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Fenix TK16 (XM-L2 U2, 1x18650 or 2xCR123A) Review——Candle Lamp, CPF

Publish Time:2015-09-04

The TK16 is TK lines from Fenix available with an Cree XM-L2 U2, running on 1x18650 or 2xCR123A batteries. The TK16 features a dual switch tailcap interface, dual layer body and high output. This is the first light to feature Fenix's dual tail switch, if I remember right.

Packaging is Fenix's current standard cardboard box, with detailed specification and information printed on the box. Inside, included with the light are user manual, warranty card, product inserts, spare o-ring, pocket clip (attached), grip ring (attached), wrist lanyard, and holster with velcro closing flap.
Manufacturer Specifications from Fenix website and user manual :

• Uses Cree XM-L2 U2 LED with a lifespan of 50,000 hours
• Powered by one 18650 rechargeable Li-ion battery or two 3V CR123A Lithium batteries
• 140mm(length) x 25mm(diameter) x 34mm(head) (5.5’’×1’’×1.3’’)
• Weight : 122 grams (4.3 oz.) excluding battery 
• Digitally regulated output maintains constant brightness
• Reverse polarity protection, to protect from improper battery installation 
• Anti-roll, slip-resistant body design
• Tactical tail switch for momentary-on function 
• Tail mode switch for easy and fast output selection, Instant Strobe mode
• Made of durable aircraft-grade aluminum 
• Premium type III hard-anodized anti-abrasive finish
• Toughened ultra-clear glass lens with anti-reflective coating

The hard (type III) anodizing is a matt black and consistent throughout with no blemishes or flaws on my sample. Labels are not as bright white (i.e., light gray) as some other lights, but those actually help to make them less obtrusive. The clip-on stainless steel clip feels substantial. It holds onto the light very tightly. The light has anti-roll indentations on the body, but the clip is even more helpful in that regard. 

The light has 2 parts (i.e. one piece head and body, tailcap). The head was bonded to the body with glue.

The head tip has five-point crenellations allowing light to shine through when left placed head down. There is a spring mounted on the positive contact board in the head, so flat-top cells should work in the light. The TK16 has reverse polarity protection to protect from improper battery installation (i.e., the electronics of the TK16 has in-built reverse polarity protection). 

The light uses AR coating lens and the purple hue is reflected on it. The aluminum reflector has a smooth pattern. Surface finish on the reflector was perfect from visual inspection. The XM-L2 U2 emitter seems to be perfectly centered at the bottom of the reflector cup on my sample. 

The battery tube has a plain cylindrical tube design and accommodates either 2xCR123A's or Li-ion 18650 cells. Battery tube is wide and long enough to accommodate wider and longer protected 18650 cells. The diamond-shape knurling is present over body tube. Knurling is aggressive on the body tube. When combined all the other grip elements (e.g., pocket clip, grip ring, etc.), overall grip is very good. 

Threads are well machined square cut, but not anodized at end of the body tube and tailcap. So tailcap lock-out is not available. The threads of my review sample were quite dry. I applied a very light coat of lube on the threads. Threads mate well with the tailcap with no issues of cross-threading or grinding. You can see the dual layer body, and Fenix says it gives you more durability and conductivity. The wall thickness of the battery tube is very thick (2.9mm). 

The TK16 tailcap is distinguishable from others. The distinctive part of the light is the dual switch control in the tailcap. The main on-off switch is the larger, circular one which is forward clicky switch, typical feel. The smaller one is an electronic mode-changing switch that is slightly less firmer feel than main switch, but definite click on activation. Both are easy to access one-handed by the thumb, in an over hand grip. Light cannot tailstand as the raised area for the lanyard attachment is quite small. But this allows you to access the tail switches easily.

User Interface

Press the large forward clicky switch for on-off (press for momentary, click for locked-on).

Change modes by pressing the smaller electronic switch. Mode sequence is Turbo -> Low –> Med. –> High, in a repeating loop. Press and hold the mode-changing switch for one second to activate Strobe. Click again to return to constant output mode. The light has mode memory, and remembers the last output level used when you turn the light off and back on, (even after a battery change).

Note that Strobe can be activated directly from "off" by pressing the smaller switch. So I assume a standby current must be present when the tailcap is fully tightened.
Standby Current Drain

The electronic switch on the TK16 activates Strobe at any time (i.e., even when the light is turned off at the main switch). This means there is a standby current when the light is fully connected. But actually there's no standby current in the TK16, given the extra current path between the battery tube and tailcap. The light doesn't use PWM, but uses constant current circuit. When the light is off, the main switch cuts off the current, but pressing the electronic switch makes current. If you don't press it, there is no current. This seems fairly good design for the body and tailcap.

