For the past 3-4 years, I’ve carried a SureFire E2L Outdoorsman as my every day carry (EDC) flashlight. I carry a flashlight all the time and at the ready because it’s useful. I didn’t realize how useful it was until I started carrying one all the time — I use it almost every day.
But over the years of carrying the E2L, my preferences have changed and a couple months ago I started on a quest for new EDC flashlight. I’ve hit a milestone on that quest – I’ve obtained a new flashlight, a SureFire E2D LED Defender
First, it’s important to note this is the LED model; there’s earlier versions of the E2D that were not LED. Second, you’ll note the different tailcap in the above picture; I’ll discuss that below.
Why did I pick this? Because it fit all my requirements.
- I wanted a higher beam output than the E2L, and with 200 lumens the E2D certainly meets that.
- It has a better beam quality, but I’ll discuss that below.
- The first click on the E2D activates the high beam (E2L, the low beam). My needs these days find me needing “most light, right now”, which means I want the first press of the button to give me a solid beam of lots of light.
- It has a clip, and a clip in the “right” direction for my needs. One of my biggest uses of the clip is to hang the light from the brim of my cap so I can illuminate whatever I’m looking at (hands-free), and of course the beam moves with my head and eyes.
- High and low beams, because while much of my current needs are “most light, right now”, sometimes I need to read something or see something else, so low beam is good. And no strobe.
- The form factor is right for my hand, for my carry, etc.. BTW, my existing Comp-Tac flashlight pouch works just fine because the E2D and E2L have just about the same form factor. I did note I needed to tighten up the pouch a little bit for the E2D to fit, but that’s not a big deal.
So… my needs were met, thus.
Regarding the beam quality, from what my eyes can tell it’s actually pretty much the same beam as the E2L. But because it’s more lumens, things just look better. So I reckon it’s not so much the beam as it was the strength. To compare, the Streamlight Super Tac-X I have also has a 200 lumen output, but the beams of the Tac-X and the E2D are different — this is due to the reflector. The Tac-X is designed to really throw that light, so the beam is a little more focused and appears to reach further. The E2D certainly reaches far, but the light is… well, the best way I can describe it is closer to a floodlight than a spotlight, but it’s certainly not some sort of “room-filling” light… it’s still more spot than a ceiling lamp, but I’d just say the E2D’s beam is a little more “spreading/filling” than the Tac-X. That’s fine for my needs, because while I do want the throw, I also need the “fill”. What I’d really like to do is get out in the country where I don’t have the light pollution of the city and really see how the beams compare.
The clip is shorter but VERY strong. It’s tough to get under it, whereas the E2L’s is longer and “looser”, very easy to get under. That’s fine, if over time it means more durability and less chance of accidental snagging of the clip.
In the few days I’ve had the light and used it, it’s worked well and I’ve been pleased. It’s what I’ve been after.
However… not everything is rosy.
See the above picture and compare the two lights. Certainly they are cut from the same cloth, the difference being the E2D has this “Defender” styling. That’s a bit of a mixed bag.
First, the crenelation is of course part of the purpose of the thing. But it’s a little sharp. While of course that’s part of the point, when you pull the light in and out of the belt pouch all day AND the light is up against your bare skin well… sometimes I skewer myself. Just annoying.
Second, the this affects the accessibility of the tailcap button. Notice in the picture you can see the E2L’s button but you cannot see the E2D’s. They rise up the same, just the E2D has the “walls” around the button. I found this made it difficult for me to activate the button. When I hold the light and hit the button with my thumb, either I’m holding it wrong or I just don’t have enough thumb meat to get that button depressed. For me to work it, I have to come at the button with my thumb pointing down into the button and use the tip of my thumb – hardly practical for me. When I grab the light, regardless of how I grab it, I should be able to just press and go, but alas, the tailcap doesn’t allow it. Thus why you see the mixed light in the top picture – I just switched to use my E2L’s tailcap. It works fine.
Third, note the texturing on the body of the flashlight. It’s a bit more aggressive on the E2D. That’s great for a grip, but in the pouch, on my belt, against my skin? It’s sandpaper. It’s not majorly uncomfortable, but there’s enough times when I bend or twist my body just so and get rubbed and it’s annoying.
All in all these annoyances are minor, but I’ve also only had the light a few days. Over time I may grow to hate them or they’ll fade into the background and I will barely notice them. Time will tell.
But for now, the E2D stays on my hip as my new EDC flashlight.
