EagleTac T20C2 Mark II (XP-G R5) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES and more!

Originally posted: March 7, 2010
Last revised: September 19, 2010

Reviewer's Note: The T20C2 Mark II was provided for review by EagleTac. Please see their website for more info.

UPDATE: Results from the new XR-E R2 drop-in for the T20C2-II have been added to the review.

Warning: Even more pic heavy than usual!

Specifications for T20C2 Mark II, according to EagleTac:
Please see my T20C2 review for detailed specs of the original modelThe T20C2 Mark II is a significant upgrade to the original model I reviewed a little over 6 months ago. This review will focus on the updates to the model – please see my original T20C2 review for more background.

By default, the T20C2-II comes with a stainless steel bezel, rubber cigar grip ring and black stainless steel clip attached. Included in the package is the manual, warranty card, spare o-rings, extra GITD tailcap boot cover, wrist lanyard, good quality belt pouch with closing flap and lens diffuser attachment.

Optional accessories are the RGB filter kit and weapon kit. My sample came with a rubber tailstanding tailcap add-on piece, but I don’t know if this is standard or not (previously, you had to buy a whole new tailcap).

Please see my original T20C2 review to see R/G/B blue filters in action. Note that the bezel ring attachment diameter/threading has not changed, so the original T20C2 RGB kit still fits on the new Mark II version.

From left to right: Surefire CR123A, EagleTac T20C2 MarkII, original T20C2, Olight M20, JetBeam Jet-III M.

T20C2: Weight 123.3g, Length 147.8mm x Width 34.9mm (bezel max)
T20C2-II: Weight 114.7g, Length 145.7mm x Width 33.5mm (bezel max)

While the external arrangement seems similar, things are quite different when you look under the hood (more on that in a moment)

On the surface, fit and finish remain excellent on my sample. No flaws in the black type-III hard anodizing. Consistent with other EagleTac lights, the knurling on the bezel and tailcap remains fairly aggressive. Identification labels are very sharp and clear, in bright white against the black background (perhaps unfortunately so, as there are still all warnings on the bezel/head).

The new rubber grip ring is easier on the fingers than the original polycarbonate one. Both the black stainless steel clip and rubber grip-ring are removable.

Screw threads are anodized for head or tailcap lock-out. Due to the protruding forward clicky, the light cannot tailstand in its default form – but the rubber tailstanding attachment worked well in my testing (introduces some wobble, but I like that it’s easily swappable).

Here’s one major difference – a whole new emitter/pill/reflector assembly, and one that functions as a drop-in module. Actually, it is literally a screw-in module – which should help with heat transfer away from the pill and to the aluminum body (always a concern with standard drop-ins). You can thus replace the whole pill assembly with other modules, to switch to a different LED or reflector finish.

Note also the new recoil spring at the positive battery contact surface. This should allow for more secure operation in weapon mounts.

UPDATE: Eagletac has kindly sent me a new XR-E R2 drop-in for the T20C2-II. This should largely restore the throw and output characteristics of the original T20C2, while maintaining the new build and interface of the T20C2-II. Good to have the option for those who want it!

The Mk II head dimensions have changed slightly from the original T20C2, so this drop-in has a slightly narrower width than the original T20C2. Orange Peel texturing also seems a bit higher on my drop-in sample. Still, I suspect this new drop-in will go a long way in restoring the throw and output of the original T20C2 - but with the new T20C2-II interface.

Here are some shots with the XP-G R5 OP reflector module mounted:

The default standard cool white version uses the new Cree XP-G emitter, with a R5 output bin (no tint bin reported). Also available from EagleTac is the relatively warm "neutral" CR-E 5A tint with a Q4 output bin. And more recently, a new XP-E R2 drop-in for greater throw For those of you not familiar with tint bins, please see my Colour tint comparison and the summary LED tint charts found here.

And now for a comparison of the smooth and OP XP-G R5 reflector modules. Both lights are on Max on an AW protected 18650, about 0.5 meters from a white wall.

As expected, the OP texturing smooth outs the corona around the hotspot (i.e. hotspot edge is less defined). But there is a more subtle effect that is very important: it also helps compensate for the dark void in the center of the smooth reflector’s hotspot.

