Convoy L7 Review – Forget Maglite

Contents

The Boring Stuff

I purchased this light with my own money from the official product page on Convoy’s Aliexpress store. I also bought two 26800 extensions so I could use 26800 batteries, and this holster so I could carry the light on my Lumen Belt. It took about a month to arrive with the free shipping. Below are the official specs.

What comes in the box?

I appreciate how Convoy keeps packaging simple. L7 comes in a thick, plain, two-piece, cardboard box with just a sticker on the end indicating what’s inside. The light is held in place by a high quality foam cutout. When you first open the box there appear to be some loose foam scraps covering the light, and that’s exactly what they are. Convoy re-uses the interior of the foam cutouts to pad the top of the light instead of trashing them and cutting a new piece to go in the lid. Smart! The following items are included in the box:

  • The light itself
  • A removable tactical ring
  • Two spacer discs (for use with short/flat top batteries)

Design & Construction

L7 borrows its overall shape from its predecessor, Convoy L6. But, it has a few aesthetic updates and I think it looks fantastic. L6 has always looked a little but too tacticool and grenade-like to me.

Build quality is stellar. The threads are thick, square cut, anodized (on the tail end), and lightly lubricated. The anodizing is thick and even. I have zero complaints with L7’s build quality and it just feels well-made in hand.

Size & Measurements

From left to right:
Convoy L7
Lumintop GT94
Noctigon K1

MeasurementMeasured (mm)
Bezel Diameter72.6
Length (with extensions)282
Tail Switch Diameter16
Side Switch Diameter11
Side Switch Proudness1.2
Lens Diameter68.1
Lens Thickness2.4
Reflector Hole Diameter13.5
Reflector Diameter67.6
Reflector Height48.2
MCPCB Size25
Body Tube Diameter (internal, main tube) 27.0
Body Tube Diameter (internal, extensions) 26.9
Body Tube Diameter (maximum)35.6
Body Tube Diameter (mode)35.6
Body Tube Length (without extensions)140.9
Tailcap Diameter37.4
Tailcap Length34.8
Driver Diameter~28, +/-2

Weight without batteries: 556g / 19.6oz
Weight with QB26800 batteries: 793g / 28oz

User Interface

This is a pretty standard dual-switch UI and it suits this light well. The tailswitch is used for on/off and the side switch changes modes. You don’t really need much more than that on a big light like this and it makes it easy to hand to someone without an extensive UI explanation.

“TS” is tail switch. “SS” is side switch.

StateActionResult
OffHalf-press TSMomentary on
OffClick (full-press) TSConstant on
OnClick (full-press) TSOff
OnClick SSCycle up one mode
OnDouble click SSStrobe

While this UI works fine, there are some things I would change. The first is I found myself desperately wishing I could turn it on/off from the side switch. As it is, this is a two-handed light because you have to use one hand for on/off and one for mode changes. If Convoy switched to a typical e-switch UI for the side switch and just used the tail switch for lockout and momentary activation, it would be perfect.

Additionally, I missed a battery check. That’s a minor detail, but I think it would have been nice to include a voltage readout mode or some indicator LED’s on the head. Lastly, the strobe almost never gets in the way for me, but I still think I’d rather not have it. That way I could cycle modes a little faster.

Modes, Brightness, Throw, & Tint

Disclaimer: Lumen measurements were taken on a Texas Ace 3.5″ Lumen Tube. A candela measurement was taken at 10 meters with an Opple Light Master III on the highest brightness, and other candela figures were calculated relative to that. CCT & DUV data was taken for each mode from a few feet away at the center of the hotspot with the Opple Light Master and Waveform DUV Calculator. Runtime tests were performed with the Ceilingbounce app on my smartphone. All of these tests were performed with two fully charged QB26800 batteries unless otherwise specified. None of this is professional equipment, so take all of these measurements with a grain of salt.

Level Lumens (@ Turn-On)Candela (@ Turn-On)Throw (meters)CCTDUV
100%3880470000137157000.0090
35%206024953699954600.0114
10%6257570955052800.0137
1%65787417751900.0161
The light didn’t fit perfectly in my lumen tube, so the actual brightness is probably higher.

Mode Spacing: is OK. The jump between 35% and 100% seems a little small but it’s not distracting.

How does it compare to the official specs? Lumens are nowhere near the advertised number of 5900, but that’s to be expected. Convoy has a frustrating practice of only listing theoretical output at the LED, not measuring actual output after the light has passed through the reflector/optic and lens. Additionally, this light didn’t fit my lumen tube particularly well so a few of those lumens got lost. The light is probably a little brighter than measured.

Runtime

The light didn’t fit perfectly in my lumen tube, so the actual brightness is probably higher.

Performance: Turbo lasts 2-3 minutes before thermal stepdown. It generates a lot of heat too because I wasn’t able to prevent thermal stepdown even with a desk fan blowing directly on the light at max speed.

LVP: I observed LVP in all runtime tests and it kicks in when the driver sees about 6 volts. The cells are in series though so they need to stay balanced for the LVP to work. Mine appear to be a little imbalanced because after each runtime, one cell was at around 3.3V and the other cell was around 2.6V. It’s likely just a small imbalance between my two cells.

