The C8F is a high power 3500 lumen tactical light from Sofirn. It has 2 switches for easy operation and throws a reasonable distance.
About the light
Sofirn’s various C8 lights
C8-style lights are long thin lights with a single cell and a wide head, designed to give more throw. There’s lots of C8-style lights from many different manufacturers, some with 18650 cells and some with 21700 ones. Sofirn have offered a few different C8-style lights over the years:
Original host design, without knurling. These had a single physical tail switch.
- C8T – single XP-L HI LED
- C8A – single XP-L2 LED
- C8F – three XP-L LEDs
New host design, with wider tube for 21700 support and knurling. These have 2 switches.
- C8F 21700 – three XP-L LEDs – this review
- C8G – single XHP35 HI LED
Some listings are just the light, whereas others include a few extras like a cell and charger. Careful not to get mixed up between the old 18650 versions and the new ones.
The new C8F comes in 3 colours: black, dark green or brown.
Sofirn have also released a high CRI version of the C8F, with three 90 CRI Samsung LH351D LEDs instead of the CREE XP-L LEDs. This version sacrifices a few lumens for better colour rendering and also comes in different colour temperatures: 2700K (very warm) 4000K (warm white) and 5000K (neutral white).
Sofirn provided a black XP-L light for review but if I got to choose then I’d have picked the 4000K LH351D version in green.
Sofirn C8F specs
|Emitters||Three CREE XPL LED|
|Working voltage||2.8 V-4.2 V|
|Size||149mm (length) * 44.6mm (head diameter)|
|Weight||200 ± 2 grams (without battery)|
|Waterproof||IPX8, underwater 2 meters for 30 minutes|
|Reverse polarity protection||Yes|
|Lumens||3500 lm (XP-L version)|
The physical light
What’s in the box
The kit version of the Sofirn C8F comes with:
- Sofirn C8F flashlight
- 21700 cell
- 18650 adaptor
- Cell charger
- Micro USB cable
- 2 spare O-rings
Appearance and quality
At 149mm, the C8F is fairly long and feels well balanced. It also has a bit of weight to it and feels very robust. The knurling is a welcome addition for a tactical light and makes the light nice and easy to grip.
The head is not flat all the way round, which stops it rolling off a table. It’ll tail stand too, though as it’s long and top heavy you’d only want to do that on a flat surface.
The C8F has Sofirn’s usual good quality anodising and threads. There’s lots of mass in the head and chunky fins for head dissipation.
The springs are thick and there’s even 2 in the tail. Apparently early versions had a spring bypass instead of 2 tail springs. Either way, this reduces resistance and allows for a brighter turbo mode.
The bezel is very slightly crenellated, which is more useful to tell if you left it on than as a weapon.
Here’s the light next to some other single cell 21700 lights. You can see it’s longer and has a bigger head than all the others.
Carrying and everyday use
The C8F is a really nice size. C8-sized lights are normally comfortable to hold and Sofirn have done a great job with the C8F. Being a 21700 light it’s slightly wider and fits my hand better than a 18650 C8 light.
Compared to the other 21700 lights above, the C8F feels the most rugged and durable.
The C8F comes with a long lanyard. The light would be too big for a pocket clip – a holster may be more appropriate. As the northern hemisphere is coming into autumn/winter, the C8F would be a great fit for a jacket pocket.
Interface and switch
This is both incredibly simple and also incredibly complex. I’ve tried to cover all the details here but if you just want the basics: use the switch at the tail to turn it on or off and use the switch near the head to change brightness.
Aside from this Playskool light, the Sofirn’s C8F is my first light with 2 switches. It has an e-switch near the head and a forward-clicky physical switch at the tail. See my post on flashlight user interfaces for more about the differences between the 2 switches.
- Click on
- Click off
- Half press for momentary
The forward clicky tail switch is about as simple as you can get. It only toggles between on and off each time you click it. There’s no way to change brightness and it’ll always be just how you left it. As it’s a forward clicky, you can half press and hold to make the light turn on momentarily, then it’ll turn off when you let go.
