Preface Official Specs Versions Price Short Review Long Review What's Included Manual and Packaging Build Quality and Durability Size Retention Power User Interface and Operation Modes LED and beam Tint vs... Beamshots, Runtime, etc table. Comparisons Conclusion What I like What I don't like Up Next Notes
After my recent Thrunite review of the TC20, Thrunite asked if I’d be interested in reviewing the Wowtac BSS v3. Here’s that review! This light is a collaboration with Black Scout Survival, and is the third iteration of the light.
Of the v3 BSS, there are two versions: A NW and a CW. As this is the third iteration of the light, there are two older versions as well. This seems to be the most refined, and the first with two switches on the tailcap.
MSRP is $49.95 at the moment, on amazon.com.
This seems like a lot of what a user would want in a tactical light. Good output, starts on high, mechanical switch, and dual springs.
- Wowtac BSS v3 flashlight
- Wowtac 3400mAh 18650
- Pocket clip
- Charge cable
- Red filter for bezel
- Spare o-rings (2)
Package and Manual
The package is much like Thrunite’s package – as the package states “Technically Supported by Thrunite.” It’s a corrugated box, with minimal printing. The side of the box does indicate if the light is the CW or NW version. Inside, the light and goodies are held in place with open-cell foam.
The manual is likewise minimal. It’s a good enough, but not long on verbiage.
Of course I have no problem with minimal things – in fact I like them. As long as the needed info is there in the manual, minimal is great.
Build Quality and Disassembly
The build of this Wowtac is sturdy. There’s not a lot more general comments to say, really. It’s just a sturdy light.
Specifically the build is good for a tactical light. You’d expect dual springs, and the light has them. You’d expect those to be stiff, and they are. The tailcap does not unscrew (without more effort than I used). The threads are anodized and very thick square cut – nice threads. Contact between the head and body is solid, and banging the light around didn’t make the light flicker.
The bezel which is installed from the factory, is a very aggressive stainless steel strike bezel. It’s possible to unscrew this bezel, and replace it with an included red filter. There is no option of a clear bezel without the strike.
There’s a Black Scout Survival logo printed on the head of the light.
Officially 139mm*25.4mm*24mm; weight: 86g (excluding battery).
That’s a typical diameter for a 18650 tube light, but it’s quite long, even with the non-strike (red filter) bezel attached.
Included with the Wowtac BSS v3 is a pocket clip. There’s no pouch or any other option. The pocket clip can connect only on the tail end of the light, for bezel down carry. The clip is a very simple friction fit clip.
A single 18650 powers the BSS v3. Wowtac includes a 3400mAh 18650. This cell has built-in charging. The light itself doesn’t have on-board charging, but as a package, there’s built-in charging because of the cell. Wowtac includes a charge cable, too.
The manual states a working voltage range up to 4.2V, so we can say definitively that two-up cells of any rechargeable variety shouldn’t be used.
A runtime with the included cell can be seen below. The highest mode is labeled “High” and so the runtime is on the highest mode. I reset the light to High twice in the runtime, and output does go backup, but never to ‘fresh cell’ levels. The stepdown seems to be timed, but output gradually decreases on high anyway. I’d like to see more stable output, particularly after the light steps down. Since this is a tactical light, I didn’t really expect low voltage protection, but the light does switch to flashing when the cell voltage gets low. So this is a “low voltage warning” light.
I performed a charge test of the included 18650. It’s nothing spectacular – charging at around 0.7A, and seems to have a fairly normal CC/CV program. However, and this is a huge consideration: the cell terminal voltage was 4.25V. This is much too high for charging these Li-Ion cells.
The cell is also a little long, as seen below.
A traditional 18650 will work in the light – in fact any of the usual types of 18650 will work.
User Interface and Operation
This light has two switches. There’s a very traditional mechanical tail switch. This is a forward clicky. And a very unusual side switch on the tailcap. I think this could be great for tactical uses, but if I’m completely honest it took me forever to get used to looking on the tailcap for the side switch. It’s a silicone boot e-switch.
Here’s a UI table!
|Off||Click Tail Switch (TS)||On – High|
|Off||Soft press TS||Momentary High|
|On||Click Side Switch (SS)||Mode advance (HML)|
|On||Double click SS||No special action (ie mode advance twice)|
|Off||Click or Hold SS||Strobe|
|Mode||Mode Claimed Output (lm)||Claimed Runtime||Mode Measured Lux||Tailcap Amps*|
* This was actually a huge pain in the butt to measure because of the way the current flows. I’d take this only as a fairly rough estimate, to be sure.
LED and Beam
The emitter of choice in this BSS v3 is the Cree XP-L HD. It’s a good choice for this light, and it’s nice that there’s a NW option.
The reflector is deep, and smooth. This makes a very tight beam – surprisingly tight in fact. The spill is greatly affected by the aggressive strike bezel, making a flower-like beam profile.
The red filter bezel fits over the glass lens. The output is red, but how cool is that first shot…. Looks like a flame.
Tint vs BLF-348
Beamshots, Runtime, and Lux Measurements
|Wowtac BSS V3|
|Emitter||Cree XP-L HD|
|Glamour Shots||Beamshots [0.3″, f/8, ISO 100, 5000k]|
|Claimed Lumens (lm)||1150|
|Lux (Measured)||567 lux @ 4.795 m|
|Candela (Calculated) in cd||13036.5|
|Throw (Calculated) (m)||228.4|
|Throw (Claimed) (m)||220|
I think if this is the light you want, then this is the light you’re going to buy no matter the competition. The field of 18650 tube lights with XP-L HD is quite large. The strike bezel and very unique side switch set this light apart, and the included red filter make this a compelling package, if those things suit your needs.
What I like
- Built quality is great
- Very complete package
- Unique tail / side switch combo
What I don’t like
- Output isn’t steady even after the stepdown
- No non-strike bezel included
- Included cell overcharges
I’ll have the Nitecore MH23 soon, but I’m not sure it’ll be this week. I have a bunch of other reviews planned for my blog, so stay tuned there!!
- This light was provided by Thrunite for review. I was not paid to write this review.
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