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Thread: Olight M31 (SST-50, 2x18650/18500, 3x-4xCR123A/RCR) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS +

  1. #1

    Smile Olight M31 (SST-50, 2x18650/18500, 3x-4xCR123A/RCR) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS +

    Warning: pic heavy, as usual.

    UPDATE April 3, 2013: This light has long been replaced by the M3X. Please see my newer review of the XM-L2 version of the M3X here.




    Specifications:
    • LED: Luminus SST-50
    • Output/Runtimes: High 800 Lumens / 1 Hour - Medium 320 Lumens / 3.5 Hours - Low 60 Lumens / 14 Hours - Strobe 10HZ / 2 Hours
    • Battery: 3 x CR123A, 4 x CR123A, or 2 x Li-Ion 18650 with extended tube (Note: RCR123A batteries are not recommended)
    • Dimension: Head Diameter: 63mm (2.48"), Body Diameter: 25mm (0.98"), Length Without Extender Tube: 211mm (8.31"), Length With Extender Tube: 245mm (9.69")
    • Weight: 266g/ 9.38oz (Excluding batteries)
    • Rugged indestructible aluminum body with anti-scratching type III hard anodizing
    • Engineered anti-slip knurling for a firm grip
    • Tactical forward switch for power on/off and easy momentary-on
    • Dentate bezel head and tail provided for close quarter combat
    • Multi-scattering slot design to protect LED and electronic components
    • Highly water resistant to IPX-8
    • Smooth reflector offers max 700m long throw
    • Anti-shattering ultra clear lens, anti-scratching and anti-slip
    • Friendly user interface, rotate the head for transferring mode.
    • Operated by 2 x 18650 with extra extended tube to prolong the runtime
    • Removable stainless steel clip
    • Mountable on weapons with compatible weapon mount
    • Accessories: Include one battery magazine (required for 3pcs CR123A batteries), one holster, one extended tube, one operator’s manual, two o-rings
    • Warning: Use high mode sparingly. Due to its high power consumption, an excessive amount of heat may be built up and it may harm the batteries and the flashlight
    • Estimated MSRP ~$190

    The Olight M31 has been out a little while, although I am just getting to it now. How does it compare to other offerings in the high-output space? Scroll on, gentle reader ...







    Packaging is similar to other high-end Olight lights. Inside the plastic carrying case with closing flaps, everything is firmly secured in cut-out foam. You will find the light with battery extender tube, manual, battery carrier, spare o-rings, and belt holster.



    From left to right: AW Protected 18650, Olight M31, M30, Jetbeam M1X, Fenix Tk45, Eagletac M3C4.


    From left to right (with extender): AW Protected 18650, Olight M31, Jetbeam M1X, Thrunite Catapult V2, Lumapower MVP P7.

    M31 no Extender: Weight: 258.1g (no battery), Length 209mm x Width 62.3mm (bezel)
    M31 with Extender: Weight 275.1g (no battery), Length 245mm x Width 62.3mm (bezel)

    As you can see the M31 is larger than the earlier MC-E-based M30. The main reason for this is the much larger head, with a wider and deeper reflector.





    Build quality is very good. The overall shape and design is similar to the M30, only with a larger head and traditional tailcap.

    The M31 comes with black finish type-III (hard) anodizing. Rather than traditional knurling, the M31 has a raised checkered pattern to help with grip. I typically find Olight lettering is bright and clear, and the M31 is no exception. Both the bezel opening and tailcap have raised scalloped edges. Like M30, the M31 can also tailstand.

    Screw threads are not anodized on the battery tubes, but there is anodizing on the tailcap screw threads. So lock-out is possible, although it may not be as robust as where both sets of threads are anodized. Note that is a definite improvement over the M30, where no lock-out was possible as they needed to keep a constant current path for the tailcap side-switch.

    The attached clip can be removed by unscrewing the retaining ring above it and pulling the clip off.

    The tailcap switch is a typical forward clicky, with good feel. The light can tailstaind.

    The included 3xCR123A/RCR battery holder is optional – you don’t need to use it in this configuration, but it does remove battery rattle if you choose to. The bore width of the body tube is wide enough to accommodate protected 18500/18650, so thinner CR123A cells are prone to some rattle. At the very least, it makes a good storage holder for an extra set of cells.

    Note the spring in the head, so high capacity flat-top batteries can be used.

    All in all, a very nice build.




    The M31 features the Luminus SST-50, with a large and smooth reflector. This should translate into good throw.

    Which brings us to the requisite white wall hunting . All lights are on Hi on 2x 18650 (6xCR123A in the case of the M60R – mislabelled as M60C). Bezels are about ~0.75 meter from a white wall (with the camera ~1.25 meters back from the wall). Automatic white balance on the camera, to minimize tint differences.

