If you are a hardcore wrestling fan (as opposed to a fan of hardcore wrestling, which I am definitely not), a smart mark or a “smark,” you probably have a different estimation of the importance that Bret Hart plays in the creation of modern wrestling than the average, “I liked Hogan” wrestling fan from the 1980s. Its odd because of all of the people in the world, Bret Hart is probably the least likely person to pull the curtain back on the century-old code of secrecy that surrounded wrestling called kayfabe.
Hart was the Golden Child of a wrestling territory and school called Stampede Wrestling which was run by his father and famous Canadian tough guy Stu Hart. His brother Owen came out of Stampede Wrestling as did Jim “The Anvil” Neihardt and Chris Jericho, to name a few. Stampede and the Hart Clan specifically were known to wrestle in what Japanese wrestling fans call Hard Style. It was as close to real fighting as you can get with the ending still being predetermined. The key for Hart was that he was an accomplished catch wrestling (aka real fighting) practicitioner in addition to being well-versed in the carny lore of pro wrestling (aka not real fighting). Hart and other graduates of Stampede made everything look so real because what they were doing was very close to BEING real. This led to increased kayfabe (the carny code that was used to obscure the fact that pro wrestling is fake) and Hart’s moniker—the Excellence of Execution.
All of this made Hart a great choice during the Hulk Hogan/Vince McMahon steroid trial era of WWF/WWE. No longer could McMahon trot out one steroid-bloated behemoth after another to grab the belt. The law was pulling very hard on the kayfabe curtain. And so McMahon needed someone that could really fight and LOOK like they were really fighting when in the ring (his family friendly product probably couldn’t survive someone like Stan Hansen who really gauged Big Van Vader’s eye out of socket during a match). In comes Bret Hart and company. Thanks to a thoughtful approach and real combat skills Hart made wrestling look real.
So when the infamous Montreal Screwjob (a match with a rushed finish between Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart, something McMahon himself orchestrated because of a fear that Hart would take the belt when he jumped ship to rival WCW) happened and kayfabe came tumbling down once and for all, it was odd that it is most ardent protector and seemingly legit fighter would be at the center of the controversy. The Excellence of Execution and real catch wrestling skills didn’t matter when the power-and image-obsessed head of your company seemingly doublecrossed you, in your home country, in front of 40,000 fans on live TV.
The coda to the story is even sadder. Hart’s career effectively ended when he received a concussion from Bill Goldberg, another legit tough guy with none of the protective skills Hart had that are required to be a good pro wrestler. This plus the incredibly tragic death of his brother Owen also on live TV ended an all time great’s career too early. I liked Hart because he was different. He really cared about how wrestling appeared on TV. He trained hard to make it look realy. He was mindful of details. His finisher, the Sharpshooter, wasn’t some big man power move, but a technical submission, a leg lock move. Every single thing about Hart made him different—better—than those he was wrestling. And when necessary, he lost in spectacular and convincing fashion (also an important skill in pro wrestling) because he really looked like he was in pain, like the other guy was Superman, and like he got a real beating. Hart is the aficiando’s favorite. If you enjoy the subtle interplay between skill, atheleticism, and performance Hart was the guy to watch (these days I’d have to go with NXT era Shinsake Nakamura). To this day, Hart is probably my second favorite pro wrestler after the inimitable Ric Flair.
Certainly this has to be the weirdest intro for a review ever on this site, but it sets the stage for one of the most subtly well-designed products I have reviewed in ages. The FourSevens Mini Turbo Mk. III (hereinafter “the Mk. III”) is a truly great torch. It eschews a lot of my preferences, but thanks to careful design and...wait for it...excellence in execution, it achieves greatness. This is one of the best EDC lights on the market today. And it is both inexpensive (for enthusiast grade lights) and readily available.
Here is the product page. There are two variants—the regular Mk. III and the Turbo. The Turbo has a larger head which allows for better throw. The Turbo runs $65 with a battery and no charger (it is a rechargeable cell, as all Prometheus/FourSevens lights are as a default) and $75 with a charger. I am sure there will be versions made of titanium eventually, as every 47s light has received this treatment, but they have not been released yet. This is the first version of the Mini since Jason Hui took over 47s and the improvements are consistent with Jason’s design philosophy and language. There are a pair of accessories—a tailcap replacement that allows for use with Jason’s quick disconnect system (which is the best in the gear world) and a charging kit. Here is my review sample (sent to me by Jason):
Twitter Review Summary: Proof that mindful design matters.
The tube-style, thumb-sized flashlight is nothing new. Even with the why-did-it-stick-to-my-keys magnet on the bottom. The turbo head, with its deep reflector, is a bit of a change of pace and a welcome one (more on that later). But this is not the BOSS35 or even more pointedly the Frelux Synergy1. Innovation takes a back see with buttery smooth iteration. And while I think we all have a soft spot for the off the wall, out of left field designs, iteration is great. After all, its how we got the Dragonfly II.
Here we have a few touches that just make this light. I hate friction fit pocket clips. They never stay put. But here, because of a machined channel, the clip is actually inset into the body tube itself making it a rock solid attachment point. Even after three months of regular carry, it has never once popped off. I suppose I could remove it if I wanted to, but since it works so well, why bother? Iteration is also the key to the light’s fluted grip. Eschewing the normal, overdone, and pocket shredding knurling, the Mk. III is just grippy enough without being shreddy. The same is true with the twisty’s action. Its simple and smooth. A quick quarter turn and it the light is on and another quick quarter turn and it is off. None of the opening a peanut butter jar twisting here. And thanks to tight tolerances, even when backed off just a quarter turn, the light doesn’t accidentally activate when compressed.
