Nitecore P30i: A Compact Mega-Thrower

4.0 rating
Nitecore p30i review

The Nitecore P30i can launch a 2000 lumen beam downrange over 1000 Yards!  While many similar-sized flashlights can boast comparable lumen output, 98% of them don’t even come close to the epic throw of the P30i.  

The Nitecore P30i joins a very rare club of single-cell throwers with a range of 1000m+.

The compact size and weight of the P30i makes it ideal for patrol and SAR applications. At a max output of 2000 lumens, the P30i is comparable to a car headlight in terms of bulk lumens. However, thanks to advanced optics, the P930i can throw its beam much further than a car.

The P30i is an upgraded version of the previous generation P30. In comparison, the P30 had a throw of 618 meters and a max output of 1000 lumens on Turbo. The P30i, on the other hand, can sustain 1000 lumens with a throw of 722 meters for more than 50% longer… and that’s not even its max output. Upgrade indeed!

Specs

  • Max Output: 2000 lumens
  • Max Runtime: 100 hours
  • Max Beam Throw: 1000 meters
  • Beam Intensity: 250000 cd
  • IP68 Rated: Waterproof and dustproof (2 meters submersible)
  • Impact Resistant: Up to 1 meter
  • Weight: 9.01 oz / 255.5g
  • Dimensions: 177.8mm long, 65mm head
  • Material: aero-grade aluminum alloy
  • Included Accessories: Nitecore 21700 Rechargeable Li-ion Battery, Remote Switch RSW2i, USB-C Charging Cable, CR123 Battery Magazine, Clip, Spare O-ring, Holster.

Price & Box Contents

The Nitecore Store lists the P30i cost at $139.95 (at time of publishing) and Nitecore also offers the P30i Hunting Kit which costs $189.95 which includes Red and Green hunting filters, a gun mount, and a hardshell case.

Basic Kit (FL-NITE-P30I)

  • 21700 Rechargable Li-ion Battery
  • Remote Switch RSW2i
  • USB-C Charging Cable
  • CR123 Battery Magazine
  • Clip
  • Spare O-ring
  • Holster
  • Owner’s manual

Hunting Kit (FL-NITE-P30I-KIT-OFFSET)

Same as basic kit plus:

  • Hard Case
  • Red Lens Filter
  • Green Lens Filter
  • Firearm mount

Nitecore P30i Uses

There are a number of missions sets the P30i can be used for. On the Ultra-Low setting it can be used simply for night walks, or camping when you want to conserve battery life. Of course, with a throw of 1000 meters, the P30i unlocks huge capabilities for things like:

  • Law enforcement manhunts
  • Military Night Operations
  • Search and Rescue
  • Distress Signaling
  • Hunting
  • Livestock Security
  • Emergency Responders
  • Extended power outages

Performance

Having tested this flashlight myself, I was surprised at how far this flashlight really can throw its beam. The Nitecore P30i utilizes a single Cree XHP 35 HI LED (3.5mm2 )focused through a deep smooth reflector and an anti-reflective coated lens.

This flashlight does indeed reach out 1000 meters, but it is certainly not bright enough to the human eye at that distance to really discern details. Its not that lab ratings are wrong. Most flashlights rated by candelas which are too dim to the human eye at great distances.

Personally, I consider the useful distance of a flashlight to be the distance at which I can see a man.

The usable throw of the P30i is more like 450-500 meters. That’s still pretty epic though.

Another excellent option that I really like is the 1300 meter Acebeam L19 which I reviewed here.

Walk Around

Nitecore p30i tail button
Nitecore p30i battery
nitecore p30i
Pelican p30i bezel
Nitecore P30i LED

Overall Quality

Nitecore p30i powder coating

The Nitecore P30i has an smooth HA III military grade hard-anodized finish, it feels solid in hand, and I really like the grippy feel of the knurled handle which helps with control and stability when things get wet. With an impact resistance of up to 1 meter (about the height a person would be holding this at) and an IP68 rating, this flashlight is built to last.

