Sunwayman C20C (XM-L, 1x18650/2xCR123A) Review: RUNTIMES, VIDEO, BEAMSHOTS and more!

300Z

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Dec 1, 2008
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21
Thank you for your response.
The light stopped working again last night and I did clean all the contact surfaces but that didn't help, this morning it worked for about two min and hasn't worked since... :(
I got the light thru BatteryJunction.com and I contacted them, they want me to try a new battery which I will when they get here in the next couple of days.
This morning I ordered a Nitecore EC25, I had a D11 previously and loved it apart from the high standby draw.
 

pageyjim

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Mar 15, 2011
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358
That's what mine did out of the box. Still is doing the same thing after a year or so. I hate going to the post office.
 

400THz

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Jun 6, 2010
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I received my Sunwayman C20C "Tomahawk" a few days ago, and I am quite disappointed.
It's also my first Sunwayman, and probably the last.

As a "tint snob", I got the Neutral White Special Edition. I wouldn't even consider the CW one. The tint is decent; similar in CCT (correlated color temperature) but a bit worse than my "benchmark" NW Xeno E03 XM-L (C20C has a distinct magenta tint, mainly evident when directly compared to the Xeno).

First impressions:

The good ones:
  1. Incredibly small and compact for a 18650 light, just a bit larger than a "regular" AA rear clicky like the Fenix LD10 or the Xeno E03.
  2. ... and yet even large cells fit easily (like the protected Panasonic NCR18650B from FastTech, one of the largest 3400mAh cells around)
  3. It has springs on both ends of the battery tube, to absorb impacts without stressing the cell or the circuit too much.
  4. Great UI, with instant access to both turbo and low and electronic lockout (the latter necessitated by the fact that the tailcap lockout is almost unusable, see the section below). "Blinky" modes are almost hidden. I had my doubts before holding it in my hand, but they were dispelled within 3 minutes of usage.
  5. Flawless anodising
  6. Decent circuit design: Efficient, regulated, no PWM (I'm gonna blindly trust Selfbuilt on that ;-)

The bad ones:
  1. LED not perfectly centered. In conjunction with the issue mentioned by Selfbuilt (reflector seating), it leads to a slightly uneven beam with a(n almost imperceptible) donut hole.
  2. The sample I got has a smooth reflector despite the fact that the seller advertises an orange-peel reflector (which I would greatly prefer for an EDC). Probably not the seller's fault: Based on pictures I found, it seems that both variants exist, but this spec is not mentioned on the box. It seems I lost the "reflector lottery". Anyway, an OP reflector would alleviate the previous issue. Alas...
  3. The head-side threads of the tube are non-anodised and "interrupted" (pardon my terminology, I'm not a mechanical engineer). I don't know the purpose of the cuts, but maybe those threads were really meant to be loctite-d. Which brings us to the next two issues...
  4. All threads are too thin and shallow for my taste
  5. All threads are very gritty, even after repeated careful cleaning and lubing... I'm avoiding tailcap lockout for this reason alone, it feels as if I'll wear them through, thin as they are! (not possible, I know ;-)
  6. The o-rings are ridiculously filmsy and (after lubing) don't stay at their place when screwing the tailcap. I almost destroyed the rear one when it got "chewed up" betwean the threads, despite always being careful...
  7. Not enough of a "lip" over the o-rings, the lube is almost exposed to the dust (and my hands exposed to the lube). I have the feeling that hand-washing this flashlight, as I regularly do with my Xeno E03, isn't a good idea... (The Xeno, at half the cost, has properly sealed head, double o-rings nicely seated and thick square threads that are extremely smooth - its anodising is lacking and its runtime with a 14500 Li-Ion is too short, but in terms of reliability it far surpasses the C20C, from what I've seen*)
  8. Last but not least, the Sunwayman has a surprisingly lightweight construction. This point is entirely subjective, but I would prefer thicker walls and threads.

In short, it is a decent flashlight, but not worth the money. It is a premium product, and as such its flaws are inexcusable. Even worse, there exist both design flaws and QC oversights. The size and the UI would make it a great EDC, if only it would also inspire some confidence. It does not.

With the import costs (duties), the Sunwayman C20C cost me about 64€ (or 83$). I bought it specifically for EDC usage, which means that I wanted a flawless beam and reliable construction in a small package. It fails my expectations. I can't help but compare it to my Solarforce L2P p60 host, which at 1/4th of the cost (!) manages to be 4 times the flashlight C20C is! (almost literally, in weight ;-) The L2P's anodising is just as good, the o-rings actually fit, the threads are deeply cut and smooth, with more turns (albeit not square; but who cares?) and the general fit and finish is actually better. Of course, it is too large to carry around.

