True to its namesake, the SR52-UT is absolutely an intimidating light, albeit in a much smaller package than the heritage associated with the SR badging generally offers.
Meat and Potatoes
Olight has been showing quite the propensity for powerful, throw-centric lights lately. Generally these have been resting in their Javelot line of torches, however before the Javelot’s existed, the Search and Rescue SR series was created. The originals were gargantuan lights with simply stunning outputs that were only possible at the time through the use of mammoth integrated battery packs. Technology inexorably marches forward and has lately left those beasts somewhat underwhelming by the advances in LEDs.
The SR52 is definitely a smaller form factor than those original monstrosities, however it is still far more massive than most of the torches that cross my hands. The 3x 18650 battery handle is a handful that even dwarfs the diameter of the old D-cell models of old. Having that much power on tap does come with advantages though, namely in output and runtime.
Using the power of a single domeless Cree XM-L2 LED in a giant reflector, the SR52 is capable of pushing its top output of 1200 lumens out with near laser quality focus. Seriously, this thing’s only real competitors are the aforementioned Javelots when it comes to throw capability. The smooth polish of the reflector forms a sharply defined center hotspot with a steep drop in brightness for the wide spillbeam. Thankfully, the size and quality of the reflector have all but eliminated beam artifacts. True, it could get a little smoother by adding a light stipple, but that would defeat the puropose of such a tight focus. In practice, they aren’t distracting, or even noticeable, during real world use.
The SR52 has a basic side-mounted electronic soft switch with a simple to use 3-mode L-M-H (with memory) user interface. A quick click turns the light on, and pressing and holding will advance through the available modes. A double click from either on or off will bring up the strobe, but that mode is never memorized, so there’s no danger of accidentally activating it when a constant output is really what you want. It doesn’t have any form of either momentary activation, or moon mode. The loss of momentary is somewhat regrettable, but since the activation switch is both quiet and easy to press, this is not really a problem. The lack of moon mode is thoroughly unconcerning to me. Why would you need it in this particular light? It would serve no purpose. Even if you did manage to neck down this powerful of a torch to sub-lumen levels, it would be almost useless light with the extremely tight focus. You want moon mode? Go get an EDC light. This one has other purposes.
Olight has really pulled out all the stops when it comes to fit and finish. I’ll admit, there used to be something intangible that I didn’t like about their machinework when I first started reviewing this brand. Whatever that was (I never really identified it) is completely gone however. The SR52 feels like one of the most well put-together lights I’ve held. All of the classic earmarks are present, like uniform anodizing and crisp lasered lettering. There’s something more as well though. This light doesn’t have any hint of battery rattle. All of the threading gives the feeling of solid lockup. Even the wide stainless steel bezel has been disguised so well that you can hardly tell the difference between it and the anodized aluminum of the rest of the body. The light just feels good in your hand. It’s a joy to hold and to use.
One partiucular place where the SR52 really struts its stuff is with the included USB charge port. This makes for very useful ability to charge all 3 of the parallel mounted 18650 cells simply by plugging the light into the cellphone charger you probably have laying around somewhere already. The one downside to this, in my opinion, is the choice of USB Micro for the charge port. I’m sure this was intentional as this is probably the most ubiquitous charge standard at the moment, but we’re perched on the edge of a precipice. USB Micro is finally being seen for the poorly designed connector that it is. Several new phones are already beginning to use the far superior USB-C port. It would really have been nice to see Olight become an early adopter for that standard so this light might have a longer viable lifespan. Obviously if the charge port deforms and ceases to function (which would be the fault of the port design, not Olight), you still have the ability to just remove the cells and charge them externally. I simply wish it was a little more future-proof.
I like it. I suspect this is not much of a surprise to most of you, however it needs to be said. When it comes to these larger lights like this, one of my biggest evaluation methods has become to just grab the light and use it while I’m walking the dog after dark each evening. Having this much power on tap, with such a tight focus allows me to really reach out and see any potential hazards or canine distractions that are waiting in the periphery of most lights of lower pedigree. The SR52-UT really reaches out and lights up the distances, without ever feeling like I’m taxing the cells that power it. Having a handy recharge option and a pleasing UI make the light that much more appealing.