Scilla and Charybdis, Bonnie and Clyde, Mario and Luigi, Burger and Fries. Great things come in pairs. In this case, Jason Hui has dropped an iconic pair of torches. Which one is for you depends on what you do and what you need from a torch.
You probably don’t need a 14th new folder. The marginal utility of a 27th flashlight is pretty low for a family of four. We get these things because we are fascinated by the gadget not because we need them. Very few, if any, of the items we purchase are necessities. But I think there is a solid case to be made for the FourSevens MXS or the MX3F being a necessity (case made below). If they are not a necessity, then they are a really, really good thing to have on hand.
Because it is not an EDC light it has taken me a while to figure out how good these lights are. But after about a year and a number of power outages, I think it is safe to say that every single house would be safer and more functional with an MXS. After a few months of night hikes I think the MX3F represents a real improvement on searchlights. Their combination of size, runtime, output, and features make them something more than a “fun photon cannon.” To me, they are more akin to a fire alarm or a pair of jumper cables. They just happens to be WAY more fun than either of those items. If you live in a place that gets annual power outages, the MXS should be on your desk, nightstand, or countertop. If you search large, open spaces the MX3F should be ready to hand.
These two lights are the most essential things I have ever reviewed. So when I write “This is something everyone should have” I don’t mean that this something enthusiasts will love, I mean either the MXS or the MX3F are a piece of kit that just happens to be virtually invaluable .
As with all reviews of similar items I will have two scores in each category, one for the MXS and one for the MX3F and the text will note the differences if they score differently or there are other differences that did not result in a different score.
Here is the product page for the MXS. It runs $185. Here is the product page for the MX3F. It costs $165. While there are more sites that do written flashlight reviews than knife reviews, there are no written reviews of either. Weirdly there are no video reviews either. The heads are not, despite how they look, swappable. As of now there are no alt versions. Here are the two review samples (sent for review by Jason):
Quick Review Summary: Essential kit for different folks.
Design: 2 (MXS is better)
Here is the big deal about the MXS. It comes with a charger, like lots of lights do, but this charger and light are special. When the power is interrupted, the light switches on. This feature, called “Standby,” really sets it apart from the horde of high powered lumen tubes out there. Standby means that even in a power outage you immediately have light. Not only that, the MXS is so bright that it essentially illuminates the entire room, making your house easier to navigate and the flashlight much easier to find. I have the MXS sitting on my desk in my office. In the year or so I have had it when the power went out, the office spilled light into the hallway and it was very easy to get to the light. Once there, I could distribute the other lights in my office to other people/rooms. In New England we get about two power interruptions a year, always in winter. They don’t tend to last too long and because we have oil heat as a back up, we can still get through pretty easily (though I have had long discussions about a whole house battery/generator). We did have a major ice storm a few years ago that stretched the outage over about a week, so there are real use cases for flashlights like the MXS. More importantly, I can’t think of another light that does this. Jason’s capacity for innovation seems boundless. Most of those innovations are quality of life things for flashlight fans. This innovation is one that makes you and your family safer. That’s a really big deal for me.
The light itself is superior of course. The familiar Hui touches are all there. Good color rendering, simple UI, no “tactical” excesses. These lights both have a large head and stout, heavy body tubes, so the idea that they are suitable as EDCs is probably silly, though I am sure somewhat nutty people EDC stuff that is bigger and bulkier. While the MXS has the huge bonus of being a truly superior emergency light, both are good nightstand or kitchen drawer lights with lots of useful features and nothing off putting.
Fit and Finish: 2
As with all of Jason’s production stuff, the MX lights are quite nice. They have good knurling, excellent threading, no slop between parts, emitters are nicely positioned (neither are singles, but the arrays don’t make a mess in the beam pattern). Edges are eased and parts look nice even on non-visible surfaces. If you have handled a Mini, these are their equal.
Ribbing and knurling make these big and comparatively heavy torches easy to hold on to. A few night hikes were in the cold and a few were in the rain and in both situations, the MX lights sat nicely in the hand without problem. Be advised that these lights are an order of magnitude larger than most of the lights I have reviewed here as only the most bonkers pocket stuffer would view these as EDC torches.
As a corollary of having bigger heads, bigger batteries, and heavier thumping photon throwers, these lights aren’t really pocketable. There are a lot of lights in this class and you sort of know, going in, that carry isn’t their strong suit, but just like buying a fixed blade, you are okay with that.
