Sofirn IF22A Review – My Go-To Pocket Thrower?

Contents

The Boring Stuff

Sofirn sent me this light in exchange for a honest review. Here is the official product page but you can also buy it on Amazon for a markup and fast shipping. Below are the official specs.

What comes in the box?

The box is typical of Sofirn. It’s relatively thin cardboard with a little foam pad on the bottom. The light comes in a bubblewrap sleeve so it should be reasonably well protected during transport. It has a piece of insulating paper in the tailcap and a piece of paper rubber banded around the head to remind you to remove the insulating paper. Inside the box you’ll find the following items:

  • Sofirn IF22A
  • 5000mah unprotected flat top 21700 battery
  • Two spare o-rings
  • Lanyard
  • 18650 adapter sleeve (protected button tops only)
  • USB A-to-C cable

Notably, there’s no manual included. Sofirn specifically mentions a manual being included in the box on their website. I spoke with other IF22A buyers and there were other reports of missing manuals as well. I sent them an email about it and they quickly responded and send me a digital copy.

Size & Measurements

Throwers from left to right:
Thrunite Catapult V6 SST70
Convoy Z1
Sofirn IF22A
Noctigon KR1
Thrunite Catapult Mini

Other lights from left to right:
Fireflies E07x Pro
Convoy S12
Sofirn IF22A
Convoy M1 with Thyrm Switchback
Emisar D4V2

MeasurementMeasured (mm)
Bezel Diameter42.0
Length127.1
Switch Diameter8.7
Switch Proudness~0 (depending on where you measure)
Lens Diameter36.5
Lens Thickness2.0
Optic Diameter35.3
Optic Depth20.3 (not including legs)
Body Tube Diameter (internal) 21.9
Body Tube Diameter (maximum)28.0
Body Tube Length (maximum)74.1
Body Tube Length (visible)51.4
Pocket Clip Space (for pants material)3.0
Pocket Clip Width7.0
Pocket Clip Thickness0.9
Pocket Cip Slot Width5.2
Pocket Clip Slot Diameter24.0
Ride Height (sticking out of pocket)10.3
Tailcap Diameter (maximum)28.0
Tailcap Length16.7
Driver Diameter~23
USB Port Width12.3
USB Port Depth3.5
USB Port Height9.39 (offcenter)
Included Battery Length70.6
Included Battery Diameter21.7

Weight: 192g / 6.8oz with included battery

User Interface

IF22A includes Sofirn & Wurkkos’ standard E-switch UI. It’s fine but they should really be using Anduril 2 on everything.

The actions are # of presses followed by a hold (H) or a release (C). So, “1C” is one click and release. “2H” is two clicks but you hold down the last one.

StateActionResult
Off1COn
Off1HMoonlight (not memorized)
Off 4C Lockout
Any2CTurbo (not memorized)
Any3CStrobe
On (except Turbo)1COff
On1HCycle Mode (low-med-high, memorized)
On4CToggle Smooth or Stepped Ramp
On (Moonlight or Turbo)1HLow
Turbo1CMemorized Mode or Off*
Turbo2CMoonlight
Strobe1HCycle Mode (strobe-SOS-beacon, not memorized)
Strobe1CMemorized Mode or Off*
Lockout1CDouble Blink
Lockout1HMomentary Moonlight
Lockout4CUnlock (to memorized mode)

* If you access Turbo or Strobe from on, then single click, they will return to the memorized mode. If you access Turbo or Strobe from off, then single click, they will turn off.

Overall this UI is pretty well thought out and is one of the best available, but I’ve got two minor gripes. 1C from turbo should turn the light off, not turn it back to the last used mode. 2C should turn it back to the last used mode, not go to moonlight.

Regardless of how good the UI is, it should have just come with Anduril 2. Sofirn has already demonstrated they’re willing to use it on other lights and Anduril 2’s simple mode is no more complex than Sofirn’s UI. There is no excuse not to have used Anduril 2 here. It would be great to have Anduril’s extra features like beacon, sunset timer, voltage readout, more usable lockout, etc. I particularly want the sunset timer, since a cool thrower like this is perfect for ceilingbouncing on a low level to get a great moon-lit effect at night. I’d love to be able to use that when going to bed and have it turn off automatically. Anduril also has much better thermal throttling, with no sawtooth like Sofirn’s “ATR” as you’ll see in the runtime tests.

