Nitecore P36 Flashlight Review

Welcome to CivilGear where I review all sorts of great gear, not just on the bench, but on the job! I am happy to present Nitecore’s innovative P36 flashlight from their P-Series (precise series).

Do you ever get frustrated trying to click your flashlight to the correct brightness, especially if you miss the brightness level you want, and then have to re-cycle all the way from the beginning again? Or do you ever get frustrated wishing you could pick your own brightness instead of 1 of 4 different levels? Well now you can; say hello to the P36!



Quick Specs

The yellow and black table below is an overview of lumen and corresponding run times for four levels but there are actually 10 total brightness levels to choose from.  I’ve included  an additional table below, from the instruction manual, for the lumen output for each of level.


Lumen per Level Output Table

Level 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Lm 2 20 80 210 380 600 850 1,100 1,500 2,000

LED Specs

Type: (1) MT-G2 by Cree @ ~2,000 lm
Color: “Neutral White” (description by Nitecore)

Look and Feel

After all the time I spent looking at pictures of the P36 day dreaming, I was surprised how compact it was when I eventually received it, almost too compact for me but that’s likely because I have big hands ( I usually wear XL size gloves). The first thing I saw was the LED; after have seen so many XM-L LEDs, my draw dropped when I saw the beautifully large MT-G2 LED along with the textured reflector. I had a feeling this was going to be a nice little flood light. Moving on, the battery compartment has two 18650’s side by side which makes it easier to grip with work gloves, in opinion, due to the wider handle, and also allows the length to be shorter, making it easier to carry and store. The overall body design looks more civilian than military and there is minimal amount of knurling (which is similar to the Explorer-Series EA81).


Primary Mode

The P36 is operated by 1 forward tactical clicky switch and 1 rotary knob (which I sometimes call a dial). The user interface for the primary light is turned on and off by the clicky switch; once on, you can then adjust the brightness by rotating the dial either clockwise (dimmer) or counter clockwise (brighter). With the light off, you can force the light into lower mode or turbo mode by rotating the dial in their corresponding directions just before clicking on the light; I’ve found that this take some practice.

The P36 has brightness memory, so any adjustment with the dial will be remembered once turned off. Additionally, the dial is a free turning nob so there is no worry of turning the dial too far as it will forever turn even though there are only 10 brightness levels.

As if that was not enough … if you are very dexterous, you can adjust brightness in the tactical momentary mode, that is, when you push the clicky switch only half way, without it clicking and the light comes one, you can also use the dial to adjust the brightness. Additionally, the brightness level will be remembered. If the button configuration was different this might be doable but for now good luck with that one.

Hidden Modes

The special/hidden modes (Location Beacon, Rapid Flashing, Slow Flashing, SOS, & Strobe) are accessed while the light is in the primary mode and by then depressing the top of the dial once. You then advance back and forth through the hidden modes by turning the dial one way or the other. You then exit the hidden modes by depressing the dial once and return to the primary mode. You can also exit the hidden mode by simply turning off the light with the clicky switch and turning it on again to get back to the primary mode.

Strobe Mode

The P36 has a dedicated strobe mode called “Strobe Ready” which is access while the light is off, and by then depressing and holding down the dial; releasing the dial will end the strobe and return to off.

Battery Check

There is an integrated battery charge indicator in the form of 2 tiny LEDs between the clicky switch and the rotary knob. The lights flash a certain number of times if the battery is: 50% or more (3 blinks), less than 50% (2 blinks), and very close to exausted (3 blinks). You can check the battery any time by very quickly depressing and releasing the rotary knob.  The battery indicator will also flash automatically every time the batteries are replaced.


The P36 runs off of two 18650 Li-ion batteries or four CR123 batteries.

Major Pros

  • Innovative dial allows precise brightness control up OR down
  • 2,000 lumens makes this one of the brightest mid-sized lights around, it is a great in between light from the 1,000 lumen typical XM-L2 lights to the ~4,000 lumen array lights.
  • Has 10 brightness levels means you get exactly how much light you want
  • Strobe mode is always ready by pushing the top of the dial straight down

Other Good Stuff

  • Battery indicator is very helpful and you don’t even have to turn the light on to check it. When the light is on and you run down the battery to 50% or below, the lights will blink every few seconds to alert you.
  • Side-by-side batteries helps make the body short and compact
  • The rubber dial is very tactile and can be turned with gloves on
  • Has 5 hidden modes which includes both a fast and slow flashing (besides the strobe); all the modes include: location beacon, rapid flashing, slow flashing, SOS, & strobe.
  • The P36 has lots of physical reverse polarity protection which makes putting in batteries pretty straight forward. The batteries can only fit in the cradle a certain way and that cradle can go into the handle top up or top down.
  • The holster that comes with the light has 3 ways of attaching, Velcro belt strap, affixed belt strap, and a plastic D-ring hook.

