Gun Nuts Reviews: Nitecore SRT3 Defender

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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.

Pros

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

Cons

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.

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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.

Caveat emptor!

7 thoughts on “Gun Nuts Reviews: Nitecore SRT3 Defender”

  1. NEWS: Cheap knockoff light works like a cheap knockoff light

    There is a reason anyone 1/2 serious just buys Surefire and never looks back.

  2. I just started using a surefire g2x le for work and so far, I’ve found it to be good bang for your buck. It has 2 modes, high and low, the high being 400 lumens. It doesn’t come with a pocket clip, but I put a thyrm switchback on it so I can pocket carry if I need to , it’s currently living in a pouch on my belt. Best of all, it comes in at a msrp of about 80 dollars which by surefire standards is a steal, I’m actually thinking about getting a second for edc.

  3. I own a few Nitecore lights, as well as EagleTac, Olight, Fenix, Surefire, Sunwayman, Pelican, Petzl, and an old Blackhawk Gladius and several other brands.

    I have had one Nitecore EDC light that was a bit flaky – not enough to pitch it or return it, but it’s relegated to backup status. The rest of their lights have been very reliable – once I thought I had an issue with a light, but it turned to be a failing rechargeable Li-on battery.

    My current EDC light is a tiny, single CR123 cell Olight – which has been great. My backup is a Nitecore, and I have Fenix tucked away in each of my computer bags, motorcycle tank bags, etc.

    For any activities where having a light would be critical – survival gear, hiking, etc. I always carry a quality headlamp and at least two other lights, as well as spare batteries.

  4. I’ve personally had very good luck with my Fenix PD32 lights. I wouldn’t call them cheap at $50. Not sure how many lumens, but I love the 18650 rechargeable cells. When you use flashlights all day, even AAs will get expensive. They’ll last forever in actual use because 9/10 times I’m using it as a work light at it’s lowest setting.

  5. My SRT3 has been dropped, I suspect, quite a bit more than yours has, with no problems. Sounds like you got a bad one. You didn’t mention the user interface, which works very well for me and lets me pick the right output for the job almost instantly. Not everyone likes it.

    Your criticisms regarding size and ridiculous modes are spot on.

  6. The red and blue lenses are useful for military training/deployment basically all field ops the sncos required us to use red light only unless inside a tent etc or for admin movement s , brass call , etc . The usmc issued head light left a lot to be desired.
    P.S blue light is actually harder to see with night vision or the naked eye from a distance

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