Klarus XT11GT vs XT12S flashlight review

Klarus XT11GT vs XT12S Flashlight Review

Disclaimer: We were sent the Klarus XT11GT and XT12S from Flashlightz.com to test out. The outcome of the review was not influenced (other than having more data), we were just able to beat the crap out of these things without worrying about breaking them.
ModelLumensModesBattery TypeUser Rating (Out of 5)Price
Klarus XT11GT10 to 2,0004 Brightness Levels + 2 Strobe Styles18GT-IMR, 18650 Li-ion, or two CR123A batteries4.2$$$$

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Klarus XT12S10 to 1,6004 Brightness Levels + 2 Strobe Styles18GT-36, 18650 Li-ion, or two CR123A batteries4.3$$$

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When it comes to emergency preparedness, the only thing second to a good survival knife is a good flashlight.

The world is dark half the time.

In a survival situation, access to light when the sun is down can mean the difference between danger and survival.

Now, I’m prone to collecting cheap flashlights and tossing them all over the place. In my bugout bag, in my truck (there are four in there right now, I think!), in random drawers, wherever.

That way there’s always a light within easy access.

But cheap lights like to die at inopportune times, so you want to keep one or two high-quality flashlights with you.

If you asked who made the best flashlights last year I would have said Surefire.

This year it’s Klarus.

Who is Klarus?

It’s okay if you don’t know the name Klarus right off the bat.

XT11GT XT12S Klarus tactical survival outdoor flashlights comparison and review
Let’s open these bad boys!

Klarus is relatively new to the flashlight market, but they are hitting it like a hurricane.

Surefire has long reigned as the tactical flashlight king. I even have one that’s been used so much, it’s almost unrecognizable as a flashlight.

It’s so beat up it looks like a tiny gray-and-black abstract sculpture.

But after using two Klarus flashlights, I’m not going back to Surefire.

Klarus is innovating in versatility and capability. For example, the XT11GT has three buttons!

That’s not all, though.

Klarus claims that their flashlights are tough, so I dropped, submerged, and otherwise tested the two flashlights to see if they stood up to the claims.

Spoiler alert: they did!

What other surprises do these flashlights hold?

XT11GT Summary

Product SpecsXT11GT Klarus advanced tactical survival outdoor flashlight review

  • Dimensions: 5.59″ long by 1.37″ wide
  • Weight: 4.58 ounces without battery
  • Modes: Turbo/High/Medium/Low/Strobe/SOS
  • Lumens: 2000/400/100/10/2000/100
  • Battery Life: 50 minutes/3.5 hours/12 hours/170 hours/1.7 hours/36 hours
  • LED Lifetime: 50,000 hours
  • Accessories: Charging cable, lanyard, spare o-ring, battery, holster, clip

See full specs

Overview

The Klarus XT11GT is a handheld flashlight that uses a CREE XPH35 HD E4 LED and a single custom Klarus 18GT-IMR 3100mAh battery with PCB protection.

It’s made from anodized aluminum and the glass has an anti-corrosion coating.XT11GT package flashlight manual charging cord sheath accessories clip

Klarus claims that it can withstand a drop from 1 meter onto concrete. It’s also rated IPX8 for waterproofness.

I tossed my XT11GT around and dropped it down the stairs with no issues.

I also submerged it underwater in a sink for half an hour, changing the lighting mode every now and then, again with no problems.

Speaking of lighting modes, there are six!

There’s a turbo for when you need maximum illumination, as well as a strobe effect when you need to dazzle an attacker.

On the lighter side of things, there are high, medium, and low modes so you can use just as much light as you need without wasting battery.

There’s also an SOS mode that flashes an SOS in Morse code for up to a day and a half. You can stretch that out by only using it at night.

The battery that comes with the flashlight is made by Klarus for extra power. You can also use a rechargeable 18650 Li-ion battery or two CR123A batteries, but then you won’t get as many lumens out of turbo mode.

There’s also a Smart ITS Temperature Control System. This flashlight gets HOT when using turbo mode but this controls the brightness so the flashlight doesn’t burn itself out.

There’s a USB charging port with a battery capacity indicator and a rubber waterproof cover.

Unlike most flashlights, the XT11GT has three control buttons. One is on the side, there’s a normal button on the rear, and there’s an additional lever button on the rear.

Klarus XT11GT super bundle deal with wall and car charger
The Super Bundle!

This allows for a quite advanced control scheme rather than the standard single-button cycle you find in most flashlights.

Finally, there are three different control settings: Tactical, Outdoor, and Advanced Tactical, as well as a lock function.

