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Posted: 12/28/2005 1:15:48 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/31/2005 9:30:36 AM EDT by -Watcher-]
On occasion, I've been known to perform OTS research for the private sector in any number of fields, assisting companies or individuals with product data and/or acquisition for a given purpose. Recently, I was asked for a recommendation for a "weaponlight kit".

I'll spare you the boring specification details and sum it up by saying the kit should include any and all components which will contribute to a wide spectrum of rifle applications, including CQB, designated marksman, plus handheld usage. There doesn't appear to be one "magic" configuration able to bridge all the requirements. Thus far, my research has begun with ITI/Streamlight and Surefire, in an effort to assemble the least components to achieve the maximum effect, with only my ignorance responsible for overlooking other suitable brands/models. It's important to note that I've used none of the Surefire weaponlights, myself, and none are available for retail sale in my area.

My understanding of the end-user requirements (translated into common English) is a unit which performs as follows* :
- target stunning capability with momentary bright light
- illuminating objects at "encounter range"
- flooding an area with usable wide-area illumination
- long run time
- economical power source
- ability to carry spare batteries on the weapon
- lenses, filters, protective accessories for cooperative usage with NVDs, etc.
- spare parts
- hard storage case
[*There's also a desire for a targeting laser, but I have reservations concerning the combination units I've researched thus far.]

At the moment, I'm looking at the Surefire M962XM(07) with the MN10 lamp as the base unit. That should give 125 max Lumens with a runtime of 60 min. For flood, the KT4 Turbohead looks good with the MN16 lamp, which offers 225 Lumens, but for only 20 min. As an option, the FM24 Beamshaper can turn the flood head into a really bright spot head. Either one of these heads can be fitted with an IR filter to function in conjunction with NVDs, although my understanding is that the Beamshaper and the IR filer for the Turbohead can't be mounted simultaneously.

There's at least a couple of problems with the above set-up. First, the run times are limited. Using the Turbohead in IR mode with NVDs will not amount to much operational time within an otherwise light devoid building interior. Second is the power replenishment requirements. Both configurations requiring three 3v Lithium batteries, although one uses 6v and the other 9v. If the KT1 head is used, illumination decreases to 65 Lumens for 60 min. MIAD grips currently employed only have space in the CR123 core for two cells. Plus, I wouldn't want to have to switch batteries in complete darkness, but that's me.

These limitations have caused me to consider LED alternatives, but paper knowledge only takes you so far. I would appreciate input from any of you who have real world experience with weaponlights, with both incandescent and LED. All such feedback is appreciated in advance.

The Surefire KL6 conversion head, for example, outputs 65 Lumens for 90 min. and diminishing light for another 2.5+ hours, which performs better than the KT1. But, at roughly half the output of of the MN10 lamp, it may not perform in the role of a target blinder or well with an IR filter. I'm unaware of any LED assembly which will deliver quality flood illumination, keeping in mind that the KT4's 20 min. is probably going to end up being unacceptably brief. This suggests the KL6 might not turn out to be much of a replacement for either original configuration.

For handheld use, the XM tailcap already incorporates both a tapeswitch and pushbutton, although it's unclear if the pushbutton can be used for momentary as well as continuous on. I suppose in a pinch the pressure switch could be folded back upon the light body and depressed. A simple accessory strip of Velcro or rubber band might increase functionality when used this way.

Depending upon the specific components selected, there'll be some later discussion about the need for spare bulbs, field carry pouches for the conversion head assemblies, o-rings, etc. Likewise, is there a consensus as to whether Beamcovers (caps) are actually worth the investment? Aren't the Surefire lenses already constructed from Pyrex?

Finally, there's no hard case available from Surefire. A Hardigg or Pelican case might do nicely, if there was a source to have the foam custom cut. I've looked for a source to custom cut rifle case foam without result, though.

So, starting here, what would be the "best" weaponlight kit?
Link Posted: 12/28/2005 1:56:15 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/28/2005 2:50:26 PM EDT by BrightFlashlights]
Link Posted: 12/28/2005 2:52:36 PM EDT
To my chagrin and error, I worked from memory on the components. Thanks for the reminder. I only have the System Modular Component chart pinned to the inside of the project folder.

On my end, it's probably important to clarify that the project is not for a single weapon platform. It's to standardize equipment and achieve an acceptable level of component/power supply commonality. At least one platform is a scoped service rifle, others being SBRs or, perhaps, carbines.

My understanding of the different needs are :
- reach out to identify potential targets in an overwatch position, both with visible light and using NVDs
- clear occupied rooms, possibly containing multiple non-combatents
- stun targets to avoid the need to use lethal force and establish legal escalation

I, personally, see the value in LED conversions from prior research from another project. As I understand it, even so-called "depleted" batteries from incandescent usage still possess enough power to operate LEDs that use the circuit board regulators. Plus, the LED heads convert the lights to acceptable hand-helds, when otherwise "ordinary" flashlight output is all that's necessary.

The question remains how to store three batteries on a platform that only uses a MIAD grip. A PRS buttstock doesn't have a storage compartment. It's a bad idea to mix two fresh with one drained Lithium 123. Too bad there isn't a tube that mounts on a rail system....
Link Posted: 12/28/2005 3:09:24 PM EDT
Link Posted: 12/28/2005 4:38:08 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/28/2005 4:58:06 PM EDT by -Watcher-]

Originally Posted By BrightFlashlights:
Next items to point out:

- The M962 & M972 are both 9v

Not to be contrary, especially since I've never used a Surefire product, but the downloaded 2005 Tactical Catalog (p. 15) says :


Of course, three batteries are three batteries, regardless of the voltage (the image on p. 17 does say 9v). It effected the accessory heads more than anything. As long as everything works and maintains a certain level of simplicity, there's value in the recommendation.