For many years I’ve carried a SureFire E2L Outdoorsman. It’s part of my every-day-carry, and in fact I use it almost every day. It’s because of that daily utility that I chose that particular model of flashlight.
However, over the past year I’ve started to have a change of heart. Many new flashlights have come to market, and over the years of carrying I’ve started to find myself wanting… a little more, a little different. And probably too much time hanging out with TXGunGeek, who is also a big flashlight geek.
What’s my beef with my E2L?
- High-beam output. While my E2L’s high beam is pretty good, there’s better out there now. I’ve found myself in enough situations where I wished for more light.
- Beam quality. I don’t know how to describe it, but the high beam feels… fuzzy. Maybe it’s my (aging) eyes, but compared to some other flashlights I have, there’s something about the light quality that just doesn’t provide me with the best picture. It’s certainly good enough for most things, but if I can have a little better, since again, my eyes are getting older and anything I can do to help out is A Good Thing™.
- High first, low second. There’s no question I want dual-output because much of my every-day light needs require a low-beam. Originally I wanted the low-beam to come on first since I figured most of my needs were mundane and didn’t need to blind myself. Now I want the high beam to come on first, because I find myself in more situations where I need a lot of light right now and don’t need to waste time clicking through beam modes. I decided if I needed low beam mode, it would likely not be a “need it immediately” need and I could do something like press the flashlight into my stomach or leg to suppress throwing light, click through to low, then there we go. Besides, when you need a lot of light right now, you need it now and need to be able to just slam the light on and get the light. Yeah I tried many times to just get used to “half click, release, full click” to get as quick as I could over the low mode and locked into the high mode or doing 2 full clicks, but it’s just too error prone, too time consuming, and too loud.
So it’s not much, but it’s enough to motivate me to look for alternatives.
But on that token, some things I would prefer to not give up:
- Clip. The clip is very useful, especially since I can hang it off the brim of my hat for hands-free use. That means the clip needs to attach near the head and point back towards the tailcap (like the E2L has). So many flashlights have the clip attach at the tail and run towards the head, which can be good for keeping the flashlight in your pocket, but isn’t very usable during use.
- Dual mode. I need high and low beam. Strobe? Oh please… no.
- Size. I like the E2L’s size. First, because it means 2 batteries instead of 1 thus more runtime. Second, the diameter feels good in my hands in terms of being able to hold a grip and not lose the flashlight in my hand.
And then there’s one thing I flat out do not want: strobe. This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco. I do not need nor want strobe. I do not want to waste time clicking through a mode that I don’t need, that all too often will accidentally fire because I’m trying to click through to the mode past it. If someone can tell me how strobe is actually useful, please comment. In the dark, it just screws up YOUR vision too, and again it’s too many modes to click through to get it. Enough Low Light shooting classes and strobe never comes up as useful. But, I will admit I recently found a use for it. While taking Kiddos around the neighborhood this past Halloween for trick-or-treating, I carried a Streamlight Super Tac-X because low beam is good for close-up work (e.g. picking up dropped candy); the high beam is bright, crisp, clean, lots of throw, lots of spread, really lights things up which can be useful when walking around in the dark and well-behind a group of kids that might need some illumination in front of them (throw!). And then… yes… strobe was useful when we would cross the street. I would aim it down at the pavement and let it blink, and saw more than enough cars react to the flashing strobe (vs. other times when I’ve used a plain beam) and slow down. So yeah, THAT was useful. But for my EDC flashlight? No strobe.
There’s no question the awesomeness of Fenix Lights, especially that they have such great output, quality, and runtime on ubiquitous AA batteries, all at such a low price. The Fenix lights I presently have are great. Because of them, SureFire and Streamlight have had to pick up their game. So lots of new and interesting stuff out there. I focused on these 3 companies. I did look at some others, but they either were no longer in business or their lights could all be eliminated from consideration because they had features I didn’t want (e.g. Blackhawk, NovaTac, Pelican).
