Part of being prepared is knowing how to select the best equipment. Flashlights are essential tools for EDC (everyday carry), wilderness survival, hunting, self-defense, and duty, and the market is filled with a variety of options to reflect that. In your search for the perfect light, it is only a matter of time before you encounter two brand names — Olight and Fenix — both offering durable products for the consumer in need of reliable, effective illumination. But only by comparing the two can we truly determine which company manufactures the best flashlights overall.
Which is Better?
When compared, Fenix beats Olight in most specs. Olight and Fenix both produce high-quality flashlights for a variety of different applications. The main difference, however, is that Olight uses both a proprietary, non-interchangeable battery in its rechargeable lights and a proprietary magnetic charging cable, while Fenix uses standard Li-ion batteries and USB-C charging ports in its products.
But What if There’s More to It?
Although the proprietary power cell and charging cable that Olight uses are not for everyone, the company manufactures some of the most reliable, durable, and user-friendly products on the market. As each company manufactures lights designed for different applications, from hunting and camping to law enforcement and self-defense, it’s worth exploring how their products stack up when compared side by side.
Olight and Fenix Compared
Olight and Fenixlight Limited are Chinese manufacturers based in Shenzhen. Founded in 2007, Olight initially entered the flashlight market by selling to customers in Europe, having since expanded its product line and markets, becoming a well-known and trusted source. Today, Olight supplies every possible light requirement, from EDC to law enforcement.
Fenixlight Limited, founded in 2001, is one of Olight’s chief competitors. Developed over the course of several years, Fenix has been expanding ever since, selling flashlights to more than 100 countries around the world.
Proprietary vs. Standard
Olight and Fenix manufacture flashlights that use both disposable and rechargeable batteries. The ability to recharge the battery is an attractive prospect to those interested in reducing the long-term costs associated with running flashlights. It also ensures that you’re able to keep your light running as long as you have access to an electrical power source.
In the rechargeable units, Fenix tends to use interchangeable batteries and standard charging cables. Olight uses proprietary batteries and magnetic charging cables that you can only use with other Olight products. This limits the supply of usable batteries to what the manufacturer offers. However, in order to shine some light on which manufacturer makes the better flashlight overall, it’s necessary to compare several categories.
Lumens, Candelas, and Other Terms
Before diving into a comparison of the two companies’ products, it’s worth discussing some of the terms used to measure performance in flashlights. When a light manufacturer wants to express the light output of a device, it uses the lumen. This is usually the first number you’ll see quoted in reference to a light. The more lumens a flashlight has, the more light it emits in all directions.
The light output that you’ll need will depend on your intended use. For example, for illumination inside the home, anywhere between 300 and 600 lumens is probably sufficient. For outdoor use, depending on other factors, you may want 1,000–1,800+.
But this isn’t the whole story. If you want a light with a well-defined hotspot — i.e., a bright beam center — and a long throw (beam distance), you’ll need to take into account the light’s luminous intensity. This is the quantity of light energy that a device emits in a single direction over a specific area. Light manufacturers express beam intensity using the candela. The more candelas, the more intense the beam.
It should also be noted that the design of the reflector affects the performance of the light, depending on its shape and texture.
There’s also another term typically used in relation to the hotspot. When you shine a light on a surface, the hotspot is usually surrounded, in more focused beams, by a faded outer ring. This is called the spill. The spill can contribute to peripheral illumination.
An EDC (everyday-carry) light doesn’t need to be the brightest or the most intense. It needs to be lightweight, comfortable to carry, and practical to use. EDC lights (and tactical lights, which we will talk about in the next section) that are designed to be worn inside a pants pocket are usually equipped with metallic clips.
An important difference between the two brands is that Olight products tend to attach with the bezel facing up, whereas Fenix lights attach with the bezel facing down. The advantage of the latter is that the bezel is hidden inside your pocket, allowing it to protect the window from impact, rain, or dust, while also being discreet. The two products worth comparing in this category are the Olight S1 and Fenix PD25.