As for a storage tube, I'd really only need to find a way to carry one more battery and, perhaps, a spare bulb. Are the bulbs subject to much need for replacement? Anyone know the life cycle?
Link Posted: 12/28/2005 4:47:05 PM EDT
SureFire try hard to keep the information they publish accurate. However, it's quite a complex product range... and so they made a typo. The M96x Series is 9V being powered by three-SF123A batteries.

M95 (Two-SF123A) ("6V") LU60 Lamp Module (P60 or P61 Lamp Assembly)
Same Bezel as the M2.
LED bezel choices: KL3 or the KL5.

M96 (Three-SF123A) ("9V") LU10 Lamp Module (MN10 or MN11 Lamp Assembly)
Same Bezel as the M3 (and "M900A" etc)
LED bezel choice: KL6.

M97 (Three-SF123A) ("9V") LU15 Lamp Module (MN15 or MN16 Lamp Assembly)
Same TurboHead bezel as the M3T (and "M900AB" etc)
LED bezel choice: KL6.

M98 (Four-SF123A) ("12V") LU20 Lamp Module (MN60 or MN61 Lamp Assembly)
Same TurboHead bezel as the M4.
LED bezel choice: KL6.
Link Posted: 12/29/2005 6:37:14 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/29/2005 6:40:14 AM EDT by -Watcher-]
How do Pentagonlight units compare to the Surefire models? They don't seem to offer a catalog, neither paper nor PDF.
Link Posted: 12/30/2005 4:15:11 AM EDT
excellent thread... i think i may go more with the 2x123 method body in an e-series... then have an aleph 3 head put on it... click on tail cap...

however I bet i'll end up with a U60 or a u85 HDS...

a pelican m6 LED is another option but I don't think I want that much weight...
Link Posted: 12/30/2005 7:06:16 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/8/2006 6:49:13 AM EDT by -Watcher-]
There are a few reasons to favor a two-cell set-up, including compactness (as in, space on the rail system), carry weight, and "economy of power supply" (cost of batteries). All of the Millennium models have a run time 60/20 minutes using their respective low/high output lamps.

The question becomes, and, incidentally, the reason I created this thread (what a wealth of knowledge this board is), one of performance. I don't use this equipment and cannot draw upon personal experience to determine what intensity or coverage of light could be called "sufficient".

For MOUT operations, bail recovery, and close security, I don't see ordinary encounter ranges often exceeding 60 yards, although I could easily be wrong. The "overwatch" or "cover marksman" role is a different matter, requiring as much range in a visible and IR illuminator as can be achieved within the commonality constraints. I'll start another thread when I get to the next phase of this project (NVDs, IR units, and compatible optics).

So, when Calvin at Brightflashlights says the KL6/LED head will provide "very good flood and intensity at close range", I have no way of knowing if that will stun a target. If I should recommend an M95x series illuminator, to achieve two-cell operation (commonality with existing on-weapon storage, Streamlight TT2L lights, and expected tactical weaponsights), how will performance be impacted?

According to the Modular Component chart, there's no Turbohead designed work to with the M952XM07, although there is a Beamshaper. It's maximum output with a P61 lamp is 120 Lumens. This is roughly equivalent to the M972XM07 using the MN15 lamp (125 Lumens), except run time drops from 60 min. to 20 min. I just don't see that as being enough time. Thus, three-cell (9v) systems seem to be the necessary foundation.

Then again, this isn't a Surefire thread. It's an extremely well regarded brand name with lots of field time to evaluate its performance. Still, there could be other brands which do the job equally well or better. I see Pentagonlight come up from time to time, but know almost nothing about them from a feedback standpoint. Reviewers tend to use phrases like "best light I've ever used", which, if they're used to candles or only play camp under the dining room table, doesn't say much. I've attempted to order a Pentagonlight product line catalog, but there isn't one listed on their website in any form. They do, however, offer a system with both a visible light and a modular laser (visible and IR).

Insight Technologies, Inc., marketed in partnership with Streamlight, make their own M-series weaponlights. I have tested an original model M6 which is supposed to be a step down from the restricted LAM units. With its rail clamp and commercially available adapters, the M6 fits both AR systems and most railed handguns. To me, though, the visible light is not particularly powerful, although the integrated aiming laser seems to be a plus. It might be useful for close-in work or home defense, given the laser, but doubt it has stunning capability unless we're talking full dark and night-adjusted eyes. Two conditions I wouldn't want to risk my life on existing. The Insight M6 might be better suited to sidearm application than longarm, although truth be told, I'd rather see a Lasermax filling the targeting role (except they don't yet make one for many models). On the one I tested, the flip-open lens cap also interfered with the laser. A dot was still achieved but with "scatter" where the laser beam passes the slip-fit cap body.

Then again, the M6X increases Lumens from 90 to 125, can be "defocused" for wide-angle illumination, plus increased durability. Range only increased from 25m to 30m, though.

Bottom line is, performance has to come first in professional gear. Value, not cost. Medical or legal bills rarely fall below the money saved on cheaper systems -- a point I've had to make in presentations including accountants.
Link Posted: 12/30/2005 8:26:40 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/30/2005 8:26:58 AM EDT by BrightFlashlights]
Link Posted: 12/31/2005 9:46:16 AM EDT
Fair enough. I look forward to that post. Meanwhille, has anyone compared the Surefre Scout to the Millennium for modularity and performance in the real world?
Link Posted: 12/31/2005 10:46:33 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Size15s:
M95 (Two-SF123A) ("6V")
M96 (Three-SF123A) ("9V")
M98 (Four-SF123A) ("12V")

After some review of the available weaponlight systems on the market, it would appear they all suffer from the same limitation, power depletion. Mind you, what makes these illuminators excell in their roles is Lumen intensity and, where applicable, throw (range). This invariably consumes large amounts of power, which in turn reduces run time to the 60/20 min. times found throughout the Surefire Weaponlight range and others.

