Review of the 4Sevens Maelstrom X10 Tactical Flashlight
You might be surprised to know that a good, truly tactical flashlight is very difficult to find. That’s because (in my opinion) a truly tactical flashlight (which in my mind is designed primarily for law enforcement, military, and home defense use) has a very simplified feature set. No multiple brightness settings. No strobe or SOS settings. Ideally, a tactical flashlight has just two settings – on and off. For marketing purposes, flashlight manufacturers like to produce lights with lots of gee-whiz features which make buyers say “I gotta have it!”. However, if you’re ever in life threatening encounter in a low-light environment, believe me when I tell you that a flashlight with a lot of fancy features, controls, and settings could get you killed. You must be able to quickly get the light on, identify your target, take the requisite number of shots, and then just as quickly you need to be able to turn that light off and move from the position you fired from. If your target is able to return fire, you can bet he’s going to be firing in the direction of that light. In my opinion, you don’t want to even want a flashlight that you have to “click” to turn off. Under stress (remember, someone either is or potentially could be shooting at you) you may forget to turn the lightt off, or may fumble clicking it off. So the simplicity of an “instant-on” pressure sensitive tail switch really is the ideal in this scenario. If you’d like more information on how a flashlight is used in a low-light tactical scenario, check out my article (with video) on the low-light shooting training I’ve done. Now, with all this in mind, let’s take a look at the new 4Sevens Maelstrom X10 and evaluate it from the standpoint of being a true tactical flashlight.
When 4Sevens asked me to evaluate their new Maelstrom X10 tactical flashlight, I was expecting another product which is marketed as a tactical flashlight, but is over-engineered for the task. So I was completely blown away to discover that the Maelstrom X10 is designed to function almost exactly like I would want a truly tactical flashlight to be designed. I say “almost” because the X10 does have two brightness settings – high (640 lumens out the front) and low (100 lumens out the front). If the instant-on, pressure sensitive activation switch is depressed twice within one second, it will change brightness settings. So if turn the light on in “high” then release and depress the tail switch within one second, it will switch to low mode, and vise versa. To run either output mode continuously (without holding down the pressure switch) simply screw down the tail cap completely.
While I’d prefer a single output level, I have to confess that with the way 4Sevens has designed it, there’s little likelihood that you’d accidentally switch brightness settings using the Maelstrom X10 in an engagement. Recall my example above – shine your light, fire the requisite number of sites, turn off the light, and move. It’s unlikely you’d turn the light on again within a one second time frame in practical defensive use. And I think a lot of people will appreciate the flexibility of having the 100 lumen output mode available.
The Maelstrom X10 uses a Cree XML LED and smooth reflector in one of the largest heads I’ve seen on an LED flashlight:
The smooth reflector gives the flashlight a nice, tightly defined hotspot and the capacity for impressive throw thanks to the tremendous 640 lumen output. As you can imagine, that output produced by the Maelstrom X10 creates some unique power requirements. To accommodate, 4Sevens has fitted the X10 with a previously unseen (at least by me) 26650 lithium-ion rechargeable battery:
Keep in mind that the 26650 lithium-ion battery is the only option to power the Maelstrom X10, and neither the batter or recharger are included with the flashlight. The battery itself is $12.95 from 4Sevens, and the recharger for the battery is an additional $24.95. The power cell size is what gives the Maelstrom X10 it’s ample diameter. Here’s a couple of photos for size reference comparing the Maelstrom X10 with the Fenix TK12:
You’ll note the Maelstrom X10 does not have a pocket clip which is typical for smaller (and lighter) LED flashlights, but 4Sevens does include a nice custom size holster for the X10 in the package.
As a supplement to the the above written review, I have also prepared a video review of the Maelstrom X10 complete with some beam comparisons:
I suspect the law enforcement, security, and military communities will quickly adopt the 4Sevens Maelstrom X10 as their standard equipment thanks to it’s specialized functionality. I also hope that the major tactical handgun trainers will start recommending the X10 in their civilian courses. 4Sevens has built a reputation of being on the leading edge of LED flashlight technology, and the pricing of their products is in some cases relatively higher as a result. According to 4Sevens, the retail price of the Maelstrom X10 is $119.00. Just keep in mind that unlike most tactical flashlights, you MUST purchase the accessory rechargeable battery and battery charger in order for the Maelstrom X10 to function. So the true cost of the Maelstrom X10, when the purchase of the battery and charger are factored in, is just under $150.00. At that price, the Maelstrom X10 is not an inexpensive choice for a flashlight which has a fairly narrow philosophy of use. But when it comes to life saving tools, I personally don’t follow a “low price, technically acceptable” model. I’m glad that 4Sevens doesn’t either.
John B. Holbrook, II
John B. Holbrook, II is a freelance writer, photographer, and author of ThruMyLens.org, as well as LuxuryTyme.com and TheSeamasterReferencePage.com. *All text and images contained in this web site are the original work of the author, John B. Holbrook, II and are copyright protected. Use of any of the information or images without the permission of the author is prohibited.