Okluma DC1 Review

I first did a video review on YouTube of this flashlight over a year ago, but let’s just say it wasn’t as nice as I would’ve wanted and was somewhat of a flop. I’d like to think that I convey myself much more eloquently by means of written media so hopefully this written review will give this flashlight the justice it deserves.

You can read a brief history/background of both Okluma and the DC1 by clicking this link. The link will take you to a Google Doc that I’ve written. Feel free to skip ahead if you’re more interested in the flashlight itself. 

Tl;dr version: The DC1 is based upon the Mac’s Customs Tri-EDC. Mac’s Customs went out of business but not before ripping off a bunch of customers. Jeff took up the demand for triple LED setups and the rest is history. 

A comparison between the Mac’s Customs Tri-EDC and Okluma DC1 courtesy of CPF user sigfan.

Hereis the official product page for the DC1 along with specifications. The base model in aluminum will run you $299. Prices go up for other metals such as titanium, brass, and copper ($499 each). Okluma flashlights are sold in drops; most of these drops sell out in minutes if not almost instantly. There’s also occasional runs of DC1s in Damascus, Zirconium, and various other metals but those are another story in terms of price. Customization-wise, there’s quite a lot. Okluma is well-known for working with customers on a one-on-one basis for options such as driver upgrades and LED swaps.

Excellent header photo for this review taken by and used with permission from Andy Zhu. 

Now let’s move on to the DC1 (formerly TinyDC) itself. As I mentioned previously, a lot of changes have been implemented to the design over time. Jeff is constantly working to improve upon his product and presentation. From what I understand, DC1s now come with the flashlight itself, a battery, a neat cigar box for storage, and a DOB card.

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This is the cigar box that my first DC1 came with. 

Because I’ve bought both my aluminum DC1s second-hand they did not come with all these items. I traded my first DC1, but my current DC1 has been modified with Cree XP-L2 emitters, an H17f driver, and ice blue tritium vials in the optic. There’s also a green glow sticker in the optic. Here’s a photo of my sample:

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First hand impressions of the flashlight are very good. You can see that the DC1 follows the tapered design of many other similar flashlights. The flashlight conforms naturally to the hand and allows for easy articulation. Jeff has mentioned before that he isn’t aiming for a “fun” looking flashlight; I would posit that the DC1 maintains this sentiment. Overall the flashlight has a clean, streamlined feel to it that is distinctly different from flashlights like the Oveready BOSS (not that the feel of the BOSS is bad by any means).

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The DC1 fits in my hand very nicely. It’s not too big and not too small – it’s somewhere right in the middle.  

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The cigar-grip hold comes very naturally with this flashlight. 

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Okluma DC1 with the Oveready BOSS 35 side-by-side for comparison. On paper the BOSS 35 reigns supreme but the DC1 has a very refined feel in the hand that you just don’t get with the BOSS 35.

Let’s go over the choice of metal. The aluminum DC1 is constructed of 7075 aluminum.  7075 aluminum is much stronger than conventional 6061 aluminum; often times it’s referred to as metal with the weight of aluminum but the strength of steel. As a result, the DC1 is very light yet can take quite the beating. My first aluminum DC1 had an upgraded copper pill in it for better heat sinking though: I don’t recommend this because it throws off the balance of the flashlight (especially the aluminum version) and is pretty useless unless you’re running the light on high for an extended period of time. I recall being surprised by the weight when I received my second and current DC1.

Make no mistake: 7075 Aluminum is the optimal material for a flashlight. 

The body of the flashlight sports four rings. There is also light knurling on these rings for added grip. I don’t like the knurling as much I do on my HDS flashlights, but that’s a preference thing. It’s still really good and I know that Jeff has put a lot of thought into it. If I recall correctly, some of the original DC1s had more aggressive knurling that Jeff has since toned down. I think that he’s struck a very good balance for the knurling of the DC1.

Like with most flashlights, although the DC1 is intended to be used with an IMR 18350, you can run it on an IMR 16340 or CR123a battery on a pinch. This isn’t recommended and I would stick with the lower outputs only, but it is possible. The battery tube is machined nicely and has very tight tolerances. They’re not as tight as a Mac’s Tri-EDC but very tight nonetheless. Some of the newer generation 1200 mAh 18350 don’t fit so be careful which batteries you purchase. I highly recommend the AW or the Efest 18350.

The tail-end of the flashlight uses a McClicky switch. This is a forward-clicky switch, meaning you press lightly for momentary activation and press fully for constant on. The McClicky is the gold standard of forward clickies so I think it was an apt choice for this flashlight. One possible issue that I can think of, though, is that the McClicky can only handle up to 6A of current. If you’re running a different driver like I am, such as a FET, you could burn out the switch if you’re not careful. That being said, you should be fine using it with the base driver.

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Moving on to the clip. The clip is made out of titanium, I like that it’s simple yet effective. It looks as nice as any of my other clips and is on par functionally with my McGizmo and Oveready clips. The DC1 does allow you the option of installing aftermarket clips, the Steel Flame clips in particular seem to be very popular for dressing up DC1s. Unfortunately, I don’t own any Steel Flame clips so someone else’s picture will have to suffice:

The DC1 is a real attention grabber! Note how the Steel Flame clip accentuates the flashlight. Photo used with permission from Mark Payba. 

