Reviewer's Note: The TZ20 was provided for review by Xtar. Please see their manufacturer’s thread in CPFMP for more info.
Warning: pic heavy, as usual.
Manufacturer's specifications, condensed from Xtar's website and CPFMP thread:
- Cree XR-E LED (Q5)
- Max output 240 lumens - one mode of output only
- OP textured reflector, throws beam over 250 meters
- Constant current circuit - maintains constant brightness
- Powered by 2 x 3V CR123A/ 2x RCR123A Lithium/1 x 18650 Li-ion battery/ 1xXTAR 18700 battery (recommended)
- Runtime: 3 hours (powered by 1x 2200mAh 18650 battery)
- 140.5mm (Length) x 25.00mm (Diameter) x 34mm (Head)
- 125-gram weight (excluding batteries)
- Made of durable aircraft-grade aluminum
- Toughened ultra-clear glass lens with anti-reflective coating
- Premium Type III hard-anodized anti-abrasive finish
- Waterproof to IPX-8 Standard
- Tactical tailcap switch with momentary-on function
- Anti-roll, slip-resistant body design
- Accessories included: Lanyard; Body clip; standby Tactical ring; Two spare O ring circle; Weapon mount; Remote pressure switch.
- MSRP unknown, but I’ve seen one dealer list at $69
The TZ-20 is produced by a new manufacturer known as Xtar. This will be my first review of one of their lights.
Although the design of the TZ20 is superficially similar to number of other manufacturers (most notably, Fenix, EagleTac, and Olight), what is included in the package is distinctive. In addition to a good number of extras - like a GITD-boot cover, extra O-rings, lanyard wrist strap, spare clicky switch, body clip with torx screws and Allen key - the TZ20 also comes with a weapon mount and remote pressure switch by default. It's pretty clear that this light is marketed to the “tactical” crowd.
The body tube of the Xtar TZ-20 does have a passing resemblance to the Olight M20, and the clip and head design are reminiscent of the recent Fenix TK-series lights. As always, there are only so many variations possible on the basic body plan for a 2xCR123A light, but it looks like Xtar hasn’t strayed too far from the tried and true external stylings. The tailcap at least looks somewhat distinctive to my eye.
(from left to right: AW protected 18650, Xtar TZ-20, Tiablo A7, EagleTac P100C2 T100C2 Mark II).
T20C2: Weight 121.6g, Length 141.7mm x Width 33.9mm (bezel) 26.0 (tailcap)
Overall size and weight is consistent with many in this class.
Fit and finish are excellent on my sample, no flaws in the black type-III hard anodizing. Grip is quite good, given all the body design elements. Identification labels are sharp and clear, and fortunately limited to just the sides of the battery tube
Note that the stainless steel clip and the metal grip-ring are removable. A supplied Allen key fits the torx screws from the clip. The grip ring can be easily unscrewed.
Tail screw threads are not anodized, so no tailcap lock-out is possible. However, the light uses square-cut machinist threads (similar to the high quality JetBeam ones). The tailcap spring is not gold-plated, and the switch uses a plastic retaining ring.
A standard contact disc is used in the head (not shown). While there is no spring in the head, my few flat-top 18650s worked fine.
Due to the built-up areas of the tailcap, the light can tailstand despite the forward clicky. A bit unusual for a weapon light, where easy access to the tailswitch is usually preferred over tailstanding. But I still found it reasonably easy to activate. The forward switch has fairly typical traverse.
The included pressure-switch tailcap works as expected – press the control tab to activate the light in momentary mode. Certainly a nice extra for those of you into such things.
The light uses the standard Cree XR-E emitter, with a Q5 output bin. Tint bin is not specified, but my sample is slightly on the cool side of the premium cool white tint bins (i.e. slightly bluish-tinge). Of course, YMMV. For those of you not familiar with tint bins, please see my Colour tint comparison and the summary LED tint charts found here.
The texturing of the orange peel reflector is fairly high, which should help minimize Cree rings. The reflector is fairly deep for a light of this size, which should help compensate for throw.
And now for the requisite white wall wanting hunting … all lights are on Max with OP reflector on an AW protected 18650, about 0.5 meters from a white wall.
