Mag Instrument

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Mini Maglites (2xAA and 2xAAA) with pewter finish
Mag Instrument, Inc., is the manufacturer of the legendary Maglite flashlight. The company was incorporated by Anthony Maglica in 1974 and began producing the first Maglites in 1979. The company is based in Ontario, California. website

The Maglite (also spelled Mag-Lite) was introduced in 1979. It is constructed principally of anodized 6061 aluminum, sometimes referred to as aircraft aluminum. Maglites are known for their variable-focus beam, water resistant pushbutton switch and durability. They are available in a wide variety of colors and are a favorite of collectors.

Lights

C and D Maglite

Newer Cree XP-E on left with Luxeon Rebel LED on right
Incandescent bulbs are manufactured for different numbers of batteries, for example a 3-cell light will blow out a bulb made for 2 cells. Maglites are available with 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 D-size cells and 2, 3, or 4 C-size cells. A 7D light as well as 5C, 6C, and 7C lights were produced but are no longer made. The stock incandescent bulb is krypton, but xenon replacements are available. Maglite uses ANSI/NEMA FL-1 ratings for output, so all lumens here are ANSI lumens.
  • 1979: C and D cell battery models are put on the market; targeted to the public safety and industrial sectors
  • May 2006: 2D and 3D Maglite LEDs introduced using Luxeon III LED with a bonus krypton bulb in the tail cap.
  • January 2009: 2D Maglites now feature Luxeon Rebel 090 LED. LED is not replaceable. Max output is 114 lumens.
  • April 2009: 3D LED Maglites now have Rebel 091 LED and are brighter than 2D. Output is 104 lumens.
  • November 2010: 3D LED Maglites begin to appear with Cree XP-E LEDs, labeled "Brighter LED" and now show 131 lumens.[1][2]
  • January 2011: 2D LED Maglites begin to appear with Cree XP-E LEDs.
  • July 2012: 2D Maglite Pro uses Cree XP-G LED for 274 lumens output and 366m throw.

AA Mini Maglite

  • 1984: First Mini Maglite introduced with 2xAA batteries, side switch replaced by twisting head (loosen for on), including variable focus, extra bulb in tail cap, and candle mode ability. The incandescent MiniMag has output of 14 lumens.
  • August 2006: 2xAA and 3xAA Maglite LEDs introduced, lacking lanyard attachment on tail
  • January 2009: 2xAA Multimode Mini Maglite LED (High, Low, Slow Flash, SOS), using Luxeon Rebel 090
  • November 2009: 2xAA Multimode Mini Maglite LED now has lanyard attachment similar to incandescent version.
  • September 2011: 2xAA Mini Maglite LED now has Cree XP-E LED. Packaging initially said 63 lumens (lower than 69 lumens for the Rebel version), later revised to 77 lumens with a Cree XP-C LED[3]
  • February 2012: 2xAA Mini Maglite Pro with much brighter Cree XP-G LED. Mini Maglite Pro+ includes Low mode of 25% selected by turning light on while pointing straight down.

AAA Mini Maglites

  • 1987: First 2xAAA Mini Maglite introduced, just like 2xAA Mini Maglite, but smaller.
  • August 2012: 2xAAA LED version introduced[4]

Maglite Solitaire

  • 1988: First 1xAAA Maglite Solitaire introduced. Maximum output is 2 lumens.
  • October 2012: Maglite Solitaire LED uses Luxeon C LED for output of 37 lumens (55m throw).

MagCharger

  • 1982: MagCharger: a larger more expensive model popular with public safety and emergency-services personnel. This light is much brighter than typical Maglites, and uses a rechargeable NiCad battery pack.
  • 2008: MagCharger battery upgraded to NiMH battery

Mag-Tac

  • October 2012: 2xCR123A tail clicky light with Cree XP-G. Meant for law enforcement and military use. Comes in two versions. Flat bezel version is 310 lumens (182m throw) with High and Low. Creulated bezel version is 320 lumens (193m throw) has High and Strobe. Both use an electronic switch that can be used for momentary On and to access and lock modes with button push sequences.

ML100

  • September 2011: a 2xC or 3xC Cree XP-E LED light with an electronic side clicky and different modes available with maximum output of 137 lumens (307m throw; the extra battery just gives longer runtime). 3 modes are available with a single click, double click, or triple click. 4 different mode groups are available. Available modes are 100%, 25%, SOS, strobe, and momentary on.

