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Olight M3XS-UT Javelot review

Posted by Zak Wilson on

Olight's M3XS-UT Javelot is branded as the ultimate thrower, but is it the best thrower for you? Let's find out.

Olight M3XS-UT Javelot

History

The M3XS-UT Javelot is an enhanced version of the M3X Triton incorporating some of the modifications the most dedicated enthusiasts make to their lights straight from the factory. One popular modification is "dedoming": the silicone dome over the emitter is removed mechanically or chemically and sometimes replaced with a thin coating of sealant. The desired result is a smaller hotspot with greater intensity, but side-effects include reduced efficiency and changes to tint. Olight began dedoming emitters at the factory late last year and designated models so modified "Javelot" - French for javelin.

The M3X Triton itself bears more than a passing resemblance to the Surefire M3LT. Given Surefire's popularity, it's unsurprising to see other companies building products that resemble theirs. The M3X Triton is definitely not a clone; it uses a reflector and flat lens as opposed to the Surefire's TIR optic and fresnel lens and has much more throw. Output is higher, and the M3XS-UT Javelot can run 18650 batteries with the extension tube.

The M3XS-UT Javelot further diverges from the Surefire that inspired it with yet more throw and a separate mode switch. At this point, Olight might be better off dropping any pretense of competing directly with a Surefire model. The latest version of the M3LT has less than half the throw of the M3XS-UT Javelot. Even on medium, Olight's has considerably more throw.

Some marketing copy says this light uses the Cree XP-L HI emitter, which is produced at the factory with a thin, flat coating instead of a dome. Mine appears to lack any such coating, suggesting a standard XP-L from which Olight has removed the dome. Hobbyist testing I can find reveals that an uncoated, dedomed XP-L produces a little more output and throw than the XP-L HI. As Olight is trying to push the limits of what's possible in a thrower of this size, it makes sense that they would remove the domes themselves.

Olight M3XS-UT emitter

Philosophy of Use

It's important to keep in mind how you're going to use any tool. The M3XS-UT Javelot is not designed for general-purpose use, but for reaching out to long distances. Hunters, boaters, search and rescue personnel and police are likely to need dedicated throwers like this. People with large, open areas of property are likely to find the long range useful as well. This should not be anyone's only or primary flashlight; up close, the hotspot is uncomfortably bright, though the spill is usable on high or medium. Lower modes dim the spill too much to be useful, but the hotspot is still tiny.

Olight M3XS-UT beam at close range

Construction and Durability

The M3XS-UT Javelot is very well constructed. The annodizing is smooth and even. The threads, traditional at the head and square-cut at the tail, are cleanly cut and came lightly lubricated from the factory. All solder joints visible in my partial disassembly of the light are clean, precise and solid looking. The reflector is machined aluminum.

Olight rates this Javelot as waterproof to IPX8 standards with a specified depth of -2 meters. Submerging the light and checking for harmful ingress of water might cut this review short if the light failed, so I used a different test. I put the light in the freezer with the cap removed until it was thoroughly chilled, then installed the cap and submerged it. The warming air expands and tries to escape, showing the location of leaks and preventing the entry of any water. Some bubbles are expected from any light, as they're waterproof, not airtight. A few bubbles slowly formed at the switches. When I removed the tailcap after the test, I could hear the remaining air escape. The M3XS-UT Javelot is very waterproof.

A problem I noticed is that unprotected flat-top 18650s are not as long as the protected button-tops Olight recommends. They will function, but if the light is shaken, they may sometimes break contact, causing the light to flash. This can even trigger the shortcut to strobe if it breaks contact three times quickly.

Olight M3XS-UT Javelot parts

User Interface

The M3XS-UT Javelot has a forward clicky switch in the tailcap and an electronic mode switch on the side of the head. A half-press of the tailswitch turns the light on until released, and a full press locks it on. Clicking the mode switch advances to the next of three modes and a strobe mode can be activated by pressing and holding it. If the mode switch is held down when the light is turned on, the lowest mode is activated; it cannot be reached any other way. Modes other than moonlight and strobe selected with the mode button are remembered the next time the light is turned on.

