I have always been a sucker for flashlights, as can be seen on my Flashlight page. I am not necessarily a sucker for the latest and greatest, nor the fanciest titanium body and gradient anodization, in fact, I typically prefer my flashlights low-key and just plain black. And I have no flashlights that I don't actually use; no "shelf queens" in my collection. I do have flashlights I haven't used much for one reason or another but that's a different story.
I've always had a light to have on hand, my EDC (everyday carry) light that stays in my pants 24/7/365. This light has to be small, light, have multiple output/modes (brightness), take a rechargeable battery, and ideally have a reasonably long runtime and reasonable brightness. While some of these seem to conflict even 10-15 years ago when LED flashlights were fairly new these needs were fairly easily met within reason. I don't need 1200 lumens in my pocket all day. But boy is it fun.
I've used a NiteCore Defender Infinity (NDI) since around 2008 as my EDC. I've purchased one light, the Quark 123, to replace it and decided it was not a viable replacement so the NDI has remained king of my pocket for 13 years. It's extremely flexible, runs on AA or 14500 batteries, has a very low mode of around 5 lumens that ramps up to about 130 lumens, and has a good wide flood with a good hotspot. It's just about everything I need in an EDC flashlight. But there are times I'd like to have more output, so after a bit of consideration, I purchased a new light, the OLight Baton 3.
I won't go deep into the specs of the OLight Baton 3 but the quick rundown is it has .5L, 12L, 60L, 300L, and 1200L modes and will run for over an hour and a half on High (300L), seven and a half hours on Medium (60L), a day and a half on Low (12L), 20 days on Moon (.5L). So it can do it all in an even smaller, lighter package than the NDI at only 63x21mm and weighing in at only 53 grams. The Turbo mode is ridiculously hot and only runs for 90 seconds, but for those times when you need a quick burst of insane amounts of light, the Baton 3 can do it. And it can do that Turbo mode almost 5 full times which is just insane using a tiny RC123 battery. And all of this for about $65. If you want more specifications on the light they can be easily found on the internet.
I won't get into measured light output, throw, exact light color, CRI, etc, as I don't have any equipment to measure such things but I will talk about some of the user interface and general things about the light. When researching the light I found a lot about the charging case (which I did not get) and how tough the light is (shot with a shotgun and still worked) but some of the nitty-gritty stuff seemed to be missing, so here's my take on it.
I am not going to document how the user interface works as that's well documented in other places but needless to say it's pretty well-thought-out and I don't really have any big concerns about it. The UI is a pretty important aspect of a flashlight (even ones with only one mode!) and is something I am sure to understand before purchasing a flashlight. If the UI is bad, I won't buy it.
That said, there are a few things I think could be tweaked, such as I think a double-press is a little too easy to get into Turbo mode. The flashlight gets insanely hot super fast in Turbo mode and you would not want this happening in your pocket. There is a lock-out method, but I also don't really want to have to unlock a flashlight to use it. I have yet to accidentally activate Turbo and the button does require a reasonably firm press to activate, but I still think it could be a triple press or something a bit more difficult to accidentally do.
Another minor user interface issue I have is that to change modes you turn the light on and then hold the light and it endlessly loops from Low, Med, and High. Very often I want High, but not Turbo, so I turn the light on and hold the button and miss High and wind up back at Low, so you have to basically time when to let go of the button. I wish it'd go up to High and then stop. If it is at High already they could have either reversed the pattern, going Med down to Low and stopping, or they could have just let it go to Low and keep the same pattern. I just find myself wanting High and cycling through the modes a few times to get there which is a little frustrating.
Unfortunately, the triple press is taken up by a Timer function that will turn the light off after 3 or 9 minutes. An hour would make sense for a timer function, but 3 minutes? I don't understand why this feature even exists.
As for the physical user interface, I find the button just a little bit fumbly to try to locate and get my thumb on when pulling out the light. While the emitter end and the tail end don't feel the same and the clip is asymmetrical it's really not enough to always just grab the light in the right way with your thumb on the switch to turn it on. This can be fairly important if you need to get a light on something quickly. Perhaps if there was some knurling around the light switch to guide the thumb this might be a little more intuitive. Right now I feel for the "raised" bit of the clip and get that bit forward and down and my thumb is on top of the switch. This is a fairly focused and minor complaint but I very often find myself fumbling around after pulling out the light to find the switch.
This light looks really nice, everything is very well designed and looks great. The knurling is perfectly designed to be fairly grippy but not overly sharp. I've gotten a few junky flashlights that the knurling would shred the inside of a pocket; this isn't going to happen on the Baton 3. The only minor downside is since the flashlight is so tiny the knurling is honestly not really very useful. When I thought about how I was using and holding the light, 90% of my contact with the light was on the clip and my thumb on the button. The knurling itself was almost untouched. But everyone will hold the light a little differently.
The picture at the top of this page reflects the light I purchased; the simple black model. I initially was unsure about the blue bits (clip, ring around the button, and the bezel around the light) but the more I use the light I really like these highlights. It's not too flashy but adds just a bit of color to the light.
And the clip is pretty flexible in how you can use it. Clipped to a pocket to keep it away from the contents, on the outside of the pocket for a little light, clipped to a hat as a headlamp, etc. I almost always remove the clip-on flashlights but I'm pretty sure I'm going to leave it on this one as it's very functional and fairly low profile.
