SUNWAYLED M20C Review (2xCR123A/RCR, 1x18650): RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS and more!

selfbuilt

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Reviewer's Note: The pre-release M20C was provided for review by SUNWAYLED. Please see their website for more info.

Warning: pic heavy, as usual :cool:

Manufacturer Specifications: (taken from the SUNWAYLED website).
  • CREE XR-E R2 LED
  • Three modes constant output:
  • Output and runtime on 2600mAh 18650 battery : 240 Lumens (2.7 hrs) - 40 Lumens (26 hrs) - 12 Lumens (100 hrs), Strobe mode: 240 Lumens (3.5 hrs)
  • Digital Sensor Magnetic Control system, slightly twist the Rotator Ring to select from different modes
  • Digitally regulated output - maintains constant brightness
  • Effective range of 180 meters
  • Compatible with both 2xCR123A (16340)batteries and one single 18650 battery
  • Working voltage:0.9~10V
  • Reflector of good quality maintains both great throw distance and spread, good beam pattern
  • Dimension:133 mm (length)* 32mm(head diameter)*25.4mm(body diameter)
  • Weight: 120g(battery excluded)
  • Aerospace-grade aluminum alloy
  • Military Specification Type III hard anodized
  • Waterproof accords with IPX-8 standard
  • Ultra-clear toughened glass lens resists scratches and impacts
  • Tactical forward clickie switch for momentary on
  • Tail stand and can be used as a candle
  • Accessories: Clip, O-ring, rubber cap
  • Estimated MSRP: ~$82
The M20C is the third light I’ve reviewed for the new manufacturer SUNWAYLED. My reviews of their M10R and M40C models are already up for comparison. SUNWAYLED has made a big splash with these new lights on CPF, and here’s a chance to see how their foray into the general-purpose 2xCR123A/1x18650 world holds up. :whistle:

Note that my sample was a pre-release version, so I don’t know what the final shipping packaging looks like. Circuit performance should be unchanged on the shipping versions, though. Note that my sample came with a removable clip, removable anodized aluminum grip ring, and wrist lanyard.

Sunway065.jpg

Sunway064.jpg

Sunway051.jpg

Sunway017.jpg

Sunway005.jpg

From left to right: AW Protected 18650, SUNWAYLED M20C, JetBeam RRT-2 Raptor, Jet-IIIM, Olight M20, Eagletac T20C2-II.

M20C: Weight: 116.7g (no battery), Width 32.1mm (bezel), length 133.1mm

Again, this is just a personal preference, but I find the overall external styling and size of the M20C very attractive – and well suited to a general purpose 2xCR123A-sized light. :thumbsup:

What’s particularly impressive is that they managed to fit the dual control interface is such a small size (i.e. forward clicky switch for on/off and a magnetic control ring for output levels). The light can even tailstand.

The control ring has good feel, with noticeable detents at every level (although no identifying labels). I would describe the feel as very similar to the JetBeam RRT-series control ring. Overall styling is also very JetBeam-like, but with a more stream-lined appearance here. I am not sure what material the control ring is made of, but the feel and anodizing color are an exact match to the rest of the aluminum frame.

Like M10R, the M20C comes with a removable pocket clip. Unfortunately, while I found that the M10R clip was somewhat loose, it is even worse on the M20C. In fact, it’s likely to fall off when changing the batteries. :ohgeez: A good first attempt, but I find the M20C’s clip to be basically worthless as a securing device – although it does have value as an anti-roll feature and to enhance grip.

Note that the M20C also comes with a removable metal grip ring that will better serve as an anti-roll device (scroll back up to the first pic in the review to see it in action ;)). It attaches just below the tailcap, instead of the pocket clip (you can only use on or the other). Unfortunately, I found the grip ring wasn't securely fastened in place by the tailcap (i.e. still wobbles). :shrug:

Sunway059.jpg

Sunway035.jpg


As previously mentioned, SUNWAYLED is using the older Cree XR-E R2 emitters for the M10R/M20C lights. While this may be in part to maximize throw, I suspect the real reason is the experience of the designers with this class of emitter. I would encourage them to switch to the newer XP-G emitters. Scroll down for beamshots.

