Noctigon KR1 Review – The King of Pocket Throwers

This review is for the throwy KR1 configurations. I also reviewed a floody configuration (GT-FC40) here separately.

Contents

The Boring Stuff

I purchased my Osram W1 variant with my own money from the manufacturer’s website in late 2020 at full price. I purchased the Luminus SFT40 variant with my own money from the manufacturer’s website in late 2021 at full price. Here is the official product page. Below are the official specs.

What comes in the box?

The box is standard fare from Emisar/Noctigon. It’s plain brown cardboard with a closed cell foam insert and hand-filled sticker indicating the contents. The following items are included in the box:

  • The light itself (the clip shown is not the one included by default)
  • Two spare o-rings
  • Lanyard
  • Lanyard-hole-ring
  • Any additional accessories you select when purchasing (none in my case)

Size & Measurements

From left to right:
Fireflies E07x Pro
Sofirn IF22A
Noctigon KR1
Convoy M1 (Custom)
Emisar D4V2

MeasurementMeasured (mm)
Bezel Diameter35.0
Length110.7
Switch Diameter14.1
Switch Proudness0.3
Lens Diameter32.6
Lens Thickness1.5
Reflector Diameter30.5
Reflector Hole Diameter7.0
Reflector Height20.4
Reflector Outside Diameter30.5
Body Tube Diameter (internal) 18.8
Body Tube Diameter (maximum)27.7
Body Tube Diameter (minimum)24.0
Body Tube Length (maximum)67.5
Body Tube Length (visible)44.5
Ride Height (sticking out of pocket, stock clip)20.7
Ride Height (sticking out of pocket, KR4 deep carry clip)2.6
Pocket Clip Space (for pants material, stock clip)~8.0
Pocket Clip Space (for pants material, KR4 deep carry clip)~2.5
Pocket Clip Space (at mouth, stock clip)~7.0
Pocket Clip Space (at mouth, KR4 deep carry clip)~2.3
Pocket Clip Thickness1.1
Pocket Clip Inside Diameter~25.0
Tailcap Diameter (maximum)28.2
Tailcap Diameter (minimum)27.2
Tailcap Length19.5

Weight with Samsung 30Q: 167g / 5.9oz
Weight empty: 121g / 4.27oz

User Interface

Most KR1’s comes by default with Anduril 1. It can be updated to Anduril 2 before shipping by email request, or with a reflashing kit once it arrives. The light got substantially better after I updated mine to Anduril 2, so you should to. The SFT40 variant comes with Anduril 2 by default.

Anduril 2 is hands down the best flashlight user interface available at the time of writing. I am not even remotely prepared to do a whole UI table & breakdown for this thing, so here’s a screenshot of the UI table from the end of Toykeeper’s Anduril 2 manual and below I’ll go over some of my favorite features.

Ramp configurability: choose between smooth brightness adjustment or stepped brightness adjustment. You can choose how bright the highest and lowest modes are, and even how many steps there are.

Shortcuts & Mode Memory: There are shortcuts to everything: turbo, moonlight, back to turbo, everywhere. There’s mode memory too, but not just the normal kind. You can also set manual mode memory which is where you choose what mode the light always turns on in. I love this feature. I don’t like my light unpredicably turning on in whatever mode I happened to be using last. There’s even a new hybrid memory option that remembers the brightness for a configurable amount of time, and then reverts back to your manually memorized level.

Thermal configuration: You can customize how hot the light will let itself get. Want your kid to be able to hold it without burning themselves? Lower the thermal limit. Mounting the light to a tripod where you’ll never touch it and want max brightness? Raise the thermal limit.

Simple UI / Advanced UI: Anduril 2 has the UI split into two separate groups: simple and advanced. By default it’s in the simple UI where turbo is disabled (so you can’t burn stuff by accident) and a lot of the confusing modes are too. It’s even configurable from the advanced UI if you want to dumb it down even further. The simple UI is default too, so you can send one to your parents and you won’t have to reprogram it first so they don’t get it stuck in momentary mode.

Sunset timer: Clicking 5x from off and holding the last click will start a timer on any mode that slowly lowers the brightness until its off. By default it’s 5 minutes, but you can keep adding as much time as you please. I use this feature every night at bedtime on another Anduril 2 light.