Streamlight didn’t have anything that would fit my bill. Mostly lost out on the clip front. In fact, on the clip front alone I pretty much eliminated most every flashlight out there. *sigh* The two I found were:
The Fenix has a lot of win all around. Many different modes/levels of light output. Cree LED’s. A tailcap switch, but also a side button; so yes, that means there is a strobe mode but at least it’s not part of the tailcap. There’s a clip, but I’m mixed on the fact it’s removable. Sure that’s cool from a sales standpoint, because they can sell it to more people. And I kinda like that if the clip snagged on something it would just break away instead of bend (how many times have I bent my Spyderco Delica clips because of a snag?). But… that also means it can break away, which may not be what I want. I’m unsure about the clip. I think tho the bigger concern is while it’s cool it remembers the last output setting and uses that next time you turn it on, that means if the last thing I did was read a map but RIGHT NOW I need a lot of light, I won’t get it. The Fenix looks good in so many regards, but I’m not sure it will win the “tactical need” test. But it’s only like $60, so I might pick one up anyways because I could see a lot of use for this in other contexts, like camping or hunting.
The SureFire E2D. Funny how things happen. My only beef with this? The fact it looks aggressive. Of course, that’s the point of the “Defender” models, and I’m honestly not bothered by it myself. But as I wrote in my old “why I like the E2L” article I specifically avoided that light for its looks. At the time I was active in Boy Scouts and a lot of parents there did not “get it” and would freak out at the thought, and I just didn’t need the grief. As well, I flew and didn’t want to have some TSA goon take my $150 flashlight. But these days? I don’t fly. I don’t do BSA, and operate my life in a different context. Besides, I’ll still have my E2L in storage and can always pull it out and use it if context changes.
So yes, presently I’m leaning towards the E2D. I even emailed Comp-Tac to see if their flashlight holster for the E2L works for the E2D.
What’s your input?
13-Nov-2012 Update: Comp-Tac replied:
From what I can tell the e2d and e2l have the same bezel diameter. However, the e2d has that crenellated bezel, which adds to the length a small amount.
I would feel comfortable in saying that it would work.
So I figure if I go with the E2D, I’ll get it, try it, and hope for the best. If I do have to buy a new pouch, I reckon the existing one would work well enough until the new pouch arrived.
I’ve updated my EDC for Kids post with input and feedback I’ve received from folks.
He lists very good reasons for carrying that way, but I say why limit yourself to one side or the other?
I carry two Spyderco Delicas, one clipped inside of each front pants pocket. They are set up in the same way, tip-up carry, clip on the same side. Not sure how to describe which side and orientation the clip has, so here’s a picture:
Of course, the only picture I have doesn’t show the clips but…they are on the other side of the body, with the clip fastened to the bottom end…. so when closed, the blade tip and clip “screws” meet. Allows tip-up carry. You can figure it out.
And then, one into each pocket.
What this allows is access to a blade by either hand, either side. And to work the knife is consistent for each hand. So if the right hand gets the knife on the right side, it’s a simple motion to open the knife. If the right hand reaches for the left knife, the orientation remains the same and opens the same. The left hand only requires a small rotation of the knife in the hand, but it’s the same rotation regardless of knife.
This way, I have no limits. Any hand, any side, any blade.
For those that carry only one knife on one side (either side), what if you can’t get to that side when you need your knife? What will you do?
You can also argue the “2 is 1, 1 is none” angle. Of course, I have 3 if you count the Leatherman.
To me, these are useful everyday tools. Heck, I used my Leatherman Wave’s wire cutters a few days ago to trim a couple stray branches off our barbados cherry bushes where they were overhanging into the sidewalk. I use the Delica’s every day for things like opening letters. I know some say if it’s a knife for fighting you shouldn’t use it, keep it clean, sharp, ready. I say, I can clean and sharpen my knife, and every time I take the knife out to use it to open a letter that’s another repetition at drawing and opening to keep me in practice.
To carry two comes from Insights Training Center and their Defensive Folding Knife class.
In our “bug out bag” prep, a natural thing to want to have is a flashlight.
I settled on the Fenix LD15.
- I went with Fenix because they have a good reputation. No, it’s not a SureFire nor a Streamlight, but they use the Cree LED’s and Fenix gives you about the best bang-for-your-buck these days. Since I’m making BOB’s for 5 people, cost is a large consideration: I just can’t afford 5 SureFire’s and all the other “5′s of things” that will be needed for all the bags.
- Size/weight. I’m no guru at making BOB’s, but my thinking is having an “essentials bag” (in addition to some other bags). This is THE bag you grab if you can’t grab anything else, so it needs to hold all the essentials. IMHO, a flashlight is an essential. Leaning back to my backpacking days in Boy Scouts, size/weight of everything matters… a cubic inch saved here, an ounce saved there, it all adds up. So I wanted something on the smaller side. The LD15 isn’t much larger than a AA battery.