The applied solution to this seems to have been the development of the LED conversion head or outright LED model. At the same voltages and making use of a discharge regulating circuit board, LED lights last longer if at lower Lumen outputs.

Here's what I find interested from my lamen's view. Why not develop a true voltage transformer which allows a three cell (9v) light to discharge at 6v through an appropriate head for a longer duration? Perhaps the industry is already looking into this. If so, kudos to them, for performance seems already at apogy, leaving run time as the remaining direction for product improvement.
Link Posted: 1/1/2006 3:58:16 AM EDT
SureFire's LED bezels already do this.

The KL1 has roughly the same output on one-SF123A (model E1L) as it does on two-SF123As (model E2L).

The KL3 and KL5 have longer runtime on three-SF123As (for example on a C3) as it does on two-SF123As (for example on a C2).

The KL6 has longer runtime on the M4 & M6 then it does on the M3.

This is because there is a limit to the output the LEDs are capable of producing and in most cases the batteries are capable of providing more current or more voltage (or both). The electronics manage and regulate the power source to either "develop" the power required to produce high output, or "restrain" the power source to extend the runtime.

Link Posted: 1/1/2006 7:35:19 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/1/2006 8:49:22 AM EDT by -Watcher-]
Indeed, I could have been more clear in my post. I meant to say, it would be nice to see the industry use transformer technology to extend the run time of incandescent lamps. I'm already quite aware LED run time is longer. That was my point, the industry chose to address lengthening run time in that manner, with resultant decrease in Lumens.

But, of course, either route could be pursued. Longer running super-bright incandescents would decrease the need for an alternate head and the necessity to carry additional battery weight while deployed. More intense LEDs might further reduce reliance upon filament technology for distance and brightness at its increased run time.
Link Posted: 1/1/2006 6:57:31 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/1/2006 7:05:00 PM EDT by murderman]
My "lighting kit" is pretty close to what Calvin recommended:

M962XM05 w/MN10 for the carbine
M3 w/MN11 and the "clickie" tailcap pirated from the M1-IR for bright handheld
SC2 w/(6) 123A's and an MN11 as spares
M1-IR w/XM05 for use with NVG on the carbine
Petzl LED headlight running on (2) AAA's for close utility work and long life

This thread reminds me that I need to get another M1-IR for handheld use when the PVS is mounted to my head.....and as a back-up, of course.
Link Posted: 1/8/2006 7:34:06 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/8/2006 7:38:10 AM EDT by -Watcher-]
With the arrival of the new year, it would seem time to take a more depthful look at this project. Once more, I'll focus on Surefire products, although if anyone can suggest a comparable alternate brand/model, I'm happy to look into it.

Since run time has arisen as a point of contention, I've looked at how Surefire approached this topic -- namely, LED conversion heads. What I found surprised me a little bit, so I'm looking for user confirmation/feedback.

For overwatch applications, it would appear that a M971XM07 would be most appropriate. It's essentially the same illuminator as the M961, but with a 2.5" Turbohead. Each uses different lamps to produce the same range of Lumen output with the same run times from three CR123A cells. Range (from sources, here) is on the order of 120+ yards, better than the 80-90 yards of the M961. For closer ranges and larger area, throw a diffusion Beamshaper on it and there's no need to field strip. I imagine there's also a difference in the area of illumination at max. ranges between the two heads.

For longer run time, use the KL6 LED conversion head, which gives 65 Lumens for 95 min. (same output as the M951 on the P60 lamp but for half again as long, due mostly to having a third battery, I should think). This essentially turns the illuminator into a CQB light, since even at 5w intensity, range is limited to 60 yards, max. The advantage is that useable light continues for four hours. This is no longer a turbohead, so if area coverage is important, add the FM14 Beamshaper, which further limits range to less than 35 yards. Of course, for indoor applications, 100 feet is still a respectable distance, and 65 Lumens should still have some stunning/blinding capability. Put all these components together and you have what appears to be a complete long range rifle kit with outstanding flexibility for a lone operator (night vision will be dealt with in a separate thread).

Note: Crunchy data on what happens to non-LED heads when they surpass their listed run times is a bit hard to come by. This leads me to believe the light output beyond the allotted time quickly diminished below "useful". It's also true that one certainly doesn't require a 20" service rifle to fire at the 120 yard range, which means any carbine operator could function in overwatch role for visible night actions using this illuminator. The force security and spotter advantages of a 20" rifle in night actions probably aren't fully realized until one adds an NVD kit (and possibly a sound suppressor).

CQB operation is where the data seems to become a bit fuzzy. Alot of the data out there is predicated upon what is considered "adequate range" for CQB. It's going to be different for outdoor military operations than for tactical indoor/urban envorinments, as might be experienced by armed site/close security or bail recovery. For current purposes, this thread is looking at civilian applications.

The M952XM07 offers 65 Lumens of output for an hour on two CR123A batters using the P60 lamp. This should be sufficient for stunning/blinding opponents (is it?) at "contact" ranges (throw range unknown but likely less than 60 yards). For wider area coverage, use the FM64 diffusion Beamshaper at the expected range decrease (likely, now, to be somewhere around 35 yard), making it quite similar to the M972 using the KL6 LED head with Beamshaper, although without the nearly four hour useable run time.

Since coverage and intensity are the focus of a CQB illuminator, it should be acceptable to lose some range by installation of an LED head to gain run time, right? For two-cell lights, the appropriate LED conversion head is the unltra-bright 5w KL5. It delivers... 65 Lumens for one hour, with total useable run time out to three hours. Since this is exactly that of the P60 lamped M952, with a longer run time and no need to stock spare lamps, the real question remaining is that of comparable throw ranges for both, with and without a Beamshaper.

For longer ranges, Brightflashlights tells us we can stock the LU15 Turbohead in the CQB kit. This is actually the difference in components between the M952 and M972, including the upgrade to a third battery.

