NiteCore MT26 Tactical Light Review

Raising the Bar (Again)

Reviewed for M1911.ORG by Harwood Loomis

It has probably been longer than it seems, but it seems that until just a few years ago the epitome of a “tactical” flashlight was the ubiquitous 5-cell MagLite carried by most police officers, firemen, and search-and-rescue operators. These were large, heavy, and in comparison to the LED tactical lights of even a few years ago not all that bright. This was demonstrated to me very graphically a year and a half ago when a storm knocked out the electricity to my house. The repair crew arrived at about midnight, and I took my trusty 3-cell MagLite to show the crew where the two poles are on my property, and which one no longer had wires at the top.

My faithful old MagLite barely reached the top of the pole, and didn’t show much. Imagine my amazement when the crew leader pulled out a similar-appearing 3-cell MagLite and proceeded to shine a beam that seemed to reach halfway to heaven. I asked him how he did that, and he told me his was Mag’s new LED light. I promptly upgraded all my existing MagLites to LED lamps (previously reviewed <<here>>), and my interest in LED flashlight technology was born.

My previous exposure to LED flashlights had not been all that impressive. Several years ago I purchased an LED conversion for the 2-cell Mini MagLite and, to be honest, I don’t believe the LED is any brighter than the standard Mag Xenon lamp. But, the switch in the tailcap is handy. I’ve also purchased several (very) inexpensive 9-LED compact flashlights. They’re fine for finding the key slot on a dark night, but hardly up to “tactical” standards. Then, about a year ago, I purchased a pair of small, black anodized, LED flashlights from a well-known mail order outfitting company. I wasn’t expecting a whole lot, so I was very pleasantly surprised by what I got. The price was under $30 for two flashlights. They were advertised as producing 160 lumens … but I didn’t know what any of my other flashlights produced, so I had no frame of reference. These little things were bright! My house is about 250 feet from the road. The new little “tactical” light reached the street with a beam just as focused and just as bright as my 3-cell MagLite with the LED conversion. I was impressed, to say the least.

Readers who follow the blog postings of John Caradimas, the founder of M1911.ORG, will probably have read some of his articles on the evolution of LED and tactical light technology. To me, the 160 lumens of my bargain lights seemed a tremendous increase from the 80 and 100 lumens numbers I had been seeing and hearing about. Today, a paltry 160 lumens is like a match being lit next to a bonfire.

Where will it end?

Last weekend, I went to the range to re-shoot some photographs for a pistol review. While I was there I ran into Mike Rubino, who is the proprietor of Diversified Public Safety, a police, fire, and EMS uniform and equipment vendor. Mike was raving about a new tactical flashlight he was carrying, and he insisted on taking me across to his shop to show it to me. I was sufficiently awed that I talked him into lending me his sample light for this review.

The brand name is NiteCore®, which appears to be a brand name owned by Sysmax Industry Company, Ltd, of Guangzhou, China. They offer several different tactical-type flashlights. The subject of this review is the MT26 (the “MT” designating that this light is one of their Multi-Task series of lights).

Externally, the MT26 has the usual features: the case is “aircraft-grade” aluminum, hard black anodized, with knurled surfaces for a secure grip. The tailcap has a pushbutton switch, which can function as a simple ON/OFF switch or as a multi-function switch. (More on that later.) The head is milled to an octagonal shape to prevent rolling if the light is laid horizontally on a flat surface. Nothing special so far, right?

It was the light output that got my attention. My budget tactical lights use a Cree XP-C LED lamp rated at 160 lumens. The NiteCore MT26 uses a Cree XM-L U2 lamp rated an incredible 800 lumens, and 45 hours of battery life. In addition, it is water resistant to a depth of two meters.

What does it do?

Okay, the MT26 is bright. In today’s competitive tactical light market, just being bright isn’t enough. Buyer’s today expect a decent tactical light to have at least a Masters degree, if not a PhD. NiteCore calls this their Multi-Task series for a reason. This light is smarter than I am, so let’s look at what it offers besides a lot of light:

The trick with the MT26 lies in the head. The bezel rotates, but not to change the focus as is the case with MagLites. With the head rotated fully to the left (counter-clockwise holding the light pointing away from the user), the tailcap switch is in ON/OFF mode, and switching the light on results in full brightness. If the head is rotated slightly to the right (clockwise with the light pointing away from the user), the unit goes into “User-Defined Mode.” In this mode, the user can choose from several handy options:

• Low-power
• Medium Power
• Strobe
• S-O-S (Automatically emits three short blinks, three long blinks, three short blinks … and then pauses before repeating)

Repeatedly pressing the tailcap switch with the head loosened cycles through the options. Any option can be saved by turning the light off while that option is selected. In addition, while any option is in use the light can be instantly changed to steady, full-power operation by rotating the head to the left. And the tailcap has “ears,” protecting the switch from accidental activation.

It’s more than my little brain can absorb, and more options than I’m ever likely to need. For those who carry a tactical light in “tactical” situations, though, the choice of options and the ease of changing from one to another should be very useful and welcome.

Power is one 18650 battery or two CR123 batteries.

Bells and Whistles

The NiteCore MT26 comes with a clip, a tactical ring, a lanyard, a cordura nylon belt sheath, and a spare O-ring.


The NiteCore MT26 Multi-Task tactical light appears to be a quality product, based on the respected Cree LED lamp. We had our evaluation light for only a week, which was admittedly not long enough to have used the light in any real-world situations and which was, in fact, barely long enough to become familiar with the process of changing modes and setting the user-selectable secondary mode of operation. Perhaps more importantly, it was not long enough to test the actual run time. Based on our observations during the time we had it, we think the NiteCore MT26 compares favorably with some “name brand” tactical lights costing several times what this one costs.


NiteCore MT26  
Lamp:Cree XM-L U2 LED
Output:800 Lumens (Max.)
Run Time:45 hours (Low power)
. . .2 hours (High power
Waterproof:2 Meters
Length:5.87" (149 mm)
Head Diameter:1.34" (34 mm)
Tail Diameter:1.00” (25.4 mm)
Weight:4.68 oz (133 grams)(w/o battery)
Battery:(1) 18650 or (2) CR123
Finish:Black anodized
MSRP:$ 99


M1911.ORG appreciates the opportunity to have been allowed to check out this new light. Thanks to Mike Rubino and Diversified Public safety for allowing us to borrow the sample light for evaluation. We do not have an address for a U.S. distributor for these lights, only an address in China for the parent company. Thefore, we suggest that readers wishing further information contact Mike Rubino at the address provided below.

You may discuss this article here.


Diversified Public Safety
2458 Boston Post Road, Unit 5
Guilford, CT 06437

Phone: (203)-533-4566
Web Site: