EDC Handheld Light Buying Guide – Big Tex Outdoors
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EDC Handheld Light Buying Guide

Ike Stephens



Just a heads up, this article will be somewhat long winded. There's a lot of information to go over so that takes some time. We'll briefly touch on a few features you may want in a light but the main purpose of this article is to compare and contrast the different models available. Low light training from a competent instructor is highly encouraged so you can establish what it is that you need from a light.  
This article will only cover SureFire lights There are many light manufacturers out there that make decent  lights. For some, this lower level of quality may be acceptable. For those that demand the most out of their gear SureFire is the only option. Until a company comes along that can match the quality, durability & reliability of SureFire, I'll stick with the proven performer. Decades of proven performance and literally millions of lights in use around the world give a pretty good indication of the level of quality you can expect.
There a multitude of reasons to choose a SureFire light. The main reasons for me are:

-Durability & Reliability. SureFire has a very extensive track record of making tough and dependable hard use lights. Their products are used by many professionals every day and are exposed to some of the most adverse conditions possible. They continually preform when put to the test. Obviously nothing is indestructible but they have a much lower failure rate compared to other offerings.

-Beam Pattern and "Usable Light." We'll cover this in a little more detail shortly but SureFire makes lights with the greatest amount of usable light.

-Warranty. Notice that I put this at the very bottom of my list. Warranty should never be the largest consideration when selecting life critical gear. I'd take a 1 year warranty that I never have to use, over a lifetime warranty that I keep on using. (A warranty is useless when you life is on the line and your gear fails.) Having said that, SureFire has the absolute best customer service in the industry. If you somehow manage to break one of their lights (yes it can be done!) they will repair or replace it with no questions asked. It's that simple. Doesn't matter if you bought it yesterday or bought it from your buddy 10 years ago. They stand behind their product and take care of you. Again, it's not a top priority but very nice to know that you'll be taken care of if needed.


Use the code: SUREFIRE ARTICLE for 15% off our entire selection of SureFire lights





Basics of Lights

One fundamental concept we need to understand is that you should carry the brightest light possible. If you're reading this article, it's more than likely because you're looking for a light to add to your EDC setup which includes a firearm of some sort. Yes, you'll end up using this light to look for your keys, read a map and a variety of other "non-critical" tasks but it could very well be used when your life is on the line. So even though it's an EDC light, it needs to be capable of serious use.

Your light needs to be bright enough to positively identify potential threats. Not just identify the presence of an individual, but be able to see if that object in their hand is cell phone or a gun or whatever else they may have. Simply put, the more light you have, the more information you can gather. At night/ low light conditions we are attempting to replace the sun. The more light you have, the closer you get to seeing what you could see in broad daylight. Give me #AllTheLumens. Obviously convenience and comfort come into play but carry the brightest SureFire that you are willing/ able to.  


William Petty of 88 Tactical dreaming of "all the lumens" before a VCQB course.


If you're worried about blinding yourself indoors from splash back from walls, mirrors, etc-  don't be. Proper technique quickly eliminates this. This is a gear article so I won't swerve outside my lane but my friend, Matt of Primary & Seconday LLC has a good article (click here to read it) on the subject that you can read. It pertains to Weapon Mounted Lights but many of the principles are very applicable to handhelds.




Another thing to consider in addition to how much output your light is capable of is the "switchology" and different modes/ functions of your light. For a serious use light, I like to keep it simple. I want to have complete control of what my light is doing. I don't want to have to switch through "strobe, SOS,  low, Disco club, medium, rave party, high, seizure, extra high" modes to get to the setting I want. I like it simple and I want my light to be able to do the same thing every time. This is a concept that is covered in a good low-light class.
Don't take my word for it though. I'm in no way qualified to be giving advice on this subject. I'm just some random idiot on the internet with a website and a keyboard. Go get some training and consult some experts. My intentions are only to point you in that direction.







Brightness/Light Output

I'm sure by now you've heard the term "Lumens" when referring to how bright a light is. This really isn't the most accurate representation of how bright a light actually is but rather how bright a particular light is at the source. It's what the industry uses to measure brightness. It's not ideal for our applications but it's how things are done so we have to live with it.


Things like lens, reflector and beam pattern have a large impact on how much "usable light" is projected. Two lights with the same "lumen count" can look completely different. I've compared a 1,600 lumen Chinese light against a  500 lumen SureFire and the SureFire appeared brighter up close and especially at distance. The quality of components is much more important than the lumen count alone. That's why it's important to go with a reputable manufacturer. SureFire lights run true to their claims and the components they use guarantee the maximum amount of "usable light." There's a variety of other factors that make up the "quality" of a particular light but that's not what this article is about.

