There is a plethora of inexpensive flashlights currently on the market. Some of them are pretty good, while others are, at best, a waste of time and money. The UltraFire WF-502B is a flashlight sold on Amazon.com that had good reviews and a great price tag: less than $9 when I purchased it.
Unfortunately, the flashlight did not work for long. I cannot recommend the light and wanted to share my experiences with it.
The UltraFire WF-502B flashlight is an inexpensive light offered for sale on Amazon.com, eBay and other e-commerce sites. It is advertised as a 1,000 lumen flashlight that runs on 18650 rechargeable batteries. The LED is rated for 100,000 hours of runtime.
It has a body made of 6061 aluminum with a claim of Type III hard coat anodizing. The tail cap switch controls 5 modes that includes three output levels plus strobe and SOS modes. Some of the advertising refers to this light as “military grade.”
UltraFire does not claim to adhere to the industry’s ANSI/PLATO FL1 flashlight testing standard.
According to the UltraFire website, this light has a suggested retail price of $35. However, many sites sell this light for less than $10 (without a battery.) For less than $10, I was skeptical of the “military grade” and other claims made by the company. So, at the prompting of a reader (thanks Jeff!), I decided to test one.
Prior to any testing, the light ceased working. It had not been carried outside of the home; nor had it been subjected to any impacts. It simply stopped producing light.
I purchased the light through Amazon. When it arrived, I checked it to ensure it worked and had no damage. It appeared to be in perfect condition. The light came in a thin cardboard box and was wrapped in a thin sheet of bubblewrap. I inserted an 18650 battery into it, and it worked.
I compared the relative light output to that of a few other lights and was immediately doubtful that this light produced anywhere close to its 1,000 lumen rating. It seemed be on par with a few 300-400 lumen lights I had on hand. Even so, a 300 lumen light for less than $10 can still be a great deal.
Since I had several other projects going on, I removed the battery and put the light to the side. Several months later, I returned to the light to begin testing. Unfortunately, it no longer worked.
I tried the flashlight with two different brands of 18650 batteries (Streamlight and Olight) with no success. I disassembled the light, cleaned the contacts and searched for any obvious problems. I still could not get the light to work.
I also tried the light with CR123A batteries to see if those might work. I had no more success with these than I did with the 18650 batteries.
At this point, I was outside of the 180 day warranty offered by UltraFire.
I did make a few observations about the light that did not require it to be turned on to see. One of the things I noticed is that the threads were not smooth at all. The thread cuts seemed very coarse and almost felt as though they were grinding on each other.
The reflector was marred. If you look at the photo above, you can see some fogging on the reflector. This fogging is not from humidity nor is it oil from my fingers. Rather, it existed when it arrived in my hands and extends all the way around the top 1/3 of the reflector’s interior. I imagine that this would have a negative affect of the light’s performance, though I have no way of measuring that since the light does not work.
Even though this light is very inexpensive, I cannot recommend it for any use whatsoever. The light worked a few times when I first inspected it. However, once it ceased working, there was no resurrecting it. It was finished.
There are much better options on the market. For the same general size with a legitimate 750 lumen output, I highly recommend the Streamlight ProTac HL flashlight. Mine has run for years in all kinds of conditions and cost me less than $70. For $10 more, you can step up to the ProTac HL-X for 1,000 lumens and the ability to use both CR123A and 18650 batteries. I’m testing this light now and have been impressed with it.
Another very good option is the Strion LED HL. It has a very good run time and is rechargeable.
As with all of my flashlight reviews, I fully disclose any potential biases so you can make an informed decision.
First, I’m tough on flashlights. I’ve used them all of my life and hate it when they fail. As a former police officer, I relied on them in critical situations and will not recommend anything that I would not carry myself.
Second, I purchased this light and the 18650 batteries with my own money. I was not paid by anyone to do this review. A reader asked me to review this light, and I thought it would make for an interesting evaluation.
Third, I do not have any financial interest in any flashlight manufacturer or retailer. This includes ownership, stock and employment relationships.
Lastly, this is a for-profit website. GunsHolstersAndGear.com feeds my family. Some of the links on this site lead to affiliate partners like Brownells and Amazon. However, I do not accept any advertising – so you will never see pop ups, auto playing videos or other crap here.