OLight: Three Rechargeable Light Reviews
Part 1: SRMINI Intimidator II
By Mike Bondra
I have had the good fortune to review three OLight flashlights, and this will be the first installment of a three part review. The models that will go through the rigors will be the palm sized S10R Baton II, the traditional sized R20 Javelot, and the beefy SRMINI Intimidator II. All three are excellent examples of the CREE-based flashlights currently available today, and each of these have unique features that help them stand out in a crowd.
I’m going to start out with the biggest and the baddest looking of the three. The SRMINI Intimidator II is a high performance light in both output and durability. It arrived in a case that looks like it could hold a 1911 comfortably (I measured; it would be a bit tight.) In addition to the SRMINI Intimidator II, my kit came with a Micro-USB charging cable, lanyard, and holster. The MSRP of this package is $129.95, and you can find them discounted online for around $100.00 if you do some research for a better deal. There is another package choice that also includes the light, three OLight 18650 batteries, and a USB Vehicle Power Adapter.
Unpacking the case, I was first struck by the shape and design of the light. The body of the light is black Type III hard anodized aluminum, with generous cuts to provide a secure grip. On the front of the light is a thick stainless steel bezel. This prevents damage to the lens if it happens to fall face down, and has a very aggressive look. The lens design is heavy acrylic that includes a cross hatched pattern which provides for a more even beam delivery from the three CREE XM-L2 LED lights. The flat tail cap allows the light to be placed face up to stand by itself for area illumination. The overall dimensions are 5 ¼ inches in length, and 1 7/8th inches in diameter, and just shy of 15 ounces with batteries.
The SRMINI Intimidator II looks like a light saber from Star Wars, and is darn close to one in brightness. While I wasn’t able to cut a hole through my garage door with it, I could sure see everything in the garage in pitch black. After trying it out for the first time, I’m pretty sure my first deer-spotting light I got in the mid-80’s had less candle power than this thing! There are four settings that can be selected and a strobe as well. I’ll get into the details of the intensities in a moment. This bad boy is definitely not made for rattling around in your tool box, but treated like fine instrumentation.
As I mentioned earlier, my SRMINI Intimidator II package did not come with batteries. Of course, actual 18650 OLight batteries are available online (for around $35.00 for a two pack), however my patience was non-existent after opening up the case. I needed to light this up and see what fun I could have. After a bit of research online, I discovered that there was an alternative to the OLight 18650 batteries from an unexpected market. eCigarettes have raised the demand for 18650 style batteries, and therefore can be found at most big-box electronics stores. A word of caution: do the research and get the best voltage/amps for the light. The inferior ones won’t work as well and will end up being a waste of your money.
The SRMINI Intimidator II functions as its own recharging station by connecting the Micro-US to a laptop, PC, or other USB configured power source. It took me 6 hours to get from manufacturer empty to fully charged. There is a port on the side which is accessible via a slide door, and a charging indicator light that turns from red to green when charging is completed. I love the idea that I don’t need to remove and replace batteries when they are used up, however I will say that I found the slide door to be a disappointment. The manner in which it is mounted seems to allow water through. I would be very concerned turning it on after accidentally submerging it without first completely drying the charging port. Although if you dropped it in more than a shallow stream, you’re going to have to be awfully fast to grab it before it is claimed by the deep. That is the second reason I used the lanyard on the SRMINI Intimidator II. The main reason I had the lanyard secured to my wrist was the light’s weight and aggressive tactical-like bezel. Frankly, I didn’t want to accidentally drop this on my foot. I imagine that would do a number on my leather boots, not to mention the poor toes within.
Now usually this would be the point in the review where we go over the technical details on the light output of the flashlight. In other articles, those are the spots my eyes glide right over, and I’m not going to subject you to that. If you really want to find out the lumens and candle values, go ahead and browse the internet. For me, I just want to know how the light will work in the real world, and over the years I have come up with three simple tests. First, is how well the light will work inside the shop as a task helper. Secondly, how well it will work when I’m trying to navigate in a dark forest or other outside setting. And finally, how far the beam will cast, and how well you can use it for long distance spotting.
Using the SRMINI Intimidator II in the shop was the first test I performed, and there were some unexpected results. The light will cycle through three settings (low, medium, and high) and the last selected setting is held in memory for the next time you use the light. There is also a strobe feature and a ‘Turbo’ setting that is the most powerful. I tried out all four settings (not the strobe) in my workshop / garage. Both the Turbo and High settings were great for whole room illumination by setting the light on its base in the middle of the floor. The reflected light was good enough for me to read manuals, and identify the color of wires. The only issue I had was these highest settings naturally come with a high battery consumption rate, and makes the barrel of the light pretty darn warm! Also, neither setting was at all good for close up work. While holding the light on ‘High’ and trying to use it to illuminate my drill press, the reflected light was too bright for comfort. Of course, that’s like saying a Ferrari can’t hold more that 3 bags of mushroom manure on the passenger’s seat (meaning; why the heck would you use a sports car to haul manure). The ‘low’ and ‘medium’ settings worked just fine for close up work, and were what I used the most when in the shop.
The second test was stomping around the woods near my house. The three CREE XM-L2 lights made a wide beam that was perfect for illuminating snags and trips at medium and low settings. High setting was great for spotting things at a distance – no more ‘wonder what made that stick break’ questions. I was tempted to try the strobe on a raccoon, but I’m not that kind of guy. Again, it is heavier that most hand held lights, but that’s the trade off for the brightness. I accidentally turned it off while wearing gloves, but easily found the switch again. Interestingly enough, I didn’t’ realize how night blind I had become from the reflection on the medium setting! I waited about 40 heartbeats until I saw the stars clearly, and walked back to the house on low.
For my final test, I wanted to see how far the light would cast for practical use. Following the example set by a friend, I printed out a great big ‘5’ in black on a normal letter sized sheet of paper. The size of the final number is about 6 inches high and 3 inches wide. I then tack the paper up on a tree on the back of my property, and see if I can read if from my back porch, which is about 300 feet away. As I’ve said before, I’m all about the practical.
So on a moonless night in early spring, I took the SRMINI Intimidator II out on my back porch to ‘see what I could see’. Boy, could I ever see! The beam cast out by the three CREE XM-L2 lights on the Turbo setting looked like a pipe of white slicing through the air. The first thing that I noticed was the amount of vapor in the air that evening. For the same reason you shouldn’t use high beam lights in the fog, the super bright beam illuminated all of the mist in the air. Even still, there was no mistaking the clear ‘5’ on the tree. I could easily make out bark patterns well into the tree line for another few dozen yards, until the trees became too thick to discern one from another. Reducing the setting to ‘high’ allowed the same level of detail on my target sign, and also reduced the scatter from the air vapor. In fact, I was having so much fun, I completely ran out the batteries, which brought to light another minor fault. There is no ‘warning mode’ that some other flashlights have that alerts you to impending battery failure. Boy-howdy is the world a dark place when you go from Turbo to nothing! A moonlight setting to both conserve battery and act as a warning level would be my suggestion for future models.
If you’re looking for a light that packs a punch and can let you spot things way out there, then the SRMINI Intimidator II is the light for you. A thick beam with a wide variety of intensity settings will perform well for about any task. Just remember that like any other high performance piece of equipment, you need to be mindful of energy consumption, and keep your charger cable handy. If you are working into the evening hours outside, or going on a long weekend camping trip, this hefty light is all that you need.
Find the Olight SRMINI Intimidator II at www.goinggear.com
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