Single-button economy version of the P12? Well, sort of...
February 8, 2015
First let me say, I love this light, AND I love the P12. The biggest difference between the two is that the EC20 has only a side switch, while the P12 has a momentary-on/clicky tail switch and a side switch. Because it doesn't have a tail switch, the EC20 will tail-stand very well as long as there is no lanyard or ring attached to the tailcap.
Their modes are arranged in much the same way: HIGH/MID/LOW/LOWER STROBE/SOS/BEACON. How you get the light from one mode to another is a little different on the two lights. Read the description & specs, and/or download the user manual from nitecore to study the details.
One VERY IMPORTANT aspect of both lights is that you do not have to cycle through brightness levels to get the one you want. You can set the light to come on in HIGH/MID/LOW/LOWER mode as soon as you turn it on. That is a very important function for me because I use my lights indoors sometimes where the brightest modes are just way too much. The side button on both lights also functions as a power indicator, but, like selecting the modes, the method of accessing this function is a little different for each of the two lights.
The output levels between the EC20 and P12 2015 model are different: P12 (lumens): HIGH-1000; MID-240; LOW-70; LOWER-1; EC20 (lumens): HIGH-960; MID-210; LOW-50; LOWER-1; The P12 has a beam distance of 232 metres, and a peak beam intensity of 13,500 cd. The EC20 compares at 222 metres with a peak beam intensity of 12,450cd. There is no momentary on with the EC20, but the switch is a soft-touch switch, and while it emits a soft click, it is not the mechanical click type. The EC20 includes only a lanyard and a spare o-ring while the P12 includes a holster, pocket/belt clip, tactical ring, lanyard, spare rubber tail cap and spare o-ring.
For tactical applications, I'd have to say the P12 is more suited with its tail switch. For walking at night, or checking areas in and around buildings, or just as a general EDC light, the EC20 is fine (so is the P12). The EC20 will get you on the playing field for about 15 dollars less than the P12, but you give up the frills. Both lights have the somewhat rare BEACON mode which sets the light to emit a bright strobe flash approximately once per second. I can't help but think that could come in handy in several emergency situations.
Now we have the new MH10 light coming out from Nitecore which is rechargeable version with (simplified description) the appearance and single switch of the EC20 and level brightness specs of the P12 2015 model, for a few dollars more than the P12. Being able to recharge the light from a USB wire could be useful if you need an EDC light that functions like the EC20. The MH10, like the EC20 would not be my first choice for tactical work. That would still be the P12 (which can also work fine as EDC).
So many choices..... So many great lights coming out from Nitecore. You really couldn't go wrong with any of the three I mentioned in this review. The EC20 is a fine general light and will save you a few dollars.
ProsLess expensive than P12; Not necessary to cycle through unwanted brightness levels to get the one you want; Unique beacon feature; Versatile with battery choices; Compact; Very ergonomic; Common size fits lots of aftermarket holsters; Nice lanyard holes that will accept a variety of lanyard clips or split rings; This can function as a gentle, low-power light or a night-ripping bright light for outdoor spaces or really large indoor spaces like barns, or meeting halls; Excellent quality and beautiful appearance; People WILL ask you about it.
ConsMinimal accessories; No apparent availability of pocket clip, etc., even if you would like to buy one (the one off your P12 might fit it, I haven't tried mine - yet); No momentary-on, which, if you're doing a lot of intermittent checking of areas where you have to turn it on and off a lot, will subject the only switch to a lot of wear (how long will it last under that kind of abuse? Who knows. I wore out the tail switch on a Coast light a few years ago with this kind of work); People will steal this light if you leave it lying around.