If you are serious about carrying a firearm for self-defense, one of the most important things you can do is add a flashlight to your everyday carry (EDC) rig. Identifying your target is critical, so this is not the time to skimp. I am not made of money, but my personal safety gets budget priority. Surefire is arguably the top tactical flashlight manufacturer in the U.S., and the history to prove it.
Surefire’s daddy was a company called Laser Products, which gained worldwide attention in 1984 by providing local law enforcement laser-sighted shotguns to protect the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. (That year, the movie Terminator was released, and it featured Arnold Schwarzenegger wielding a custom laser-sighted 1911—which still works, and which Surefire still owns). In 1986 Laser Products expanded from just lasers to flashlights, changed its name to Surefire, and has been innovating since.
Today brings us to Surefire’s current version of pistol-mounted flashlight: The X300. It’s a jack-of-all-trades that can be mounted on most rifles and pistols with Picatinny rails. On top of that the X300 has the ability to change its back end adding pistol accessory switches or rifle tape switches for even more functionality. At 3.76” long and around 4 oz., (with batteries), the X300 practically disappears until you need it.
There was a time in my adulthood that 60 lumens for an hour with an incandescent bulb was considered “top of the line.” The X300 uses a shock-proof single LED build that puts out an astonishing 1,000 lumens for 1.25 hours of continuous run time. All of that is accomplished with two CR123 Lithium batteries. Unlike MeMaw at Christmas and birthdays, Surefire makes sure you are working right out of the box, including your first set of batteries.
All X300s are ambidextrous, with the controls accessible from either side. For momentary use, push either control paddle forward and the light activates for as long as you push it. To keep the light on, you push either rocker up or down and it locks on until you turn it by pushing the paddles back into the neutral position.
Machined from solid blocks of fancy aerospace aluminum, the X300 is tough as nails. So tough in fact the Surefire released several ads showing someone hammering a nail in a board with a pistol-mounted X300 … it was still working. The lens is a tough glass that will not melt or deform under the intense power of the LED bulb. And since the X300 is a sealed weaponlight, it is IPX7 rated, and can be fully submerged to 1 meter for 30 minutes, making it officially tougher than your average hand-built submarine. (Too soon?)
Even though the X300 is not a substantially large flashlight, the X300 is meant for a full duty sized handgun. Think of something like a Glock 19 or Springfield XDM. Don’t worry, Surefire has your Hellcat covered with the micro compact XSC handgun weapon light. If you don’t have a Pic rail, Surefire offers two different X300Us with different mounting options.
You can sort of think of the X300U-A as a set of Legos, with different inserts and the ability to rail lock the light if need be. The A version locks on rails using a quick connect system that uses a spring lever that connects into the rail slots. With the A version you can slide the light on and off a rail in seconds by pulling the locking lever down. One con about this version is that the light uses spring pressure. Depending on the insert and your particular rail (stupid engineers re-inventing the wheel), the light can slide forward and back a couple millimeters.
Now don’t worry; this movement is just an annoyance, the light will not come off until you purposely remove it. Included in the X300u-A set of goodies is a rail lock option, that once installed absolutely locks the light to the rail. The downside is that now you need an allen key to remove the light from the rail to install a new set of batteries.
The Bravo version uses an old-school thumb screw that tightens the rail grabber. The X300u-B can be removed without having to push the light to the end of the rail. Instead, loosen the screw, push it down onto the rail, and tighten in place. You can actually tighten the screw enough that it provides a rock-solid grip even on polymer pistols. The cons, you can tighten the screw so hard on a polymer pistol that you can temporarily deform the frame and cause a malfunction. Surefire basically designed the Alpha system to fix this. If you just use reason and common sense, either will be fine on polymer rails.
Using the X300U is a wonderfully fun experience at night. Anyone’s dark-adapted eyes will be temporarily blinded by the beam. It features a nice solid center that is nice and tight out to 25 yards. Then the beam has an outer spilloff that makes a nice wide beam. If I am standing in the middle of a two-lane road, I can light up the center, as well as both sidewalks to see someone hiding on the side of a vehicle. Even though the X300U is considered a close- to medium-range weaponlight, you can see a person at 100 yards (it may just not be crisply defined). Surefire just released the X300Turbo, that thing is almost a light laser beam giving you a nice and tight beam easily out to 100yards. Side to side not as much. The turbo is really best suited to a rifle type platform where longer shots could be required. The U is best suited for clearing and being able to see a whole area.
The X300Us are available in both black and FDE with either mounting version you choose. The retail cost of the X300U is around $360. Yes, that sounds expensive, but remember these are illumination tools designed and manufactured right here in the USA to the highest standards above and beyond. I can attest that I still have Surefire flashlights that are over 15 years old … so that works out to $2 a day. For peace of mind, that’s cheap.
Ok so you are on board and have an X300U ordered, now what? Next article I will tell you about my favorite X300 accessories and how to get the best use of these illumination tools. In the meantime does anyone have any Surefire stories? Anyone who is a flashlight nerd has stories so let’s hear ‘em!
—James the “XDMAN” Nicholas Mr. UnPewFessional himself.
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