Review: MHVAST TG20 (1250lm, XP-L, 18650)



Aug 13, 2015
Brisbane, Australia
MHVAST is a another new Chinese flashlight brand. The TG20 is their first offering in the popular 18650 tactical tube light class. With an increasing amount of choice in this category, lets see how the TG20 compares.



The MHVAST TG20 was send to me for an honest review by Banggood. I receive no commission from links are sales. Product Link. $34.99 with code "3034f8".


The MHVAST TG20 arrived a padded branded cardboard box. As well the flashlight, a micro USB charging cable, clip, lanyard, spare tail button cover, spare O-rings, and instructions were included.



The MHVAST TG20 is an 18650 tube light, with a head diameter similar to the body at 25.4mm. The light is relatively long for an 18650 tube light at 141mm. The battery tube unscrews at both ends, though for normal use only the tailcap would need to be unscrewed for changing the battery. The battery tube has springs at both ends, which allows for flat top, raised top, and button top batteries. I had no issue with fitting unprotected batteries such as the Panasonic NCR18650GA and obese protected batteries such as the Klarus 3600mAh. 2x non rechargeable CR123 batteries will also fit on this light, though were not tested.

The light has a side switch for changing modes, and a momentary/forward clicky tail switch. More on user interface in the next section. The construction is very solid for a budget(ish) light, and the knurling is nice and grippy. There is a smooth bezel, which I prefer over the rather pointless crenelated bezels found on many tactical lights.

The TG20 has internal USB charging for 18650 batteries. The head section can be partially unscrewed to expose the micro USB port. Unfortunately the first few attempts to unscrew the head were unsuccessful, it was extremely stiff, and I kept accidentally unscrewing the head section from the battery tube. Once I eventually managed to access the charging port, it was tested that charging terminated at 4.22V, which is marginally too high in my opinion. A minute of runtime post-charge will reduce the voltage to a more comfortable 4.2V.





User Interface

The TG20 has two switches - a side switch to change modes, and a momentary/forward clicky tail switch for on/off/momentary. This is a similar format to the Thorfire TK15S, Thrunite TC12v2, and Atactical A1S.

The tail switch can be used for on/off with full click, or with a half press for momentary light, which is great for light drawing. There is quite a lot of travel on the momentary switch before it engages which I really like. The momentary switch works for the previously memorised mode (low/mid/high). Unfortunately, there is no momentary for strobe.

A click of the side switch will change modes in order high>mid>low>off>…, starting on the last memorised mode.
From on, a double click will enter strobe mode. This is a single frequency strobe (10Hz with 50% on/off time), beloved by light painters. Further double click will enter SOS, and flashing beacon modes. A single click will return to to the previously memorised mode.

A long click will enter Eco mode, which is a bit brighter than “moonlight”. I prefer direct access to moonlight modes, as it allows for better dark adjustment for eyesight. A single click will exit Eco mode and go back to the previously memorised mode.

There is a crude battery level indicator light in the side switch, which displays green for “sufficient charge”, red for low, and flashes red for critical. When charging, the tail switch needs to be on. The indicator light alternates between red and green whilst charging, and is green when charging has terminated. I would assume that there is no low voltage protection and my protected battery protection circuit was triggered, thus I would recommend that non li-ion expert users use protected batteries (such as Keeppower 3500mAh or Klarus 3600mAh) in this light. The light can however be mechanically locked out by slightly unscrewing the tail cap.

Beam and Output

The TG20 uses a genuine Cree XP-L LED emitter. This is available in cool white (6500k - tested) or neutral white (5000k) which is great. In combination with a deep smooth reflector, gives the TG20 a relatively narrow and throwy beam for this class of light at more than 17,000cd peak beam intensity. As is usual for XP-L/smooth reflector combination, there is noticeable tint shift. The hotspot is almost pure white, with the inner spill beam having a yellow tint, and then a purple tint for the outer spill beam. Interestingly, as the head can be moved to allow access to the USB port, this can be used as a beam collimator, though only around 10 degrees.




High, mid, and low modes are claimed to be at 1250, 525, and 186 lumen respectively. Testing showed output to be within 10% of the claimed figures. I consider the 186lm low mode to be a bit too high - I much prefer the 50lm low mode on the Thorfire TK15S. Eco mode is at 7 lumens, and strobe at 1250 lumens.

I have read another review that claimed that there was no automatic step-down. However, I repeatedly recorded a reduction in brightness to approx. 80% of the original brightness just after 30secs, and to 60% at around 120secs. From cold, the light starts to get uncomfortably hot after around 5 minutes. If already warm, the light can get hot much faster - there appears to be no temperature controlled step-down.

The output gradually declines during the runtime, as I had to manually step down the output due to heat I could not create a continuous runtime graph. The light is claimed to use a constant current driver, and due to this no PWM was detected. Colour rendering index (CRI) is in the usual low 70s, good enough for most purposes.


Outdoor beam shot on high - f/6.3, 2secs, ISO400.


Things I liked:
- Solid build quality for the price
- Mode memory
- Momentary for low, mid, and high modes - and a nice forward clicky switch
- Single frequency strobe
- Good output and throw/peak beam intensity for this class of light
- Choice of cool white (6500k 1A) or neutral white (5000k 3C) emitters
- No PWM

Things I didn’t like:
- Very difficult to initially access USB charging socket
- No momentary for strobe
- Low mode is too high at 186lm
- No instant access to Eco mode.
- Charging terminated marginally too high - 4.22V

The MHVAST is a very capable tactical 18650 tube light. Momentary on high, mid, and low modes is a big plus. Internal USB charging will also be popular with consumers. Lack of momentary on strobe, and no direct access to Eco mode prevents this light from being “best of breed”.