Modes, Brightness & Throw

Disclaimer: A Turbo lumen measurement was taken at turn on with a Texas Ace lumen tube. CD measurement was taken on Turbo at 19.4M using the Ceilingbounce app on my smartphone. Runtime tests were performed using the Ceilingbounce app as well. All of these tests were performed with a fully charged included battery unless otherwise specified.

Level Lumens (Estimated) CandelaThrow (meters)
Turbo1600110,000663
High71849,500445
Medium16611,420214
Low412,828106
Moonlight0.4*2811

* I wasn’t able to measure moonlight directly, so I calculated it based on the relative brightness compared to the next-lowest mode.

Runtime & Currents

Turbo: Turbo starts out at 1600 lumens and it largely stays there until about 2 minutes in. At that point it drops down to about 400 lumens. Over the next few minutes it jumps back up in brightness then quickly changes its mind and lowers back down. Output declines a little bit over the next hour. Then it starts ramping up and down and up and down and up and down every couple of minutes.

My guess is that it had cooled enough that it went just below the thermal limit. It tried to increase brightness, quickly surpassed the thermal limit, and lowered back down. It wasn’t visible to the naked eye so it wasn’t distracting, but I would really like to see more granular thermal mangement (like Anduril 2 has) so it’s not jumping all over the place.

A little after two hours in, I started gently blowing air onto the light occasionally to try and stabilize the output and it worked great. Output jumped up to about 1000 lumens and it stopped jumping up and down. Output continued to slowly decline until low voltage cutoff happened just after three hours of total runtime.

High: High looks very similar to turbo, it just starts out at a little over 700 lumens and maintains that a little bit longer. It still displays the weird brightness jumping behavior and it eventually did settle at a higher brightness, but this time without the help of any extra air movement. LVP cutoff happened at 3 hours and 45 minutes.

Medium: Medium threw me for a loop. Sofirn advertises that medium lasts for 5.5 hours when using a 4000mah cell. A 5000mah cell is included so I expected a little bit longer runtime, but I got fourteen and a half hours out of it. Sofirn claims 330 lumens for this mode, but I only measured 166. That explains the significantly longer runtime observed.

LVP: I observed LVP in all my runtime tests. It appears to cut off somewhere around 2.7V.

Current: I’m not equipped to do extreme duration runtime tests or extremely high current measurements. I only measure the currents on low modes and I calculate the estimated runtime of those modes based on the capacity of the battery or batteries I’m using for testing.

LevelCurrent @ Tailcap (milliamps)Estimated Runtime
Low13038 hours
Moonlight3.3662 days
Standby (parasitic drain)~0.1105 years

Regulation

On every mode I tested, brightness pretty much directly followed cell voltage. There’s not much regulation going on here. This is a basic, direct-drive driver so this poor regulation is to be expected. It would have been really great to see Sofirn re-use SP35’s excellent buck driver here.

Emitter & Beam

IF22A uses a Luminus SFT40 emitter in 6500K and 70CRI. This is the latest and greatest throwy 3V emitter and it essentially a factory domeless SST40. In most lights it provides about as much throw as Osram emitters but with more lumens. It’s an excellent choice here. My only wish is that Luminus were to release a 4000K 95CRI version like they offer in their smaller SST20 emitter. That would be pretty incredible.

Also there are no screws holding down the mcpcb. It should be fine because it’s pressed down by the optic, but it’s still weird.

The beam is narrow and cool white, but not nearly as cool as these pictures look. The hotspot is nice and even with a little bit of corona. The spill is minimal, not particularly defined, and has a faint ring in it. Its a great beam for a compact TIR thrower like this, but it’s not particularly useful close up. One interesting thing I noticed is that it has significantly less tint-shift than my Catapult Mini, and both use the same optic.

Trees in the hotspot are ~200m away
Foreground trees are ~35m away, the reflective sign is ~90m away

IF22A is a joy to use outdoors. It’s got a wider hotspot and more spill than NM1 based TIR throwers like Catapult Mini. Catapult mini has such a narrow beam and is so low in lumens that it’s not all that useful for actually seeing things, but IF22A strikes a nice balance between fun lightsaber and practical tool.

