There are many quality torches out there for the enthusiasts and the collectors and even more cheap and cheerful ones for people who just want to have some light in the dark. But the characteristic that the majority of buyers are after is the one that is actually the hardest to find: Value for money.
This is the area where, in my experience, Sofirn actually excels, as I have yet to find a brand that balances quality and price as well as they do. And while they are still more expensive than most cheap and cheerful (aka rubbish) torches on the market, they are not so by much, making their offering quite appealing to many users.
The model we will be looking at in this review is the Sofirn SC31 Pro.
The Sofirn SC31 Pro is an EDC style torch, so it is a pocketable size, packed with features and providing a very decent light output, at a very competitive price. Intrigued? Let us see exactly what it does and how it accomplishes it.
The Sofirn SC31 Pro comes in a colourful cardboard box, which is common for many Sofirn models and the exact model is indicated only on the sticker at the back of the box. As the box is common for many models, no features or specifications are indicated on it.
Inside the box is a clear plastic moulded case that holds the torch securely and protects it during shipping. In the recess, under the plastic case, we find the accessories as well as the manual.
The accessories include the charging cable, the manual and a zip lock bag with the rest of the accessories.
The charging cable is USB type A to USB type C and its length is 104cm, including the plugs.
The zip lock bag contains a lanyard and 2 spare O-rings.
The Sofirn SC31 Pro is made of aluminium with black anodization and has a side button and a pre-installed clip. The body has knurling, to make it grippy and the tailcap features a hole for the lanyard. The sides of the driver portion feature some small fins for heat dissipation. Everything is nicely finished and chamfered, except for the lanyard hole and the fins that are somewhat sharper, but not much.
On the opposite side of the button there is a rubber cover and under it, a USB type C charging port.
The tail cap has some knurling that helps to grip it and screw it on or off. The battery ships inside the light but an insulator prevents it from touching the negative spring so the light cannot be activated during shipping. The threads are square cut and come nicely greased. They are anodized, so even a slight unscrewing of the tail cap will break electrical contact and mechanically lock the light.
The included battery is a Sofirn branded button top 18650 with a capacity rating of 3000mAh.
The battery tube can unscrew from the torch head also. This allows it to be replaced with the optional Sofirn 18350 Short Tube, available on the Sofirn website for $1.49.
There are springs on both the tail cap and the head of the torch, ensuring compatibility with different length 18650 batteries and also the continuity of the circuit during drops and bumps. The springs are thick and of high quality. They are more than adequate for the current this torch draws.
The included tail cap has a lanyard hole (which could have smoother corners) and is not magnetic. An optional, Sofirn Magnetic Tailcap is available at the Sofirn website for $1.69.
The build quality of the Sofirn SC31 Pro is surprisingly good - for the price point and feature set - and on par with other Sofirn lights.
The fit and finish is excellent, the knurling is of good quality and the anodization is without any flaws.
There are a couple of somewhat sharp edges - specifically on the fins and the lanyard hole - and the 2 indicative LEDs on the switch (which can be turned off or set to blinking mode through the Andúril UI) are not quite aligned, which is a perfectionist's nightmare, but these are details that would raise the cost and can be considered acceptable at this price point.
The specifications of the Sofirn SC31 Pro, as found on the company's website, are as follows:
The net weight is declared to be 59g. I weighed it at 61.7g without the battery and 107.7 with the battery. The length and width of the torch are not mentioned. I measured the length to be 11.5cm and the width 2.6cm.
The Sofirn SC31 Pro is rated at 2000 lumen light output and 200m of throw, which is an excellent performance for its size.
The user interface of the Sofirn SC31 Pro is a love or hate deal, as the light features the Andúril UI. Personally, I love it and deeply enjoy the fact that it is feature packed but still provides simple, quick and intuitive access to the basic functions. Others hate it and consider it too much work, as the manual is extensive and even the flow chart can be intimidating to look at.
In my experience, after the initial shock, it is very easy to start using the light and have an occasional look at the flow chart to remind oneself of the more advanced functions.
An important thing to do when you take any Andúril light out of the box is to perform a temperature calibration, as the light will depend on it to perform proper thermal control and balance brightness with temperature. That is also the best time to set the temperature limit. I find 50C to be a good temperature limit and the tests done in this review were done on a calibrated light and with a 50C temperature limit.
The beam pattern of the Sofirn SC31 Pro is a product of the LED type and size and the reflector it uses. With the 5x5mm SST-40 and a smooth reflector, it is not surprising that the result is a somewhat tight hot spot that throws nicely, surrounded by a nice, usable spill. All in all, a very balanced and usable EDC beam pattern.
There are various rings and coronas that are typical of smooth reflectors and may annoy white wall hunters, but those are unavoidable with smooth reflectors and the smooth reflector is what is giving the Sofirn SC31 Pro a very nice throw.
