It seems a lifetime ago the yellow glow of a halogen spotlight swept the paddocks in search of unsuspecting feral eyes but now it seems you’re in the minority if you don’t own an LED mechanism of some description. They’re much brighter compared to spotlights of yesteryear and anyone whose had the misfortune of being flashed by one from an oncoming four-wheel drive at night would begin to understand how intense they really are.
The new breed of LED (Light-Emitting Diode) technology lighting is far superior to the old halogen spotlights and the new MH40GTR ultra long-range dual-fuel hunting torch by Nitecore is no exception. Some who’ve been using halogen lights for decades may be reluctant to part with their trusted ‘spotty’ for economic reasons – old habits take a while to die but it’s difficult to argue against the effectiveness of a modern, bright LED spotlight.
Being in the minority of halogen spotlight owners I didn’t need my arm twisted to accept an offer to review the new Nitecore hunting kit. Supplied in its hard-plastic carry case, the kit includes the Nitecore MH40GTR flashlight, instructions, warranty card, remote tactical pressure kit, holster, rifle mounting kit, Australian 240v AC power, 12-volt charger and two Nitecore Li-ion rechargeable batteries – everything you need to prepare your flashlight/spotlight for hunting.
For starters the MH40GTR flashlight is the latest and improved version of the Nitecore LED range of hand-held options and supersedes previous models, boasting a light concentration gain out to a maximum 1004m. The MH40GTR is fitted with the 1200 Lumen XP-L HI (high intensity) V3 Cree LED.
The specs didn’t mean a great deal to me and I wanted to understand more and on browsing the Cree website (cree.com) I discovered the XP-L HI LED is the first of their new class optimised to deliver maximum candelas through secondary optics. The XP-L HI LED is the first single-die LED to deliver more than 100,000 candelas in a four-degree beam with a 60mm diameter optic at 10.5W. Built on Cree’s breakthrough SC5 Technology platform, the XP-L HI LED exceeds double the candelas of the industry’s previous highest-performing single-die XP-L HI LED through the same optic.
The XP-L HI V3 Cree LED measures a whopping 252,000 candelas but the LED is not solely responsible for its high intensity brightness. As with all good-quality spotlights the ‘reflectors’ coating contributes heavily to the brightness and the reflector of the MH40GTR uses Nitecore’s crystal coating technology combined with the XP-L HI V3 Cree LED to achieve outstanding light intensity.
All this talk of candelas can be confusing but to clarify, candela has replaced the obsolete unit of measurement known as Candle Power (one Candle Power was equivalent to .981 candelas). As you may be aware, the Nitecore MH40GTR is one serious piece of compact equipment, using a high-quality supplier to deliver the best possible lighting available, purely designed for night-time hunting.
Firstly the spotlight is roughly 257mm long, 25.4mm (1^) in shaft diameter and is clutched nicely in your hand. Head diameter is 70mm which securely houses the 60mm toughened ultra-clear mineral glass lens with anti-reflective coating. Water resistant to 2m and impact resistant from 1m, its compact design, aerospace grade aluminium construction is sturdy and, weighing 374g, relatively light, an important consideration when you have a product designed to mount on your hunting rifle. Two supplied Nitecore 18650 rechargeable batteries are housed end to end, positive first through the opening on the shaft tail.
The on/off rubber button pressure switch is easily located within reach on the rear of the tail. Nitecore Li-ion rechargeable batteries are boosted by plugging the charger into the inbuilt port which is protected from water and dust and located just rear of the torch head by unscrewing the hexagonal lock sleeve.
It’s important to only use the supplied charger on the Nitecore batteries. The torch is designed to be dual-fuel and will accept aftermarket batteries but if you use any other brand of batteries such as the CR123 or RCR123 as stated clearly in the user manual, do not employ the supplied charger to reset them. There’s also an inbuilt reverse polarity protection feature.
The torch has many features which are quite simple to use. By rotating the head you can switch between the turbo and user-defined modes. In the user-defined bracket you can spin to varying brightness levels and the torch will memorise these settings so the next time in use it will quickly switch between turbo mode and your selected brightness level by rotation of the head.
At full charge the Nitecore batteries have a supposed life of 140 hours on low, 27 hours on mid, six hours and 15 minutes on high and two hours on turbo setting. With most of the technical stuff covered and my brain now on information overload, I was keen to put the MH40GTR to use.
In the field
The torch can be used simply as a stand-alone, hand-held spotlighting tool and I employed it as such to help shoot a few ferals at a friend’s property, though I soon discovered prolonged use on turbo mode quickly drains the batteries. The user manual states battery supply is short-lived on turbo mode and the torch is best used on the lower light settings with turbo in shorter bursts.
To road test the hunting kit I mounted it on one of my favourite rifles I use for spotlighting and with the clamps provided attached the torch to the scope of my custom .22PPC calibre rifle. The clamps are made of a high-density polymer and on tightening will not leave any unwanted marks on your scope.
One thing I found useful was the remote tactical pressure switch that came supplied. It enables you to operate the torch by pressing one of three buttons while holding and aiming the rifle, the buttons giving the option of turbo, strobe or low lighting. To attach the remote simply unscrew the standard switch on the base of the torch and screw the remote switch on in its place.
For convenience the remote pressure switch on the left of the .22PPC was easily operated by my non-master hand and didn’t interfere with aiming while rapidly shouldering offhand. I used electrical tape to fasten it to the stock in a position my thumb easily contacts the buttons when shouldering the rifle.
Some may find it a little difficult to familiarise with but once you have the hang of things it’s a breeze to use. This was evident on another night shoot where I made use of the tactical pressure kit and had no problem operating the pressure switch with my thumb (I took six hares with six shots).
Despite this success my thumb did press the wrong button a couple of times and while the hares weren’t alarmed by the different light bursts, it was a little distracting for me. I felt the tactical pressure switch could benefit from dropping the other light settings and just having a single button operation for turbo mode only.
After 25 years of using a spotlight about three times the size of the Nitecore left me wondering if I’d ever go back to it. It’s mind-blowing how bright the Nitecore MT40 really is for such a compact torch and makes you wonder what the engineers in research and development are working on now in the race for brightness superiority.
The Nitecore would have to be up there as one of the brightest and at $299.99 as recommended retail price, the hunting kit is great value for money. I’m not advocating ditching your old faithful roof-mounted or hand-held 12v spotlight – a 3.7-volt battery supply does have its limitations as I discovered with prolonged use on turbo mode. Thankfully the Nitecore hunting kit has you covered with a 12 and 240-volt charger.
The Nitecore torch and hunting kit is intended to give the hunter a more versatile and portable form of lighting in the bush and they’ve achieved that in a compact light source punching well above its weight in brightness. The Nitecore MH40GTR hunting kit is covered by a five-year warranty. More at tasco.com.au.