The object of today’s review is the venerable McGizmo Haiku. For those not familiar with this legendary flashlight, the McGizmo Haiku is the brainchild of Don McLeish.
Don does not have a formal site through which he sells his flashlights other than his sub-forum on CPF. On his sub-forum, he has very specific instructions on how one orders his lights. You must send him an e-mail with the exacting specifications of what you want to order, Don will then send you an invoice with your order total.
Here is a link to the build options. Because this is a custom flashlight, there are many possible variations. The “Haiku” is actually a reference to the head of the flashlight. The base Haiku will run you roughly $450 plus shipping. My Haiku sports a “cracked-ice” clip (+$10) as well as a Tana SuperLE ($130) in lieu of the 3S/Hive LE. Shipping is fast, very fast. Don is one of the few custom makers that almost always has stock on hand.
Design and Execution
Let’s talk more about the flashlight itself. The Haiku is constructed of 6Al-4V, Grade 5 Titanium. Grade 5 titanium is significantly stronger than Grade 2. Grade 2 is cheaper and much more malleable in my experience. I can’t stress this enough. Here is a link that shows the differences. Grade 2 does channel heat better, but Grade 5 is the superior choice for a flashlight like the Haiku where heat is mostly negligible. User js on CPF has an awesome write-up of titanium’s properties, but make no mistake: It is one epic metal. And if I recall correctly, Don was one of the first – if not the first – to make a flashlight completely out of titanium.
The fit and finish of the Haiku is next to flawless. If you look down the battery tube of the flashlight, the bore is also simply impeccable. I will note, however, that I have seen smoother threads for titanium.
The Haiku’s head has fins for heat-disappation, but I’m not sure how effective they actually are in the base light. The 3S and HIVE converters only put out about 140 lumens and 200 lumens respectively. However, the heat fins are especially useful in my particular light because I’m running Tana’s SuperLE. Tana is a well-known member of the flashlight community and does various upgrades for flashlights. The SuperLE is capable of pushing out 500+ lumens in the direct-drive mode, so the head of the Haiku can heat up with extended use. My LE is running Dr. Jone’s H17f driver and a Nichia 219c 4000K emitter.
I chose the Nichia 219c for its 90+ High-CRI rating, colors are rendered much more accurately. Tana also offers an XP-L HI emitter if more lumens is your thing. As for the H17f driver, it is by far one of my favorite drivers. Here is an awesome flowchart by ZeroAir that explains the programming of the H17f driver:
The Haiku has a ribbed body for grip. This is one of the few things that I dislike about the flashlight. I’ve found that the Haiku can sometimes be hard to get a good grip on; it just sort of feels slippery. I’d imagine this issue would be even worse if the flashlight was being used in a wet environment, but the grip may just be an issue specific to me. The taper at the tail end of the Haiku works well for a cigar-grip hold. I have found that I like this design aspect very much; my HDS Rotary and Okluma DC1 also use this taper.
A McClicky switch is installed in the tail of the Haiku. The McClicky is hands-down one of the best clicky switches on the market and is designed by Don himself. Some have said that it feels “cheap,” but I love the simplicity and feel of it. It’s extremely reliable and robust. One of the biggest concerns I had when I initially purchased the light was that the McClicky and the lens itself are each held in by a single O-ring. But after having dunked in water my other flashlights that use the McClicky, my fears have been assuaged. Don himself also regularly dives with his flashlights, so ingress protection is not a concern.
The clip is super solid. As much as I would like to own a Steel Flame flashlight clip or two, I doubt that they’d be much more functional than the one already on the Haiku. The clip’s retention is very strong and I can’t see the flashlight falling out of my pocket when clipped. The cracked ice finish is also a nice touch; overall the clip has a very clean, sterile look.
All in all, the Haiku is a feat of flashlight engineering. The aesthetics of the flashlight are no joke: it just seems to go well with any set-up and the fins are absolutely stunning. The Haiku’s resemblance to a lightsaber makes it a winner in my book. But the aesthetics are just half the story. Because of its solid titanium construction, the Haiku is as functional as it is aesthetically pleasing. There is even a story on CPF of a member who’s house burned down; even though the innards of their Haiku were completely melted, the host of the Haiku itself was still fully intact!
The Haiku in a real-world, work environment. Photos used with permission from Dino Kawamura. Thanks!
The base drivers (3S and HIVE) for the Haiku are very much outdated by today’s standards. I’d highly recommend picking up one of Tana’s LEs in lieu of the stock drivers. However, the bodily design of the Haiku is still exceptional.
The Haiku – and Don Mcgizmo himself – have unmistakably made their mark on flashlight history. When someone asks which custom flashlight to purchase first, the Haiku is almost always suggested. And while the Haiku wouldn’t be my end-all, be-all flashlight (that would be my HDS Executive), it is definitely a “grail” worthy flashlight. If you’re looking for a heirloom-grade, custom flashlight then you can’t go wrong with the Haiku.