I tested the Sofirn SC31 Pro over a distance of 70m, which is more than adequate for an EDC style torch.
The following video shows a comparison of the Sofirn SC31 Pro with the very well known and much more expensive Olight Baton Pro. Both torches are rated at 2000 lumen and it is obvious that the Sofirn SC31 Pro has a tighter hot spot while the Olight Baton Pro has more spill. I will let each of you decide which one you prefer.
The driver of the Sofirn SC31 Pro uses PWM to dim the light, on all levels, except, of course, on full. The PWM is visible to the camera but not visible to the naked eye, on any level.
Even though I prefer constant current drivers, PWM is an efficient and cost effective way to achieve LED dimming and if it is done at a high enough frequency, as seems to be the case here, it is not a problem.
The tint of the Sofirn SC31 Pro is the cool, greenish (above BBL) tint that is expected of the Luminous SST-40 emitter. It is very similar to the tint of the Olight Baton Pro. Next to them, for reference, the Fireflies E07 with Nichia 219b sw45k emitters which are high CRI and very rosy (below BBL). The SST-40 used is not high CRI.
The battery included with the Sofirn SC31 Pro is rated at 3000mAh and I measured it to be exactly that! The light has under voltage protection and turns off when the battery voltage drops to 2.8V. The battery internal resistance was measured at 80Ohm.
Charging the Sofirn SC31 Pro is very easy. Just lift the rubber cover and insert the provided USB type C cable to charge the light.
The indicative LEDs on the switch turn red to indicate the light is charging. They turn green when the charging is completed, at 4.16V.
Charging the Sofirn SC31 Pro from 2.8V to 4.16V took 2 hours, 6 minutes and 53 seconds. The maximum current drawn was 1.8859A, so a charger that can provide at least 2A is recommended. A charger is not provided with the light but you can use your phone charger.
The Sofirn SC31 Pro has a very low parasitic drain of 1mA, with the indicative LEDs on the switch, on (they can be turned off). The light also has a very low moonlight mode that only draws 4mA. The maximum current draw, on Turbo, is 6.11A, which the provided battery is more than capable of.
Output & Runtimes
The Sofirn SC31 Pro is rated at 2000 lumen output and 200m of throw. I measured it at 1899 lumen at turn on (Turbo), 1785 lumen ANSI (30sec), while throw actually exceeded the specs by 10% and measured at 220m (12108cd).
The temperature was very well controlled, as you can see in the runtime graphs below. Turning on the light at Turbo, will cause a rapid rise in temperature, followed by a huge dip in output, while the temperature stabilizes. This can be avoided if the light is not on Turbo, but used at a more moderate output level.
The light was temperature calibrated, according to the manual, and the temperature limit was set at 50C. The actual temperatures on the button and on the body of the light did not exceed 51.5C and 38.2C, respectively.
All in all, the Sofirn SC31 Pro gave very usable light for about 2.5 hours, when turned on at Turbo, which is very respectable. Usage at more moderate levels, will of course, result in higher runtimes and lower, if any, output dips, due to temperature management.
The Full and 10' runtime graphs tell the story in great detail. All significant changes in output are marked.
The Sofirn SC31 Pro is a value for money, EDC torch that will not disappoint. Its aluminium body is well made and hard anodized and the fit and finish is beyond its price point. The mildly sharp edges of the fins and the lanyard hole are not a concern, but could have been smoother.
The size and weight are great for EDC and the provided 3000mAh 18650 battery allows for ample runtime. The output is more than enough for EDC purposes and the beam profile is very balanced, with enough spill and a lot of throw for its size.
The tint of the Luminous SST-40 LED is a cool, above BBL (greenish) tint and the CRI is low, but this is countered by the high lumen output this emitter allows the light to achieve.
The driver uses PWM to dim the output, so PWM is present at all output levels, except on full. The frequency of the PWM is high enough to not be visible to the naked eye and did not tire me when using the light.
Let's list the Pros and Cons of the Sofirn SC31 Pro:
+ Value for money
+ 6061 Aluminium Alloy construction with good fit and finish
+ Hard and flawless anodization
+ USB type C charging
+ Low Voltage Protection
+ Thermal regulation
+ Well balanced beam, good for EDC use
+ 18650 Li-Ion 3000mAh (actually measured) battery included
+ Low power and charging LED indicator
+ Andúril UI
+ At least 2.5 hours of usable light per charge
+ Compatible with all 18650 batteries
+ Removable, pre-installed clip
+ Magnetic tailcap ($1.69), short (18350) tube ($1.49) and diffuser ($1.69) available as optional accessories
- The fins and the lanyard hole could have smoother edges
- The driver uses PWM to dim the emitter
- Indicative LEDs on the switch are not aligned
Thanks to Sofirn for providing the light for review
Polymeros Achaniotis 25/06/2021