SureFire flashlights...comments?

Oct 27, 1998
I've see these at shows but can't really get a good look at the beam in an auditorium. I hear great things...lookout Maglight! Please any info would be helpful...sounds like a gift for my nonknife friends.


Surefire Lights are the best! Beam shape is always uniform with no "hot spots"...
the lithium batts can get expensive, but SF makes two rechargeables and one conversion kit...

Anyone have comments about Sure-Fire vs Streamlight (the Stinger or one of the other aluminum models)???

Oh and which folder would go best with one? (obligatory knife related commentary)

Clay Fleischer

"10,000 Lemmings Can't Be Wrong!"
As a secondary light source, SureFire flashlights are OK. They lack burn time to be considered as a primary source, IMHO. Further, while they are small, light weight and bright, they have a reputation for fragility (lamp filament).

Best set up for primary light source, given that you have more storage space, and weight is not a problem, is 3 or 4 D Cell MagLite, with 1.7 amp Carley Krypton bulb, and Radio Shack 4500 milliamphours rechargable NiCd.
Burn time about 90 min. Recharge time 6-8 hrs.

The 4 cell is as bright as any of the local LEO's have brought over to test at night. Also, they are impressed by ability of MagLite to focus beam, narrow to wide.

If conditions suggest you will need the light for more than 90 min. , such as yesterday, when there was a power outage, and the people in the trans Bay tunnel in San Francisco had to walk out, no problem.

Just switch the lamp (bulb) in the light to the alkaline battery lamp in the tail cap (every size MagLite has a spare lamp there). Since this lamp draws much less current, it will give you light for several hours.

News footage of the people walking out showed very few flashlights, and those that were shown were all cheap red plastic 2 D cell jobs; clearly the emergency lights from the train.

In all my cars, I carry a 3 D Cell MagLite with alkaline lamp and batteries. These will give fairly bright light for 16 hours, and have long storage life. I also have extra alkaline batteries.

When I get into the car, however, I stow a 4 D Cell rechargable job next to the seat. Ken Cox, a former poster who flies medevac choppers in OR, had tried many different flashlights. I sent him my rechargable special, and he was amazed; he still uses it.

Photon lights deserve special mention; they are available from Tim Flanagan at (401) 723-0349, a fellow poster who has been known to sometimes give other posters discounts.

These come in a wide range of colors; some are very bright and last for 12-14 hours, but less bright models last from 5 to 7 DAYS, constant on. The size and weight of a quarter, with a replaceable Lithium watch type battery, they should be liberally sprinkled around your house, purse, cars, etc. I bought them first for Haloween, and gave them to the neighbors for themselves and their kids. These Photons are BRIGHT viewed as markers, and you could see the kids several hundred yards away easily. They were such a hit, I ordered a few dozen more for the Holidays.

Keep light and keep safe, Walt
A couple of comments,

As a firefighter I have to rely on my flashlight. I used a 6P Surefire for awhile.
Problems I found were not enough burn time
(45 - 50 min). No warning when it is about to fail ( when I goes, it goes fast). Fragile bulb ( If you drop it, it's done and a replacement will cost you $15). High cost of replacement Lithium batterys, at least $5 for 2, a high cost for 45 minutes of light. And last the large amount of heat generated when it is on. If you put it in your pocket while on it will burn thru your pants or your leg. If you were to put it next to flammable material it can and will start a fire.
Now the good points. Lots of light in a small package and long shelf life of the lithium batterys, they will keep for years if not used.
I've retired mine to a Kydex pouch which I keep with my Glock 19. As for everyday use, I went back to a MiniMag. Not as much light but much more reliable.
I have a Surefire 6P. I think it's a pretty cool little light, bright for a compact package. However, with that said, I think Walt Welch and Boomer summed things up rather well. The Surefires are more of a short need tactical type of light. I've never tried to measure how long the batteries hang on, but I owned mine for 5-6 months with occaisional use (and helping clear/shut down the building during a power outage) before I noticed it petering out. I've had 50/50 luck with the durability of bulbs. I dropped my 6P a month after I got it, and the bulb was toast. This current bulb has been dropped and banged around half dozen times or more and is still like new. Go figure. (Is there any way to cushion the light, or make it more shock resistant?)
I also have a 3D Maglite with Dr. Welch's recommended Carney bulb and it really works great. The Pelican lights are also rather sturdy, reliable lights that put out a pretty good beam of light, and aren't too expensive. They're marketed under various names/brands (Browning being one of them) and like Maglites, they can be found in various iterations in a number of retail locations.