Advanced Tactical is mostly intended for when you put this flashlight on a gun because it simplifies the controls.

The body is 1″ wide, so it fits normal mounting systems easily.

You can even get the XT11GT as part of a super bundle!

What I Liked

I fell in love with the XT11GT if only because of one aspect:

You don’t have to cycle through the strobe setting to swap between the brightness levels!

In fact, when in the Outdoor mode, you can’t even accidentally turn on the strobe setting. Your eyes are safe!

When you need it, though, the tactical setting lets you hit the strobe immediately.

The three buttons let you get to the brightness you want immediately, without futzing around pressing the same button over and over again.

The XT11GT is also bright as heck when you need it to be and is tough as nails.

Mine survived flying down a flight of stairs, half an hour underwater, and several magazines through an AR-15.

Ah, while attached to the gun. I didn’t shoot at the flashlight.

Did I mention how important it is to have multiple options for brightness, including a low mode?

If you only use as much light as you need, which often is the lowest mode, the flashlight will last much longer than whizz-bang lights that are as bright as possible all the time.

What I Didn’t Like

Klarus XT11GT Manual
Click on the image to zoom in and read the flow chart tiny text

Honestly, there’s almost nothing I really dislike about this flashlight. Here are some small niggles, though.

When on turbo mode, the XT11GT gets hot. Really hot, really fast.

I didn’t burn myself on the glass, I could feel the heat even halfway up the flashlight, past the side switch.

Also, the controls are complicated and take an active effort to understand.

I took a picture of the manual so you can see what I’m talking about!

Finally, that lever switch is easy to accidentally activate.

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XT12S Summary

Product SpecsKlarus XT12S review specs and features comparison contrast self defense flashlight

  • Dimensions: 5.64″ long by 1.37″ wide
  • Weight: 4.62 ounces without battery
  • Modes: Turbo/High/Medium/Low/Strobe/SOS
  • Lumens: 1600/400/100/10/1600/100
  • Battery Life: 1.2 hours/4 hours/14 hours/200 hours/2.4 hours/42 hours
  • LED Lifetime: 50,000 hours
  • Accessories: Charging cable, lanyard, spare o-ring, battery, holster, clip

See full specs

Overview

The XT12S is the smaller version of Klarus’ XT12 series.XT12S package contents included accessories magnetic charging cable with advanced flashlight

For an overview of the XT12S, you can basically read the one for the XT11GT, except with the following changes:

There are only two buttons instead of three, it lacks the Advanced Tactical mode and lock function, and it has a magnetic charging port.

The dimensions are almost imperceptibly different.

It uses a bigger CREE XHP35 HI D4 LED and a Klarus 18GT-36 3600 mAh battery.

On the other hand, the light is not as intense. These both give it a longer battery life.

What I Liked

I put the XT12S through the same paces as the XT11GT, so what I liked with that one is what I liked with this one.

In addition, I really like the magnetic charging port. I’ll gush more about that later, though.

Klarus flashlight packaging rear beat up post office survived rough handling tough torch light
The XT12S also survived some rough handling by the postman. If you want to read the text, click on the image to zoom in.

What I Didn’t Like

I have the same dislikes between the XT11GT and the XT12S too, with one more.

In outdoor mode, the main rear button is supposed to only be turbo mode.

That button is finicky for me. Sometimes, after the click, it’ll go to turbo mode and sometimes it’ll go to a lower brightness mode.

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So, Which Flashlight is Better?

These are two flashlights of almost the same size and that fit in the same tactical or survival roles.

Choosing between the two is thus difficult. So let’s look at the similarities and differences.

Similarities

Price

Klarus XT11GT and XT12S side by side comparison size differences and similarities
Oddly enough, the manuals have a bigger size difference than the flashlights

The two flashlights are within a couple dollars of each other, so choosing one based on price only matters if two bucks makes or breaks your month.

In that case, why are you buying an expensive flashlight in the first place?

A flashlight like the J5 Tactical V1 might be a better choice for you. Perhaps it doesn’t work as well, but it does fine for a lot less money.

That being said, the XT12S can be slightly cheaper, depending on the bundle.

Size and Weight

As you can tell from the pictures, the differences in size are almost imperceptible. I can’t tell the difference in my hand.

Toughness

I subjected both of the flashlights to the same tests.

XT11GT and XT12S underwater testing ipx8 30 minutes waterproof resistance
XT11GT on the left, XT12S on the right. I then left both of them underwater for over half an hour and somehow didn’t forget them!