ML125

  • September 2011: a 3xC or NiMH battery pack Cree XP-G LED light with an electronic side clicky and different modes available with maximum output of 193 lumens on alkalines (273m throw; NiMH pack gives 186 lumens and 258m throw). Comes with a 1-piece NiMH battery pack and charger. 3 modes are available with a single click, double click, or triple click. 4 different mode groups are available. Available modes are 100%, 25%, SOS, strobe, and momentary on.

XL100

  • February 2010: 3xAAA XL100 introduced with Rebel 091 LED and variable brightness and motion-activated mode switching. Maximum output is 83 lumens. CPF Review web page

XL50

  • November 2010: 3xAAA XL50 is 3 modes with 104 lumens. Simpler interface than the XL100. Review: CPF web page

XL200

  • June 2011: 3xAAA XL200 is 5 modes with 172 lumens (138m throw) and a Cree XP-G LED (Mag's first XP-G light). Modes accessible through a clicky switch. Available in black, blue, gray, and red.

Summary Table

ANSI Ratings for Maglites
Light Batteries Lamp Max Output
(lumens)
Throw (m)
Solitaire 1xAAA Incan 2 20
Solitaire 1xAAA Luxeon C 37 55
MiniMaglite 2xAAA Incan 9 31
MiniMaglite 2xAAA Luxeon C 84 116
MiniMaglite 2xAA Xenon 14 96
MiniMaglite 2xAA Rebel 69 101
MiniMaglite 2xAA XP-E 63 163
MiniMaglite 2xAA XP-C 77 141
MiniMaglite Pro 2xAA XP-G 226 140
MiniMaglite Pro+ 2xAA XP-G 245 150
Maglite 2xD Krypton 19 229
Maglite 2xD Rebel 114 298
Maglite 2xD XP-E 134 388
Maglite Pro 2xD XP-G 274 366
Maglite 3xD Krypton 14 96
Maglite 3xD Rebel 104 289
Maglite 3xD XP-E 131 364
Maglite 4xD Krypton 72 265
Maglite 6xD Krypton 136 295
Mag-Tac 2xCR123A XP-G 310 182
ML 100 2xC XP-E 137 307
ML 125 3xC XP-G 193 273
XL50 3xAAA Rebel 104 145
XL100 3xAAA Rebel 83 134
XL200 3xAAA XP-G 172 138

Variants

Clones

Due to the popularity of the Maglite, many companies copied the design. However, Mag Instrument was successful in protecting its design and won settlements from Brinkmann, Streamlight, and others.

The 2xAA Mini Maglite in four variations

Maglites are often available in colors such as black, silver, blue, and red. They have also been available in a very large number of other colors, textures, and formats, including:

  • Pink 2xAA Mini Maglite
  • No- knurl Pink 2xAA Mini Maglite
  • No-knurl Pewter 2xAA Mini Maglite
  • NASCAR 2xAA Mini Maglite
  • Patriotic 2xAA Mini Maglite (FlagLite)
  • 2xAAA Mini Maglite for Military and Law Enforcement
  • Jade Colored D-cell models
  • Camouflage (2 AA and 3D Sizes)

For a longer list, see this CPF post

Accessories

Accessories manufactured by Mag Instrument Co. for the Maglite include belt holsters, light clamps, anti-roll collars, colored and glass lenses, attachable fiber optics extensions, higher-powered incandescent bulbs, and LED conversion modules.

Non-LED Maglites are equipped with a spare light bulb encased in the tailcap. LED bulbs have a significantly longer lifetime, and thus generally do not need to be replaced. LED Maglites do not include a spare LED, but some include a spare conventional bulb.

Rechargeable batteries

According to Mag Instrument, it is safe to use rechargeable batteries, such as nickel–metal hydride (NiMH) batteries, in any Maglite flashlight.[5]

Step-down regulation

Certain Mag Instrument LED flashlights, including the 2xAA Mini Maglite Pro and Pro+ models, [6] provide step-down regulation. This is probably what Mag Instrument is referring to by the term [7] "Intelligent Energy Source Management". During use, the flashlights dim slowly and gradually. This feature (which is enabled whether or not your batteries are disposable) prevents the flashlights from using up disposable batteries so quickly.[8]

Among those Mag Instrument flashlights with step-down regulation, the regulation works differently on some than on others. Take, for example, the regulation on the 2xAA Mini Maglite Pro and Pro+ models. After a few hours of operation, these flashlights fall to about 10% of full brightness; they do not return to full brightness unless the power is cycled.[6] This regulation was designed to try to prolong the life of alkaline batteries. (Some say it was also designed to boost ANSI/NEMA FL-1 runtime ratings, which measure the time the flashlight runs before falling to 10% brightness.) [9] If you're using lithium primaries, the regulation steps down earlier than is necessary. When the flashlights reach 10% brightness, the batteries might still be more than half full.