[This message has been edited by DonL (edited 09 December 1998).]
I'm in agreement about Surefires also. They are awesome tactical lights. But for everyday use, burn time is too short, they're too expensive to run, and the bulb breaks too easily. If you don't mind the short burn time and runtime expense, the newest version of the TAC3M might be worth a look. They supposedly have much more robust bulbs, and even brighter light than the SureFire. They still have the 6P's running time though.

A note about "everyday use". I'm not a cop or a fireman, everyday use for me is pretty light. I don't even use a flashlight every day. For my everyday use, I can live with a couple hours burn time, and I want the light to be *bright*. I typically use either the UKE 4-AA or UKE 2L. Both are incredibly bright. The 2L is smaller and lighter than the Surefire, not quite as bright, but much more burn time, and I haven't busted the bulb once. These are great options for people who want a little more burn time but still a very bright light. The UKEs are more compact and have better focus than their Pelican and Princeton Tec counterparts.

When I don't need so much light, I use a MiniMag.

There's always a photon turquoise on my keychain, the best all-purpose of the photons in my opinion. That gets used a lot, just because it's on my keychain.

How about some web addresses for these lights? The UKE 4-AA or UKE 2L sound promising and a web address would be much appreciated.

Joe: Haven't seen a UKE-2L. Will have to look around for those. I do have an SL-4 and an SL-6 which are my dive light backups to my Pelican lantern. Both are excellent lights, I feel.

I use a flashlight every night, as I have a puppy to walk and the yard is filled with "lawn mines."

Usually I use my Mag 2D. But I have to say, the best "el cheapo" flashlights I have found are the RayoVac Workhorses. I picked up four of them at Walgreens a while back (they were $6.99 each with a buy one, get one free deal). Good lights for backpacking, as they are light, but still durable, reliable, and very bright.

Can't go wrong with MiniMags. I have one in each colour (easier to tell which has fresh batteries that way). There used to be an extension for MiniMags to make them into 3AA flashlights. Had higher powered bulbs and everything. I think it was in US Cavalry or something. Anyone heard of this? I would like to acquire this gadget...


Clay Fleischer

"10,000 Lemmings Can't Be Wrong!"
I have some interesting links in my URL file, they are kind of old links but might still work. The one on the bottom definitely works, and is an interesting comparison chart. I hadn't even noticed before, but two of their faves are the UKE 2-L and 4-AA! You might also want to try just doing a web search with keywords "Underwater Kinetics". I *know* there are many more sites than this that sell those lights. # Firetech sells UK lites # sell UK, PTec,Pelican,Ike # light comparison

[ I just checked the top two URLs, they're busted. Here's UKE's home page, though.


[This message has been edited by Joe Talmadge (edited 09 December 1998).]
I used a mini mag 2 AA for ten years at work (locksmith for a major hotel/casino). It held up well. When I became an electronics tech at the same place I couldn't see very well in the ceilings. I switched to a rechargeable Streamlight Stinger a few months ago. I have been very happy with it. It recharges much easier than the surefire. You have to unscrew the end cap and remove the battery on the surefire. The Stinger has two metal "screws" that are the contact points for the slide in charger. It can be kept in the charger. It comes with a 12 volt and a 110 volt charger. It burns for about an hour. At the end of each shift it goes in the charger. It has only been dropped once or twice. No bulb problems so far. The light shines as far as I can see. It is a lot bigger and heavier than a 2AA mini mag, though.

Joe; glad to see you have a Photon; they are great, aren't they. One thing I have noticed in my evaluation of them. I happened to notice it one night, and since I wear glasses, brought my daughter in with her good eyes to confirm my findings:

The ability to resolve (see clearly) objects is proportional to the wavelength. The longer the wavelength (closer to red end of spectrum) the better the resolution.

