This is the first of what will be many truthful review. These reviews are for items I bought my own hard-earned cash, meaning I am beholden to no one. With that established, I present you with a brief review of the Nitecore SRT3 flashlight.
The SRT3 is a flashlight I bought with a specific purpose in mind. In my job I use a flashlight quite often, several times a day actually and for the last 2 years I have used a no name AA battery flashlight I bought at the Boy Scout store. It served me quite well, but life in my pocket took its toll on the lens and the scratches led to a muted, dim light pattern. Thus I began a search for a replacement. I wanted more lumens than the 80 my current light had and I always prefer AA batteries, finally it needed to be small and reliable. Let me digress here and say yes, I know I should have bought a Streamlight Protac 1L (more on that at a later date), but alas, I did not. Instead I bought the Nitecore SRT3. I had found it on sale; it has oodles of lumens, I loved the pocket clip, and it used AA’s. Like a hungry Largemouth Bass I bit – hard.
The Nitecore SRT3 Defender is really marketed as a “defensive” flashlight. It has quite a few options that I never look for in a flashlight. They include: a strike bezel, a strobe, a dimmer, a red LED, a blue LED, a combo red/blue LED flash mode, an SOS mode and finally a “location beacon” which is similar to a “don’t hit me” light you might find on a jogger or a bike rider after dusk.
Here are the some of the key specs for the manufacturer’s website.
- Max Output: 550 lumens
- Max Beam Distance: 134 m
- Max Beam Intensity: 4500 cd
- Max Run time: 200 h 0 m / 8.33 d
- Special Modes: Location Beacon, Red/Blue Warning Light, SOS, Strobe
- Length: 100 mm / 3.94 in
- Weight: 73 g / 2.57 oz
After carrying the flashlight for 2 months I have some insight to offer. As normal, I’ll start with the good.
The flashlight is bright! Very bright! In fact, on a couple of occasions the light reflected off bare aluminum surfaces and washed out the area I was trying to focus on. I absolutely don’t want to sound like I am complaining that its brightness was a bad thing, but one needs to be aware of its brightness when using in confined spaces, i.e.: the overhead baggage area of a Bell 407.
The finish is very durable. Durable to the point I was actually shocked at how well it has held up in my pocket. Normally I destroy the finish on flashlights rather quickly, but this one held up fine.
Finally, the belt clip is amazing for my method of carry; which consist of clipping it onto the edge of my weak hand pocket, similar to a pocket knife. It is easily the best belt clip I have experienced on a flashlight
It is quite a bit larger than the photos on the Nitecore website lead on. The hand model they used must wear XXL gloves when compared to the size in my hand. I wear medium gloves if you’re curious.
Those modes! All of those ridiculous modes! I am sure someone has a use for the red and blue warning light, but I can’t imagine what that use might be. I showed several people this flashlight and every one of them agreed the red/blue light was a waste of design space and money. In addition to the unnecessary blue and red warning mode I had issues with the location beacon mode. On five different occasions I was able to change the flash pattern (tempo) and once I even turned the mode off by simply tapping the light with my weak hand. This leads to what I feel is the units ultimate flaw.
Here you can see the Red/Blue LED inserted into the reflector.
The unit isn’t all that durable. At work I accidentally dropped it off a four-foot ladder and it turned itself off. When I picked it up, it instantly turned itself back on. Ever since the “great fall” the tail cap switch is finicky. A four-foot drop is not that far and gives me serious reservations as to the overall long-term durability. This is even more glaring when you consider it has an SOS mode for camping/hunting use. Clearly you don’t want a fragile flashlight if you are lost in the woods and in a survival situation, nor do you want a fragile flashlight in a self-defense struggle. It would seem this is the Humpty Dumpty of LED flashlights.
All in all, I believe Nitecore missed the mark with this flashlight, especially when you consider the cost of the unit and what you can get something similar from Fenix and Streamlight for equal or less money. I no longer carry this unit and have relegated it to emergency roadside duty in my truck, although I can’t be positive I will keep it for that. For EDC and work I replaced it with the awesome Streamlight 1L Protac. For the first time find myself with a flashlight that I wish I hadn’t of bought. This was my first experience with Nitecore and in all honesty, I wish I had my money back.