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
Everyone probably knows by now I enjoy brass lights. All kinds, all sizes…. I recently acquired the Maratac PCL in Brass. I don’t like these as keychain lights, but they’re fun lights to keep around. They call it the Personal Carry Light, and here are my thoughts!
There are three versions of the PCL: Brass (seen here, of course), Stainless Steel, and Copper.
Prices range from $46.50 for Brass, $39.50 for Stainless, and miraculously the least expensive version is Copper, at $35.95. It should be noted that these are all sale prices and at regular prices they’re in the order you’d expect (Copper>Brass>Stainless).
Based on the above price discussion, skip the rest of the review and go buy the copper while it’s still on sale.
- Maratac PCL keychain flashlight
- Micro-USB charge cap
- Spare o-rings (5)
- Charge cable
Package and Manual
The package is a very unusual slip fit package. I got mine used so I’m not really sure how the light is packaged normally, but with a little bit of packaging (like a tissue or something) the parts stay steady nicely.
The manual is a single small sheet of glossy paper, with very minimal instructions. Could it be wordier? Better even? Yes, it could. But it gets the job done.
Build Quality and Disassembly
It’s often hard to evaluate small lights like this. This one definitely has some things I like. The knurling is diamond pattern but fairly flat (my favorite). This allows easy twisting of this [small] twisty light. Also there’s a split ring, but it has a specific home, so the light will tailstand without interference from the split ring.
The light has a nice balance to it, and overall a great weight. All of the PCL lights should have this same nice weight. The PCL also has a nice symmetry (ie the four photos below look the same, but it’s just all four ‘sides’ of the light). The material is C360 Free Machining Brass, which means nothing to me. But the information’s out there.
The threads are triangle threads. The cell tube is just solid metal – no springs or anything (more on that later). The head has a tiny button which the positive terminal of the cell presses against, causing the mode changes.
The charging head has a completely different look, but the same nice build quality.
The pill is an interesting little pill. It’s also made of brass, and there’s just one mcpcb. I don’t know enough about drivers to know, but it seems like a pretty clever design.
I think it’d require some hot tweezers to do a good job of an emitter swap. I’m not entirely sure how the board is in the pill, but possibly just press fit in. The little nipple on the contact side is a kind of a button – almost a spring, but not quite. I presume the level of pressed-in-ness of this nipple allows the mode change.
Officially (and imperially) the PCL is 1.6″ long, and 0.74″ wide. Maratac understandably uses freedom units, as an American company promoting their relationship with the Government.
It’s a small light. It’s around the size of an 18350 cell (which practically gives you the metric dimensions).
A split ring is provided (and in my case, installed). It’s fairly large, and easy enough to attach to whatever you’d need to attach it to.
That’s all. There’s no other attachment for carrying the light. I carry it deep in my pocket without any issue.
Also note that in the cutout area where the split ring rests, is a serial number for the light. The info page says
Limited Production Of 888 Lights
(Year / Number in the series up to 888)
And my number is 17955. Presumably that’s from 2017, and a production number of 955. Maybe it’s 888/year and they start at 100 or something? I don’t know – and I wouldn’t buy this light because it’s limited. I’d buy it because it’s neat.
The unusual cell required to run the PCL is a 14250 Li-ion cell. The light ships with one of these cells, and Maratac sells them, too.
As I said above, the body of the light doesn’t have a spring or anything but bare metal. This means the cell needs to be a certain length, or it won’t make good contact. Of course Maratac recommends the cells they sell.
Output on high is unregulated, and the temp never really gets more than warm. I stopped the runtime when the light was still outputting light, but at a very low level.
This light doesn’t have “on-board” charging, but let’s call it that just for the sake of ease. Really it’s just an included charger. The head must be replaced with this charging apparatus seen below.
There are two emitters inside the charging head. When charging, red is displayed. When charging is complete, green is displayed. The included cell is 280mAh, and the chargetime bears that out. The charge rate is around 0.11A, and charging is a very nice looking CC/CV curve.
User Interface and Operation
This is a two stage twisty. There’s no button, just twisty. Twist for on, twist more for more on. It’s pretty simple.
If you’re clever about it, you can ride the edge of “on” just enough to have a momentary low.
Here’s a UI table!
|Off||Tighten a little||Low|
|Low||Tighten a little more||High|
|High||Loosen a little||Low|
|Low||Loosen a little||Off|
|Mode||Mode Claimed Output (lm)||Claimed Runtime||Mode Measured Lux||Tailcap Amps|
LED and Beam
The emitter of choice in this brass light is a Cree XP-G2 S4. The reflector is smooth and shallow. The beam is a surprising spot, but with a useful amount of spill as well.
Something about me just wants warm emitters in brass lights. To be honest I prefer Nichia emitters in brass lights. This is not bad though, and the beam shape is quite nice.
Tint vs BLF-348
That’s my first color-corrected tint comparison. The card in the middle is a gray card, which should help with accurate color rendering for this comparison. I can’t honestly tell if it’s better or worse. The BLF-348 looks more accurate, anyway.
Beamshots, Runtime, and Lux Measurements
|Maratac PCL Brass|
|Emitter||Cree XP-G2 S4|
|Glamour Shots||Beamshots [0.3″, f/8, ISO 100, 5000k]|
|LVP?||Switch to Low|
|Claimed Lumens (lm)||305|
|Lux (Measured)||79 lux @ 4.044 m|
|Candela (Calculated) in cd||1292.0|
|Throw (Calculated) (m)||71.9|
|Throw (Claimed) (m)||–|
Random Comparisons and Competitive Options….
I can’t turn up all that many 14250 flashlights, and if this is one you’re even marginally interested in, it’s certainly built well enough to justify the price.
What I like
- Build quality is great
- Available in brass, copper, and stainless – nice choices
- Two-stage twisty has a nice range for modes (ie plenty of twist during Low, toward High)
What I don’t like
- Doesn’t have Nichia
I have a couple of lights by Utorch, and probably a Nitecore upcoming. I also still have a bunch of chargers, and some completely random stuff to review. Another 3d printer!
- This light was provided by ME for review. I was not paid to write this review.
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- Whether or not I have a coupon for this light, I do have a bunch of coupons!! Have a look at my spreadsheet for those coupons. It’s possible to subscribe and get notifications when the sheet is edited!!