If you want to do some more reading, I suggest this article from Breach Bang Clear as well as this one.

 

SureFire's QA/QI lab in Fountain Valley, CA





Application

Without training, even the best gear is almost worthless. There is no replacement for quality instruction. I'm a firm believer in setting yourself up for success by selecting the best gear possible but make sure you are complimenting that gear with good training. Find a reputable instructor and take a class. The things you will learn are extremely valuable. If you need help finding a good class, email me (Ike@BigTexOutdoors.com) and I can help put you in contact with someone in your area.
Below is a short video by Arron Cowan of Sage Dynamics covering some basic techniques. It is in no way intended to replace training from a vetted instructor, but should whet your appetite for training.









Power Switching Mechanisims


So lets talk about tail caps. SureFire offers two different kinds. I'll refer to them as "Clicky" and "Pressure/ Twist."

It should be noted that in late 2015 SureFire changed the tail caps on the "Tactical" series of lights to the clicky style tail cap. There are still LOTS of the old versions in circulation so even several months into 2016 if you buy a "tactical' series light it may have the old pressure/ twist tail cap. 


With the "Clicky" (I know that's not a word but I like to use it. Don't judge me.) style tail cap, the light is activated by pressing inward on the cap until you hear a click and then releasing. The light will stay on until you press the cap again and hear a click. Upon releasing the cap the light will turn off. It should also be noted that with these tail caps you can press halfway down without having the "click" engage and the light will come on. These used to typically be found on dual output lights, but SureFire is now putting them on the single output lights as well.


An example of a "Clicky" style tail cap on a G2X Pro in a LaRue Tactical mount



The "Pressure/ Twist" tail caps are activated by, you guessed it, applying pressure to the cap. When you press down the light is activated and when you release, the light turns off. You can have the light in "constant on" mode by twisting the tail cap about 1/4 turn. Twist it back to turn it off. This style tail cap will mostly be a thing of the past but up until Q4 of 2015 they were found on the "Tactical" series of lights.



The tail cap on a G2X Tactical (Pressure/ Twist)


 

If you prefer a single output light but still want the clicky style tail cap there is a way to do that. Here's a guide for a  little DIY trick (CLICK HERE)  that will make it a single output.



Flashlights


Now on to the fun stuff! I'll be comparing lights starting with the most affordable and working our way towards the more expensive offerings. Hopefully this will provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision. Keep in mind the "street price" on these lights will usually be significantly less than the MSRPs listed below.




G2X Pro. (Dual Output)


Output: 15/320 lumens
Bezel Diameter: 1.25"
Body Diameter: 1"
Length: 5.2"
Battery:  (2) CR123A

Battery Life: 2.75hr/ 45hr
MSRP: $63

 


The G2X Pro is a dual output clicky tail cap. The first click is 15 lumens and then it switches to the maximum output of 320 lumens with the 2nd click. At 320 lumens it's the lowest output light I would consider carrying. I really prefer 500 lumens or more but if the budget is tight, you can still get a well-built light that will serve you for years to come.

There is no pocket clip on this model but there are several aftermarket clips that fit well. My personal favorite is the one shown below from Raven Concealment.


This clip will work with any 1" body Surefire 
including the G2X, 6PX, P2X and P3X.

 

 

G2X Tactical. (Single Output)

Output: 320 Lumens
Bezel Diameter: 1.25"
Body Diameter: 1"
Length: 5.2"
Battery:  (2) CR123A
Battery Life: 2.5hr
MSRP: $63

 
The G2X Tactical is identical to the Pro in every way with the exception of the output. The Tactical features a 320 lumen single output and clicky tail cap. (Models produced prior to Q4 of 2015 had a pressure/twist tail cap as I mentioned earlier.)








G2X LE

Output: 400/15 Lumens
Bezel Diameter: 1.25"
Body Diameter: 1"
Length: 
5.2"
Battery:  (2) CR123A
Battery Life: 2.25hr/ 40hr
MSRP: $72


The G2X LE is almost the exact same as the Pro model, but with this one, the first mode is the high setting of 400 lumens (80 more than the Pro) instead of switching to the low output first. After releasing the tail cap and pressing it again, the light will switch to the low output of 15 lumens.