As has been stated before, modularity in this product line is quite attractive, particularly in that any illuminator could be cannibalized in the field using undamaged parts from either a CQB or overwatch to repair the other (assuming any parts are field damaged to begin with). Further, even though this thread has not discussed a supply of spare parts, it would be advisable to stock items like pressure switches, o-rings, spare heads, and, of course, lots of batteries. Maintaining even one stock spare head of each type also allows all units to function in CQB role, if desired, or allow for a second overwatch/command control operative.

Once this has all been hashed out, I'll be interested in where to purchase a proper case with custom cut foam interior for the complete illuminator/spares inventory. Cube-cut foam cases simply don't make the grade. So, if there's a Pelican or Hardigg dealer on the list, I wouldn't mind a chat. Likewise, I'd like to find out more about Calvin's associate who is working on a rail-mounted battery carrier.
Link Posted: 1/10/2006 7:41:54 AM EDT
Have you checked into custom flashlights? I've seen 2D maglights putting out over 250-300 lumens on 4 3 watt Luxion LEDs. I would think a custom, regulated head for a 9v surefire light with 3-4 high quaility luxeon LEDs each focused to a slightly wider beam could give you excellent throw and a wide flood plus longer runtime. I expect LEDs to replace filament lights for combat use. The solid state setup allows for much longer bulb life and no worry about it dying at the worst time.

I'm surefire has similar ideas rolling around in R&D. You could easily run a regulated multi LED light for hours for navigation and have a momentary "combat" switch you use to kick on all the LEDs at full power to blind the tangos.

Link Posted: 1/10/2006 11:52:28 AM EDT
At this stage, it's probably safe to say that LED combat lights are the future of the industry. Even Surefire manufactures the handheld U2 Ultra LED with six levels of output from 2 Lumens to 80 Lumens and claiming 40 hours or run time at 2 Lumens from 5w LEDs.

Of course, for a weaponlihgt, the 2 Lumen mode will very rarely see usage, so the real question comes down to run time at the outputs most often used. Likewise, with a tailcap click progression operation, there'd be a need to eliminate the output levels that are otherwise meaningless, essentially reworking the function aspect of the light. The current production model can be found for $270 and runs on two CR123s.

As of this writing, I'm not aware of any sources for true "custom" flashlights or conversion heads. If you can suggest any suitable for firearm mounting, I'd certainly look into them. Bear in mind that bulb failure is not the only consideration in a combat light. Thus, just because an illuminator is LED powered doesn't mean it can withstand the hazards of a tactical environment.
Link Posted: 1/10/2006 2:39:39 PM EDT
I'm not sure how soon you want to place orders for these products but SureFire tend to show off the products they intend to release during the year at the SHOT Show which is in Vegas next month.

A way to "eliminate the output levels that are otherwise meaningless"
You speak of the "two-stage clickie TailCap" I think.

If you visit the SureFire website run by the devil (by another name) you will find that such a new SureFire LED flashlight for 2006 is old news.

Link Posted: 1/10/2006 4:00:52 PM EDT
For the moment, I'm still in the reseach phase of this project. Once products have been compared and/or selected, I'll have a couple meetings for presentation and proceed according to feedback. Thankfully, I'm only responsible for compiling and delivering a single, complete, representational package. Assumptively, the end users will procure the materiel on their own to my submitted specifications, although I've been known to handle that, as well.

Originally Posted By Size15s:
A way to "eliminate the output levels that are otherwise meaningless"
You speak of the "two-stage clickie TailCap" I think.

This would only be true if the tailcap controls the mode cycling. I have no information on that, except to say the two-stage cap for the U2 Ultra seems to refer to click on/off and shallow press momentary, not the ability to set an output that it will always come on at. I have Streamlight multi-stage LEDs and they cycle to the next output each time they are turned on. To get back to the original setting, you have to completely cycle through the output modes. There's also no barrel size listed for the U2, so weapon mounting options are unkown. Then there's the issue of how far the usable light can be projected (throw). In an overwatch application, light needs to travel far, indeed.

But, it's important to mention, again, that not all LED flashlights will be durable enough for hard usage. There may not be a filament to break, but almost any other component still can. For myself, I've never owned or personally handled a Surefire product, so apart from reviews I can't speak as to their overall production quality. It's this absence of product, locally, which moves folks to conduct research in the first place.

As for your reference to a Surefire website, I am not aware of whom you speak. When I need Surefire information, I go to the Surefire website. Although, I've recently placed my second request for product line catalogs, so I'm uncertain of how helpful the company actually is through that contact point.
Link Posted: 1/10/2006 4:30:09 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/10/2006 4:39:41 PM EDT by Size15s]
"Two-stage" refers to the push button pressure switch used by SureFire for the L1/L2/A2 and 10X. It is a simple means of selecting between two output levels/types.
For example:
Press for low output and/or press hard for high output.
It's a momentary / LockOut tailcap so that you can disable the whole pressure switch, or just the high output by how much you unscrew the TailCap.
You can rotate the TailCap onto the body so the low output is constant-on and still have the option of pressing the switch button hard for high output. Rotating the TailCap all the way onto the body gives you constant-on high output.

When you combine two-stage pressure switching with a click switch latch on/off you likely have the ability to rotate the TailCap onto the body (as per user/situation preference) so that either the low output or the high output latches on/off when the button is pressed hard.
One assumes that gentle pressure can be used to access either the low or the high output without the click latch being operated.

If the low output is clicked on then pressing hard will activate the high output (and unlatch the click switch once you stop pressing the switch which switches off the light)
If the TailCap is rotated such that the high output can be clicked on/off by pressing hard - pressing softly will give you momentary on/off use of the low beam and high beam.
The concept is extremely appealing to me - I hope that SureFire are working to make it a reality.

I hope I've been able to explain the concepts of two-stage pressure switching and how this could give you more options if a click latch be employed?

