Yet another powerful little black torch, but this one has brains

credit: Archant

My first-ever super-torch was a Surefire, and I still own it to this day. It was built like a tank and used by elite military teams, so I knew it was tough. It emitted 65 lumens, a power that topped anything I’d ever seen before, so I just had to have one; it was also more expensive than anything I’d seen before, but I saved up and bought it. Surefire remains one of the most respected names in the world of torches, or ‘flashlights’ as the Americans will insist on calling them, supplying frontline soldiers and police units who need kit that won’t let them down, no matter what.

I review a lot of torches and, to be honest, I thought I’d seen it all. They’re mostly a similar size; they all run on two Cr123A lithium disposables, or one 18650 rechargeable battery; they all have machined aluminium bodies sealed with ‘O’ rings. The better ones have huge light output, with the ability to dim them for close-up work, and by ‘huge output’ I mean 500 to 600 lumens – that’s 10 times better than my first Surefire. Unless you’ve seen one of these things working, you simply won’t believe just how powerful they are.

Of course, more power isn’t always what you want. Filling magazines or loading the car can be painful with 600 lumens reflecting in your eyes, and although most dimmable torches have a button you can press to toggle through the settings - low, brighter, brighter still, and then brightest, followed by low again - it gets on my nerves when I just want to go from low to high and back again. Also, many of the switches are too small to be felt with cold fingers, which they often are when you’re out lamping in the autumn, winter and spring.

Surefire has developed a technology to leapfrog all its competitors, by inventing the Intellibeam, which eliminates these problems in a stroke. Inside the reflector is a sensor which judges how much light is bouncing back, and dims the output automatically, so up close it dims down, and at long range it dials up full power - no more searching for switches.

The light quality is first class, showing a hot centre with a decent amount of peripheral light, and the colour temperature is a natural, warm tone that renders the typical greens and browns of the countryside faithfully. I think it’s fair to say that the company has retaken its crown as the ‘king of the hill’ and is again the leader in this class of light. It isn’t cheap - but then the very best never is!