SureFire illumination tools are the finest in the world — compact, rugged, powerful, reliable, and efficient. Engineered for maximum performance and manufactured with precision, they produce optimal beams featuring impressive light output with no defects or shadows. That’s why people whose lives depend on having the right amount of light when they need it — such as military personnel, emergency responders, law enforcement officers, and outdoors professionals and adventurers — rely on SureFire.
ureFire is a story of what can be accomplished with light. The tale begins in 1969 when an engineer with a Ph.D. from Cal Tech decided the future lay in lasers. Dr. John Matthews founded the Newport Corporation to harness the power of the laser for industrial applications.
Over the next decade, the Newport Corporation grew to become a leader in the laser field, pioneering a host of industrial uses for the laser. Patents were issued, contracts were won, business boomed.
Basking in the glow of success, John’s inventive mind turned toward his hobby and passion, shooting. He wondered if a laser could be adapted to serve as a sight on a firearm. In 1979, John’s concepts became reality as he designed and patented a laser sight.
The original laser sight was large and unwieldy by today’s standards. Further refinement of the technology would have required the board of the Newport Corporation to approve substantial investments outside its core business interests.
So John, along with several key members of Newport’s technical staff who shared his vision, approached the board with an offer to buy the laser sight business. When their offer was accepted, John resigned as president of Newport Corporation, and assumed leadership of the newly formed company, Laser Products. Now John could devote all of his energy toward the commercialization of laser sights for guns.
A handgun sight for a Colt Trooper was the company ‘s first product. A laser sight for a Ruger Mini-14 soon followed. Then, in 1984, the phone rang with a call from a local police agency that would literally alter history for Dr. John Matthews and Laser Products.
It was the Los Angeles Police Department’s SWAT Team on the line. The 1984 Olympic Games were to be held in The City Of Angels and the police wondered if it would be possible to borrow a number of laser-sighted shotguns to use for security during the Games. No problem, said John.
In the years that followed, the technically superb, but expensive, laser-sighted firearms paved the way for future developments. While none proved commercially viable, the willingness of Laser Products to accommodate law enforcement’s needs led to the development of a novel idea at the time, a weapon-mounted flashlight. The SureFire WeaponLight was born, and low-light law enforcement and military operations would never be the same.
Eventually the SureFire name became so synonymous with excellence in hand-held illumination tools that the company name, Laser Products, was changed to SureFire LLC.
SureFire’s aluminum-body illumination tools are machined from a high-strength aerospace aluminum alloy, making them extremely resistant to damage from impact, crushing, or bending, and allowing them to be made as small and light as possible without sacrificing strength. Some of our lights are made of Nitrolon® polymer, discussed below.
SureFire’s Multi-Axis Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) lathes ensure precision-machined components. SureFire’s aluminum-body WeaponLights and flashlights are further protected by a finish called anodizing. The anodizing process uses electricity and a chemical bath to grow a layer of aluminum oxide on an aluminum surface. Aluminum oxide is the second-hardest substance known to man, exceeded only by diamonds, and certain anodized finishes can be made extremely durable, such as the Mil-A-8625 Type III Class 2 military specification finish that SureFire uses.
Polymers are durable, lighter in weight than aluminum and are more comfortable to hold in cold weather. Some flashlight manufacturers use relatively cheap polymers such as ABS. In contrast, SureFire’s polymer flashlight bodies and WeaponLight components are made of Nitrolon®, a proprietary high-strength, non-conductive, impact-resistant, glass-filled polyamide polymer. “Glass-filled” means that the polymer matrix has b
Some manufacturers dramatize the performance of their illumination tools by measuring output in candlepower units. This measurement can be misleading because it is usually taken by focusing the beam into a narrow cone and taking the measurement in this bright spot, without respect to the overall beam configuration.
Imagine a flashlight whose beam produces an extremely bright spot six inches in diameter when shone against a wall fifteen feet away, but which produces almost zero illumination elsewhere on the wall. A candlepower measurement taken in that bright spot may be quite high, but the flashlight’s beam would be useless for most purposes.
Now imagine taking the total amount of light in that bright central spot and spreading it out evenly into a broad cone. The beam is now in a much more useful configuration, but if you measured candlepower at the same place on the wall where the bright spot was previously you’d get a much lower figure, and the beam as a whole might appear too dim for your needs.
This is why the best starting point for comparing the performance of illumination tools is the lumen, which measures total light output. This puts the illumination tools you’re comparing on a level playing field; you know how much total light you’re getting from each one. After that, the primary performance concerns are (1) beam configuration, meaning the shape of the tool’s emitted cone of light and how the available light is distributed within that cone; and (2) efficiency, meaning how much energy is required to produce the lumens emitted in that cone of light.
With the exception of our HellFighter® WeaponLights, all current SureFire illumination tools use an LED (Light Emitting Diode) light source. An LED is a semiconductor chip that converts electrical energy directly into light. An LED is classified as a solid-state light source because it has no gas or liquid components, as do other light sources. The LEDs in SureFire flashlights consists of an emitter chip mounted on a solid base; the chip is attached to electrical leads that conduct power to it, and it’s encased in a clear polymer that is shaped to focus or disperse the LED’s light in the desired manner.
Most SureFire’s LED illumination tools contain a durable, sealed electronic power regulator that supervises the operation of the LED. This circuitry assesses battery output, monitors system performance, and controls power supplied to the LED. Power regulation provides a more consistent light output for the usable life of the batteries. Although an LED may continue to produce negligible light output for up to several hundred hours, the amount of useful light produced is of a shorter duration. Power regulation reduces the period of negligible output and increases the duration of useful light output.