Surefire M-4 versus Polar Bear 426 lumens shoot-out
As I have promised, here is the shoot-out between the Surefire M-4 flashlight and my new offering, the Polar Bear 426 lumens.
The Surefire finally arrived from Bass Pro shops with the full price of $330.00 plus shipping.
It is a nice light, having a Heavy Orange peel reflector that really smoothes out any imperfections in the beam; a true Surefire quality beam. However, the beam pattern is not round but oval, but is only discerned in the pictures or against a white wall.
Now others do it all the time, but I never go white wall hunting. On the contrary; my tests are against dark backgrounds to see how capable they are in illuminating a dark area.
That is why you see so many beam testing pictures taken in my dark paneling basement.
Well following with the description of the Surefire M-4, it runs in four 123’s disposable batteries, and comes set up with them ready to use.
I changed the lower output lamp for the HOLA (high output lamp assembly) for the 350 lumens that it outputs.
In the gripping department, I like this light better than the Surefire M-6 (with its thicker body) but that thin tube really heats up fast. In only 10 seconds you can feel the heat and it can become uncomfortable to hold when run for long periods of time. This is a light that is really “tactical” to use only in short “bursts” and if you envision yourself holding it for a long time like the guys in CSI do, forget about it.
How is the heat issue in my Polar Bear 426 lumens? It is not an issue; I use a floating sleeve for the battery carrier that is inside the flashlight semi-permanently attached. That sleeve creates an airspace between the body of the flashlight and the batteries, just like in the Thermos principle, so you can hold my light comfortable for long runs.
And how much is a long run in comparison with the Surefire M-4?
Well the Surefire M-4 will run for 20 minutes (not continuous as is it subjected to Thermal shutdown) on the four Surefire 123’s batteries for a cost of $6.64 (when bought thru Surefire at $15.00 plus $5.00 shipping for a pack of 12).
My Polar Bear will run on the Lithium Ion rechargeable fully protected batteries for 70 minutes “plus” (I got 70 minutes run in the second charge. The more cycles you do the more capacity you get, that is where the “plus” comes from).
Free 426 lumens for seventy minutes and a recharge is as far away as your pocket (if you buy extra batteries) or to a trip to your charger that comes included with every Polar Bear.
How close are the 350 lumens of the Surefire M-4 to the 426 lumens of the Polar Bear?
Well actually quite close, if you look at the pictures carefully you can notice the 76 lumen difference, but you have to know how to look. As an example, look at the right side of my desk-target in the basement and you will see more light areas that way with my Polar Bear than with the Surefire.
I was using the Surefire with the brand new fresh batteries, and I am really impressed by the output for the first few minutes (9 or 12). Then the output is diminished as the batteries get used up and go down in voltage supply. The Lithium disposables are good, much better than alkalines, but they still show a little of this dropping down.
Not so with the Lithium Ion cells, which are fully protected from overcharges, shorts, and over-discharges by a circuit in the tail. So when they sense that they are running out of juice, they cut the emission of juice to protect from over discharge and reverse polarity.
Where you can appreciate the difference a little more is in the tool shed pictures that were taken at 15 yards from the shed BUT with the lights coming from 43 yards away.
You can toggle your elevator up and down and see the more illuminated pictures of the tool shed with my Polar Bear light.
Beamshot with Surefire M-4 350 lumens
Polar Bear rechargeable 426 lumens
Surefire M-4 350 lumens
Polar Bear rechargeable 426 lumens
By coincidence, my Polar Bear also has an oval hot spot center; it doesn’t show if you don’t go white wall hunting.
In any outdoor or indoor situation with both lights you will see an intense spot and plenty of side spill to illuminate what is around.
My Polar Bear is a little bigger and longer light, it helps a lot with the “heat” issue, as my light could be used as a flashlight for longer time in your hand and the Surefire can not.
But after all, the Surefire is sold as a tactical light and not as the use the Crime Scene Investigators from the program put it to.
