MTE M3-2I CREE MC-E 6-Mode 740-Lumens Tactical LED Flashlight Long-Term Review @ ModSynergy.com
The flashlight is without a doubt one of the most invaluable tools ever invented in history. This hand-held battery powered light source comes in various shapes, sizes and configuration providing important lighting in emergency situations such as search and rescue, home power outages, in repair situations, in leisure settings such as camping, hunting and more.
LED or 'Light-emitting diodes' has just about every benefit over incandescent lighting technology possible. Whereas incandescent light bulbs generate lots of heat and soak up lots of energy resulting in less than stellar run times, LED's are the opposite. I remember having one of those large incandescent lights with a sealed lead acid battery, and the run times were horrible. The incandescent just ate away at the battery and in a few minutes the flashlight was useless.
LED's do not have this problem as bad, so run times are always significantly longer. Also, old incandescent light bulbs have a much lower lifespan than their LED counterparts and sometimes would die. That is why you would have to replace the bulb, sometimes prematurely than you expected. On an LED flashlight, you'll likely never have to replace the LED, because they are either soldered on the board, or they have a much higher life time expectancy that allows them to last a very long time (anywhere from 25,000 to 50,000+ hours).
You probably still have old electronic devices (1970-1980's) that use LED's and they are still working today (I have quite a few). The best part of an LED flashlight is the possibilities of utilizing many different types of batteries depending on the light. Some LED flashlights use anything from those trusty AA, AAA, C, D alkaline batteries, to lithium ion batteries that offer the power to energize high power LEDs at higher voltage and give longer run times.
Not every flashlight are made the same, and the components such as the LED, reflector, and optics are just some of the things that matter when looking into a flashlight.
So far I have reviewed LED flashlights from the manufactures Dorcy, JETBeam, and Nitecore offering a variation of a CREE or generic high power LED. For the most part the impressions have left a positive impact, however, not all of them are recommended after real-world usage.
Today I will review a LED flashlight from another well known LED flashlight maker called MTE Co., Ltd. MTE regards themselves as a professional LED flashlight maker operating from Shenzhen, China. Today marks my first review of an MTE flashlight and will give you an idea of the products they offer and what they represent. MTE was adamant that I review one of their higher end models at the time called the M3-2I Tactical. This flashlight offers a high power CREE MC-E LED (4-chip) that is theoretically capable of providing up to 740 of eye-blinding lumens.
Another feature on the MTE M3-2I include a unique polycarbonate high-efficiency optical lens design made by the Finnish, allowing it to be super strong, and aiding in how the hotspot and light are projected. It's rated to have a focused beam that is capable of reaching a 3-mile radius. A sharp tactical lotus-shaped head design finishes off the look of the MTE M3-2I flashlight being functional in self-defense and emergency scenarios.
I will put it through real-world usage and see if the MTE M3-2I Tactical LED flashlight is worth its price of admission.
About MTE Co., LTD
MTE is a company specializing in the innovation and manufacture of new LED torches and lighting products. Our factory is situated in Shenzhen, China, and is equipped with moulding, LED, silkscreen and electronic facilities.
We insist on providing our customers with high quality products and welcome custom orders for your specific needs, including ODM and OEM collaborations.
MTE M3-2I (MC-E) Product Overview
The MTE M3-2I is a tactical based LED flashlight that contains a 4-chip CREE MC-E LED that is rated at 740-lumens and offering more than 50,000 hours of life expectancy.
This 6-Mode LED flashlight offers flexibility for the user in the ability of cycling through modes for extending run times and emergency situations such as high mode of 740-lumens, medium mode of 300-lumens, low mode of 10-lumens, burst flash mode, slow flash mode and SOS mode.
The MTE M3-2I is powered either a single 18650 lithium-ion battery or two 3V CR123A lithium-ion primaries. The M3-2I offers a beam that is capable of extending 3-miles because of the polycarbonate high-efficiency Finnish optical lens, and offers a super strong aluminum alloy metal body that is also waterproof. Without the battery, the MTE M3-2I weighs only 200g and it contains a reverse-clicky mechanism.