Although difficult to see in the pics above, in real life, this "donut" effect on the smooth reflector’s hotspot is fairly noticeable, at all distances. However, I did not notice it at all with the OP reflector. This could be due to a smoothing effect of the OP reflector, or may just be variation in exact emitter placement among samples. But personally, I would stick with the OP reflector just in case.

To help you compare the effects of a diffuser, here’s a comparison of the OP version, taken about 1.5m from a white wall.

I didn’t retake the RGB filer shots, so please refer back to my original T20C2 review for a general idea as to the colors.

UPDATE: Here are some up-close white-wall beamshots comparing the new T20C2-II R2-drop-in with the original T20C2 (XR-E R2):

Basically, throw seems pretty comparable, but the new drop-in is also more ringy beyond the hotspot’s corona.

I can't do side-by-side shots of the XP-G R5 and XR-E R2 modules for the T20C2-II (I only have one body ).

Here are some external 100-yard beamshots. Please see my Outdoor 100-Yard Round-up Review for more info on these shots.

Again, there is not a huge difference, but it does confirm what you can see in the white-wall shots – the new T20C2-II R2 drop-in throws similar to the original T20C2, although with some relative variation in the fore- to mid-ground rings.

UPDATE SEPT 19, 2010: I've added some additional lights to my 100-Yard Outdoor Beamshot Round-up, including a number of XP-G R5 lights. Check out that round-up thread for more details. Here is a relevant animated GIF comparison:

User Interface

The T20C2 Mark II has an updated interface. Like before, tighten the bezel for Turbo, loosen for General mode.

Where things change a bit are the "hidden" modes. Like before, there is a low output mode that can be accessed by rapidly switching the head within a sec or so (i.e. a rapid Turbo-General-Turbo, or General-Turbo-General switch). The low setting is not retained if you turn the light off – it will come back on in Turbo or General mode, depending on how you left the head. Interestingly, the light doesn't just jump from one output mode to another – when going down in output, it rapidly ramps down instead.

What’s new is the addition of strobe, beacon and SOS modes that you can cycle through in the same way as the Lo mode (i.e. just keep doing tighten-loosen-tighten switches to cycle through the hidden modes). A nice upgrade.

The main complaint with the original T20C2 was that strobe was also activated by clicking the tail switch off-on within 3 secs (later reduced to 1 sec). This prohibited momentary signaling. Now, you can enable or lock-out (i.e. remove) this tactical strobe feature by turning the light off-on fifteen times in ten seconds. Very nice to have the option to get rid of it completely!

Strobe frequency was measured at 8Hz, similar to the previous model lights.

No PWM (Pulse-Width-Modulation)

Consistent with other EagleTac lights, I was unable to detect any signs of PWM. As the runtimes clearly indicate, lower output levels appear to be current-controlled.

Testing Method: All my output numbers are relative for my home-made light box setup, a la Quickbeam's flashlightreviews.com method. You can directly compare all my relative output values from different reviews - i.e. an output value of "10" in one graph is the same as "10" in another. All runtimes are done under a cooling fan, except for the extended run Lo/Min modes (i.e. >12 hours) which are done without cooling.

Throw values are the square-root of lux measurements taken at 1 meter from the lens, using a light meter.

Throw/Output Summary Chart:

Note the new Mark II version is identified as T20C2II in the table below. OP refers to orange peel reflector, SMO to smooth reflector.

UPDATE: The new XR-E R2 drop-in for the T20C2-II has been added to the results. It's identified as "T20C2II (XR-E R2) OP" in the table below.

Now this is interesting – consistent with my observation that the OP reflector didn’t show the dark void of the smooth reflector, center beam throw was actually slightly higher on the OP version. Again, I don’t know if this is a consistent finding, but I certainly prefer the beam patter of the OP version.

Note that max throw is reduced compare to the original T20C2, but overall output is significantly increased on all batteries. In fact, the new T20C2 Mark II is pretty comparable the SST-50 equipped Olight M21 in output (just with a different beam pattern).