Lockout: I don’t use lockout, but I appreciate how much thought went into it here. From lockout you have two configurable brightness levels that are accessible. So, your light isn’t totally useless until you unlock it. It also unlocks straight to moonlight, the memorized level, or top of ramp now, depending on how you click. That’s a nice change from having to unlock and then turn on the light, which is how lockout is usually set up.

Modes, Brightness & Throw

Disclaimer: Lumen measurements were taken on a Texas Ace 3.5″ Lumen Tube. A candela measurement was taken with an Opple Light Master III on the highest brightness at 10 meters distance, and other candela figures were calculated relative to that. Runtime tests were performed with the Ceilingbounce app on my smartphone. I cannot measure moonlight directly, so moonlight readings are calculated based on the brightness relative to the next-lowest mode.

Level Lumens CandelaThrow (meters)
Turbo (150)790110000660
High (113)38053390460
Medium (75)10614890240
Low (37)12169080
Moonlight (1)0.15219
Osram W1
Level Lumens CandelaThrow (meters)
Turbo (150)220076000550
High (120)118040760400
Medium (80)31010710210
Low (40)33114070
Moonlight (1)0.4147
Luminus SFT40

Why those modes? Anduril 2 has 150 levels, so doing measurements and tests for each mode is virtually impossible. I’ve got these lights set up how I like it with 5 levels. Both versions had bottom of ramp set t level 1. When I tested the W1 version, top of ramp was set to level 113, but I picked level 120 for the SFT40 version because the numbers are cleaner. I’ve set up the stepped ramp with 4 steps so, with turbo added, I get the 5 modes I like.

Mode Spacing: Mode spacing & ramp speed smoothness are pretty bad on Anduril 1. The low modes are way too far apart and the high modes are way too close together. Anduril 2 fixes that.

How does it compare to the official specs? The W1 version measures a little lower in lumens than specified but it’s still fairly close to the ~10% margin of error for my lumen tube. Candela was right on spec. There are no official specs for the SFT40 version at the time of writing.

Runtime & Currents

Use the slider below to compare the brightness and runtime of these two versions! Note: the batteries used (30Q for W1, P26A for SFT40) and level settings are slightly different, so not everything in these graphs is directly comparable. Turbo stepdowns and thermal performance should be unaffected.

Osram W1 | Luminus SFT40
Osram W1 | Luminus SFT40

Turbo (W1, 150): starts out at ~800 lumens and drops over the course of about 10 minutes to ~225 lumens. It stays in that same vicinity until low voltage stepdowns kick in just after 3 hours.

Turbo (SFT40, 150): starts out at 2200 lumens and drops fairly quickly. The stepdown starts fast but slows down and eventually settles at a little under 500 lumens by the 10 minute mark. It stays in that same vicinity until low voltage stepdowns kick in just after 2 hours.

High (W1, 113): looks virtually identical to Turbo. It just starts out at a lower level.

High (SFT40, 120): looks virtually identical to Turbo. It just starts out at a lower level.

Medium (W1, 75): Medium is a nice, perfectly flat, 106 lumens until low voltage stepdowns kick in at 8.5 hours.

Medium (SFT40, 80): Medium is a nice, perfectly flat, 310 lumens until low voltage stepdowns kick in at 3 hours and 20 minutes.

LVP: I observed both low voltage warning stepdowns and complete low voltage shutoff eventially on both lights. Anduril is pretty conservative about when it starts low voltage stepdowns so the light should never completely shut off on you without hours upon hours of warning ahead of time.

Current: I could not do current measurements on KR1 due to the dual-tube design.

Driver & Regulation

KR1 has three driver options, a 5A, 7.5A, or 9A constant current depending on your emitter choice. I’ve got a W1 model which includes a 5A driver, and an SFT40 model which includes a 9A driver. Hank graciously includes flashing pads on the visible side of the driver for easy firmware updates. That’s a huge deal to me, as it means I can update my light as it ages. The new features are nice, but the main thing is that this allows me to have the same user interface on most of my lights, so I don’t have to memorize 15 different ones. There is no visible difference between the two drivers I have.

Use the slider below to compare the brightness and regulation of these two versions!

