Review: Can the Olight Warrior Mini 2 dazzle its way past the company’s reputation?
Let's see if this bad boy explodes, shall we?
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A good flashlight might save your life. A bad one could kill you. Unfortunately, Olight has a reputation for products that explode rather than light your way. Their reputation was earned the hard way, it seems. From coworkers making jokes about not keeping the light on my nightstand to guys down at the LGS telling me to hop on the forums for stories of WMLs blowing up, everyone had a story any time I said “Olight.”
I’m familiar with ‘Made in China’ tactical gear, like Holosun optics or Coast flashlights, and I love seeing how they stack up to their US-made counterparts. I’ve owned and loved several Coast models, from the G20 to the HP3R and HP8R. Unlike Coast, who designs stateside and manufactures overseas, Olight is a native Chinese concern. Olight started in Shenzhen, China in 2007 for the domestic market. It took them about 10 years to break into the US market, and it was a rocky start, to say the least.
There’s no getting around it — an Olight flashlight killed a guy in 2017. There are several theories floating around about how it happened, but here’s what we do know: some unlucky soul held an Olight in his mouth while working under the hood of his car and, by most accounts, he accidentally touched the light to the positive terminal of his car battery while he was grounded. (Before anyone calls bullshit, there are hundreds of thousands of cars out there that are grounded through things like engine mounts on purpose.)
I don’t think any of that falls squarely on Olight, although perhaps the flashlight itself was a factor in some way. You can blame the battery manufacturer for not having robust enough overcurrent (short to car battery) protection, but how many people are going to touch a car battery with a flashlight held in their mouth? That’s not something a company should have to plan for.
Olight doesn’t seem any more or less dangerous under those circumstances than any other light on the market, and I’m here to give the Olight Warrior 2 Mini a shot at redeeming the brand. At just under $90, the Warrior Mini 2 offers up a maximum output of 1,750 lumens for a reasonable price; from the company’s reputation, I’m expecting an unstable mess of a flash bomb. Time to don my PPE and play EOD for a bit.
I loved the Warrior Mini 2 immediately despite the rumors and bad press. These guys can make a damn flashlight. It feels great in the hand (ribbed for your pleasure) and has a remarkably solid feel. The cool factor is off the charts. It’s a sealed design with a handy magnetic USB charger.
The Warrior Mini 2 has two methods of activation: a smart switch on the body that controls the low levels, and a two-position clicky switch on the butt that goes between high and low. The butt switch doubles as the charging port in an ingenious way.
The control scheme is intuitive with the exception of “moonlight” mode, which requires a long press of the small barrel button. If you hold the barrel button down, the Warrior Mini 2 cycles through four levels of brightness for the low settings. A momentary press turns the low mode off or on and the light will remember what setting it was on.
Olight put an interesting feature in the Warrior Mini 2 flashlight. There’s a little sensor in the reflector that adjusts the brightness based on how close you get to your target. In high mode, the light puts out a lot of lumens and a lot of heat. If you shine it at a wall and start moving closer, it’ll auto-dim to reduce the amount of heat so you don’t light anything on fire. I thought it was gimmicky at first, but it really works and I’ve grown to like the feature.
The Warrior Mini 2 has a strange-looking pocket clip on it that works in two directions. You can clip it up or down in your pocket, which is a nice touch. I used it as a hat clip to keep from having to hold the light in my teeth like that guy from 2017. The clip worked great for that purpose.
Olight no longer uses Nuon batteries, and now they use a custom cell certified for high discharge made by Samsung. These Olight-branded batteries have their own internal protection circuits built right in, which just leaves water ingress, physical shock, and overcurrent as potential problem areas for safety. Olight got around issues with water the right way — the Warrior Mini 2’s battery compartment is O-ring sealed. As for shock, the light has surprisingly tight tolerances and is all metal in a really satisfying way.
How we tested the Olight Warrior Mini 2
Given Olight’s poor reputation, I started small and worked my way up to (attempted) destruction. First up is a battery test: How long can the light last on high from a full charge? To figure this out, I played with the light over two weeks, starting with a full charge. I left the light on the lowest normal mode for 10 hours and got bored with the test when it didn’t run out of juice. After carrying it around and playing with it for three more days, it finally quit on me.
When it runs low on batteries, nothing crazy happens. The Warrior Mini 2 just refuses to turn on with either switch and the barrel button glows red. I found that if I messed with it enough, the moonlight mode will still come on. I thought that was particularly cool. Even if you’re out of batteries, you can still get a little bit of light out of the Warrior Mini 2.
When it finally died, I plugged in the charger and let it go overnight. The charger itself has a built-in LED that lights up red when charging and green when fully charged. Once I saw that green LED, I dug into the next round of testing.
I left the unit on high and went about my day, checking on the light every 30 minutes or so. After two and a half hours, the Warrior Mini 2 was still plugging away. It got pretty hot after being on that long. It was uncomfortably hot, but not hot enough to burn me or anything around it. The ribs on the flashlight’s body seemed to do their job and radiate that heat out, even in 85-degree weather. I couldn’t get the Warrior Mini 2 to heat throttle or shut down by simply using it.
The battery condition LED changed from green to red at three hours and 20 minutes, which is when the light changed from high mode to the highest of the four low modes. It cooled off significantly not long after and was only a little above ambient by the 3:40 mark.
Moving along, the light went from a solid red to a flashing red and dropped another brightness level at the 4:10 mark and shut itself off completely at 4:40. Not a bad run on high mode considering I couldn’t get it to shut down on low at all. I plugged it in shortly after to see how it would handle a rapid discharge to charge cycle. I checked on the light after an hour and noticed it felt rather warm to the touch. It was back to green after 3:30 or so on the charger.
