Sofirn C8L Panga II rechargeable flashlight, 3,100 lumens, 515 ANSI metres – a tactical triumph! Customer reviews
The "tactical torch" must be the most contested category in the flashlight world. If you have 100 enthusiasts in a (darkened) room you’ll get 100 opinions of what defines a tactical flashlight, along with a fair bit of… retinal retribution (blinding each other!)
However most would agree that a tactical torch must be:
- compact and light enough for a uniformed officer to carry all the time
- capable of being turned on and off at full power from a tail-switch, which is easy to find in the dark and essential if you’re holding the torch alongside a hand-gun
- exceptionally powerful, with a hot-spot-and-spill beam profile for maximum throw while still being able to spot movement and shapes “out of the corner of your eye”
- rechargeable, with enough juice in the battery for an entire shift of on/off use at high power and all night at lower output levels for crime- and accident-scenes
- robust enough to survive years of use in harsh conditions.
Of course these qualities are also perfect for those of us who need a compact, powerful and durable light to investigate “bumps in the night”, take part in neighbourhood-watch patrols or go on night drives at a game reserve.
Sofirn’s new C8L ticks all these boxes and then some! It's a complete re-vamp of my best-selling C8G Panga which has dominated the private security and neighbourhood watch market for the past several years.
The latest Panga delivers 50% more light and introduces the most requested feature, namely internal battery charging via a USB-C port, so you don't need to take the battery out of the torch to charge it.
The LED has been upgraded from Luminus's SST40 to Cree's brilliant XHP50D HI emitter, increasing output from 2,000 to 3,100 lumens. This produces a more even beam over the same distance (in real-world terms, almost two rugby fields end-to-end).
If you compare the beam profiles of the old and new Pangas you'll find they are quite similar in both length and width, but the slight donut-shaped shadow around the hotspot of the C8G has disappeared so there's an even tapering of light from the centre to the edge, leaving an intruder nowhere to hide!
The very practical "high" mode now delivers 1,300 instead of 1,000 lumens, and stretches over the length of a real-world rugby field for about two and a half hours of continuous run-time without dimming, leaving the incredibly bright "turbo" for shorter bursts over roughly twice that distance.
The "mid" setting delivers a steady 500 lumens (brighter than almost any supermarket torch) over the width of a rugby field for an entire night, while the 100 lumen "low" supplies as much light as you'll need for general use, and is good for three full nights in a row. There's even an 8-lumen "eco" mode for moving around without drawing attention to yourself... for more than 200 hours.
The new Panga has two operating "groups" – in the default Group 1, when you click the side-switch the beam rotates between eco, low, medium and high, and the torch returns to your chosen setting when you turn it off and on. The brightest level, turbo, and the devastating dual-frequency strobe are accessed by double and triple clicks respectively, but not "memorised".
Group 2 is limited to medium and turbo, without memory mode – every time you turn the torch on you'll get turbo, while single clicks of the side-switch rotate between medium and turbo, and a double click takes you to the strobe.
Another new feature is that a double-click of the tail-switch delivers turbo in Group 1 and the strobe in Group 2, so users who like to hold their torches "overhand" don't need to change their grip to access these features.
In terms of design, materials and construction, the C8L Panga is absolutely out of the top drawer. It has the look and feel of a high-end Japanese camera – the tactile feedback from the switches is just right and the user interface is the product of close attention to customer feedback and years of experience.
The torch still takes an industry-standard 21700 lithium ion (Li-Ion) battery which is easy to replace when the time comes (after 3-5 years). This format is rapidly becoming the most popular, since it holds up to 50% more energy than the familiar 18650 Li-Ion. However the torch comes with an adapter so you can use the smaller cell if you wish, with reduced runtimes (and possibly no access to turbo, depending on the battery you're using).
Even though the new Panga features internal battery charging, professional users will be delighted to hear they can still charge a spare battery or two in a separate charger (including in a vehicle), giving them unlimited runtime in the field (we sell a couple of top quality USB charger/powerbanks which are perfect for this.)
And the Panga works perfectly with flat-top, unprotected Li-Ions (which are more affordable) thanks to springs at both ends of the battery tube and a low-voltage protection feature that ensures the torch won't discharge an unprotected battery to the point of no return.
The tail-switch is mechanical, so there's no parasitic drain on the battery when it's turned off. This is not trivial – good quality Li-Ions have a very low self-discharge rate, so once you've charged your battery and turned off the Panga you can be sure it will come on again at full strength, even months down the line.
The rubber boot over the tail-switch sticks out a bit further than the old version, so the torch is easier to operate with a gloved hand, which is especially significant if you want to use the momentary-on feature (a half-press of the tail-switch keeps the beam on until you let go).
The longer boot on the tail-switch means it's not as easy to tail-stand (to aim the beam at the ceiling so it lights up a room during load-shedding) but one can get around this by standing the torch in a narrow container. The design of the housing makes the torch easy to grip but unlikely to roll off a table, while the bezel around the lens is scalloped so that, if you stand it on its nose, you can see if the light is turned on – all small things that make a big difference.
The C8L Panga remains a masterclass in flashlight design and function, milled from aerospace-grade aluminium with military-grade anodising, gold-plated contacts and a hardened glass lens, and equipped with the best electronics (advanced temperature control, regulated output, reverse polarity protection etc.)
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