoned building, this guarantees that you'll have good vision no matter the time of day.

    LOW: Just like the Ti3, not too much to say about this one. It's a general purpose mode, good for lighting up dark nooks in otherwise well-lit areas, light up things indoors, and ceiling bounce for basic tasks. The only real thing I have to note is that on my old sample, this mode (stated to be 20 lumens) was nowhere near the alleged 15lm mode of my Archer 2A v2. In fact, it was more similar of the 12lm of my Ti3's Low. Not really a complaint, just an observation, even because unless I'm derping badly with the analogy, a dimmer light means longer runtime. You never know when you may need more than 74 hours on a situation where Firefly doesn't cut it. Stranger things have happened.

    MEDIUM: This one's my bread-and-butter for walking the streets at night. It has good reach to it and enough power to effectively blind a perp, all that without causing enough glare to dazzle your own sight on an accidental close-range reflection. The runtime guarantees you can keep this on for a good while, and even use it for room-wide ceiling bounce, like I did once when we had an outage during class and I propped it up as a lamp. Even taking long notes was effortless with the light it provided.

    HIGH: Don't like it. It's too close to Turbo for me to have a use for it.

    TURBO: The alleged high selling point for this flashlight, and I gotta say it's quite the addition to the mode roster! Throw is fantastic for the form factor without sacrificing spill in the slightest, perfect for spotting things at a great distance or keeping it ready on your hand when you're driving at night to destroy the retinas of any son of a bitch that tries to rob you, even during daytime. Just be careful with it so you don't end up blinking away stars and the ghostly afterimage of the reflector and LED firmly engraved into your retina...

    STROBE: I dig that this light has it, since like I said, this can be tactical in a pinch. It'll turn even aggressive dogs away, by my experience! Sadly there's no way for it to be instant access like it's in the v2 of the T30S and TN11S, but that might be asking too much for an EDC flashlight.


    But alas, while the TN12 is an excellent light in general and a steal for the price... it's not perfect. I got my fair share of gripes about it. A few of them are because I got one from an early batch (purchased late May), but I'm still gonna talk about my experiences alone. It's only fair.

    ◘ The pocket clip blows chunks. I'm gonna be brutally honest and direct about it, it blows chunks. Not because of the common (and dumb, if you ask me) complaint that it's not all-black. No, that has to do with its shape. And considering how the TN12 2016 appears to have the very same clip, I feel this deserves special attention:
    ---- For one, when you're not used to the light, it'll dig into your palm, painfully so. The tips of the circumference that hugs the torch's body are a bit too pronounced, and the lip of the clip itself aren't as round as they could have been; in fact, they're surprisingly sharp.
    ---- Two, the lip is set right where the body of the light widens. The end result is that there's VERY little wiggle room to push fabric through it - thin materials like a shirt's chest pocket have to be stretched so they don't bunch up while being forced through, and you have to pull away at the clip to shove thick ones, like the double-layered denim of the edge seam on jean pants' pockets, through. Normally this wouldn't be anything worth any salt about, except...
    ---- Three, the pocket clip is INCREDIBLY stiff. To pull the lip, you need a tool of some kind or you'll end up with very sore fingers.
    ---- Overall, I have the feeling that this clip needs a redesign. Just take a look at the cip of the Archer line: sure, it's very resistant and secure, but it also has a raised lip for good wiggle room, and it's made thick instead of stiff for the resistance. The end result is that while it's not going to give way to an unintentional dislodgement, you can easily pull the Archer out and shove it back into your pocket. The TN12 could use this, and I imagine making the clip half a centimeter longer so it protrudes from the light's width like the Archer's does would do just the trick.

    ◘ High mode is redundant with Turbo. There's just no reason to use the former when you have the extra spill and slightly throwier hotspot of the latter. Thankfully Thrunite's taken this point to heart, and the High mode of the TN12 2016 is more spaced out from Turbo so they don't overlap. Thumbs up, folks!

    ◘ My sample didn't tailstand. Even when on, the rubber boot protruded a hair's width or so and didn't let the light stabilize on the flaps. Thankfully they still stopped the TN12 from rolling along a vertical surface when I propped it up against an object, unlike the E11 which had to be placed inside a glass or something so it wouldn't fall. Potential buyers who value their tailstand more than I did, be wary of that incase you buy a sample from an earlier batch.

