Convoy’s Aliexpress store is remarkably difficult to navigate and make sense of, so I’ve put together this guide to hopefully make things easier. I am not affiliated with Convoy in any way, nor are any of the links here affiliate links. Originally this content appeared on Reddit but I’ve moved it here to have more formatting flexibility and control.
- What do “4 Mode”, “12 Groups”, “Biscotti”, and “Ramping” mean?
- What do the names mean?
- Product Lineup
- Lighted Switches
- Other Miscellaneous Links
What is Convoy?: Convoy is a Chinese flashlight brand that focuses on highly configurable and well made lights at low prices. They don’t usually have all the bells and whistles, but they are priced aggressively and they nail the basics of what makes a good flashlight. Convoy lights are highly modular so they are community favorites for DIY builds and modifications.
Where to Buy?: Here is the official Convoy store on Aliexpress. The Convoy Flashlight Fans Facebook Page usually has a discount code, so check there and try their code before ordering. Mohrlumens is an alternate US-based distributor with a smaller selection but much faster shipping to the US. He also carries some unique products like DC fix and silicone thread lubricant which are hard to find elsewhere. Prices are a little higher since he’s a reseller.
What does “7135×6” mean?: Some of Convoy’s lights use “7135” power delivery chips. More chips means more power to the LED and therefore more heat generated. 8 is best for most people, but fewer can be good if you want a basic 1-mode light that won’t eat through batteries.
What does “4000K” mean?: K (Kelvin) value is color temperature. It’s what color a tungsten filament glows when at that temperature. The typical range is from a yellow-ish 2700K to a blue-ish 6500K. 4-5000K is most pleasant to most people but it’s just a matter of preference.
What about batteries & charging?: Most models will have listings both with and without a battery. If you can’t find a listing with a battery included. Convoy carries both high quality batteries and high quality chargers. Just make sure when picking a battery that it’s the right size and has enough current for your light. You can also message the seller and ask for a battery to be included.
Custom Orders?: Simon will do custom orders, to an extent. Usually if you order something close to what you want, then ask in the order notes for one or two details to be changed, he will oblige. Not always though, so don’t rely on this service for critical changes.
What do “4 Mode”, “12 Groups”, “Biscotti”, and “Ramping” mean?
Those are the names of firmware (user interfaces) available on some of Convoy’s lights. Not all lights offer all three options. The 4 mode firmware has 4 modes, mode memory, and that’s it. It’s straightforward with no blinky modes at all.
The 12 mode group and biscotti firmwares are essentially the same thing. Basic operation is the same as the 4 mode firmware, but they give the user some programming options. The user can select from one of 12 different mode groups and can also disable/enable mode memory. The only two differences are that biscotti only requires 10 taps to enter programming mode, whereas the 12 group UI requires 20. The 12 group UI has minimal thermal regulation and biscotti has no thermal regulation at all. Below is a UI chart for the Biscotti & 12-Group firmwares.
The “Ramping” firmware’s name is a bit misleading. It doesn’t ramp smoothly in normal use like Anduril does, for example. It allows you to select brightness levels using an infinite ramp and then those are your selected levels, rather than having different mode groups to choose from. Notably, the “Ramping” firmware has no thermal regulation nor mode memory. Below is a UI chart.
I have some thoughts on how these UI’s can be improved, if you’d like to take a look and provide some feedback.
What do the names mean?
Convoy doesn’t really have a particularly cohesive name scheme, but here are some things that might help.
- Light’s that start with “T” (for Tiny) usually run on AA or 14500 cells.
- Models that start with “S” (for Small) are usually EDC size and run on a single 18650 or 21700.
- Models that start with “M” (for Medium) range from large EDC size to jacket pocket size and run on a single 18650, 21700, or 26650 cell.
- Models that start with “L” (for Large) are throwy and usually too big to fit in a jacket pocket. They run on one or more 21700 or larger cells.
- Models with “18” in the name run on one or more 18650 cells. “21” in the name run on one or more 21700 cells. Models with “26” in the name run on one or more 26650 cells.
There are a lot of models that are sort of one-offs that don’t fit into any name scheme too, so don’t limit your search just to models that fit into this very loose name scheme.
The M21 Series: There’s some confusion about the differences between the various models in the Convoy M21 series. Hopefully this chart & size comparison below will clarify. A larger head means a narrower hotspot and more throw. A smaller head means a wider hotspot and less throw. M21C-U is not on the chart because it’s an inferior predecessor to M21D.
This list is not exhaustive, but here are a few lights that I personally find most compelling in Convoy’s lineup.