Although my particular DC1 is using an H17f driver, my original DC1 that I traded came with a QLITE driver. Okluma has since came out with their own proprietary driver, but I believe that it functions the same as the QLITE (ML-L-M-H with mode memory). Functionally there’s nothing wrong with the QLITE: it’s uber reliable and the most popular flashlight driver on the planet. However, the H17f is vastly superior because of its programmability and added features. I’d like to see the H17f made the default driver in future iterations of the DC1. Keep in mind that you always still ask Jeff to install an H17f (or another driver like the Lux-RC 371D or CWF Dragon) in lieu of the QLITE for an uncharge.

DC1 with Lux-RC 371D installed. Photo used with permission from Ndae Iskandar. 

The default emitters of the DC1 are Nichia 219c. The Nichia 219c are bright and efficient, I respect the choice of emitter. You do have the option of upgrading to a different emitter like XP-L HI for more lumens. I would honestly just stick with the 219cs though. Jeff rates the DC1 as being about 800 lumens on the official product page, but rest assured that this number is very conservative because the DC1 puts out well over 800 lumens.

At the front of the DC1 protecting the Carclo 10507 optic and innards is a glass mineral lens. While the aluminum DC1s come with a glass mineral lens, the more exotic metals use a sapphire lens. You can always purchase a sapphire lens for the aluminum DC1 on the Okluma site though. Sapphire is much more scratch-resistant and much harder than glass. Henry of HDS Systems also offers the sapphire lens upgrade but has stated that the upgrade is mostly negligible: in a flashlight, sapphire and glass are equally adequate. I would mainly purchase the sapphire only if you think you absolutely need it.

I feel like a lot of my review has been passive-aggressive and somewhat ambivalent about this light. That being said, the DC1 is still one of my favorite flashlights and I think that the issues that I’ve pointed out with it thus far serve to accentuate that the DC1 is constantly being improved upon. Jeff is extremely responsive to critique and always looking for ways to make a better product. And as with every product, I think that the people themselves who back the product need to be taken into account.

Left to right: Clark, Izzy, Jeff, and Joey.

Okluma has hands-down, unequivocally the best warranty in the flashlight business. This quotation is straight from the Okluma website:

“All of our flashlights come with a lifetime no-questions-asked warranty. That means if you ever have trouble with your flashlight, even if you’re not the original owner, we’ll fix it for free. And we’ll cover shipping. And if you need a flashlight to use while we’re repairing yours, we can send you one in the mean time. If you purchase an Okluma flashlight, we want it to be the last light you ever need to buy, and we’re serious about it.”

That’s one bold statement but from what I’ve seen Jeff has never failed to live up to it. I believe there’s even someone who used their DC1 as a hammer and sent it in for repair afterwards. The transparency of Okluma and their unprecedented warranty are a large part of the reason why I’m willing to plonk down the funds on one of their flashlights.  And because I know that there’s people who are wondering, yes, I will address the issue of investment.

On the secondary market, most DC1 flashlights go for pretty much more or less their asking price direct from Okluma. In this regard, the market for DC1s is in almost perfect equilibrium: this is optimal and means that Okluma has achieved an excellent balance between demand and supply. What this also effectively means is that flipping is very hard to do with Okluma flashlights unless it’s a particularly rare model. Flipping and the ridiculous secondary prices it generates are disgusting in my opinion and do the maker a disservice. In essence, the drop system and the ratio of demand to supply put the DC1 in a very good position economic-wise.

This diagram legit looks like it could’ve come out of my high school Econ textbook. In fact, I’m pretty sure one of our worksheets had this exact image. Anyways, where those lines all intersect = equilibrium point. 

I actually wanted to publish this review sooner, but was waiting on my DC1 to come back from service from Jeff so I could take more pictures. This is where I can bring my own, firsthand experience with Okluma to the table. Jeff has always answered my questions promptly and been extremely accommodating. Even when a DC1 I ordered went missing (thanks USPS), he quickly took care of me in a very professional manner. And when my current DC1 developed an issue on the high setting with the H17f (that wasn’t installed by Okluma by the way), it was a simple matter of shooting Jeff a PM on Messenger. For a small fee, my DC1 was on its way back in a single day. Jeff even put on a new O-ring, glow gasket, and lubed the threads. I can’t stress enough how good the customer service and warranty of this flashlight (and all Okluma products) is.

My DC1 just back from Jeff. Here’s a picture of a few of my current EDC items as well. 

Although I may critique a few aspects of the DC1, I think there’s no question that the DC1 has made a name for itself in the flashlight community. I would further argue that Jeff has by far superseded not only Mac’s horrible customer service, but also the original Tri-EDC design. The DC1 is a flashlight that any serious flasholic should own. So if you’re just starting out in the flashlight world and looking to pick up your first custom, I highly recommend the Okluma DC1.

Grade: B-

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