I purchased a Manker MC12 a result of researching the best pocket thrower flashlight. Mine was from Heinnie Haynes, which currently lists them at £37.95 but there may be discounts available. I posted a quick video preview of this light earlier.

Manker MC12

Overview

The Manker MC12 has a throwy beam. That means it’s more of a spotlight than a flood light. It comes with a 18650 cell and uses an Osram KW CSLNM1.TG LED.

Flashlights have to make a compromise between throwing a long way and being too big to easily carry. The Manker MC12 picks a good sweet spot and uses good components to make it one of the most throwy in its size class.

This is a great light if you want to light things up a long way away but also want something that’s not so heavy that it always gets left at home. The only thing I’m not so keen on is the switch UI (user interface). Read on for details.

Manker MC12 Specs

Manker lists the MC12 has the following:

Output670lm
Weight131g (with the included battery, which I measured at 45g)
Dimensions134mm length, 40mm head diameter. I measured the body diameter at 23.9mm
LEDOsram KW CSLNM1.TG for the white version.
Throw105625cd or 106kcd, which equates to 650m
Manker MC12 specs

The MC12 also comes in green and red LED versions. Green is brighter at 1000lm and throws further at 750m. You may be able to see more with it but you won’t be able to discern colours with it. The red LED version is only 250lm and throws 350m.

Manker list the driver as being constant current but I don’t have an oscilloscope to test. There’s certainly no discernible PWM and they wouldn’t have used a FET to drive a tiny CSLNM1.TG.

Manker give the following run times for the white LED version. I’ve added on throw numbers for the lower modes, based on a ratio of 158 cd/lm ratio.

ModeLumensRun timeThrow
Low1260 hours (2 and a half days)1.9 kcd, 87m
Medium1854.75 hours29 kcd, 341m
High3302.25 hours52 kcd, 456m
Turbo6703 minutes106 cd, 650m
Turbo, after step down4501.3 hours71 kcd, 533m
Official specs and interpolated throw

What’s in the box, manual, accessories

Manker provides the MC12 in a box. Nothing special here.

This is a cardboard box

In the box is a small manual, pocket clip, lanyard, micro USB cable, spare O-ring and the light itself. The USB cable is fairly short and flat, rather than round.

What’s in the box

Cell

The MC12 package comes with an 18650 cell to power it, which is nice. The light could be £3 or £4 cheaper if it didn’t come with a cell but I expect more people would want to buy a light that comes with one.

Removing the cover is highly recommended. The light is significantly less impressive if you don’t remove the plastic cover.

Not only does the MC12 come with a battery but it’s a micro USB rechargeable one. This makes the MC12 great if you don’t have a li-ion cell charger or if you’re travelling without one. Putting the charging circuit on the cell means the flashlight is more waterproof – IPX8 (2m submersible) in the MC12’s case.

The cell’s capacity is a moderate 2600mAh. Top end cells have up to 30% more capacity at 3400maAh.

Micro USB port on the cell

The charging circuit makes it long for a 18650, at 69.4mm. That means it might not fit in some chargers. It worked fine in a XTAR VC4 and you can always use the built in circuit to charge it.

The Manker MC12 just fits in a VC4 fine. Sony VTC5A for comparison.

The light takes other cells too but I noticed that I could change modes on the MC12 by shaking it when it was powered by a 65mm VTC5A flat top. This means the cell was losing contact with the sprints at one of the ends as it was too short. After adding one 2mm magnet to the flat top it still changed modes occasionally but a second magnet made it work fine. I wouldn’t recommend this, as the magnet could come loose and cause a short. It may not change modes under normal use with a different cell unless you’re using it when running or similar. Still, I would have like to see this work perfectly with any cell. If the included cell deteriorates then I may solder a spacer at the tail end.

Appearance and quality

The Manker MC12 is rated to IPX8, so it shouldn’t matter if you drop it in water. It’s not a diving light though, so avoid water where possible, especially salt water.

Physical design

The MC12 is tiny for a light that throws 650m.

The Manker’s 23.9mm body makes it fit in a trouser pocket as easily as any other 18650 light (the Emisar D4 has a is 24.9mm body). The 40mm head will stick out but as the head section is only about 30mm long that’s not a big problem.

MC12 in a pocket

86g (131g with a cell) means it’s only 60% of the weight of a Convoy C8.

