SureFire Story /

a story of what can be accomplished with light

John Matthews — SureFire Founder & President

Helium-Neon laser light built for Colt Trooper

1979 — Laser Products Model 7:
Helium-Neon laser light built for Colt Trooper

The SureFire Story

The SureFire tale begins in 1969 when a young engineer with a Ph.D. from Cal Tech decided that his future lay in lasers. Dr. John Matthews founded the Newport Corporation to harness the power of this technology for industrial applications. Over the next decade, the Newport Corporation grew to become a leader in the field, pioneering a host of industrial uses for the laser. Patents were issued, contracts were won and business boomed.

In time, Dr. Matthews decided to forge a new trail, merging his expertise in laser technology with his passion for firearms. Experimenting with weapon-mounted lasers, he quickly realized their potential, and chose to devote his life to the pursuit of avant-garde tactical solutions geared toward military and law enforcement use. In 1979, these concepts became reality as he designed and patented the first commercial laser sight for use on a firearm.

The original laser sight was large and unwieldy, and further refinement of the technology would have required the board of the Newport Corporation to approve substantial investments outside its core business interests. So Dr. Matthews, 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, Dr. Matthews resigned as president of Newport Corporation and assumed leadership of the newly formed company — Laser Products — which would later see its name changed to SureFire. Now he could devote all of his energy toward the commercialization of laser sights for firearms.

SureFire Laser Sight Products

Fulfilling its destiny, Laser Products introduced the first commercially available laser sighting system, the LPC Model 7, in 1979. It was mounted to a Colt Trooper .357 Magnum revolver and sold as a complete, laser-aimed weapon, powered by a huge battery built into the gun’s custom Pachmayr grip. However crude by today’s standards, the LPC Model 7’s revolutionary performance validated the concept, and the pace of development accelerated. The Laser Products team continued to evolve and perfect its products, integrating them with numerous weapons, including the Remington 870 shotgun, Ruger Mini-14 and AC556 rifles, and the iconic Colt M16. Many of these were developed simultaneously with accessory laser sighting systems for more weapon models, such as the H&K MP5 and HK94.

The firearms industry was slow to catch on to the benefits of this new technology, but two seismic events in 1984 vaulted Laser Products into the limelight. The first was when it fulfilled a request to supply laser sight-equipped shotguns to the Los Angeles Police Department’s SWAT team during the 1984 Summer Olympics — a ringing endorsement for the advanced tactical equipment that Dr. Matthews and his team had created. The second was when these groundbreaking laser sighting tools featured prominently in the critically acclaimed science-fiction film The Terminator, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Since then, SureFire has grown to become one of the most trusted names in tactical gear for law enforcement, and countless major motion pictures have featured SureFire illumination tools and tactical products to add realism to their tactical and law enforcement scenes. Laser Products next introduced the game-changing Model 7LSM (Model L70) laser sight module, which replaced the bulky helium-neon gas laser with the industry’s first compact solid-state laser. Designed specifically for military and specialist law enforcement teams, the Model 7LSM represented a quantum leap in technology. It immediately earned a reputation for extreme accuracy, tremendous durability and amazing adaptability, setting a clear course for future products. Later, variants such as the Model L75 utilized an infrared laser visible only with night vision devices.

Today, SureFire remains at the fore of laser aiming device technology and continues to be the standard by which all others are judged.

The Birth of SureFire

Laser Products went on to establish itself as the leading manufacturer of rugged, powerful and compact illumination tools for tactical applications - from weapon-mounted lights and laser sights, shield lights and baton lights to hand-held lights powerful and bright enough to qualify as “force-option” tools that could temporarily blind, unbalance, and disorient a threat.

In 2001, 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 WeaponLights

SureFire’s combat-proven WeaponLights answer the call of duty whenever and wherever necessary, by warriors on the battlefield, police officers in dimly lit back alleys and citizens defending their families. It has been that way since the 1980s, when Laser Products responded to a need by military and law enforcement officers. They wanted to mount lights to their duty weapons without adversely affecting the ability to shoot quickly and accurately. Dr. Matthews and his team came up with a solution, and the modern WeaponLight was born. By 1985, our first WeaponLights were fully developed and marketed under a new name, SureFire.

