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OVER TWO DECADES OF EXCELLENCETHE SUREFIRE COMBATLIGHT EUGENE NIELSEN HERE’S TO MANY MORESureFire flashlights are legenday among military, law enforcement and private citizens alike. But it all began with one model — the “CombatLight” — and it turns 25 this year. Manipulating both a hand-held light and a firearm can be difficult — if not impossible — in a high-stress, fast-moving situation. Doing so ties up both hands: one hand to hold and operate the light and the other to control and operate the firearm. These problems don’t exist with a weapon-mounted light. Such a device will be there for you when lighting is critically reduced — without adversely affecting your ability to handle your firearm — and will also allow you to maintain a free hand for other tasks. And since the light is mounted on the firearm, the light is always aligned with that firearm’s muzzle. That is both ideal and problematic. A weapon-mounted light is part of the weapon system and needs to be treated as such — especially when it comes to threat identification. If you’re not justified in drawing and pointing your gun, you’re not justified in pointing a gun-mounted light. That’s why it’s important to get yourself a first-rate hand-held unit. It allows you to safely assess a situation without pointing a firearm at anything that doesn’t need a firearm pointed at it. And if you run a quick search, it won’t take you long to realize that SureFire is universally recognized for producing the finest and most innovative tactical illumination tools and equipment in the industry. SUREFIRE COMBATLIGHT For 25 years, SureFire CombatLights with the patented CombatGrip have set the standard for hand-held tactical illumination. Optimized for use with the Rogers (SureFire) Technique, the CombatGrip allows for easy light manipulation with a two-handed grip on the handgun. The CombatGrip’s distinct profile works exceptionally well with other popular shooting techniques too. The founder and president of Sure-Fire, Dr. John Matthews, introduced the SureFire 6Z CombatLight in 1997. FBI Agent Bill Rogers, a top firearms instructor and the father of the modern Kydex and security holster, saw that many shooting techniques employing hand-held lights failed to utilize Sure-Fire’s compact high-output flashlights with a tailcap switch. A user could hold a SureFire 6P flashlight between the middle and index fingers of his or her support hand and turn the light on and off by pressing the tailcap with his or her palm — all while retaining two hands on the handgun. Rogers modified the flashlight by slipping a piece of bicycle inner tube around the body of it to provide traction and better leverage to operate the tailcap switch. As a result of Rogers’ clever idea, Matthews developed a light specifically designed based on Rogers’ technique. And voila: The SureFire 6Z Combat-Light was born. SureFire engineers have since refined Matthews’ prototype.READY FOR ANOTHER 25 The original CombatLight quickly caught on in the tactical worlds of law enforcement and military operations and moved from there into the privatecitizen market. And 25 years later, it’s still being updated and reissued.G2ZX AND G2Z-MV The CombatLight quickly caught on within the shooting community, and successive models were also positively received, with plenty of them adopted by leading law enforcement agencies. The FBI issued a SureFire Z2 CombatLight to all graduates of the FBI Academy, and it also became a standard-issue piece of equipment for all U.S. Air Marshals.As technology advanced over the years, the CombatLight evolved. The incandescent lamp assembly was replaced by a virtually indestructible high-performance LED. And advancements in LED technology resulted in a previously unthinkable lumen output and provided longer battery life compared to an incandescent lamp. SureFire has two different Combat-Lights — the G2ZX and G2Z-MV. Both models feature a Nitrolon body and a hard-anodized aluminum head, and each is powered by two 123A lithium batteries. Both models are single-output and are O-ring and gasket-sealed.They also have an IPX7 rating, which means they’re protected against immersion in water up to a depth of 1 meter for 30 minutes. The G2ZX and G2Z-MV differ in output and beam pattern. Beam pattern is the relationship between light output and beam intensity. A tighter beam with a bright “hot spot” has greater reach. The current G2ZX has a 600-lumen output — sent from a micro-textured polycarbonate reflector that provides plenty of reach — combined with significant surround