Manker provide a lanyard and a pocket clip with the MC12. At first, it looks like the pocket clip only goes 1 way, meaning the light can only be carried head down. Whilst the clip isn’t reversible, the body tube it’s attached to it. I’ve switched mine round, so the light is carried with the body in a pocket.

Take it apart and the middle flips over so the clip points the other way

The MC12 can head stand but this isn’t very useful, obviously. It can’t tail stand due to the switches rubber boot protruding slightly. Manker have missed a trick here, as a 1 mm difference would have allowed tail standing.

It only balances this way up
You have to hold it if you want it to point up

Comparisons

The only other thrower I own in the MC12’s league is an Astrolux FT03. I have the XHP50.2 version, which is 4300lm and throws 735m. Being 6 times as bright but only having 13% more throw means the FT03 has a much wider beam than the MC12. This is due to the much larger LED size. The Manker is clearly smaller and weighs under a third of the Astrolux, so it’s impressive that it throws almost as far.

It’s next to the Nightwatch NSX3, as that’s similar in size to a more traditional C8 thrower. Taking a 21700 instead of 18650 cell, the Nightwatch has a wider body than a standard C8 and a slightly narrower head (41mm instead of 45mm). The Nightwatch is similar length and head size to the MC12 but is almost twice as heavy. Compared to a C8, the Manker is lighter and smaller in every dimension except length.

Big FT03, medium NSX3, small MC12
70mm, 41mm, 40mm

Here’s the MC12 next to an Emisar D4, which is a standard pocket-sized light. The MC12 body is slightly narrower but the head is obviously much bigger. The D4 is 70g, which isn’t much lighter than the MC12 at 86g.

Interface

  • Click on, click off
  • Click back on quickly to change modes: low/medium/high/turbo/strobe

The UI is my least favourite thing about the MC12. I’m spoiled by e-switches with firmware like Anduril and Narsil that let you go straight to the mode you want without having to advance through others.

The Manker uses a physical tail switch to interrupt power instead of an e-switch that sends its own signal to a microchip. That means any change of state has to be triggered by turning it off and back on. Manker make this slightly easier though, as the switch has a momentary mode that doesn’t latch. That means it can be half pressed multiple times to change modes, before pressing fully to keep it on.

The MC12’s UI cycles through all modes in a loop: low, medium, high, turbo, strobe. It has mode memory too, so if you leave it on high and want to get to low, you have to go through strobe. This is clunky compared to most quality flashlights these days. Even with physical switches, many other flashlight drivers hide the strobe mode behind something like a tripple click action.

I often turn the light on, not remembering which mode it’s in, so end up cycling round to low, then counting up to get the right mode.

I’m used to e-switches with mode memory (that still have shortcuts to low and turbo) and physical switches that don’t have mode memory. It’s subjective but for me Manker picked a poor UI here.

Light (modes, comparisons, beam, brightness)

The LED is listed as cold white. I can’t find any of mention of Kelvin or CRI in any specs for the MC12 or the KW CSLNM1.TG that it uses. Comparing it to some other lights by eye, I’d estimate this is 5500K to 6000K.

The 1mm square Osram KW CSLNM1.TG LED

The KW CSLNM1.TG is also known as the White Flat 1 or W1. It has a tiny 1mm^2 emitter and can only be driven up to about 5A, where it’ll put out about 900lm. Manker are getting 670lm from it though, so that means a safe 2.5A are going through the LED.

Even its big brother the KW CSLPM1.TG has a tiny 2mm^2 emitter. You can read more about these LEDs on BLF.

Low mode

The hotspot of the MC12 is very small. Here it is on the right, compared to the FT03 on the left.

FT03, MC12

Output, runtime, and efficiency

The MC12 isn’t nearly as bright a many other lights its size. Turbo is 670 lumens, stepping down to 450. If you want a bright light then pick something with multiple LEDs or with a single big LED like an XHP50.2 or XHP70.2 that puts out 3000 or more lumens on turbo.

The MC12 is designed for throw, not lumens though. With its constant current driver and low current W1 LED it’s quite efficient too. Not only does it throw a long way for its size, it does so for a long time.

A pocket rocket not designed for throw like an Emisar D4 can throw 280m. That’s on turbo though and it would step down to half that in a few minutes. At 670 lumens, the MC12 is no where near the 4300 lumens of the D4 on turbo. It can throw further – 341m – on medium mode for almost 5 hours (according to official specs).

