Noctigon DM11 Review – Throwy Cheese Grater

Contents

The Boring Stuff

I purchased these lights with my own money from the manufacturer at full price. One has an Osram W1, and the other has a Nichia B35AM 3500K. Here is the official product page. Below are the official specs at the time of writing. They’ve changed once since the light was released, so be sure to check the current listing.

What comes in the box?

DM11 comes in a typical Emisar/Noctigon box. It’s a brown cardboard box with a sticker on the top indicating the contents, and a foam insert inside. Notably, DM11 appears to have its own dedicated insert, while all my other compact Emisar/Noctigon lights use one generic insert. The following items are included in the box:

  • Noctigon DM11
  • Spare O-rings

I ordered a pocket clip with my first one, and it came wrapped in bubblewrap outside the cardboard box. By the time I ordered my second DM11, the pocket clip was no longer an option and it didn’t come with one (good riddance). No lanyard is included because there’s no spot to attach a lanyard.

Design & Construction

Build quality is excellent, as I’ve come to expect from Hank. The Anodizing is thick, even, and a little bit matte. It’s not nearly as chalky as Noctigon KR series lights, but not as glossy as Emisar D4 series lights. All the threads you use regularly are trapezoid cut, anodized, lubed, and smooth enough. I can’t find any build quality issues at all. There are thick, high-quality springs on both ends that contact the battery.

The Awful Body Tube

This body tube design has been polarizing since day one. There are some users that love it, and others (me included) who can’t stand it. It actively harms the usability of the light for me, and I’ve got four main problems:

Knurling: This body tube has the most aggressive milled texturing I’ve ever seen. The corners are chamfered but it still manages to be sharp. It’s so sharp that it borders on uncomfortable to hold. If it gets snagged on a thread when removing it from your pocket, your fingers will get scratched by the knurling.

Pocket Clip: The included pocket clip is atrocious. It’s the worst pocket clip implementation I can think of off the top of my head. The clip in and of itself is fine, and works fine on other lights, but not on DM11’s body tube. The clip lands right on the row of texturing closest to the head, and that will undoubtedly shred pocket material after a few uses. Once that material is shredded, the sharp texturing will start to catch on the pocket material preventing you from inserting/removing the light from your pocket. Furthermore, DM11’s body tube flares out toward the head, right where the pocket clip’s mouth is, effectively closing it up. So, there’s no open mouth on this clip that will slip over pocket material, you have to lift the clip to get it into a pocket. It baffles me that the same man has designed both this, the worst clip implementation I can think of, and Noctigon KR4’s clip, which is the best clip implementation I can think of.

Fortunately, a few users have found some alternate clip options that mostly solve the issues. Zebralight H600 series clip is the best option, and it’s shown in the first photo above. Next up is Olight’s M2R clip, which fits great except that it sticks past the tailcap, so it’s a no from me. Lastly, Olight’s Seeker 2 clip technically fits, but its massive. I test fit a few other clips (KR1, KR4, Convoy Universal) but none of them fit well at all.

Weird Threads: DM11’s tube flares out toward the head because it uses oddly large diameter threads. Perhaps this is so DM11 can use alternate body tubes from Emisar D4SV2 or Noctigon K1, which share nearly identical thread diameters? Nope. We are stuck with this tube and this tube only. The threads are so similar to those on K1 that I can thread my K1 body tube into DM11’s head, but only about halfway, not enough to make it work. This is such a huge design oversight that I cannot fathom how Hank could have missed it. I also cannot fathom why Hank would then choose to use a different thread pattern. If I could just buy an extra K1 or D4SV2 tube and thread DM11’s head onto it, all my complaints would be solved!

Ergonomics: The tube is just too small for the head of the light, and it throws off the ergonomics. If I put my thumb on the button, my pinky hangs halfway off. If I grip it close to the head, my thumb is so far forward that reaching the button is awkward. The neck of the head is so wide it throws off the ergo’s a little too. Don’t get me wrong, it’s perfectly usable but it doesn’t give me that “OK, yeah, this is right” feeling when I hold it. I get that from D4SV2 with a 26800 tube and from a KR1. Those are ergonomic masterpieces, and I think this could have been too with a 26800 body tube like you can get for D4SV2.

