My flashlight

I carry a flashlight with me wherever I go. Why? Because it’s useful.

I never carried a dedicated flashlight, even something like a cheap little keychain fob LED. A couple years ago I started to carry one, and now I can’t live without it. You just don’t realize the utility and cannot appreciate it until you have one on you. There are more than enough times you’ll find yourself out and about, in a low light situation, and you will find it useful to have a light. Our eyes tend to work better that way. 🙂

The flashlight I carry is a SureFire E2L Outdoorsman.

I know. It’s boring. It’s not some tacti-cool flashlight like their Z2 or G2Z or the E2D Defender or 6P Defender. That’s OK and how I wanted it. I didn’t want a flashlight that draws attention. I wanted a flashlight I could take onto an airplane and have no one think twice about. I wanted a flashlight that I could pull out at a Scout campout and no parent or BSA policy would freak out over. I wanted a flashlight I could use on a daily basis, but that I could also use in a self-defense situation if necessary. I think the E2L fits that bill.

Many of the “tactical” flashlights are designed around a very powerful beam of light. That’s great for blinding people, for flooding an area with light. But what if you’re working on something close up? What if you’re out camping, it’s nighttime, you need to read a map. Having 100+ lumens reflecting off the map back into your eyes is not enjoyable. The E2L has two settings: a low power with 3 lumens, and a high power with 60. The low power is actually still fairly bright: shine it in someone’s eyes and they will be blinded; I’ve had it reflect off some close-up materials and still mess up my vision. The high power may not be as bright as some other flashlights, but it’s still amazingly bright. I recall on one campout using my E2L as a floodlight, holding it at arms length above my head, to light the way for a bunch of Cub Scouts and it lit up the pathway some nearly 100′ out like daylight. Another parent was using one of their cheap-o $2 special flashlights and it didn’t illuminate much past the end of their feet. So the variable light output is a big part of why I like this flashlight, because it enables more practical daily use.

The clip on the flashlight is also helpful as a daily flashlight. Just attach it to something like a hat brim and you’ve got hands-free light.

To use the flashlight in a self-defense context, I’ve found the flashlight works fine. It provides ample light, even if all you get is the low beam. In fact, to quickly switch from low to high beam is a mini strobe effect which at least when I’ve surprised some friends doing a quick “from darkness, to low beam to high beam” flicker has proven to be a bit more disorienting than just flashing to a single beam. I have not struck anyone or anything with the flashlight, but I feel that it could work fine for such a thing. The bezel doesn’t have the extreme crenellation the “Defender” flashlights have nor the added strengths of say the Pyrex window, but there’s a mild crenellation and certainly if the flashlight doesn’t survive the encounter I’m not going to sweat it too much… I can always buy another one afterwards.

I’ve been quite happy with the flashlight. I’ve tried using a more dedicated “tactical light” as a carry flashlight, but how often do you need such a thing? If you’re a police officer, perhaps so. But for private citizen me, most of my portable light needs are just daily needs to help me see where I’m going or what lurks in some dark area. I feel the SureFire E2L Outdoorsman provides me with a flashlight that addresses daily needs quite well, and doesn’t leave me feeling at any sort of disadvantage in other possible use areas.

Note: I’m not affiliated with SureFire. No compensation or anything for this. This is just private me talking about the gear I use.

21 thoughts on “My flashlight

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  2. I’ve been using a Jetbeam MKII for a long time and like the multiple modes, the clicky, the LED, and the fact it runs on a single AA battery. However, since I’m taking the low light class, I thought I would go back to my tried and true “plain” flashlight. I’ve used the Streamlight TL-2LED for awhile now and been very happy. The pocket clip is a nice feature and personally, mine is outfitted with a “Tiger Ring” for retention. I’ve had a couple and never any problems with them, the CR123s are expensive, but the LED makes them run forever, so I put up with it.

    There are many really great lights out there, but the basics like the G2, 6P, TL2, etc. Are some of the very best.

    -Rob

    • Ah, taking the low light class. Awesome! Taking anything else that day?

      I’m just thrilled at what’s out there now for flashlights. There’s really no excuse to buy the old school lights any more. I mean, you can even get really inexpensive LED’s that are pretty good for not a lot of money, and they will last quite a long time.

  3. I’m taking DP2 too, before the AT1A class, yes. 😛 And I agree on the lights, in fact, I bought a Brinkmann Armormax today for $14.99 to give to a friend a 60 Lumens CREE LED runs on a single AA, a SUPER bright, neat little flashlight. Not as robust as a Surefire or Streamlight, but definitely usable and cheap too!