    Note:I accidentally mislabeled the M60R images and M60C in the pics below – sorry. :shhh:













    From now on, all my beamshots will be taken in this standard configuration, to facilitate comparisons.

    Ok, so the M31 can throw! There are specific details in my Summary Tables further down, but the M31 is the best throwing SST-50 I’ve seen yet.

    I've recently updated my 100-Yard Outdoor Beamshot Round-up, including the latest M31. Check out that round-up thread for more details on the testing method, plus higher quality JPEG images of all lights. For now, here is an animated GIF of some relevant comparisons:



    User Interface

    The M31 has the classic Olight M-series interface (different from the distinctive M30).

    As always, on/off is controlled by the tailcap clicky (press for momentary on, click for lock on).

    You move between modes by a simple switch of the head - loose/tighten the head to move to the next state. Sequence is: Lo - Med - Hi - Strobe, repeated in an endless loop. Light features mode memory, and retains the last setting used (so you can always have it come on where you want).

    No PWM

    There is no sign of pulse width modulation (PWM) on any output mode - I believe that the light is current controlled.

    Strobe



    Strobe was measured at a fairly typical 9.8 Hz.

    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 any extended run Lo/Min modes (i.e. >12 hours) which are done without cooling.

    I have recently devised a method for converting my lightbox relative output values (ROV) to estimated Lumens. See my How to convert Selfbuilt's Lighbox values to Lumens thread for more info.

    Throw/Output Summary Chart:

    Effective November 2010, I have revised my summary tables to match with the current ANSI FL-1 standard for flashlight testing. Please see http://www.sliderule.ca/FL1.htm for a description of the terms used in these tables.



    So, the M31 has the distinction of having the highest output AND the greatest throw of any SST-50 light in my collection.

    Lo level is reasonable for this class of light, but is not as low as some of the competition.

    See my runtimes below for info on the relative output levels.

    Output/Runtime Comparison:

    Note: Effective January 2010, all CR123A runtimes are now performed on Titanium Innovations batteries. You can compare the performance of these CR123A cells relative to the Duracell/Surefire cells used in my earlier reviews here. These new light results are marked by an "*" in the graph legend












    Output/runtime efficiency is excellent on the M31, at all levels and on all batteries. Basically, exactly what you would expect from a good current-controlled light - no surprises.

    On the primary CR123A Hi mode tests, you will note the light stepped down early into the runs (i.e. just like my Catapult V2 SST-50). This is likely due to a thermal sensor, designed to protect the light from overheating cells.

    UPDATE: Based on further analysis, it appears that this behavior is not a circuit feature - rather, the M31 is driven high enough on Max to trip the PTC safety devices of most primary CR123A cells, when run over a sustained period. A PTC (Positive Temperature Coefficient) functions as a type of thermistor - once the temperature reaches a certain threshold (which can vary according to the battery manufacturer), the PTC resistance rises and current limitation kicks in, causing a rapid drop in output. Over time, the temperature drops and the cells recover, showing an uptick in output. This is what you are seeing on the M31 traces above. Note that there can be significant variation in the thresholds for different batteries - please see the extensive discussion in this thread.


    Potential Issues

    Light is heavily driven on Hi, so you should use this mode sparingly (especially on anything other than 2x18650). Heatsinking may not be as extensive as some other lights in this class.

    Light is a bit top heavy, with the large head and reflector.

    Strobe mode is included on the main sequence.

    There is no bundled diffuser with the M31, unlike other M-series Olights.

    Preliminary Observations

    The M31 is a very impressive high-output light. I'll cut right to the chase - it has the highest output and throw of any SST-50 or MC-E-based light in my collection at the moment.

    The M31's reported 800 lumen ANSI FL-1 spec is actually believable in my testing. This is the first time I can say that for a SST-50-based light (i.e. most of them are closer to ~600 estimated lumens). Of course that overall output difference won't be too noticeable in practice (can you easily see the difference between 6 and 8 lumens? Or 60 and 80 lumens? Again, the same applies for 600 and 800 lumens).

    But what you will definitely notice is the greater throw of the M31. As my center-beam testing and outdoor shots show, this is the best thrower I've come across for this class of light. While I personally like a more floody high output light most of the time, I know a lot here prefer the heavy throwers.

    The interface is good, except for the strobe mode on the main sequence. Still, I much prefer this over the M30's low freq PWM. I also like the ability to lock-out the light at the tailcap now.

    I particularly like the wide battery flexibility, both with the extender (i.e. 2x18650, 4xCR123A/RCR) and without it (i.e. 2x18500, 3xCR123A/RCR). Note that it is highly-driven on Hi, so I recommend you stick with 2x18650 in you want to run that way. As the runtimes show, it is not really feasible to run on Hi in 3x or even 4x primary CR123A (see updated runtime graph commentary above).