We were looking at print about 1/4" tall about 6 feet away. You could clearly read the print with the red and orange Photons, but resolution got worse from there on up. Blue was so blurred you couldn't read it, and the Turquoise and White were so out of focus, I couldn't even tell the print was there.

We then switched to looking at a lamp about 15 feet away. Same results: the lamp could be resolved as a lamp with the brighter, bluer lights, but with the red it was a bit dimmer, but the outlines were sharp.

I believe this to be a phenomenon called chromatic aberration. The cornea and lens of your eye refract (bend) different wavelengths of light different amounts. Blue focuses in front of the retina, so is out of focus. I wondered why the white fullspectrum light behaved as though it were blue. I believe the answer to be that while it is a full spectrum light, with a color temp of 6500 degrees Kelvin, the intensity of the light is greater in the blue end of the spectrum. The 'white' light actually looks lavender to me, adding weight to my premise.

So, if it is important to see clearly, try the reddish lights. If you wish sheer brightness, go with white or Turquoise. If you want to please the woman in your life, give her a Turquoise, at my daughter's suggestion. I asked her why she recommended that, since it had performed so poorly. She looked at me and said, "It's a girl thing, dad, trust me on this. Women will love Turquoise." So far, she has been right! Hope this helps, Walt Welch MD
Have to agree w/ most of what everbody says....I like the my surefire 6z alot, but I view it as mainly and 'unmounted' weapons light. Bat.s to expensive for constant use. I used to use maglites for 'utility ' work, light in/out during hunting season and trailing animals, but they are really heavy. Bruce Bramlett, good friend and buyer for Brigade Quartermasters, turned me onto Browning/Pelican lights and I've been using them eversince. I really like the 'THunderbug' model, that you can use hand held, or clips onto the brim of you hat for handsfree use. I know it sounds goofy, and it looks kinda strange, but it really works well, bright little light. Runs on 2 AA's. When your skinning a deer in the dark, the rain, and nobody extra around to 'hold the light' it comes in handy. Also works well for an extra 'headlight' piloting the 4wheeler at night.
For a rechargeable, gave dad a Streamlight STINGER 2 years ago for XMAS, its been running great. Very BRIGHT!. He uses it alot at the farm and during our 5 month hunting season, and he had to replace the recahrgeable batteries once, but I think he screwed them up, not hte lights fault. Not a cheap light system, but worth it in the long run.

SureFire is still awful brite when you need it,..I won't be without one. I should get a delivery of Photon Lights today, I'll tell ya'll how they perform at the hunting camp this weekend.

Will Fennell/EDI KNIVES

Wow, thanks for all the replies! I think I need a PhD to understand most of them, but I get the general gist of things. I'll stick with MagLight for now and probably purchase a SureFire just to have on hand...not to rely on for emergencies. Besides the larger maglights make pretty good billy-clubs if you ever need one. Thanks again for all the great responses.



Good point about the resolution. I use the photon on my keychain basically for looking for things -- the light switch in the dark room, the right board in the computer cabinet, etc. -- so I want the brightest light possible. That's the turquoise for me.

If I were using this for reading, I'd want a light that was not so bright, are not so blue. I've been thinking of picking up one of the yellows for just this reason.

The flashlight thread gets hashed on rec.knives every few months (I'm usually one of the trouble makers). One of the lights that most people agree on (for regular battery lights) once they have tried them is the UKE 4-AA lights. Very bright, waterproof, good light pattern.

I think I must have about 40 flashlights now, it has gone a bit out of control, but I've loved them since I was a kid. I do tend to overpack when camping, however. :)

Just got my 6z....I really like it. The beam is REALLY bright, and the design is pretty cool...I tried it out with a pistol, and its pretty much the next best thing to a gun mounted light...maby better in some instances.

This is just a preliminary opinion


Mouse Assassins inc.

Don't want to repeat what Walter and everyone said, cause I agree with it, but I do want to reemphasize the Pelican brand.

In my opinion they are great lights, tough, light, waterproof, and with brighter bulbs and better beam patterns than any Maglite.

I own Sure-Fire for they're particular tactical specialty., I have a five D-cell Maglite for the "Carley Club" (thanks Walter!). I have various colored Photons on my key chain and hanging from cup hooks as emergency lights for power failures. But one of my favorite flashlights is the Pelican StealthLite. It has a beautiful solid beam, is small and light, and I can even use it with the "Rodgers" tactical pistol grip.