light, while the G2Z-MV has a greater output at 800 lumens. Sure-Fire’s proprietary MaxVision Beam provides natural close-range lighting with a wide surround for target identification and improved situational awareness.For purposes of comparison, the 6Z, with its incandescent P60 Lamp Assembly, produced a whopping (for that time) 65 lumens, which was the same output as a five-D-cell Maglite of the era. The user interface is simple and straightforward. The G2ZX features a tactical tailcap: Push for momentary-on and twist for constant-on. The G2Z-MV includes a click-style tailcap: Press for momentary activation, push further for constant-on mode, and click again to turn it off. SureFire designed the click switch with enough throw so that you cannot select the constant-on option unless you intentionally drive the switch button in. Both tailcaps have a lock-out feature, which is important in prevent accidental activation while you’re traveling or otherwise transporting equipment. TACTICAL FLASHLIGHT PIONEER ■ Donald A. Keller came up with the idea of the Kel-Lite flashlight while working for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department during the 1960s. He grew tired of breaking cheap units, so he devised his own tactical flashlight. Keller partnered with Frank Patti, who owned a machine shop in Covina, California, and produced a prototype in early 1968. The flashlight was rust- and corrosion-proof; included a high-intensity polished reflector, an unbreakable lens and interchangeable components; and came with a lifetime warranty. In 1969, Keller left the sheriff’s department and went into business full-time. As Kel-Lite expanded, Keller and Patti began to add other law enforcement equipment to the product line. In 1972, both left the company after clashing with the company’s general manager. In the early ‘80s, Streamlight acquired Kel-Lite, later changing its name to Excalibur. Keller continued to produce and design flashlights, starting another flashlight company, Pro-Light, in 1973, and helped to develop the Maglite flashlight and other products.— Frank Jastrzembski, Contributing Editor Neither the G2ZX nor the G2Z-MV comes with a pocket clip, but each light does come with a lanyard. Pocket carry without a clip necessitates dropping the flashlight loose into the pocket, lanyard protruding for an easy draw, but this is not the only option. The best pocket-carry solution I’ve found for the G2ZX and G2Z-MV is the Low Profile Carry (LPC) Clip from Thyrm. All Thyrm products are designed and made in the U.S. and come with a limited lifetime warranty. MSRP is $17.99.SureFire is discontinuing the G2Z-MV, but fret not. It will be replaced by a new CombatLight that SureFire is understandably tight-lipped about. There are no plans to discontinue the G2ZX. MSRP for the G2ZX is $99, and MSRP for the G2Z-MV is $132. While some components are imported, many Sure-Fire products are completely made in the U.S. and are backed by SureFire’s No-Hassle Warranty. THE D3FT SureFire makes a special Combat-Light for Haley Strategic Partners: the Disruptive 3nvironments Firefly Technique, or D3FT (pronounced “deft”). Developed by Force Reconnaissance Marine veteran Travis Haley, of Haley Strategic, the D3FT is a single-output light that features a compact design for EDC. The flashlight has a hard-anodized aluminum body and head and a machined aluminum plunger (grip ring). It is O-ring and gasket-sealed, and it too has an IPX7 rating. Its 500-lumen output utilizes a TIR reflector for optimal throw and surround light. It has a click-style tailcap with three options: Push for momentary activation, press further for constant-on, and click again for off. It has a lockout feature and is designed to prevent inadvertent constant-on activation. It is powered by a single 123A lithium cell and wears a robust two-way pocket clip for easy carry. (Like the others, it too ships with a lanyard.) The D3FT is available exclusively through Haley Strategic for $169. ITS FUTURE IS BRIGHT The CombatLight was quite revolutionary when it was introduced 25 years ago, and SureFire remains a premiere manufacturer of top-tier tools for today’s concealed carrier. The challenge facing every defender — how to operate in darkness without giving up any advantage to an attacker and without harming anyone who does not need to be harmed — will likely never truly be bested. But with units like those put out by SureFire, it is easier to meet that challenge than at any other time in human history. SOURCES Haley Strategic Partners: HaleyStrategic.comSureFire:SureFire.com Thyrm:Thyrm.com