ZeroAir Reviews: Skilhunt DS21 HI (18650, XPL-HI)

Preface

GearBest sent another flashlight similar to the M6 just reviewed: The Skilhunt DS21. Having just really liked the Skilhunt H03 I was very excited to get and test this one! Thanks to GearBest for sending it for review.

Coupon Code

GearBest provided me with a nice coupon for this Skilhunt DS21 Hi Cree XPL HI 800Lm. It’s just $30.59 with this coupon: DS21Hi. Here are some other Skilhunt flashlights you might be interested in, too.


Skilhunt DS21 XPL-HI Official Specs:

● Latest CREE XP-L HI LED, high performance and energy conservation
● Max 900Lm output, 4 modes: Turbo – high – mid – low, double click to enter strobe mode
● Integrated construction of high thermal conductivity
● Low-voltage warning, the light will flash when the battery is low
● Wide input range provides more choices of batteries: 1 x 18650 / 2 x CR123A / RCR123 (not included)
● Memory function direct access to last used mode
● Other features: Anti-scratched rugged aluminum body / aluminum vacuum plating reflector / toughened ultra-clear glass lens / engineered anti-slip knurling / magnetic tail cap / tail stand capacity / reserve polarity protection

Skilhunt DS21 Hi
Lamp Beads Cree XP-L HI
Lumens Range 500-1000 Lumens
Luminous Flux 800 LM
Luminous Intensity 12000cd
CCT 6000K
Switch Type Clicky
Switch Location Tail Cap
Feature Integrated Heat Dissipation Design,Lanyard,Lightweight,Pocket Clip,Power Indicator,Reverse Polarity Protection,Tail Stand
Function Camping,EDC,Hiking,Household Use,Night Riding,Walking
Battery Type 18650,CR123A,RCR123
Battery Quantity 1 x 18650 / 2 x CR123A / RCR123 battery (not included)
Mode 5(Turbo;Strobe;High;Mid;Low)
Mode Memory Yes
Waterproof Standard IPX-8 Standard Waterproof
Power Source Battery
Working Voltage 3-9V
Reflector Aluminum Smooth Reflector
Lens Toughened Ultra-clear Glass Lens with Anti-reflective Coating
Impact Resistance 1M
Beam Distance 200-300m
Flashlight Processing Technology Aerospace Grade Aluminum Body with Anti Scratching Type III Hard Anodization

The above section contains the manufacturer’s descriptions and claims, not my impressions or results.


Short Review:

Another Skilhunt that I really like! I love XPL-HI lights, and this one is no exception. An easily recommended purchase!

Long Review:

What’s Included

  • Skilhunt DS21 HI
  • Lanyard
  • Manual
  • Pocket clip
  • Two spare o-rings
  • Rubber ring to use in place of the magnet

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Pictures

Here are some pictures of the flashlight and it’s parts and package. And here are some beamshots.

Package and Manual

The package is just like the H03 was – cardboard with a window.

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Back of box has some warranty info, etc.

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The side has a QR code…. I don’t get much into clicking QR codes though…

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The manual has been fleshed out nicely and is useful and informative.

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Build Quality, Durability, and Disassembly

Much like the H03, the DS21 HI is very well built.

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The anodizing is nice and apparently thick – after carrying this light for weeks there’s been no sign of wear whatsoever.

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I like the knurling. It adds the right amount of grip without being too aggressive.

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There’s minimal possibility to disassemble the light. The head does have a retaining ring

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which can be unscrewed, but as this is a side switch light, you’ll need to remove the rubber boot

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in order to pull the electronics. If you do that, you get this,

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and you can slide the driver out this far.

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Note worthy from that picture too, is that the bezel is a screw-down type. So the emitter is accessible.

