Review: Fenix UC35

The UC35 is my first experience with Fenix and the UC35 is a serious flashlight and may be my new favorite. AT about $90 the UC35 is priced as a premium light and it operates as one. The UC35 is a reasonable size, produces a very bright beam, has exceptional power options, and is easy to operate.

The UC35 is on the larger side and the machined aluminum body of the light fits in the palm of my hand and extends past my palm. This extremely rugged tactical light produces a 1,000 lumen beam with 17,700 candelas. A beam of this intensity is powerful enough to temporarily blind an attacker. The flat front bezel is a smaller diameter and would inflict damage on an attacker even without crenellations. The rear bezel has two raised area for attaching a lanyard but these would also increase the striking effectiveness. The finely knurled grip is easy to hold but I would prefer a larger knurled area with a more aggressive pattern.

Two areas that really caught my attention are the power options and the operation. The UC35 comes with a 18650 rechargeable battery and USB charging cable. The battery can be charged in the flashlight using the USB cable. It can also run on two CR-123 lithium batteries. Operating the light is easy and intuitive. The side switch selects the brightness level. The tail switch can provide momentary light or clicking the button provides sustained light. The tail switch turns the flashlight on at the level at which it was last powered off. Holding down the selector switch activates the tactical strobe at maximum brightness. The selector switch also has a battery indicator light.

  • Power: The UC35 includes a 3500 mAhr 18650 Li-ion rechargeable battery and it can alternatively use two CR-123 batteries. The 18650 battery can be charged in the flashlight using a USB connector on the head of the light.
  • Construction: The light is machined from aircraft grade aluminum and has a smooth front bezel and two raised areas on the back bezel. The threads are tight and very smooth and a O-rings provide additional water sealing.
  • Size: 5.5” (140mm) long, 0.9” (23.5mm) body, 1.0” (25.4mm) head. The diameter is large enough for my fingers to wrap around the flashlight when I grip the light.
  • Waterproof: IP68 waterproof to 2 meters.
  • Durability: Withstands 1-meter drop.
  • Features: Five light levels from turbo (1,000 lumens) to moonlight (1 lumen).
  • Light Output: (turbo) 1,000 lumens at 17,700 candelas for 2.25 hours, (high) 350 lumens at 6,400 candelas for 4.17 hours, (medium) 150 lumens at 2,400 candelas for 10.67 hours, (low) 50 lumens at 1,000 candelas for 28.17 hours, and (moonlight) 1 lumen at 25 candelas for 800 hours.
  • Beam Pattern: 50″ x 6″ at 3′ (Beam Scale)
  • Power Fail: Each time the light is activated the battery level indicator display2 the battery status for 3 seconds:
    • Green constant on: saturated
    • Green flashes: sufficient
    • Red constant on: poor
    • Red flashes: critical

    Note: There is no power indication when CR123A battery is used.

Before purchasing this flashlight my favorite lights were the Steamlight HL or HL -x and the Streamlight 1L-1AA. I used the Streamlights for years but I have to say that I now prefer the UC35 as a pure tactical flashlight. The modes are easy to operate and the tactical strobe is activated by merely holding the side button. The Streamlights require double tapping the tail switch. In an extreme situation it will probably be more difficult to activate the Streamlight strobe. The one HUGE advantage with the Fenix is the power indicator. With my Streamlights they will be working fine one day and have almost no light the next. If you have to use it tactically you need the light to have full brightness. The UC35 power indicator, in my opinion, is a critically important feature. The power indicator does not work when using CR-123 batteries but I plan on using the rechargeable 18650 battery almost exclusively and using the CR-123 batteries when I need emergency power.

I will still carry the Streamlight 1L-1AA because this small flashlight is very useful. It has a double-sided clip which is very handy in a small flashlight. I can quickly clip the 1L-1AA to the bill of my cap and have an instant headlamp. I can also use an AA battery which I can recharge using my solar panels. For these reasons the 1L-1AA will remain a component in my emergency kits. However, for a tactical carry light I prefer the UC35.

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