Until you’ve had to identify a potentially armed suspect in darkness, you don’t fully understand why reliable and bright flashlights are so important. You might intellectually comprehend the need, but you won’t have the same emphatic appreciation as a man who was thrust into a situation where he may kill or be killed.
I’ve been there. It’s one of the reasons why I don’t pull punches when I review flashlights. You might have to rely on a light that I recommend when you find yourself in that terrible dark place. I want you to have a dependable tool with which to prevail.
Here’s the short story on this flashlight review:
If you are looking for a reasonably priced tactical flashlight, the SureFire G2X is an excellent choice.
At the time of this writing, I’ve had my G2X for more than 8 months. I’ve carried it nearly every day and used it frequently. It has become my favorite general purpose tactical light, surpassing the Streamlight ProTac HL I have carried for years.
In this SureFire G2X review, I will describe the testing I’ve done with the flashlight and explain why this light works exceptionally well for me.
You probably can’t be interested in firearms, police work or the military without being exposed to the SureFire brand. The company helped to revolutionized the tactical lighting market decades ago and has since moved into other areas like manufacturing sound suppressors, firearms components and ear pro.
Even though the company has a loyal following of users, my prior experiences with the brand were disappointing. While working nights as a street cop, I had three back-to-back failures with SureFire flashlights. I solved my problem by going back to my old Streamlight. Because of this, I’ve never personally owned a SureFire before this G2X review.
However, I know that SureFire is one of the top brands in the flashlight market. Not reviewing its products is a disservice to you. So, I purchased a number of the company’s torches to give you an honest look at what you can expect from them.
The SureFire G2X is a handheld flashlight marketed for tactical use, and it is for this purpose that I am evaluating it. The G2X is available in a range of variations with names like Pro and LE. This one is the Tactical variant.
What sets the G2X Tactical apart from its brothers is that it has a single brightness output mode set at 600 lumens. Other models allow you to select additional output levels.
SureFire uses a tail switch for light activation on the G2X Tactical. A partial press gives you a momentary on while a full depress and click puts the flashlight into a constant on mode.
The tail switch sits proudly on the back of the tail cap with very little of the flashlight body to protect against accidental activation. According to the company, you can prevent accidental activation by partially unscrewing the tail cap. That’s probably true for most flashlights.
A pair of CR123A batteries powers this flashlight. SureFire includes a pair of its own branded 3v batteries with the light. The batteries are inserted from the rear when the tail cap is removed.
Unlike many of the tactical flashlights on the market, SureFire elected to use a polymer body for the G2X Tactical. A single O-ring sits on the rear of the body below the threads of the tail cap. Presumably, this offers protection against dust and water intrusion.
The light does not come with a pouch or pocket clip of any kind. According to the SureFire website, no pocket clip is available for this light.
SureFire sells this light in a blister package that includes a minimalist user’s manual and company logo sticker. The package is not suitable for storing the light or otherwise reusing it.
Functionally, there is a single control on this light: the rear tail switch. A half-press gives you a momentary on light and a full press with click gives you a constant on beam.
There are no alternate light settings or a way to program the switch.
Partially unscrewing the tail cap will prevent the G2X Tactical from accidentally activating.
Ease of Carry
The polymer body of the G2X makes it fairly light in a pocket. It slipped easily into a front pocket in cargo shorts for EDC. I did not have any problems carrying it in a front jeans pocket either. Folks wearing skinny jeans are likely to have an off shaped bulge.
As SureFire elected not to include a belt clip with this light, it will be carried loose in a pocket if you do not have a belt sheath or pouch for it. The body of the light is 1.25″ in diameter, so it should fit most belt pouches.
For a police or security officer, the relatively light weight will be a welcome relief. Modern officers are expected to carry an astonishing amount of gear. Every ounce is one day closer to a permanent back injury.
|weight (as stated by manufacturer)||5.2 oz|
|impact resistance||not given *|
|water resistance||IPX4 **|
|light output||600 lumens|
|peak beam intensity||8,700 candela ***|
|stated runtime||1.5 hours|
|beam distance||187 meters|
* According to a SureFire representative, the company does not publish any information on the impact resistance of this flashlight.