Sunway055.jpg


The forward clicky on/off switch has a good feel, with a fairly typical traverse. Frankly, I consider it better than the M10R’s switch. :thumbsup: The switch is also recessed within the tailstanding ring, so this may interfere somewhat with your ability to activate – but not unreasonably so in my testing.

Sunway088.jpg

Sunway124.jpg

Sunway061.jpg


The build seems excellent – the light uses square-cut machinist screw threads, with a good number in both the head and the tail region. Screw threads are anodized, so lock-out is available. :thumbsup:

Fit and finish on my samples are outstanding. I really like the color – a rich, dark grey – very similar to some of the earlier NiteCore lights (e.g. Extreme, and some particularly dark D10/EX10s, etc.). Frankly, this is one of the best anodizing jobs I’ve seen - absolutely no flaws or chips on any of the SUNWAYLED samples I’ve received. :twothumbs

Despite their small size, the labels were sharp and easy to read.

There is no real knurling to speak of, except for a bit on the tailcap. This means the light will have lower grip than some of this class. Use of the optional grip-ring or pocket clip helps improve grip (but I wouldn’t rely on the clip to secure the light).

Beamshots

And now for the white wall hunting. ;) Here are some up-close shots comparing to the original Eagletac T20C2 (which also had a XR-E R2 emitter) and the more recent TK12 (XP-G R5) and T20C2-II (XP-G R5). All lights are about 0.5 meters from a white wall (all lights on AW protected 18650).

Sunway7.jpg

TK12-Beam25.jpg


Sunway8.jpg

TK12-Beam100.jpg


Sunway10.jpg

TK12-Beam800.jpg


Sunway9.jpg

TK12-Beam1600.jpg


As you can see, beam profile is very similar to the R2-equipped T20C2, but with a slightly more focused hotspot on the T20C2. The R5 equipped lights typically have a less defined hotspot with lower centre-beam throw. Scroll for some output/throw numbers on various batteries.

UPDATE: Some additional long-distance beamshots, to show you how the light compares to others in its class.

Please see my recent 100-yard Outdoor Beamshot review for more details (and additional lights).


Outdoor-JulyDaylight.jpg


M20C-IIIM-M20.gif


User Interface

Like the M10R, on/off is controlled by the tailcap clicky (press for momentary on, click for lock on). Mode switching is controlled entirely by the magnetic control ring in the head.

Basically, this will seem familiar to anyone who has used a magnetic control ring light (e.g. JetBeam RRT-series, NiteCore SR3, Eagletac M2C4). There are four defined levels the ring can be turn to – and you feel the resistance change when it falls into place (these are typically called “detents”). The M20C feels (and looks) most like the JetBeam RRT-series control rings.

The four control ring levels on the M20C are Lo – Med – Hi – Strobe, arranged clockwise if you have the light in hand pointed away from you (oddly, the M10R was counter-clockwise). The total traverse of the ring is ~1/3 circumference of the light, so you can switch back and forth with ease one-handed. Note there is no “standby” mode – you turn the light on or off by the tailcap clicky only. There is thus no parasitic drain to worry about. :)

There is no sign of PWM flicker by eye or with my sound-card oscilloscope on any level. SUNWAYLED claims the light is current-controlled.

M20C-Strobe.gif


Strobe was measured at a fairly typical “tactical” 12.9 Hz, similar to M10R.

Testing Method: All my output numbers are relative for my home-made light box setup, a la Quickbeam's flashlight reviews 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.

Throw values were taken at 1 meter for all lights shown below.

