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SureFire 6P Incandescent Review

Incandescent flashlights came a long way over the 100+ years they were used. They took over the job of open flame and have been mostly superseded by newer LED lights.

Ask most people who know about lights what the two main brands of incandescent flashlights were back when they were commonplace and you'll likely get the same two brands: SureFire for the tactical folks and Maglite for the LEO and civilian folks.

I plan on reviewing some old Maglites just for nostalgia's sake later, but today I'll focus on one of the most popular SureFire models ever produced: the 6P.

Nowadays we have the 6PL, an LED variant of the 6P with the same body and inner workings. I have my own opinions on that model (which are mainly negative; nothing against the SureFire hardware but the LED is under-driven and runtimes aren't that great). But this model has a good old fashioned incandescent bulb, straight from the time when men were men and light was made by heating up a filament surrounded by inert gas.

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SureFires have always had great beams and this one is no exception. Its orange peel reflector does a great job of both concentrating the beam and smoothing out ugly artifacts. This light makes the absolute best beam of any incandescent light I've ever seen.

The beam is a very, very pleasant yellow, but not the sickly yellow that you can get with, say, a Maglite that's batteries are running low. The lithium batteries that this light eats do a great job of supplying a near steady source of power until they're out. This means that it won't dim very much when the cells are getting low, but it also means that you won't get much warning when they're about to die. Personally, I'll deal with the disadvantage of the suddenly dead batteries if it means no ridiculous dimming when the batteries lose 10% of their power.

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The hotspot is slightly oval. This is caused by the nature of incandescent filaments.

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Runtime is fairly short at only 60 minutes, and, being an incandescent, it only has one brightness level. As stated above, the light uses two lithium CR123 batteries. They're sometimes hard to come by, and when you do find them they are quite expensive. Go to Bass Pro and you'll pay around $8 for two SureFire branded cells, and go to Walgreens and you'll pay around $5-6 for one Energizer cell.

Luckily there are solutions.

If you want to go the alternative route and use rechargeables, there are RCR123s, but be sure to get a reputable brand, as using lithium ion rechargeables is different that using the ubiquitous NiMH batteries.

If you want to go the primaries route (which I do), there is a wonderful company called Titanium Innovations. They make several models of flashlights, including several great HIDs, but they also produce quality lithium batteries. Both their CR123 and CR2 cells are reliable and cheap. The only thing you sacrifice is a little capacity (they're 1400mah as compared to the SureFire brand's ~1550mah). Best part is that they're currently $1 a piece at Battery Junction and a little under $12 for a dozen.

The light is a SureFire, which means it's one step away from being indestructible. Thousands of LEOs and military men and women have trusted their lives to this brand, and they're right to do so. Although I don't think the bump up in quality from such recent brands as 4Sevens, Fenix, and Olight justify the entire premium you would pay for this, but it's just sturdier than those other brands.

And it is expensive. You'll currently pay around $90 for this light, whereas you could spend the same amount for a light that gives you six times as much light.

One gripe I do have about the light is its tail switch.

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The switch allows for momentary on—some people hate forward clickies (where you can half-press to turn on, then click all the way for constant) because they turn on and waste batteries. I've never had this problem and I've worn a forward clicky light for years.

This switch allows for momentary on, yes, but the switch can't turn the light to constant on, i.e. there is only momentary on as far as the tail switch is concerned. To turn the light on completely you need to fully tighten the tail. To turn is off you loosen the tail slightly. This method is straight up annoying to me, but to each his own. I'm sure there are tons of people who love it.

Overall this is a fantastic light. It's expensive to buy, expensive to feed, and requires changing out the bulb assembly relatively often. It's bright, especially considering how small it is, but the runtime isn't that great. The UI takes some getting used to if you're coming from a click-switch setup, but honestly this SureFire probably has the most reliable setup (meaning there are no clicky switches to break).

If you want a great incandescent light and you're willing to pay the premium, you can't go wrong with this SureFire. It's something that you (and probably your kids) will have for a very long time.


1 thing if you use the rcr123's with an incan blub you almost 100% will blow it, too much voltage, I learned the hard way. You can get an Led dropin for it from Trustfire and up the runtime and brightness and be able to use the rcr123's. Also a clicky tail switch is available too it someone wants one. But a used one on Ebay and add the dropin and clicky tail switch and your fixed up and will come out cheaper.