Maglite XL50 LED Flashlight Review

Introducing the Maglite XL50, the latest member of Maglite’s XL-series of LED flashlights! Continuing on the success of its feature-packed brother, the XL100, the XL50 boasts improved performance, increased runtime, additional simplicity, and a lower retail price, all while maintaining the key benefits of a Maglite flashlight.

Key Specifications

  • Output: 104 lumens high, 26 lumens low, 104 lumens strobe
  • Runtime: 8h 45min high, 36h low
  • Battery: 3 x AAA
  • Length: 4.8″
  • Diameter: 1″
  • Weight with Batteries: 3.68 oz.
  • Warranty: Limited Lifetime
  • MSRP: $29.99

Pricing & Ordering

As this light is just announced, availability is limited at the time of writing. MSRP for the XL50 will be in the range of $24.99 to $29.99, and the light will be available in several colors, including black, grey, silver, blue, and red.

In The Box

Included in the blister packaging are: Maglite XL50 LED 3AAA flashlight and 3 x AAA Duracell alkaline batteries, similar to the packaging of the XL100.

This is pre-production packaging and may vary from final configuration (which will state the ANSI FL1 specifications).

Batteries

The XL50 uses the same sturdy battery carrier as the XL100, and is powered by three AAA batteries. The rated specifications are for alkaline batteries, but NiMH rechargeable and lithium primaries may also be used.

The light is inoperable if the battery carrier is inserted backwards, so there is no danger of “inserting the batteries backwards.”

The Light

Head
The head features a plastic window and a deep smooth reflector. The beam can be focused with a quick turn of the head, or the head removed to flood an entire area with light. The face cap is engraved with MAG-LITE® LED XL50™ – ONTARIO, CA, USA and Maglite’s logo in bold lettering.

A glass window may be installed using Mag Instrument part #108-617, the same as the 2AA, but removing the process to remove the reflector (pushing it left and right while applying pressure on the window) has the potential to damage the reflector during removal, so if one wishes to change the window, proceed with caution! Spare parts are not currently available for purchase.

Body
The entire light is type-II anodized aluminum inside and out. The anodizing helps prevent corrosion, and also electrically insulates the light. The body is identical to the XL100’s, including the knurling, which is not aggressive enough to prevent the light from rolling. However, because the knurling runs down the side of the light, it helps your fingers maintain a steady grip on the light.

Interesting to note here is that the light does not use the flashlight body to complete the circuit from the tail of the light to the LED module, unlike most other lights. Instead, the battery carrier has a connector that goes from one end to the other, and that is how the negative terminal is connected to the LED module.

Tail Cap
On the tailcap is an electronic switch covered with black rubber. The electronic switch requires both positive and negative terminals to operate, thus requiring the specially designed battery carrier. This type of switch makes it possible for fast mode switching but also comes with a notable disadvantage, both of which will be discussed in the following sections.

Modes

Going back to a more traditional implementation than the XL100, the XL50 is about as easy to use as a multi-mode flashlight can be. The electronic switch eliminates the need to turn the light on and off to switch between modes. Instead, modes are activated depending on the number of clicks used to turn the light on.

1 Click: High
A single click activates 100% mode for the full 104 lumens.

2 Clicks: Low
With two clicks, the 25% low mode is activated, producing 26 lumens.

3 Clicks: Strobe
With three clicks, the strobe mode is activated with the light in maximum brightness. The strobe feature is designed for disorienting somebody or getting their attention.

Regardless which mode is currently active, a single click will turn the light off.

Performance

This light is rated for 104 lumens and 145 meters of throw. These numbers are a slight increase from the XL100, but these specifications also apply to the XL100, which had been under-rated. The reason for this is because Philips LumiLEDs silently revised the Luxeon Rebel LED, and the prototype XL100 used for testing featured the older emitter. However, the improved Luxeon Rebel was used in production XL100s as well as the XL50, so the packaging for the XL100 may be updated in the future to reflect this new information.

A comparison between the XL100 and XL50 quickly verified this, the lights were of equivalent brightness.

The main disadvantage of the electronic switch used in the XL50 is the presence of a standby current drain. The XL50 has a measured standby drain of 33.1 µA (or 0.0331 mA), similar to the XL100. A typical quality alkaline AAA has a capacity of about 1000mAh, which means that a set of brand new alkaline batteries will be completely drained after three years.

However, light output will decrease with reduced battery voltage due to this drain, so the XL50 would not make a good choice as an emergency light, unless the batteries are stored seperately (which is recommended practice even for lights without a standby drain, because of the tendency for alkaline batteries to leak).