Osram W1 | Luminus SFT40

Regulation here is decent. Turbo is affected by cell voltage, but the other modes are consistent until the cell is virtually empty. Notably, my W1 version (5A driver) is a little bit better regulated than the SFT40 version (9A driver). I assume this is because the extra 4A of draw on the cell from the 9A driver increases voltage sag and limits output a little bit more. As always, a buck driver would be awesome here, but that would likely increase cost a fair bit.

Emitter & Beam

Osram W1 | Luminus SFT40

KR1 is available with a wide variety of emitters (CSLNM1, CSLPM1, SST20, XPL-HI, SST40, and SFT40) and many of those are available in a wide variety of color temperatures, or even non-white colors like red, green, or blue. I chose an Osram KW CSLNM1.TG (W1) which is the highest intensity emitter available at the time of writing and a Luminus SFT40 which is the best overall with great throw and great brightness.

I know SBT90.2 has been popular but I think that’s a poor choice for this host. It costs so much more than most of the other options (literally more than the base price of the light extra), will generate huge amounts of heat, and will drain through an 18650 very quickly. SFT40 will get you nearly as much throw, a very impressive 2200 lumens, costs $45 less, will generate less heat in this very small host, and won’t drain your battery as quickly.

Osram W1 | Luminus SFT40

This is the cleanest thrower beam I’ve had the opportunity to use. There are no artifacts at all and the centering is absolutely perfect in both my samples. I have never seen better centering. It’s hard to photograph, but even the flower petals of the W1 corona are all perfectly symmetrical. Interestingly, SFT40 has a circular corona. I’ve taken the reflector out of the W1 version a half a dozen times and it always goes back to perfectly centered.

Below is the first round of beamshots from when I first posted this review.

Noctigon KR1 W1
Noctigon KR1 W1

The beam is really impressive outdoors. You get a narrow cone of light for a hotspot that just seems to punch through anything. The spill is decently bright too, for seeing what’s immediately in front of you. I’ve carried this light for 2-3 weeks total since I bought it and it’s perfectly adequate as an EDC light. I think those other emitter options I mentioned might be a little bit better though.

Below are a couple comparison shots between my KR1 W1 and a KR1vn with SBT90.2, just for fun.

KR1 W1 / KR1vn SBT90.2
KR1 W1 / KR1vn SBT90.2

And by special request, here are some comparisons between KR1 W1 and Thrunite Catapult Mini (also a W1) that I snagged from my beamshot archive.

KR1 / Catapult Mini
KR1 / Catapult Mini

And here is the second round of beamshots I took when I got the SFT40 version.

Osram W1 | Luminus SFT40

In the beamshots above, the trees where I’m aiming the hotspot are 175M away. In the beamshots below, the park bench where I’m aiming the hotspot is 42M away.

Osram W1 | Luminus SFT40

Moonlight & Tint Comparison from left to right:
Fireflies E07 2021 | Nichia 219B SW45K
Noctigon KR1 | Osram W1
Noctigon DM11 | Osram W1
Noctigon KR1 | Luminus SFT40
Noctigon DM11 | Nichia B35AM 3500K
Emisar D4V2 | SST20 4000K

Moonlight from both emitter options is well under 1 lumen. I estimate W1 at 0.15lm and SFT40 at 0.4lm. SFT40 is a little cooler in color temperature, but the tint is incredibly clean. It’s a perfect cool white with zero green or tint-shift at all. W1 is warmer, but there’s some yellow-green tint-shift in the hotspot. That’s not something you really care about if you’re buying a W1 though.

Design & Construction

KR1 has a unique and attractive design. It uses curves and fine milling instead of hard edges and rough knurling like most other lights. There’s nothing else quite like it besides it’s sibling, Noction KR4.

Build quality is excellent, as I’ve come to expect from Hank. The threads on the body are thick, square cut, and anodized (though, mechanical lockout doesn’t fully work). The threads for the bezel are pretty nice too and are trapezoidally cut. The threads on my year-old sample are buttery smooth, but the threads on my brand new sample are a little rough. There are thick, strong, gold-plated springs at either end of the body tube. The anodizing on my year-old sample is matte and smooth, but the anodizing on my brand new sample is chalky. I think the anodizing just takes a little bit of use to break in and smooth out.

