If you’ve read my earlier review about the Modlite PLHv2 18650 and 18350 Scout Lights, you’ll know that I’m very enthusiastic about the brand and what it brings to the tactical light market.
It’s the Modlite OKW 18650 FDE Scout Light Package I’m looking at in this review. Here, it is absolutely all about the candela – the incredible distance the OKW is able to throw light; the big reason a potential buyer would choose the OKW over the Modlite PLHv2 or the Surefire M600DF.
Read on to find out more.
2.0 OKW: Optimised for Range
The Surefire M600DF is acknowledged as the benchmark tactical light. It is truly excellent, but that doesn’t mean its optimum for all applications.
The Modlite OKW is optimised for range. Its beam is almost solely concentrated in its incredibly extensive throw, with a defined hotspot and very little spill outside it; so no real flood.
Surefire, on the other hand, is all about flood. So, there’s no real hot spot and light is spread pretty much equally throughout the entire beam radius of the M600DF. As a consequence, its reach is so weak compared to the Modlite OKW that it can hardly be said to throw at all.
This tells us that lumens aren’t everything, and that candela is king for distance.
In the pics above you can see the OKW’s tight, concentrated beam under very little ambient light. These aren’t incredibly long range pics, but they show aptly the OKW’s signature.
Not a high quality pic above, but I’m aiming the light some way away. Google Maps says this is approximately 100 metres. The detail is outstanding and it’s clear the light can reach further and still show solid detail – especially augmented by magnified optics.
Comparison Table: Output
|Model||Output Description||Lumens||Candela (Throw/Distance)|
The beam of the Modlite PLHv2, on the other hand, is somewhere in between the OKW and M600DF.
Like the M600DF it’ll wholly illuminate a large space, but it’ll do distance work too. For this reason it’s recommended for those who can’t choose between the OKW and PLHv2 – the latter representing a less specific, all round light (which, to be fair, I do prefer to the M600DF).
While many users will want to prioritise throw/distance (OKW and to a lesser extent PLHv2), others will prioritise flood (M600DF and to a lesser extent PLHv2) – not least because of the overwhelming photonic barrier leveraged by super-high lumen flood lights at close range.
2.1 OKW vs. PLHv2 vs. Ambient Light at 5m
In the pic below the foreground is dark, with a highly distinct photonic barrier. It shows how strong the PLHv2’s flood really is, at close range: it’s defeating relatively bright daylight LEDs behind frosted glass, in a structure that’s about 5m away.
Also note the searing hot spot which is so bright it ‘whites out’ the detail. It’s incredibly offensive.
The OKW also exhibits an incredibly offensive hot spot at 5m – albeit of slightly smaller radius and with a more limited corona.
However, its flood is much weaker than the PLHv2’s. This means its photonic barrier is negligible compared to the light from the structure. It’s still competing with the ambient light, but to a much lesser degree – as expected from a light that’s all about distance/throw and not flood.
3.0 Form Factor
Stylistically, I have to say I prefer Surefire lights to Modlite’s design. That also goes for the way the lights are finished (although both are hard anodised).
This is a moot point, because it’s supposed to be all about utility – but presentation does matter to those of us interested in product design.
To all intents and purposes, however, the Modlite form factor is the same as Surefire’s. In terms of materials it’s 6061 aluminium, which isn’t even close to the pot metal end of the spectrum – it’s good quality stuff. You can’t anodise crappy aluminium.
Comparison Table: Form Factor
|Model||Length||Head Diameter||Weight w/Battery|
|Surefire M600DF||5.56 in||1.125 in||5.15 oz|
|Modlite PLHv2 18650||5.375 in||1.1875 in||5.4 oz|
|Modlite PLHv2 18350 (Mini)||4.125 in||1.1875 in||4.27 oz|
|Modlite OKW 18650||5.375 in||1.1875 in||5.4 oz|
|Modlite OKW 18350 (Mini)||4.125 in||1.1875 in||4.27 oz|
Standardisation on Surefire’s form factor is a clever move. The OKW accepts Surefire compatible tail caps (and thus remotes) and you can lock them out in the usual way – with a quarter turn, anti-clockwise – to prevent negligent discharge.
I actually prefer Surefire’s push button tail cap to Modlite’s own – Surefire’s feels more positive – but you can buy Modlites without tail caps to mix and match.
