Xtar T2 Review – Great EDC option for muggles

This content originally appeared Reddit on July 3rd, 2021.

The Boring Stuff

This light was sent to me for free by the manufacturer, Xtar, in exchange for a review. No money exchanged hands. The only place I can find it for sale is aliexpress where it’s priced at $45. Here is the official product page and below are the official specs. Here’s an imgur album with all the unedited photos from this review if you’re interested.

r/flashlight - Tactical Grizzly's Xtar T2 Review - Great EDC option for muggles

What comes in the box?

The box is pretty nice. It’s a stamped metal tin with a clear window on it, very similar to the Xtar T1 & T1-UV box (shown in my review), but a fair bit larger. This is probably more expensive than a plain cardboard box, but it’s useable as a container after you’ve opened it so I don’t mine the extra cost that went into the packaging. Inside is the light, held by a cheap molded piece of plastic. Behind that is a manual, short USB A-to-C charging cable, and a basic lanyard in a little ziplic bag. The cable appears to be the same as the one included with the T1, which only supported power, not data transfer.

Size & Dimensions

MeasurementOfficial (mm)Measured (mm)
Head/Bezel Diameter14.814.8
Length7575

User Interface

I don’t like this UI very much, but it’s usable enough once you get used to it.

StateActionResult
OffClickNothing
OffHoldOn (mode memory)
OffDouble ClickMoonlight (mode memory)
OnClickCycle mode (low-med-high)
MoonlightClickCycle moonlight mode (low-medium-high)
On (any)HoldOff
OffTriple ClickStrobe
StrobeClick or holdOff
StrobeDouble ClickMoonlight (mode memory)
OffClick 5xLockout
LockoutAny action except 5 clicksNothing
LockoutClick 5xUnlock to on (mode memory)

If this were your main EDC light, the UI wouldn’t be a problem, but I used it in conjunction with another light running a click on/click off UI and switching between the two was annoying. The addition of a lockout mode is a welcome improvement over the T1’s UI, and it’s definitely needed because there is no mechanical lockout possible on this light. I like that strobe is hidden behind a triple click from off because that’s how most other manufacturers do it and it’s unlikely to get in the way. The three different moonlight modes are neat, but I only ever use the lowest one so the others are kind of irrelevant. Hold for on/off is bad. Click to change modes is bad. Double click for moonlight is bad. There’s a reason that almost every other light manufacturer has settled on the same basic UI described below, and that’s how I think the T2 should work.

StateActionResult
OffClickOn (mode memory)
OffHoldMoonlight (not memorized)
OffDouble clickTurbo (not memorized)
OnHoldCycle modes (low-high direction)

I would keep the 5 clicks for lockout because I think that’s actually really well implemented. I might add temporary moonlight functionality while in lockout mode too.

Modes & Outputs

ModeClaimed LumensLux MeasuredLumens (Estimated)
High6502751650
Medium130901213
Low5027765
Moonlight High6133
Moonlight Medium461.4
Moonlight Low2Too low to measureToo low to calculate

Candela & Throw: Officially this light is rated at 65 meters of throw or 1056 candela. I measured 1200cd or 69m of throw. That’s certainly within the margin of error for my testing setup so I’ll call the official 65m rating accurate.

Runtime

High steps down fairly quickly and never really settles, but hovers around 400 lumens for most of the runtime which is impressive. There are 18650 lights available that can’t even sustain 400 lumens. There’s a slow dropoff around 20 minutes and it turns completely off at 23 minutes which is only just shy of the claimed 26 minute runtime.

Medium starts out a little over 200 lumens and drifts downward with cell voltage. The vast majority of the runtime is above 100 lumens. At around one hour and fifteen minutes the brightness drops more sharply and finally shuts off at about on hour and twenty two minutes, again just shy of the claimed one and one half hour runtime. This is a very usable amount of light and pretty great runtime for the size too.

Low starts at about 65 lumens and slowly drifts down with cell voltage and finally turns off at about four hours and fifty minutes. Impressive!

C01S High: I included a runtime for the Sofirn C01S on high mode using an Eneloop AAA for comparison, because these two lights are almost identical in size. As you can see, the T2 absolutely stomps the C01S. What makes this so impressive is that they have nearly identical battery capacities in the 8-900 milliwatt hour range. Xtar clearly put a lot of effort into making the T2 as efficient as possible.

Emitter & Beam

The T2 uses a Cree XP-G3 S4 emitter behind a small TIR optic. It’s a cool white and low CRI emitter, so the beam isn’t the prettiest thing. This is a small light with a small battery though, so the high efficiency of this emitter makes it a reasonable choice here. Still, it would be nice to have a warmer, higher CRI emitter option as well.

The T2’s beam is quite floody. There’s a nice even transition from the wide hotspot to the edge of the beam. By comparison, the Sofirn C01S has quite a defined hotspot and a narrower beam. I prefer the C01S’s beam profile because you get more throw per lumen out of it without being too narrow. The T2’s beam will still throw about as well thanks to the significantly higher lumen output though. The beam isn’t artifact-free but the artifacts that are there are hard to get on camera and aren’t noticeable in normal use.

