Warning: pic heavy, as usual.
UPDATE JULY 17, 2013: My companion review of the Olight M20S-X (XM-L2) and M21-X (XM-L2) is now up.
It's hard to believe, but it was back in 2008 that I reviewed the first 1x18650, 2xCR123A/RCR M-series "Warrior" light by Olight - the original M20 (XR-E R2). That review was updated with a replacement XM-L U2 module a few years later. In the interim, the slightly larger M21 (SST-50) was released.
Flashforward to 2013, and we have the new M22 - with a XM-L2 T6 - to consider. Let's put it through its paces and see how it does relative to some other recent XM-L2 lights in my collection.
Manufacturer Reported Specifications:
(note: as always, these are simply what the manufacturer provides – scroll down to see my actual testing results).
- Utilizing the newest Cree XM-L2 LED to enhance the lumen output. [Reviewer's note: Olight informs me my sample is a T6 output bin]
- High efficiency driver circuit allows maximum 950lm output & 305 meter beam projection.
- Three adjustable brightness levels (low-medium-high).
- Output/Runtime: Hi 950lm (1hr), Med 250lm (3hr), Lo 20lm (30hr)
- Supports 2xCR123A or 1x18650
- Beam intensity: 23,256cd
- Beam distance: 305m
- Waterproof: IPX8
- Impact resistance: 2m
- Thick stainless steel bezel protects the lens, and makes a great defensive tool.
- Anti-scratch type III hard anodizing aluminum body.
- Large surface of heat sink on its head, allowing for efficient heat dissipation.
- High efficiency smooth reflector ;99% luminousness ultra-clear lens with anti-reflective coating.
- Multi-function tail forward switch. Under off status, lightly press the tail switch will perform momentary light, while twice continual quick clicks will activate high brightness and triple clicks will activate strobe, further hard press will acquiesce in outputs. Under on status, hard press will power off the light.
- It allows you to go from low/med straight to Turbo or Strobe one-handed with a reverse grip (thumb on tail switch)
- Dimensions: 144mm (L) x 41mm (D)
- Weight: 146g (without battery)
- Included accessories: presentation display case, diffuser cover, holster, battery magazine, lanyard, extra o-rings, manual, warranty card.
- Optional tactical accessories: weapon mount, filter, tactical remote switch, etc
- MSRP: ~$95
The M22 comes in a presentation-style plastic carrying case, similar to the other M-series lights from Olight. The light and all accessories are carefully packaged in cutout foam. Included with the light is a sturdy belt holder, spare O-rings, GITD tailcap button cover, good quality lanyard, 2xCR123A battery carrier, diffuser cover, warranty card and manual.
From left to right: AW Protected 18650; Olight M22, M20; Eagletac G25C2 Mark II; Thrunite TN11; Klarus XT-11; Nitecore P25; Crelant 7G6CS.
All dimensions directly measured, and given with no batteries installed:
Olight M22: Weight: 148.4g, Length: 144.8mm, Width: 41.2mm (bezel)
Olight M21: Weight 119.5g, Length 145.2mm, Width 38.5mm (bezel)
Olight M20: Weight: 120.0g, Length 144.0mm, Width: 35.7mm (bezel)
Eagletac G25C2-II (stock): Weight 141.0g, Length: 150.6mm, Width: 39.6mm
Eagletac TX25C2: Weight 93.6g, Length: 120.4mm, Width (bezel): 31.6mm
Klarus XT11: Weight 133.0g, Length: 148.8, Width (bezel) 35.0mm
Nitecore MH25: Weight: 145.4g, Length: 160mm, Width (bezel): 40.0m
Rofis TR31C: Weight: 180.7g, Length: 153.0mm, Width (bezel): 39.8mm
Thrunite TN10: Weight: 154.7g, Length: 145.5mm, Width (bezel): 35.1mm
Overall weight and bezel diameter has increased, compared to the earlier M20/M21 series lights. Overall, the dimensions are similar to the recent Eagletac G25C2-II.
Physically, the build of the M22 has changed from the earlier M20/M21 – although the overall external styling the body handle and tailcap look pretty similar across this series. Anodizing is now a matte finish (previously glossy black), but remains hard anodized (i.e., type III). Body labels remain bright and clear, and are sharp against the black background.
As before, these lights don't use knurling per se – instead, the trademark Olight raised checkered pattern is used over the battery tube and tailcap to help with grip. It does fairly well, but is not as "grippy" as aggressive knurling. The head has distinctive concentric fins - likely to help with heat dissipation, but also serve to enhance grip. With the metal grip ring and clip installed, I would definitely consider grip to be above average for the class.
Screw threading has changed from the earlier models, and the M22 features square-cut threads (of good quality). These are anodized at the tailcap to allow for lock-out.
As before, there is a spring mounted on the positive contact board in the head, so flat-top cells can be used In the light.
