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Monday, April 29, 2013

Olight M22 Warrior 950 Lumen LED Flashlight Review


The M22 is the latest incarnation of the Warrior series of lights from Olight.  Built with the latest Cree XM-L2 LED technology, the M22 is a reasonably priced and incredibly bright 950 lumen light in a standard tactical light platform.  I'm jumping in with this model so I won't be able to give you any background on the improvements introduced with this model as compared to the previous M20 and M21 models.  I appreciate the folks at Battery Junction for giving me the opportunity to expand my horizons a bit and review this fine tactical light.

The M22 arrives packed in a hard plastic case similar to what you would expect with a fine firearm.  The exterior of the box even includes a serial number sticker that matches what is etched on the light.  I thought this was a really nice touch.

Opening the case, you get your first look at all the extra accessories included with the light.  The compartmentalized foam case interior includes a slip on light diffuser, holster, clip on lanyard, spare O-rings, extra glow in the dark tail switch boot, and CR123A battery magazine along with the M22 light.

Fit and finish quality of the light is outstanding.  All exterior machining and finish application was flawless from tail cap to bezel.  Removing the switch end of the light to install the batteries, I didn't experience any grittiness or tightness with the threads.  The battery compartment was clean and shiny.  The battery contacts both appear to be gold plated.   

The light has 3 pre-programmed brightness levels ranging from 20 to a whopping 950 lumens.  The battery conserving 20 lumen setting is bright enough for general navigation use.  The 250 lumen level is what you would expect from your standard high quality tactical light.  The 950 lumen mode is simply amazing with a fresh set of batteries.  The light also includes a strobe mode with the 950 lumen brightness.

The product specifications shown on the left need some translation.  The light is about 5.75" long and 1.625" wide at the bezel.  Weight is 6.5 oz. with 2 CR123A batteries and jumps to 6.9 oz. with a 18650 battery installed.  Dropping the light into the included holster brings the total weight up to 8.6 oz.  ANSI certified to IPX8 standard it's submersible for limited duration and drop tested to about 6 feet, the light is rugged and won't need to be babied.

I decided to test out the IPX8 water exposure with a somewhat realistic test.  Simulating using the light to change a tire in the rain, I left it out on the deck during a rain shower for about an hour.  Aside from being wet and cold, the flashlight continued to work like a champ.

By this point, I'm really starting to like this light.  In addition to the overall robustness and build quality, I'm really impressed with the user interface programming features of this light.  I previously mentioned there are three available brightness levels and strobe available.  In my opinion, the folks at Olight really nailed the user interface programming by making it VERY SIMPLE.  Here's how it works.
1)  Pick your desired "default" brightness from 20, 250, or 950 lumens.  Let's pick 250.
2)  Turn on the light.
3)  Rotate the light head approximately 1/32 of a rotation and re-tighten to advance through 20, 250, and 950 lumens.  Stop on 250 and turn off the light.
You are done.  If you want to start at 20 or 950, just repeat the steps above but stop on your desired setting.

This next part is what reeled me in on this light.  From the example above, I'm set at 250 lumen output as the default.  To use the light I can:
1)  Half press and hold the switch for 250 lumen temporary on.  A full press is 250 lumen constant on.
-or-
2)  I can half press the switch twice and the light jumps to 950 lumen.  Complete the second half press to keep 950 lumen as constant on.
-or-
3)  I can half press the switch three times and get 950 lumen strobe.  Complete the third half press to keep 950 lumen strobe as constant on.

That's all there is to control every feature of this light.  See, I told you it was simple.  I should also mention the half presses of the switch are very forgiving.  I did some unofficial timing and even taking up to 1.2 seconds to complete the three half button presses still activated the strobe mode.  I shot a short video demonstrating the user interface of the light.  If my description was confusing, perhaps the video will help.

