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.