The e-switch is nice and simple but also supports some customisation.
You can pick between 4 different mode groups: 3 stepped brightness and 1 ramping. Click 4 times quickly when the light is on to go to the next mode group.
- Click to change brightness between the main levels
- Double click for turbo
- Triple click for strobe
- Hold from on to turn off
- Hold from off to go to moonlight
There’s 3 stepped mode groups, with 1, 3 or 4 different stepped levels. Each level also has 1 lm moonlight and 3500 lm turbo, so they have 3, 5 or 7 modes in total respectively.
- 500 lm (medium only. Single click does nothing)
- 100 lm, 700 lm, 1800 lm (low, medium, high)
- 10 lm, 100 lm, 500 lm, 1800 lm (eco, low, medium, high)
The light has mode memory. This works both with the e-switch and the tail switch.
You can single click from turbo to get back to the last normal mode you were on: either off or a normal mode. Going from high to turbo seems to ramp up brightness over 1 second, which is weird. Lower modes don’t seem to do this. You can also double click from turbo and it’ll drop to high then immediately ramp back up to turbo. I’m not sure what’s going on here.
From moonlight, you can click or long press for off or double click for turbo. There doesn’t seem to be a way to go from moonlight to a normal mode.
The 4th mode group is smooth ramping mode. Hold to get brighter (any brightness between 1 lm and 3500 lm), then let go and hold to get dimmer. Ramping mode takes a minute to get used to then becomes quite intuitive.
The light will blink when it gets to max or min brightness.
There’s still a separate moonlight mode in ramped mode. As with the stepped modes, you have to turn the light off to get into other modes from moonlight. Turbo is separate too, with a hold turning off and a click returning to normal or off. I’d have like to see the option to ramp up from moon light and ramp down from turbo, similar to what Anduril does.
The switching between ramping up and down is based on when you last clicked. It will keep ramping in the same direction when you hold the switch, unless you’ve previously ramped less than 1.5 seconds ago. Effectively this is like memory for ramping direction. If you wait a few seconds then most ramping flashlight UIs (like Anduril and Narsil) will always start by ramping up. The C8F is different, where if you ramped down a minute ago then the next time you ramp it’ll keep going down.
The e-switch has an indicator light on it. It’s green for 5 seconds when the light is turned on, then turns off. It also flashes red if the cell is low, flashing faster if it’s very low.
Dual switch use
The great thing about the 2 switches is that you get a choice between using the tail switch, e-switch or a combination of the 2. Together they work like a logical AND gate, so both of them have to be on for light to come out.
If you just want to use the tail switch then set the brightness with the e-switch once and then the tail switch will always use that mode. Note that you can’t get the tail switch to go straight to turbo
If you just want to use the e-switch then keep the tail switch on and you have a normal e-switch light like a Sofirn SC31B.
Or you can use a combination of the 2. If you do this then you need to remember which switch has been turned off. If the green indicator light was always on then it’d be obvious if the tail switch needed pressing or not. Alas, the indicator light only stays on for 5 seconds.
Cell and charging
Included 21700 cell
I ordered the “kit” version of the C8F, which came with a Sofirn wrapped flat top 21700 cell. This is labelled at 4000mAh capacity. I’ve tested one of these with another light and it was within a few % of the spec. Some 21700-size cells are 5000mAh, which would give an extra 25% run time.
Having springs at either end gives the C8F one of the best ranges of cell compatibility that I’ve seen. The white plastic sleeve it comes with means the C8F will take 18650 cells too. Many 21700 sized lights will flicker if you shake or drop them with a short cell. Not the C8F. It even takes a 65mm flat top Sony VTC5A and doesn’t lose connection when shaken.
The kit version I ordered included a light weight cell charger. This is a basic micro USB charger and seems to take anything from 18350 to 21700 and 26650 cells. The charger has a red LED when charging and green when done. It seemed to max out at 0.85A, which would take over 4 hours to charge the 4000mAh cell. Other chargers will charge 2 or 3 times faster than this but for something included in the box it’s not bad. Being small and lightweight, it’d make a handy charger to keep in a bag or car.
