BTU Mini Flashlight Review

Preface

Here’s another 18650 light and my second BTU light. This is the BTU Mini,very similar to the DQG Mini, which is generally accepted as the smallest 18650 light available. Thanks to GearBest for sending this light for review at no cost to me.


Official Specs and Features

Versions

Just one version, and it’s a very cool 6500K.

MSRP

GearBest price is $34.39. You can get 12% off with the coupon GB17LED.


Short Review

This is a fancy looking light that works well and is quite simple. It has a few limitations, though at ~$30 it’s still a good value.

Long Review:

What’s Included

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  • BTU Mini 18650 Flashlight
  • Glow in the dark cone diffuser
  • Spare o-ring
  • Metal storage tin

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Pictures

Here is the picture album, some good ol’ beamshots, and a runtime (with an unprotected 3200 mAh NCR18650b).

Package and Manual

The package this light comes in is nice, being just a cardboard box.

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Inside the box is a metal tin,

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which honestly seems a bit superfluous…. I will never use this tin again, and the light isn’t going to be a shelf queen by any means. Regardless, the tin does a nice job of protecting the light for shipment. The tin itself has a bit of foam to keep the light in a specific spot.

The manual…. there is no manual. That’s too bad because I’m trained to want to know lots of specifics about a light, which aren’t provided here. However I believe that the BTU brand shares a maker: same as the DQG brand. And fortunately I have a manual for those lights, so I’ll make the assumption that specifics and UI are similar. We’ll see….

Build Quality and Disassembly

The build quality on this light is surprisingly good, especially if you’ve handled any DQG lights and know what to expect from those. This is probably a step up in quality from the DQG but more in the sense that the finish is entirely different. The unfinished nature (look!) of the Mini is certainly different and interesting. And anyone here knows I love a GITD item.

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This diffuser is very similar (exactly in fact) like the one that comes with the Lumintop Prince Mini. There’s even a GITD tape strip

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inside the bezel (just like on the DQG, and on the Oveready BOSS). It’s very glowy, and I love this feature.

On the other hand, the light came completely unlubed. So screwing the parts together proved to be more difficult than it should be but a little lube will touch that up nicely. The threads

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are nice and look to be ACME threads.

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TC4 is a titanium alloy. See here for further information. Based on that spec sheet, it seems that this light is 90% titanium by weight. Based on this knowledge, the value of this light just went up dramatically!

Over of these nice things about these BTU lights is that they are easy to disassemble, mostly just requiring unscrewing. Bezel, tail, head-all come right off. I will hasten to add, however, that the tailcap

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has no reeding and is only about 1mm “tall” …. there is very little grip surface. It’s also nearly perfectly sized

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to hold 18650s. But not protected 18650s. By that I mean there is no slop in the cell. Possibly 0.5mm “extra” room. I’m not even sure the tailcap is the intended threading to swap the cell. It may be intended to remove the head to swap the cells….. that’s how tiny the grip surface is. Either way this does mean that the cell tube is completely independent, and open on both ends,

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which I really like. I expect that, like on the DQG Mini, the mcpcb is actually “glued” down with thermal adhesive. That’s not hard to break, but it might be hard to clean and it replace. So an emitter swap is not out of the question, but might prove difficult. You can see that the driver access

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is not from this side, and the tailcap has no spring, or donut, or pad or anything at all for cell support.

Size

The BTU Mini has a fantastic small size. It’s not much bigger than the DQG Mini (approximately 6mm longer), the smallest of the 18650 lights.

Here are some size comparison shots.

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Maybe I should note on these money shots since it’s not always clear: The one edge of the light is always on one edge of the bill. Light height and lens optics may misportray that, but it is what it is.

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Retention

The Mini comes with a pocket clip installed

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but it’s easy to remove. The clip is of good quality and holds the light snugly on a pocket. It’s not directional – it can be placed in either orientation.

Also an option for carry is the tin, which might work great in a bag, but I wouldn’t carry this in my pocket. Having said that, it would actually fit….

There are no other options included for carrying the light.

Power

A single 18650 fits in the BTU Mini. The cell tube is very narrow – so narrow that my protected 18650s would not fit! So the runtime,

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and all of my use with this light, was with a ~3200mAh NCR18650b. I prefer to carry lights using protected cells (except a very few lights, including Zebralights). But I can say that this light has low voltage warning (LVW) – when the cell gets toward lower voltage, the light will begin to flash a low output. It’s not a hard stop, but the warning is noticeable. Also the stepdown matches the “High” output level. This is a solid offering, and as steady as the output is for the remainder of the runtime, having the High output is quite nice.

Here’s a list of some sizes and if they work, or don’t:
Unprotected NCRB worked (18.33mm).
Protected EVVA didn’t work (18.51mm).
Protected Thrunite didn’t work (18.50mm).

A lack of a manual precludes the opportunity to say if this light will work with multiple smaller cells (2×18350 for example), so I would not recommend that whatsoever.

User Interface and Operation

There’s a single small side switch. Unlike the DQG (4th edition) (but like the 3rd) this button is metal. Having disliked the silicone button of the DQG, I can say I’m pleased with the metal button on the BTU. It’s proud enough to be easy to find, but also somewhat difficult to accidentally activate (AA). I did have one single AA while carrying the light.

State Action Result
Off Click No action
Off Hold Low
Off Double Click No action
Any Long Hold Lockout On/Off
On Click Mode cycle (L>M>H)
On Double Click Turbo
Turbo Click Previous mode
On Hold Off

There are no strobes, no memory (except coming out of turbo, which is hardly classified as “memory” in the traditional sense). It’s nice to note that there’s a lockout feature (which is unmentioned in the non-manual).

LED and Beam

The emitter is a Cree XM-L2.

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The tint is also quite blue. I’m not strictly speaking a tint snob, but I didn’t care for the tint at all. I said the same thing about the USB Rechargeable I just reviewed and didn’t recommend, but this one is different: I’d recommend this light just because of the unique look of the body. If you’re capable to emitter swap, then the light could be great.

Beamshots, Runtime, and Lux Measurements

Brand BTU
Model Mini
Emitter Cree XM-L2
Emitter Notes V3 6500K
Runtime 18650
Beamshots [0.3″, f/8, ISO 100, 5000k] 18650
Claimed Lumens (lm) 850
Lux (Measured) 548
At (m) 3.276
Candela ([Calculated] in cd 5881.23
Throw ([Calculated] (m) 153.38
Throw (Claimed) (m)

Conclusion

What I like

  • Cause it’s so shiny
  • Build quality is great even though it needs some touches of lube
  • The output is reasonable enough if you’re ok with the gigantic stepdown (very very stable after that, though)
  • Looove me some optic lights.

What I don’t like

  • Needs lube right from the start
  • Tailcap is difficult to grip for unscrewing
  • No manual or even a good website for info

Coupon

While I don’t have a coupon specific to the BTU Mini, with the coupon GB17LED, you can get 12% off.

Up Next

My next flashlight review will be of the Thrunite T10. Stay tuned!!


Notes:

I was not paid to write this review.  I received this light at no cost from Gearbest. Thanks to GearBest for sending this light for review!

If you’d like to comment, please do!  You can see some discussion already happening here at reddit.

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