The P30i only weighs half a pound making it light enough to carry along for extended periods of time without getting fatigued. This is especially important for those who will be mounting it on their firearms, or carrying it on a duty belt whether it be police or military. 

Beam Shots 

Nitecore P30i beamshot
Nitecore P30i beamshot
Nitecore P30i beamshot

Beam Shot Comparison

Nitecore P30i beamshot
P30i: 450 meters to the light post
Mazda 3: high beams

The average car headlight produces 2000-4000 lumens, but as mentioned previously, a car can only throw beam about 120 meters. As you can see above, P30i clearly outreaches the car headlights illuminating the tree line and distant lamp post. Very impressive!

What also impressed me about the P30i was the beam spill.  I has much more spill than my similar spec AceBeam L19. This extra spill is very helpful for clarity andsituational awareness, which is crucial for things like hunting, tactical operations, andÏ search & rescue missions.

Modes & Run Times

The P30i has 5 levels of brightness levels and 2 special modes that I’ll explain later.

Here are Nitecore’s published specs of the P30i output levels and runtimes for each mode:

  • Ultra Low: 6 lumens, 40 meters, 100 hours
  • Low: 85 lumens, 209 meters, 18 hours
  • Medium: 385 lumens, 447 meters, 4 hours
  • High: 1000 lumens, 722 meters, 1 hour 30 min
  • Turbo: 2000 lumens, 1000 meters, 30 min

Note: these ratings are based on Nitcore’s 21700 battery usage and may very with environmental conditions.

The different levels of brightness are selected by the button on the top of the P30i, that being the Mode button with the blue light.

Mode Button (Head power indicator)

As I said before, the Mode button is used to control different levels of brightness, but there is a blue light in the middle of this button and it isn’t just for looks. The blue light is a volt check indicator as well as a power indicator.

When you insert either the 21700 Nitecore Battery or the two CR123 batteries, the blue light will flash repeatedly for a brief moment. This is the volt check.

Also, after the flashlight is powered on, the blue light will either be solid, blinking slowly, or blinking quickly. This is indicating the battery life remaining in the flashlight.

Solid: Over 50% Battery

Blinking Slowly: Under 50% Battery

Blinking Quickly: Under 10% Battery

Tail Switch

The tail switch operates as a simple On/Off switch remembering whichever light output you previously used.

Half-pressing the tail button allows momentary illumination.

Special Modes (Beacon / SOS)

The P30i has 2 special modes built into it: the SOS and Beacon modes.

Beacon: To access the Beacon mode, all you do is triple-click the Mode button while the flashlight is off. Once you do, the P30i will emit a single burst of light at 2000 lumens every 2 seconds. A beacon light can be used for many different situations, but whatever the situation is its usually to gain the attention of those in your area.

SOS: To enable the SOS mode, simply hold down the Mode Button while the Beacon function is on. After a few seconds the P30i will begin the SOS function which is a morse code of three short bursts of light, then a constant beam of light, ending with another three bursts of light. This would be used in an emergency situation, so I would recommend occasionally doing a functional test to make sure this mode works properly but do so in a closed area so as not to gain any attention. The SOS function will continue until you press the Mode button again.

Now any flashlight with an SOS signal built in is a bonus, but what’s especifically good about the P30i’s SOS mode is that it will be going off with 2000 lumens at 1000 meters, which means that someone is more likely to see the beam of light flickering in the distance rather than having to spot a single blip of light in the dark. The P30i will significantly increase the odds of you being located if you are in distress.

A question that came to mind though was “What if I’m using two CR123/RCR123 batteries?” So, I contacted Nitecore and their response was that you can still access the Special Modes, but it will be limited at 1000 lumens (722 meters). 

Waterproof / Dustproof

The P30i has an IP68 waterproof and dustproof, but what does that even mean?

The first digit represents the level of protection against ingress of solid particles. The P30i is rated at 6 which is dust-tight.

