I love my Maglites. I’ve owned a number of them in different sizes since I was a Boy Scout. And while their rugged construction, reliability, ease of use, and excellent customer service never go out of style, bulb technology has changed dramatically since the years when I was collecting merit badges.
These days, LED (Light Emitting Diode) technology gives us bulbs that are brighter, whiter, and less prone to impact and vibration — all while consuming dramatically less power. So it’s no surprise that MAG Instrument now makes LED-bulbed models, but I’ve already got a collection of Maglites stashed around the house and in various automobile glove boxes with the original Krypton bulbs inside. And since the 9th point of the Scout Law is “A Scout is Thrifty,’ what’s a now-no-so-young Eagle Scout like me supposed to do?
Enter LED flashlight conversion bulbs. They’re way cheaper than buying a whole new flashlight and can bring my trustly old Mags into the 21st century, making them essentially identical to the new LED flashlights currently sold today. MAG’s overall flashlight design really hasn’t change much over the past few decades… because it hasn’t needed to. It’s been tested in police, fire, and military environments for years. So after an LED conversion, I’ll still get to keep my favorite flashlight; it will just be brighter, more reliable, and last longer on a set of batteries!
For this review, I upgraded a pair of identical full size Maglites (the three D-cell versions) with the TerraLUX MiniStar5 6EXB bulb. Here’s what one looks like:
The official marketing blurb from TerraLUX is:
The MiniStar5® 6EXB LED Conversion from TerraLUX is the ultimate performance upgrade for your MagLite® 2-3 cell flashlight. At 140 lumens, it’s up to 7X as bright as standard bulbs, and with up to 17 hours of runtime, the MiniStar5® is the smart choice for people looking to upgrade their existing flashlight.
- Fits MagLite® 2-3 cell flashlights
- 140 lumen output
- Electronically regulated for constant light output
- Up to 17 hours runtime
- LED never needs replacing
- Retains the ability to focus the flashlight beam
- SKU: TLE-6EXB
- MSRP: $23.99
I picked up mine well below MSRP on Amazon for $13.98 each. TerraLUX also makes a MiniStar 5 conversion for the larger 4-6 cell Maglite (the 6EX), as well as a MiniStar1 bulb that fits all versions of full size Maglites, but I’d stay away from the MiniStar 1 since’s it only 1 watt and puts out only 50 lumens, as opposed to the 140 lumens from both MiniStar 5 models.
Installation of the MiniStar 5 EXB was simple as… well… changing a light bulb. Unscrew the lens cover on the MAG, tip out the reflector, unscrew and remove the retaining ring surrounding the existing bulb, pop out the old bulb and pop in the new, then put everything back together. It actually took me longer to find a pair of scissors to open the blister pack the bulb shipped in than it did to complete the upgrade. TerraLUX even makes a How-To video, although you probably won’t need it:
After installing the bulb in my first Maglite, I turned both flaslights on for a quick side-by-side comparison… which is a very generous word, since there really was no comparison. However, in the spirit of full disclosure, I must admit that just like I did during my review of the 700 lumens Sig Sauer STL-300J STOPLITE, I make the rookie mistake of staring into the new LED bulb as I turned it on for the first time.
So after waiting a few minutes for the large glowing hole in my vision to fade, then I was able to do a comparison between the old and the new. The LED-upgraded Maglite was indeed significantly brighter and noticeably whiter. I still retained the focus ability of the beam, and while I didn’t leave the flashlight on for 17 hours to test the battery life improvement, my prior experience with LED bulbs is enough to believe that it will use fewer batteries than a Krypton bulb, and last a whole lot longer between replacements, too.
Upgrading the second flashlight was predictably identical to the first, although I may have shaved a few tenths off my total time. Bottom line: this is a no-brainer upgrade. It makes your already magnificent Maglite noticeably better in every conceivable way, with no drawbacks, for under $14. So whether your use of a Maglite is tactical or practical, the TerraLUX LED conversion kit is something you’ll probably want to pick up.
- TerraLUX MiniStar5 6EXB LED Replacement Bulb for 2-3 Cell C&D MagLites
- TerraLUX MiniStar5 6EX LED Replacement Bulb for 4-6 C&D Cell MagLites
I welcome your feedback and comments below!