- The Boring Stuff
- What comes in the box?
- Design & Construction
- Size & Measurements
- User Interface
- Modes, Brightness, Throw, & Tint
- Driver & Regulation
- Emitter & Beam
- Carry & Ergonomics
- Batteries & Charging
The Boring Stuff
I’ve got five different variants I’m testing in this review that I purchased from Convoy’s official Aliexpress store with my own money.
- Red with special 2.5A 2.5V 5-Group driver
- Green with 5A 12-Group driver
- Blue with 5A 12-Group driver
- OsramberTM with 8×7135 12-Group driver
- a custom UV build made of these parts: Host, Lens, Emitter, Driver.
If you want to see testing of some C8+’s with white LED’s, see this sister review!
What comes in the box?
C8+ comes in Convoy’s cheaper, thin, white, cardboard box with a bubblewrap sleeve protecting the light. It’s bare minimum packaging that keeps the cost down and the only other thing included is a basic lanyard. I discarded the packaging as soon as I opened these, so I don’t have any photos, but here’s the exact same box from my S12 UV review.
Design & Construction
C8+ is an evolution on the venerable and widely used C8 design. There’s a long, narrow body tube that houses the battery and switch with a wide flared head for throw. There are some fins on the head to help keep it cool, and some crenulations in the bezel so you can see when it’s on even when face-down.
Build quality is typical Convoy. It’s not amazing but it’s perfectly satisfactory, especially considering the rock bottom price tag. The threads are trapezoid cut and, as usual, the tail threads are anodized while the head threads are not. I wish the opposite were the case so that adding a collar-style pocket clip were easier. It’s worth noting that the black and brown colored anodizing is more durable than the other available colors.
Size & Measurements
|Maximum Head Diameter||44.5|
|Reflector Hole Diameter||7.0|
|Body Tube Diameter (internal)||19.0|
|Body Tube Diameter (maximum)||25.4|
|Body Tube Diameter (mode)||25.4|
|Body Tube Length||17.6|
|Pocket Cip Slot Width||~3.0|
|Pocket Clip Slot Diameter||23.0|
(I neglected to weigh any of my samples before I glued magnets to the tailcaps)
Weight without battery (with magnet): 151g
Weight with Molicel M35A battery & magnet): 196g
Weight with Molicel M35A battery, FW3A clip, magnet & stainless bezel: 210g
Convoy offers several UI’s for C8+ depending on the configuration you order. For more details, see the UI section of my Convoy Guide. For the most part, clicking the tail switch will turn the light on or off, and tapping the tail switch will change modes. Some UI’s have some configuration options too if you want to mess with that.
Notes: The red LED version shown here has a special 5-group UI with only 2 modes per group, 3 modes total, and no mode memory. I strongly prefer the more common 12-Group UI. The UV build has a single-mode driver.
Modes, Brightness, Throw, & Tint
I’m not including any specific brightness or throw measurements in this review because I don’t have a measurement method I trust for colorful LED’s. Just by eye, the Green is brightest, followed by Blue, then White, then Red, then Amber. Green appears to throw the furthest, then White is close behind. Blue, Red, and Amber all throw noticeably less far than the others.
Disclaimer: Runtime & Regulation tests were performed with the Ceilingbounce app on my smartphone. All of these tests were performed with a fully charged Molicel M35A battery unless otherwise specified. None of this is professional equipment, so take all of these measurements with a grain of salt.
LVP: There was LVP on all the drivers I tested except green, which I believe was a fluke. It’s got the same 5A 12-Group driver that I’ve tested a half a dozen times now in other lights that displayed LVP. I had to cut the amber test short due to time constraints but I observed LVP on it another time.
Thermal regulation: is hit or miss on the 12-Group firmware lights. It exists because I’m able to turn a fan on and the brightness goes up a bit, but it seems to bottom out at 35% mode. Depending on the host & LED, 35% mode might still overheat your light. I was unable to tell whether the red driver has any thermal regulation or not because it only ever got “pretty warm” during my testing, not hot.
Driver & Regulation
C8+ has several drivers available, depending on the configuration you buy. Here are the drivers I’ve got in these samples:
- Osram CSLNM1 Blue & Green: 5A 12-Group Linear. This driver is well suited to these LED’s and comes with a great UI. Regulation is consistent with most other linear drivers: the low-med modes are well regulated but the higher modes are affected by cell voltage. These are constant current drivers and have no PWM whatsoever.
- OsramberTM (CSLNM1 Amber): 8×7135 12-Group: The amber LED comes by default with the 5A 12-Group driver but it dramatically over-drives it. I found that the light was brighter at 50% current on that driver than it was at 100% current. So, I purchased and swapped in an 8×7135 (2.8A) driver instead that will drive the LED at a more appropriate current. It works great, and I recommend requesting this driver when ordering a Convoy with an OsramberTM LED. This driver uses PWM to regulate power. It’s not visible, but it’s audible on medium modes. Regulation with this driver is a little better than the 5A 12-Group drivers, but probably just due to the lower drive current.
- Osram CSLNM1 Red: 2.5V 2.5A 5-Group Buck: This is a special driver Convoy developed for Red LED’s because they have an unusually low forward voltage. It’s a good driver and it’s very well regulated and pretty efficient. Unfortunately, it comes with a weird 5-Group firmware only present on this driver. The different UI was driving me nuts, so after I finished all my testing for this review I swapped in an 8×7135 12-Group driver just like I used for the OsramberTM LED and it works great here too.