The important issues here are that my Polar Bear’s run time is three times and a half more than the run time of the Surefire, which brings us to the second issue. When you have used your M-4 for 70 minutes you have spent $23.25 in batteries.
If you want more information on the Polar Bear, please see my thread.
Wow very nice review, thank you
Thank you for your appreciattion of my post
I think you ougta have a mod move it to the Lights and Lasers section, or recreate a thread there, that's where I'd look for lights info. Your review will benefit a lot of flash light buyers, over here it may not be getting the attention it deserves. It takes a lot of time to do a review like this, I'd hate to have you think your effort wasn't noticed or appreciated, lest you never do it again lol.
Nothing can be done to small flashlights with the present battery technology. Surefire surged ahead in the 80's because it introduced the Lithium 3 volt batteries.
The 6 P already has the HOLA lamp at 120 lumens to take advantage of the 6 volt system. Nothing rechargeable exsits that can emulate those Lithium 3 volts in that package.
Correction; a Lithium Ion the size of a 123 exits; it is called R123 and has only 700 mah of capacity.
Heck, I have Nimhs AAA with much more capacity than that!!
So the run time will be ridiculous.
I just did a modification that is very convenient. I elongated a 9 P just the lenght of a 123 battery, and put two Pila Li Ion batteries in there. I am running the P-91 lamp with all the 200 lumens in this rechargeable battery.
That is an improvement when you consider that you don't have to spend $4.98 in batteries every 20 minutes.
My modification of Surefires involved in making them output double the lumens with only a few changes and a small amount of physical enlargement.
I take an E2e and modify it to accept a P-61 120 lumens lamp (double the 60 lumens standard)
It can run for the full 20 minutes with no issues.
I even put a 120 lumens lamp straight without bezel change, but that mod suffers from Thermal Shutdown, as the batteries get too hot too quickly and trip the internal protection in 7 minutes or so.
You can see both of my models in this picture.
The model that runs 20 minutes at 120 lumens is the top picture.
In the lower picture is the one that outputs 120 lumens but suffers thermal shutdown.
One of my friends is doing a modification to make the Surefire M-6 rechargeable and save on batteries. The problem is that the mod. cost over $250.00 and if you start with a light that is already $400.00 you have invested $750.00 to run a flashlight that output 500 lumens for 20 minutes.
A much better deal is to get my MAG 951 (made in the Maglite 3 D outputting 951 lumens and running for 30 minutes for FREE (as it is rechargeable) my MAG 951 II only cost $200.00
Here is an example on how much better is 951 lumens than 500.
The lights are coming from 43 yards away.
Beamshot with the Surefire M-6 500 lumens
Beamshot with the MAG 951 lumens (The most powerful flashlight in the world)
You get all of 951 lumens in a flashlight that cost $200.00 and runs for FREE in rechargeable batteries.
Moreover, as I use as a "host" the Maglite 3 D, if the flashlight gets damaged ever you can buy a new "host" for less than $20.00 anywhere and just change the parts to the new host.
Heck I can do it for kicks when I get tired of the black color and get me a red or purple one.
Any modification done in a flashlight like Surefire that already costs a bundle is going to raise the cost too high for normal people with kids and mortgages. My market is those that WANT to have a MEGALIGHT but don't want or CAN NOT spend the MEGABUCKS.
I also have for those that are asking for a shorter light, one dubbed Black Bear 678 for the 678 lumens that it output. It is made in the shorter Maglite 2 D body 10 inches long and comes standard with the Rolls Royce carrier and the Cearmic bi-pin switch. It costs $250.00 and it also trounces the Surefire M-6 as it have 178 more lumens, and of course it is also rechargeable, the choice of the people with regular red blood instead of blue.
Hey here is a picture of the beam of the black bear 678, compare it with the first picture above.
Beamshot with the Black Bear 678 lumens
And now I have come out with the Polar Bear running for 70 minutes and making 426 lumens, for a paltry $250.00
I think that I am doing very well with my modifications.
Hope this discussion have served to put a little light into the issue.