UPDATE: Hank now sells a 26800 body tube & tailcap for DM1.12 which also fit DM11! They aren’t listed separately on the website, but you can email contact@intl-outdoor.com to order them. Based on DM1.12’s product page it’s $20-23 for the set depending on if you select the magnetic tailcap or not.

Size & Measurements

Size-wise it’s a little larger than I had hoped. The head is pretty wide all the way down to the body tube, unlike some other designs like K1 where the head tapers down significantly. That makes it a little too big for me to carry comfortably.

Noctigon K1 | Noctigon DM11 | Emisar D4SV2 | Noctigon KR1

MeasurementMeasured (mm)
Bezel Diameter40.0
Length121.0
Switch Diameter11.0
Switch Proudness1.2
Lens Diameter37.0
Lens Thickness1.9
Optic Diameter35.0
Optic Height (legs not included)23.0
MCPCB Sizecustom
Body Tube Diameter (minimum internal) 21.9
Body Tube Diameter (maximum at texturing)26.9
Body Tube Length76.1
Ride Height (sticking out of pocket)18.5
Pocket Clip Space (for pants material)~3.3
Pocket Clip Space (at mouth)~0
Pocket Clip Width7.0
Pocket Clip Thickness0.8
Pocket Cip Slot Width4.0
Pocket Clip Slot Diameter24.0
Tailcap Diameter29.0
Tailcap Length14.4
Driver Diameter~30.0

Weight without battery: 126g / 4.4oz
Weight with Molicel P42A battery: 193g / 6.8oz

User Interface

DM11 comes loaded with Anduril 2, the best flashlight user interface available at the time of writing. It’s easy to use for basic operation, but allows a myriad of customization options and extra features. It’s continually being improved too, and I’m thrilled that it’s included here. It’s far too complex to do a whole UI breakdown, but here are some of my favorite features:

  • Simple basic operation (1 click on/off and hold to change brightness)
  • Shortcut to moonlight
  • Momentary turbo
  • Customizable mode memory
  • Customizable minimum & maximum brightness
  • Customizable smooth or stepped brightness adjustment
  • Battery voltage readout
  • Sunset timer (dims the light over a customizable period of time)

Ultimately, my absolute favorite feature is that Anduril 2 defaults to a limited “simple UI” which is no more complicated to use than any other typical e-switch UI you’ll find on lights from Olight, Thrunite, etc. This eliminates the old argument against Anduril 1, that “it’s too complicated”, and means you can buy an Anduril 2 light for the average consumer and they won’t get stuck in some weird mode.

Modes, Brightness & Throw

Disclaimer: Lumen measurements were taken on a Texas Ace 3.5″ Lumen Tube. A candela measurement was taken with a Opple Light Master III on the highest brightness, and other candela figures were calculated relative to that. Runtime tests were performed with the Ceilingbounce app on my smartphone. All of these tests were performed with a fully charged Molicel P42A battery unless otherwise specified. I cannot measure moonlight directly, so moonlight readings are calculated based on the brightness relative to the next-lowest mode.

Level Lumens (@ Turn-On)Candela (@ Turn-On)Throw (meters)
Turbo (150)645100000632
High (120)42065120510
Medium (80)12018610273
Low (40)12186086
Moonlight (1)0.1320.169
Osram W1
Level Lumens (@ Turn-On)Candela (@ Turn-On)Throw (meters)
Turbo (150)121023230305
High (120)59011330213
Medium (80)1442770105
Low (40)1325032
Moonlight (1)0.47.75.5
Nichia B35AM

Why those modes? Anduril 2 has 150 levels, so doing measurements and tests for each mode is virtually impossible. I’ve got this light set up how I like it with 5 levels. Bottom of ramp is level 1 and top of ramp is level 120. I’ve set up the stepped ramp with 4 steps so, with turbo added, I get the 5 modes I like.

Mode Spacing: is not great but it’s not terrible. Ramp speed is noticeably faster at the bottom than at the top, but it’s better than previous Hanklights with older firmware. I wouldn’t mind seeing it improved, but it’s not problematically bad.

How does it compare to the official specs? Notably, the Turbo brightness & candela on both samples are measuring significantly (between 15 and 35%) lower than advertised. That is outside the 10% margin of error for my amateur testing equipment. I double and triple checked that my lights were truly on Turbo when I took those measurements. The official specs have been changed once already at the time of writing, so perhaps they’ll be updated again to be more realistic.

