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Thread: XTAR TZ20 Platoon Review (XM-L U2 | 1x18650)

  1. #1

    Wink2 XTAR TZ20 Platoon Review (XM-L U2 | 1x18650)

    For the past few years, the XTAR TZ20 has served as the "entry-level" model in XTAR's Tactical series. It has received continual subtle styling and emitter updates with the most recent in the form of an XM-L U2 for the latter.

    Is this enough to keep this stalwart tactical light relevant 2.5 years after its initial launch? We shall find out.


    MFG SPECS
    MSRP: $47.99 USD
    50,000 hours lifespan Cree XM-L U2 LED
    Max output 820 lumens
    Max Duration: 18Lm/180 hours (Tested by 1x 2200mAh 18650 battery)
    OP textured reflector, throws beam over 175 meters
    Constant current circuit - maintains constant brightness
    Powered by 1 x 17670/18650/18700
    140.5mm (Length) x 25.0mm (Diameter) x 35.0mm (Head)
    125-gram weight
    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
    Tactical tailcap switch with memory function
    Anti-roll, slip-resistant body design
    Creative design, with 5 Low10%, Mid40%, High100%, Strobe, SOS mode, can cancel or recover Mid, Low, Strobe, SOS mode at will.
    Accessories included: Lanyard; holster; Body clip; standby Tactical ring; Two spare O ring circle


    PACKAGING / CONTENTS
    The TZ20 I received came in a rather unassuming generic XTAR branded box:

    This is unlike what is shown on XTAR's site (which features a presentation case)

    [NEW 6/26: Additional items included were a wrist strap and spares for the tail cap cover, switch and 1 x o-ring:
    ]


    CONDENSED VIDEO SUMMARY
    Here is a quick high-level video summary of the TZ20 while I work on fleshing out this review:



    DESIGN / FEATURES
    The TZ20 features a crenellated bezel but just not of SS and comprises about a thrid of the upper portion of the head. It allows one to easily see if the light is on when stood bezel down:


    The double-coated AR lens sits recessed enough to be protected from most scratches. There are rectangular grooves that provides both aesthetics and some grip (albeit not much) during removal.

    The head can be completely disassembled as follows:

    The lens looks like it can also be removed but I didn't try.

    The reflector is ultra smooth with no discernable imperfections (beyond the circular machinining). While there is a black plastic mold around the LED, there isn't a ledge to center the reflector so it does need to be done manually:


    There are six "shovel-head" shaped grooves that serves as the main design elements on the head with a few cooling fins right aft of that which help dissipate heat but given it's moderately driven, doesn't really get all that hot (see Runtime section for full details):


    The tube features two flat sides that bear XTAR’s name and on one and the model on the other


    The rectangular shaped texture doesn't really contribute much in the way of grip:

    Rather the placement of one's hand between the tactical ring and cooling fins serve that purpose better.

    In my video, I had mentioned the clip was awkwardly positioned and stuck too far off the body but in mfg pics, I noticed the clip was bent so that the curve touches the body. Upon removing the tactical ring (which doesn't require the removal of the o-ring, nice!), I noticed the clip is easily removable:


    Once off, I bent it so now it touches the body as well. This should provide additional grip when it's clipped. Another thoughtful touch is that there is a groove that holds the clip solidy in place so that it doesn't rotate.

    There is an additional attachment point on the clip that can be used with the included wrist strap:


    The tailcap features the same rectangular texture on the body. There are three crenellated points that can be used for strike, glass breakage and tailstanding purposes:


    The forward clicky allows momentary and is used to cycle up to three (programmable) output levels and two blinkie modes (more details in UI section).

    The threads on the head are trapezoidal cut while the ones on the tail are square-cut thus the tube can't be reversed around:

    Given neither end is anodized, the TZ20 can not be locked out.

    I had no issues w/either my shortest cell (AW IMR 1600 @ 65.2mm) or longest (XTAR 18700 @ 69.2mm):


    There is a spring in the tailcap end and while absent on the the head there is a raised nodule that allows the use of flat top cells:



    SIZE & HANDLING

    | XENO S3A | Sunwayman T20C | XENO G10v2 |XTAR TZ20 | ThruNite TN10 | FoxFury Rook CheckMate | Fenix TK21 | ThruNite TN11 | ThruNite TN11S | Crelant V9-T6

    It fits quite nicely in my medium-sized hand:



    FIT & FINISH

    The overall fit and finish is quite good. The anodizing matches between all the parts:


    Short of the one on the head, the laser engraving is fairly sharp with no blotchiness:


    There were some minor spots of ano missing but they look more to be from mishandling rather than misapplication. Also while there was some grease applied, it was in minute quantities and none were found on the o-ring. Also, as mentioned in my video, given its tactical-use aspirations, the crenellated tail cap may not be the best choice as it can potentially hamper operation of the switch. Also, the o-ring in the tailcap side might just be slightly thick as I've had a really hard time while unscrewing the tailcap after it has sat around for a while. This is after I've already applied ample grease on it.

    Beyond this, the TZ20 feels solidly put together with no other real shortcomings.


    UI
    Now we get to the part that truly defines this light. XTAR has created a DIY interface so that one can custom tailor the modes to their liking by soldering the two contact points in one of four columns:


    I normally don't bother mentioning the instruction manual for lights I review but XTAR really deserves kudos for the TZ20's manual. It spans 8 pages of which two are dedciated to the "DIY" aspect of the TZ20. I've taken pics of this until I can recreate the matrix:
    [pic]

    More to come...