If I could make one change to the design of this light, I would eliminate the anodizing on the tailcap threads as well as the o-ring holding the clip in place. It’s just not as secure as I’d like. The clip can still move around a little bit and the o-ring is easy to tear by accident (fortunately, a replacent is included in the box. I had to use mine.) Mechanical lockout doesn’t even work anyway (more on that momentarily).

If the threads weren’t anodized, they could carry current instead of relying on the tailcap to be precisely tightened. That would also allow the tailcap to clamp directly onto the pocket clip, holding it in place. There wouldn’t be a gap left if you don’t use the clip anymore either. Fireflies has been doing this on some of their recent models and I think it’s fantastic.

Switch

KR1 is somewhat unique in that it uses an electronic tailswich. The vast majority of tailswitches are mechanical (they connect & disconnect power completely). An electronic switch just sends signals to the controller, and the controller stays powered all the time. This allows for more complex actions like holds and multiple clicks in a series. To acomplish this, KR1 uses a dual-tube body design. The outer tube provides structure for the light and power to the controller, while the inner tube carries electrical signals when the user presses the switch. Below you can see a KR1 fully disassembled, with the inner-tube removed and sitting to the right of the main tube. The inner-tube is captured and sprung, which makes Noctigon KR series lights more reliable than similar options in the Lumintop FW line.

For an e-switch, it’s remarkably quiet. This is the only e-switch in my collection that I can actuate silently if I press it right.

One minor downside to this switch setup is that mechanical lockout doesn’t work. When you press the switch with the tail unscrewed a little, the switch itself makes electrical contact and the light can activate. But, the light thinks you’re trying to do a factory reset, so if the switch gets held down while mechanically “locked out” your light can reset. That only happened twice during my year-ish owning the light so it’s not a huge deal, but it’s something to be aware of. Use electronic lockout or remove the battery on these KR series lights.

Carry & Ergonomics

KR1 is an ergonomic masterpiece. It is by far the most ergonomic tailswitch light I’ve ever used. In a reverse grip especially, it just feels right. A cigar grip works remarkably well too, thanks to the curves in the body tube. I cannot stress enough how perfect KR1 feels in-hand.

KR1 carries differently depending on the clip. By default, it comes with an extremely roomy clip (which happens to also fit Convoy S12 in the right of the photo below). If you have SUPER thick pants pockets, this clip might be worth considering. Otherwise, do yourself a favor and add the Noctigon KR4 Deep Carry Clip to your cart (shown installed on my KR1 throughout the review, and in the left of the photo below). It is worlds better for typical daily carry, so much so that I’ve ordered several extras to put on other lights.

A basic lanyard is included in the box, as well as a lanyard attachment ring. This ring replaces the pocket clip, since there’s no lanyard hole built into the body of the light.

Batteries & Charging

KR1 accepts unprotected flat top 18650 batteries. Just make sure the cell you use can provide enough current for your driver (either 5A or 7.5A depending on the emitter) which shouldn’t be too hard. I use Samsung 30Q’s in all my 18650 lights because they’re a great balance of capacity and current output. The battery goes in with the positive end toward the head, so it’s technically backwards in the above photo.

No charging solution is included with KR1. It can’t fit USB-rechargeable cells either, so you’ll have to have a separate charger.

Competition

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

Manker MC13: shorter (by default), USB rechargable 18350 battery included, more basic UI, larger head, fewer emitter options, TIR optic instead of reflector

Lumintop FW1A: smaller, fewer emitter options, doesn’t throw nearly as far, poorly optimized reflector

Noctigon DM11: a little larger, worse performance, TIR optic instead of reflector, 21700 battery instead of 18650, RGB aux LED’s, backlit side switch, some different emitter options, nowhere near as ergonomic nor pocketable, no stock pocket clip, doubles as a cheese grater

This section is not comprehensive. If I didn’t include a particular light here, it doesn’t mean it’s bad or doesn’t deserve to be here. I simply cannot list every possible competitor.

Conclusion

I’m really not a tailswitch kind of guy, so for a few months now I’ve been trying to find a “replacement” for KR1 in my collection. I tried Thrunite Catapult Mini, Sofirn IF22A, and Noctigon DM11, yet none of them come close to the level of excellence displayed in KR1. It’s so good that I bought another one when the SFT40 version was released and it’s even more incredible than the W1 version. As far as I am concerned, KR1 is the best pocket thrower on the market at the time of writing, by a landslide. Get one.

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