I should have bought the Fenix PD32 UE (which I foolishly thought would be too long), or even the cheaper Xeno S3A v2. I fear that the latter wouldn't be very reliable (only IPX-7 rated and a bad track record with the switches), but I can't imagine it being any worse than the C20C.

I 'm probably making the C20C sound like a bad flashlight. It is not; it's just very, very overpriced for what it is, and surpassed by much cheaper alternatives when it comes to fit and finish. Essentially, all you are paying for is the nice UI and almost unique form factor.

Anyway, thanks for the in-depth review, Selfbuilt. It's great, as always; the flashlight isn't. I hope that my additional notes might help a few prospective buyers to balance its virtues with its shortcomings before deciding.

* If you exclude the horrible switch in the tailcap, supposedly fixed in newer versions of the E03.


PS. Does anyone know (or can measure) the exact dimensions of the o-rings? I'm afraid I'll have to buy a couple of new ones (and perhaps try a bit thicker ones)
 
Last edited:

400THz

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Jun 6, 2010
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After further inspection of the flashlight and e-mail communication with the Customer Service department of SUNWAYMAN, which did a great job and really tried to help, I'd like to correct/clarify a couple of my previous observations:

  1. LED not perfectly centered. In conjunction with the issue mentioned by Selfbuilt (reflector seating), it leads to a slightly uneven beam with a(n almost imperceptible) donut hole.
  2. The sample I got has a smooth reflector despite the fact that the seller advertises an orange-peel reflector (which I would greatly prefer for an EDC). Probably not the seller's fault: Based on pictures I found, it seems that both variants exist, but this spec is not mentioned on the box. It seems I lost the "reflector lottery". Anyway, an OP reflector would alleviate the previous issue. Alas...
  3. The head-side threads of the tube are non-anodised and "interrupted" (pardon my terminology, I'm not a mechanical engineer). I don't know the purpose of the cuts, but maybe those threads were really meant to be loctite-d.

    [...]
  • It turns out that the LED was quite well centered. The (very obvious) artifacts that I mistook as caused by a decentered LED are in fact (almost) symmetric and due to suboptimal reflector shape or placement. It seems that Selfbuilt was right when he attributed them to incorrect reflector depth.
  • SUNWAYMAN told me that most of the stock that is currently available in the market has smooth reflectors. The very first samples used OP reflectors (which I guess is the reason for the wrong seller description), but they decided to switch to smooth reflectors and they believe that these are better for this particular model (presumably to improve throw).
  • Current production runs do not use loctite, to facilitate opening the head for users who want to do so. So, this is 100% normal and it seems that Selfbuilt's light was the exception.

As for me, I'm much happier with the brand-new OP reflector that I received (very quickly!) from SUNWAYMAN. :thumbsup: The beam is quite a bit smoother (and just a bit wider, which I prefer for EDC usage in an urban environment). The new reflector also sits a bit lower (perhaps 0.3 mm, but I didn't measure it).


I 'm probably making the C20C sound like a bad flashlight. It is not; it's just very, very overpriced for what it is, and surpassed by much cheaper alternatives when it comes to fit and finish. Essentially, all you are paying for is the nice UI and almost unique form factor.
Well, you are also paying for exceptional customer service. As I stated in the previous thread that I linked, this might not become my favorite light, but the professionalism of the manufacturer certainly makes me more inclined to try other SUNWAYMAN products.

PS. Does anyone know (or can measure) the exact dimensions of the o-rings? I'm afraid I'll have to buy a couple of new ones (and perhaps try a bit thicker ones)
Not need, SUNWAYMAN also sent me a full set of o-rings. :goodjob:
 

HotWire

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Mar 9, 2011
Messages
1,651
I've had my C20C for a couple of weeks and really enjoyed it. It's small and easy to carry. Very bright for such a small light! Here's a problem and solution: I started carrying a different light around and when I went back to my Tomahawk after not using it for several days I found it dead! No light. Nothing. I tried the click & hold thinking I may have locked it out. Nothing. I unscrewed the head --- the threads were covered with Locktite --- and tightened the plate using circlip pliers. Instant success! The plate (the one with a spring) had come loose in the head! Now I've got the Tomahawk working!
 

pageyjim

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Mar 15, 2011
Messages
358
Bought a C20C 2 yrs ago or so it didn't work out of the box. Finaly got it to work yesterday. I loosened the head just a tad and it works. Doesn't work in turbo, absolutely no difference to the eye from turbo to high. Also checked with a meter. Some intermittent flickering in high, at this point I don't care. Previously I was only getting app 1.6 vdc from battery to end of body. I had cleaned contacts to no avail. Bottom line I like the size, looks feel and side switch of the C20C but besides the bean artifacts and above a big disappointment.
My modded C21C also doesn't work in turbo. Turbo is more like a med high mode.
 