Runtime & Currents

Use the sliders below to compare the performance of these two emitters!

Osram W1 | Nichia B35AM
Osram W1 | Nichia B35AM

Turbo (W1): starts out at 645 lumens, notably lower than the claimed 900 lumens, but still useful. It steps down gently to about 200 lumens over the course of 15 minutes. It stays there and creeps back up a little bit until the four and a half hour mark where low voltage stepdowns kick in.

Turbo (B35): starts out at 1210 lumens, notably lower than the claimed 1400. That could be due to the warm color temperature though. It steps down to to about 600 lumens over the course of 2.5 minutes, and then declines down to about 375 lumens by the 12 minute mark. It stays around 350 lumens until low voltage stepdowns kick in 3 hours after turn-on.

High (both): looks virtually identical to turbo. It just starts out a little dimmer.

Medium (W1): is a perfectly flat 120 lumens until low voltage stepdowns kick in at 9 hours.

Medium (B35): is a perfectly flat 144 lumens until low voltage stepdowns kick in at 8 hours.

LVP: I didn’t let most my tests go long enough to observe LVP, because Anduril 2 really stretches out those last few milliamp hours. I did let one test run long and LVP shut the light off eventually, as expected.

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 Molicel P42A batteries I’m using for testing.

LevelCurrent @ Tailcap (milliamps)Estimated Runtime
Low46.391 hours
Moonlight1.4125 days
Standby (aux high)4.242 days
Standby (aux low)0.1154.2 years
Standby (aux off)0.04710.2 years
Osram W1
LevelCurrent @ Tailcap (milliamps)Estimated Runtime
Low47.888 hours
Moonlight7.324 days
Standby (aux high)3.945 days
Standby (aux low)0.1154.2 years
Standby (aux off)0.0568.6 years
Nichia B35AM

Note: Aux LED’s were set to Red for current testing. Power requirements may vary for other colors.

Driver & Regulation

Osram W1 | Nichia B35AM

DM11 has a few different drivers depending on your emitter choice. There are three linear drivers (5, 7.5, or 9 amp) and two boost drivers (12V 2A for XHP35-HI, and 6V 3.6A for B35AM). My samples are a 5A linear driver for Osram W1, and the 6V driver for B35AM. The drivers available appear to be virtually identical to those found in Noctigon K1. As you can see above, the boost driver has some components on the visible side, where the linear driver doesn’t. Hank’s awesome flashing pads are present too, allowing for quick and easy firmware updates.

Use the sliders below to compare the performance of these two emitters!

Osram W1 | Nichia B35AM

The W1 model has regulation that’s typical of Hank’s linear drivers: pretty good. Turbo output starts to wane a little bit as the cell starts to dip below half capacity, and high keeps trucking until the cell is nearly dead. Medium and Low are perfectly consistent throughout the usable voltage range.

The B35 model really shines though. It is fully regulated through all modes! It can produce its full Turbo output all the way until activating turbo shuts off the light due to voltage sag.

Note: All regulation measurements are taken at turn-on so they do not reflect any thermal or low voltage stepdowns that may occur.

Thermal regulation: DM11 uses Anduril 2, which has some of the most sophisticated thermal regulation available. It’s excellent. By default, the thermal ceiling is set to a nice holdable 45C but you can raise it as high as 70C if you want to get a higher sustained output.

PWM: There is no PWM present in either version on Medium (80), High (120), or Turbo (150), but the B35 version flickers noticeably on Moonlight (1) and displays some PWM or sawtooth on Low (40).

Emitter & Beam

Osram W1 | Nichia B35AM

DM11 is available with a wide variety of emitter options. SFT40 will probably be the most compelling to the most people, but I chose Osram W1 because I wanted the most throw I could get and a really narrow beam. Nichia B35AM is a new emitter option that hasn’t been available in anything before, so I wanted to give that a try as well.

The emitter sits behind a large TIR optic. It’s pretty difficult to remove & reinsert, so I don’t recommend doing so unless you absolutely must. Oddly, B35’s optic is higher than W1’s. Instead of its legs sitting in the little holes in the MCPCB, there are little red risers inserted into the holes. Without those holes, there’s nothing to locate the optic on the MCPCB and it’s very difficult to get it perfectly aligned. Do not remove the optic if you have a B35AM unless you absolutely have to.