For many customers, Mag flashlights with step-down regulation are fine choices. EDC forums user "watchcollector1968" writes, "If you are outside in the dark walking or working and have the light on chances of your eyes even detecting the drop over an hour or so is pretty slim. If for whatever reason you think you need full power again, simply turn it off and back on and the cycle starts over again." [10]

But aggressive step-down regulation can be bad if you need to be seen: for example, if you are using your flashlight as a bike headlamp.

When used with NiMH batteries, the 2xAA Mini Maglite LED remains at 70% of full brightness for hours. [11] But it is dimmer than some of Mag Instrument's other LED flashlights.

Thermal management

Like other lighting technologies, LED lighting does not produce only light, but also heat. LED technology today is such that only about 30% of the energy going into an average LED is turned into light. The rest is turned into heat.

The 2xAA Mini Maglite LED, [12] and some other Maglite LED flashlights, used two techniques to avoid overheating:

  • To cool off the LED, each of these flashlights included imperfect heat-dissipation technology:[13] a poorly-designed heat sink,[14] made of thin stamped metal. [15]
  • Also, as each flashlight's LED heated up, the flashlight provided less power to the LED, which caused it to dim and to produce less heat. If the flashlight was moved into a cooler environment, it instantly brightened again.[16]

Some criticized these flashlights for dimming so much so much due to the poor heat sink. [14][17] There existed costlier flashlights with better thermal management.

In 2009, Mag Instrument modified the 2xAA Mini Maglite LED and 3D Maglite LED to each include a better heat sink. Even during extended use, those flashlights now stay at a reasonable temperature without dimming themselves. [12][18]

Mods

Maglites are one of the most widely used hosts for modifications. A summary of available mods is available in a cpf thread, and drop-in manufacturers include:

  • Malkoff Devices
  • 3D Direct Drive SSC P7 Mod Lots of pictures,step-by-step
  • 2D ROP Mod Has links to parts needed to convert a 2D Mag to a super bright li-ion powered ROP light. If you live outside the USA, the bulbs will be hard to find, or extremely expensive to buy.
  • Mini Mag drop-in by BLF user Match. Lets you drop in the brass pill of a P60 giving you a lot of choices on LED and battery configurations. Involves boring out the head of the MiniMag a couple of millimeters using a 25/32 drill bit (3/4" plus some, that's a big bit). Not reversible, but a fairly quick mod if you have the drill bit and a drill press. He guesses 150 lumens from 2 AA batteries using a XP-G R5 LED and low-voltage driver.
  • 3 XP-G Mini Mag Another mod by Match. 600 lumens from a MiniMag. Involves some serious machinery to mill a copper pill plus a special 3 LED star and a driver that can handle a lot of current. Runs on 2 14500 li-ion batteries.

Xenon upgrades

Brighter light than stock bulb.

Led upgrades

Sold by Maglite, and also by third parties (Terralux, Nite Ize). Easy to drop in a new LED (and maybe a new reflector). The reliability of third part kits varies. The 3 Watt LEDs produce significant increases in light over stock bulks, but less than the latest LED Mags. 3 cell maglites work best with LED sources, because the voltage (3*1.2v=3.6v) does not need altering with circuitry.

A very good general purpose drop-in replacement for the incandescent bulb is the 36 LED dropin tested here. http://budgetlightforum.cz.cc/node/467 It is good for around 400 lumens on 6 cells, about 300 on two D cells. It will produce a lot of light for a very long time. It is best with more than three cells, but wants six for best output.

Upgrade combinations

A sensible combination for the 3 cell C/D range, is 8000/1000 MAh Ni-Mh batteries, and a 3 Watt LED, for long life, and high brightness. Given the high cost of the rechargeable maglite, these parts plus a quality universal charger, can be purchased for a similar price.