Olight S1 Baton
Olight describes the S1 Baton as the “smallest side switch LED flashlight” the company has ever manufactured. At 2.4 inches in length and barely above an ounce in weight, it shows. Despite the lightweight construction and diminutive size, the S1 Baton still produces an output of 500 lumens, an intensity of 3,000 candelas, and a throw of 110 meters. While not as powerful as the PD25, you’ll have to decide for yourself which is more important: a slight difference in weight and length or a slight difference in output and intensity.
The S1 Baton is powered by a single Olight 1,500-mAh CR123A battery.
|Olight S1 Baton||Specifications|
|Max. light output (lumens):||500|
|Beam intensity (candelas):||3,000|
|Battery type:||Olight 1,500-mAh CR123A|
|Runtime:||1.5 hours at 500 lumens|
If you need a compact, affordably priced general-purpose flashlight for EDC. At only 1.7 ounces, you’ll barely notice this light as you wear it in your pocket. However, despite its compact size, the Fenix PD25 offers 550 lumens of output and 4,225 candelas. The resulting throw of 130 meters is more than adequate for a light of this type.
These are on the max or “Turbo” settings, however, using the 16340 Li-on battery. If you use a CR123A battery, the Turbo setting corresponds to a 440-lumen output. The housing is adequately knurled for traction, and the pocket clip allows you to carry it deeply.
|Max. light output (lumens):||550|
|Beam intensity (candelas):||4,225|
|Battery type:||16340 Li-ion (rechargeable) or CR123A|
|Runtime:||Varies depending on battery type and output setting|
As the differences in weight, size, and price between the two lights is inconsequential, you can decide on the basis of performance. The Fenix PD25 produces an additional 1,225 candelas of beam intensity and 50 additional lumens of light output. For these reasons, and the non-proprietary battery and bezel-down pocket clip, we recommend the Fenix PD25 over the Olight S1 Baton.
Tactical lights need to be durable, reliable, and intuitive to operate. Unlike EDC lights, tactical lights tend to have brighter, more focused beams; a strobe function; and, in some cases, a strike bezel. The bezel is the ring that protects the lens against impact. In some flashlight designs, the head of the LED housing extends forward to perform the same function. A strike bezel features aggressively machined edges or cutting points, allowing you to use your light as a weapon or glass breaker in an emergency.
Both companies offer handheld flashlights that can serve this purpose and are, hence, worth comparing. These are the Olight M2R Pro Warrior and the Fenix PD36R.
Olight M2R Pro Warrior
The M2R Pro Warrior generates 1,800 lumens of output and 22,400 candelas of beam intensity. As a result, it produces a brighter, more intense beam with a more concentrated hotspot than the Fenix PD36R, increasing the throw to 300 meters. This is ideal for searching and investigating in a private-security or law-enforcement capacity, especially in wide open spaces and outdoor environments. The M2R Pro Warrior features an aforementioned strike bezel, allowing you to also use the light as a weapon.
While the M2R Pro Warrior is designed to be a handheld flashlight, it’s compatible with the company’s magnetic remote pressure switch, allowing you to use it with your home-defense carbine or shotgun.
|Olight M2R Pro Warrior||Specifications|
|Max. light output (lumens):||1,800|
|Beam intensity (candelas):||22,400|
|Battery type:||Olight 5,000-mAh 21700 rechargeable lithium battery|
|Runtime:||Varies depending on battery type and output setting|
The Fenix PD36R generates a maximum output of 1,600 lumens and an intensity of 19,977 candelas. However, it features several different output modes, allowing you to determine the brightness and intensity you need for the environment that you’re in. Each setting also affects the battery life.