Rapid charging, discharging, and trying to overheat the Olight Warrior Mini 2 had no effect. It wouldn’t blow up for me. I turned it on and dropped the Warrior Mini 2 from various heights while illuminated. No explosion. I started to get nervous because, from all the forum reading and warnings from guys at the range, I was expecting nothing less than a huge, dangerous, explosion and lithium fire, and was excited about the action.
Simply dropping the Olight didn’t do much of anything, so I moved on to dropping it onto river rocks. In an actual river. Not only was I sorely disappointed about the lack of explosions, but the damn thing kept working. I just watched the water running through it until I got bored, about 10 minutes, and nothing blew up. When I picked the light up again, I realized that the rear button was highly magnetized.
Some of the sand and rock in the river turned out to be ferrous and stuck to the back of the flashlight. I was worried about the sand and grit messing with the Olight’s switch seal, so of course, I clicked it as hard and as fast as my meathooks could manage. Nothing happened except the Warrior Mini 2 turned on and turned off rapidly with absolutely no drama.
That’s it, I thought, it’s time to see what crush damage will do to such a puny and reportedly dangerous battery. I found some pavement away from prying eyes or anything that could catch fire and did the thing. I took a 7,000-pound truck and ran over the Olight Warrior Mini 2. The diesel crew cab monstrosity did its best to destroy the Olight and failed. There are now some pockmarks in the flashlight body and the hat/pocket clip bent a little, but the light fired right up. I bent the clip back into shape in about 10 seconds, and now everything functions as it should.
What we like about the Olight Warrior Mini 2
If looks could kill, you wouldn’t need to pack guns. The Warrior Mini 2 is an absolutely killer design. It looks ruthless but in a neon cyberpunk kind of way. The fins help with grip, but also handle cooling duties. I love the way it looks and how it feels in my hand.
It’s very bright for such a small flashlight and has excellent battery life. It also charges quickly from a simple USB port. On the brightness and battery front, I was surprised and delighted by the self-throttling feature. As it runs out of juice, it just steps down to the next level it can handle. I also love the “moonlight” mode, the dimmest setting and the insane battery life that comes with it. It stayed lit long past anything I expected and still had enough juice after 10 hours for me to keep messing with it for several days before needing a recharge.
Lastly, I thought Olight did a great job designing the user experience. The controls were intuitive and I didn’t need the manual to figure out any part of it. The button scheme was easy to decipher and charging is hilariously easy. You don’t need to open ports or take batteries out, you seriously just put the magnet on the charging cable near the end cap and it snaps together and starts charging.
What we don’t like about the Olight Warrior Mini 2
It didn’t explode. Seriously, I beat on this thing and hated it with the fury of a gaggle of small children and I wasn’t rewarded with a RUD. Olight has a really terrible reputation that I wanted to test. When I showed it to some buddies, the response was mostly “cool flashlight bro” until they saw the logo and then it was “I wouldn’t trust that thing, Olights explode.”
I can’t stress this enough, I really like this light. You will too, but you won’t be able to use it without some tacticool type bringing up stories about how Olight WMLs blow up or how they have a 30 percent return rate or — how one killed a guy. I can’t say I care about what those guys think, but I was annoyed that they wanted to talk to me at all. I put this light through a gauntlet of pain and it survived. The Warrior Mini 2 earned its spot in my go bag.
I’m really into tactile feedback and how buttons and switches feel when I throw them, and Coast has that feeling nailed. This Olight didn’t live up to my expectations considering the rest of the build quality. The rear switch wobbled a little in its mount and wasn’t consistent or predictable in how it engaged between momentary and stay-on modes.
I’m sympathetic to Olight because there’s a lot going on in that rear cap, including a really neat charging system and some circuit boards, but I wanted that switch to actuate with the same level of quality present in the rest of the Warrior Mini 2. The same goes for the barrel button. I thought it was a bit on the small side and didn’t have a nice enough “click” to it.
Lastly, the heat. The body is ribbed with tiny heatsinks for a reason, and the Warrior Mini 2 gets unpleasantly hot during hard use. It never actually interfered with using the Olight.
I can’t recommend the Olight Warrior Mini 2 flashlight highly enough. I survived my time with the light, and more importantly, it survived its time with me and still functions. If you’re hard on your gear, the Warrior Mini 2 will work just fine for you. You might even like it.
FAQs about Olight Warrior Mini 2
More questions? Here’s Task & Purpose’s additional brief.
Q. How much does the Olight Warrior Mini 2 cost?
A. At the time of writing, the Olight Warrior Mini 2 runs around $100 with tax and shipping.
Q. Are Olights worth the money?
A. My experience says yes, absolutely. The quality of products flooding in from China gets better every year, and Olight has hit it out of the park with the Warrior Mini 2.
Q. Is Olight a legit company?
A. Yes, Olight is a real company headquartered in Shenzhen, China. If you have any concerns about Olight’s legitimacy, make your purchase on Amazon instead of from their website.
Q. Are Olights safe?
A. Mine didn’t explode and I was mean to it. If you’re using it as a normal flashlight, you’re probably going to be okay. I still wouldn’t hold it in my mouth while working under the hood of my vehicle.
Got questions? Comment below & talk with T&P’s editors
Drew Shapiro served two enlistments in the Air Force riding around on C-17s. Thanks to the GI Bill, he now rides a desk in the Pacific Northwest. When he’s not wearing a suit, Drew’s usually out getting his hands dirty. He tests gadgets the hard way so you don’t have to.