I’ll admit it, I’m addicted to flashlights. I have way too many of the things.
I learned the utility of small flashlights that were easy to carry yet very bright when I was in Iraq. There are times when night vision is useful, and times when a flashlight is more handy.
Today, I always have a flashlight on me. I use it probably a dozen times a day, for everything from working inside a computer, to trying to figure out what else has broken inside my Jeep, to identifying things at night. It’s like a pocketknife: you would never realize how useful it is until you start to carry one with you.
I’ve tried many different brands, but keep coming back to one. Surefire flashlights are made in the US and are the world standard for, as they call it, “illumination tools”. Many other companies – most of which are made in China – claim to have higher output or higher runtime, and sometimes they are correct. Most of the time, however, they exaggerate output, and base runtime off expensive batteries that you won’t find anywhere in town. Oh, sure, many of these lights are very, very bright, and many of them can survive a good amount of abuse, but on the whole they aren’t as well made as Surefire lights. To me, knowing that the light will work when you want it to is more important than having a light that is slightly brighter.
I’ve had Chinese flashlights malfunction out of the box, or work fine for a while until I really needed them – like the time my motorcycle headlight went out, and my “very bright” Jetbeam flashlight only lasted 4 minutes before overheating and frying its internal circuitry, leaving me in the dark as I navigated traffic with a tiny keychain light. None of the Chinese lights I bought were on the cheap side, either – Fenix, Jetbeam, Quark, and Nitecore are among the best that China has to offer.
Surefire lights suitable for pocket carry come in many flavors. I prefer flashlights with durable pocket clips and click on/off tailcaps. I’ve also found that aggressively “crenellated” flashlights for defense tear up my pants pockets rather quickly. Also, flashlights that have two batteries are brighter and last longer, but they’re also longer and may interfere with items in your pocket. In my opinion, the ideal flashlight for carry is the Surefire E1B; it’s exceptionally tough, far brighter than its rating suggests, and also offers a “low” setting for extended runtime when a lot of light isn’t necessary. Its pocket clip will allow you to carry it bezel up or down. Bezel down is the better option for absolutely ensuring that the light won’t come out of your pocket when you don’t want it to.
I’ve had several E1Bs, and the only reason I’ve had more than one is because friends and family seem to be able to talk me out of them. I don’t believe that I’ll ever need to buy another model of flashlight. Of the dozens of Surefires I’ve owned over the past 5 years, the many countries I’ve abused them in, I’ve never had one malfunction. I did send one back after it had a negative encounter with a sandblaster. It still worked, but the light it put out was very scattered. They fixed it and had it back to me in just over a week, no charge. Surefire’s customer service is second to none.
These lights are more expensive than the competition, but in my opinion, they’re well worth the asking price.