And one my favorite features is that it takes (4) AA batteries. That means I can use LITHIUM AA Energizer batteries, and it will have a 10 year shelf life, and work in the freezing cold!! Where possible I try to find AA flashlight solutions so I can use those wonderful (expensive) Lithium AA batteries.

And I highly recommend the newer AA Pelican Super Mity Light (I think that's they're goofy name) over the AA Maglite. I have to admit that I owned at least a dozen AA Maglites at one point, on my bikes, in my tackle box, etc. But they corrode fairly easily, and often I wouldn't be able get the end caps off to change batteries, or the o-rings would get all torn up by adjusting the beam or opening the flashlights. And any "not brand new" Maglite I tested for waterproof-ness failed.

Now I use these AA Pelicans, and they seem much better. Lighter, brighter, better beams, much more durable and corrosion resistant, and waterproof.

And one more idea/opinion! :) Where I live it seems like we lose power every few days,
so I had to find "power failure" solutions for lack of light. Two ideas are working out great:

1) Buy AA Pelicans (okay, or AA Maglites!) and buy the "brackets" (like from Nite-Ez) for holding this size light. They come two to a package, and I use one to hold a AA flashlight vertically as an emergency power failure light. A typical place is on the top of the door frame (arranged aesthetically so the top of the flashlight lines up with the top of the door or frame). I have the lights pointing down, but some times after the power fails, and I walk around turning these on, I switch them to point up. But keeping them pointed down keeps the dust off the lens. This works great. The lights are easy to test, easy to use, and they can be remove and replaced in the brackets easily if you need to look into a corner, etc. And you would think that would "stand out like a sore thumb", but something about being above eye level (and being lined up aesthetically) keeps visitors from noticing them. Heck, I have to egoistically point them out from time to time. Of course if anyone is visiting during a power failure, I get rave reviews!!

2) Do similar things with the new Photon Micro-Light II. In places where the AA solution might be too ugly/functional looking, I find a way to place a Photon to provide light. I hang a white one above the bathroom sinks, using the key-ring, on the heating vent adjustment lever in the ceiling. I'm tall enough that I reach up and click on the switch, and now there is a nice soft light in the bathroom (for like 14 hours!!)

Just my thoughts...


P.S. Can you buy a Sure-Fire "Tactical" (shock protected) lamp module and fit it to one of the "regular" lithium flashlights? I asked this several times and no one seems to know/respond?

[This message has been edited by ThomasH (edited 22 December 1998).]
I was wondering when a thread of this nature would appear. This is one of those where all can gain knowledge from.
Sure-Fire has great lights, but they're not what one would quanitfy as a working light. They are basically designed for the quick on/off use with blinding beams of light for tactical type situations, usually used with a weapon. Another factor is that their rechargeables don't work quite as long as the Streamlights. To put into context: I may use a Sure-Fire for a quick primary scene survey to determine number of victims and types of injuries on a vehicle accident. However, when it comes time to directing traffic or keep a light burning continous for working I go to a Streamlight SL20X or Stinger or Pelican light.
Streamlights are great for tactical lighting and work lighting. We put several Liteboxes and Sl20X's on all of our appratus. One nice feature is that they can be left on the charger and are always ready to go, where as the Sure-Fire can not be left on the charger.
Pelican makes great lights. Its just about the only light we will take into a fire or haz-mat situation. Their beam is great in smoke engulfed environments and even better when it's clear. Plus, you can throw them down the street and they still work when you pick 'em up. Our engineer accidently backed over one, it still works.
Hope this info. proves to be of some use.

[This message has been edited by BUCK (edited 22 December 1998).]
Has anyone bought the new flashlights by Eveready or Brinkman? They both use xenon bulbs. I was wondering how thay compare to UKE or Pelican. I too have a 4AA Pelican Stealthlight and I have to say that this is a great flashlight. The beam is brighter than my 3D cell Maglight. One good thing about Pelicans is that I see them in stores more than UKE or Streamlight, so it's probably easier to get replacement bulbs than the others.