The SureFire Model 300 WeaponLight was the patriarch of our history-making line of tactical illumination tools, and it represented a true advance in tactical gear. A ruggedly designed flashlight mount that securely mounted existing duty flashlights to a weapon, the Model 300 utilized a brilliantly designed tail cap that replaced the light’s stock tail cap and featured a coiled tape switch for remote activation of the light. For even greater utility, the Model 300 bracket also accepted the same mounts as our Model 32 laser sight, allowing the flashlight and the laser to be used interchangeably.

Surefire then advanced the state of the art by introducing the first modern handgun-mounted WeaponLights. The SureFire Model 310 (3-volt) and Model 610 (6-volt) WeaponLights were built for the popular Colt 1911A1 pistol. As military, law-enforcement and civilian users continued to validate the benefit of weapon-mounted lights, SureFire led the evolution in the category.

Today every Sure Fire WeaponLight, from our best-selling X300 handgun light and trusted long gun Scout Light family to the amazing XVL2 Pistol & Carbine Light/Laser Module, continues to set the bar for what a tactical WeaponLight can provide. Each and every model is connected by a 40-year heritage of innovation and tried-and-true engineering.

SUREFIRE FLASHLIGHTS

SureFire is the world’s most prolific manufacturer of top-tier illumination tools because we always strive to deliver the next technical breakthrough. The proof is in our numerous patents, which include everything from our handgun and shotgun tactical lights of the late 1980s to industry exclusives such as switchless flashlights, flashlight holsters, dual lamp flashlights, CombatLight flashlights and slimlight switches throughout the 1990s. SureFire’s IntelliBeam® and MaxVision Beam® technology are current examples of how we continue to stretch the boundaries of what can be accomplished with light.

While creating the first WeaponLights, Dr. Matthews and his engineering team quickly realized the performance limitations of the status quo D-cell battery-powered flashlights being utilized in tactical environments. In 1988, SureFire achieved another milestone by introducing the Model 6C, a true paradigm shift in hand-held tactical lighting. Powered by two lithium 123A batteries, the Model 6C delivered an astounding 60 lumens of light — six times the industry standard — from a compact flashlight measuring a mere 4.6 inches long. The Model 6C also provided rugged reliability to go with its potent output. Housed in a space-age, aircraft-grade aluminum body, it was also waterproof and shock-resistant.

Just a few months later, SureFire improved on the design by introducing the Model 6P, which included all the features of the 6C with a unique push-button tailcap. The Model 6P set a new standard for high-performance tactical illumination tools. SureFire has continued to improve the functionality and the light output of its hand-held illumination tool with such models as the 6Z (1997) — which incorporated the first CombatGrip — and the M6 (2000), whose 500-lumen output once again set a new standard.

SureFire continues to introduce paradigm-shifting flashlight technologies in everything from our flagship UDR Dominator to best-selling models such as the dual-fuel Fury and the radically shaped, compact, rechargeable Stiletto.

SureFire Hands-Free

For the past 15 years SureFire has also applied cutting-edge technology to hands-free illumination tools, beginning with our HL1 HelmetLight in 2005 and our Saint line of LED headlamps in 2008. The same SureFire innovation can be found today in our latest hands-free products such as our 2211® WristLights, and Maximus and Minimus® variable output LED headlamps. These feature-packed products incorporate our patented MaxVision Beam® reflector, which shapes the LED output into a smooth, seamless wall of light that’s perfect for maintaining situational awareness.

SureFire’s legendary performance and durability are combined with careful design for a superlative fit and long-wearing comfort, making them ideal for night-time exploration in the most environments. They provide a critical capability everyone from law enforcement personnel to outdoor enthusiasts.

SureFire Suppressors

While the laser technology that created SureFire has advanced 100-fold in the past 60 years, it took SureFire to advance suppressor technology, which was virtually unchanged for nearly a century. The original suppressor was the brainchild of Sir Hiram Stevens Maxim, the inventor of the first production recoil-operated machine gun. Maxim’s basic design lasted for 93 years before SureFire created its Suppressor Division in 2002 to redefine suppressor technology, materials and construction.

We didn’t merely want to offer a new Surefire product, we wanted to advance the state-of-the art. SureFire set some extremely ambitious goals for the next generation of suppressors: to drastically reduce not only muzzle sound but also muzzle flash and muzzle blast signature — all of which can reveal one’s position to an enemy.