High and strobe can be activated by two and three quick half-presses of the power button, and optionally clicked forward for constant on in that mode. Doing so disables the mode button until the light is turned off and back on. These shortcut modes make signaling using the light difficult. Attempting to use Morse code will activate the strobe. The M3XS-UT Javelot can be disabled to prevent accidental activation by slightly loosening the tailcap.

Ergonomics

The M3XS-UT Javelot is compact and light weight, considering the type of light it is. Without the extension tube, the size and shape feel good in the hand, and the grip ring can be used with a cigar-type grip. This style of grip is popular for using a light in conjunction with a pistol, but I find this Javelot too large for that purpose, and the intense hotspot likely to impair the user's vision at the distances one would typically use a pistol. The mode switch and power button might be reachable simultaneously without the extension tube for someone with large hands. With the extension, I don't think anyone could reach both at the same time with the same hand. A tail switch might not be ideal for a light of this length. Unfortunately, the battery options without the extension don't come anywhere near the performance of 18650s. Disposable CR123As come closest, and their operating cost is quite high.

How it comes:

Olight M3XS-UT out of the box

How I use it:

Olight M3XS-UT ready to go

Modes

The 3 lumen moonlight mode is useful only if no other light is available for an indoor/close up task. The spill is too dim to be useful, and the hotspot is tiny up close. The 80 lumen low is useful for walking outdoors though, both in terms of hotspot and spill. It's important to note at this point that human perception of brightness is logarithmic. Twice as many lumens does not appear twice as bright; three to four times the physical brightness is required to appear twice as bright. The 600 lumen medium is quite a bit more than double the brightness of low and is definitely a useful mode outdoors. The trouble is, the 1200 lumen high does not appear twice as bright as medium; it actually looks around 1/3 brighter. The increase in rated throw distance is also just a bit more than a third: 707 meters to 1000. I feel that Olight should have gone with a lower medium - around 320 lumens, which would result in a doubling of apparent brightness between each of low, medium and high.

High steps down to 720 lumens after 5 minutes. It's a very gradual ramp down, taking about 2 minutes. Turning the light off and back on, or changing modes will reset to full output. I have seen forum posts suggesting there is also a thermal sensor that can reduce output if the light gets too hot. I reset the step-down timer every five minutes for an hour while measuring the output with a ceiling bounce. There was a 10% or so reduction in output as Olight's M3XS-UT Javelot got hot, but all LEDs dim a bit when hot. Despite the head and body becoming quite uncomfortable to the touch, there was no other reduction in output, so I believe these claims are mistaken. I don't think a timed step-down belongs on the ultimate thrower and wish Olight had used a sensor instead. I'd also prefer either more metal in the head or cooling fins with more surface area.

Olight M3XS-UT impresses even in the presence of ambient light

The Beam

The beam is a very tight hotspot with a small, irregular corona and a fairly wide, dim spill. The tint is as advertised, between 4000K and 5000K. Mine looks like it's on the warm end of that, being unambiguously yellow with a hint of green. Yellow-green tint is often found in dedomed emitters and is generally considered undesirable. I'm a fan of neutral/daylight tints around 5000K. I don't usually like extra-warm tints, but I don't care for blue-looking cool tints either. In this case, while I'm not fond of the color aesthetically, being a little warmer has an advantage: compared to a cool white thrower, the M3XS-UT Javelot gets through mist and fog better, much like yellow fog lights on cars.

Olight M3XS-UT slicing through the darkness

Performance

Ultimate thrower indeed. The ability of the M3XS-UT Javelot to reach out to long distances, especially considering its light weight and small head relative to other dedicated throwers is truly impressive. It can light up small reflective signs 2.5 miles away on the other side of the St. Johns River. Aside from looking for boats on the water at night, I can't think of many things a person would be searching for using a flashlight that would be visible to the naked eye beyond this light's throw. I was able to put a detectable amount of light on a building over 1200 meters away with ambient lighting present, and am confident I could detect the presence or absence of large objects at that distance or farther using this Javelot with no other light sources available.