Be aware that the C8F has different mode groups as well as a variable ramping mode (see above).
|Moonlight||1||550h (23 days)||–|
|Eco||10||210h (9 days)||16.8m|
|Medium (low)||500||5h 15m||110m|
|Medium (high)||700||4h 15m||128m|
Note that the listed run times for high and turbo are based on the light stepping down in brightness.
The C8F’s driver includes thermal regulation. This means it’ll step down when it gets too hot. Sofirn list this as 50°C but my digital thermometer didn’t ever register over 45°C. This means it never gets too hot to hold and is safer for kids to use than many lights. At room temperature, my C8F stepped down quickly from the 3500lm turbo down to 25% (about 900lm over a period of 4 minutes. The driver isn’t regulated (at least on the turbo mode). You can see this in the graph where the brightness goes down as the cell depletes. It lasted a good 2 hours above 500 lumens, before dropping again.
The light has low voltage protection (LVP), which the manual says kicks in at 2.8V. That seems a bit low for my liking – I try not to let cells drop below 3.3V.
Here’s a runtime chart of the C8F on turbo. The light was still on (just) and the cell was 2.9V at the end. I’m not sure if the light would have turned off eventually.
Here’s the light on high (1800lm). It holds the output fairly steady for 5 minutes, then drops down to around 900lm, the same as turbo.
Beam and PWM
I’m terrible at gauging colour temperature but based on my other lights I’d put the XP-Ls in the C8F at around 5500K. The beam with the 3 LEDs has some ring artefacts when shone on a white wall but aren’t very noticeable in normal use.
Here’s the C8F (on the right) compared to some other lights.
The LEDs are angled nicely and centred well. You can see the dome on the XP-L, showing they’re not the more throwy “HI” versions.
Here’s the different levels in mode group 3 at a nearby beach. The white balance looks off as I forgot to lock it.
Aside from Sofirn’s other C8-style lights, there’s a few manufactures to consider if you’re after a tactical light that has quick access at the tail to momentary mode and also allows changing brightness. Like the C8F, these all throw at least 250m and are at least 2500lm on turbo.
- Thrunite TT10 – 2 switches
- Lumintop FW21 Pro – single tail switch and runs Anduril, which has momentary mode and is 10,000 lumens for a few seconds
- Klarus XT11X – 2 switches
I had trouble coming up for cons for this light.
- Size, weight and general build quality is one of the best
- 2 switches is 100% more than most flashlights
- Handles high and turbo well
- User interface lives up to “tactical” description
- E-switch UI isn’t as good as Anduril
- Slight beam artefacts when shining on a flat white surface
Potential changes and improvements
If there’s one thing about the C8F I’d change then it’d be replacing the driver with Anduril. Sofirn already have some lights like the IF25A with Anduril, so I expect it’d be possible. Whilst some people prefer more limited UIs, switching to Anduril would:
- make the ramping more intuitive
- make the moonlight and turbo shortcuts more useful
- make the modes even more flexible (they’re already pretty good to be fair)
- provide other modes like bike flasher, configurable strobe speed and tactical strobe
- make the indicator light configurable, so you can always see if the tail switch is on or off
Sofirn already give a few LED options. Having the option of an Osram W1 or W2 would be interesting to give more throw (probably over 400m) without sacrificing too many lumens.
I think this is the best light at doing “general purpose” that I’ve ever seen. It excels at being average.
This light isn’t a super thrower, pocket hot rod or mega soda can flashlight but it doesn’t try to be. There’s better options if you’re after something completely different but the Sofirn C8F is almost perfect for a general purpose jacket pocket or tactical use flashlight. It kind of feels like it was designed to fit in my hands.
If you don’t like the neutral/cool XP-L LEDs then Sofirn also provide the option of LH351D in 3 warmer colour temperatures.
The only thing lacking is the UI but that’s because I’ve been spoiled by Anduril.
This light was provided by Sofirn for review.