- AA battery. I hum-hawed for a while about what sort of battery to deal with. I admit bias towards the CR123′s because the LONG shelf life, which I think is important for a BOB since you have no idea when you’ll need things. Plus they are a good power source. However, they aren’t as common; a good grocery/drugstore might have them, but compared to AA’s? What is more ubiquitous than AA? So if things go really pear-shaped and resources are hard to come by, AA’s have the best chance of being found (in stores, in trade with other people, etc.). Furthermore, it’s likely there will be other things in my bag that need batteries, so being able to standardize on something is good, and AA’s should fill the bill. Fenix is all about the AA.
- I did look into things in terms of storage life. Quality AA alkalines or even AA lithiums should hold charge and be workable. A BOB can’t be made then shoved in the closet and ignored, you need to go through it at least once a year for any food or medical or whatever stuff. So, batteries are just part of that. IMHO, get some high quality ones, then eventually rotate them out and put fresh ones in the bag and use the old ones in the Wii remote, the TV remotes, and other such non-important things. No big deal.
That was my thinking really before I did much shopping and product investigation. My wonder was if Fenix would have something that worked for me. Would there be enough lumens? Could I get dual mode, for high output but also very low so I could do things like read and not blind myself? Will it last long enough (at least on the low setting, I accept high will drain it quickly)? And so on.
I believe I saw LA Police Gear selling the E11 on clearance, so I Googled for more information. That actually seemed like it might fit the bill, but many were comparing it to the LD15, so well… sure the E11 is cheaper (see point 1 above), but if the LD15 offers something more, go for it.
Obviously, I opted for the LD15 over the E11. A few reasons:
- The E11′s low setting was reported as actually kinda high (in terms of lumens/brightness). I can’t find reference to it now, but some people reported thinking it was too high. I don’t need that. Even my SureFire EL2 on low can be a little blinding if it reflects on what I’m reading just right.
- The E11′s switch is a tailcap clicker, which is acceptable to me. But the LD15 has a flat base so you can stand it upright like a candle. I thought that might be useful in the given context.
I did look at the rest of Fenix’s offerings. They have a lot of compelling flashlights that I think are good for EDC (Every Day Carry), such as on your keychain (I think the E15 could make the perfect keychain flashlight. I was rather impressed and think Fenix is a great way to introduce people to the world of better flashlights: performance is good, price is low. But nothing else really seemed to fit the bill as nice as the LD15 would. Remember, I’m buying for a specific context and reason.
I think the LD15′s high setting is bright enough, I think the low setting is dim enough tho still quite usable. I don’t mind that the on-off function is performed by twisting the cap — I would NOT want such a thing on a tactical light, but it’s fine here. In fact, any light I’d have in my BOB would have to be able to be disabled by twisting the cap off enough so that the light cannot be activated while sitting in the bag — and leaving me with a dead light. So, twist cap is not a problem at all.
The one thing I wish for is a clip, like on my SureFire E2L, so you could clip the flashlight onto something like a hat brim so you can direct the light where you’re looking and have both hands free. At least the LD15 comes with a basic lanyard.
Here’s a picture of comparison:
On the left, the SureFire E2L Outdoorsman: uses 2 CR123′s, 60 lumens max, 3 lumens low, LED-based, has a clip so you can hang it off things like a hat brim, costs around $185 these days. It’s my EDC flashlight and has proven to be most useful both for tactical needs and the normal every day needs that life brings. Happy investment.
In the middle, the Fenix LD15. And then on the right, a AA battery, for size/scale comparison.
So you can see, the LD15 is only slightly bigger than the AA: just wider because of the thickness of the case, and just longer because of the small tailcap and of course the LED housing.
How about performance? Quite good! I compared it to the E2L and was quite impressed with the light output. On high, the listed lumens of course put the LD15 as brighter, but practically speaking it doesn’t seem “twice as bright”. What was more noticeable was that the beam was wider, not as focused as the E2L. It’s not some floodlight, just not quite as “honed” as the E2L. Frankly, I think that’s acceptable for my context because I’m not wanting this flashlight to necessarily blind someone, I want this light for seeing as much as I can because life went pear-shaped. On low, you could really see how that sort of “beam focus” was useful, because it cast a more widespread light. You put it in low, stand it up on the tailcap like a candle, and we could light up a bedroom with a nice dim glow… enough to see everyone’s faces and what we were doing. Youngest even asked if he could have it as a nightlight. I also thought the low setting was certainly low enough and diffused enough that I could read by.