The T2 has three moonlight modes, but I’m only interested in the lowest one and it’s satisfactory. To my eye it looks about as bright as the the lowest modes on my Emisar D4V2 & Skilhunt H04 RC, which is a nice improvement from the bright moonlight modes on the Xtar T1 & T1-UV.

Design & Construction

The build and design of this light is pretty great. I think it’s a really attractive light. The machining and anodizing feel and look nice. This grey purple is not my favorite color (black) but it’s definitely unique and it helps the light stand out.

The side switch is much more ergonomic to use than the similarly sized Sofirn C01S with its twisty head. I like the placement because my thumb is usually already close to the switch when I pull it out of my pocket and I can use the switch entirely one-handed. The switch is easy enough to depress, but you do have to be deliberate about it. I wouldn’t expect this to come on by accident, especially considering the hold-for-on UI. If it’s a concern you can always use electronic lockout. It’s nice that the clip can be positioned opposite the switch as a reference.

Carry & Ergonomics

This is a tiny little light but it works well in hand. Thanks to the clip and the rubberized button it’s not slippery. There’s really only one way that makes sense to hold it. Using the lanyard (if you can get it to work) would give you a little more to grip on to.

This light carries nicely. Since it’s so small it disappears when clipped to your pocket. The clip is held securely in place by the tailcap. The tailcap can be loosened or removed entirely, allowing you to rotate the clip into any orientation you like or removed it entirely. It carries deep enough, slides into the pocket easily, but holds securely enough that it shouldn’t slip out. Fortunately, if you find it’s not tight enough, you can just remove it and bend it tighter. The clip is much better than the closest comparison light I have, the Sofirn C01S.

The lanyard is a little disappointing because it’s quite small, almost too small to fit over my hand, and it… malfunctioned? when I was trying to install it. The inner plastic bit poked through the lanyard hole but the outer sleeve of the lanyard didn’t make it through the hole. There is very little space behind the lanyard holes so even if it went through I’m not sure I could have threaded it through the other hole.

The magnet in the tailcap is quite strong and will hold the light up horizontally on a vertical surface with ease. Tailstanding works great too.

The unscrewing tailcap is neat, but it doesn’t give you access to the battery or internals of the light. It just holds the clip on. It would have been neat for Xtar to include a second tailcap with a key ring loop instead of a magnet. This would make an awesome keychain light. I also wouldn’t mind if the clip were bidirectional so you could clip the light to a hat. Those are all just nitpicks, but that’s what you are reading this for, right?

Batteries & Charging

Xtar says the T2 has a built in 10380 battery. I asked what the capacity is and they told me 220mah which is a substantial (and needed) upgrade from the 70mah batteries used in the T1 & T1-UV. I would like to have seen them use a standard and removable 10440 cell here though, even if it would make the light a little longer. It would increase runtime, eliminate the issue of the battery eventually wearing out, would allow for a little more capacity, and would allow for instant recharges via a cell swap.

Since the battery is built in, integrated charging is a necessity. In this case it’s a USB-C port covered by a rubber flap. I found the flap stayed in place a little too well and I had to use my EDC multitool’s pliers to snag the tiny rubber tab that helps you remove the flap. It’s not that it requires a lot of force, it’s just really tiny and hard to get a hold of. If you have longer fingernails it probably won’t be an issue. The USB-C port supports both A-to-C and C-to-C cables and the light is fully functional while plugged in.

It’s worth noting that despite the rubber flap, this light has no official water resistance rating. If there’s no water resistance, what’s the point of the rubber flap?

When the light is on the battery is low, the switch backlight glows red. When the battery is charging, the switch backlight glows green. When it’s fully charged, the backlight glows blue. The backlighting is bright enough to be able to see, but dim enough that I don’t think it would be bothersome to have this light charging in the same room while you’re sleeping. I would rather have seen blinking red for low battery, constant red for charging, and constant green for fully charged. That’s just a nitpick though.

Competition

Rovyvon Aurora Keychain Series: Slightly shorter, keyring loop instead of magnetic tailcap, similar brightness, neutral white high CRI emitter option, multiple colors & materials availible, starts at a lower price, Micro-USB instead of USB-C, different and marginally better UI, marginally lower battery capacity, reversible clip (for hat use)

Sofirn C01S: Much cheaper, similar size, multiple colors, reversible clip, 1xAAA instead of built in battery, much lower brightness, much lower battery life, instant-recharge possible via a cell swap, much nicer LED (SST20 4000K 95CRI), keyring loop included, slots for optional magnet and tritium vial in tailcap

Conclusion

Overall the T2 is a good light, and substantially better than its siblings the T1 & T1-UV. I love the size, design, clip, and tailcap of this little light. I’m not a fan of the emitter choice or user interface and those are the two biggest improvements I’d like to see in the next version. These are things the average consumer won’t care about though. If you value USB C-to-C charging, a great pocket clip, and magnetic tailcap, but you don’t really care about emitter choice or the user interface, this would be an ideal little EDC light. Thanks to Xtar for sending the T2 to me for review!

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