    ◘ This one's more of a nitpick than a genuine complaint: the tailcap on my sample, when I had it, had an odd delay where it took 0,2/0,3 second between it hitting the activation threshold and the torch lighting up. It was never a functional issue, though that makes me suspect the circuitry a bit.

    ◘ Finally, a general warning: as Thrunite themselves say, DO NOT LEAVE THIS TORCH ON IN HIGH OR TURBO FOR MORE THAN 10 MINUTES. The heat it generates can quickly become painful, and it'll compromise the XM-L2's longevity and total output. You don't want a dimmer light and lightly roasted finger skin, do you?


    The TN12 2014 was my very first 1x18650 flashlight, and also the first I was truly comfortable with. I don't believe I could have chosen any better. It served me very well for the full year it soldiered on before it fell to what is a common failure, according to the selfbuilt's review thread of the model. I can hardly think of anyone that wouldn't have this as their very best EDC light source, despite the flaws I highlighted. I highly, HIGHLY recommend this flashlight for anyone and everyone.

    Sadly, it's not a gunlight if the failures I've heard of are any indication. This would be PERFECT on a home defense shotgun or semi-auto rifle...

    Well, that's it guys, end of the line, I said what I had to say. Opinions, thoughts, anything I missed, feel free to post them down below and I'll answer for sure.

    Tune in next time for the next issue of Editor Beetle's Thrunite Reviews, where we inspect and review and Archer 2A v2 NW! And if you like that model, it's in your best interest to tune in, because I got a lot to say about that one as well!
    Last edited by Editor Beetle; 09-11-2015, 06:45 AM.


    • #3
      NIce review man, it was a great reading material while I was on the road back to home fromthe holidays
      I can't wait to see how the new 2016 model of the TN12 turns out, hopefully I can order and review it once in the future! The new looks and the higher efficiency circuits sound very promising.

      About your concerns: do you think, that with the Nitecore MH series are out, Thrunite should improve the TN12 with USB charging features as well? It feels like that is the future of flashlight charging technology. I know that the TC10 is out, but the TN12 is much closer to an EDC flashlight in size, and design.


      • #4

        Thanks, man! And I'm stoked, too, the new TN12 and the TC10 are the most promising flashlights I've heard of this year! 2014 was the Archer v2's year, now this is gonna be that of these guys.

        As for the "improvement": I don't think so, not really. Remember that in-light USB chargers make the flashlight longer, oftentimes heavier, and as always, the more complicated something is, the easier it is for there to be problems. Not to mention the extra materials and work the charging port takes also increases the price.

        While USB rechargeable lights are becoming more prevalent, they're not on the edge of phasing out the standard kind at all. As you said, Nitecore launched the MH12, but they still offer the P12; in the same vein, Fenix launched the UC35 but they still keep the PD35 up for sale. Both kinds sell well.

        Plus, if you have an universal charger like the MCC-2, you don't have a big necessity for USB charging, as you can just plop the batteries on the charger bed (which means the light doesn't hog a single outlet and you can charge more than one if you have two single-battery torches) and also have the benefit of monitoring the voltage closely. That goes both for wall outlets and car lighters.

        I'm definitely not against Thrunite putting out a TC12, though!


        • #5
          That's exactly what I was thinking about: not necessarily to replace the TN12 line, but rather to extend with a well made flashlight variant, which offer a USB charger as a plus too (TC12). Can't wait to see how it turns out!


          • #6

            So now I have the replacement for the original, and this time I'm the proud owner of a TN12 2014 in Cool White. Here are a few things I noticed with this new sample:

            • The pocket clip on it is black, and I've decided that I like it better than the SS one. Not because of the color, but because the anodizing, which is present also in the inner circumference, grips the body of the torch much more firmly. The end result is that it doesn't move with a bump like the SS clip; it stays EXACTLY where you locked it in. In my case, it's always pointing towards the mode switch no matter what. If you're reading this, Thrunite, giving this texture treatment to your SS clips on all flashlights would be a HUGE boon in practicality to the brand's name.

            • On Neutral White samples, the point I made about the modes still stands, but on Cool White, we're dancing to a different tune. Turbo mode has a noticeable chromatic aberration in the beam, which makes it a slight bit more violet than High. If that irritates your eyes (in any sense of the word), that's something to take note about.

            That's it for now. Stay tuned on this and all other reviews for any points that may come up further along the road!
            Last edited by Editor Beetle; 09-21-2015, 12:57 AM.