Both beams have a bright hotspot and relatively dim spill. It’s especially noticeably on the W1 model, with its higher intensity and lower lumen count. There aren’t really any artifacts to speak of in either case. I measured W1 at 6000K and 70CRI, and B35AM at 3150K and 97CRI with an Opple Light Master 3 with the light diffused in my white photo booth. B35 is noticeably warmer than the 3500K it’s ostensibly supposed to be, and I can see it in the beam. It’s a little bit under BBL too, which is nice.

Osram W1 | Nichia B35AM 3500K
Osram W1 | Nichia B35AM 3500K

Outdoors, DM11 W1 is a lightsaber. The beam is incredibly narrow and the spill is minimal and ill-defined. It throws far and casts just enough light at your feet to be able to see. It’s more fun than useful though.

B35AM is pretty pleasant outside. You can tell it only throws half as far, but the spill is brighter and the color rendering is noticeably better. It’s not a bad general purpose outdoor beam.

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

Both models have a fairly low moonlight level. I estimate the W1 model at 0.13lm and the B35 model ad 0.4lm.

Aux LED’s: DM11 has 6 RGB aux LED’s behind the big TIR optic. This is the first light available with a bit TIR and aux LED’s. They are just beautiful. I like mine to be red, but you can change them to any of 7 colors, or have them rotate colors.

Switch

DM11 uses an electronic, backlit, side switch. It sits recessed in a switch retaining ring that keeps it well protected. It appears to be the exact same switch and boot uses in Emisar D4V2 & D4SV2. It’s not too hard to find, clicky, and tactile. I like it.

Batteries & Charging

DM11 uses one, unprotected, flat top, 21700 battery. Currently there are no emitters offered with extremely high power draw, so any of the ~5000mah ~10A discharge cells on the market should work fine. I’m using a Molicel P42A for my testing, but I tried a Molicel P26A 18650 as well and it worked reliably. The battery has to be purchased separately, and no charging solution is included.

Competition

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

Noctigon KR1: Smaller, 18650 instead of 21700, tailswitch instead of side switch, not aux LED’s, reflector instead of optic, great pocket clip options (KR4’s clip is my favorite), worse regulation (compared to DM11 with B35), will not destroy your pockets

Emisar D1: Basically a DM11 but scale down to 18650 size like Noctigon KR1, and with a reflector instead of an optic.

Sofirn IF22A: Same size, same optic, only one emitter option (SFT40), worse regulation, worse switch, worse UI, USB-C charging, powerbank function, battery included, easily available, good clip, will not destroy your pockets

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 have been eagerly awaiting a light with this feature set: pocketable size, large TIR, RGB aux LED’s, side switch, and Anduril 2. DM11 is so close to perfect for me, but the body tube (did I mention how much I dislike it?) and not hitting performance specs take it down a few notches for me. It’s also just a little too big to really be pants pocketable for me. This light is still good, and I may keep one around, but it’s not the slam-dunk that Hank usually produces. It certainly didn’t meet my (admittedly lofty) expectations. If you don’t mind the cheese grater body tube and limited pocketability, this is a great TIR thrower with enthusiast features.

2022-07-23 Update: DM11 strikes me as being in a weird size range that’s not all that useful. It’s a little too big to be pocketable, but not big enough that the throw is really impressive. Recently I find that I want lights that are either small and pocketable or large and powerful. DM11 is neither. For me, I think Emisar D1 will suit the role I envisioned for DM11. A pocketable side switch thrower with all the great Hank features like Anduril, aux LED’s, and an awesome LED selection.

3 thoughts on “Noctigon DM11 Review – Throwy Cheese Grater

  1. Typo on the last sentence of your Conclusion. Instead of may NOT, I think you meant to say may BE. Great review!

  2. Does the 26800 tube for the DM11 change your opinion of the light? Given how much you dislike the stock tube, I wonder if the 26800 tube makes the light more likable? I think your overall conclusion still stands that the light is in between use cases and doesn’t really fit well into the lineup. I’m thinking of trying one with 26800 tube before Hank pulls it from the lineup.

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