IF22A / IF22

During my review, I hung out with u/sidpost on Reddit who happened to have an IF22! Above is a comparison shot between the two variants so you can see the differences in the beam. IF22A’s beam is MUCH cleaner, with a broad, ill defined spill that reaches out almost 180 degrees and dims as it gets further from the hotspot. IF22 has a well defined and even spill that lights up a much narrower area, and there’s a pretty nasty ring outside the spill too.

Moonlight & Tint Comparison from left to right:
Thrunite Catapult Mini (yes, it’s turned on, it’s just that dim)
Noctigon KR1 | W1
Sofirn IF22A
Fireflies E07x Pro | SST20 4000K
Emisar D4V2 | SST20 4000K | FET+1 Driver

Moonlight isn’t especially dim. It’s not bright enough that I would no longer call it moonlight though. As usual, it would be nice if it were dimmer.

Driver

Sofirn doesn’t provide many details about the driver. It appears to be press fit in and there’s a shallow brass button as the positive contact. Based on my testing, there doesn’t appear to be any particularly sophisticated regulation going on inside. There are no reflashing pins so you can’t easily update it to the correct firmware.

Sofirn’s SP35 is fairly similar in design to IF22A, just with a smaller head. I wish they had re-used the driver from SP35 since it’s a buck driver with pretty great regulation. It doesn’t have powerbank functionality built in though, so perhaps that’s why they made a new driver here. I’d gladly give up powerbank functionality if it meant great buck regulation though.

PWM: There is some PWM that I can pick up with my phone camera, but none visible to the eye.

Design & Construction

IF22A’s overall design is nothing special but it works well. The body is almost perfectly cylindrical except for a dramatic flare at the head to make room for the large optic. This design doesn’t speak to me aesthetically but it’s functional.

Build quality is as expected from Sofirn. It’s perfectly satisfactory but nothing noteworthy. Threads on the body tube are thick, anodized, lubed, and square cut. The threads on the bezel are anodized and generously lubed. There’s a not-particularly-beefy spring in the tailcap but it seems like it’s up to the task. I mentioned earlier that there are no MCPCB screws and that’s a little weird.

Switch

IF22A has an electronic, backlit, plastic, side switch. It’s set into the head a bit, but the head is a cylinder so the switch is a little proud and a little recessed depending on how you look at it. There’s a significant amount of pre-travel before you get to the actual switch actuation, sort of like a forward clicky but without the momentary activation. It doesn’t cause any problems, it’s just not the highest quality feeling switch.

The red and green backlighting works well. When unplugged, green indicates good charge left in the battery, constant red indicates low charge, and flashing red indicates the battery level is critical. That only happens for a few seconds after you turn on the light though. If you’re using it continuously and the battery gets low, it won’t indicate anything until it hits critical level. The backlighting also serves as a charging indicator. More on that in the batteries & charging section.

Carry & Ergonomics

The light feels fine in the hand. The knurling provides plenty of grip without being aggressive. The clip stays put and is a great way to find the button, which is in an accessible spot. It’s not a perfectly sculpted ergonomic masterpiece but it’s not bad either. A forward grip works best. That’s what it was clearly designed for, but a pencil grip works too.

It’s a little wide in pocket. The body tube is fine but the head is 42mm in diameter and it’s noticeable. It’s not un-carriable though, and I carried it for about 12 hours in total and it wasn’t uncomfortable.

A bidirectional clip is included and it works fine. It appears to be the same one included with Sofirn SP35, Wurkkos HD20, and Wurkkos TS21. I would have preferred a clip with more ramp, and the bidirectionality here will be largely useless, but I’m mostly just happy they included a clip at all. IF22A may be a tad big for EDC but I like a good clip on everything I can possible fit into a pocket. A basic lanyard is included as well and it works fine. There’s only one hole in the tailcap though, so having the lanyard installed will interfere with tailstanding a bit. I think it’s safe to say that IF22A will only work reliably with unprotected flat top 21700’s, or protected button too 18650’s (provided you use the included adapter sleeve). I would have preferred Sofirn make the body tube a little longer and use a spring on both ends so that a wider variety of batteries fit well.