 On The Job

I like this light for the large spill and the adjustable brightness, this means you can get close to projects and still see it all. Besides its good spill, it still has a decent spot which is good in case you need some extra throw. The adjustable brightness is a great safety feature (especially if you are working next to road traffic) as you don’t have to increase the light’s brightness before making it dimmer. This is also a useful feature if the depth of field changes frequently (like if you are inside then outside a lot) as you can adjust the brightness at a moments notice. The dedicated strobe mode is a great personal security feature, especially for those working outdoors alone. Additionally, because the controls are on the end of the light, the grip makes the light an “under-hand carry” where the most comfortable position is the light pointing down, great for below the waist work. This type of carry is also great for tactical situations.

House plumbing. Thanks to wide range of outputs, I can dim the light enough to work close and have both a nice spot and a wide fill area.
Nitecore P36 (10)
Inspecting road work and traffic control. Thanks to the dial, I can very quickly dim the light when traffic comes close by.
Nitecore P36 (46)
Inspecting pine tree for wind damage (from underneath). Thanks to the wide beam spill, the majority of the subject is visible.
Nitecore P36 (30)
Beam strength @ 25′ on Turbo.
Nitecore P36 (34)
Beam strength @ 100′ on Turbo.

Other Thoughts and Wishes

  • I wish that the handle was just another 1/2″ longer, this would have a bit better grip
  • The light comes with a custom holster but since so much of the handle is exposed on the sides, it is possible that the light may drop out if the flap is not secured.
  • It uses an electronic switch for the “strobe ready” mode, which means there is always a little power drain, in other words, I wouldn’t use this a an emergency backup light. An estimate by reviewer Selfbuilt estimates that the batteries can have a 50 day drain time while not in use, but Selfbuilt recommends storing the light in “lockout mode” by turning the head more than one turn to physically disconnect from the battery and prevent the drain loss.
  • Promos say that this light can tail stand but in reality it’s not as easy to balance
  • An observation, since the tail cap fins don’t completely protect the rotary knob, be thoughtful while storing the light as it might be possible to activate the strobe feature and drain your batteries.

CivilGear Nitecore P36 006



Check Amazon for the current price but tends to range to $90-120 USD depending on the deal you can find; here’s a link to get you to Amazon quicker:

Nitecore P36 2,000 Lumen LED Flashlight

Recommended Accessories

Nitecore 186650 Battery Bundle 2600 mah

Nitecore UM20 USB Dual Battery Charger

Nite Ize S-Biner Clips


Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave comments or questions below. What is your current favorite work light?

5 thoughts on “Nitecore P36 Flashlight Review

Add yours

  1. I agree with this review in it’s entirety! I would have liked to have seen how well/long the light works with 3400 mAh batteries. ThruNite uses 2400 mAh as it duration rating basis.
    I have been using this for only a week, but the length of the light is too short and I have small-ish (but still manly) hands. That 1/2″ you mention is what I was going to suggest in my soon to be posted review on Amazon where I bought this light. I find myself fidgeting with the light for a comfortable grip. The 4-under, 1-on top seems to be the most comfortable way to carry this light, though I want to carry it flat sides facing up and down, not left and right. However, once you do the 4-under the light feels comfortable to carry.
    I actually found this site and review while trying to ascertain the parasitic drain characteristics of this light.
    So far I love this light! The rotary dial alone makes this so much better at the operator level. I am surprised more manufacturers do not use this type of control. The clicking through levels get old real quick. The rotary allows so much more control of the light output, that battery life will be extended simply by using the “right” amount of light.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the great comment! Glad you liked the review 😀 Like your said the dial really sets this light apart and makes it a lot of fun. Sorry I don’t have two 3400 to test it with, I only have one. Also having owned the light for a while now, I’ve noticed there is a pretty good amount of parasitic drain if the lockout isn’t used; no extensive tests but I feel like it’ll drain in a month or so. Thanks for reading and I look forward to any of your other thoughts!


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