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Review: Acebeam L30, a 20700/18650/CR123 tactical light with very high output

This Acebeam L30 was provided by Acebeam for review.

A full album with extra images is available at https://imgur.com/a/oN0k0

Quick Review

Update: a new version, the L30 II is now available; it has a 21700 battery with more capacity.

The Acebeam L30 is a duty-type flashlight suitable for weapon mounting using the new 20700 battery, USB charging (it can also use some 18650s or two CR123s) and Cree XHP70.2 emitter. Cool and neutral white tints are available. With an output of 4000 lumens, it is the most powerful light of this type by a considerable margin. Acebeam says the L30 is "like a side-arm that takes shotgun shells". That has been done and isn't usually regarded as a good idea by the firearms community. Let's find out if the L30 is a better idea.


The L30 is designed for use as a duty light for first responders, a long-gun mounted light, and a general utility light. It's a versatile light suitable for a wide range of situations. It's good for wearing on a belt holster, attaching to a backpack, keeping in a vehicle or storage indoors. It's too large for casual everyday carry for most people and is quite uncomfortable in a pants pocket, but OK in a jacket. Extended use on maximum output isn't practical due to heat, but 2000 lumens is possible for a long time without the body growing uncomfortably hot. 1000 lumens is sustainable for the whole battery life in warm, still air.

The L30 keeps the user interface of the L16, which I reviewed a few months ago. The L-series UI works like two lights in one, with an e-switch UI on the side switch that has shortcuts to low, high and last-used with a single click for on/off. The tailswitch is a forward-clicky (half-press for momentary) that always produces maximum output. I love this solution for combining tactical and utility use cases in one light and hope that Acebeam expands this lineup. I'd love an EDC-sized version with the warm-white XP-L HI used in the special edition EC35s, but I digress. Modes are fairly well-spaced and useful, but I'd like to see one more added between 1 and 200 lumens; 30-50 sounds about right.

Build quality is typical Acebeam, which is to say excellent. The machining is precise and free of tool marks and sharp edges. The lens and MCPCB are extra thick. Solder joints are very solid. The springs are stiff. Waterproofing is perfect. The one issue is that the rubber cover for the USB port comes open fairly easily when placing the light in the included holster, which severely compromises waterproofing.

The light the L30 emits is a mixed bag. New-generation Cree emitters are famous for badly uneven tint across the beam, and the XHP70.2 is no exception. The cool white version is around 6000K, which I find washes out colors, hurting my ability to recognize objects quickly. A neutral white 5000K is available, and if it's anything like the 5000K XHP70.2 in my Haikelite MT07S (review) than it's quite acceptable, though the rainbow is still there. The best part of the light produced by the L30 is, of course the fact that there's a lot of it. This is the highest output 1x18650 flashlight by FL1 standards currently available. I imagine some readers are already saying "but what about the Emisar D4?". Well, the XP-L HI version of that may power on at 4300 lumens, but it's down to about 3000 at 30 seconds while the L30 is making 3900. No other production light with a 1" body tube comes close to this level of output.

During testing, I accidentally immersed my L30 in water with the flap open. The light went out shortly after. I recommend significant caution with regard to exposing an L30 to water. I would have rated this as a less significant issue before experiencing it, but it's a very real concern, especially since the flap is easily pulled open by the holster. Warming the head with the lens, reflector, USB flap and battery tube removed eventually got it to work again.

So is the L30 a better idea than a revolver that uses .410 shotshells? Yes, absolutely. Is it a good choice for you? That depends on you. Occasional users might be better served by something smaller like the EC35. Heavy users will be better served by something larger like the K30. For those with more varied use cases, those who prefer USB charging and those who want a huge amount of output mounted on a long gun, the L30 is a great solution.

    • High output - best in class as of this writing
    • Good output stability as the battery drains
    • 20700 battery compatibility with a 1" diameter body tube
    • Excellent user interface for both general and tactical use (without configuration)
    • Very good machining and build quality
    • Light can operate from USB without a battery (up to 1000lm)
    • Tint rainbow typical of the XHP70.2 emitter
    • USB flap can open when holstering and completely defeat the waterproofing
    • Thermal regulation eventually allows the body to get uncomfortably hot in 2000 lumen mode
    • Requires a spacer to use unprotected 18650 batteries, which is not included

Details and technical analysis


The L30 ships with a pocket clip, holster, 18650 sleeve, lanyard, spare o-rings, spare switch boot, protected 20700 battery and USB cable. The holster is different from the one that ships with the L16, and in my opinion not quite as nice. The two lights fit comfortably in each others' holsters.



Modes and user interface

Using the side switch, the UI is as follows:

State Action Result
Off Short-press last-used
Off Long-press firefly
Any Double-click turbo
Any Triple-click strobe
On Short-press off
On Long-press Cycle L->M->H
Off Very-long-press lockout
Lockout Very-long-press firefly

Output and runtime

Advertised runtimes are based on the included 20700 battery. This battery was used for all tests unless otherwise noted.

I was unable to take some of the measurements I usually do because of the water damage.