Runtime

If you haven’t read our article about runtime graphs and the ANSI FL1 Standard, please click here.

Since the XL50 is not designed to be a tactical light, the light dims to 25% after 5 minutes of constant on. If the light is powered off then back on, the timer will be reset.

Accessories

No original accessories are available for this light at the time. Some accessories are compatible with the XL100, such as the OEM Maglite 2AA anti-roll ring, and Ripoffs’ BL-150 and CO-150 belt holsters.

Conclusion

This latest offering in Maglite’s XL-series of flashlights features an excellent balance of performance, quality, and simplicity, yet also manages to include a lower price point in the mix. In time for the holiday season, the XL50 is expected to arrive at a retailer near you, making an excellent holiday gift (perhaps for yourself!) that will be both functional and fun to use.


Pros Cons
  • High, low, and strobe modes
  • Low price point
  • Simple user interface
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Small standby current draw

Related Links

Maglite XL50 Product Page

Download the Maglite XL50 Flyer

51 Responses

  1. Thomas says:

    I have bought 2 XL50’s over the last 12 months, both battery packs have failed. A week after I bought mine the company I work for bought 4 of them, based on my recommendation at the time. All 4 of those battery packs have failed also. I cant recommend this light to anyone anymore. I carry this light in my pocket 24/7/365 and use it multiple times daily. The bulb dims frequently, even after brand new batteries, and its getting to the piont now where I have to depress the switch and lightly tap the lens to make the flashlight turn on, taking the battery pack out and squeezing it temporarily fixes this problem for the first few uses afterwards. Buying another flashlight and using its brand new battery pack fixes this problem for about 6 months until that batter pack wears out. I have seen this problem on 7 of these XL50. YMMV

  2. Robin Wang says:

    Thomas,

    Have you contacted Maglite to get the battery carriers replaced under warranty? There are a couple spring-loaded components, which might be the cause of reliability issues.

    As for the dimming, this is normal and part of the energy saving design (you can see the step-down in our runtime graph above). During continuous operation, the light will reduce output to conserve battery power.

    If you need continuous maximum brightness, the XL50 is probably not a good choice, and you may want to consider a worklight such as the Streamlight Knucklehead (you can find our review here: http://www.led-resource.com/2011/12/streamlight-knucklehead-review/).

    Robin

  3. Brian Sudy says:

    Just bought a second XL50. Lumens is now 139 (not 104) and battery life dropped to 6.5 hours. More importantly, the standby current thru the switch cap is 1/10th of what it was on the older version, so a set of batteries would theoretically last thirty years instead of three.

  4. chuck norris says:

    This is my second xl50 and although impressed with light output i am very dissapointed with quality. Switch is very sensitive. Have to beat it on my hand for it to turn on then fails again. Returned it and now the second one had same problem and now wont turn on at all. If you get this light you need to keep somewhere protected with pillows because normal use will damage the stinkin’ switch.

  5. Hardbawl says:

    The Maglite XL50 is a marvel. It is super bright, has a softer, more usable mode for work, is small, fits my pocket and uses cheap batteries. It is USA made and costs only $30. It is durable.

    Yes you can drop it. Yes you can scratch the lens. And yes, it is so damned neat that someone just might steal it. But with all it’s drawbacks is sure is nice to have one in your pocket. I have several!

  6. George says:

    Hi Robin,

    Recently I have bought the XL50 again and found the packing provides different information regarding the ANSI FL1 Standard. May I seek your advice if there is a new version on Xl50?

    Cheers.

    George

  7. Robin Wang says:

    George,

    The XL50 has been updated with a Cree XP-E LED, which resulted in the slight output increase. Other than that, there haven’t been any major changes.

    Hope you enjoy your XL50!

    Robin

  8. R LEWIS says:

    Battery replacement: can the three AA cell batteries be replaced in the carrier, or do you have to buy a new carrier from MagLite every time the batteries wear out?

  9. Robin Wang says:

    You don’t need to replace the carrier, the batteries just pop out.

    Robin

  10. Sean says:

    I was initially very impressed with this light. I have bought several for friends. This thing eats batteries, and the friends that I have bought them for say the same. It seems to have a big drain when off. The continuos run time is great. But I can use mine for 10 minutes, then in a month the batteries are so low it will not stay bright for more than a few seconds. I have been through 3 sets of batteries in 4 months and have not burned the light more than 1 hour the whole time. Seems to be a big drain, even when off, and my friends report the same with theirs. Needs a straight up mechanical switch and a glass lens, and it would be a great light, but I can never count on mine, it is always half dead.

  11. Doyle says:

    switch heats up after u turn the lite off to the point that you can’t touch it and it the batteries in three or four min.

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