Let’s discuss pocket carried / belt carried flashlights. There are about eleventy-six gazillion of them out there to choose from. The one I carry on a daily basis is the M20SX JAVELOT by OLight. I won’t bore you with all the technical mumbo-jumbo, for I am not a professional flashlight reviewer. There are already many reviews about this particular product online to choose from. I’ve watched them all and pretty much deduce the same thing from my personal experience that can be seen during the video reviews. I can’t break down the light to the fraction of a lumen, or tell you how the CREE LED is made, but what I can tell you is this light just works. Every time. All the time.
My initial foray into the OLight brand started about five years ago. I was at a trade show when I came across the OLight booth. I had not heard of the brand, so I stopped to check out what they were displaying. The rep behind the counter shook my hand and started into the back and forth banter that comes with the typical trade show interaction. After a few minutes of me picking up several lights, I found the M20-X Warrior light. I really liked the way it fit in my hand. I purchased it on the spot and thus began my daily affair with the M20 series flashlight.
Now, let’s skip forward about five years or so. What can I tell you about the flashlight during the five years of daily use? Well, I could not kill it. In a daily use, daily carry lifestyle, I beat this little light with no reservation. I used it as a light hammer, I dropped it, I had it on my boat, I navigated at night in dark channels using it to light up channel markers, I used it to find my keys, along with any other thing a flashlight can be used for. I traveled with it. I traveled with it a lot. For its size, TSA does not even look twice at it.
So, before I delve into the tech portion of this article, I want to tell you the “why” behind it. The mode button on the M20 is a blue silicone piece, that allows the user to select between the low/medium/high/strobe modes. Well, after five years of hard use, the blue silicone mode selector located in the tail cap fell out and I could not select the different modes anymore. It also left the light open to water intrusion.
So, I did what any consumer would do, I sent OLight an email detailing what happened and that I was ready to purchase a new tail cap for my beloved light. Within two business days, I was contacted by email from their Customer Service department stating that they would send me out another tail cap free of charge. The email asked for my shipping address and I gladly provided it. The next day, another email came in from their Customer Service department, but this time it was a personal email, from a gentleman named Matt, the actual Customer Service Manager. He apologized to me, stating that he could not locate the appropriate tail cap for the M20-X, because that light had been discontinued and they were currently shipping the new improved M20SX Javelot.
I asked Matt if he was able to take a phone call and I immediately gave him a shout. We talked about the light, how I had used it very hard over the past five years, that it still functioned perfectly, with the exception of the little silicone switch cover that became lost. He explained the difference between the old M20 and the newer version. I offered to pay for the replacement, but he stated that it was no problem at all, that OLight stands behind their products and their customers. Within a few hours, I got an email from him with a tracking number for the new light that was en-route.
The new light arrived in a few days and has been flawless. So, now on to the tech portion. The M20SX JAVELOT is a new generation of a two-tail-switch tactical flashlight. The maximum output has been improved to 820 lumens. Now, I have no way of actually testing the output of this light to make sure that it’s 820 and not 819, but I can assure you it is plenty bright for its size. One of the things I really like is it is powered by either two commonly found CR123A or you can use one 18650 battery. I personally have several 18650 batteries that I keep charged and rotate through the various lights I have.
There are three brightness settings that range from 25 lumens on “low” up to 820 lumens on “high”. There is also a strobe mode for those times you may need to use it in a tactical setting. This article is not intended to cover the pros and cons of using a handheld light in a low light situation, we can discuss that at a later date. But, I will tell you that when the light is at rest, or “off”, if you depress the mode selector button it immediately illuminates the strobe feature. The brightness during the strobe feature is “high” or 820 advertised laments. PLENTY bright to disorient whoever is on the receiving end of it, as well as the user if he or she does not have a source of constant light to accompany the strobe. So, beware of the limitations of using the strobe in a use of force type encounter. Since this light is marketed as a “Tactical” or “Law Enforcement” light, I can understand this feature. I personally, would like to see it turn on in the brightest setting when depressing the mode switch when the light is off. Deal breaker? No. I have grown used to its operation.
OLight says that it uses a customized CREE LED with a smooth reflector that creates a tightly-focused beam to maximize throw reaching out to 1000 feet and beyond. I have not walked off a true 1,000 feet to test this, but I have used it to illuminate channel markers on a very dark night, at a very considerable distance. I have no issues illuminating anything in its beam, and the light is a very nice white color. The emitter (per OLight) is the XM-L2 emitter but it has been specially designed without a dome which has a significantly improved throw.
The light is hard type III anodized and really takes some punishment. The light will scratch over time, with hard use, as evidenced in my photographs. The light is water resistant, which I have tested on multiple occasions. Swimming with the light in your pocket will not cause it to malfunction. I have not taken it diving, or done extreme depth tests with it. I use the light as it is intended and it works every time I push the button.
Battery life on the 18650 is very good. I will go weeks without charging it, using it on a daily basis. Now in all fairness, I am not using it in a patrol vehicle on the midnight shift, or on nightly patrols down range. I use it as an every day carry flashlight, comparable with the average consumer. You can tell when the battery is needing to be charged or replaced because once you turn it on in a low battery scenario, it will not stay on the bright setting. It automatically goes to medium, or low, depending on the status of the battery. This is a nice function, that allows the user to predict that the light is at the limit of the battery. I have had other lights that ran until the battery was low, then the light just shut off. If you are in a law enforcement/first responder profession, or a person that relies on the light on a nightly basis, I would suggest carrying a spare battery as a precaution.
The light has a stainless steel crenelated strike bezel that is useful to some, not useful to others. As I said before, this light travels with me. Everywhere. I have fairly large hands and this light extends past both sides of my palm when holding it in the middle. So, read between the lines here, between the size and the fact that it has a strike bezel. Enough said. There is also a removable “ring” that can be used in a syringe style grip with a handgun if that’s your method of shooting with a handheld light. If you don’t use it, you can remove it. I just leave the ring on. It has not hindered pocket carry or daily use in my personal experience. Just note, that if you remove the ring, the lower of the two o-rings will remain exposed when the tail cap is reinstalled. The pocket clip is robust and I have never had an issue with it coming off or breaking. Even in the original M20 that I carried daily for five years.
As I said at the beginning of this article, I am not a professional flashlight review guy. There are those out there that are way better at it than I am. I just wanted to give you a true, no fluff assessment on this light. It works. It has really impressed me with its durability and it’s ruggedness, but what REALLY made me want to take the time to cover this light in an article, is the customer service that OLight gives its consumers. If you are looking for a very hard use pocket light, that is designed and marketed as a “duty” flashlight, give the M20SX Javelot a close look. There are several accessories that can be used with it such as filters, diffusers, weapon mount options, remote tail caps, etc. The Javelot series also comes in different sizes and the price is definitely reasonable for what it is. Mine has become as much a part of my everyday carry as my cell phone and car keys have.
Author – (D. MacIntosh) US Army Special Operations with over 30 years of service. Former 1SG, current Warrant Officer with low-grade narcolepsy and a penchant for buggary. Over the years, he’s developed a unique style and appreciates the finer things in life. He evaluates gear based on his unique personal experience and no-fluff presentation.