    In fact, that brings me to my main concern with the light - it is a bit lightweight for this class, and I worry about the heatsinking capabilities. I note the manual similarly cautions about this, and warns not to run for extended periods on Hi.

    At the end of the day, this is a very impressive light in the high-output class - it has the highest output and furthest throw I've seen yet for a SST-50-based light. With appropriate common-sense about battery configurations on Hi, I think you will find it a very worthwhile contender.

    UPDATE April 3, 2013: This light has long been replaced by the M3X. Please see my newer review of the XM-L2 version of the M3X here.

    ----

    M31 provided by Batteryjunction.com for review.
    Last edited by selfbuilt; 04-03-2013 at 08:55 AM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Olight M31 (SST-50, 2x18650/18500, 3x-4xCR123A/RCR) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS +

    Written by StEaLtH_ on 12-24-2010 03:16 PM GMT

    Thanks for the great review

    Looks like a winner to me, awesome throw. Never thought of the sst50 as much of a thrower, changed my view on the sst50.
    Written by zehnmm on 12-25-2010 07:35 AM GMT

    Job well done Selfbuilt!

    I am using my M31 mostly on medium to see what is going on to about 200 meters. If I need to use high mode, it is there for me.

    FYI, my 5m lux reading calculated to 1m on high was 37,575, which for all practical purposes is the same as the 37,000 figure that you report.

    Again, thanks for a great review!
    Written by jirik_cz on 12-25-2010 09:23 AM GMT

    I also measured around 37k lux with Olight M31. It is an excellent thrower and new XM-L version should be even better.
    Written by Richwouldnt on 12-26-2010 02:00 PM GMT

    Thanks for the excellent review. I am happy with my M31 but wish that Olight had included a diffuser with it to increase the versatility. One heck of a thrower as is the new Fenix TK50 for its output which I hope that you review too.
    Written by wardroid on 12-27-2010 12:04 AM GMT

    wow, that's significantly bigger than the m30. how does it compare to the m30? I just ordered the m30.. I'm afraid its 700 lumens doesn't hold true. I was very disappointed by the false claim of spiderfire's 900 lumen (ssc p7). it's equal, if not less than my fenix tk11 9225 lumens) as long as it's bright than my fenix, I'll be happy.. m31 does look pretty nice. maybe slightly too big for my taste.
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Latest hobby: whiskyanalysis.com. Latest flashlight review: Thrunite TN42.
    Gratefully accepting donations to my battery fund.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Olight M31 (SST-50, 2x18650/18500, 3x-4xCR123A/RCR) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS +

    Written by selfbuilt on 12-27-2010 10:09 AM GMT

    Quote Originally Posted by wardroid
    wow, that's significantly bigger than the m30. how does it compare to the m30?
    The summary chart in the review provides a lot of comparisons: The summary chart in the review provides a lot of comparisons:



    See http://www.sliderule.ca/FL1.htm for an explanation of the terms.
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Latest hobby: whiskyanalysis.com. Latest flashlight review: Thrunite TN42.
    Gratefully accepting donations to my battery fund.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Olight M31 (SST-50, 2x18650/18500, 3x-4xCR123A/RCR) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS +

    Written by Richwouldnt on 12-27-2010 10:23 AM GMT

    Quote Originally Posted by wardroid
    wow, that's significantly bigger than the m30. how does it compare to the m30? I just ordered the m30.. I'm afraid its 700 lumens doesn't hold true. I was very disappointed by the false claim of spiderfire's 900 lumen (ssc p7). it's equal, if not less than my fenix tk11 9225 lumens) as long as it's bright than my fenix, I'll be happy.. m31 does look pretty nice. maybe slightly too big for my taste.
    I have both and the M30 has a much wider hotspot which makes it look dimmer in many instances. However in most circumstances the M30 beam is IMO more user friendly unless you need maximum throw. To me the M30 though would be improved without the low frequency PWM output control circuitry. I have both and the M30 has a much wider hotspot which makes it look dimmer in many instances. However in most circumstances the M30 beam is IMO more user friendly unless you need maximum throw. To me the M30 though would be improved without the low frequency PWM output control circuitry.

    Personally I feel all lights which are optimized for long throw should include a diffuser lens for added use versatility.
    Written by lew187 on 12-28-2010 05:42 AM GMT

    Quote Originally Posted by jirik_cz
    I also measured around 37k lux with Olight M31. It is an excellent thrower and new XM-L version should be even better.
    why? why?

    m3x 700 lumen, m31 800 ansi.