** I had to contact SureFire for this information. It is not published on its website, on the flashlight packaging or in the user's manual.
*** I only found this specification listed in the user's manual. I could not find it on the company's website nor on the flashlight's packaging.
SureFire states it tests its flashlights to the voluntary ANSI/PLATO FL1 2016 standards. The FL1 is a set of standards created by the flashlight industry to create a uniform way of testing and reporting performance data including light output, runtime, and durability. You can read more about the FL1 standard on my main flashlight review page.
My testing is similar to the FL1 standard. I’ve found it to be a good gauge to determine if there are any potential problems with the specifications reported by manufacturers. For a detailed explanation of my testing protocol, please review the main flashlight page.
Output Over Time
Manufacturers report both total light output (expressed in lumens) and runtime. However, these numbers do not tell the whole story and can be manipulated to create unrealistic expectations.
Under the FL 1 standard, the output measurement is essentially the peak output with fresh batteries. Runtime is the total time it takes for a flashlight to wind down from its peak output to a mere 10% of the original output.
An unscrupulous company could design a light that puts out a lot of light initially, then puts out only 11% of that figure for the rest of the time to maximize the runtime measurement. Unfortunately, I have tested several lights that mimic this behavior.
This graph shows you how much light I measured that is put out by the G2X over time relative to its initial output.
In my testing, it took 89 minutes for the SureFire G2X to wind down to a 10% output. This supports the SureFire reported runtime of 90 minutes.
I strongly believe that the 10% output runtime is a poor choice for the FL 1 standard. I believe a much more reasonable output runtime would go to 50% – a point where most people will notice a significant reduction of output and replace the batteries.
To the 50% output level, the SureFire G2X still performed reasonably well: 66 minutes. Based on my testing, that means you can expect no less than 300 lumens of output for more than an hour with a single set of batteries.
One of the problems that flashlight designers have to deal with is heat generated from high output flashlights. The SureFire G2X is not the brightest flashlight in production at 600 lumens. However, that is still a lot of light and will likely generate a significant amount of heat.
Generally speaking, high-efficiency components can limit the amount of heat generated. A good body design can help dissipate the heat rapidly preventing the body from becoming too hot to hold.
Unfortunately, the SureFire G2X generates far too much heat, in my opinion, to hold without gloves within the first 10 minutes of continuous use. See the chart below for the temperatures measured over continuous running time.
In my test, the SureFire G2X flashlight exceeded 130˚ F when left on for 17 minutes and topped out at a hair over 137˚ F. For anyone using the light exclusively in a momentary on and off configuration, you are not likely to suffer any discomfort.
Comparable lights, such as the Streamlight ProTac HL (see more below), also generate a significant amount of heat if left on, so this is not a problem limited to SureFire. It is simply something to be aware of when shopping for a high output light.
While all of the numbers are great for detail-oriented folks like me, most people want to know what the light actually looks like in use. After all, numbers don’t light up an intruder in your home.
This is a visual comparison of the light off and the light on. On all of the photo comparisons below, you can drag the slider left and right to reveal one photo or the other. In all of these, the photo on the left is the ambient light photo.
All images were shot with a Canon 80D and 18-135mm IS USM zoom lens. No image editing was done to the photos other than converting them from a RAW file format to JPG (40%) using Adobe’s Lightroom.
This is a photo of the shirt used in all of the images shot in my studio under 5500˚ K LED lights. My camera was set to 5200˚ K for the white balance which reproduces the color accurately on my monitors. The center strip of the shirt is white and the dark areas are a rich navy blue.
Person Between Cars – 7 Yards
This image comparison was shot at 59mm with ƒ8.0 at 0.25 seconds. It represents the target shirt between two vehicles in a driveway where the viewer is 7 yards from the front of the shirt. There are nearby streetlights that have minimal influence in the shot.
While the image is representative of the light’s performance, it was not shot at the same lens zoom and settings as the other photos below. This is an error on my part.
Person in Yard – 7 Yards
Also taken at 7 yards, this image was shot with the lens at 35mm which will give a normal view when the camera’s crop factor is included. Camera settings are set to ISO 400, ƒ8.0 at 2.0 seconds.