6PX Tactical & Pro

Output: 320 Lumens (15/320 on the Pro)
Bezel Diameter: 1.25"
Body Diameter: 1"
Length: 5.2"
Battery:  (2) CR123A
Battery Life: 2.75hr/ 45hr
MSRP: $81


The 6PX Pro & Tactical are nearly identical to the G2X Tactical & Pro. The only difference is that the 6PX has an aluminum body and tail cap whereas the G2X is constructed of polymer. All other features and dimensions are exactly the same. The 6PX should be more durable when compared to the G2X, but both have excellent reputations for being very tough lights. (Tactical models produced prior to Q4 of 2015 had a pressure/twist tail cap as I mentioned earlier.)



P2X Fury


Output: 15/600 lumens
Bezel Diameter: 1.37"
Body Diameter: 1"
Length: 
5.4"
Battery:  (2) CR123A
Battery Life: 1.5hr/ 46hr
MSRP: $139.50

The P2X Fury is a dual output clicky tail cap light. The first mode is 15 lumens and then it switches to the maximum output of 600 lumens with the 2nd click. It runs off of (2) CR123A lithium batteries. The light is a decent size for pocket carry. It's a little larger than some would prefer but with 600 lumens and less than 5.5" in length it's a pretty reasonable size for the output that you get. Pair it with a nice pocket clip and you have a great EDC light for a relatively low cost. Many folks also use them as weapon lights.

As with the G2X Pro, you can convert it to a single output high light by following the steps outlined in This article





P2X Fury Tactical


Output: 600 lumens
Bezel Diameter: 1.37"
Body Diameter: 1"
Length: 
5.4"
Battery:  (2) CR123A
Battery Life: 1.5hr
MSRP: $139.50

The P2X Fury Tactical is identical to the P2X Fury in every way with the exception of the output. The Tactical features a 600 lumen single output and clicky tail cap. Same dimensions and weight as the P2X Fury.
(models produced prior to Q4 of 2015 had a pressure/twist tail cap)




EB1 Backup


Output: 5/300 lumens
Bezel Diameter: 1.1"
Body Diameter: 0.8"
Length: 4.4"

Battery:  (1) CR123A
Battery Life: 1.3hr/ 40hr
MSRP: $198

The EB1 is an interesting little light. It's a little on the low side of preferred output with only 300 lumens but it's size and ability to put it almost anywhere helps to make amends for it's lack of output. I still recommend a higher output light but sometimes you need a small light, this fills that role. 
It features the clicky tail cap and the first setting is the low output of 5 lumens and then switches to the max output of 300 with the 2nd click.  It only uses 1 battery.

The EB1 also comes with a pocket clip that allows the light to be carried either bezel up, or bezel down depending on your preference. The quality of the clip is definitely not on par with the quality of the rest of the light. Early on I was breaking the clips about every 2-3 months. However I think SureFire may have improved the quality a little since I have 4 models (well only one EB1 but 3 other lights that use this same clip) with these clips and they've all gone 8+ months now without breaking it. If you do end up breaking the clip, you can call SureFire Customer Service and they'll send you one out for free with no questions asked.



P2X Fury with IntelliBeam Technology


Output: 15-600 lumens
Bezel Diameter: 1.37"
Body Diameter: 1"
Length: 5.8"

Battery:  (2) CR123A
Battery Life: 1.5h+
MSRP: $206.10

This is one very cool light. Probably SureFire's coolest lights of 2015. It is very similar to the P2X Fury. It has the click style tail cap and has a 15-600 lumen output. Now  notice that I used a hyphen instead of a slash. That's because this light automatically adjusts based on how much light is needed.

Inside the head of the light is a sensor that detects how much light is being reflected back and adjusts the output of the light accordingly. If you're reading a map up close, the output will be close to the 15 lumen end, if you shine it away to see what that noise was, the light will automatically ramp up the output and then dial it back when the light is brought in closer. It doesn't have just 2 outputs, it has many different levels of brightness. 



The sensor on the P2X Fury IntelliBeam


If you need the maximum output and need the auto adjust mode off, just double tap the tail cap like you would on the P2X Fury or G2X Pro, and it will switch to the 600 lumen output and no longer automatically adjust.

To see the light in action, check out this review by Aaron Cowan of Sage Dynamics.