Driver & Regulation

L7 uses a buck driver to take the 6-8.4V from its two cells down to the 3V needed by its SBT90.2 LED. Convoy rates this driver at 20.5 amps to the LED which is very impressive for such a well regulated driver. I was unable to remove the driver, but only because my snap ring pliers could not open wide enough to engage the retaining ring.

The light didn’t fit perfectly in my lumen tube, so the actual brightness is probably higher.

Regulation is excellent. Battery voltage does not affect brightness on any mode at all unless the batteries are virtually empty, in which case the light will shut off shortly after being activated due to the low voltage protection.

Note: All regulation measurements are taken at turn-on so they do not reflect any thermal or low voltage stepdowns that may occur. A value of 0 indicates low voltage shutoff immediately upon activation.

Thermal regulation: is present, but based on my testing and 1Lumen’s testing, it seems that it will only dip as low as 35% mode. That’s a problem because the light will continue to heat up to dangerous levels without sufficient airflow. Because of this issue, I ran my 100% and 35% runtime tests with a fan gently blowing on the light after thermal stepdown, to keep it from overheating. I’ve observed this behavior in other Convoys and it’s a big problem. The light should keep lowering its brightness until it reaches thermal equilibrium, not just stop at 35% mode.

PWM: No PWM is visible to my eye.

Emitter & Beam

L7 uses a single Luminus SBT90.2 LED. This emitter is renown for its extreme brightness and high intensity, where most other LED’s are either extremely bright or high intensity. It’s well suited to this host. It’s sits at the base of a large, smooth reflector that does a great job focusing the beam.

The beam is reasonably clean. I does have that distinct Convoy magenta ring around the outside of the spill.

L7

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.

L7

Below are some spectacular drone shots, courtesy of u/jonfromm who was kind enough to come out and lend a hand taking beamshots!

L7

The hotspot is narrow, as you would expect from a relatively large thrower. It’s got plenty of spill brightness too though, so you don’t feel like you have tunnel vision. It’s a joy to use outside because it’s so bright and throws so far. It’s substantial in the hand too so it really feels as powerful as it is.

Switch

L7 has two switches: a forward clicky mechanical tail switch, and an electronic side switch. Both are highly tactile and clicky. The tail switch allows for silent momentary activation and is only used to turn the light on and off, so it can be used for signaling. The side switch is only used to change modes. Neither are backlit.

The tailswitch is easy to disassemble with snap ring pliers, should you want to do any maintenance or change the switch boot. The spring in the tail is thick and stiff so it should be able to handle the high current drawn by this light.

Carry & Ergonomics

Ergonomically, L7 is great. The body tube is the ideal diameter and has the perfect milling to get a nice grip. It’s extremely well balanced in a forward grip, and the side switch is easy to reach for mode changes. A reverse grip works OK for using the tail switch, but it’s a bit cumbersome. I find a forward grip works best, and I use my other hand to press the tail switch to turn the light on and off. You cannot reach both switches simultaneously with one hand.

There are no carry methods included with L7. There are lanyard holes on the tailcap and the optional cigar grip ring, but no lanyard is included. Convoy sells a nice belt holster (shown below) that works well with L7, but only with the grip ring removed.

Batteries & Charging

L7 uses two 26650 batteries by default, but I bought the 26800 extensions and am using two 26800 cells. The cells I’m using are Queen Battery QB26800’s. They rattle a little inside the tube, so I added two layers of painter’s tape to the outside of the cells and that stopped all rattle and makes them fit nicely in the body tube.

The product page says the cells need to have a continuous discharge rating of at least 11 amps. It’s compatible with flat top or button top cells. Two small spacers are included in the box to be put in-between flat top cells. Protected cells aren’t strictly necessary since the L7 does have LVP, but it’s additive so it’s possible one cell could still be over-discharged if your cells are mismatched. You can use protected cells for added safety if you wish, just make sure they’re rated for at least 11 amps of continuous discharge.

The 26800 extensions will only work on the tail end of the light right out of the box. I used a Dremel with a wire brush wheel attachment to remove the anodizing on the threads of one so that it could be used on the head end and make the necessary electrical connection. I just like the look of that better.

No charging solution is included and 26800 cells don’t fit in most chargers. I’m using a Nitecore UI2 which is slow, but it fits the cells and can charge both simultaneously.

Competition

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

Convoy 4X18A SBT: Shorter & fatter body, narrower bezel, four 18650 batteries (optionally) included, USB-C charging, electronic side switch only, slightly lower brightness, less throw, similar price point. I reviewed it here.

Convoy L8: Shorter body, wider head, slightly brighter with slightly further throw, inefficient & poorly regulated FET driver, USB-C charging, electronic side switch only, 26800 battery (optionally) included, better tint due to newer AR coating, slightly less expensive, very ergonomic

Noctigon K1 SBT: Much smaller body, similar size head, inefficient FET drive on Turbo mode, USB-C charging, backlit electronic side switch, 21700 battery (not included), Anduril user interface, more expensive. I reviewed it here.

Convoy L6: Predecessor to L7, more emitter options (including the high CRI GT-FC40), a bit wider beam, different styling, less expensive

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

Do you want an old-school Maglite that can be used as a club, but you can’t stand the old-school poor performance? L7 is your answer. It’s hefty, well made, easy to use, performs extremely well, and its priced competitively to boot! I highly recommend it.

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