The bundled cigar grip ring is made of metal, and has a groove that fits into a slightly raised piece of metal by the removal clip (as shown above). This helps hold the grip ring in place.
Due to the forward clicky switch, the light cannot tailstand.
The holster remains a distinctive item in the package. There is a hole in the bottom (so you can tell if the light is on), and space to carry two extra 18650 cells (or carriers with 2xCR123 each).
I also quite like the standard Olight diffuser cover (included), which fit over the head of the light. Olight diffusers are of high quality, and can generally be used on many other lights of similar bezel size (thanks to the somewhat stretchy rubber cover).
The light comes in one of two bezel styles - a black stainless steel bezel, or a typical brushed stainless steel bezel. I believe you have to specify the bezel type when ordering (no difference in price), but both were included on my sample for comparison purposes.
M22 XM-L2 T6:
Reflector is smooth, and fairly deep. Coupled with the XM-L2 emitter Cool White emitter (which was well centered), I would expect reasonably strong throw. Note that you can distinguish the XM-L2 (shown above) from the original XM-L (shown below) by the lack of bond wires over the die surface now, and the use of a silver mask (instead of green) outside the die/dome area.
M20 XM-L U2:
User interface is updated from the earlier M20/M21, but still uses a similar format.
As before, turn the light on/off by the tailcap forward clicky switch (press for momentary, click for locked-on).
There are three main output levels controlled by a loosen/tighten of the head. Mode sequence is Lo > Med > Hi, in a repeating loop. The light has mode memory, and retains the last level set when you turn it off on.
Doing a double-click/double-press of the tailcap switch jumps you to Hi, no matter what mode the light is in. A triple-click/triple-press of the switch jumps you to Strobe.
The main difference from before are these extra multiple click options, with Strobe having been removed from the main sequence (i.e., is now "hidden"). There is no memory for the special multiple-click states of the light.
For information on the light, including the build and user interface, please see my video overview:
Video was recorded in 720p, but YouTube typically defaults to 360p. Once the video is running, you can click on the configuration settings icon and select the higher 480p to 720p options. You can also run full-screen.
As with all my videos, I recommend you have annotations turned on. I commonly update the commentary with additional information or clarifications before publicly releasing the video.
As always, there is no sign of PWM at any output level – The M22 is current-controlled like its predecessors.
The strobe is a fairly typical fast "tactical" strobe, of 9.6Hz frequency (as before).
For white-wall beamshots below, all lights are on Max output on an AW protected 18650 battery. Lights 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 (i.e., my TX25C2 Neutral White won't look any different from the others, but it is a lot warmer in real life).
Output has certainly increased greatly from the M20 with XM-L U2 module. Overall beam pattern is very similar to my recent Eagletac G25C2-II XM-L2, although the M22 has a slightly wider spillbeam and a more sharply defined hotspot.
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 devised a method for converting my lightbox relative output values (ROV) to estimated Lumens. See my How to convert Selfbuilt's Lightbox values to Lumens thread for more info.
Throw/Output Summary Chart:
My summary tables are reported in a manner consistent with the ANSI FL-1 standard for flashlight testing. Please see http://www.flashlightreviews.ca/FL1.htm for a discussion, and a description of all the terms used in these tables. Effective July 2012, I have updated all my Peak Intensity/Beam Distance measures with a NIST-certified Extech EA31 lightmeter (orange highlights).
Overall output and peak throw of the Olight M22 (XM-L2 T6) are very similar to my other two recent XM-L2 lights - the Eagletac G25C2-II (XM-L2 U2) and TX25L2 (XM-L2 T6). The M22 is certainly a significant increase in max output and throw compared to the M20 (XM-L U2).
Unlike some of my other lights, the M22's max output performance is actually a bit different across the battery types tested. Although the official specs for the M22 are "950 lumens" on Hi, Olight has confirmed with me more specific numbers for 1x18650 and 2xCR123A, as shown below.
Overall, my lumen estimates vary somewhat from Olight's reference values, but the difference isn’t huge. The M22 is somewhat brighter on 2xCR123A than it is on 1x18650. See my runtimes below for more information.
It bears repeating again that my estimated lumen scale is just that - an estimate, based on a consistent calibration of my lightbox. But even though the absolute value correlation is unknown, the relative comparisons still hold. All I can really say is that one light is higher or lower than another, by a certain relative percentage. So please don't get hung up on the absolute values of the estimates, or on small relative percent changes.
XM-L2 vs XM-L
I realize all this emitter talk may seem confusing, especially for those that don't keep up on the fine details of LEDs.