If you want to make it a bit more pocketable, I believe the Wurkkos 20350 tube will fit just fine, and you might even still be able to use the pocket clip.

Batteries & Charging

Sofirn includes a Sofirn branded, unprotected, flat top, 5000mah, 21700 cell. This is a fine cell and I’m glad they included the highest capacity that can provide enough current. In some of their other lights they have a habit of providing less-than-maximum capacity cells (looking at you, LT1).

I tried a variety of battery configurations. The stock cell works fine of course, but is too long with a 3mm magnet on the end to simulate a button top. Molicel P42A worked fine with and without the magnet. An Acebeam USB-C rechargeable protected button top was *far* too long to fit. An unprotected Samsung 30Q was too short to make contact.

Charging is facilitated by a USB-C port on the side of the light, with a high quality rubber cover. This one is just as good as all of Sofirn’s other covers so I’m not at all concerned about water ingress. It can be a little tricky to open.

A USB A-to-C cable is included but C-to-C cables worked too in my testing. I found that when charging a low cell, the switch indicator would blink red. When the cell was medium-charged, the indicator would blink red a time or two and then flicker. When the cell was mostly charged, there was no blinking, just flickering. When it was fully charged, the indicator turned off completely. I only observed the indicator turn green one time during my testing. This is different than what is supposed to happen. It’s supposed to blink red while it’s charging and then turn green when it’s done. I’ve seen reports of other users whos lights worked correctly, and some whos lights worked incorrectly in the same way that mine does. I recommend buying through Amazon if you can so that exchanging it is easy, if you end up with a faulty charging indicator like mine.

I did verify that charging stopped at 4.19V, and it took about two hours and fifteen minutes to charge from LVP cutoff. The light will not turn on at all while plugged in without a battery, and will only turn on for a second or two with a battery installed. I think it has something to do with the weird charging indicator behavior. It’s possible that if you get a fully functional sample, it will work just fine when plugged in.

You’re not limited to just charging the light. The light can work as a power bank and charge other devices! I didn’t do extensive testing of this feature but it did work. Above you can see it charging Convoy 4X18A. There’s no indication that the powerbank functionality is being used on the light itself. You’ll have to rely on the device being charged to tell if it’s working or not because IF22A gives no indication. I tried it with my Xtar PB2S powerbank via a C-to-C cable and I could not find a way to get PB2S to charge IF22A, it was always IF22A charging PB2S.

Competition

Here are some lights in the same class and how they compare.

Sofirn IF22: Identical in every way except it uses a reflector instead of a TIR, is a little longer, and has some artifacts in the beam. IF22A is better.

Thrunite Catapult Mini: 18350 battery, no pocket clip, narrow pencil beam, significantly smaller size, significantly lighter, USB A-to-C charging only, mind-blowingly low moonlight mode. This is a great option if you don’t care about a pocket clip or super long runtime, and you just want something miniscule that can really throw. It’s less useful than IF22A but a little bit more impressive because of its miniscule size.

Manker U22 III: Larger head, higher price (especially with a battery), more throw, multiple emitter options (including SFT40), powerbank functionality requires proprietary cable. This is probably a better choice if you want more throw, have a bigger budget, and don’t care about pocketability.

Noctigon DM11: Similar size, same optic, way more emitter options, significantly better UI (Anduril 2), better drivers, backlit switch, RGB aux LED’s, a little more expensive, no battery or charging included, worse pocket clip

This list is not completely exhaustive. There are several other compact TIR throwers on the market as well, these are just the ones I happen to find the most compelling and the most competitive with IF22A.

Conclusion

When I initially wrote this review, I said IF22A is my “go-to pocket thrower”, but that’s no longer the case. My trusty Noctigon K1 W1 has been taking IF22A’s place in my pocket recently and I can’t pinpoint exactly why. KR1 just feels nicer in-hand with better ergonomics, finishing, clip, and switch. Ostensibly the beam isn’t as useful since it’s narrower and dimmer, but I just have more fun using it. Who knows how Noctigon DM11 will shake things up when mine arrives.

With that said, IF22A is a great starter thrower. It’s widely available, inexpensive, simple, and includes everything you need. If you’re looking for a good, compact thrower for a low price that just works, this is a great option and I recommend it.

Thanks to Sofirn for sending me this light for review!

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