- UV Build: 3-4V 1.2A Buck: This is a single-mode Buck driver with an input voltage of ~3-8.4V and an output voltage of 3-4V at 1.2 amps. It’s perfect for driving a single UV LED and it provides excellent regulation when running on two 18350 batteries. Great regulation is rare to see in a UV light since UV LED’s have such a high forward voltage. This driver will take an 18650 as well but it runs unregulated.
Parasitic Drain: C8+ uses a mechanical switch so there is no parasitic drain unless you have a lighted switch installed.
Emitter & Beam
There are a lot of emitter options for C8+. Check out the C8+ section of my Convoy Guide for a list of options with links to their respective product pages. In this review I’m testing all the colorful Osram CSLNM1 variants, plus a UV LED.
The LED sits in the bottom of a deep reflector. By default all C8+’s come with a smooth reflector, but you can request an OP one in the order notes or just buy it separately.
If you want a red LED, I recommend choosing SST20 Deep Red over Osram CSLNM1 Red because the SST20 looks a lot deeper red than the Osram. Side by side, SST20 DR makes CSLNM1 Red look orange. The Red, Blue, and UV LED’s are narrow wavelength so they only emit Red, Blue, and UV respectively. The Amber and Green LED’s are wide band so they’re primarily Amber and Green but they produce all the other colors too.
The beam will vary some from emitter to emitter, but C8+ has a fairly large reflector so nonmatter what LED you choose, the beam will be narrow and throwy.
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.
UV: It’s hard to get UV beamshots, but here’s a comparison between this UV C8+ build and a Convoy S12 UV. You can see that S12 is much brighter and floodier overall, but C8+ is more intense. I think S12 is a better UV light overall.
Diffusers: I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Convoy’s excellent C8+ diffuser. I have one for each of my C8+’s and I get a ton of use out of them. They’re awesome for using the C8+ as a lantern outside, for illuminating a room, or even for doing light painting like these shots below of me running through a field with the Red, Green, and Blue versions.
C8+ comes stock with a reverse clicky mechanical tail switch. There’s a rubber boot covering the switch and two raised ears on either side to protected it from accidental activation and to allow tailstanding. It’s a fine switch as-is, but it offers a lot of customization options as well if you have a pair of snap ring pliers to take it apart.
- Backlit switches (rubber and metal) for finding the light in the dark
- Colorful switch boots for style
- Forward Clicky Switch for momentary on (requires soldering)
- Ring Magnet to go around the switch and make the tailcap magnetic
- DIY Remote Switch Kit for mounting to a bike or gun (requires soldering)
I opted to install a forward clicky switch (here’s my how-to video) and a ring magnet on all eight of my C8+’s, as well as a body-colored switch boot where I could. I love the forward clickies, but the magnets aren’t strong enough for such a heavy light so I don’t necessarily recommend them. They will only hold the light up on a surface that’s perfectly flat and horizontal.
Carry & Ergonomics
C8+ fits well in the hand. The milling provides plenty of grip without being too aggressive.
The only included carry method is a basic lanyard. It will do the trick, but I’m not really a lanyard guy. There’s a holster for it that works well. It’s really nice with some elastic side pockets and a loop that attaches with velcro and a snap for extra security. This snap-on clip will fit OK. This screw-on clip might fit. If you want a comically large bidirectional clip, Olight Seeker 2’s clip fits pretty perfectly as shown below. None of those clips did it for me…
I opted to install Lumintop FW3A clips on all of my C8+’s (shown below). It worked without any modification on half of them, but the Black, Silver, Green, and Orange body colors required some fitting. Specifically, I carefully sanded the bottom of the tailcap little by little until the light worked properly and it held the clip firmly in place. The clips were very stiff so I bent them all out a little bit too. It’s a pretty big light for a pants pocket but it’s doable. I think these clips add a lot of character.
Tailstand: generally works great. Plenty stable for most applications. If you install a metal lighted switch, the light will not tailstand properly. If you install a forward clicky switch, the light won’t tailstand properly while turned off.
Batteries & Charging
C8+ uses a single 18650 battery. Just about any 18650 will work great as long as it’s not a proprietary or USB-rechargeable one. I used a Molicel M35A for all my testing. If you want a cell included, Convoy usually makes duplicate listings of all their lights that have a battery included, so just poke around on the Aliexpress store for a bit and you’ll probably be able to find the config you want with a battery.
No charging solution is included and I don’t think the cells with built in USB ports will fit. Convoy does sell a few chargers if you need one.
Here are some lights in the same class and how they compare.
Convoy M1: All the same LED, driver, and switch options as C8+ but with a smaller head. Only available with black anodizing.
Convoy S2+: All the same LED, driver, and switch options as C8+ but in a 1″ tube. It’s available in even more body colors than C8+ and with multiple reflector/optic options to customize the beam.
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.
C8+ is a stalwart in the Flashlight community because it is so affordable with so many different configurations available. It’s not the light I reach for when I need to see something far away though. That’s usually something smaller and fancier like a KR1 or something much larger and more powerful like an L7.
C8+ is more of a toy for me, and it’s brilliant at that because I can have eight different ones in different body colors with different LED’s without breaking the bank! I can do fun mods like adding a pocket clip, installing a forward clicky switch, or gluing in a magnet without permanently modifying an expensive light. These are just so fun to play and tinker with, so I highly recommend giving one (or several!) a try.