Iteration can be just as delicious as innovation when it is done this well.
Fit and Finish: 2
Jason was the first person to send me a review sample all those years ago. The instant it slid from its box, I knew he was a talented designer that split second. But over the month I had the torch I realized the quality came from the inside out—intricate, precise machining gave birth to great design. Over the years, time and again, Jason has proved to be a superior machinist and designer. The Mk. III evinces the same superior fit and finish. The threads were so precisely cut that even with a quarter turn away from on, there is not enough slop to activate the light when under compression. Fit and finish with a purpose—how nice.
Lights this small are usually hard to make grippy. The normal solution is to cover them in knurling, but doing so makes them pocket rasps. Instead, Jason dropped a sane amount of knurling around the head and left the body tube mostly clean, especially under the clip. The fluting on the body tube plus the clip provide more than enough to hang on to when the light is in use.
I love the utility of the magnetized tailcap when the light is in use, but when carried it is terrible. Keys, coins, and knives seem to instantly become a massive wad of metal gadgets in the pocket. Its possible to mitigate this effect by keeping the light in a coin pocket or a pocket without other kit, but it is very tough to always remember this. It also seems to me that the magnet here is much stronger than the average tailcap magnet. Of course, because Jason is a great designer he made a swappable tailcap that does away with the magnet. Giving you options is, of course, always great.
The idea of these thumb-sized lights holds so much promise, but alas, even the best among them throws photons like a pitcher in a straightjacket. Combining the thumb-sized light with a head that actually punches into the dark is pretty great. Sure, it adds a marginal amount of bulk to the light, but given that the light is tiny to begin with, I am certain the tradeoff is worth it. This is a super pocketable light that can walk with you in the dark, whether it is out in the woods or just through your hallway.
Okay, I am not really all that interested in this category much anymore. All of the lights do at least a decent job, but checking the specs here tells me that Jason again chose the right balance between output and runtime.
Beam Type: 2
Firing the Mk. III up after a series of thumby lights was light a huge gulp of water after a long dry day of working in the summer sun. I just couldn’t get enough of the throwy beam. Its not a searchlight, of course, physics still plays a starring role in flashlight design, but stacked up against other similarly sized lights, the Mk. III punches much farther into the darkness and, after all, that is why we carry lights in the first place.
Beam Quality: 2
Unless you get a squib from a production line, most enthusiast grade lights have very nice beams today, free from doughnuts, rings, and artifacts. The Mk. III is no exception. It is a great beam pattern, favoring a hotspot over flood, as is the case with most “throw” heads.
Okay, this is a bit of iteration is strange. Jason calls this a “hybrid” UI and, in theory, it is very clever.
Before I explain the difference, let’s get some nomenclature straight. By “output” I mean the current lumens of a light, such as high, medium, and low. By “set up,” I mean the output pattern, so, for example, High—>Medium—>Low versus Low—>Medium—>High.
You can choose between six different set ups. Once chosen, your light will come on in that set up. However, the light will actually remember what the last output in a given set up was used and default to that. Its conceptually different from both a mode memory UI and a reversion UI. As such, it is difficult to think through this at first and it does take a while to get use to. After three months I actually like it, but it is a bit of a learning curve.
Also I should note that the process of changing the output set up is quite easy—ten quick twists and then the light blinks out the set up it is in, another quick twist drops it into the next set up.
Hands Free: 2
A straight sweep here—good at not rolling, good at tailstanding, and finally not bad in a pinch between the teeth.
Fidget Factor: Low
Twisties lack the finger appeal of a clicky and without a single switch I am afraid you will likely be bored. Carry this with a flipper.
Fett Effect: Very Low
The Type III HA saves wear of course, but when it does wear, it isn’t the cool, battered starfighter look gear geeks like.
Enthusiast lights are great, but value is not always their primary concern. Here, though, we see a lot of goodness for not a lot of money. At around $50, this is a steal of a light, given all of the great design iteration.
Overall Score: 19 out of 20
Its not perfect. I am not 100% sold on the “hybrid” UI, the magnet is annoying, and the light is a bit thick for coin pocket carry, but those are niggling criticisms of a clearly superior torch. Time and again I was pleased when carrying and using this little jewel. It is better than virtually the entire class of tiny lights like the Fenix and the Olight because, unlike those lights, its clip works. This says nothing of the distinct lack of hotpocketing. Without an easy to press side switch the light comes on only when I want it to. Imagine that. I am also a fan of the turbo head as it gives you a real beam to work with, not some squashy light explosion that is bright six inches away and dim at any other distance. Over and over again Jason made smart choices and it paid off in spades with a glorious EDC torch. Jason is to torches what Mike Trout is to baseball—a phenom that gets better every year despite starting out far ahead of the field.
Honestly, I am not sure why oLight and Fenix insist on side switches when it is possible to make a twisty this good. Maybe its that the fit and finish necessary to make it work this well eat into profits or maybe the impulsive part of the market just gobbles up side switches. Either way, I like this light better than those and for the price, there is nothing I like better that carries a CR123a cell as of June of 2019.