Truly, I’m impressed to get such performance out of a small package. I don’t know what runtime will be like with something like a quality alkaline or lithium battery will be. Fenix advertises high as 117 lumens for 1 hour 40 minutes, and low as 8 lumens for 39 hours, tested with a 2500mAh Ni-MH battery. They do recommend using a Ni-MH battery for best results, so I am curious how a quality alkaline will perform. Nevertheless, I think it will be suitable for the need.
All in all, I’m pleased with the purchase. I personally wouldn’t use the LD15 as my EDC flashlight, but that’s because my EDC needs are different. I do think this makes a good keychain flashlight for folks that may just want/need a light for those times when they need to manage something quickly in the dark. I also think it will fit the bill for the BOB: small, lightweight, dual modes and each mode is at a very useful level, flat tailcap to stand it like a candle, AA battery, inexpensive (relatively speaking).
Inspired by this post over at The Packing Rat, here are my EDC (Every Day Carry) blades:
The leftmost is a Leatherman Wave which is certainly the most action-packed of the EDC blades… because it’s more than just a blade. In fact, I use it more for the non-blade tools than the blade. But certainly if I want a saw or a serrated edge, that’s what I go for.
The other two are Spyderco Delica‘s. Yes, I carry two of them, one in each front pant pocket, both tip-up. This is a training artifact from an Insights Training Center Defensive Folding Knife class. You don’t think you need two knives until you can’t get to the one you need…. I like plain blades because it gets the job done just fine, and honestly it makes the knife less scary to grass-eaters. I also like the simplicity of the Delica… small enough in the hand so it’s not something to fumble or difficult to manipulate, but big enough to handle most chores. The large thumbhole is very easy to operate, even under pressure. It’s very sturdy. Holds a good edge. And if it gets lost or breaks, it’s not too expensive to cry over and easy enough to replace. The only trouble I keep having is the clips keep catching on various things that I brush up against so I’m always having to fix the clip (#6 torx bit is your friend). At least the clips are metal so it’s easy to bend back into shape with even a little overbend for better holding power.
One thing I often hear from folks is to not use your “self-defense” knives for anything else. Uh… why not? You should use it for everything. Need to open a letter? Use it. Need to open a box? Use it. Need to cut something? Use it. Or like Derek at TPR, “I’ve cracked open crabs, gutted fish, open beer bottles, cut tinder, start fires, etc.” It’s a tool, use the tool. The more you use it, the adept you get at manipulating it, drawing it, opening it, and having it feel comfortable and usable in your hands. So the blade gets dull…. sharpen it!
Knives are useful tools. Oldest has a pocket knife but despite my constant prodding for him to carry it he won’t. Daughter adopted my old Leatherman Micra and did carry it around some but lost it. I figure a replacement will come eventually. Youngest, he needs to gain more confidence in using a knife first. But we’ll get there. Hrm… maybe a Delica or a smaller Leatherman for Christmas stocking stuffers…. hrm….
I love my Leatherman Wave. One of the handiest tools I have, and I carry with my always.
Here’s a link to their PDF brochure.
I don’t think I’d use this as my EDC, but in the range bag or taking with me (in addition to the Wave) into the field? It could be useful.
And just for the TXGunGeek I have this little quote from the brochure:
The MUT comes with a wrench accessory that features 1/2” and 3/8” 12-point heads for adjustment to optics systems. Built to military performance specifications, the ballistic nylon MOLLE sheath features extra wrench and bit kit accessory pockets. When not in use the sheath can hold a double-stack 9mm clip.
People keep wondering, why carry a knife.
This morning is a perfect example.
I had to cut open 2 bundles of furring strips, a package of weatherstripping, then cut the weatherstripping to length to go on the door.
It was sure nice to have an appropriate tool on hand, sharp, ready to go, able to be easily retrieved when needed and stowed when not (pocket clip) but yet handy at all times.
And all before 9:00 AM.
I know this isn’t glamorous, but it’s a tool…. it’s just about being handy and useful. Tools are most useful and most handy when they are available and ready to go when you need them.
Ah…. Christmas morning.
The sounds of children tearing into wrapping paper as they open their gifts.
That’s the easy part.
The hard part is Dad having to tear through all the packaging to actually extract the toy.
I am so thankful for my Leatherman Wave. Knives for cutting out packaging. Pliers and wire cutters for removing those !*%@ing twist tie-downs. Screwdrivers to open and close battery compartments.
For my Leatherman Wave, I am thankful.
Merry Christmas, y’all.