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.
Surefire M-4 350 lumenshttp://img.photobucket.com/albums/v111/blackbear11784/sur4.jpg
Polar Bear rechargeable 426 lumenshttp://img.photobucket.com/albums/v111/blackbear11784/pbearshoot.jpg
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.
Surefire M-4 350 lumenshttp://img.photobucket.com/albums/v111/blackbear11784/M-4shoot.jpg
Polar Bear rechargeable 426 lumenshttp://img.photobucket.com/albums/v111/blackbear11784/polarbear.jpg
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 in THR