One to Watch: LED Lenser M3R
Tony Sculimbrene 06.30.14
I noted a while ago that the AAA format was increasing in popularity among light makers (see here). I also noted that the flashlight “platform” was being more popular–that the light is no longer a stand alone piece, but something part of a larger system. The LED Lenser M3R is part of that wave of lights.
LED Lenser has really stepped up its game since being acquired by Leatherman. The M7R was a very nice, more than competent 18650 light. The LED Lenser F1 was superlative. In all, they have changed their entire product line, leveraging their unique features (such as the speed focus head) with higher power emitters and power regulation. In doing so they have created lights that are competitive with the best production stuff coming out of America and China. The one thing missing was a “system” light like the M7R that was EDC ready. The F1 is a great light, but the kit that came with the M7R, including the battery and charger, really was spectacular.
Well, the M3R is the M7R scaled down for EDC use. The light is a system, coming with a rechargeable 3.7V battery sized like a AAA. A charger is also included and the charger runs off USB, something I have come to like. There is a pocket clip in the kit as well. All of this comes in at a very competitive $70 street price.
The specs are good, with a high of 220 lumens. There is a low, but try as I might, I couldn’t find it.The runtime is an hour, which is pretty darn spectacular considering the Peak Eiger hits something like that (maybe a bit more) for only a few minutes (like 10 or 20, though not consecutively, as it would probably melt the light). I would imagine that the runtime is cumulative, as like the Eiger, there is little here to dissipate heat. Finally, as should be required for lights that run on rechargeables, it can run on its primary cell equivalent in a pinch. I would expect less run time and less brightness on a primary cell though.
Output comes in three varieties: high, low, and strobe. One day manufacturers will abandon strobe–it’s happened on nearly every custom and high end production light I can think of–as it is a waste 99.999% of the time. Until then it’s just part of the package for most mid-to-lower tier production lights. If the M3R had a moonlight low instead of the strobe, it just might be the best AAA light available. The friction fit clip is another thing that I foresee being an issue, but lots and lots of lights have them, and for the most part they work okay. I’d prefer a washer-style clip or a bolt on clip, but any clip is better than no clip.
The M3R is a very competitive offering, one that challenges the Peak Eiger (the high watermark for AAA lights right now) in many ways. LED Lenser continues to put out well made and well thought out light systems, and the M3R is the first of those that works well in an EDC role.