The second digit indicates protection against liquid, and the P30i has a rating of 8 indicating complete protection from immersion of at least 1 meter. Nitecore has stated that the P30i is protected at up to 2 meters of submersion or 6 feet 6 inches!

Overall, IP68 rating is excellent. You should have no problems dragging this flashlight through some seriously rugged and gritty conditions.

Battery and Charging

One of the drawbacks of the Nitecore P30i is that it only works with Nitecore’s proprietary 21700 battery, conventional 21700 batteries are not compatible. The P30i does ship with the battery but keep this in mind if you need a spare.

This isn’t the only option though for a battery though. P30i is a “multi-fuel” flashlight. It ships with a battery magazine that fits two CR123/RCR123 batteries.

There are a couple of downsides to using this option as opposed to the single Nitecore 21700 battery:

  1. Firstly, when using the two CR123/RCR123 batteries, you aren’t able to access the ‘Turbo’ mode of the P30i. This limits your output to the ‘High’ mode of 1000 lumens at 722 meters. 
  2. Secondly, you’re not able to charge the flashlight. Only the Nitecore 21700 battery is able to be charged on-board.

When you disconnect the charging cable from the flashlight, the Tail power indicator will flash to show you how much voltage the battery has. When the battery is at 4.2V (or full power) the indicator will flash 4 times, followed by a 1.5 second pause, and flash another 2 times.

Remote Tactical Switch

The remote tactical switch can be connected to the tail end of the P30i and is controlled using two buttons on the switch. At the connector end of the switch there’s a tab that goes in a grove on the P30i which prevents accidental disconnect of the Tail Switch.

Button 1:( closest to the coils) is the ON/OFF switch. Clicking once will turn the flashlight on and off. The flashlight has a memory function,  and will remember the last mode you used when you turn it back on.

The other function of this button is the STROBE setting, which for some reason, is only accessible using the Tactical Tail Switch. Holding the ON/OFF button on the Tactical Tail Switch will enable the STROBE function until you release the button.

Button 2 : this is the mode button.  It has three tactile circles to quickly discern which button is which in the dark. Once the flashlight is on, clicking this button will through the output levels of the P30i emits. Another function it serves is a momentary press-and-hold light, at whatever lumens is was previously set to.

If the flashlight is already on and you hold down this button it will emit at its max output, depending on the batteries you’re using.

SOS and Beacon are not able to be used from the Tactical Tail Switch.

Holster

The holster that comes with the Nitecore P30i is made from a durable nylon with webbing on one side for more support and the ability to attach it to a belt. It also has a metal D-ring which is great for attaching with rope or paracord.

One of the unique design features of this holster is that you don’t need to remove the flashlight in order to operate the P30i. The Power Button on the tail of the flashlight is accessible, and the Velcro flap covering the lens can quickly be opened and tucked under.

Conclusion

All in all, the Nitecore P30i really an excellent tool for many different missions sets.


I do wish the tactical strobe was available without using the remote switch and that I could use non-Nitecore 21700 batteries with it. Still, these are minor quibbles when you considering that very few single-cell flashlights even come close to rivaling the range of this flashlight.

Whether you’re hunting, in law enforcement, serving in the armed forces, or saving lives with Search & Rescue, the P30i is a professional-grade, rugged flashlight that will get the job done and stand the test of time.

Is it worth the $150 price tag? Yes, especially for law enforcement and SAR professionals who need high performance without adding weight to their duty belts.

Alternatives? I strongly recommend looking at the ACEBEAM L19. It is slightly smaller and less powerful, but reaches further, with a tighter beam profile. See the AceBeam L19 review here.

Guest Author: the Tactical Gear Guy

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Don Longworth

Don was born and raised in sub-saharan Africa. Now based in Canada, his extensive experience in non-profit work has served him well over multiple deployments in Africa. Don's experiences have made him a practical "to-the-point" type person. He is a no-frills, low-key guy who appreciates quality and simplicity.

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