    -Rob

  4. I have to admit, I liked my Surefire 6PD, and I flew with it many times and never once had a problem with TSA. However, over the years, I have found that the cost-per-lumen ratio of Surefire is… good, but not really comparable with some other companies. I am currently carrying an Olight T2, and I have to admit, for a lower price, that puts the Surefire 6PD to absolute shame when it comes to brightness, even after I put the LED module in the Surefire. Additionally, it has three levels, strobing, and SOSing, so if you go for “features”, Surefire kind of lacks in that category as well. Of course, the Olight has taught me that my flashlights have to be able to tailstand in the future – the button is out and unprotected, and can come on when I take my pants off for the evening, draining the batteries overnight in its holster. Good fun.

    Anywise, I really, really like Surefire, but I also really like getting a lot of bang for my buck… Light Reviews is a great place to get some relatively impartial information about flashlights :).

  5. I’ve also developed the habit this year of always carrying a flashlight. However, since I want as few bulges as possible around my waste and prefer not to carry anything in my back pockets, I ended up going with a Streamlight Stylus Pro . It’s about the same diameter as a Sharpie marker and only slightly longer and has a rather good clip, so it’s perfect for sliding in my front pocket with my front pocket wallet and keys. It’s also bright but not too bright (listed at max of 24 lumens), so it’s perfectly adequate for close up work, as you mentioned, and, as was determined at the low-light shooting class this past weekend, it’s brightness is more than adequate for identifying and getting my sights on a target if needed.

    As an added benefit, since it fits easily in my front pocket with the rest of my daily carry items without needing a holster or otherwise requiring extra effort or planning to carry, I find I just grab it, along with my keys and wallet any time I leave the house now. YMMV, but I know I personally would be less likely to always carry a bigger light for reasons stated earlier.

    • When they were doing the flashlight show-and-tell during the class I saw Karl hold up that light. I wondered how well it worked. I’m glad to hear that it did the job! Not so much in brightness, but in terms of width of beam and “throw”. I know my SureFire E2L isn’t the most “tacti-cool” flashlight, but 99% of what I need it for isn’t for shooting… but even if I did, the “low power” 3 lumens is still harsh enough to get shined in the eyes.

      And if it works for you, that is what’s most important. You’re able to carry it and carry it always. In the end, that’s the bottom line because hey… they are just flashlights. 🙂

      Thanx for stopping by, fellow Mac user. 🙂

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  7. You need to post a picture of your batman utility belt.

    Your discussion of carrying a flashlight awhile back inspired me. But I didn’t want to add anything to my belt (I use an IWB holster). But my wife pulled out a bright LED flashlight in Nov to look for something. It was about 4 inches long, button on the butt. My immediate comments, “Where’d you get that? How much did it cost?”

    Thing was bright enough to blind at 6 feet. Her answer?

    “Bought it at the auto parts store for $10”

    “I know what I want for Christmas from the boys. Buy 3.”

    Now I carry it in my pocket all the time and love having it with me.

    • Ron,

      The Streamlight Stylus Pro I mentioned above is the same form factor as the light your wife was carrying, only it usually goes for $15-20 and I’m willing to bet is a bit brighter than the one she picked up at the auto parts store. Mine goes everywhere with me.

      • So I was creating my BOB this morning and asked my wife for something in particular for it and she asked if I wanted a flashlight like the one she got me for Christmas. I said yeah, but I’d go buy another one.

        She said, “Well it wasn’t as much as I told you.”

        “How much was it?”

        “$3”

        I’m going to buy 10 and see if I can make them water proof. For $3 I’ll toss one or two in a bucket of water. The cap at the end has an o-ring, so it may be water proof already, but I kind of doubt the front.

        BTW, there are 9 LEDs in the light, and runs on 3 AAA batteries.

        Had to post an update because the cost was so much less than I said.

        • Yeah, at that price it’s worth doing some experiments and seeing what you can do with it.

          Write something up when you’re done fiddling around. Be curious to hear the results.

    • Awesome!

      It’s the sort of thing you don’t realize is useful to have until you start to do it and use it and realize how useful it is to have.

  8. Anyone who has spent over $35 for a small flashlights, I spent $15 on a coast 3 led 2aa and it goes in my pocket, and keep a 2dd led mag on my hip unfortunitly I do work the lowest job security yes a janitor @ a pornshop is still 10 steps higher, why would anyone still spend $140 on a little flashlight?

    • There are lots of decent inexpensive flashlights these days. LED technology has come a long way.

      To each their own. If those flashlights suit your needs, great. We all have different needs and priorities.

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