Nevertheless, check this out from Modlite’s FAQs:
All Modlite lights are rated IPX8 2m [the highest rated water resistance, at 2m depth] for up to 24 hours. We are confident the the light would remain airtight at up to 10m using the supplied [Modlite] tail cap but this has not been tested.
One exception would be the use of Surefire switches. Modlite cannot guarantee an IPX rating of a light if Surefire tail cap switches are used.Modlite
Modlite’s push button tail cap is very good (again following Surefire’s design) and has the same momentary and permanently on features as Surefire’s.
Breakdown is exactly the same as Surefire lights, with the battery inserted in the top of the body. Threads are sealed from ingress of moisture and crud by O-ring gaskets; with quite a lot of lubricant applied to my example.
Again, mount thread and spacing is to the Surefire standard, which means Modlite users have access to the huge range of Scout mounts on the market.
As the name suggests, Modlite is big on modularity. While I’m looking at the OKW here, heads, bodies, tail caps and batteries can all be purchased separately and mix and matched.
So I could buy one head and one tail cap, but both battery/body sizes (18650 and 18350 – the latter is the mini); meaning that I’d have access to both long and short setups with a bare minimum of components. Equally I could buy one full OKW package and the alternate PLHv2 head, giving me access both beam options.
You get the idea.
It should also be noted that the Modlite’s modularity is supported by third parties. Reptilia, for example, does some very nice M-LOK mount bodies.
5.0 Run Time and Power Supply
Something really interesting is that an 18350 mini Modlite has the same beam as the standard 18650 size reviewed here – the head, and battery drain rate, are common to both. The smaller battery just means a shorter run time (35 mins versus 75 mins).
Comparison Table: Run Time
|Surefire M600DF||90 mins / 75 mins*||SF18650B / two CR123 lithium|
|Modlite PLHv2 18650||75 mins||KeepPower 18650|
|Modlite PLHv2 18350 (Mini)||35 mins||KeepPower 18350|
|Modlite OKW 18650||75 mins||KeepPower 18650|
|Modlite OKW 18350 (Mini)||35 mins||KeepPower 18350|
Notwithstanding, using the recommended batteries, the Surefire M600DF has a clear advantage in terms of run time.
The M600DF’s other advantage is that, as its name suggests, it’s Dual Fuel – meaning that not only will it work with the Surefire rechargeable battery included, but with easily sourced CR123 lithium batteries; albeit with a loss in lumens, candela and run time.
Modlite does now offer a dual fuel OKW head, however.
These are protected cells, which are safer, but it should be noted that equivalent unprotected cells are usually capable of providing more current. Personally I’d stick with the protected batteries bundled with Modlite packages, but it’s worth knowing.
The Modlite KeepPower 18650 battery bundled with the OKW package comes complete with an XTAR MC2 charger. It’s easy to operate, adapts to both battery sizes, and the power lead supplied is USB – which cuts down on bulk.
6.0 Potted Electronics
In the OKW head, the electronics are ‘potted’. This evidently is a way of hardening the electronics against anything thrown at them – be that aggressive handling, shocks, or moisture. The company says the light is tested to withstand select fire SCAR Mk17 recoil.
The potted technique places the electronics assembly in a pot (mould). An insulating resin is introduced, which then hardens – permanently protecting the electronics within.
7.0 Sacrificial Lens
Modlite lenses can be replaced. Modlite sells spare lenses and the tool required to change them. The tool is splined, indexing with the lens lock ring.
Candela is cool. The OKW’s additional reach is as useful as it is impressive – capturing distant details that would otherwise be obscured, while also dazzling opponents at range if that’s your thing.
I can 100% see why Modlite has been so disruptive in the weapon light marketplace – catering for a large, important niche that previously went unsatiated. It’s a different niche to Surefire’s (although obviously there’s overlap) and the user does need to know a little about the OKW’s capabilities in order to choose between it and the M600DF (or the PLHv2 for that matter).
For me its Modlite all the way – I’m converted.
One word of caution however: the OKW is not a general purpose light.
In that sense, I think TREX ARMS sums up best:
Tight beam at long distance, minimal flood. Excellent for an extreme hotspot on targets up to 100 yards (further distances are possible).TREX ARMS
8.0 Further Notes
In my research I found the following two videos from Sage Dynamics really helpful to confirm my thinking: