Review: XTAR TZ20 Platoon (XM-L U2 | 1x18650)

9 posts / 0 new
Last post
Last seen: 3 months 1 week ago
Joined: 09/10/2011 - 00:32
Posts: 803
Location: NJ, US
Review: XTAR TZ20 Platoon (XM-L U2 | 1x18650)

For the past few years, the XTAR TZ20 has served as the "entry-level" model in XTAR's Tactical series. It has received continual subtle styling and emitter updates with the most recent in the form of an XM-L U2 for the latter.

Is this enough to keep this stalwart tactical light relevant 2.5 years after its initial launch? We shall find out.

MSRP: $47.99 USD
50,000 hours lifespan Cree XM-L U2 LED
Max output 820 lumens
Max Duration: 18Lm/180 hours (Tested by 1x 2200mAh 18650 battery)
OP textured reflector, throws beam over 175 meters
Constant current circuit - maintains constant brightness
Powered by 1 x 17670/18650/18700
140.5mm (Length) x 25.0mm (Diameter) x 35.0mm (Head)
125-gram weight
Made of durable aircraft-grade aluminum
Toughened ultra-clear glass lens with anti-reflective coating
Premium Type III hard-anodized anti-abrasive finish
Waterproof to IPX-8
Tactical tailcap switch with memory function
Anti-roll, slip-resistant body design
Creative design, with 5 Low10%, Mid40%, High100%, Strobe, SOS mode, can cancel or recover Mid, Low, Strobe, SOS mode at will.
Accessories included: Lanyard; holster; Body clip; standby Tactical ring; Two spare O ring circle

The TZ20 I received came in a rather unassuming generic XTAR branded box:

This is unlike what is shown on XTAR's site (which features a presentation case)

[NEW 6/26: Additional items included were a wrist strap and spares for the tail cap cover, switch and 1 x o-ring:

Here is a quick high-level video summary of the TZ20 while I work on fleshing out this review:

The TZ20 features a crenellated bezel but just not of SS and comprises about a thrid of the upper portion of the head. It allows one to easily see if the light is on when stood bezel down:

The double-coated AR lens sits recessed enough to be protected from most scratches. There are rectangular grooves that provides both aesthetics and some grip (albeit not much) during removal.

The head can be completely disassembled as follows:

The lens looks like it can also be removed but I didn't try.

The reflector is ultra smooth with no discernable imperfections (beyond the circular machinining). While there is a black plastic mold around the LED, there isn't a ledge to center the reflector so it does need to be done manually:

There are six "shovel-head" shaped grooves that serves as the main design elements on the head with a few cooling fins right aft of that which help dissipate heat but given it's moderately driven, doesn't really get all that hot (see Runtime section for full details):

The tube features two flat sides that bear XTAR’s name and on one and the model on the other

The rectangular shaped texture doesn't really contribute much in the way of grip:

Rather the placement of one's hand between the tactical ring and cooling fins serve that purpose better.

In my video, I had mentioned the clip was awkwardly positioned and stuck too far off the body but in mfg pics, I noticed the clip was bent so that the curve touches the body. Upon removing the tactical ring (which doesn't require the removal of the o-ring, nice!), I noticed the clip is easily removable:

Once off, I bent it so now it touches the body as well. This should provide additional grip when it's clipped. Another thoughtful touch is that there is a groove that holds the clip solidy in place so that it doesn't rotate.

There is an additional attachment point on the clip that can be used with the included wrist strap:

The tailcap features the same rectangular texture on the body. There are three crenellated points that can be used for strike, glass breakage and tailstanding purposes? As mentioned in my video, given its tactical-use aspirations, the crenellated tail cap may not be the best choice as it can potentially hamper operation of the switch:

The forward clicky allows momentary activation and is used to cycle through up to three (programmable) output levels and two blinkie modes (more details in UI section). 

The threads on the head are trapezoidal cut while the ones on the tail are square-cut thus the tube can't be reversed around:

Given neither end is anodized, the TZ20 can not be locked out.

I had no issues w/either my shortest cell (AW IMR 1600 @ 65.2mm) or longest (XTAR 18700 @ 69.2mm):

There is a spring in the tailcap end and while absent on the the head there is a raised nodule that allows the use of flat top cells:


| XENO S3A | Sunwayman T20C | XENO G10v2 |XTAR TZ20 | ThruNite TN10 | FoxFury Rook CheckMate | Fenix TK21 | ThruNite TN11 | ThruNite TN11S | Crelant V9-T6

It fits quite nicely in my medium-sized hand:


The overall fit and finish is quite good. The anodizing matches between all the parts:

Short of the one on the head, the laser engraving is fairly sharp with no blotchiness:

There were some minor spots of ano missing but they look more to be from mishandling rather than misapplication. Also while there was some grease applied, it was in minute quantities and none were found on the o-ring; the one in the tailcap side might just be slightly thick as I've had a really hard time while unscrewing the tailcap after it has sat around for a while. This is after I've already applied ample grease on it.