They both fell onto the hard ground from over a meter.

They both survived a range session with my rifle.

They both had extended baths.

I even installed the batteries backward.

None of those presented any problems.

Differences

Controls

The biggest difference between the two flashlights is the third button on the XT11GT.

XT11GT third button XT12S magnetic charging port differences similarities comparison
The XT11GT, on the left, has a third button. The XT12S, on the right, has a magnetic charging port. That’s the major difference.

This button allows Klarus to fit even more capabilities into the flashlight. Also, it allows you to turn the light on however you hold the flashlight.

The first addition is the Advanced Tactical Mode, which could also be named the Simplified Tactical Mode.

That’s because it removes much of the fancy button-mashing complexity to make it idiot-proof on a gun.

Secondly, the XT11GT uses the additional button to add a lock.

The lever button is actually pretty easy to accidentally hit. I woke up once to see that the XT12S in my backpack had been on all night, but with the lock, you wouldn’t have to worry about that.

Plus, if you camp with buddies who steal your flashlights, locking the flashlight will keep it safe from their grubby hands!

Charging

Now, here’s where I believe Klarus got things backward.

USB LED magnetic charging adapter micro USB for smartphone flashlight
I checked, and alas, they aren’t compatible. And adding this to the XT11GT would render it no longer waterproof.

The XT11GT has a normal micro-USB charging port with a rubber cover that’s waterproof if you reinstall it correctly.

The XT12S has a magnetic charging cable that’s inherently waterproof. Just plop the plug nearby and it’ll start charging.

I love magnetic cables. I even added an adapter to my smartphone to take advantage of them.

They’re easy to use and don’t wear out a fragile USB port.

However, you’d expect the easier charging system to be on the flashlight that has less battery capacity, and that’s not the case.

Battery Life

The XT11GT has a shorter battery life than the XT12S. You get around half an hour more life on turbo mode and almost an entire night more of SOS with the XT12S.

This is partially because XT12S comes with a larger battery. They are compatible; I swapped the larger battery into my XT11GT for a little more battery life.

Luminosity

This is part of the reason why the two flashlights have different battery lives.

The XT11GT is noticeably brighter at all settings while having a wider beam.

The XT12S is more than bright enough for most tasks, but if you’re using a flashlight to blind an attacker, you want that extra intensity.

Recommendations

Both the XT11GT and the XT12S are very similar flashlights and have very similar capabilities.

Would I recommend either one?

Yes, I would!

However, which one I recommend depends on what you want to do with the flashlight.

Klarus claims that both can be used for tactical, survival, and outdoor recreational purposes. Let’s look at each one.

Tactical

Klarus TRS1 multi-functional flashlight firearm gun pressure switch for tactical home defense
My next purchase will be this pressure switch for even easier tactical use of the XT11GT.

The XT11GT has an Advanced Tactical Mode. That’s almost enough to throw it far into the lead.

However, the XT12S has a magnetic charging port. This is just so much easier to use that you can easily keep the flashlight charged and ready.

My recommendation here is that if you want the flashlight to live on your gun, mount the XT11GT in Advanced Tactical Mode and forget it.

While I love the XT11GT for tactical purposes, it is on the expensive side. You can find more budget-friendly tactical flashlights here.

But if you’re using the flashlight for more than solely tactical purposes then either one works.

Survival

The XT12S has a longer battery life.

In SOS mode, it can stay on for practically an additional night.

So, if this flashlight is going into your bugout bag, get the XT12S.

Outdoor Recreation

This use is a toss-up in my opinion.

The XT11GT has a lock and better controls.

But the XT12S has a magnetic charging port and a little better battery life.

Conclusion

XT11GT extra spare batteries 31000 mAh for sale on Amazon SKYBEN
I suppose being able to buy the XT11GT with two extra batteries can make up for the slightly smaller battery size

After using both of the two flashlights for almost a month, I do have a favorite between the two.

It’s a narrow lead, but my favorite between the two is the… Drumroll, please…

XT11GT!

The XT12S almost won with its magnetic charging port, but in the end, the third button makes the XT11GT easier to use in my hands.

Either flashlight will serve you well.

But the XT11GT has a little bit more versatility, and except in certain use cases (ie survival), it’s my favorite of the two.

It’s just too bad the XT11GT doesn’t come with the larger battery and a magnetic charging port.

So, what did I do with my two new flashlights after putting them through their paces?

The XT11GT sits on my home defense gun and the XT12S is clipped to a pocket of my backpack, both ready for when I need them!

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