 




EB2 Backup  


Output: 5/500 lumens
Bezel Diameter: 1.1"
Body Diameter: 0.8"
Length:
5.8"
Battery:  (2) CR123A
Battery Life: 2.5hr/ 67hr
MSRP: $211.50

The EB2 Backup is my favorite EDC light. It's very slim which makes it easy to carry and also very bright which is nice for obvious reasons. I also like the fact that it has the low setting of 5 lumens. It's nice for looking at things up close or when you don't need #AllTheLumens


Until fall of 2015, the EB2 was available with 2 different tail caps. You had the choice of either the Tactical style tail cap (pressure/ twist) or the click style tail cap. For some unknown reason SureFire decided that the tactical tail cap was no longer needed and discontinued it. I'm slightly pissed off at this because the EB2 with the tactical cap was my absolute favorite EDC light ever produced.

I liked it because you gave a "half press" for the low output or pressed it all the way down for the maximum output. There's no modes to click through. I have complete control of the output at all times and easy access to the max output with the added benefit of a low setting.

I prefer this style to the click tail cap (on this particular light) because I'm always in control of the output. With the click style tail cap to switch from "off" to "max output" I have to go through the low output mode which I really don't like if I need to use the light as a search light inside a structure (this is where low light training helps you decide what features you want in a light.)
With the tactical tail cap the low output was there when I need it (general use/ admin type work), but it was still easily bypassed when I need to get down and get to work. SureFire screwed up big time on this one. I'm still a little butt hurt over it and may never recover 



The EB2 also comes with a pocket clip just like the EB1 that allows the light to be carried either bezel up, or bezel down depending on your preference. The quality of the clip is definitely not on par with the quality of the rest of the light. Early on I was breaking the clips about every 2-3 months. However I think SureFire may have improved the quality a little since I have 4 models with these clips and they've all gone 8+ months now without breaking the clip. If you do end up breaking the clip, you can call SureFire Customer Service and they'll send you one  for free, no questions asked.


E1D Defender



Output:
5/300 lumens
Bezel Diameter:
1.1"
Body Diameter:
0.8"
Length:
4.25"

Battery:  (1) CR123A
Battery Life: 1.3hr/ 47hr
MSRP: $216

The E1D is very similar to the EB1. very short and very slim. Output is the same, as is the way the tail cap operates. The light is just a tiny bit shorter as well. The main differences are the tail cap which is still the click style like the EB1, but the E1D has a shrouded switch and also a few holes in the tail cap so you have the ability to add a lanyard. It also features a "strike bezel" on the head of the light.
I'm not a really a huge fan of the strike bezels on lights. If they have it, that's ok but I don't really consider it a selling point for me. If I like everything else about the light and it happens to have a strike bezel, the fact that it has one won't keep me from buying the light but if there's an identical light without it, I'll go for the one without. I'm not really convinced of the value in the strike bezel. I've noticed it can be uncomfortable when carried in the pocket and can tear up pockets too due to the aggressive pattern on the head. 

The E1D also features the same clip as the EB1 which allows for bezel up for bezel down carry and uses (1) CR123A battery.



P1R Peacekeeper 

Output: 600/15 lumens
Bezel Diameter:
1.37"
Body Diameter:
1"
Length: 
5.5"

Battery:  (2) CR123A or (1) 18650 rechargeable.
Battery Life: 1.75hr/ 46hr
MSRP: $225


The Peacekeeper is very comparable in function to the P2X Fury. It has the same output of 15 and 600 lumens and has the clicky style tail cap. However, the Peacekeeper gives you the maximum output first and then switches to the low output of 15 with the 2nd click.
It uses an 18650 lithium-ion battery but can also be run with (2) CR123A batteries if needed. The light comes with an AC (wall) and DC (vehicle) charger.



P1R Peacekeeper Tactical


Output: 600 lumens
Bezel Diameter:
1.37"
Body Diameter:
1"
Length: 
5.5"
Battery:  (2) CR123A or (1) 18650 rechargeable.
Battery Life: 1.75hr
MSRP: $225


The P1R Peacekeeper Tactical is identical in every way to the P1R, except the tactical version features the single output of 600 lumens.

Below is a video featuring the P1R & P1R Tactical.




P3X Fury


Output: 15/ 1,000 lumens
Bezel Diameter:
1.37"
Body Diameter:
1"
Length: 
6.8"

Battery:  (3) CR123A
Battery Life: 2.25hr/ 53hr
MSRP: $225

The P3X Fury is the brightest handheld light that SureFire offers (well at least one that you'd be able to carry in a pocket.) I won't lie, It's a rather large light. Carrying one that size takes some dedication. More dedication than I have. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to have 1,000 lumens at my disposal but it's just a little more light than I want to carry. I know plenty who do so it may be feasible for you as well.
The P3X has the clicky style tail cap and switches from low (15) to high (1,000.) 


