Friday, October 2, 2015

OLIGHT M3XS-UT Javelot (de-domed XP-L)(2x18650) Review

Olight is recently updating many of their best flashlights with new LEDs,aiming primarily much better distance of throw.
The updated M3X,M22,SR52 in their UT and Javelot version,along with the M2X have some of the best size/throw ration on the market of stock flashlights.
In the review bellow,I am reviewing the new Olight M3XS UT Javelot flashlight,featuring de-domed Cree XP-L LED and a side switch for mode changing.
Impressive peak beam intensity of 250 000cd and 1km calculated distance of throw.
The M3XS-UT can be used in two different configurations-Short supporting three CR123A batteries,or two 18500; Long version with an additional extender tube for using two 18650 batteries.

The overall size of the flashlight in my hand can be seen in the few pictures below.
First is the 3xCR123A form. Noticeable is the big reflector and the thin battery tube.
The side switch is well placed.The typical foe Olight knurling is more aggressive comparing to the M23 and M2X.
This should provide a better grip.

The flashlight is long,but yet comfortable,thanks to the grip ring.
Only the rear switch can activate the light,so the M3XS will be hold mostly with the thumb on its tailcap,as the hand is not in the center of the body,where the weight is balanced. This is why the grip is very important here.
In this form the M3XS-UT is like a longer side switch version of the M2X.

It is possible to hold it in the so called cigar grip.

Here is the M3XS-UT in its full length allowing two protected 18650 battery to be used.
366gr. loaded with two batteries.
245mm length with the extender.

In this position the rear switch is far from the grip ring,which reduces the comfortable grip,increasing the effort needed for activating the light.
The distance from the tail to the side switch is more. Adjusting the flashlight in my hand when changing the mode is needed takes some time and it is impossible to keep the beam on the same point,while holding it one hand. The grip ring is now on my pinky.Still better than no grip ring,but not so comfortable.
The hand is far from the center of the weight.

Yes,if desired,with more effort the M3XS can be hold in cigar grip.

Here is the M3XS-UT with dismounted tube extender.
Aluminum alloy body.Aluminum grip ring.
The finish is black matte.Great anodizing everywhere on the body.
Perfect machining. I have no any complain about the quality.

This is the packaging.
Great plastic case. As before I will mention that the case is very good way to carry and store the flashlight and all its accessories.

You can see the most important technical data on the sides.
(click on the picture to see it in higher resolution on Flicker)

Five cooling fins for good heat dissipation.
There is a "Hot Surface" warning at the top of the bezel.Actually the hot surface is on the cooling fins,which get the heat directly from the LED.
In my opinion a warning "High intensive beam" should be more appropriate,considering the highly focused beam with high peak beam intensity.

The tail switch silicone cap is with a bigger diameter than before. This allows easier operating with the switch.
There is a crenelated periphery around the switch.Tail-standing is possible,as it is quite stable.
As usual this has its price. The periphery may cause harder pressing the switch and this along with the deeply placed switch and very long body could be a problem. I could prefer a removable tail crown/periphery,which will give the people a choice for more comfortable operation of the switch.
The metal grip ring is removable and can be detached,if needed. It is not threaded and is fixed to not free spin,only by a silicone O-ring.

The "electronic" side switch works as expected. It is not too hard to press,not too light.
Definitely easy to accidentally press it,but it is not a main switch,so this is not a big deal here.
The switch cover is made of hard plastic.
The switch has a transparent white dot,which is illuminated in red when the battery voltage is very low.

Now on the most impressive part of the flashlight-the big,wide aluminum reflector and the de-domed XP-L LED.
The reflector is a Smooth type,but as can be seen on the pictures,but similar to other aluminum reflectors there is a light texture,
probably result of the way of machining.

The LED is perfectly centered on my sample.

Olight M3XS-UT disassembled on main parts.
Excellent machining on all parts.

The M3XS-UT has the new tailcap design,seen in the M23 Javelot,as well.

Anodized,square cut threads.

The M3XS-UT comes with a nice,practical holster. Fits well and ensures good protection and easy carrying the flashlight.
On the pictures the M3XS is with the extender.

I don't like the way of using the velcro tape in the Olight's holsters,but still it's better to have this option,than to not have it.

Few words about the M3XS compatibility with different battery types,as I had problems using IMR and protected 18500.
The battery tube with the extender is definitely designed for protected 18650s.
Two IMR batteries stay way too loose and ratle a lot in the tube.
I tested the flashlight with two Keeppower IMR3000 and found that this flat top batteries don't contact each other,when placed directly in series.
The postive contact on one of the batteries does not touch the negative on the other.
I had to use a simple method to add an improvised button top on one of the batteries,without soldering.

I tried also two protected 18500,but unfortunatelly their total length is way too much and does not allow to screw the tailcap to the required level.
Unscrewing the head also does not work,because the battery tube have to contact the driver board in the head. If the head is unscrewed so the two 18500's can fit,the flashlight does not work. I don't have unprotected,or IMR(without protection) batteries for test and can't comment on their compatibility.

Sticky tape and small ring of copper wire.
This is a good fix while taking some tests,but definitely not good in long term use.
A magnet disc could be used as well,but I am not sure about its current resistance.

The reflector is really impressive for such a compact flashlight.
The head bezel has a minimal thickness.

Absolutely clean glass lens with great clarity.
Anti-reflective coating for best light transmitance,with minimum backward reflection.