The SureFire.com website is not the most up-to-date SureFire website for news and new products.
I'm having a bit of "fun" with my riddle regarding where to find out about a new SureFire flashlight for 2006. Like I said, it's old news (posted back in November 2005 but nobody else appears to have spotted it). May-be best to wait for the SHOT Show and the 2006 catalog(s).

Link Posted: 1/11/2006 11:36:40 AM EDT
You’re lucky, because cost isn’t an issue as you stated.

I think that idea of the LED head on the M972 is a great idea, although it does have its drawbacks. Changing out the head is fairly simple, but may get messy doing it on the way to whatever mission in the back of a van or a car. It’s something to consider. Every decision is a compromise and I think that the LED head is a worthy one when taking all of your requirements into consideration.

My opinion of light indoors: Anything more than one of the 65 lumen Surefire lights might be too much for the operator. With dark adapted vision, I don’t think that you want more than that due reflection off mirrors, white walls or windows.

Personally, I have an M952 on my carbine and a L5 as a backup. I am going to be upgrading my system to an M962 with Calvin because I’d like to have the capability of the extended range. Of course I would love an M972, but my budget is a lot smaller than yours. One step at a time.

Of course, we’ll have to see what Surefire introduces at SHOT.

You might want to look at Candle Power Forums to see what Size15s is talking about.

Link Posted: 1/11/2006 2:17:53 PM EDT
I was certainly not referring to CPF!
CPF hasn't spotted this new product news either...
Link Posted: 1/11/2006 3:21:15 PM EDT
Link Posted: 1/11/2006 4:31:02 PM EDT
like I said - old news.
It's not a WeaponLight but it shows that SureFire are continuing to work on optics and one hopes that more LED bezels are released this year.
The Millennium Series is modular so you can swap to a new Lamp Module / LED bezel later.
Link Posted: 1/11/2006 5:51:36 PM EDT
Link Posted: 1/11/2006 11:39:37 PM EDT
This light appears not to use the same TailCap as the U2 and I doubt they will be sufficently interchangeable. I guess this'll have to wait until somebody has all the parts to try it out?
Link Posted: 1/19/2006 10:51:36 PM EDT
I'm a man of few words: My M500B is bright as hell.

JK, seriously cool thread, Surefire has cost me so much $$$
Link Posted: 1/21/2006 5:41:28 PM EDT
Thanks to BrightFlashlights, I've been able to pour through some comparative notes regarding SureFire products. As stated earlier, one of the obstacles to formulating "The Best Weaponlight Kit" using SureFire components is run time. Halogen bulbs burn through batteries all too quickly but LEDs don't put out the Lumens required for long range target identification. This otherwise requires at least two heads -- one for long range (such as found in turboheads), one for CQB (to avoid self-blinding) -- and potentially a third (LED, which may be substituted for the incandescent CQB, it seems) for maximum field run time from a single set of power cells.

Quite obviously, the various roles desired for field illumination would be uniquely served by a single model using both a combination of LED and Tungsten filament (incandescent) or HID lamps, plus a selectable-momentary/tapeswitch-constant-on tailcap (similar to that found in the U2 Ultra). Of course, in a perfect world, the combination of LEDs would also include IR emitters, and/or NVD-compatible yellow-green, extended run time on three CR123As ... and maybe a Cappucino maker.

Streamlight already approaches the most basic hybrid design with their TwinTask series of flashlights, which contains a Xenon bulb and several white LEDs. SureFire does much more with their A2 Aviator. In the 2005 Illumination Tools catalog (p. 56, if anyone is actually interested), SureFire talks about their variety of single color LEDs available for this model but also notes other potential hybrids, from HID/tungsten to LED/Tritium.

Given that the Aviator is not, per se, a WeaponLight (only 50 Lumens from the Xenon lamp) and we are now nearly upon the 2006 catalog release, I will be very interested in what new options may become available for assembling "The Best WeaponLight Kit". If any of you are already aware of upcoming product developments or will be attending the 2006 SHOT Show next month, I'd been keen to receive the feedback. It would be quite satisfactory to have a single illuminator which could be simply adjusted to varying output to serve a variety of roles, from nighttime navigation, ordinary utility (outdoor applications, roadside emergency kit), to weaponlight.
Link Posted: 1/21/2006 6:01:17 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Cahill:
I'm a man of few words: My M500B is bright as hell.

I think i have ya beat...

Link Posted: 2/12/2006 5:28:21 PM EDT
With the SHOT Show now behind us, I'm curious to know what new illumination products were on display. Anything new from SureFire? Anything new from Pentagon, aside from a mount?
Link Posted: 2/19/2006 2:19:21 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/19/2006 2:59:06 PM EDT by -Watcher-]
Since the SHOT Show, the newest light appears to be the Kroma (as seen here ar15.com/forums/topic.html?b=3&f=20&t=268685). The only other accessory I know of is the newer tapeswitch (as seen here ar15.com/forums/topic.html?b=3&f=20&t=268908). Then there's the elusive DEF3, which is dfficult to find information on www.saic.com/news/2005/mar/10.html.

Originally Posted (in another thread) By BrightFlashlights:
The U2 head assy. will fit the MU series mainbody so you can use it as a weaponslights.
As for the Kroma, I don't want to confirm the compatability of components until I actually have one in hand. I'm not sure how the two stage tailcap will affect conversions.

I tend to see the U2 Ultra and Kroma heads as an alternative to the KL5 LED conversion head for the MU series. Variable light output with the associated variable run time often being preferable in practice. The Kroma has the advantage, apparently, over the U2 of dual color LEDs, but with a simplified range of output.