    I asked olight and they said the m31 will be brighter.
    Written by jirik_cz on 12-28-2010 06:08 AM GMT

    XM-L should throw better.
    Written by lew187 on 12-28-2010 09:08 AM GMT

    maybe... but who cares about 5 meters more throw?

    your eyes can't really see whats going further than 100m...
    Written by jirik_cz on 12-28-2010 04:21 PM GMT

    So why people buy flashlights with more than 100m throw?
    Written by brightnorm on 12-28-2010 10:09 PM GMT

    ........maybe... but who cares about 5 meters more throw? ....your eyes can't really see whats going further than 100m...
    One advantage is brighter illumination of objects at all ranges, not just 100m+.

    Brightnorm
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Latest hobby: whiskyanalysis.com. Latest flashlight review: Thrunite TN42.
    Gratefully accepting donations to my battery fund.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Olight M31 (SST-50, 2x18650/18500, 3x-4xCR123A/RCR) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS +

    Written by recDNA on 01-06-2011 08:44 PM GMT

    Quote Originally Posted by jirik_cz
    I also measured around 37k lux with Olight M31. It is an excellent thrower and new XM-L version should be even better.
    I can' I can't wait for the XM-L version to come out! so I can purchase the SST-50 version at a huge discount!
    Written by jmhoff10500 on 01-19-2011 07:35 PM GMT

    So would this be a good flashlight for a newbie into nice flashlights or should i stick with one of the models like the M21 that only
    Written by selfbuilt on 01-20-2011 08:00 AM GMT

    Quote Originally Posted by jmhoff10500
    So would this be a good flashlight for a newbie into nice flashlights or should i stick with one of the models like the M21 that only uses one battery at a time while in operation?
    That's actually a good question. It's not a bad idea to stick with single-cell setups if you can (i.e. 1x18650). And not just for newbies (but perhaps especially so there) - I personally think it is safer this way, as you don' That's actually a good question. It's not a bad idea to stick with single-cell setups if you can (i.e. 1x18650). And not just for newbies (but perhaps especially so there) - I personally think it is safer this way, as you don't have to worry about an accidental mis-match in cells leading to reverse-charging as they drain low.

    But it also comes down to what sort of light you want. The M31 has much higher output and throw than the M21. The M21 is much easier to pocket or carry, however.
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Latest hobby: whiskyanalysis.com. Latest flashlight review: Thrunite TN42.
    Gratefully accepting donations to my battery fund.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Olight M31 (SST-50, 2x18650/18500, 3x-4xCR123A/RCR) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS +

    Written by sstreng on 01-21-2011 10:06 PM GMT

    Is it possible? Would one want to ? Has anybody weapon mounted the M31?
    Written by Jannis on 01-26-2011 12:47 PM GMT

    Quote Originally Posted by lew187
    why?

    m3x 700 lumen, m31 800 ansi.

    I asked olight and they said the m31 will be brighter.
    Hi just got m3X, it is brighter than m31, 44.5 lux for m3x Hi just got m3X, it is brighter than m31, 44.5 lux for m3x

    and 38.5 lux for M31, on cb.

    and for throw i got 49000 lux for m3x and 30000 for m31, this is with my cheepo luxmeter, that tend to mesure lower than selfbuilds meter, but it is good for comparisation. Selfbuild, any plans for reviewing M3x? I think it will beat catapult Xm-l for throw to
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Latest hobby: whiskyanalysis.com. Latest flashlight review: Thrunite TN42.
    Gratefully accepting donations to my battery fund.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Olight M31 (SST-50, 2x18650/18500, 3x-4xCR123A/RCR) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS +

    The main review post has been updated with the final review text.

    The thread discussions have been fully restored from the search engine cache data (thank you tandem!).

    Please carry on!
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Latest hobby: whiskyanalysis.com. Latest flashlight review: Thrunite TN42.
    Gratefully accepting donations to my battery fund.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Olight M31 (SST-50, 2x18650/18500, 3x-4xCR123A/RCR) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS +

    Looking forward to a M3x review!

  9. #9

    Default Re: Olight M31 (SST-50, 2x18650/18500, 3x-4xCR123A/RCR) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS +

    Selfbuilt are you going to review the 4sevens maelstrom x10 when it comes out?
    "Life is tough, but its tougher when you're stupid"--John Wayne
    "Luceat lux vestra" = Let your light shine, [in Latin]

  10. #10

    Default Re: Olight M31 (SST-50, 2x18650/18500, 3x-4xCR123A/RCR) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS +

    Quote Originally Posted by infinus View Post
    Looking forward to a M3x review!
    Quote Originally Posted by luceat lux vestra View Post
    Selfbuilt are you going to review the 4sevens maelstrom x10 when it comes out?
    I haven't been contacted about either light yet.
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Latest hobby: whiskyanalysis.com. Latest flashlight review: Thrunite TN42.
    Gratefully accepting donations to my battery fund.

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