MTE M3-2I (MC-E) Product Output & Runtimes
M3-2I (18650 Battery):
The MTE M3-2I (MC-E) that I am reviewing came directly from the MTE factory production line and as such, there is no retail packaging to be seen in this review. What you see here is no indication of the way the M3-2I may be presented in retail form. Therefore we cannot review the package and possible contents in retail form. We'll only look at the flashlight. The flashlight came in a plain white corrugated box with no accessories or manual. Another mystery box was sent and that will be covered at a later date.
The MTE M3-2I is a very beautiful looking flashlight in my eyes, I just love the way it looks. It comes in a smooth matte black colored finish that is easy to clean (no body textures) and gives off a nice shine.
The MTE M3-2I contains many different design elements that are for function more than form. The head contains a lotus-shaped design that gives it that beautiful look while the tactical end piece is usable for emergency and self-defense scenarios. The tactical head piece is sharp in parts and capable of inflicting damage or breaking lets say glass if you're trapped. Flowing down the head of the flashlight there lies two heat dissipating fins, the anti-roll ridges, the diamond knurling which is around the company logo, model number and CREE MC-E logos in the middle of the flashlight, while also acting as a form of grip when handling. Coming to the endcap we have another anti-roll ridges and the reverse clicky on the end.
While no accessories are given in this non-retail package, I love the fact that the MTE M3-2I has a wrist strap eyelet on the end cap as this really is an invaluable tool to have on a flashlight. It prevents any damages from any possible falls. Needless to say, I'm a big fan of wrist straps on flashlights and was delighted to find it supports one.
The MTE M3-2I measures roughly around 200g in weight without the battery, and dimensions are roughly around 6” in length and the battery pill barrel measures a little under 1” in width. The end cap piece measures an inch and a half if you include the anti-roll ridges that is implemented into the design. The head, or upper portion of the MTE M3-2I measures about 1.5” in width. The MTE M3-2I fits in the palm of your hand without issues, and will fit in many areas without incident.
The middle battery pill barrel as I was referring to earlier houses a single 18650 sized lithium-ion battery or two 3V CR123A lithiums (non-rechargeables). If you are not familiar with 18650 cells, they are commonly used in laptop battery packs, lithium-ion drills, and even in some electric vehicles. Give or take, the common 18650 cell measures 18.6mm in diameter and 65.4mm in height depending on if the cell has a protection circuit board or is unprotected. They are all around that size and smaller in height than two AA batteries. They run at a voltage of 3.7v (charge to 4.2v).
The MTE M3-2I is a CREE 4-chip MC-E LED variant which allows a theoretical maximum output of 740-lumens. Considering our last few LED flashlight reviews have been around 130-700-lumens, depending on the battery configuration used, the MTE M3-2I will be the highest rated LED flashlight we've reviewed so far to date, at least on paper. In any case, 740-lumens is well more than one will use frequently, unless you're a hunter or want to see something far away. Offering more maximum lumens compared to the 700-Lumens JETBeam M1X we looked at before, the MTE M3-2I looks considerably smaller, which is impressive. Though the JETBeam M1X and MTE M3-2I are considerably different in terms of size, battery configuration, reflector and lens, we'll nonetheless pit the two against each and make note of the differences between the two.
The MTE M3-2I is made from military grade aluminum alloy, meaning that its extremely strong being able to withstand more scenarios than most people will ever put their flashlights through. There's a video on YouTube demonstrating the strength by driving over the flashlight with his Land Rover SUV. I've been using the MTE M3-2I for well over a year now and it's proven to be as durable as they come. I've hit the flashlight against objects by accident and the surface remains in tact and no paint scuffs or deterioration from oily fingers has happened. The only thing that is a problem is that being a smooth surface, fingerprints and smudges are a bit of a pain.