The question remains functioning of the dual stages if the tailcap is replaced with an XM. As I recall the U2 also has a two stage tailcap, so neither may turn out to be the better option, although the DEF3 head (manufactured from refined Unobtainium) is likely the ultimate (the U2 is said to be the commercial variant ... :sigh: without IR capability). How do the KL5, U2, and Kroma heads compare by cost? Don't know, as head/replacement part prices aren't typically available from SureFire. If a DEF3 head were available, it would have to be compared to the KL5 plus an M1, of course.
Link Posted: 2/20/2006 7:31:36 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Stainless:

Originally Posted By Cahill:
I'm a man of few words: My M500B is bright as hell.

I think i have ya beat...


Y'know, the Thor more than likely outweighs that rifle... But then again, that is kinda neat
Link Posted: 2/25/2006 6:01:49 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/25/2006 6:18:25 AM EDT by -Watcher-]

Originally Posted By BrightFlashlights:

Originally Posted By -Watcher-:
I've actually looked at [the Kroma] for a weaponslight. Not certain what the body diameter is, in order to pick a rail mount. There's also no tapeswitch tailcap, but perhaps other SF tailcaps are interchangeable? Will the head fit any other SF body (I like the idea, but wish it had IR LEDs and fit the MU series lights) for use as a CQB light? Guess we won't know until more specs are released.

The U2 head assy. will fit the MU series mainbody so you can use it as a weaponslights. The U2 & Kroma are not a 1" body.

As for the Kroma, I don't want to confirm the compatability of components until I actually have one in hand. I'm not sure how the two stage tailcap will affect conversions.

Calvin, in your opinion, for my project, would it be better to use the U2 Ultra head or the KL6 for extended run time LED backup applications? I note from the SF website that the KL6 (which ordinarily mounts on a 9v/3-cell MU body) will affect a longer run time when mounted on an M4 body (12v/4-cell). This seems to indicate LED heads can survive operation at higher voltages (due to their internal regulators?). That said, is there any reason to fear mounting a U2 (2-cell/6V) head on an M97x (9V) body? Of course, from there I'll ask regarding the availability of a U2 head assembly (perhaps as a repair part?) and comparative pricing. Should you prefer, we can cover all the pricing data with my next phone call.

As a side note, I also see on p. 21 of the SF 2005 Tactical Products catalog an M1 mounted using an M31 mount and a UM07 tapeswitch. Is there any reason (comparative size?) not to use an XM07 tailcap?
Link Posted: 2/25/2006 6:35:04 AM EDT
I'm no "operator" and have exactly zero tactical training or direct experience, but why is run time so important for a weapon light? Particularly in a CQB application, you're only momentarily flashing the light, not running it continously. An additional seperate hand held light would seem to be almost a necessity (and run time would be a bigger factor for it). It seems to me like the two applications are different enough and also critical enough (especially the weapon light) that seperate lights would be prudent.
Link Posted: 2/25/2006 6:56:13 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/25/2006 6:57:42 AM EDT by -Watcher-]

Originally Posted By gus:
I'm no "operator" and have exactly zero tactical training or direct experience, but why is run time so important for a weapon light? Particularly in a CQB application, you're only momentarily flashing the light, not running it continously. An additional seperate hand held light would seem to be almost a necessity (and run time would be a bigger factor for it). It seems to me like the two applications are different enough and also critical enough (especially the weapon light) that seperate lights would be prudent.

A fair question. I suppose it could be because CQB is an application rather than a mission. Missions may transition out of engagement to require continual light while maintaining a ready weapon. Likewise, engagements may become protracted or numerous within the scope of an extended mission. One could carry spare batteries and a sapre light or one could carry detatchable lights with extended run times. For my purposes, though, it's because run time was part of the parameters I was instructed to look for, CQB isn't the only intended application for this kit, and because there is a requirement for versatility and interchangeability amongst components.

Hence assembling a custom kit rather than simply using available off-the-shelf configurations. My understanding is that the end users are not satisfied with their current equipment and are experimenting to find something "better". To the degree that I'm involved, it doesn't matter if their opinion is justified.
Link Posted: 2/25/2006 10:17:12 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/25/2006 10:37:56 AM EDT by BrightFlashlights]
Link Posted: 2/25/2006 11:32:35 AM EDT
Oooh, thanks for the pictures. Well, and the e-mails, the phone calls.... Calvin, you've been a huge help as the deadline looms.
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 12:51:04 PM EDT
One thing that hasn't come up is the price. You can make the "best" but if it's not somewhat affordable, what's the point? Only the rich can buy it. Perhaps the light can come in "packages" depending on use/needs. Add what you want later as other needs arise.

Another thing is mounting options. QD or otherwise? Offset or not?

Like the thread though. Learning quite a bit myself.

Link Posted: 3/2/2006 1:08:38 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/3/2006 10:58:14 PM EDT by RABIDFOX50]
I have the SF M951 and M962 models and I like them. I wanted to get the M900 series but they are way to many $$$. I wish they would come down in price. I can not justify paying $500+ for that light but man I do want one so.

Update: just got an M900 off a friend for $200.00, WoooHooo!
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 1:26:03 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/2/2006 1:48:02 PM EDT by -Watcher-]

Originally Posted By JumboJim:
One thing that hasn't come up is the price. You can make the "best" but if it's not somewhat affordable, what's the point? Only the rich can buy it. Perhaps the light can come in "packages" depending on use/needs. Add what you want later as other needs arise.

For my research, pure "price" won't come up as a factor. Instead, my interest lays with value for investment for a given purpose. That said, there's little to say on price until the research is complete and the values are compared. I'm nearly there, now.

Furthermore, it has proven true that package prices tend to be better than parting out. I've seen this on many projects I've worked on, including this one. As for noone being able to afford the kit, this depends upon one's perspective on what constitutes "expensive" and where one goes to buy. I'd have to say that of the dealers I've worked with on this project, a couple went out of their way to offer detailed and mass information (far too much to post) with discounts that are certainly respectable.