Pretty looking beam – as you can see, Cree rings are indeed greatly reduced. Note that my camera is accentuating the tint difference above - it isn't that blue looking in real life. Throw is close to the other lights, but not quite as tightly focused due to the heavier OP texturing on the TZ-20.
Not much to say here – soft-press the momentary on, click for constant on. The TZ-20 is a single-stage light, so that’s about it.
Given the single-stage, no PWM is required (i.e. no low modes).
Testing Method: All my output numbers are relative for my home-made light box setup, a la Quickbeam's flashlightreviews.com method. You can directly compare all my relative output values from different reviews - i.e. an output value of "10" in one graph is the same as "10" in another. All runtimes are done under a cooling fan, except for the extended run Lo/Min modes (i.e. >12 hours) which are done without cooling.
Throw values are the square-root of lux measurements taken at 1 meter from the lens, using a light meter.
Throw/Output Summary Chart:
As expected for a single-stage light, the TZ-20 has strong output – typically closer to my R2-equipped multi-mode lights. Throw is reasonably good for this size reflector, but is reduced slightly by the heavy OP texturing.
Nothing too surprising here – the light performs as I would expect for a single-stage light on the various battery sources.
There is one peculiarity though – on the RCR run, the light didn’t just shut-off when reaching the typical built-in protection circuit cut-off point. Instead, it dropped to an extremely low output state (basically, you could comfortably look at the emitter while on without hurting your eyes). This suggests to me that the light has a low-voltage cut-off sensor that kicked in before the built-in protection circuit of my RCRs (somewhere around ~3.0V), but one that doesn’t completely shut-off the light.
Not sure what the point of this ultra-low level is, since the amount of light really isn’t useful for much of anything (and will still drain your cells over time). But this does at least suggest that you can fairly safely use unprotected cells if you really want to.
Again, performance is about what you would expect for a multi-power Q5-equipped light.
Please note for the primary CR123A run, I used Titanium Innovations cells instead of my usual Duracell/Surefire. As detailed in my CR123A Comparison Review, total regulated capacity of the Titanium Innovations cells is similar, but they drop-off faster once the light falls out of regulation.
The light is single-mode only (i.e. Max output).
The light lacks a tailcap lockout. Xtar confirms they were worried that weapon recoil may cause a momentary lack of contact at the tailcap otherwise. Since the forward clicky switch is recessed, they believe that this should limit the likelihood of accidental activation.
Clicky switch uses a plastic retaining ring, but Xtar does include a spare in the package.
UPDATE 12/28/09: Xtar confirms the spring is silver-plated, which should ensure as good or better contact than gold-plated would.
It is a little strange to come across a single-stage-only light at the end of 2009. Clearly designed for weapon-mount use, this light could also serve as a first-rate general-purpose light - aside from a couple of build trade-off issues (i.e. lack of tailcap screw thread anodizing, to insure recoil-proof operation). I would have no trouble considering its overall build to be right up there with the basic Olight, Fenix, and EagleTac offerings, among others (the square-cut threads are particularly nice).
The circuit performance is also right where I would expect it to be for a multi-power single-stage light, suggesting they know how to design a circuit. So I can only assume this was a conscious design choice to limit the light to one Max output level. This is consistent with the bundling of a weapon mount and pressure tape-switch as part of the default package (i.e. I don't imagine you would want low very often on a weapon light).
But I still find it a bit odd for a modern light to be so limited. After all, as Fenix, JetBeam and others have demonstrated, you can at still make a multi-stage light that doesn’t interfere with a forward momentary mode (i.e. change output modes with a simple head twist mechanism). Or you could go the route used recently by Tiablo and Lumapower, where you can switch between multi-output and single-output modes. So I don't personally see the advantage of a single-mode only light with no other option.
But if the current build is representative of Xtar’s production quality, I think we can expect to see increasing interest in their products here on CPF. A few build tweaks, and a multi-mode circuit, and this light would be a strong contender in the general purpose 2xCR123A/RCR, 1x18650 category. But it may very well suit your purposes as is, if you are looking for a single-stage light that comes with an all-inclusive weapon kit.