P3X Fury Tactical


Output: 1,000 lumens
Bezel Diameter:
1.37"
Body Diameter:
1"
Length: 
6.8"

Battery:  (3) CR123A
Battery Life: 2.25hr
MSRP: $225


The P3X Fury Tactical is exactly the same as the P3X Fury except the tactical version is a single output. It features the clicky style tail cap. (Models produced prior to Q4 of 2015 had a pressure/twist tail cap)


E2D LED Defender Ultra

Output: 5/500 lumens
Bezel Diameter:
1.1"
Body Diameter:
0.8"
Length:
5.6"

Battery:  (2) CR123A
Battery Life: 2.25hr/ 67.75hr
MSRP: $238.50

The E2D is very similar to the EB2 Backup. It has the same output and is almost the same size. The E2D has the clicky tail cap that is shrouded and also has holes so you can attach a lanyard if you desire. It has the reversible pocket clip as well that allows for bezel up or bezel down carry. As with all of the Defender series lights it has the strike bezel head. It's a pretty slim and compact light but still has an impressive output.

 

 

 

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Secondary/ Backup Lights

These next few lights don't really count as a viable option for a primary light. I'm only including them as options for a secondary light that you may consider using to compliment your other light. They're not really suited for serious use but do serve a purpose when low output is needed. They're small (like REALLY small) so they can be put on a key chain or carried in a pocket without even knowing they're there. It may be something you consider adding to your setupThey help save your batteries on your primary light!


Titan A

Output: 15/125 lumens
Bezel Diameter:
0.58"
Body Diameter:
0.58"
Length:
3.0"

Battery:  (1) AAA lithium or alkaline 
Battery Life:
 1hr/ 8.5hr

The Titan-A is a very small micro light features a 15 and 125 lumen output. at just 3 inches long and just over half an inch in diameter it can fit literally anywhere. The light is activated by holding the head and twisting the rear of the body. There's no buttons on it. Only twist. The first twist gives you the low output of 15 lumens and then you twist back to the left to turn it off and back to the right within 2 seconds to activate the high output of 125 lumens. It's not a lot of light, but it does fill a role. The included key ring makes it easy to always have the light nearby. It runs on 1 AAA battery.


Sidekick

Output: 5/60/300 lumens
Bezel Diameter:
0.58"
Length:
2.5"
Battery:  Internal rechargeable (USB)
Battery Life: 1.25hr/ 4hr/ 45hr
MSRP: $79.99

 

This light looks more like a car remote than it does a light. It has 3 different settings of 5, 60, and 300. It uses a button to switch through the different modes and has a key chain as well. One of the coolest things about this one is that it's rechargeable using a provided USB cable that you can use in your vehicle, wall outlet or even computer. It's small enough to fit anywhere and is nice when used for little tasks that don't require much light.




Titan B (Titan Plus)


Output: 15/75/300 lumens
Bezel Diameter:
0.58"
Body Diameter:
0.58"
Length:
3.3"

Battery:  (1) AAA lithium or alkaline 
Battery Life: 1hr/ 2hr/ 7hr
MSRP: $105.13


This one is my favorite of SureFire's micro lights. It's just a hair longer than the Titan A and the same diameter. It has 3 different outputs that are activated by twisting the light, just like you would with the Titan A. It has a removable key chain attachment so you can store it on your keys, but also have the ability to quickly remove it if you need to use it. The Titan B also includes a pocket clip that is actually pretty robust.
The beam is a flood pattern that is pretty wide so it doesn't have as much reach as other lights that are 300 lumens like the G2X (remember in the beginning when we talked about beam pattern and useable light?) But for its intended use it works perfectly. The beam doesn't illuminate very well at distance but it does provide a lot of light within 10-15 yards which is its intended use.  I enjoy using this micro light. its a nice tool to have for small tasks that don't require much light. The thing I love is how much power it as in such a tiny package. This thing will fit literally anywhere you want to carry it.






Again, these aren't made to replace your EDC light, but they do compliment them very well.








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Pictured left to right are:

Titan-B
EB1 Backup
E2D LED Defender Ultra
EB2 Backup
G2X
P2X Fury
P2X Fury Intellibeam










Hopefully you found this article informative and helpful. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask! I'll do my best to help in any way that I can. Thanks for reading.


Ike Stephens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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  • Cad Bane on

    Obviously LOTS of work went into this and the result is LOTS of information. The article is a much appreciated resource as one wades through the sea of opinions, paid endorsements, and derp (I hate that word) while shopping for a Surefire.


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