Three SureFire rechargeable flashlights for your Bug Out Bag—the The P1R Peacekeeper, the Sidekick and the Guardian.
Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of articles on flashlights and other electronic gear that you’ll need for an emergency or natural catastrophe. In this story we’ll look at three rechargeable flashlights from SureFire that will be worthy candidates for your bug-out bag or your own “home-land” security.
It stands to reason that a good flashlight is a key component of any survival kit.
I’ve been a fan of SureFire for years because of its quality and innovation. One of the things that sold me is its popularity with law enforcement, who provide input directly to the SureFire product development team.
Its products are American-made, which is an anomaly in this day and age. The company has been around since 1979 when it was founded by John Matthews, a Cal Tech engineer who developed laser technology for industrial applications. The firm segued into producing lasers for firearms and eventually became one of the leading manufacturers of illumination tools that include weapon-mounted lights, laser sights, shield lights, baton lights and hand-held lights.
For the past several years I’ve used a Surefire Fury as my EDC flashlight and it’s never let me down. When I first purchased it I thought it was way overpriced but, I was comparing it to the dime-a-dozen variety of flashlights you get at Costco. Once educated, I realized that this was an “apples to oranges” comparison.
SureFire, as well as the other modern manufacturers, use LED technology with advanced circuitry that extends battery life. The new cohort of flashlights are also much more reliable.
As much as I like the Fury I wanted to get away from CR123A batteries, which work great but are not rechargeable. Given the state of the art nowadays I believe going the rechargeable route is the best way to fly.
If you like the idea of rechargeable systems the Peacekeeper is a good option. The LED used in this model is extremely reliable and emits up to 600 Lumens at a run time of 2.75 hours. It’s developed for tactical situations so when you press the button on the endcap you’ll get 600 Lumens from the get go. If you want to go to the lower (15 Lumen) end of the illumination spectrum, simply click it off and back on again. In this mode the battery will last 58 hours!
This is a robust flashlight.
The Peacekeeper is constructed with aircraft aluminum and powered by an industry standard 18650 battery. The finish is anodized and flawless. It’s water resistant, sealed with an O-ring and a gasket. Its balanced and small enough to keep in your cargo pocket. It also has a stippled grip which makes it ideal for use with a handgun. The batteries are charged with a dual-bay charger which comes with the package. With the charger you can always have spares on hand in case of an emergency.
If 18650 batteries are not available, you also have the option of using disposable CR123A batteries, the same variety that power my SureFire Fury. SureFire tech support told me that you can also use rechargeable LFP CR123 batteries for the Fury and Peace Keeper. However they recommend using an 18650 battery for the Peace Keeper because that’s what it was designed for.
Some folks might be spooked by the Peacekeeper’s price, around $217 on Amazon, but as they say, you get what you pay for. It’s virtually indestructible.
When I first saw the diminutive Sidekick (only 2.5” long weighing in at 1.2 oz) I was pretty skeptical of its capabilities. After using it, I was quickly disabused of my doubts. It’s now my current EDC flashlight and resides on my key chain. It has three modes, 5 Lumens (45 hours), 60 Lumens (4 hours) and on the high end, 300 Lumens (1.25 hours)! One nice touch is that you can program the light to kick in at the high or the low end of the Lumen cycle.
This is not some tacky souvenir from a trade show or the auto dealer. The ergonomics are great so it’s handy to use—your fingers can easily find the button. The recharge-ability factor is so practical. You can just use your cell phone charger or a computer. (It comes with a small USB cable).
Perhaps the only thing it lacks is a rubber grommet to cover the USB port where it could pick up lint or dirt. Other than that I can’t think of anything I don’t like about this minuscule gem. I could definitely see this as a backup for a larger flashlight. Price on Amazon is $69.
The Guardian is so new that it’s not even on the market as I write. I was provided a prototype by SureFire to test.
The Guardian is quite a departure for the typical SureFire. To begin with it’s about the size of a garage door opener. Unlike a typical flashlight it has dual beams–two very different beams.
The 19mm reflector projects at far distances or in the industry parlance, with longer throw. I live on a ridge pointed the 19 mm light down into the valley, at least 1000 yards away and it was clearly reflecting off some of the road signs. The 12mm or ‘MaxVision’ Beam provides a wide-angle illumination light with no hot spots at distances of up to 50 feet.
Both incorporate SureFire’s proprietary auto-adjusting “IntelliBeam” technology which auto-adjusts the illumination depending on the scenario. Point either of the beams in the distance and then move them up close and you’ll see what happens. Immediately the intensity down shifts. This makes sense. If you point the beam into the distance it’s going to need more juice. Change direction and point it just a few feet away, say as you’re preparing to insert your house key in the front door, the intensity diminishes because you’re at point blank range and don’t need the extra Lumens.
The flashlight is able to do the thinking for you because each LED/reflector assembly of the Guardian, has a light sensor. This sensor measures the reflection of light from the surface back to the light sensor, resulting in the microprocessor automatically adjusting to the right light output based on the person’s surroundings, ie the distance you are from your “subject”.
I carried this little guy around for a few weeks and grew attached to it. The form factor is good and the two buttons to switch on the two beams are easy to find. The light is welded which is good at keeping the elements out but you can’t swap out the battery.
I could see this being adopted as an EDC type of tool however, it’s a bit big for a jean’s pocket. It’s better suited for a purse or tactical pants pocket, where you’d stash your AR magazine.
It produces a powerful output ranging from 15 to 800 Lumens depending on the scenario. The performance of this device was great.
The Guardian uses a USB-C style connector which is newish technology that started getting phased in this year. Soon it will be used on just about all devices. The connector looks similar to a micro USB connector but is more oval-shaped and slightly thicker to accommodate its best feature: The USB-C connector has no up or down orientation. Thus, you don’t have to flip it to plug it in. The cables also have the same connector on both ends, so you don’t need to determine which end goes where. (Just don’t lose the cable or you’ll be SOL!)
The only thing I didn’t like was that the Guardian tends to get rather warm when you fire it up for any length of time. (No surprise–it says “Caution Hot Surface” on the side of the flashlight.) Perhaps the battery could be better insulated. MSRP should be around $179.
SureFire has another rechargeable light called the FirePak, that GunsandGear.com be looking at in the near future. It’s designed to work with an iPhone 6/6S/6Plus/7/7Plus and Galaxy S5 (in order to shoot video) or, you can use it as a stand-alone flashlight/charging unit. Stay tuned for that review.