At 1,600 lumens, the battery, on a full charge, will last for 2 hours and 50 minutes. At this output, the PD36R has a throw of 283 meters — almost the same as the M2R Pro Warrior. The lower maximum output and intensity produce a less bright and sharply defined hotspot with more spill. Despite this, it’s still highly effective for illuminating outdoor environments.
|Max. light output (lumens):||1,600|
|Beam intensity (candelas):||19,977|
|Battery type:||5,000-mAh 21700 rechargeable lithium battery|
|Runtime:||2 hours 50 minutes at 1,600 lm|
While the Olight M2R Pro Warrior and Fenix PD36R are comparably priced and similar in output, intensity, and throw, the M2R Pro Warrior is more than twice the weight of its competitor. As a result, the PD36R is recommended as the better light.
At the time of writing, Fenix does not manufacture a dedicated weapon-mounted light, or WML, for use with handguns or long guns. Instead, the company offers mounting systems and remote pressure switches for use with its existing line of handheld flashlights.
Olight, in contrast, offers several weapon-mounted lights specifically designed for use with handguns, tactical carbines, and shotguns. The two Olight products that really stand out in this category are the PL-Pro Valkyrie and the PL-Mini 2.
Olight PL-Pro Valkyrie
Suitable for full-size and compact concealed-carry handguns, and tactical carbines, the PL-Pro Valkyrie uses a quick-detach system and offers two performance modes. In the first, the light generates 1,500 lumens, 19,600 candelas, and a 280-meter throw. This is highly useful for self-defense and law-enforcement applications in outdoor environments where both power and intensity are required. The second mode reduces the output to 300 lumens for indoor use, allowing you to better preserve your night vision inside your home.
At 3.27 inches in length, the PL-Pro Valkyrie is the same length as the barrels of some subcompact handguns, so the housing may not be flush with the slide of your CCW (concealed-carry weapon). This may interfere with your choice of holster and exposes the light to the muzzle blast. The PL-Pro weighs 3.25 ounces, which is relatively light compared with other comparable products on the market.
The PL-Pro is powered by a 3.6-volt rechargeable lithium-ion battery, has a runtime of 1.5 hours, and includes a magnetic USB charging cable
|Olight PL-Pro Valkyrie||Specifications|
|Max. light output (lumens):||1,500|
|Beam intensity (candelas):||19,600|
|Battery type:||3.6-V Li-ion (rechargeable)|
While the Fenix PD35TAC (Tactical Edition) is not a dedicated WML, it can be adapted to that purpose through the use of accessories. Delivering a 1,000-lumen light output and an intensity of 10,000 candelas, the PD35TAC is a tactical light specifically designed for use by law-enforcement officers and SWAT teams. Although it doesn’t produce as many lumens or as high an intensity beam as the Valkyrie, it remains an effective choice for close- to medium-range engagements.
However, PD35TAC can be combined with the Fenix ALG-00 rail mount to attach to the rail of your carbine or shotgun. Add an AER-02 V2 Tactical Remote Pressure Switch, and you’ll be able to activate the light conveniently and discreetly. The PD35TAC is powered by either two CR123A batteries or a single 18650 Li-ion battery.
|Max. light output (lumens):||1,000|
|Beam intensity (candelas):||10,000|
|Battery type:||2 × CR123A batteries or 1 × 18650 Li-ion battery|
|Runtime:||1.17 hours at 1,000 lm|
The Olight PL-Pro Valkyrie is a dedicated WML, whereas the Fenix PD35TAC is adapted to that purpose. In addition, while the PL-Pro is compact enough to be suitable for use with handguns, the PD35TAC’s length is more appropriate for long guns. The PD35TAC is less expensive, but once you factor in the cost of both a rail mount and a pressure switch, the savings disappear. Overall, the PL-Pro Valkyrie is the best choice for a weapon light, as it’s not an adaptation.
Also called spotlights, handheld searchlights are designed to deliver maximum light output and intensity for search-and-rescue operations where long-range illumination is critical. You can also use a searchlight as a particularly effective signaling device should you become lost in the wilderness. Non-emergency applications include outdoor photography and recreation. In order to meet these general and specialized requirements, searchlights tend to be heavier, bulkier, and more expensive than EDC and tactical lights.