UPDATE: As these numbers show, the new XR-E R2 drop-in for the T20C2-II performs close to the original T20C2, with just a touch less output and throw on my sample.

Output/Runtime Comparison:

Note: Effective January 2010, all CR123A runtimes are now performed solely on Titanium Innovations batteries sponsored by BatteryJunction.com. You can compare the generally excellent performance of these CR123A cells relative to the Duracell/Surefire cells used in all my earlier reviews here. I have marked all the new runtimes of lights with Titanium Innovations CR123As on the graphs with an "*".

UPDATE: The new XR-E R2 drop-in for the T20C2-II have been added to the results.

Thanks to its R5 output bin emitter, the T20C2 Mark II is the brightest Cree-based 2xRCR/1x18650 light in my collection at the moment. Overall efficiency seems to be slightly higher than the Luminus SST-50 equipped Olight M21, for equivalent output.

Regulation and runtime performance is very good, consistent with a current-controlled circuit. Note the Mark II seems to be driven a little harder on 18650 than the original T20C2, which should please fans of this battery setup.

UPDATE: The new XR-E R2 drop-in has comparable runtime to the original T20C2, but slightly less output on my sample. This is likely due to natural variation within the output bins (i.e. they cover a 7% range of outputs).

Potential Issues

The smooth reflector (default config) produced a dark center void in the hotspot. This was noticeable at all distances in my sample (i.e. produces a ring or "donut" effect around the periphery of the sharply-defined hotspot). However, the effect was not observed on the OP version of the emitter module. Whether this is due to smoothing of the hotspot, or simply variation between samples, I don’t know – but to be on the safe side, I would recommend you opt for the OP version.

Light uses a drop-in design for the emitter/pill/reflector combo, allowing the user to upgrade or swap as needed. However, all drop-ins run the risk of reduced heat transfer to the body of the flashlight. In this case, EagleTac has thoughtfully designed the drop-in to actually screw into the head, which should help with thermal transfer.

Like most Cree XP-G R5 output bins, overall tint on my sample is slightly on the greenish side of premium cool white.

UPDATE: The new XR-E R2 drop-in for the T20C2-II has considerably more throw than the standard XP-G R5 version, but less overall output and a fairly ringy beam pattern.

Preliminary Observations

I will cut right to the chase – this new T20C2 Mark II is a clear improvement over the original T20C2 in just about every way.

EagleTac has fixed the main issue with the original T20C2 (i.e. mandatory tactical strobe mode that prevented momentary signaling). You can now enable or disable this feature at will, which is a great improvement.

They’ve also added a few new features and upgrades. In addition to the "hidden" Lo mode, you can now access strobe, beacon and SOS the same way (i.e. tighten-loosen-tighten switch of the head). Max output has increased significantly on the cool white version, thanks to the new XP-G R5 output bin (and seems to be driven even harder on 1x18650).

The build has also seen a few significant modifications – the new user-replaceable drop-in module design (allowing you to swap emitter/pill/reflector combos), a new recoil spring in the head, soft rubber tactical ring, and the rubber tailstanding attachment. The optional RGB kit from the original T20C2 is still available, and fits the new Mark II.

What hasn’t changed is the overall build quality of the light, which I consider to be very good. It is certainly hard to argue with the value you get here for the price.

One thing to watch for is the beam profile – my smooth reflector module produced a noticeable dark center-void, and I have seen other complaints of this here on CPF. Your experience may vary, but I found the OP reflector module to produce a very pleasant beam with no signs of the dark spot. Note also that peak throw is reduced on the Mark II version compared to the original (but at least no Cree rings now).

More than just a fix of the original T20C2, this Mark II version is a significant upgrade that should meet the needs of many users quite well. A worthy contender in this class of light!

UPDATE APRIL 21, 2010: EagleTac has also come out with new Mark II versions of the P20C2/P20A2 series lights. Please see my more recent review for details.

UPDATE JULY 23, 2010:The new XR-E R2 drop-in for T20C2-II effectively restores the output and throw characteristics of the original T20C2, but with the build and user interface improvements of the T20C2-II.

To follow the online discussions for this review, please see the full review thread at CPF.

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