Output: MXS: 1; and MX3F: 2
The output of 1700 lumens on the MXS isn’t that impressive, but like with all stuff Hui the CRI is at least 90+, the runtimes are good, and the outputs are quite useful. At 2700 lumens the MX3F is a real wallop but still maintains the quality aspects but increases the output. This is a quality over quantity thing and as always, I am a fan of making this choice as Jason did. The MX3F’s none turbo high is 1500 lumens and it can hold that for 90 minutes. This is not a toy light that has a 3000 lumen turbo and drops down to 300 lumens after 90 seconds.
One other thing I would note is that often times in these kilolumen cannons, the low is awful like 100 lumens. Here the low is a legit low with an output of 5 lumens. Its enough to keep most of your night vision but still bright enough to navigate a dark house.
250 hours is a legit amount of runtime. In the 2017 ice storm we used torches at night doing ceiling bounces to keep our sanity, playing Scrabble or cards night after night. 250 hours would have gone a long way in making us feel confident in making it through the week.
Beam Type: 2 (MX3F is better)
If the MXS has an advantage with its standby feature, the MX3F gets a bump for having user-swappable optics that allow for a real diversity in beam type. This is not a “focusable” beam, but instead a real, separate optic. The result is you get two lights in one—a standard photon cannon and a searchlight extraordinaire. If you own a significant amount of land or you have a barn or a big building, the searchlight optic is amazing. I don’t have a ton of land, but after the move we have about 2 acres and it abuts some forest so we get the random flock of turkeys and herd of deer. Being able to hit my entire backyard all in one burst of light is really helpful. Furthermore, if you patrol grounds or an area like a police officer or a ranger or the like, you’d be hard pressed to find something that is as flexible and as good as the MX3F. The MXS isn’t slouch by any means with a single emitter and a wonderful reflector, but it is not THAT much better than similar designs on the market. The MX3F is a game changer.
Beam Quality: MXS: 2; MX3F: 1
I strongly prefer singles to triples (or other arrays of emitters) but the difference here is minimized to great extent by the MX3F’s diffuser lens. The lack of a distinct hotspot and spill, is, in my mind, a drawback. If you are throwing light across huge swathes of space, then it probably doesn’t matter, but for most uses, even in those cases, a spot and spill beam is better than the light wall. That said, I am not searching a pasture for a stray or lighting up the entire side of a building during a night inspection. If this score is wrong, I am willing to edit it as this use case is pretty far outside my experience.
If you have used a previous 47s light, like a Preon Mk 3, you know the UI and it is a very good one. Unlike some of the toy (as opposed to tool) lights out there there are very few extraneous modes. Additionally, I have never “accidentally” fallen into a mode I cannot escape without a full light reset.
Hands Free: 1
Both lights, even with the side switch design have a tendency to roll away on flat surfaces. They both tail stand like a champ and of course are not safe to go hands free. I bit of a mod to the tube design would be a real upgrade.
Fidget Factor: Low
Other than some satiny anodizing there is not a lot to fidget with on these torches.
Fett Effect: Low
Thanks to ample chamfering and good ano, the MXS looks virtually indistinguishable from its significantly younger brother.
Value: Very High
Wait…what? How is that possible? Well, when you have features that are virtually impossible to find elsewhere, the prices here aren’t at all out of line. I have been looking to review a Cloud Defensives or Modlight and they high $300. In a world with those lights, these torches even without their unique features, seem pretty reasonable. Throw in game changing performance and the value proposition is very different.
Overall Score: MXS: 17 out of 20; MX3F: 17 out of 20
Either one or the other of these flashlights is something I would consider a necessity depending on the place you live and what you do. Between the two of them, everyone should own one, even if it is their only flashlight. These aren’t just good, well-designed lights. These are lights that can get you out of the worse jams. These are lights that you will gravitate towards in a crisis and they will work. If you own a home, I would put the MXS just under something like a fire extinguisher in the kitchen (which I have used…long story, not at my house) and a fire detector.
The blob beam of the MX3F is definitely different than what I like, but having used it on a number of night hikes to illuminate large swathes of forest, I can see its usefulness. If someone out there that does night time inspections tells me I am wrong I can see changing the score.
This is where the two lights really shine. Nothing, and I mean nothing, compares to Standby. There is no light that can do that, so far s I know, anywhere else in the flashlight world. There have been some lights with different optics, but you usually had to choose the optic at the time of assembly and you were stuck with what you got. I am less confident of this, but I cannot remember another light that both came with multiple optics AND was designed for user swappable optics. As a result, there really isn’t a whole lot of competition. There are bunch of lights this size with this battery that are bright, but nothing with these features.
47 Preon I Mk. 3
Cloud Defensives MCH