Person in Yard – 15 Yards
Taken with the same camera settings, this image set was shot at 15 yards. They give a good idea on the amout of spill the light offers.
SureFire G2X Tactical vs. Streamlight ProTac HL
Since SureFire and Streamlight are direct competitors in the marketplace, I figured it would be fair to compare the G2X to a similar product from the competing company.
The Streamlight ProTac HL is a 600-lumen flashlight that runs on a pair of CR123a batteries and is about the same size as the G2X. I’ve used a ProTac HL for years, and I have found it to be a durable light that provides very good performance for the money.
Below is another set of comparison photos. The photo on the left is the SureFire G2X. The one on the right is the Streamlight ProTac HL. These were shot at the same exposure settings with the zoom set to 35mm at 15 yards.
To my eye, the SureFire gives more spill to illuminate the periphery while the Streamlight gives a slightly brighter spot. Also, it appears the Streamlight has a whiter color as compared to the slight greenish tint of the SureFire.
Neither flashlight is “better” in this visual comparison. Rather, each offers slightly different characteristics that will appeal to different people.
(Special note: The Streamlight ProTac HL used in this test is my personally owned light I purchased on Amazon more than five years ago. The light was rated at 600 lumens then. The current ProTac HL is rated at 750 lumens.)
For reasons I do not understand, SureFire declines to offer any impact resistance specifications for its flashlights. I am unclear if SureFire does any impact resistance testing. According to information on its website, the company tested the G2X Tactical to the ANSI/NEMA FL1 2009 standard. This an outdated standard, but did have impact resistance testing standards.
However, in an e-mail from a company representative, I was told:
[SureFire flashlights] are not impact rated.
SureFire claims to be the choice of “tactical professionals on the battlefield” and “hardcore outdoorsmen.” So it would seem only fair that the company provides some measurable idea of what kind of impact resistance it can withstand. This lack of transparency is concerning.
I conducted my standard 1-meter drop test on the G2X. This test consists of six drops onto a slab of cured concrete. If you imagine the flashlight as a cube, one drop would be done on each side including the head and tail. After each drop, I check the light to ensure it still functions and to see if there are any cracks or breaks in the body or lens.
In this test, the SureFire G2X passed without any issues. After all six drops, the light continued to function as normal. I observed no cracks in the body or the lens of the light. The batteries appeared undamaged.
There was superficial damage to the body and head that did not impair its operation. The head of the light had a few small dings that removed the finish. Compared to how well other flashlights have fared, the SureFire had significantly less cosmetic damage to it.
The polymer body of the light hid the cosmetic issues much better.
As with impact resistance, SureFire does not seem to publish any information on this flashlight’s ability to resist water intrusion. As this is a flashlight that is marketed for tactical use, it seems that disclosing its ability to keep working when exposed to water is a reasonable request.
When I contacted customer service, the representative told me “All surefire light hold a water resistance rating of IPX4.”
The IP standard measures the effectiveness of particle and water intrusion into electrical products like a flashlight. An IPX4 rating means that it has not been tested for particle intrusion (the “x” in IPX4) and offers protection against water splashing. This should protect the flashlight from water intrusion in a moderate rain storm. If the flashlight is in a non-draining pouch where parts are immersed, your light may suffer water intrusion.
It has been my experience that reputable lights from other companies will often have a rating of IPX6 (protection against water intrusion from high-pressure water spray) or IPX7 (protection against water intrusion when submerged at a depth of 1 meter for 30 minutes.)
Frankly, I was surprised to have SureFire tell me that its “military grade” flashlights offered, in my opinion, relatively low levels of protection against water intrusion.
I do not have a standardized test for water spray, just immersion. However, I tested it using my immersion test. I suspended the light in a swimming pool at a 1-meter depth for 30 minutes. Afterward, I retrieved the light and checked it for water intrusion. I found none. The light continued to work as normal.
Since the company doesn’t rate its lights for submersion, I am left wondering if I got lucky or you can expect the same level of performance.
All of the above information may be interesting, but the real question is how does the SureFire G2X perform in daily use?