Beyond this, the TZ20 feels solidly put together with no other real shortcomings.

Now we get to the part that truly defines this light. XTAR has created a DIY interface so that one can custom tailor the modes to their liking by soldering the two contact points in one of four columns:

I normally don't bother mentioning the instruction manual for lights I review but XTAR really deserves kudos for the TZ20's manual. It spans 8 pages of which two are dedciated to the "DIY" aspect of the TZ20. I've taken pics of this until I can recreate the matrix:

More to come...


| XENO S3A | Sunwayman T20C | XENO G10v2 |XTAR TZ20 | ThruNite TN10 | FoxFury Rook CheckMate | Fenix TK21 | ThruNite TN11 | ThruNite TN11S | Crelant V9-T6

Indoors (5m)



For details of the above indoor shots and comparo vs. many other lights, please check Epic Indoor Shots Trilogy

Whitewall Hunting
Exposure settings in sequential reading-order from top left: 1/25, 1/100, 1/800, 1/1600 @ f2.9 on AWB (light is ~.4m to wall / camera ~.59m):

The relevant battery stats are provided above each runtime graph along with:
- Voltage of the battery at the start and end of the test
- Current draw as taken right before the test
- Actual runtime using ANSI FL1 (first in HR and then in M so for the RL3100 on High, read this as 2.2hrs OR 132min)
- NEW (as of May 2012): Lumens measured on PVC LMD @ 30 seconds
- Also for High, captured the temperature: ambient, the head at start and the max it reached (fan was used for all bats)

After an initial drop, the TZ20 runs semi-regulated for roughly 25min and then falls out of regulation with a steady decline in output. I haven't been able to match XTAR's claim of 800+ lumens and got 714 and 708 w/the AW2600 and RL3100 respectively after 30 seconds. It could be that I have a slightly underperforming sample.


Disclosure: TZ20 provided by md-lightsource for review.

Edited by: turboBB on 03/27/2018 - 19:09
budynabuick's picture
Last seen: 8 years 2 months ago
Joined: 11/16/2011 - 16:31
Posts: 842
Location: Michigan (US)

That is a very nice light! I gotta stop this shit! I have been up for an hour & already see two more lights i want. I give up (or in). I blame these reviews! Thanks


sb56637's picture
Last seen: 1 day 19 hours ago
Joined: 01/08/2010 - 09:29
Posts: 6882
Location: The Light

Thanks so much for the nice review! Frontpage’d and Sticky’d.

Budget Light Forum ...where Frugal meets with Flashlight!

Last seen: 3 months 1 week ago
Joined: 09/10/2011 - 00:32
Posts: 803
Location: NJ, US

Thx guys!  Review pretty much fleshed out now. Need to add a bit of details to the UI section which I hope to put together a video on the DIY aspect.


SashiX's picture
Last seen: 6 years 7 months ago
Joined: 10/07/2010 - 15:46
Posts: 2045
Location: Spain

Lovely review as always, turbo Big Smile Thanks.
For less than 50, with possibility to disable unnecessary modes and that “half” flood/half throw beam profile – I’d say it’s good all-rounder Smile

jacktheclipper's picture
Last seen: 7 min 44 sec ago
Joined: 10/31/2010 - 21:18
Posts: 4886
Location: Florida , U.S.A.


Last seen: 3 months 1 week ago
Joined: 09/10/2011 - 00:32
Posts: 803
Location: NJ, US

I don't have the XinTD C8 but I did measure the TZ20 to be 714 ANSI lms.  As for throw, I'm guessing the TZ20 will be under 10K @ 1m (will get actual measurements later).


arnoldtm3's picture
Last seen: 8 years 4 months ago
Joined: 06/27/2012 - 19:11
Posts: 3
Location: Belfast,United Kingdom

ive just ordered it from with the xtar 3100 18650.the picture shown is the one with stainless steel bezel.on the description it says XML-800+ lumens.ill post the pics as soon as i get it…


SashiX's picture
Last seen: 6 years 7 months ago
Joined: 10/07/2010 - 15:46
Posts: 2045
Location: Spain

aL1 wrote:

Would the TZ20 out-throw or be brighter than the XinTD C8 V3, rated @910 Lumens (OTF or ANSI??)…?

Don’t think so. XinTD has bigger reflector.