Once the kits have been designed and the orders made, my plan is to somehow distill all the data into a series of posts. Checking the post dates so far, it should be noted there are sizable lags between them. This is mostly due to mass data processing. Bear in mind, however, that this project is for a particular end purpose and not intended to put forth a one-fits-all approach to weaponlights. It might be useful as a template, though, for a "Buget Light" or "Working Man's Kit" post.

Another thing is mounting options. QD or otherwise? Offset or not?
Like the thread though. Learning quite a bit myself.

These items are highly specific to the individual application. There is at least one general comment that can be made. It would seem that thumbscrew mounts have an advantage where "permanent" secure mounting is the desire. They are, though, more permanent. If your need is to swap components from weapon platform to platform, may require dismounting for hand-held use, or even dismounting for mission conversion to NVD components, then throw mounts are the way to go.

There also seems to be camps regarding preference for manufacturers, such as A.R.M.S. or LaRue, although I've not ever been able to obtain a LaRue catalog to look over imperical data. If anyone knows a way for me to get one (I've tried e-mailing), I'd be happy to look. Otherwise, do post your experiences with either manufacturer, good or bad. Just keep in mind that anecdotal information is by far less useful.
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 2:09:43 PM EDT
Watcher, what's your deadline?

We just finished R&D with some of our lights, and aren't far from production... I'm not going to run a heckuva lot of them, aside from the ones that were asked for initially.
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 2:14:20 PM EDT
The pre-kit presentation is tomorrow evening. I've been crunching data for two days. Following this, the sample kit will be assembled.

If I may ask, what exactly are you manufacturing?
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 2:30:10 PM EDT
Lightweight "Scout-esque" weapon lights from 3V (IR and LED Nav)-9V, and a 12V HID that is Millenium sized.

That deadline's a bit too soon for me though
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 2:45:29 PM EDT
Is it because you don't have data to send me today? Tomorrow I present the information collected and ask how to proceed.
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 7:09:26 PM EDT
Basically, the weights/lengths/specs I have are of pre-production (80% complete) samples, not the finalized items, and tomorrow wouldn't give me time to even photograph them for POC, etc. I've made a few changes since the last ones were made. If you want more info, IM me. I'll hit you with a preliminary spec sheet in *.doc format.

Besides, it'd be crazy on your part to change your specs to something you hadn't T&E'd on the night before your presentation

As for mounting platforms, the following is true if the weapon will see hard use:

The Surefire thumbscrew mounts will come unscrewed. Yes, even if they are loc-tited.
The ARMS throwlevers are useless for QD'ing a flashlight unless they are loose to start with. They're either too tight, or loose enough to require zipties to keep them closed.
The LaRue throwlevers are my favorite, but might mar the finish on your rail. If the rifle is a weapon, that shouldn't be a big deal.
Link Posted: 3/3/2006 2:36:15 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/3/2006 2:37:47 AM EDT by -Watcher-]
Yesterday a parcel arrived containing a sample XM07 tailcap and KL3 Conversion head for use with the M951 I have in inventory. It arrived as a courtesy from one of the dealers with my sincere thanks for that bit of customer service.

My first impressions are as follows. I really like the ergonomics of the XM tailcap. It fits the thumb (well, mine) very well. The pressure switch I have a little doubts on. It seems initially to be a bit too sensitive, where I could see SureFire having moved in the direction of the lockout tailcap. I had to make some adjustments to the Wilderness switch keeper arrangement on a KAC forward grip in order to avoid continual depression. Still I now see the full advantage of this arrangement specified by the end users. By simply rotating it out of the way, there's no chance of accidental activation and pressure switch location may be set according to user preference.

The M95x LU60 head seems to be acceptably bright, although I expect it would not stun someone whose eyes are not night adjusted (only the highest output lights would, of course). I also now understand the update SureFire made to the KL3, though. It seems to have a brighter spot light, although it certainly doesn't have the coverage the incandescent head does. I'd be curious how a diffusion filter will impact either head. Obviously, both will experience a reduction in overall intensity and an increase in area. But, since the incandescent head is already slightly less spot brilliant, I wonder if the diffusion head on the KL3 will simply give me performance in coverage and intensity which is more along that of the incandescent, but with longer run time. Mind you, with higher overall cost, as well. If you have experience in this, do tell. Otherwise, I'm interested in performing some ad hoc night illumination testing in preparation for my presentation. More to follow on that.
Link Posted: 3/3/2006 2:42:29 AM EDT

Originally Posted By -Watcher-:
- target stunning capability with momentary bright light

Is Gladius not an option?
Link Posted: 3/3/2006 1:13:33 PM EDT
There were, in fact, several fine lights both incandescent and LED which have been considered and will be presented tonight which simply didn't make the discussion, here.

Considering the requirement for versatility and implied modularity, I doubt these lights will end up on the short list. The Gladius was amongst them, so is the Scout, a couple of Insight Technology/Streamlight models, an Inova, the Guardian TR, TacStar, etc.. Some had compelling weight, price, or versatility aspects, but which failed with these advantages to overcome their deficiencies. As such, I don't plan to put them forth during the discussion, this evening, but I will use them to describe the development process and data on them is in the packets.

Again, I included quotations surrounding the "Best" in the thread title to denote a qualified definition. What's best for one purpose may be less so for another. Equally, because a particular model doesn't make it into this kit is in no way a slight on that product in general. Using alternate kit parameters, the end result turns out quite differently. This is, in part, why there's an interview process at the beginning.
Link Posted: 3/3/2006 1:49:13 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Capn_Crunch:
The LaRue throwlevers are my favorite, but might mar the finish on your rail. If the rifle is a weapon, that shouldn't be a big deal.

Hmm... makes me think of rail covers. I'd have to have actually seen a LaRue throw lever product in person to have an opinion. Like I've said, there are camps of preference.