The Fenix LR80R is a rechargeable searchlight capable of producing a maximum output of 18,000 lumens, an intensity of 318,000 candelas, and a throw of 1,130 meters. At this setting (Turbo), the integral battery provides a runtime of 2 hours. You also have nine additional settings to choose from, depending on your needs. This allows you to adjust the output, intensity, and throw to conserve battery life.
The LR80R is 10.2 inches in length and weighs 57.7 ounces — offering a relatively lightweight searchlight for backpackers, hikers, and campers. The 2.13-inch housing flares forward to accommodate the 4.25-inch head and wide lens.
The light uses an integral 7.2-V 12,000-mAh Li-ion. While this provides twice the milliamp hours as the X9R Marauder, it’s also not replaceable in the event of failure. However, the LR80R also has both USB-C and USB ports, the latter allowing you to use the discharge function to power external devices.
To turn the unit on, simply click and hold one of the two switches located on the housing. If you prefer a more tactile feel when cycling through output modes, the LR80R has two buttons that you can click to cycle through all available options. The light uses a removable carrying handle for convenient transport, which also acts as a mounting platform for use with a tripod.
|Max. light output (lumens):||18,000|
|Beam intensity (candelas):||318,000|
|Battery type:||7.2-V 12,000-mAh Li-ion battery|
|Runtime:||2 hours at 18,000 lm|
|Weight (ounces)||57.7 ounces|
Olight X9R Marauder
The X9R Marauder is Olight’s brightest and most powerful flashlight. By using six Cree XHP70.2 LED lights, the X9R is capable of producing 25,000 lumens and 99,200 candelas. While it exceeds the light output of the Fenix by 7,000, its beam intensity is approximately one third that of the LR80R. This results in more flood and a less well-defined hotspot.
This increased light output and intensity does come at the expense of increased weight and length. The X9R is 12.6 inches in length and weighs 65.43 ounces — almost half a pound more.
The XR9 Marauder uses a 6,000-mAh Li-ion battery. While less powerful than the LR80R, the Marauder also deviates from the company’s standard practice regarding battery technology: the rechargeable battery is replaceable.
To turn the light on, you simply click the on/off switch. To cycle through the available output settings, you’ll click and hold the button. When the light adjusts to the output that you want, simply release the button.
|Olight X9R Marauder||Specifications|
|Max. light output (lumens):||25,000|
|Beam intensity (candelas):||99,200|
|Battery type:||6,000-mAh Li-ion battery|
|Runtime:||3 minutes at 25,000; 1 hour 40 minutes at 6,400|
Despite the higher light output of the Olight XR9 Marauder, the Fenix LR80R is lighter in weight, more compact, produces a more focused and intense beam, has a significantly farther throw, and is less expensive. While both lights will serve their intended purpose, the LR80R is the superior choice.
Both brands are highly competitive on price and offer high-quality products, but after careful consideration, comparing lights from both companies and within different categories, we’ve concluded that Fenix’s products tend to be lighter, more powerful, or more versatile, depending on the model. As a result, we believe Fenix manufactures better flashlights overall.
One of the most significant limitations regarding Olight are its proprietary batteries and charging cables, which reduce your options for low-cost replacements and compatibility with non-Olight products. If you misplace the Olight charging cable or it becomes unavailable to you, you’re not able to use standard USB charging cables that are readily available from retail and electronics stores. Instead, you’ll need to order a replacement from Olight directly. This is not a problem with lights produced by Fenix.
Despite these shortcomings, if you need a dedicated weapon-mounted light for your handgun or carbine, Olight can be the better choice. In order to gain the same kind of functionality with Fenix, you’ll need to purchase separate accessories, both for mounting to a rail and convenient activation.
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