Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Updating the Surefire G2 (R2 and Q5 LED drop in lamps)

When buying gear you sometimes end up paying for advertise and brand name, while other times you’re buying quality tools that will serve you well a lifetime and beyond.
The Surefire G2 is a good example of such tool.
The first G2, (and the first Surefire I owned) was a gift from a good American friend.
Having been used to a big old 3-D cell Maglite, the handy sized yet powerful flashlight was a real treat as a bedside light. Goes along well with a handgun for when things go bump in the night and you need to check things out.
Several years went by and the LED revolution changed the way we view flashlights and their possible applications.
Gone are the days of dim, blue tinted LED. Today, thanks to manufacturers such as Cree as well as a few others, there is such a thing as too bright.
It happened with Maglites and it happened to the Surefire as well: When you have a quality product that sets a milestone like the G2/P60 did, the market will usually offer you ways to “update” the tool and use modern technology in the time proven design.

Classic. A couple of Surefire G2. Shown with original and replacement drop in R2 LED lamp. Also in teh picture, the SureFire SC1 Spares Carrier which safely stores 6 batteries and a replacement lamp.

The Cree R2 Lamp for P60

Cree LED R2 compared to the original Xenon lamp. Top to bottom, High, mid and Low.

The R2 is one of the latest models of LED made by Cree.
One of the things I like the most about the Q and R family is the way it achieves a satisfactory white light. (The Q5 and R2 are both very good, bright LEDs)
White can be divided into the infinite array of colors. When you combine all other colors you get white.
If you ever tried doing that with paint you know how hard it is to reach pure white, its about impossible. LEDs aren’t really white, they achieve white by combining other colors, this is why it’s common to find LEDs that have a slight violet or blue tint to it.
This particular replacement R2 lamp has a 5 mode setting, switched by clicking or twisting on/off. High-Mid-Low-Strobe-S.O.S. There are other’s available with les modes or no modes at all, just High.
The Mid Led, is somewhat similar to the original 90 lumen output, and High can be put in the 150 lumen range easily.
The R2 has a couple darker rings and the spill isn’t as uniform as in the original Xenon P60, 6V lamp.
The R2 clearly has better throw, concentrating the bright spot at greater range.
The R2 can also handle rechargeable 3.6 V Li-Ion 123 batteries, which would destroy an ordinary Xenon lamp as soon as you try it (don’t try it, it burns it the second it makes contact)

More Power, More Versatility.

Now, this not only means you end up with a more powerful light and greater runtime, it also means you have more options and functions, some which were unthinkable with the original G2.
The lamp has memory setup, so it adapts to your applications, using the same mode you did last time.
For example if you use it as a tactical light, and used it to inspect a noise the previous night, as long as you don’t tap on it again and change modes, the next time you turn it on it will also be on High. Same for the other modes as well.
The Low and Mid modes are more than enough for walking around the woods, might even be too bright if you want to go unnoticed and would require a red filter, but most times you just want to see well and just be able to walk around.
The SOS and strobe modes aren’t of much use but I bet you’d love it if you get lost while trekking or get injured and need to be rescued.
The Mid mode works for general purpose chores where High might be too bright for using the light at close range (repairs and such).
For survival application such as needing light for several nights or being many days without power, the Low mode is still bright enough and it can go for over 20 hours using good batteries.
I got the Cree R2 replacement lamp form DealExtreme. Cree R2 Drop in 5-Mode I had to remove teh coil for propper fitting in my G2.
As of right now, I bought several products in DealExtreme but in all honesty there are two orders that simply didn’t arrive and it’s been almost two months now.
As I expected, prices are good, and the products are mostly ok (bought several flashlights and other items), but there are some “Made in China” kind of problems such as defective products and shipping problems. It is a bit of a gamble.
If you don’t want to take the risk, there’s Amazon.
Amazon only ships books to Argentina, so that’s not an option for me.
They do have original Surefire LED replacement which even without testing I’m sure are of superb quality like the rest of their products.

SureFire P60L LED Reflector Assembly

Cree Q5 Drop in Module (single mode-80 lumens 12 hours)

Cree Q5 LED Drop-in Module (3.7V~18V Input)
(The Q5 is pretty much teh same, this one is sinlge mode, the R2 is a bit better)
Cree R2 Drop in 5-Mode



Anonymous said...

concerning Surefire:
the BODY of the flashlight
is the tactical use. there are
ridges and stops which allow a
"tailswitch" momentary illumination.
handgun use in low-light environments
employ a double-handed grip whereby
the flashlight is actuated by the
weak hand. another Type of Flashlight
doesn't have the necessary friction
points. bottom line: it will slide.
yes, it will.

Anonymous said...

How difficult is it to get CR123 cells in Argentina? I expect they cost quite a lot over there.

I prefer lights like the Fenix TK20 myself (nearly the same output and same quality as the surefire for about $50 and running from 2 AA rechargeable cells).

Also, one problem with LED dropins for the Surefire G2 is the plastic body. Power LED's produce a lot of heat and if that heat can't escape it destroys the LED. If you run the light in short bursts it's not a problem, but if you run the R2 dropin in the G2 on maximum output for more than 5 minutes at a time it won't last very long. The Surefire dropin has thermal protection, it reduces the output if the LED gets too hot to protect it. But it is not nearly as bright the R2 dropin.

That specific dropin also can't handle the 6 volts from 2 CR123 cells, and Li-ion cells can explode if they are used incorrectly. Read this: to learn how to use Li-ion cells without hurting yourself / burning down your house.

I guess it's obvious flashlights are my hobby.

Bones said...

Obligatory DealExtreme link for q5 drop in module:

HaVoK said...

I've purchased tactical lights and lasers from Dealextreme and I've not been very happy with most of their products.

They ARE bright, but they fail easily. Every single gun mounted flashlight or laser has failed after a few trips to the range. All of them. They just can't handle the shock.

Several have arrived in non-functional
condition and warranty replacement is a pain in the ass and takes too long.

I've also purchased battery chargers and one actually caught fire. Most of the others died after a few sessions. Most of the CR123 rechargeables I've gotten also die after a few cycles

The hand held stuff is fine if it arrives in working condition. Don't drop it or get it wet.

All of them had Cree LEDs but I don't think the LEDs are failing. I think it's the switches and the overall build quality.

Another thing to note about LEDs. They give no warning of imminent death like a dimming incandescent. Sometimes it will flicker for second then its darkness. It's on, then off. Sometimes if you wait a bit you can get it to come back on for a few seconds but that's it.

Also, rechargeables also don't hold a long standby charge. They discharge when not in use much faster than conventional batteries.

You can buy good quality industrial versions of Duracell and Energizer at industrial supply places for plumbers and electricians and such. They are much cheaper in bulk and I've had good success with Energizer Industrials of all sizes.

Even the crappy quality stuff can have a place. Like before TSHTF.It's cheap enough to be disposable.Make sure you have backups and good quality stuff for when TSHTF. You don't want to risk you and your families lives on flashlights that die when you have an intruder.