For myself, I tend not to care for the LaRue design of top/bottom fasteners, but that refers to rings. I don't have a LaRue catalog to know all that's available and the LaRue Tactical website doesn't show all of the usable mounts which might be able to integrate with SureFire illuminators. Then again, the A.R.M.S. website and catalog don't show that they manufacture the mounts for the SureFire M9xx series Weaponlights. These facts being the case, it's rather hard for me to recommend either product or discuss them intelligibly.
Link Posted: 3/4/2006 7:22:45 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/4/2006 7:33:27 AM EDT by -Watcher-]
Post Meeting Recap
The meeting lasted about four hours with much discussion regarding accessories and adaptability. Some issues being tighter than others, including unit cost, weight and, of all things, available mounts and retention capability. Current illumination inventory includes an assortment of personal and weaponlights. However, as the users expect to be potentially away from reliable logistical support for an extended period, interchangeability has become a heavily graded requirement.

The two manufacturers who seemed to attract the greatest amount of interest were SureFire (SF) and PentagonLight (PL). Both were very adaptable with an assortment of heads, laser, and IR accessories. SF was a known product line with much field time to establish its capabilities and known issues; less so of the PLs. PL certainly had the advantage in price and weight, but lacked the modularity to be tailored between 6v and 9v mission parameters. In the sense that two PL lights would have to be purchased and maintained, SF was considered superior. SF also had the advantage with more compact IR illuminator and laser module add-ons.

As a side note, the SF Scout addresses the issue of bulk and weight in the comparison to PL very well. Unfortunately, even considering if the LU60A adapter could be pulled from that bezel and used to adapt any 6v M9xx head to the Scout body, it still suffers the same lack of 9v modularity found in the PLs.

As another aside, according to their catalog, PL used a tailcap feature to attach their lanyards, but this feature doesn't appear to be available on all their tailcaps. It was clear the lanyard ring method employed by SF was preferred when using the light dismounted (with or without the mount removed).

With both brands, though, the swivel mount was an attractive feature. I must find out what can be done with the M9xx series and if anyone manufactures a swivel mount that offers another attachment point behind the rail clamp (light at 5 o'clock, something else mounted above it, on a rail located on the back of the ARMS or LaRue rail interface).

One shortfall of mine was that I was unable to provide throw ranges for the PLs. Lumens indicating the total light output of an illuminator, this would also mean the more scatter you have, the less focus (throw). While I have the 2006 PL catalog largely printed, which includes Lumen output for their lights, it really doesn't get into this factor. The 2006 SF catalog has not yet been released, which I must also review. There will be a follow-up IRC chat in a couple weeks to put together the requested data.

One SF product that didn't get much time was the U2 Ultra. While the idea is neat, for field practical purposes a combo light like the Ultra is by far more useful when it incorporates IR LEDs to formulate a complete system, controlled by the magnetic ring. Since word has it the U2 derives from the "DEF3" there's a "wait and see" mindset present.

The Spring-Loaded A.R.M.S. Mount Safety Latch was developed by PL as a modification which allows a more secure closure of the throw lever. It serves the same function as the new LaRue slide lock, but as an add-on device. I must determine if this can be acquired for retrofitting existing ARMS mounts, if ARMS mounts with this feature are available for the SF lights, and their respective costs.

Offset mounts discussed above.

XM Tailcap with a lockout capability. Although the SF 2006 catalog isn't out yet, I haven't heard anything suggesting an upgrade to the XM tailcap. Still, it's a version worth keeping one's eyes open for. The current "lockout" capability mentioned in the included XM literature refers to unscrewing the tailcap to prevent accidental activation during transport and storage. This "feature" is not field useful.

The KL3 conversion head for the SF M95x didn't receive much discussion, but there was alot of attention given to it during the sample comparison. Wish I'd had a Diffusion Beamshaper for it and a KL5 for comparison. Comments seemed to revolve around the need for light discipline v. flood in a staging/CQB role. On the down side, the PentagonLight MD sample I had arranged to borrow did not arrive in time.

PL has an S2 IR conversion head available that retails for $98, although at 4W (175yd+) output, I wondered about too much illumination for CQB. For comparison, the SF M1 has a 10mW output. Plus, current order ITI MUM2s are packaged with a 600m IR illuminator which I'd rather see evolved into a SF M9xx-series-compatible conversion head, if the interest is range. Similarly, the G3 NVD I'd arranged for also did not arrive in time.

Anyone know how interchangeable the SF X-series accessories are with the ITI/Streamlight M6/X handgun weaponlights, weights, strengths, costs, reviews, etc.? Particularly the HK USP Compact rail adapter (MR08) and the remote switches (SL-15, DG-15).

Boresighting equipment. I have no data on this, but it was brought up as a discussion point regarding targeting lasers, visible and IR, for both rifles and sidearms. PL has a system in their 2006 catalog.

PL Personal Field Maintenance Kit. This thing is a tin can that seems bound to make noise if carried. On the flip side, what sort of noise discipline can be expected from the SF spares carriers?

Batteries (all brands plus shipping). SF (can be found at $1.50@doz) and PL ($2.50ea/$1.19@doz/$1.15@gross) each offer their own brand of CR123A power cells. Neither indicate a mAh rating to justify their price. By comparison, the Titanium CR123A power cell can be had for $1ea online (AmondoTech) with a 1300mAh rating. All incorporate drain circuitry which purportedly shuts off the power supply before the battery explodes.

Personal Note
Surefire makes a fine, even exceptional weapon/combat light. They have seen much service and are a known quantity. PentagonLight less so. It would seem, however, that if PL ever develops a modular body allowing conversion between voltages and assuming field feedback continues with parallel reliability (a factor not to be dismissed), SureFire may end up pricing themselves out of this particular market. For this kit, it's the main issue driving the purchase of SF components. Once achieved by PL, specific accessories will simply be a function of market demand. If the thread and body sizes were compatible, users could even use the SF accessories they prefer on their PL. Please forgive me if I've left something out.
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