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One word of caution. Getting that rubber boot back into the switch is a nightmare. Probably the easiest way would be to just desolder the leads to the mcpcb but that’s also a nightmare. There’s a little plastic guide that resides between the switch and the boot. Getting that thing aligned and in the right spot…. wow. You can see just the top corner of it here

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by the white wire. Had I not still needed to get more pics for this review I might have just thrown the light against a wall instead of fix this. But I did finally get it righted. It took at least 1 hour. 😐

The threads are nicely square cut and lubed (?). I am not sure what the lube is or what happened to it but it appears to have degraded

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in my sample light. The threads were still sufficiently lubed even like this, though, so I didn’t worry with it.

Size

Length 110mm/4.33inch
Head diameter 24mm/0.94inch
Body diameter 22.5mm/0.89inch
Weight: 52g (without battery)

My measurements bear their claims out. I don’t have a list of every current light like this, like u/parametrek, but the size is right for this style light. Tail switch 18650 lights are longer and the OTR M6 a little shorter. Overall a great light for pocket carry.

Retention

The DS21 HI comes with a lanyard and a pocket clip. The lanyard attaches through this

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hole in the tailcap.

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There’s also a strong magnet

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in the tailcap, which is a feature I’ve come to love! In case you think the magnet is too strong to have around your credit cards (or other reasons? are you Magneto?), you can replace the easily magnet with this thick black o-ring.

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Power

A single 18650 (protected or unprotected) works in this light. The working voltage is only listed as “3-9V”, so two cr123a’s should work well in this light. The light does not have any recharge ports. In fact the GearBest listing does mention 2xCR123A but the runtime is similar (and of course drops off much faster). So there seems to be absolutely no benefit at all to running CR123A’s in this light.

User Interface and Operation

There’s a single switch on this light, and it’s a side switch. It’s very responsive and nicely grippy, and also translucent. There’s a red LED contained within, which provides low voltage warning.

Click to turn the light on. It’ll remember the last mode you used. Then click to cycle the modes, in the direction of L>M>H. I say “in the direction of” because if you’re on “M” for example, the next click gets you high (of course). (Just saying it specifically because I find Skilhunt’s graphic to lack specificity.

When the light is on, press and hold for low. It’s not very low, but it’s low.

From off, double click to get to Turbo.
From on, double click to Strobe. There’s just one strobe mode.

It’s a simple user interface with not a lot of extra business. I liked the H03 UI so much, I’d hoped this would be similar. But it isn’t – this is a much simpler UI. Works great, just simpler.

LED and Beam

The emitter is one of my favorites, the CREE XPL-HI.

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There’s a smooth but not very deep reflector. And the DS21 HI does what XPL-HI lights with SMO reflectors do: Throws rather well.

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Another view of the beam profile

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on a lower mode – there’s spill but mostly it’s throw.

Beamshots, Runtime, and Lux Measurements

I’m very sorry to say that my runtime machine is still down! 😦 So no runtime. Maybe in the future I’ll add that, but at the moment I am not sure when I’ll have the right equipment again.

Skilhunt claims output as follows:

Mode Lumens Duration
Mode 1 800 2.5h
Mode 2 300 5.5h
Mode 3 110 16h
Mode 4 7 120h

Random Comparisons and Competitive Options….

There are a gob of XPL-HI lights in this format, but I have absolutely ZERO of them! The Eagletac DX30LC2 for example, which is nearly three times the cost of this DS21 HI. Or the Fenix PD32 which is over twice the cost. No matter how you slice it, the coupon price of $31 for this light is a ridiculous value.

Conclusion

What I like

  • Quality
  • Indicating side switch
  • Love XPL-HI!
  • Throw is good, and tight
  • Tailcap magnet

What I don’t like

  • Underutilized indicating side switch
  • Wish it carried just a little deeper

Final Thoughts

At $31, it’s very hard to go wrong with this light. I wholeheartedly recommend it. I had some initial trepidations because of how awesome the Skilhunt H03 was but after using the DS21 HI, I really have come to love it. Particularly in comparison to the On The Road M6 I just reviewed – I’d recommend this DS21 HI any day over that one!


Parting Shot

Makes a nice match with one of my GWM-5610B-1!

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Sunset shot:

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Notes:

  • I was sent this light to review by GearBest.com at no cost.  I was not paid to write this review.
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