The MTE M3-2I also contains thick rubber o-rings protecting the top and bottom portion of the flashlight, which means it can withstand rain and extreme temperatures. In fact MTE says that the flashlight is waterproof, but don't specify up to what degree. I've turned on the flashlight and submerged it into a full sink without issue, although I only tried a few minutes. Regardless, I am confident that the MTE M3-2I can be subjected to many conditions without troubles.
Once you've experienced such an aluminum constructed flashlight such as this one, you'll never want to go back to plastic. Not only will aluminum perform better on impact, it acts like a heatsink and will be better for heat distribution and dissipation, whereas plastic flashlights would trap heat in the flashlight, and is not as tough. Disadvantages would be under cold weather, the aluminum exterior gets very cold quickly.
On the body of the flashlight, MTE decides to apply diamond knurling (diamond cross pattern) in the middle of the battery pill covering the respective logos and model information. The flat thumb grip portions that you grab onto is where the three logos reside. This is a great idea as it has allowed the flashlight to provide better grip for the users. The diamond knurling on the MTE M3-2I LED flashlight isn't as aggressive as we had liked. It provides a grip but your fingers don't grip on to it as well as it could have if the knurling was more aggressive. The flat thumb grip portions that hold the logos is more effective as the grip on the flashlight.
One of the neat things about some flashlights is that they have ability to 'tailstand'. Tailstand meaning you can stand it up and have it illuminate the room you are currently in (or even downwards in a camping tent--using the wrist strap). Unfortunately the MTE M3-2I does not have this tailstand capability because of the reverse clicky that protrudes outwards from the flashlight. If they elected to use a forward clicky that protrudes within the flashlight, maybe the MTE M3-2I could have been able to tailstand. That is not the case and the MTE M3-2I cannot tailstand, which is sad to see. The only thing you could possibly do is use the wrist strap and allow it to look down in a camping tent.
The flashlight can be taken apart into 3-pieces; you have the lower portion that is basically the end cap that allows you access to the battery chamber and holds the reverse clicky tactical switch.
You have the top piece that houses the CREE MC-E LED and its emitter, this is built into the top of the battery pill. The top piece (the head of the flashlight) is also where the MTE M3-2I is different from many other flashlights on the market. Traditionally you would have a reflector piece (with or without orange peel) and glass/plastic lens sitting on top of the LED.
However, MTE decides to utilize a unique lens design making more efficient (their claim) and allowing it to control how the beam is projected in the way MTE wants. In this case, a polycarbonate high-efficiency optical lens design is used.
This Finland lens, and the polycarbonate properties allows it to be super strong, and the unique design helps aid in how the hotspot and light are projected. Polycarbonate if you don't know already is also used in safety eyewear. It has properties that make it very durable having high impact resistance (shatterproof), higher temperature range resistance, and its lightweight. This optical lens is one piece in design and has a conical shape to it with a small hole in the center of the lens that helps it project the light with more focus. This center hole is extended half way through the one piece design. It'll be interesting to see what kind of beam and light is possible with such a design. The whole piece also looks like it can be a diffuser.
The issue I had with this optical lens was that it was not sitting flush on the head of the flashlight. It had fitment issues, it was a tiny fraction smaller. Thus when the flashlight was shaken or moved around, the noise of a teacup moving on the plate is heard. The funny thing is that the polycarbonate lens has two notches on the top, but the flashlight head doesn't have those two notches so that the lens can sit snug onto. This is the reason why it was making noise and was loose. I had to use some clear tape to prevent it from moving around.
All of this makes the MTE M3-2I capable of having its focused beam reach a 3-mile radius. A sharp tactical lotus-shaped head design finishes off the look of the MTE M3-2I flashlight being functional in self-defense and emergency scenarios.
You do not have access to the emitter unless you want to pry it open. The flashlight comes generously pre-lubricated from the factory as evidenced from the photos. It still has grease till this day on the threads. Lubrication on the threads is important in such flashlights to provide a clean and easy fit, prevent metal on metal, and give good seal for the rubber gaskets.