From left to right, VicLite 18650 (2600mAh) protected, Fenix TK16 (XM-L2 U2), Klarus XTQ1 (XM-L2 U2), Olight M20-X (XM-L2), Jetbeam 3M Pro (XP-L), Lumintop TD16 (XM-L2 T6).

From left to right, Fenix TK16 (XM-L2 U2), Klarus XTQ1 (XM-L2 U2), Olight M20-X (XM-L2), Jetbeam 3M Pro (XP-L).

The clip is head-facing, and not reversible. You'll need to temporarily remove the o-ring to get the grip ring on or vice versa. The bundled grip ring is made of metal. The battery tube has a notch on the end where the removable clip can be attached. 
The clip is a titanium-coated stainless steel. The pocket clip and grip ring also have an anti-roll feature.

The light comes with a basic nylon holster with a velcro strap on the head. The light fits in the holster either head-up or head-down. 
Measured Dimensions & Weight

The entire light's very compact & nice design makes it feel very comfortable when held in hand. The wall thickness of the body is thick (2.9mm), and the light feel solid. It is good size to hold and use. Overall build quality is excellent.

No sign of PWM at any level of the light, leading me to conclude the light is actually current-controlled as claimed. I notice there is no buzzing sound at all output levels.

The TK16 steps down on Turbo to High after about 21 mins runtime. This is a timed drop-down considering the battery depletion to avoid overheating the light. As with the other Fenix lights, the regulation pattern and runtime efficiency of the current controlled circuit seems excellent.

The above runtime labelled as "Turbo (Accumulated) is an accumulated runtime for Turbo output (i.e., the light steps down on Turbo to High after about 21 minutes, and can go back to Turbo by clicking the secondary switch or turning the light off-on with the main switch). Regulation is maintained very nicely through Turbo mode on 1x18650 battery. 

On High level, the light maintains perfectly flat regulation for an extended period, before dropping to Low.

On all levels, when the battery is low, the light steps down to Low. This automatic step-down feature is a very good idea, in my view. Many fully regulated lights abruptly shut off without warning, once the battery protection circuit is tripped. This may leave you stumbling in the dark. I prefer this fully-regulated step-down design.

The light is a heavily driven light for this class. Compared to the other 1x18650 class light, the TK16 shows the awesome efficiency and output. 


1. White door beamshot (about 50cm from the white door) on max. output on 1x18650 (2600mAh) VicLite protected cell 
- ISO125, F/8.0, 1/25sec, Auto white balance 

- ISO125, F/8.0, 1/100sec, Auto white balance

- ISO125, F/8.0, 1/800sec, Auto white balance

- ISO125, F/8.0, 1/2000sec, Auto white balance

The light has a middle sized bright hot spot. The hotspot is well focused. A soft corona surrounding the hotspot is slightly yellow. The spill beam width is wider than others. Beam pattern is good, free from noticeable artifact. The overall beam tint is typical cool white on my sample. 

2. 7.0m Indoor Beamshot on max. output on 1x18650 (2600mAh) VicLite protected cell 
- ISO125, F/2.8, 1/10sec, Auto white balance

3. 55m Outdoor Beamshot on max. output on 1x18650 (2600mAh) VicLite protected cell 

- ISO125, F/2.8, 1sec, Auto white balance

4. 85m Outdoor Beamshot on max. output on 1x18650 (2600mAh) VicLite protected cell 

- ISO125, F/2.8, 1sec, Auto white balance

Beam pattern is good, with a wider spill beam. The TK16 has good throw for the class, given the size of the head.

Overall Impressions

• Build quality is excellent
• Dual switch tailcap interface
• Dual layer body design
• No standby current drain due to the secondary tailcap switch
• Anti-roll indentations on the body
• The light can't tailstand
• Electrical reverse polarity protection function
• Mode memory for constant outputs (except Strobe)
• True flat-top batteries work fine
• Timed step-down feature on Turbo
• Output-runtime efficiency is excellent 
• Max. output (Turbo) is very high 
• True Moonlight mode is not available
• No sign of PWM flickers at any output modes
• Tailcap lock-out is not available
• Beam pattern is good, with a reasonably wide spill beam
• The overall tint is typical cool white

Fenix TK16 provided by Fenix for review.

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