The support in the middle is over 400m away

Olight M3XS-UT beam shot

The series battery configuration means the M3XS-UT Javelot is not as sensitive to battery performance as lights with a single battery or multiple cells in parallel. Low-quality Chinese brands with "fire" in the name may still be inadequate if not dangerous, but this light delivers the same output on anything from old salvaged laptop cells to the latest Panasonics. It should even deliver full performance running two 18500 cells without the extension tube, though with short runtime. The only caveat is that both cells should be of the same make, model, condition and state of charge, as mismatched cells can be dangerous in series, especially when deeply discharged. Olight is conservative about running the M3XS-UT Javelot at low voltage, reducing output and turning on a red indicator light on the mode button when the voltage drops below 7.0, or 3.5V per cell.

Accessories

Olight is famous for its high-quality plastic cases and generous accessory packages. The M3XS-UT Javelot comes in the sort of case one might expect with a premium brand pistol and includes spare O-rings, a battery magazine to keep CR123As from rattling, the extension tube, a manual and a very nice holster.

Olight M3XS-UT accessories

Conclusion

The performance of this light is really impressive, especially given its size. The build quality, fit, finish and waterproofing are excellent. It's light weight and easy to carry with the holster on a belt or attached to a backpack. For quickly identifying objects at long distances, few commercially available lights offer better performance, and all of those are substantially larger and more expensive. The light's ergonomic quirks and poor mode spacing are a little annoying though, and I think the M3XS-UT Javelot could have done without the timed stepdown even without any changes to the body design.

If I was shopping for a lightweight thrower for intermittent use, this would be my first choice. No production light matches this level of performance in this size and price class. Armytek's new XP-L HI Barracuda claims to come close, but third-party testing of Armytek's XP-L HI lights show them falling well short of advertised performance. I don't expect to see the M3XS-UT Javelot dethroned by another light this size soon.

Other lights to consider

The M3XS-UT Javelot is a factory hot-rod. That's not for everyone. If you're looking for something else in a long distance flashlight, you might be happier with:

  • Fenix TK61 - a semi-truck instead of a hot-rod. It's a large light with excellent cooling, no stepdown and lots of battery capacity. Optional extended runtime kits allow the use of up to 12 18650s.
  • Fenix TK75 - like a TK61 with four emitters. It has slightly less range and obviously generates more heat and runs through batteries faster, but with 4000 lumens, it lights up a much larger area. Extended runtime kits work with this too.
  • Nitecore TM16 - very similar to the TK75, but people who have used both seem to prefer the Nitecore's user interface mode selection and the fact that it doesn't need a separate battery carrier. No extended runtime kits though.
  • Olight M2X-UT Javelot - like a smaller version of the M3XS-UT. It isn't hot-rodded quite so much and runs on a single 18650, but it nearly matches the TK61 in throw. An extension tube for a second 18650 is sold separately.
  • Olight SR52-UT - the M2X-UT head on the SR Mini body. 3 cells and USB charging offer good runtime and convenience in a mid-size package.
  • Nitecore TM36 - one of the few handheld lights that can out-throw the M3XS-UT Javelot.

Pros

  • Extreme throw
  • Surprisingly usable spill
  • Light weight
  • Includes a nice case and holster
  • Full performance with every compatible battery
  • Low battery protection

Cons

  • Timed step-down
  • Gets uncomfortably hot in spite of the step-down; this light needs more metal, more fins or both for this much current
  • Yellow-green tint
  • Extension tube required to run 18650s, which creates awkward ergonomics and requires disassembly to fit in the case
  • Shortcut modes interfere with signaling
  • Poor mode spacing

Specs

  • Max Output: 1200 lumens
  • Min Output: 3 lumens
  • Run Time (highest setting) 1 hour (note: measured with 3xCR123A batteries - 2x18650 will be up to twice as long, depending on capacity)
  • Beam Distance: 1000m
  • Peak Beam Intensity: 250,000 candela
  • Water Resistance: IPX8
  • Impact Resistance: 1m
  • Head Diameter: 63mm
  • Length: 211mm
  • Batteries (official - without extension): 3xCR123A
  • Batteries (official - with extension): 4xCR123A, 2x18650
  • Batteries (unofficial - without extension): 3x18350, 2x18500
  • Batteries (unofficial - with extension): Using four Li-ion batteries exceeds the voltage limit and may damage the Javelot
  • Weight 255g

More pictures are available in the photo album.


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