There are 4 rubber gaskets on this flashlight and they are pretty thick ones to be honest. Having such gaskets on this flashlight means the MTE M3-2I is waterproof. 2 gaskets are on the top and 2 on the bottom of the battery pill protecting water from entering the battery chamber and LED components. Screwing on both top and bottom pieces is easy and does so quietly with no metal on metal action.
The MTE M3-2I contains a reverse clicky tactical switch that controls on/off function of the flashlight. The switch sticks out so no tailstand is capable. A solid push and travel is needed to perform an execution of command to turn the light on and off. Once on, you only need a half-press to cycle through the 6-modes. Modes include a high mode of 740-lumens, medium mode of 300-lumens, low mode of 10-lumens, burst flash mode, slow flash mode and SOS mode.
On my review unit of the MTE M3-2I, the flashlight produces a faint high pitched whine coming from the inductor oscillating in the circuit when brightness changes on medium mode, burst flash mode, and slow flash mode. This is normal and some flashlights control this better than others. This might be an annoyance to some.
Once you begin to own flashlights, you will love having different modes, other than ON/OFF because it allows you more flexibility and saves you battery life in the process.
Not only will I share with you in words my personal experience with the MTE M3-2I, I will seek to determine if the rated lumens is accurate by way of a digital LUX meter. Tests are completed with a fully charged battery in place.
Results - How does it shine?
Lumens Rating Results - Take as a guideline, not definitive
Compared to the 700-lumen rated JETBeam M1X MC-E LED flashlight that achieved an experienced lumen rating of 1618? LUX on 2x18650 , the MTE M3-2I gets only 765 on 1x18650 configuration, however, numbers don't always show the whole story. The MTE M3-2I doesn't use a traditional reflector and lens system like the JETBeam did, so they have vastly different styles in projecting their beams.
Just based on head size alone as seen in the gallery, the JETBeam M1X is a monster beside the MTE M3-2I. This is not a fair contest. More over the configuration the JETBeam M1X has is an unfair advantage. The JETBeam with its large orange peel reflector gave a mixture of throw and flood/spill light, it had incredible power.
The MTE on the other hand with its one piece polycarbonate optical lens has an intense hotspot and center focused beam because of the center hole extending through the conical lens, but it gives good spill as well, though not on the same level as the M1X. The beam on the MTE though is one of the smoothest I've seen. I think this is due to the diffuser looking properties I thought it the lens had.
If the MTE M3-2I was using the same configuration as the JETBeam M1X, meaning 2x18650 configuration, I would envision it would also produce the same numbers as the JETBeam, but that can never be answered. Regardless, the MTE M3-2I produces fantastic numbers for a single 18650 cell battery CREE MC-E LED flashlight. The comparison to the JETBeam was just food for thought. It's like comparing a Bugatti to a Ferrari. Both are fantastic, but one is on another level.
I've used this flashlight daily for more than a year now and the exterior hasn't really broken down so its shown great durability. The paint quality has held up astoundingly well given how hard I used this light. Even the lettering remains intact despite oily fingers.
The specifications don't say but during my testing of the MTE M3-2I, using an unprotected 18650 cell is possible with the flashlight, however, depending on the height of the cell being used, there is a problem. The movement of the flashlight with an unprotected 18650 cell will make the flashlight automatically cycle through the 6-modes. This is because the battery doesn't fully make perfect contact within the battery chamber. The use of a protected cell (the PCB making the cell a little taller) does not have this issue. If you're using an unprotected cell, the solution is to place one or two small rare earth magnets at the bottom of the cell so it can touch the brass pin on the bottom of the end cap. This fixes this problem, however, make sure the magnet doesn't touch the battery pill, that could cause a short circuit.
About the only negatives I've already covered with the lens fitment issue, not being able to tailstand, and the issue of random cycling of modes using a unprotected 18650 cell, and faint high pitched whine has left me with not awarding this light our Editors Choice Award rating.
The decision was very close though because performance is excellent for a single 18650 LED flashlight. So it just missed on our highest rating, but it earns our recommendation. I like the MTE M3-2I and you should consider it on your top-list of consideration.