What do you do when you’ve got nearly every conceivable variable covered in your extensive EDC flashlight line? Why, you start offering limited editions, of course!
Meat and Potatoes
Let’s be honest here. Despite the fact that I haven’t technically reviewed the Olight S Mini yet, there’s really nothing operationally new that you’ll find with these lights. They follow the now tried and true Baton formula for excellence, and do so with aplomb. The real differences come in construction materials.
The S1A uses apparently the identical circuitry to the aluminum version, including both the lower outputs (compared to Li powered lights) and the two selectable shutoff timers of unknown purpose. The limited editions of this light are available in several flavors of Copper (raw, black, or “rose gold”) and one black Stainless Steel variant. All of them except the raw copper are PVD coated which makes them highly scratch and corrosion resistant. Likely more so than anodized aluminum, if I’ve done my homework correctly.
The version I got to test is the back coated SS. At a glance, there isn’t much of a telling difference between it and the standard black anodized Al, but upon closer inspection the distinctions start to become clear. The black coating isn’t truly as opaque as anodizing. It ends up coming across as more of an incredibly dark gray. This, in turn, makes the laser engraving slightly less stark as well. More of a light gray, than a white. The combined effect is visually stunning, in a subtle, understated manner. Beyond that, the simple physical differences between SS and Al make this torch significantly heavier. Instead of becoming cumbersome, the small size mitigates that factor leaving only an intangible impression of higher quality. It’s long been known to manufacturers that weight often gives the impression of quality, and some companies try to take advantage of that to nefarious ends. Olight however has simply taken what is already a fantastic light, and boosted its credibility.
The S Mini has an even wider gamut of options. Including all the same Copper and Stainless Steel varieties, also thrown in are 3 Titanium versions, a matte, polished, or Rainbow PVD.
I’ve seen Olight’s Matte Ti, and Polished Ti in the past, and both are excellent, but let me tell you, this Rainbow PVD is far and away the most spectacular looking flashlight finish I’ve ever seen. It’s not understated. Not in the least. It’s about as flashy as you can possibly get, but if you want something that is a joy to look at, as much as it is to use, then I can’t recommend this finish enough. I don’t know if it’s inherent to this process, or if it’s based on the specific shapes of the knurling, but it isn’t just a static rainbow color scheme. As you move the light and view it from varying angles, the colors seem to shift, subtly, It’s an incredible effect.
Like the SS, though not to quite the same extent, making a flashlight out of Ti makes for greater weight. Once again, this comes across as a higher quality torch, a side effect I won’t fault Olight for employing. While most of these special editions come with the standard cool white XM-L2, the Titanium versions of the S Mini have the added bonus of sporting a Neutral White LED. Though, I’m still a far cry from being as picky as some of the tint junkies I’ve seen online, I am really starting to develop an affinity for NW. It makes for such a pleasing beam.
There are a couple of small, light specific, differences about the S Mini that I feel I need to mention. The first is its size. This light is very aptly named. It is based on the S1, which in turn is a miniaturization of the venerable S10. With each iteration, Olight has successfully shrunken this device even further. The S Mini is now 10% smaller than the tiny S1, and still manages to boost turbo output by 10% to 550 lumens. Remember, this is a time limited output, but the remainder of the modes are plenty useful for a wide range of lighting needs as well. The S Mini does forgo the now customary magnetic tailcap, in favor or reduced volume, and just like other recent reviews, I understand this decision, but I would have preferred the choice to swing the other direction. One interesting distinction is instead of the hexagonal anti-roll shank immediately behind the flashlight’s head that is seen on every other pocketable Baton light, the S Mini has a more contoured structure. There’s still enough protrusion that the light won’t skitter away from you if set down on a slight incline. As a matter of fact, I think this setup is superior, since it serves to highlight which side has the power switch, compared to having 5 other sides that feel identical in the dark.
For the most part, if you’ve seen any of my previous Baton reviews, you know what should go here. There aren’t dramatic changes to either of these lights. That’s OK though, since none of them have such glaring problems that they become unusable. There’s a good chance it’ll come on in your pocket a few times, but if you’re using rechargeable batteries, this isn’t a costly issue.
There are a number of people who are critics, speaking out against using “exotic” metals for flashlights over tried and true Aluminum. They speak of lower heat dissipation capability, greater weight, and no effective change in structural integrity. These critics aren’t wrong. My counter to that is that this isn’t why we like “exotics”. When you delve into these unique builds, you’re not looking for “the most efficient”, you’re instead buying something that you like, oftentimes for no other reason than “because you like it”.
I’ve only gotten a chance to review two of the excellent options for limited edition batons, but they are possibly two of the coolest. Of course, I don’t think that statement would change no matter which ones I was sent. All of these flashlights set the bar much higher as far as precision illumination instruments go, at least as far as their “cool” factor.
Provided for review by the kind folks at GoingGear.