Throw/Output Summary Chart:

18650-Summary1-1.gif

18650-Summary2-1.gif

18650-Summary3-1.gif


The M20C’s overall output on Max is among the high-end of a R2-equipped light. Throw is also good for a general purpose light – while not as far throwing as the JetBeam RRT-2 or original Eagletac T20C2, it is in the same range as the more general purpose Jet-III M, NiteCore SR3 and Olight M20.

On 1x18650, Lo output is lower than typical for this class of light. On 2xCR123A/RCR, min output is a bit brighter, but still toward the low end for this class.

Output/Runtime Comparison

Note: Effective January 2010, all CR123A runtimes are now performed solely on Titanium Innovations batteries sponsored by BatteryJunction.com. You can compare the generally excellent performance of these CR123A cells relative to the Duracell/Surefire cells used in all my earlier reviews here. I have marked all the new runtimes of lights with Titanium Innovations CR123As on the graphs with an "*".

M20C-Runtimes.gif


At first glance, these output/runtime results look pretty good. Spacing of levels is good, IMO. So how does it stack up to the competition?

M20C-Hi18650.gif

M20C-Lo18650.gif


M20C-HiRCR.gif

M20C-MedRCR.gif


M20C-HiCR123A.gif


On Med/Hi on 1x18650, runtime performance is very good - about what I would expect from a current-controlled R2-equipped light. :)

On 2xRCR or 2xCR123A, Hi mode is again exactly what I would expect for this type of light. My Med mode 2xRCR run seems a bit on the low side for the output level, but still reasonable.

Potential Issues

Grip is lower than some lights of this class, due to the lack of knurling. The removable clip is useless as a securing device, but it does help with grip and prevents rolling. The removable aluminum grip ring also helps with grip and rolling, but has some wobble when installed.

Some small loss of efficiency on Med mode on 2xRCR, but still reasonable performance.

Final packaging and extras are unknown at this time (except for the clip, grip ring and wrist strap shown here).

Preliminary Observations

SUNWAYLED has definitely made a splash here with their recent launch of a full range of lights. The M20C fits in nicely to the general purpose 2xCR123A/1x18650 class. See my earlier M10R and M40C reviews for the 1xCR123A and 2x18650 class lights, respectively. As discussed in those reviews, SUNWAYLED clearly has a lot experience in flashlight design and manufacture.

Although this light shares a lot of design similarities to the M10R, I find it manages to avoid some of the issues with that light. Specifically, the M20C is well regulated on all possible battery types, with a good spacing of output levels. :thumbsup: It also has a greater number of screw threads on the head and tail, and a better feel to the forward clicky. For that matter, I even prefer the clockwise orientation of the output modes on the control ring. :)

What it shares with the M10R and M40C is a magnetic control ring with one of the best feels out there – well done. The anodizing is particularly impressive – the light has a very nice look and feel. :bow:

That being said, the M20C lacks any real knurling, so grip is not as high as some of this class (unless you use the optional grip ring, which is a bit wobbly, or the clip, which is loose). But aside from these rather minor issues, I’m quite impressed with the overall feel and build quality of the M20C.

As mentioned in my M10R review, use of the older Cree XR-E emitters seems an odd choice for 2010. :thinking: But I’m sure future generations of SUNWAYLED lights will incorporate newer emitter types.

Bottom line, this is a very nice offering in the (rather crowded) general purpose 2xCR123A/1x18650 marketplace. That being said, I’ve been surprised at how difficult it is for makers to do this general-purpose class justice - many of the the lights I’ve reviewed in recent years have had odd quirks or issues. But SUNWAYLED is straight out of the gate with a surprisingly strong offering. No surprises here, the light performs as it should (and as you would expect). :)
 
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Burgess

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Yet another fantastic review by Selfbuilt ! ! !


:goodjob::kewlpics::thanks:
_
 

veleno

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Thanks for the excellent review!! :thumbsup:

I like this flashlight very much, but I would prefer 60 lumens on medium and an XP-G led.
 
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Hitthespot

Flashlight Enthusiast
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Oct 15, 2007
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Mentor, Ohio
Thanks for the review.

