Nitecore EC23 – Tactical Flashlight Review


Today we’re going to be looking at the Nitecore EC23, which is a light that had some surprisingly good aspects to it, but which also, for me, falls short in a couple of areas. It’s a little bit of a mixed bag. Let’s go ahead and just dive right in.

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The first thing you’ll notice when you look at the EC23 is that it looks a whole lot like the EC20. The body is basically the same. It’s got the same knurling on it, and that’s a good thing. It’s a good thing that these lights are so similar in terms of the design of the body. It’s a good design. The knurling and everything on the body, that detail, fits well into your hand, just feels good in your hand, but it might fool you into thinking that this has about the same brightness as the EC20. That is definitely not the case. What Nitecore has basically done is they have put the LED from their Concept 1 light into their EC20 body and made the EC23. The LED in the EC20 was capable of nearly 1,000 lumens. That’s nothing to sneer at. 1,000 lumens gives you some great illumination, but the Concept 1 LED is just on a different level. It’s the CREE XHP35 HD2 LED and that thing can ramp up to 1,800 lumens. That’s nearly doubling what the EC20 was able to do. That’s the power of using a whole different LED.

What’s nice about this actually not only uses the LED of the Concept 1, it even improves a little bit on the range of the Concept 1. The Nitecore Concept 1 could go about 220 meters which again, that’s pretty good. That’s well over two football fields and that’s a pretty nice level of distance. They’ve improved on the reflector, though with the EC23. Now what you’ve got is something that can go 255 meters. At this point, you’re almost at three football fields long, goalpost to goalpost to goalpost to goalpost. It’s a light that just has a lot of power and it has a lot of range.

In terms of the basics, what you’ve got is a nice quality light, for sure. One thing that does bother me about this light is to get 1,800 lumens, you definitely have to have a very powerful battery so it shouldn’t be a surprise to flashlight enthusiasts that to get to that level of luminosity, that you need an IMR, high drain, lithium ion 18650 battery. I wish Nitecore made this a little bit more clear in their marketing, this is always something that you tend to have to dig for in these flashlight marketing materials. If you’ve had a few of these kinds of tactical flashlights before, you know that you’re not going to get to 1,800 lumens with just a regular lithium ion battery. You definitely need to get a high strength battery, unfortunately this battery does not come with the light. That’s too bad because it’s going to be a little bit more difficult for the average consumer to find this battery. It’s clear that the average consumer is who they’re targeting with this light.

The flashlight has a single side switch. It’s on the same level as the Nitecore MH series where you just got that single side switch and it’s meant for even flashlight newbies to be able to handle it very simply and very intuitively. They made some odd decisions as far as the user interface. For instance, with this light, in order to change the brightness modes, you first have to turn it on and then you’ve got a three second window where if you hold the button down it will start to cycle through the different brightness modes and when you get the brightness mode you want, you let go and there you are.

After three seconds, holding down the button turns it into instant access to turbo mode. So got a situation where if you miss the three second window, if you want to change your brightness you have to turn the light off and then you turn the light back on and then you hold the button. For the quality, higher end tactical lights, like what Nitecore is typically makes, that’s just a surprisingly convoluted operation for something as simple and as common as changing brightness modes. That’s not necessarily something that I enjoy about it.

Having a side switch is still nice. That’s in the design of the EC body is still convenient for the side switch location plus Nitecore has included the same power indicator function on its side switch that it’s had in other lights. Very unobtrusive, but reliable and useful where you just after you get to under 50% of your battery charge, every few seconds it’ll blink at you. Not something that you will really notice unless you’re looking right at it, so it’s not going to be distracting. As it gets much lower, it’s hard to say exactly how much lower, but when you’re at a stage where you need to worry, it’ll start blinking at you more rapidly. It’s that good, simple, rough battery indicator operation and that’s something that I typically like. I don’t need to know the exact percentages of what my battery is at because that’s just going to make me anxious.

The other thing that I don’t like about it is there’s nowhere to turn it off. I don’t necessarily, when I get to the halfway mark on a battery, need a constant reminder that the battery is halfway gone. I wish there was some quick way to just access it and get that rough sense of it again, but like I said, it’s not something that you’re really going to notice and I guess if it bothers you, you can always just rotate the light so you can’t see it. Maybe that will solve the issue for you.

Something else concerning the battery that I thought was odd. I assume in order to keep the price tag lower, they did not include a recharging feature. But it seemed surprising to me for a light that’s going to be this powerful. Recharging is becoming more and more of a thing in the tactical flashlight industry. Everyone’s doing it, I’m not necessarily saying that Nitecore should always conform to what everyone else is doing but they should probably have a good reason especially when you’ve got to use a particular, very strong battery in the light, making sure that the user has all the tools they need to always have as much power as they’re going to need would be nice. This is a matter of personal preference though. Do you want to want to pay extra and have that recharging technology or do you not? That’s not something I would necessarily take away from the light, takes points away from the light for.

Plus it is nice that the light is compatible with different kinds of batteries. You can get the high drain battery if you want that full 1,800 lumens but it works with any 18650 lithium ion battery not just high drain ones. And you can even use a CR123 batteries. You definitely have options although with that last choice, you are looking at burning up those batteries pretty fast on a light this powerful.

Some other things to consider with this light, it’s definitely very durable. Impact resistance as all Nitecore’s lights are. IPX8 and that’s about the best rating you can expect for a flashlight as far as it’s waterproofing. This light is submersible up to two meters. That means that it’s not just weatherproof, that means you could drop it into most pools and your warranty is still good. Nitecore is pretty confident it’s going to be able to take shallow swims with you and still come up and be all right.

Some other nice things they’ve got on this flashlight, they’ve got a tail stand capability which is always nice. If you don’t enjoy watching your light roll off of your desk. It’s also very small and nice light, just like the EC20, I don’t want to talk too much about the EC20 body, but five inches is becoming a good standard for a tactical flashlight. This is about, little over five inches long and that’s pretty good, that means that you can easily transport this light just about anywhere. It’s going to fit in your pocket, it’s going to be convenient to clip onto your belt. It’s got just about everything there.

It’s also got a one inch diameter, which is nice, that’s just basically what Nitecore does is one inch diameter lights. Typically manufacturers adhere to the one inch diameter rule so that it’s going to be compatible with most gun mounts and make it a true tactical flashlight. I’m not sure if that’s necessarily much of a boon in the case of the EC23, having just a side switch, now you’re not really able to use this some sort of remote pressure switch and just make it more convenient for use if you’re going to hook it onto your rifle. It’s just not how I foresee this particular light being used.

Besides your five brightness modes, which is pretty nice, your 1,800 brightness modes, then down to 980, about half but still very strong. I love that the second brightness mode is about as bright as the EC20’s turbo mode. All the way down to just one lumen, true moonlight, which is always a very nice touch. I always enjoy when I can get true moonlight. It’s nice to be able to read in the dark in a way that just not going to strain your eyes. That’s always a good thing.

Besides those five brightness modes, you have three special brightness modes. You’ve got your strobe, you’ve got your SOS and you’ve also got your beacon location. The beacon location function is not something that every manufacturer bothers to put in their tactical light. The strobe and the SOS are basically mandatory. The beacon location you might not always see that and it’s just nice to have that extra function in there.

Overall, EC23 is a pretty good flashlight. There’s some decisions they made along the way that I find to be a little bit wonky but not everyone might even necessarily disagree so I would call this definitely a quality flashlight, very bright, very durable, feels good in the hand, and I don’t think anyone would regret getting a light like this. The Nitecore EC23, check it out.

Additional Resources

Nitecore Website