Flashlight Reviews

Longbow Micra 1w Luxeon Star Flashlight Review

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Longbow Micra

I am not sure when Longbow flashlight was first released, apparently somewhere end of 2003 or more likely beginning of 2004. However it became available in US by mid spring. Made by Longbow GearPet Ltd in Singapore. When it was announced on their website Longbow generated quite some interest on CPF. It offered interesting features such as modularity, exchangeable parts, extension packs, booster head, etc. Besides the design looks interesting. Though to be fair I'd have to note that some features found in Longbow first showed up in custom flashlights made by COF modders. Anyway, so eventually I got mine from BugOutGearUSA.
    For the record Longbow Gear claims that US army is using Longbow flashlight intensively, though details are classified ;) Apparently top secret use besides illuminating objects in the dark. Actually it was the numbers that were classified. No idea why. And not sure if that is a fact, but could be. Given the price...
    Unlike many other flashlights Longbow came in the fancy (relatively) box, with some sort of manual, and other registration card. Other than that I'd note the obvious high quality and attention to the details. Well machined and executed. No complaints. Regrettably some of the more expensive lights I've had or seen had lesser quality. Though as you will see below things were not as perfect as the first inspection showed.


 - Simply put body is a cylinder, which isn't something extraordinary for the flashlight ;) Consists of head, power pack and tail switch. The head itself is housing the lens, O ring, and optics. Click on this link to see the picture of disassembled Micra. I picked twist tailcap because it was shorter than the other alternative, that is the pushbutton switch. Overall Longbow is slightly longer that Arc4+ as you can see on this picture. By specs it measures 81mm(3.2"). Available in two colors, balck and olive. I picked black one. If you check longbow site you'll various accessories available for it. Although none of them were really interesting to me. The only other option I was interested in was the booster head, which at a time wasn't available in US. Actually, it isn't for sale as I write this review (may 2004). Later most likely I'll get one. Although, for EDC light it will be too bulky I think. Longbow isn't a small light, that is for the pocket caliber lights. I've been EDCing Longbow for some time, and it isn't unnoticeable if you carry it in your pants pocket. Same is true for Arc4+ by the way, but that one has a clip, and I carry that on my waist, not in my pocket.
    On the other hand Longbow is a lot more ergonomic than Arc4 series. Recessions on the side make it a lot easier to operate the light with one hand. And overall quality I'd say is higher. At least looks better, and more nicely finished. Though if you're looking for a rugged tool then those minor cosmetic details won't matter.
    One wrong thing with Micra or (Longbow in general) modularity is that the LED is not replaceable, so no easy mods for modification lowers - you can see that on this picture. Which indeed is a bummer.


 - That was the major complaint and disappointment with the longbow. First of all it isn't using a reflector, but Carlco optics. Second, for whatever reason it isn't centered correctly, and the resulting spot is some breed of a circle and rectangle. Looks quite ugly IMHO. For the record I have received an email from the visitor of this review stating the following: The beam wasn't "crappy" you just miss-installed the indexed optic, a very critical, yet basic operation. Worth noticing that it was not me who miss-installed the optics, it was the original factory packaged and assembled light. As far as I understand not all Longbows are like that, so this is clearly QC issue. While not as expensive as Arc4+, Longbow is still an expensive flashlight especially for the one made overseas, and I would expect better quality control from their side. The LED quality itself is good. Nice, white beam, almost no tint, slightly purplish may be. As usual I've measured the output on the light meter, from 1 meter Micra produced 590 lux. Slightly higher output than that of Arc4+. However it's nothing that you'd detect with your eye, has to be at least twice as bright ;) And Arc4 produces a lot better beam thanks to its reflector.


 - I've stopped carrying Micra mainly because of the crappy beam and because I have other flashlights I EDC. Like I said before, I was planning on getting a reflector for Micra. IMS S017XA reflector, the older model would fit with minimal modifications. However, when I've ordered VIP and separately the same reflector for it, VIP came in with S017XA reflector installed, so I had an extra one. Luckily it fitted without any modifications. The resulting beam was significantly better than that of Carlco optics(I stand corrected, earlier I mistakingly identified optics as Fraen). Nice, round hotspot, smooth corona. Because the reflector doesn't produce as tightly focused beam as Carlco optics do the reading of the light meter was lower. Dropped by ~80 Lux. However my second modification or upgrade for Micra was UCL(Ultra Clear Lens). That bumped up output slightly. In the end Longbow with the reflector and UCL produces 600 Lux from 1 meter. For comparison the output was 590 Lux in basic configuration(plastic lens + Carlco optics), 680 Lux with Carlco + UCL. with UCL). In general UCL increases light output by 7%-8%, so I am not sure why mine worked so well, ~90 Lux added to initial 590. May be the original lens was crappy.


 - Operating Micra is as simple as it gets. Twist the tail cap to one side, it's on, to the other side it's off. Interestingly, if you don't twist the tailcap to the end, that would be probably 1/4 or 1/2 turn before it'd come on, then you can use it as momentary on/off button. Press to turn the light on, release it'll go off. Of course that's not the real pushbutton, and you'll have to hold your finger constantly to have the light on, but sometimes that's handy, especially if you're messing around. Well, ok if UR busy with more serious stuff like Morse code it'll be real useful.

Power Source

 - Default option is not so cheap cr123 lithium battery. Alternatively you can use 2AA power pack which gives you wider array of power source choice:ni-cad/nimh rechargeables, lithium, alkaline, etc. Officially Longbow runtime is 1.5 hours on a single cr123 cell. I am not sure what are the runtimes on other types of batteries.

Micra vs. Arc4

 - As of now I only have those two in this class of flashlights - single cell, 1 or 3 watt luxeon pocket flashlight.
Micra pros: better design(matter of taste ;); Better quality and cosmetics; Modularity, can be used in candle mode - standing on the tailcap; Price - 72$ vs 150$ of Arc4, and Arc4+ is 180$.
Micra cons: Larger than Arc4, both, in length and diameter. No clip. Uses optics not the reflector. And finally only one level of brightness, which is major impediment. I wouldn't pay much attention to that few months ago, but after carrying Arc4+ I got used to this feature, and obviously for EDC light multilevel switch is a must. Conserves energy and besides you do not need 20-30 lumens of light all the time, which can be annoying in certain situations.
Conclusion - Arc4 makes a better EDC light in my opinion.

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Last updated - 05/06/19