I'm not going to go into great details here, but this light is really great for reasonably short distance usage, 100 feet perhaps max. The beam has a hot region so it's not a floody light, but it's no spotlight. But that's fine, as an EDC light I need a wide smooth region of light so this fits the EDC needs perfectly.
To put it in a little perspective, my NDI has a fairly wide overall beam pattern but the majority of the light is in a fairly tight spot. The NDI at full power (130L) is significantly brighter in its hot spot than the Baton 3 on High (300L). However, the Baton 3 puts out a lot more light around its hot spot making it overall more useful.
If you need a thrower, the Baton 3 isn't it, even on Turbo mode putting out 1200 lumens. It'll light up a whole row of trees great at a distance, but if you need to really get a lot of light on a specific spot you're better off with a light with a tighter beam.
Concerns with the Charger
The actual process of charging the light is very nice, the charger just snaps onto the flashlight magnetically, no alignment, no fiddling, just works. This is great; except I've found the charger will also attach to other metal objects on my desk and the charger turns red to indicate charging. When this happens the charger gets very slightly warm, just enough to make me think it's doing something but not enough to be overly concerned. I'm mostly concerned if the charger is going to damage itself over time. I'd prefer to keep it plugged in and tucked under my monitor stand so I can charge easily but not sure if I should since it seems to not be able to detect a dead short. I contacted OLight customer support to ask them about it and their response was "We recommend that you unplug the charging cable when if you don't need to use the charger. " Disappointing.
Also, I have another concern about the charge rings on the flashlight. When tested with a meter they present a voltage of 2.4V. In testing, it only seems to pass about 2.2mA under a dead short, but I'm still rather disappointed there's voltage at all on the flashlight.
I've also had one issue with the charger not wanting to charge the light; I took some isopropyl alcohol and cleaned the battery, the contacts inside the light, the charging rings on the outside, and the charger itself and it charged fine. Not sure what to make of that, but hopefully if this ever happens again the same cleaning job will fix it again.
EDCing this light daily for almost a year now I'm starting to see wear on the button that I worry long term may wear entirely through the button. It appears to have an opaque coating over the button with one small spot you can see through to see battery status, but mine has started to wear off in a few places just riding around in my pockets. So far the button itself is undamaged as far as I can tell; only the coating itself has worn off. However, I fear that long term the button itself will wear down. I wish this button were metal which would avoid this issue and would likely also feel better to use.
There are a few negatives about this light that I am not alone in disliking as I saw them in most reviews I read/watched but they are worth mentioning here.
The first one is that the beam on the light is a rather lime green color, and the lower the output the greener the beam is. This is apparently a combination of low bin parts and perhaps the overall design of the LED. I often dismiss LED color complaints as you can only see them when shining the light on white walls but in this case, I notice it pretty much every time I use the light. That said, it's not such a big deal that it turns me off using the light, isn't going to affect my use of the light, doesn't affect color recognition, etc. It's just kind of gross, but not the end of the world. And to be a bit pickier about the beam itself, it's a bit lumpy. One side has slightly less output than another, and there's a hotspot in another spot. Fairly subtle and not really a big deal and will likely vary from light to light.
The other negative is that this flashlight will not use anything except a slightly modified RC123 battery only made by OLight. It won't use normal (non-rechargeable) 123's and it won't use typical rechargeable RC123 batteries. The previous version of this flashlight, the Baton 2, could use 123/normal RC123 batteries but this new light will not. The reasoning is that the flashlight uses so much power on Turbo that this is the only safe way to handle what might otherwise be an "unknown" battery, however, it seems like the flashlight could detect if a battery cannot provide enough power and throttle down to a lower output level. This was actually something I did not realize until I purchased the light and was a bit thrown off by it. It's disappointing and I potentially wouldn't have gotten the light had I known. If I absolutely had to purchase such a light I might have even considered getting the Baton 2 as the differences in the two lights are fairly minor. That said, I do not plan to return the light and will continue using it as my EDC light so this isn't such a huge issue. I have purchased two more batteries and cycle through them and don't expect to have any real battery concerns for years to come. I tend to recharge the light as soon as I notice it isn't showing a Green LED anymore (below 60%) which will also keep the batteries in good shape for a long time.
Battery Status LED
And the last nitpick is a pretty minor one but is worth mentioning. While the light is on every mode, except Moon, it shows the battery status in a dim LED under the light switch. Why is Moon (.5L) excluded from showing the battery status? Perhaps it would take enough power to reduce the 20-day runtime in this mode to fewer days, but it would have been nice to perhaps show the battery status for 10 seconds or so and then turn it off.
Will I use this light as my EDC going forward/has the NDI finally been retired? Yes, I think so.
Do I think this light is a good deal for what you get? Absolutely, as long as there's no unexpected failure I think this light is a tremendous value. Are there cheaper lights that offer similar specifications? Yes, there are. If I were collecting lights to just collect them I would probably own some of those too, just for fun. But I often find cheap lights unreliable, the specifications misleading, and overall disappointing.
Would I give this light to my mom/wife/daughter? No. Pretty sure Turbo mode would burn through a purse like Alien blood burning through the Nostromo. I'll take chances on my own but I think I'd hand out something a little more sane to someone else.