The MC12 can throw over 500m for over an hour too. Many larger C8-sized lights will hit 500m on turbo for a few minutes, then start to step down. This is great if you’re out for a walk at night and don’t want to worry about battery life.

The MC12 also has a 12 lumen low mode that throws 87m. It’ll do this for over 2 days. The MC12 doesn’t make a good indoor light so the low mode isn’t very useful but it could be used for pointing at things in a warehouse or similar.

Budda over at BLF has already produced some runtime charts of the MC12, so I won’t do the same here.

Outdoors

This light arrived on midsummer’s day, so I had to wait longer than usual before it got dark. Fortunately I found an abandoned WW2 building nearby to explore with the kids, so got some beam shots during the day too.

Here you can see that the MC12 isn’t very useful in doors. The spill around the hotspot is more useful to see around. If you’re indoors then a more floody light is useful.

Bright hotspot but still enough spill to be useful

The MC12 is useful for shining in or through things like drains though. Here it is lighting up a room through a window from a couple of feet away. A more floody light couldn’t do this, as it’d light up the outside wall too much.

MC12 lighting up a WW2 building

When it starts to get dark then you can use the MC12 as a lightsaber.

Manker MC12 lightsaber

The Manker MC12’s pencil beam produces sone backscatter, even when it’s not foggy at all.

Summoning aliens

Like a laser beam, it’s good for pointing at things too, not just lighting stuff up. Here’s the MC12 pointing at the Big Dipper (Plough in the UK).

Pointing at constellations

Here’s the MC12’s beam next to the FT03. The FT03 is 6 times brighter but only throws a little further.

Manker MC12, Astrolux FT03 XHP50.2

I’ll try to get some long range beamshots later.

Other lights to consider

There’s not many commercially available lights that use the Osram KW CSLNM1.TG at the moment. Here’s the ones I’ve found that are still just pocketable and have a throw similar to the MC12’s 650m.

  • Acebeam E10 – 701m throw. Same size head but short and fat (91mm long by 31mm) compared to the MC12 (131mm by 24mm) due to its use of a 26350 cell. Likely to be just a couple of grams heavier with the cell. Slightly less pocketable than the MC12 as it’s as fat as a D4S or the FT03 pictured above. Has a side e-switch, which many prefer, though some people have said it’s a bit short to hold comfortably. The cell is a slightly lower 2000mAh so while the E10 throws further for a bit, the MC12 will let you see far away for longer.
  • Noctigon KR1 –  663m throw with the W1. Also available with a W2 that’s more lumens and only throws a bit less. Available with a shorter 18350 tube too. Tail e-switch and runs Anduril firmware, with lots of clever modes.
  • Fireflies E01 – 700m from an Osram W2. Uses a 21700 cell but still compact. The Osram version is rare and I haven’t seen the specs confirmed by any reviewers.

If you want something bigger then there’s plenty of C8 sized throwers (Convoy, Sofirn, Astrolux to name a few), or the BLF GT mini. Most of these use CREE XP-L HI emitters, which are brighter than the Osram but have a bigger surface area. This means they may throw about as far as the lights above but the LED will draw more current and get through a cell faster.

The only smaller light that throws over 400m is the Lumintop GT Micro. This had a much smaller cell and lower runtime but is only a bit smaller in size.

Conclusion

Coming with a USB rechargeable cell means it’s a sensible option if you’re new to 18650 flashlights. The cell and tube being longer to fit the charging circuit means other cells don’t work as well, so Manker have made a slight compromise here.

The UI is my only dislike, especially having to cycle past strobe. This is less of a deal breaker on a flashlight used for throw though.

The Manker MC is a great flashlight, especially considering its price. If you’re after an easily pocketable light with a pencil beam then this is probably the best option.

Join the Conversation

6 Comments

  1. Hi Dave !
    One Question – is the Manker MC12 realy only 86 gr. without battery ?
    It would to good to believe !
    (because different seller make sometimes different claims to the weight and I don´t know whom I could trust)
    Thank you, Christian

    Like

    1. Yup. Just measured it again. 86g for the light. Clip is 4g extra. Cell is 45g extra. Lanyard is 2g extra.

      Like

      1. Ah, super ! Just ordered one – would be great for my backpacking tours in adition to my Zebra H600C (also with 18650) !

        Like

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