I just found out about these lights. I really like the looks. The (1) CR123 light really floats my boat. I am surprised as you mentioned in your review that these new offerings are not an R4 or later, though that's little detraction from what looks like could be a nice addition to the mid/upper class of LED lights. Competition = Better for the Consumer.

Bill
 

Captain Spaulding

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Oct 25, 2009
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Sacramento, CA
Many thanks for another awesome review!

I am happy to see that the M20C supports 2X 3.7V Li-ion RCR cells!

The M10R turned me off because I would have to buy new rechargeables since it doesn't support 3.7V Li-ion RCR. (must have guilt free lumens)

I have a ton of standard RCR123's to feed this M20C with though!
 

Phaserburn

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How do the Sunways do beamwise regarding the infamous dark cree ring of the XRE? If these lights had XPE or G, I'd have already bought one. I'd like to say that the dark ring doesn't bother me in real world use, but it drives me nuts.

SB, just saw your beamshot thread. Thank you for all your hard work. Everytime I see a new thread from you, I read it avidly and subscribe.
 

selfbuilt

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How do the Sunways do beamwise regarding the infamous dark cree ring of the XRE? If these lights had XPE or G, I'd have already bought one. I'd like to say that the dark ring doesn't bother me in real world use, but it drives me nuts.
SB, just saw your beamshot thread. Thank you for all your hard work. Everytime I see a new thread from you, I read it avidly and subscribe.
The Sunways do quite well on the beam profile. Because the lights are not heavily focused for throw (and both have OP reflectors), there is minimal evidence of the rings. I would say both the M10R and M20C are less ringy than most of my XR-E-equipped lights.
 

Pandorum

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Thxs for the excellent review!:twothumbs
This light looks like a strong competitor to Fenix's TK12/11 lights.
The selector ring being its strongest feature.
 

HeyGuysWatchThis

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Jul 21, 2008
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I just bought the M20C based largely on this review. I was really interested in the control ring, which I do like a lot.

Upon receiving the light, it was a bit smaller than I expected, but that's ok. I really like the anodizing on the light. I was expecting just black, but it's more like an olive drab-gray. Very nice. I like the ability to run on 18650s and 123s.

The one concern that I had going into this purchase was the grip ring accessory, but I figured I would be able to find a way to tighten it up. Well, I was, and here's the solution I found. First I tried one of the spare o-rings that came with the light. Way too big, and the tailcap didn't make contact. I then tried some of the little rubber bands my wife uses on my daughters' hair. I started with four, but ended up figuring out that just one was perfect! I love an easy, cheap solution.

The only other thing of interest I have found about this light is the switch/circuit. In momentary usage, the light seems to come on in two stages, ~50%, then full output. Doesn't bother me much, I just found it interesting. Anybody else see this with theirs?
 

bedazzLED

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Jan 9, 2010
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Location
Melbourne, Australia
Thanks Selfbuilt for the fantastic review of this light, and also the other Sunwayled reviews.

I think this particular light is absolutely fantastic. The build, form factor, flawless ano, output, awesome selector ring; just fantastic.

As you have mentioned, the loose grip ring can be annoying, much the same as the Surefire LX2 has that annoying lanyard attachment (no, not bagging Surefire, I love my LX2!).

Just like HeyGuysWatchThis, I decided it needed a little fix. I ended up turning the ring grip around and placed a 22mm x 1mm orange O-ring between the grip ring and the tailcap. Now there is no movement, its nice and tight, the O-ring is not too visible and much more comfortable to hold with the grip. I think I might have to change the clicky cover to an orange one too :).

Here's a pic.

M20C.jpg
 

harddrive

Enlightened
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Dec 21, 2006
Messages
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Looks like an XP-G version is available. Going gear has is listed and the one in this youtube video appears to have an XP-G fitted:
h ttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYkOMWve4rM&feature=related

Would be great to see beamshot and runtime comparisons of the XRE vs XPG in this light.
 

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