You’d think a 3D cell Maglite would be pretty bright. It’s over 12.5″ (310 mm) long and weighs over 30 oz (850 g) with batteries. With the standard Krypton bulb, the 3D Maglite puts out about 76 lumens. A flashaholic wants 76 lumens from a keychain light.
The Maglite may be behind in bleeding edge illumination technology, but flashlight modders like them because it’s a great platform to build upon. One of my first mods was the Roar of the Pelican – a 2D Maglite running on 6AA batteries and a high wattage bulb. It puts out about 600 lumens.
There are many LED Maglite mods that will put out a lot of light. Multi-chip LEDs – the Cree XLamp MC-E, Seoul Semiconductor Z-Power P7 and the Luminus SST-50 and SST-90 PhlatLight LEDs are popular because of their high outputs. You just need a heatsink for the LED, a driver and suitable batteries in a combination that won’t burn up any of the components. A lot of people have figured this out for you. Google.
I decided to do the easiest high performance 3D cell Maglite upgrade: Malkoff Devices’ Maglite drop-in with the Cree XP-G LED. It’s not as bright as a multi-chip LED mod, but the Malkoff drop-in uses regular alkaline D cell batteries and it has a six hour runtime at full output. The only problem with the Malkoff drop-in is that it’s difficult to buy because it’s so popular. Once they are in stock, they sell out quickly. Malkoff Devices back-in-stock email notification system will alert you when they’re available, but even then you have to be fast.
Installation is simple: remove the existing bulb, push the drop-in down as far as it will go inside the flashlight and tighten the screw (which wedges the drop-in’s heat sink against the flashlight body). The bottom part of the reflector needs to be cut off to accommodate the drop-in. This is a simple cut with a razor saw. If that is too much for you, Malkoff Devices sells a pre-cut Maglite reflector for $12.99.
Malkoff Devices description: “This dropin produces a real 260 (measured out the front) lumens in a 2D or 3D light with alkaline batteries. The Drop-In module is constructed of CNC machined structural aircraft aluminum and has a regulated driver. Full heatsinking of the driver and LED insure that the module can, and will, run at maximum output for extended periods. It will easily illuminate objects at a distance of 1000+ feet and will light a 2 inch red reflector at a distance of more than 1/4 mile. If you shine someone with this at night, within a 100 ft radius, they should see spots for a good 8-10 seconds.“