Basically, these new XM-L2 emitters are very similar to the old XM-L, but are reported by Cree to deliver "up to" 20% more lumens and lumens-per-Watt than the classic XM-L of comparable output bin number (see Cree XM-L2 spec sheet here). However, directly comparing back to XM-L is complicated by the more stringent testing and reporting measures Cree is now using for XM-L2 output binning. If you are curious, XM-L emitters were previously output bin rated by luminous flux @350mA, @25 degree C. With the XM-L2, Cree has switched to a more representational (but more stringent) @85 degree C for binning purposes.
There is actually an easy conversion though - if you look up the Cree spec tables under the same conditions, you will see that the new XM-L2 bins are exactly two bin steps brighter than the same bin number on XM-L. So a XM-L2 T6 is basically the same thing as a XM-L U3. This is part of the reason for the switch to the new process - there is now more "headroom" on the new XM-L2 platform, and higher output XM-L2 emitters can ultimately be produced.
In terms of lumens though, you have to keep in mind how the binning process works. Given the ~7% range within each bin, this means that for any given specific XM-L2 sample could be anywhere from ~7-20% brighter than a comparably bin-numbered XM-L sample. This is presumably where that "up to" 20% brighter statement comes from in the Cree literature. But you need to keep in mind that on average, a XM-L2 U2 should be ~13% brighter than a XM-L U2, for example. You really have to think of these things statistically – the bins are a range, and you don't know where exactly in the range any given sample will fall.
Olight doesn't typically publish output bin specs for their lights, but they have confirmed with me that my M22 sample uses a T6 output bin.
My first observation from the above is that my Olight M22 (XM-L2 T6) is generally similar in output levels and overall efficiency as my Eagletac G25C2-II (XM-L2 U2) – at least on Hi and Med. The only real difference is that the M22 steps down more gradually on Hi - starting at ~6 mins into the Hi mode run, and leveling off at ~25% lower output by ~8.5 mins.
On 2xCR123A, I'm impressed that the M22 can keep the ~910 lumen Hi mode in regulated fashion for over 6 mins (on fresh batteries). Overall output/runtime efficiency is excellent on the M22, and similar to my recent Eagletac lights.
On all levels, the light maintains perfectly flat regulation for an extended period, before dropping off slowly in output (on 1x18650 or 2xCR123A) or with an abrupt shut-down due to protection circuits being triggered (2xRCR). Once the light has completely fallen out of regulation on 1x18650 or 2xCR123A (i.e., batteries are nearly exhausted), it starts to flicker rapidly at a low output level.
As with my other recent Olight lights, ANSI FL-1 runtime specs on 1x18650 and 2xCR123A are generally consistent with my results. Recall that I use lower capacity 2200mAh 18650 cells, and that the FL-1 standard calls for time to 10% output (not 50%, as reported above). In that sense, my Hi mode runtimes are actually longer than I would have expected (based on the specs).
As an aside, Olight sent me a sample of their own branded primary CR123A cells, which I compare below to my standard Titanium Innovation cells (used in all my reviews, including this one).
Performance of the Olight cells certainly seems excellent in this case.
The light is bit longer than most 1x18650 lights, with a larger head.
Loosen-tighten heat twists are required to change output modes.
I'll get right to the point - the Olight M22 Warrior is a top-performing XM-L2 class light.
I'm still amazed that it has been over four and a half years since I reviewed the inaugural Olight M20 Warrior. In that time, Olight has continued to tweak the build, interface and emitter choices across the M20/M21 Warrior series – but the heritage of the M22 is still readily apparent. That said, I like the build improvements seen here (i.e., square-cut threads, larger and deeper reflector, driven higher, etc.).
Output modes are well spaced, and easily accessible (although the common head-twist interface may not be to everyone's liking). I am glad to see that the Strobe mode has been "hidden" away, off the main sequence (but still easily accessible by a triple-click). And it's a nice touch to have Hi mode available at any time by a double-click.
Performance-wise, output/runtime efficiency remains top-notch, as you would expect for a current-controlled light. The M22 is driven harder on Hi than its M20/M21 predecessors – which, when combined with the new XM-L2 emitter, gives you a lot of punch (i.e., >900 estimated lumens on 2xCR123A in my testing). This also translates into very good throw with the larger reflector. I also like the more gradual step-down in output from initial max Hi over several minutes, as this makes the change in output not visually noticeable.
The presentation package remains high quality, with a lot of good extras like the decent holster and excellent diffuser cover.
While the M22 may not have all the circuit bells-and-whistles of some of its competitors, it has the relative benefit of a straight-forward interface. The light has good hand feel and ergonomics, and the Warrior model line has a long history of use here at CPF. With all the upgrades, I would have no difficulty in recommending this light as the best Warrior model to date. Definitely one to consider if you are looking into the high-output 1x18650, 2xCR123A/RCR class of lights.
UPDATE JULY 17, 2013: My companion review of the Olight M20S-X (XM-L2) and M21-X (XM-L2) is now up.
M22 was provided by Olight for this review.