Dr. Tweedbucket

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Sep 29, 2015
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Ohio
This is my first Sunwayman. I found these on a blowout sale, so snagged a few. Overall they are very nice lights. I like how compact they are and the one button interface. After having time to mess around with these lights (I bought two of them) a bit more I noticed the turbo and high mode are the same brightness. You can see it switch modes but there is no difference between turbo (620lumens) and hi (410) :confused: I did several beam shots comparing those two modes and just can't tell any step down from turbo to high.
So, I set the light on turbo mode and let it time out at 5 minutes, I saw it switch to high mode, but again no difference in lux... so at least I know it is going into turbo mode. My floody Fenix P25 is 550 lumens (I think) so I did some beamshots on the wall between the C20C and the P25. They are about the same as far as I can tell.

The next and last thing I can try is to fully charge the battery and try it again. I'm running a 2900 mAh Panasonic but even half drained it should have been enough to make the turbo mode work.

Maybe 210 lumens is just too close at that point to tell a difference. Does anyone else have this problem with the newer 620 Lumen C20C ?
 

Dr. Tweedbucket

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Sep 29, 2015
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277
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Ohio
Bought a C20C 2 yrs ago or so it didn't work out of the box. Finaly got it to work yesterday. I loosened the head just a tad and it works. Doesn't work in turbo, absolutely no difference to the eye from turbo to high. Also checked with a meter. Some intermittent flickering in high, at this point I don't care. Previously I was only getting app 1.6 vdc from battery to end of body. I had cleaned contacts to no avail. Bottom line I like the size, looks feel and side switch of the C20C but besides the bean artifacts and above a big disappointment.
My modded C21C also doesn't work in turbo. Turbo is more like a med high mode.



Ahh, just now seen this .... so I guess that is the nature of the beast! That's too bad, oh well, it's still a cool light if it's only three modes and in reverse!
 

pageyjim

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Mar 15, 2011
Messages
358
Ahh, just now seen this .... so I guess that is the nature of the beast! That's too bad, oh well, it's still a cool light if it's only three modes and in reverse!

Yeah good luck with yours. I think if you get a good one it can be a good light.
 

300Z

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Joined
Dec 1, 2008
Messages
21
Thank you for your response.
The light stopped working again last night and I did clean all the contact surfaces but that didn't help, this morning it worked for about two min and hasn't worked since... :(
I got the light thru BatteryJunction.com and I contacted them, they want me to try a new battery which I will when they get here in the next couple of days.
This morning I ordered a Nitecore EC25, I had a D11 previously and loved it apart from the high standby draw.
I just realized I never updated this.
I got the C20C replaced, and the new one also died the same way, I think it had something to do with the switch. I really loved this light despite it's flaws but I ended up getting it exchanged for a Nitecore MT2C.
All my Nitecore lights have been very reliable but runtimes and standby draw are an issue.
I'm looking to buy a new light in the next few months but this time I'm looking at either the Olight S30 or the Sunwayman G25C, any suggestions?
By the way Battery Junction was outstanding in helping me in dealing with the problems I had with the C20C, they will always have my business!
 

Dr. Tweedbucket

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Sep 29, 2015
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Location
Ohio
So, kind of an update on mine .... I have a couple of them. I've read that some people complain about flickering or they just quit working. I found that the tail piece can come just a little bit loose and break contact with the battery. It doesn't take much but you need to make sure it is all the way tight. Same thing with the bezel.

The other issue with mine was the light spacing from turbo to high. Well, with a weak or lower performance battery, you really won't see any difference. They recommend a 2600 mA battery and with one of those fully charged, there is a level change between modes. I run a 3000 mAh battery and it's even better, still they are pretty close. It would be better if turbo was more around 800 lumens, but as is, it's a very bright light and it looks like a million bucks!! :rock:
 

300Z

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Dec 1, 2008
Messages
21
The problem with mine wasn't the tailcap, that was the first thing checked.
Battery performance was excellent using a Orbtronic 3100mAh battery.
Despite it's flaws I loved this light and I really wish it hadn't died, that's why I'm considering the Sunwayman G25C.
 
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