Close up view of the de-domed XP-L LED.
Relatively clean de-doming.Both wires are somehow flatened,though.
There are two black particles over the phosphor die. I would prefer not to have them there

User Interface
Using the flashlight is quite easy and convenient.
On/Off is possible only from the tail switch. It is a forward clicky and allows momentary activation.
The brightness levels are four Low-Mid-High (in this order) plus hidden Ultra Low mode.
Cycling trough this modes is possible by pressing the electronic side switch.
Holding the side switch while pressing the tail switch will activate Ultralow(moonlight) mode.
High mode can be activated also directly from Off,by double half pressing the tail switch.

There is an instant memory for the last used mode,excluding UltraLow.As usual for Olight the memory mode works perfectly.
A hidden Strobe mode is available too. Can be activated by pressing and holding the side switch,while the light is On,on by tripple press the tail switch from Off state.

A picture from the actual operation manual.

Below is a brightness vs time graph.
The M3XS was started on High mode and left for full batteries discharge.
No pauses or moving the flashlight. Air cooling with a small cooling fan.

Two discharge curves- one for 2x Keeppower 3100mAh discharge, one for Keeppower IMR 3000mAh discharge.
As we can see from the graph,both different battery types perform identically with minor differences in their tracking.
For the IMR battery test I left the light ON until the red indicator activation. Then I waited a few minutes and stopped the light.
Battery voltage after the test 2.93V (no load). This is just the right voltage to stop the discharge and keep the batteries in perfect condition. The batteries could be discharged lower,so I could kept the test on,even longer.
The test with the regular Panasonic 3100mAh core ICR batteries(Keeppower 3100) ended with a battery protection triggering. The reason should be not well selected batteries with different number of cycles,or slightly different level of charge.
Both batteries are in series,which means the total voltage is always over the required forward LED voltage.

The M3XS-UT has a timed step-down,which has the purpose to protect the LED and the driver from overheating.
The brightness decreasing is gradual-starts at the 5th minute and continues to the 8th.
Really slow gradual step down,that is hardly noticeable in use.It is not as abrupt as we have seen in other flashlights.

I measure an initial lumen output of about 1400lm.

Initial current draw from fully charged batteries:
I high=2.33A ~1400lm
I mid=835mA ~750lm
I low=144mA ~137lm
My lumen measurements are only approximate and have no laboratory value.
Especially a very high intensity beam hotspot may affect the measured values in some way.

Here is a graph presenting the brightness on High mode with the flashlight deactivated after the step down and reactivated again one minute later.
The purpose of this graph is to see the difference in the initial brightness and how it is affected of the voltage drop.
Batteries used-Keeppower IMR 3000mAh
In the second start,the output is about 50 lumens less than the first with freshly charged batteries.
At the fifth minute the difference is just 5 lumens.
As we can see only the initial minute output is slightly different.
To minimaze the output difference due to the temperature differences,I waited one minute before to restart the light.

Here are both parts overlayed.

As expected,becuase of the de-doming the light from the Cree XP-L led is shifted to a warmer light with the usual greenish tint.
Usually,if the beam is not compared to another light,the tint is not so noticeable and the light may apper as neutral white to some,but definitely the color rendering is not that good and especially white objects may be hard to define as white,while illuminated.
The beam is extremely focused in a small hotspot. Good homogenus spill,without tint shift. There is a bright corona between the spill and the hot spot.
There is no much difference between the tint of the hotspot and the spill,which is good.
The peak beam intensity given by the manufacturer is 250 000cd with 1km calculated distance of throw!
I confirm that the M3XS-UT is capable of reaching this intensity and even a little more with well charged batteries.
This is the best throwing flashlight I have tested and one of the best throwing flashlights in stock form on the market.
The beam is something you definitely should consider,if you are searching for a good thrower.

Size comparison- ThruNite TN32,Olight SR52-UT,Olight M2X-UT,Olight M3XS-UT

ThruNite TN32(XM-L2),Olight SR52-UT(XP-L Hi),Olight M2X-UT(XM-L2 de-domed),Olight M3XS-UT(XP-L de-domed)

Outdoor Beamshots

I did all possible to represent the real beam tint on the pictures I show in the review.
However it's hard to judge for the tint only by the pictures.There are too many factors that could affect the color reproduction-screen brightness,white balance setting,contrast,etc. The tint is also depending on the exposure time of the picture.

1 meter 1/20sec

5 meters

5 meters

5 meters

5 meters

The M3XS-UT beam in action

Distance ~75 meters

Distance ~75 meters

Here(below) the M2X and M3XS look more yellowish/greenish,because of the slightly different white balance.
I tried to correct it,but the SR52UT and the TN32 became bluish/purplish.

Distance ~160 meters

All pictures from above animated.Unfortunately no good detail in the GIF format.

Distance ~160 meters

The Olight M3XS-UT Javelot definitely is a great choice for a long throw flashlight. The things you have to consider is the form factor,the type of batteries you prefer to use and the tint. If you prefer a cool white beam,the new SR52-UT comes with a Cree XP-L Hi led,which is actually very similar to a de-domed led,but comes with a thin silicone layer over the emitter,directly from Cree and produces a cool white light without any tint. It is also shorter and more comfortable to hold.
The M3XS-UT may be better for backpack carrying. Has a physical switch. The M3XS-UT has also much higher beam intensity of about 50kcd and more.
There is no any issue,or a deal breaker I can point out from my usage,so far.

Thanks for reading!

Big thanks to Olight for providing the test sample of the M3XS-UT for test and review!