Starting with the finest U.S. mill-certified high-temperature alloys available, SureFire’s Suppressor Division engineered the most advanced and fail-safe suppressor baffle system ever devised. It met all our ambitious criteria for sound, flash and dust signature reduction while remaining compact in size, lightweight and supremely durable. We torture-tested every design relentlessly to ensure that it met our goals while consistently producing a sub-1 MOA shift in point of impact when compared to the same weapon unsuppressed, regardless of the number of attach-detach cycles. Our patented front plate design virtually eliminated first-round flash signature, and our patented Fast-Attach® mounting system provided a rock-solid interface with the weapon as well as fast and easy detachment after extensive firing.

Satisfied that we had met or exceeded every goal, SureFire submitted its suppressor to the United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM) for consideration in the most intense and demanding suppressor trials in military history. We knew that the journey to attain a U.S. Military contract would be brutal, and that our self-imposed performance and durability standards would be put to the ultimate test.

When it was over, SureFire earned the trust of the US Military, beating all other suppressor brands and earning the right to wear the SOCOM name plus the honor of supplying our nation’s armed forces with the finest suppressors available. That contractual agreement continues today.

SureFire High-Capacity Magazines

SureFire first introduced its Mil-Spec, high-capacity magazines in 2011. Our time-tested, rugged and durable magazines dramatically increase the fighting capability of M4/M16/AR-15 variants, and other firearms that accept STANAG 4179 magazines, significantly reducing the number of reloads required to stay in the fight. They feed smoothly and consistently, providing critical reliability on the battlefield.

Dueck Defense Rapid Transition Sights

We also maintain a strategic relationship with Dueck Defense, developer of Rapid Transition Sights When attached to the upper Picatinny rail of a rifle, these revolutionary sights are mounted at a 45-degree offset to provide an alternate sighting system with a seamless transition between an optic mounted on top of the weapon and the Rapid Transition Sights. Built for combat and proven in high level 3-gun competition, they are handcrafted in the U.S.A. of premium materials.

SureFire Hearing Protection

SureFire didn’t enter the hearing protection market on a whim. Like everything we do, our EarPro® earplugs employ superior technology that results in durable, high-performance products to meet specific, Real-world needs. Today, EarPro are trusted by tactical professionals, industrial workers and shooting enthusiasts who care about preserving their hearing.

Every SureFire Sonic Defenders® model includes our patented EarLock® retention rings, which feature seven contact points to lock the earplugs in place for all-day comfort. Our noise-reducing filters are meticulously engineered for significant dB reduction of constant noise, such as the perpetual roar of industrial machinery, and impulse noise, such as an unsuppressed gunshot or explosion. Users can choose from two styles: full block — for maximum protection on the range — or filtered, to combat harmful noise while allowing tactical communication and ambient sounds to be heard clearly.

Our easy snap-on/off filter caps can also be inserted for maximum Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) and Impulse Attenuation, and our Universal Acoustic Coupler technology provides the optimum in hearing protection while allowing safe sounds and radio communications to be heard for increased situational awareness and improved user safety.

SureFire Batteries

SureFire’s relentless pursuit of smaller, brighter and better illumination tools has often led us down alternate paths. That’s definitely true when it comes to battery technology. SureFire-brand batteries have led the trend toward greater energy density. We not only pioneered the use of compact 123A lithium batteries in our lights, we provided the battery industry with a critical solution that improved their utility. Today SureFire-brand batteries are the definitive power source for our illumination tools.

Made in the USA, SureFire batteries deliver superior power density and voltage maintenance compared to alkaline batteries, and our batteries operate over a wider environmental-temperature range for more reliable energy delivery in extreme conditions. With built-in heat/fault protection and a 10-year shelf life, SureFire batteries are designed to be as advanced as the products they power. Our SF123A lithium-ion batteries continue to be the gold standard in their class and, more recently, our SF18650B batteries have raised the bar in energy density while retaining the convenience and environmentally-conscious option of recharging through a simple micro-USB cable.

THE FUTURE

SureFire is proud of our past contributions to tactical technology, but we will never rest on our laurels, and our long and proven track record of innovation already provides the best glimpse of where we are going. We will continue to develop a broad spectrum of cutting-edge gear to serve our core customers by evolving and improving our historic product line as well as pioneering entirely new solutions to the challenges those customers face. SureFire is committed to all those who bet their lives on the equipment we make, and will continue to push the envelope to ensure their success, whatever the mission.