Mode Advertised Lumens Estimated Lumens Throw (FL1 meters) Graph Advertised Runtime Time to 80% Time to 50% Time to 10% Tailcap current (mA)
Standby 0 0 0 - - - - - 2.7 years
Firefly 1 1 6 59 days - - - 42 days 4.17
Low 200 210 95 12 hours - - - 12 hours 355
Medium 1000 1036 211 graph 2.5 hours 2.2 hours 2.2 hours 2.2 hours 1930
High 2000 1948 290 graph 1.1 hours 1 hour 1 hour 1 hour -
Turbo (water-cooled) 4000 3900 410 graph 2 minutes + 1 hour 23 minutes 23 minutes 23 minutes -
Turbo (fan-cooled) 4000 3900 410 graph 2 minutes + 1 hour 5 minutes 6 minutes 49 minutes -
Turbo (ice water, 3100 mAh battery) 4000 3900 410 graph - 11 minutes 11 minutes 11 minutes -

I should note that fan-cooled results in a drop to just under 50% which eventually recovers to just over 50%. Were I to bend the rules just slightly, time to 50% would be 49 minutes.

There is low-voltage protection, which triggers at about 2.8V after a few minutes of blinking warning. The warning period is shorter on higher modes and was absent on turbo with the included battery. I believe the battery's protection tripped before the light's warning triggered, so it probably requires the low voltage to be detected for a certain amount of time.

I tested output on a low battery (3.4V) and got about 3200 lumens at power-on and over 3100 at 30 seconds. The driver either intentionally restricts output or cannot provide full current when the battery is low. This output is still higher than any reasonably comparable light.

The L30 is the first light I've tested for which immersion in room temperature water is insufficient to prevent a thermal stepdown. In order to test whether the stepdown observed was timed, voltage-based or thermal, I tested the light immersed in ice water. It's definitely thermal.

Light quality

Cree emitters have never been my favorite for light quality, and lately they've taken a significant turn for the worse. The current generation, of which the XHP70.2 is a member has a problem with uneven tint across the beam nearly resembling a rainbow. There are purple and yellow blotches at the center of the hotspot, a green corona and a purple spill. The beam pattern somewhat resembles a bruise.

Color rendering looks to be average, and maukka's test results from the K30 support that. In cool white, average color rendering means that skin tones and much of the natural world looks washed out, and it's difficult to distinguish similar colors if they're shades of brown, orange or red. Neutral white should be better at this, but I don't expect a significant improvement to the tint rainbow.

White wall

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The L30 has a 1" diameter body tube with a removable grip ring. Most hand sizes should be able to hold it comfortably and securely in a variety of grips. There's moderate texturing to improve the user's grip, but not so much as to be annoying. The tailswitch is proud and easy to operate even wearing gloves, but the side switch is flush and can be a bit hard to find by feel.


Am I doing "tactical" right?

Compared to other lights:


Klarus G30, Klarus XT2CR, Acebeam L30, Acebeam L16, Haikelite MT07S

Batteries and charging

The L30 is the first production flashlight I know of designed for the 20700 battery. As the name suggests, it's 2mm wider and 5mm longer than an 18650. Acebeam adds a protection circuit, resulting in a total length of nearly 75mm. An aluminum sleeve is included to prevent 18650 batteries from rattling, but it does not do anything for length. 18650s without protection circuits are not long enough to make contact without an additional spacer. Advertised capacity is 4250 mAh. I got 4066 on my Opus BT-C100. The battery is so long, it does not fit in the BT-C3100 and may have issues with other chargers.

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Unsurprisingly, the current draw to produce 4000 lumens from a single cell is significant. Most protected cells cannot handle the L30's highest mode and will trip immediately. My only protected 18650 that works is the 3100 mAh Acebeam that came with my L16. The cell inside is believed to be a Sony VTC6. With the addition of a rare earth magnet to act as a spacer, the L30 will run on shorter 18650s. Any Li-ion battery that makes contact can be charged internally. Charging the 20700 with a 1.8A USB power supply took about 2.5 hours, and I suspect the intended charging current is 2.0A.

The L30 is advertised as compatible with CR123A disposable batteries, however output is restricted to 1500 lumens. This was not tested.

The L30 can operate from USB power without a battery installed. Modes up to 1000 lumens worked from my 1.8A USB power supply, but the light flashed and shut off at 2000 and 4000 lumens. If mode memory is set to 2000 lumens, it is necessary to start the light with the shortcut to moonlight, then ramp up to the desired mode.

Modification potential

I've decided to start including modifications in reviews. Some people just can't leave well enough alone, and I'm one of them.

The bezel unscrews easily providing access to the MCPCB and emitter. I anticipate no difficulties replacing it with any other XHP70 on the same MCPCB. On a different MCPCB, an XHP50 or 6 volt Nichia 144A might work, though the most common MCPCBs for the 144A are 16mm, which would require the use of flat leads to avoid lifting up the reflector and ruining the focus. A quad Nichia E21A is also a possibility.

The driver is a bit hard to access, as the two screws holding it in don't want to cooperate with my drivers.

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