S2+ is a tailswitch 18650 EDC light available in a wide variety of colors with a wide variety of emitters. My favorite emitter choices for it are the Nichia 519A for the best light quality (be sure to request an OP reflector in the order notes), and SFT40 for awesome brightness & throw.
Emitter options: XPL-HI, XML2, 219B, 219C, 519A, SST-20, SST-40, SFT40, LH351D, Osram W1, Osram Blue, Osram Red / SST20 Deep Red, Osram Green, Osram Amber, Ultra Violet, Infra-Red. Accessories: pocket clip, tailcap magnet, beaded optics, smooth optics, elliptical optics, optics for XML2/SST40/SFT40, 18350 tubes, diffuser, lighted switches, holster. Alternatives: S21A is basically the same thing, just scaled up a little with some different emitter options. It supports the Thyrm Switchback DF tactical ring/clip, which is cool.
H1 is a simple, cheap, right-angle headlamp notable for being available with a relatively rare Nichia 219B emitter and a wide, beaded, TIR optic. It and it’s brother-with-charging called H2 are also available in a few other configurations. I reviewed H1 here.
M1 is an 18650 pocket thrower/tactical light available with several emitter options (same as S2+). Notably, M1 fits a Thyrm Switchback 2.0 tactical ring. This is one of my favorite lights of all time. For most people I recommend the SFT40 version with 12 groups.
M21B is the same thing as the M1, just scaled up a little to use a 21700 cell. The most notable emitters for it are the GT-FC40 (bright, floody, & high CRI) and SFT40 (bright & throwy). No Thyrm Switchback support here. Also available in a white MAO finish!
C8+ is a compact tailswitch 18650 thrower available in a wide variety of colors with a wide variety of emitters. My favorite emitter choices for it are Nichia 519A (for the best light quality), SFT40 (for awesome brightness and throw), and the Osram colorful emitters.
Emitter options: XPL-HI, 219C, 519A, SST-20, SST-40, SFT40, LH351D, XHP50.2, Osram W1, Osram W2.2, Osram Blue, Osram Red, Osram Green, Osram Amber. Accessories: 18350 tube, stainless bezel, diffuser, lighted switches, holster.
M21D is a hefty jacket-pocket thrower utilizing a side switch, 21700 battery, integrated USB-C charging, and powerbank functionality. Emitter options: XHP70.2, SFT40, GT-FC40. M21E is a smaller version of the same light, and M21F is an even smaller version. I reviewed the GT-FC40 version here.
L21B is a medium size lightweight tailswitch 21700 thrower. The best emitter option is Luminus SFT40, which produces ~2000lm and nearly 400,000 candela in this host. If you want the most throw at the cost of lumens, or colored light, check out the Osram versions. There’s also a remote switch available.
Z1 is the best zoomable light I am aware of. The best emitter is the Luminus SFT40. I reviewed it here.
4X18A is a large side switch soup can thrower that takes four 18650 batteries and has USB-C charging. I reviewed it here. There are a couple different emitter options and four body color options. It’s a beast!
L6/L7 are good modern alternatives to a classic Maglite. I think the two most compelling options are the L6 with GT-FC40 (for great light quality) and L7 with SBT90 (for maximum brightness and throw).
L8 is Convoy’s furthest-throwing model. It features Convoy’s largest reflector, an SBT90.2 emitter, a FET driver, USB-C charging, and a 26800 battery included.
Convoy offers lighted switches for most tail switch models that you can install yourself.
- 16mm Rubber Switch for 18650 models and S21A
- 20mm Rubber Switch for 21700 (except S21A) or 26650 models
- 16mm Metal Switch for 18650 models and S21A
- 20mm Metal Switch for 21700 (except S21A) or 26650 models
The following configurations are not compatible with lighted switches out of the box.
- Any model using the “Biscotti” or “Ramping” firmwares. Search the product page for the worsd “Biscotti” or “Ramping” to determine if a light has these firmwares or not.
- Any model that comes with a metal button preinstalled (most S2+ colors). The lights that come with a metal switch by default are machined differently, and their metal switch boot can’t be removed and swapped with a transparent switch boot. Technically you can buy the 16mm rubber backlit switch and install only the switch & clear washer and it will work, but the light that bleeds through the stock metal switch is pretty dim.
- Dual-switch models like L6 & L7. These are physically and electronically incompatible with a lit switch.
Miscellaneous compatibility notes:
- Lighted switches do work with Convoy’s 5-Group driver included on lights with an Osram W1 Red or SST20 Deep Red LED.
- Metal lighted switches prevent tailstanding. If you have a metal lighted switch and a magnet installed, the light will turn off any time you magnet it to a surface.
- Works with the 1.2A 3-4V 17mm buck driver for UV LED’s
- Works with S12 UV’s 2-mode driver