References

  1. CPF Thread with ANSI Output
  2. Initial CPF thread with pictures
  3. Old-Lumens (31 March 2013). "ALL GONE original Mini-Mag led modules that are free for the cost of shipping. USA Only". Budget Light Forum. Retrieved 01 April 2013. "I have 12 of these that are pulls from 2AA Mini-Mag mods"
  4. BLF Post
  5. Rodion (26 July 2008). "Maglite and NiMh battereis". Multitool.org flashlight forum. Reply #3. Retrieved 10 February 2013. Quoting: Don (26 July 2008). Email message to poster. Mag Instrument, Inc.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Wang, Robin (28 February 2012). "Mini Maglite Pro and Pro+ LED Flashlight Review". LED-Resource. Retrieved 27 January 2013. "As efficient as LEDs are, heat is still produced and has to be dissipated, so step-down regulation is used to prolong battery life and reduce heat."
  7. "MAG-LED® Technology". Mag Instrument, Inc. Retrieved 24 January 2013. "Intelligent Energy Source Management: The second-generation Mag® LED flashlight includes a sophisticated electronic LED module which continuously monitors the balance between high brightness and efficient power usage, allowing for prolonged battery life."
  8. Chicken Drumstick (27 August 2012). "Re: Review: Mini Maglite Pro+". BudgetLightForum LED flashlight forum. Retrieved 24 January 2013. "It’s regulated to offer the max performance and run time off of alkaline cells. The downside is you’ll see little improvement using lithium primaries or Eneloops. But this is all down to the target market and expected customers I guess."
  9. Brted (28 January 2013). "Talk:Mag Instrument". Flashlight Wiki. Retrieved 29 January 2013. "The effect of this would be to keep the light running cooler, but also to extend battery life (and some say to distort the FL-1 runtime rating which gives you credit down to 10% brightness)."
  10. watchcollector1968 (2 June 2012). "Maglite ML100 2C". EDC Forums flashlight forum. Retrieved 27 January 2013. "On high it will start at its full output for something like 12 or 13 minutes, then it begins to step down. Opinions seem to vary as to why, some think it is to prevent excessive heat buildup, others think it is to preserve battery life. Either way, if you are outside in the dark walking or working and have the light on chances of your eyes even detecting the drop over an hour or so is pretty slim. If for whatever reason you think you need full power again, simply turn it off and back on and the cycle starts over again."
  11. "Mini Maglite LED 2AA Review". Light-Reviews.com. 8 January 2009. Retrieved 27 January 2013.
  12. 12.0 12.1 NLee the Engineer (15 September 2010). "Contains outdated 1st-gen Maglite LED flashlights". Customer Reviews: Maglite 3D / 2AA LED Flashlight 2 Piece. Amazon.com, Inc. Retrieved 23 January 2013. "The 2nd-gen models solved the thermal problem. Previous models over-heat easily, and their light dim down after just a few minute of operation."
  13. Wang, Robin (20 January 2012). "Maglite ML100 LED Flashlight Review". LED-Resource. Retrieved 24 January 2013. "Previous generations of Maglite’s MAG-LED technology, including the original LED drop-in replacements and even the current LED D-cell lights, had problems with heat dissipation and irregular beam patterns because they were originally designed for incandescent bulbs."
  14. 14.0 14.1 "NewBie" (16 July 2006). "MagLite 2C LED drop-in Technical Review". CandlePowerForums LED flashlight forum. Post 1. Retrieved 23 January 2013. "We are looking at nearly a 60% drop in output, due to the LED getting hot, from a severe lack of good heatsinking".
  15. "NewBie" (16 July 2006). "MagLite 2C LED drop-in Technical Review". CandlePowerForums LED flashlight forum. Post 1. Retrieved 23 January 2013. "Here we go, one of those for your eyes only, which reveals the secrets and the shortcomings, and explains a great many things [...]".
  16. "NewBie" (16 July 2006). "MagLite 2C LED drop-in Technical Review". CandlePowerForums LED flashlight forum. Post 1. Retrieved 23 January 2013. "When the module is hot, soaking them with a lot of cold spray causes the light output to jump back to when you first turned it on, and the current goes right back up at the same time."
  17. "Maglite Mag-LED: 2, 3, and 4 cell modules". FlashlightReviews Archive. Retrieved 23 January 2013. "Some very knowledgeable folks [...] discovered poor heatsinking for the LED, which the circuitry then has to compensate for by quickly lowering output as the module heats up. [...] What I didn't like: Module heats up quickly and output drops quickly."
  18. NLee the Engineer (11 September 2010). "Maglite second-gen LED flashlight deserves a second chance". Customer Reviews: Maglite SD3D016 3-D Cell LED Flashlight. Amazon.com, Inc. Retrieved 23 January 2013. "Improved Heat Sink: The overheating problem found in 1st-gen LED modules has been solved. That is, the light no longer dims down after just a few minutes of operation. [...] Better Power Management: The new Maglite maintains constant power consumption of 2W as long as battery voltage is above 3.5V."