SUREFIRE FLASHLIGHT REVIEW
(The U2 Ultra)
Never in my life did I think I would spend over $100 for a flashlight! Think about it...a flashlight is one of the most basic electrical configurations consisting only of a battery, a light with reflector and a switch. Someone would have to have rocks for brains to spend that much on a flashlight! Well, when your desire exceeds your common sense and you break down to buy one of these fine flashlights you will never be able to use a conventional flashlight again. Don't say I didn't warn you!
Surefire has many flashlights to choose from but they are all made from a very limited number of key electrical and optical elements meaning that the results are pretty much the same for different looks and feel. Here is what you need to know before you buy a Surefire.
All of the flashlights use the same lithium ion battery cell called the CR123. Surefire has the lowest cost and very high quality battery.
Since all of the flashlights use the same battery cell then a thicker body 2 cell Surefire has just as much power as a slim 2 cell Surefire. The Executive series of Surefire lights has thinner body style than the rest of their lineup but don't forget that 2 cells are 2 cells.
The number in the model number is the number of batteries (so far this is accurate).
The leading letter in the model number is the overall body style.
If the trailing letter in the model number is an "L" then is has an LED head.
Surefire has two types of light sources: the LED and incandescent xenon filled bulbs. The LED heads are very bright and very expensive but last over 10,000 hours. The incandescent heads are very bright but only last 100 hours.
Generally speaking the 1, 2 & 3 cell lights with the standard light source last 1 hour. The 1, 2 & 3 cell lights with the brightest light source last only 20 minutes but are very bright, if not, too bright.
The cross sectional intensity of a type of light source is basically the same so as you install brighter light sources the beam gets wider while maintaining the same cross-sectional intensity. Example, the G2 with the P60 (65 lumen) bulb has the same cross-sectional intensity as the P61 (120 lumens) but the P61 will burn for only 20 minutes but it throws an awful lot of light in a bigger area!
The light source part numbers do not follow conventions but here is what I know. The MN01 and MN02 bulbs fit the Executive style body but the trailing 1 and trailing 2 in the model number indicate the number of cells. The P60 and P61 are 6 volt (2 cell) bulbs. The P90 and P91 are 9 volt (3 cell) bulbs. There is no way to know what LED models numbers mean in terms of voltage/cells. For instance the KL1 works great on 1 to 3 cells. The KL4 will work OK on 1 cell, best on 2 cells and burn up on 3 cells. The KL1 and KL4 fit the Executive series while the KL5 fit the large body series like the G,C,Z series.
Incandescent lights on lithium batteries burn at a constant intensity for the life of the battery and die very quickly with little warning. LED heads hold maximum intensity for the rated life of the lithium battery but regulate back when the battery starts to die and can run for many hours at reduced output varying by model.
Surefire lights are basically waterproof to 30 feet or so if not specified otherwise.
In total darkness the light heads brighter than 65 lumens are TOO bright and cause temporary night blindness if used momentarily! The brightest heads must be turned on for more than a few seconds to avoid saturating your eyes with too much light. I am not kidding. You can get real disoriented using the brightest heads for a momentary light blast. The brightest heads can be used for self defense to blind an attacker.
On hazy night conditions the LED heads cause more atmospheric glare than the incandescent heads, sometimes too much glare. If there is even minimal fog the LED lights are almost useless.
Color codes take a while to understand: HA = hard anodized (this is the very best finish); BK = black; SG = signature series (kind of a gun blue finish)
DO NOT USE RECHARGEABLE CR123 BATTERIES!!! They are a higher voltage cell (3.6v vs. 3.0v) and will smoke your light!
The LED heads cause RFI interference in the VHF and UHF bands. This can kill your reception. This is my only negative comment about Surefire lights.
This little light is brighter than a 3 cell Mag light!
The E2e with the KL4 LED head (the L4 Lumamax) is much brighter than a 6 cell Mag light!!! It is so small for the enormous power!
The non "E" series have the larger body style and more powerful lights than the "E" series.
A Surefire E1L is more than enough flashlight for almost anyone. If you want a little too much flashlight then you need the E2e with the KL4 LED head better known as the L4 Lumamax.
If you are going to buy two Surefire lights get the E1L and the C3 and a supplemental P91 light bulb.
If money is no object then get the U2 for $300!
Get the HA finish. Over time you will not be happy with any other finish.
I have never talked to a store clerk at a sporting goods store that sells SureFire who had a clue what these lights are all about. For this reason I am telling you everything I know about these fantastic lights.
A Surefire flashlight is a pleasure just to hold. They are built of the finest materials and workmanship. They are awesome.
Remember that Surefire makes only a few bulbs and LED heads and they screw them onto all kinds of body styles. Don't let a store clerk try to convince you that one is brighter than another without opening it up to see what bulb is in it. Here are the basic light source options: MN01, MN02, KL1 & Kl4 for the Executive series; P60, P61, P90, P91, KL5 for all the others. Two Surefire lights look entirely different like the G2 and the C2, but have the same number of cells and identical bulbs which means they will have the same illumination. There are a few other light source options but not worth mentioning here.
Flashlight Reviews . com It is amazing that a site like this exists! All for a flashlight!
Candle Power Forums Same for this site.
Updated on 12/22/2006 11:01:26 PM