For the past six months, I’ve carried this light every day. Most of the time, it rode in the cargo pocket of a pair of shorts. The rest of the time, I carried it in a front jeans pocket. I used it for everything from working on the engine of my classic truck to installing computer components in dark corners under desks. I even used it during an electrical fire in my home at 4 am.
During that time, the light never disappointed me. It performed exactly as intended and as I expected. The size and weight are a good combination for EDC and great for riding on a duty belt.
However, I did find myself occasionally wanting a low power output option that other lights sometimes offer. A low output level isn’t needed in a tactical light, so I don’t hold this against the torch.
If you plan on using the light for more than just illuminating bad guys, a low output option is pretty handy to have. Unfortunately, adding a low power option can add switching complexity that you might not want. Keep this in mind when you are picking out a new flashlight.
The exposed activation button was not a problem most of the time. When carried in a cargo pocket, it was aligned in a vertical position thanks to internal elastic straps. When carried in a jean pocket, though, the light would on rare occasion activate when sitting down. Although I caught it most of the time, I did have one incident of someone saying “Uh…your pocket is kinda bright.”
A pocket clip would allow me to carry this in a pocket similar to a folding knife. Unfortunately, SureFire states that they do not have any options for someone wanting to add a pocket clip to this light.
Alternatively, some sort of protective “ears” or rim could also reduce the likelihood of accidental activation.
SureFire G2X vs Streamlight ProTac HL
The Streamlight ProTac HL has been my go-to light over the past 7 years. It offers a bright beam equal in total measured output to this SureFire, a good runtime and a reasonable price (about $65 online.) It has also proved to be quite durable.
However, I retired the Streamlight in favor of the SureFire G2X Tactical flashlight.
In head-to-head testing, I found that the SureFire G2X was as durable as the Streamlight ProTac HL. Additionally, the beam of the G2X seemed to more even in its roll off. The useable light runtime is slightly better on the SureFire, and it didn’t get quite as hot as the Streamlight.
Here is a comparison of the two flashlights for output over time. Keep in mind that this is the original version of the ProTac HL, so both tested lights are ANSI/NEMA FL1 2009 rated at 600 lumens.
As you can see, each flashlight has its strengths. For me, the biggest key is that the SureFire flashlight holds above 50% output (300 lumens for both flashlights), 17 minutes longer than the Streamlight: 66 minutes vs 49 minutes.
Heat generation was interesting. The SureFire flashlight rose to a specific point and then maintained that level for most of the test. The Surefire is less hot than the SureFire for much of its test. However, it does spike significantly hotter than the SureFire.
One is not better than the other. I’ve found both to be very good performers. For me, I’ve changed my daily carry to the SureFire. But, I have zero issues carrying the Streamlight.
When I bought the SureFire G2X for review, I was afraid I might be wasting my money on a light that would fail. Instead, I was so impressed by the light it is now my favorite reasonably priced tactical flashlight.
While it is not perfect, I found the light was an excellent performer in most cases with good runtime and unquestionable durability. It is simple to operate; its controls will not confuse anyone in a stressful situation.
I fully recommend the G2X as a tactical light. It is also well suited for more common uses such as outdoor activities and utility work. Keep in mind that a pocket clip and the option for lower output levels may be desired for your needs. If this is the case, I still recommend the Streamlight ProTac HL flashlight that offers these features in addition to being similarly useful in tactical application.
The main issue I have with this flashlight is how much digging I had to do to uncover basic specifications about this flashlight. Measurements such as candela and an IP rating should be plainly displayed on the packaging for consumers to easily find. I encourage SureFire to reconsider its approach and be more transparent about specs with consumers.
Nevertheless, I found the light was an excellent performer. As such, it has become my daily carry flashlight, replacing the Streamlight I’ve carried for many years. Well done SureFire!
For all of the reviews I write, I provide full disclosure of any information that I think may impact my perceptions or testing of the product. Don’t you wish all journalists did this?
The SureFire G2X Tactical flashlight reviewed in this article was purchased by me with my own money through a normal retailer (Amazon in this case.) SureFire did not ask that I review its products, nor was anything of value exchanged for me to do this review.
SureFire is not a sponsor of this site, and I have no financial interest in it or any other flashlight manufacturer.
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If you have any questions or would like to share your experiences with the SureFire G2X, please leave a comment below.