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.
Body Materials Anodized Aluminum and Nitrolon® Polymer
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 been mixed with fine glass fibers that add rigidity, abrasion resistance, and increased stability at higher temperatures.
Light Output Lumens vs. Candlepower
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.
A technical note: although candlepower and lumens measure different things, there is a relationship between them. A light source with an intensity of one candlepower (or candela in modern terminology) that is emitting equally in all directions (that is, in a spherical shape) generates about one lumen per steradian. A steradian is a solid conical shape that can be envisioned as a circular cored-out section of a sphere, wide on the surface of the sphere and narrowing to a point at the center. Since there are about 12.5 steradians in a sphere (4π to be exact), that means our one-candela light source is producing a total of about 12.5 lumens of light.
SureFire uses integrating sphere photometers to measure the total lumen output of our illumination tools. This measurement is weighted toward the yellow-green light that the human eye responds to most strongly, which is around 560 nanometers in wavelength.