The MMU-X3R is FourSevens’ brightest handheld flashlight yet. At 2,000 lumens, it’s brighter than my car’s high beams and is small enough to fit into the palm of my hand. But, is it the right light for you?
Three Cree XML-2s — some of the most powerful LEDs on the market — packed into a single light and driven as hard as current technology is capable of, while retaining total reliability. Power comes from a new, proprietary 26650 stacked button-cell battery pack that was purpose-designed by FourSevens just for this light. At 4,000mAh, this battery holds around three times the electricity a smart phone can; it’s powerful.
Charging is handled via an onboard micro-USB port, eliminating the need to carry or rely on an external charger. You just plug it into any USB outlet or use the included power brick to plug it into the wall. And, by connecting it via USB to a computer, you can alter the tail-mounted click-switch’s user interface.
Doing that, you can select between five modes of operation and gain access to four special modes: strobe, SOS, beacon (high) and beacon (low). You can tailor the modes you want access to or even just set it to only work in a single one. I prefer the stock setting, which allows you to click the light on and off rapidly, cycling through low, medium, high and strobe. A memory function remembers which mode you used last and turns the light back on in that mode if you turn it off.
The 110 lumen low provides 11 hours of continuous operation on a full charge; medium’s 900 lumens will run for 5 hours and the light will run in high at 2,000 lumens for 60 second, before thermal regulation begins backing that down to 1,000 over the next 60 seconds, which will then run for 2.5 hours. That thermal regulation allows you to click the light off and on, back to 2,000 lumens, once the light has cooled down enough. It never gets hot to the touch thanks to that regulation and the built-in heat sink that is the light’s head, but it definitely gets warm.
A note on claimed brightness: As the maker of what are probably the highest quality production flashlights in the world, FourSevens doesn’t feel the need to oversell its products. Its lights routinely exceed claimed numbers in independent, third party testing; numbers that beat lights from less reputable companies who quote figures that are…ambitious.
The MMU-X3R’s reflector is smooth, which is typical of a light specializing in throw. But, its angles appear to be tailored to flood. Combined with the massive output, that creates a hybrid light that’s capable of illuminating a wide area out to long distance.
FourSevens’ David Chow describes the X3R as a “duty light.” It’s specifically designed for police officers, soldiers and security guards who are looking for a portable light that’s as bright as possible. The light is designed to be carried in a holster, either on a belt or load-bearing vest; while it fits in your hand, the large-diameter head simply isn’t pocket-friendly.
Pretty much everyone else will be better served by a 2xAAA, single LED light like the $50 FourSevens Preon P2. Such a design is not only vastly more pocketable, but also produces a more useful range of light for everyday tasks; even the X3R’s 110 lumen low is way too bright for most daily needs.
The night before hunting turkeys, Corey and I found ourselves needing to test-fire our shotguns to work towards an ideal shot pattern with new, untested ammo. We taped paper targets to cardboard boxes, set them at 35 yards and I moved my Subaru Outback around to illuminate them. The result? Not nearly enough light from the car’s HID high beams and a messy pattern full of shadows to boot. No bother, the X3R was sitting in the glovebox, charging from one of the car’s USB ports. I just grabbed it, set it to high and pointed it at the boxes. Voila: the targets were not only bathed in light, but that light was completely even and artifact-free making for easy nighttime shooting.
- I bought my first super-powerful light six or seven years ago. It was a first-generation FourSevens Maelstrom that put out a then unbelievable 450 lumens, which only ran for about 45 minutes on high. That light was also incredibly impractical; its throw-focussed reflector shot light out in a totally straight, narrow pattern, like a long cylinder only as big around as the flashlight’s head. Sure, I could spotlight stuff 250 yards away, but it was totally worthless for lighting up a dark path at my feet or working on something with my hands. Not only is this new X3R cheaper, brighter and longer lasting, but its hybrid throw/flood reflector is much more practical. Light technology is advancing insanely fast.
- While shining the light at a nearby white wall or ceiling will produce a notable three-ring pattern from its three LEDs, this effect disappears when you use it in the real world. Light is even, floods across a wide area, yet still lights stuff up several hundred yards away. Its total range is dependent on conditions — light pollution, how clear of smoke or fog the air is — but is capable of reaching essentially anything you’d expect to be within useful visual range during the day.
- 2.5 hours of continuous operation on high may not sound huge, but this isn’t a light you leave on for several hours while you fix a broken down car or something. It’s a specific tool for a specific job — blowing shit up with light — and as such you use it sparingly. And in that use, 2.5 hours is much, much, much more than you’ll ever need. In the two months I’ve been playing with it, I’ve only charged it once.
- The onboard charger and micro-USB plug make charging the X3R a breeze. I keep mine in my car, which has two USB ports.
- The included battery will last over 1,000 empty-to-full charges, but costs only $20 to replace.
- The quality with which the X3R is made exceeds my expectations, even for a FourSevens product. The square threads are perfectly matched, leading to buttery screwing and the type-III aircraft grade aluminum construction just feels incredibly solid. Substantial rubber O-rings give it IPX-8 level waterproofness; it’s not a dive light, but it’ll survive years of abuse in the worst weather earth can throw at it.
- Necessitates the carry of another, more practical light for daily illumination tasks. I keep a 138 lumen Maraca AAA on my keychain and carry a FourSevens Atom LR2 headlamp outdoors. The headlamp’s 5 lumen low is my most-used source of light; that’s just the right amount for illuminating a trail or working on something close-by without blinding yourself.
- While the crenelated bezel focuses points of impact and the amply knurled and textured body provides good grip; the X3R is bordering on too small to be of much use as an impact weapon. Sorry cops, but you’ll be better off with your old 4xD-cell MagLite for beating up civilians.
- Looking at the light on high will temporarily blind you and even catching a glimpse of it will leave red spots in your vision for an hour or more. That further limits its practicality day-to-day and made shooting photos of it for this review a bitch. I’m seeing spots as a write.
Are you a police officer or soldier looking for the brightest handheld light possible? If yes, then absolutely; the X3R will exceed your expectations for quality and longevity and exceed your need for brightness, runtime and ease of charging. All for just $120.
Are you a normal person who just wants a bright flashlight? Shop for a quality 2xAAA or 2xAA LED flashlight instead; our LED flashlight buyer’s guide will show you how. That format is simply much more portable and produces a much more useful range of light.
IndefinitelyWild is a new publication about adventure travel in the outdoors, the vehicles and gear that get us there and the people we meet along the way. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.