    BEAMSHOTS
    Indoors (5m)
    High




    Med


    Low

    For details of the above indoor shots and comparo vs. many other lights, please check Epic Indoor Shots Trilogy

    Whitewall Hunting
    Exposure settings in sequential reading-order from top left: 1/25, 1/100, 1/800, 1/1600 @ f2.9 on AWB (light is ~.4m to wall / camera ~.59m):




    RUNTIME
    The relevant battery stats are provided above each runtime graph along with:
    - Voltage of the battery at the start and end of the test
    - Current draw as taken right before the test
    - Actual runtime using ANSI FL1 (first in HR and then in M so for the RL3100 on High, read this as 2.2hrs OR 132min)
    - NEW (as of May 2012): Lumens measured on PVC LMD @ 30 seconds
    - Also for High, captured the temperature: ambient, the head at start and the max it reached (fan was used for all bats)


    After an initial drop, the TZ20 runs semi-regulated for roughly 25min and then falls out of regulation with a steady decline in output. I haven't been able to match XTAR's claim of 800+ lumens and got 714 and 708 w/the AW2600 and RL3100 respectively after 30 seconds. It could be that I have a slightly underperforming sample.



    MORE TO COME...


    =======
    Disclosure: TZ20 provided by md-lightsource for review.
    Last edited by turboBB; 07-08-2012 at 08:09 PM. Reason: Whitewall shots added

  2. #2

    Default Re: XTAR TZ20 Platoon Review (XM-L U2 | 1x18650)

    Indoor 5m shots added along w/pic of accessories.

  3. #3

    Default Re: XTAR TZ20 Platoon Review (XM-L U2 | 1x18650)

    Thanks for the review, good to see how it has changed from the initial launch of the TZ20 (which I reviewed two and half years ago).

    Glad to see they added the lower output levels, as it makes the light more versatile (though perhaps less "tactical" now, given all the levels). Don't like seeing all the blinking modes on the main sequence though.
    Last edited by selfbuilt; 07-01-2012 at 08:18 PM.
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Outdoor 100-yard Beamshots 2011. Latest: Zebralight SC62.
    Gratefully accepting donations to my battery fund.

  4. #4
    Flashaholic* madecov's Avatar
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    Default Re: XTAR TZ20 Platoon Review (XM-L U2 | 1x18650)

    Quote Originally Posted by selfbuilt View Post
    Thanks for the review, good to see how it has changed from the initial launch of the TZ20 (which I reviewed two and half years ago).

    Glad to see they added the lower output levels, as it makes the light more versatile (though perhaps less "tactical" now, given all the levels). Don't like seeing all the blinking modes on the main sequence though.
    It was very easy to use a bit of solder and remove the blinkies on mine. It appears to be at least as bright as my XT-11, but the TZ-20 in XML can only use 18650.
    In god we trust.........all others are suspects
    There are no problems in life that can not be solved with high explosives or small arms
    Too many new lights to list

  5. #5

    Default Re: XTAR TZ20 Platoon Review (XM-L U2 | 1x18650)

    Quote Originally Posted by madecov View Post
    It was very easy to use a bit of solder and remove the blinkies on mine. It appears to be at least as bright as my XT-11, but the TZ-20 in XML can only use 18650.
    Ah, so it's like the the WK-series lights from Xtar? That's good that it provides the option.
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Outdoor 100-yard Beamshots 2011. Latest: Zebralight SC62.
    Gratefully accepting donations to my battery fund.

  6. #6
    Flashaholic* madecov's Avatar
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    Default Re: XTAR TZ20 Platoon Review (XM-L U2 | 1x18650)

    Quote Originally Posted by selfbuilt View Post
    Ah, so it's like the the WK-series lights from Xtar? That's good that it provides the option.
    Yes, I removed the SOS mode. I hapen to use strobe often so I left it in. I almost never use low so I may remove that later on. Then I would have
    Medium-High-Strobe

    I think it is 15 different possible combinations. I removed strobe and SOS from my WK-21, now it is a fun little light.
    In god we trust.........all others are suspects
    There are no problems in life that can not be solved with high explosives or small arms
    Too many new lights to list

  7. #7

    Default Re: XTAR TZ20 Platoon Review (XM-L U2 | 1x18650)

    Thx SB! As for the modes and programming, I'll likely be doing a vid to cover that as it'll be easier than through pics/text.

  8. #8

    Default Re: XTAR TZ20 Platoon Review (XM-L U2 | 1x18650)

    Review pretty much fleshed out now. Need to add a bit of details to the UI section which I hope to put together a video on the DIY aspect.

    Cheers,
    Tim

  9. #9
    Unenlightened
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    Default Re: XTAR TZ20 Platoon Review (XM-L U2 | 1x18650)

    Hi there.

    please can you help me.

    i have purchased an XTAR TZ20 and the instructions provided were very minimal (just a folded up sheet)
    i would be very grateful if someone would be kinda enough to scan the DIY matrix and instructions from the full manual so i can disable a few of the functions on the flashlight that i do not use.

    thanks in advance

    Wylie

  10. #10
    Flashaholic* madecov's Avatar
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    Default Re: XTAR TZ20 Platoon Review (XM-L U2 | 1x18650)

    PM me your e mail and I will scan the manual and e mail a PDF
    In god we trust.........all others are suspects
    There are no problems in life that can not be solved with high explosives or small arms
    Too many new lights to list

  11. #11
    Flashaholic* madecov's Avatar
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    Default Re: XTAR TZ20 Platoon Review (XM-L U2 | 1x18650)

    This is the DIY chart that Xtar supplied in the instruction manual.


    [IMG][/IMG]
    In god we trust.........all others are suspects
    There are no problems in life that can not be solved with high explosives or small arms
    Too many new lights to list

  12. #12

    Default Re: XTAR TZ20 Platoon Review (XM-L U2 | 1x18650)

    Thank you!

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