   
I really like 2 cell lights that give you a choice of power sources.  As I mentioned earlier, the light comes with a black plastic battery sleeve or magazine in which you can load two CR123A cells.  I had a few spare Rayovac Lithium Photo cells, so they were used during this test.  When used in conjunction with the battery sleeve there was only a tiny bit of battery looseness.  Not enough to cause a rattle.  Alternately, you can use a 18650 rechargeable battery to power the light.  The Cytac battery I had on hand worked well, but was a tiny bit shorter than the two 123A batteries so I had more battery movement at the switch end of the light.  It was enough to cause a rattle with brisk side to side shaking. 
In the picture above you can see the two removable accessories that come pre-installed on the light.  The pocket clip and cigar grip ring/anti-roll ring are both easily removed.  You simply unscrew the switch cap and the ring lifts off.  With the ring removed, the clip can be pulled off the body tube.  The clip indexes with a notch in the flashlight body and has a bump that indexes with the anti roll ring, so if you remove the clip the ring will be free to spin on the tube.  If you remove the ring, there is no replacement spacer included with the light so the inner o-ring is left exposed to the elements.  A replacement spacer would have been a nice to have item included with the light.  Especially if you plan to use the light mounted to a firearm, which I show in the picture below.

For me, the M22 is too large for a daily pocket carry.  While it does come equipped with a pocket clip, I found the 1 5/8" bezel to be too large for comfortable pocket carry.  I think the light is much better suited to belt carry or use as a weapon light.  Fortunately, the folks at Olight include the best light holster I have ever seen with the M22.  The holster is reinforced with a stiffening layer under the nylon shell that allows the holster to keep its shape even when the light is removed from the holster.  The holster also features an open bottom and skeletonized top flap that allows the user to activate the light and inspect something by holding it under the open bottom of the holster.  Alternately, you can insert the light with the switch down and it will protrude from the bottom of the holster allowing you to activate the light and have it shine through the skeletonized top flap.  Basically, you have limited use of the light without having to remove it from the holster with tip up or tip down orientation.  The holster also includes two side mounted elastic spares carriers that will hold 2 spare 18650 batteries or 2 extra CR123A plastic battery sleeves.

As a weapons light, the M22 should be an amazing piece of gear.  As you can see in the picture below, it works quite well with existing mounts.  My left index finger had no problems activating the light in default, high, and strobe settings.  With 950 lumens at the tip of your finger, I can envision raccoon hunters purchasing this light as a gun mounted spot light.  


Olight specifies a 305 meter (1000 Foot) max illumination range.  While I can't physically test that, I wanted to measure what I could and extrapolate what a 1000 foot throw would look like.  I found that the 2, 4, and 6 foot measurements were very consistent so I extrapolated out to the maximum.  I imagine the spill would be gone at 1000 feet.  The hot spot would be about 62 yards wide.

A late night trip on the back deck showed me that I could easily see branches in trees at 150 yards or more with the light at the 950 lumen setting.  I've used this word before in this review, but it's pretty amazing to have that much illumination power in the palm of your hand.  Unfortunately, the light also picked up ever speck of pollen and airborne allergen floating around in our air tonight.  I was elated by the long range performance of the light and disgusted by our early Spring air quality. 

I did spend some time working with the included diffuser.  At 4 feet, the diffuser spread the light to nearly 180 degrees in a 12 foot wide room.  I was really surprised by how effective it was and would love to see a flip up version of the diffuser available.    

As if I needed more reasons to like this light, I wanted to mention two more features.  The first is the stainless steel crenelated strike bezel.  It's a standard feature with the light and could come in handy if you ever need to poke at something or someone with your light.  The last thing I wanted to mention is the Olight 5 year warranty.  For the first 30 days, the light can be returned to the point of purchase.  After that it needs to go back to Olight for service.  They will service their lights beyond 5 years with free labor, but parts and shipping are the responsibility of the light owner.

Pick or Pan:
Considering the build quality, ease of use, light output, and included accessories I found the Olight M22 to be a great buy at the sub $100 retail price.  I would definitely recommend this light to a friend or family member looking for a tactical light.  If you are looking for a belt light or weapon mounted light with multiple brightness settings, strobe, and flood light brightness you should check into the M22.  It might just be the light you are looking for.

3 comments:

  1. I have been a volunteer firefighter, in the forested foothills of Colorado for over ten years. I've carried two of the Olight Warriors (one everyday, and one on my wildland pack). I love them. Neither is as bright as this one though. Heck, I used it last night on a call for a van that slid off the road and was about 30' down the hill.
    One trick that I learned early: I use my light a lot, at least several times a day. In six months, the velcro on the holster wears out. I just went to the hardware store and bought a kit for installing snaps, and put one on the holster. It does not stop gripping the way that the velcro does.

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    Replies
    1. That's a great tip on the holster mod. Thanks for sharing it. Glad to hear the Olights have been serving you well and can stand up to frequent use.

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  2. Great GEAR Review...
    Unbelievable, Under $100!
    I'll check that out!

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