Despite its name, the Surefire A2 Aviator is not intended
only for pilots. Originally designed for the flying
crowd with its low output light from the LEDs for cockpit
use and the high output incandescent for equipment checks
from the ground, the transition to a myriad of other
professions is an easy one for the A2. From police/EMT/fire/rescue/military,
to your "average Joe" out camping with the
family, the A2 fits the bill as what I would consider
to be the absolute best personal flashlight you'll find
on the market today.
The body is Type III hard anodized machined aircraft
aluminum which is coated on the inside for corrosion
resistance. The body and tailcap are knurled for grip.
The body has four flat panels machined into its sides
and the removable pocket clip rests over one of these
panels to minimize abrasion of the user's pockets when
Witness marks on the body and tailcap help to let you
know the status of the switching mechanism. Twist back
one turn to lock out the switch to prevent accidental
activation when packing. Twist forward one turn for
the LED lights, twist forward another turn for the incandescent
bulb. Both LEDs and incandescent can also be accessed
by pressing in on the tailcap button switch. A gentle
press gets you LED light for low light applications
or close range work, while a harder press lets you "reach
out and touch someone" with the penetrating high
pressure xenon beam.
The bezel of the light is a polished textured
aluminum reflector with 4 holes; 3 for the LEDs surrounding
one for the incandescent bulb. The textured surface
keeps the permanently-focused incandescent beam nice
and smooth. This is all protected behind a Pyrex lens
that won't melt from the high temperature xenon bulb
and allows greater light transmittance than plastic
The digital regulation circuitry and the
incandescent bulb form an very special partnership in
this light. The incandescent bulb is designed specifically
for the requirements of the A2, and the circuit is designed
to both protect and exploit that special bulb.
The bulb runs at an extremely high temperature
and is kept there by the constant output regulation
circuit. This helps prevent the filament breakdown that
occurs in lights that dim as the batteries run down.
Because of the circuit, it doesn't turn yellow or dim
as the batteries are depleted, maintaining its pure
white output for nearly an hour on a set of batteries.
The bulb is also protected by a special "ramp-up"
feature in the circuitry that protects the bulb from
the initial surge of voltage that commonly breaks incandescent
bulb filaments by causing them to overheat. In layman's
terms: it's brighter, whiter, and longer lasting.
Runtime Plot: Very solid regulation of the incandescent
bulb for about 45 minutes on a new set of 123A cells,
followed by a slight drop to 50 minutes, then the "big
completed with included "Surefire" batteries.
More information on runtime plots is available HERE.
The LEDs are not regulated, but will diminish
in brightness over the life span of the batteries. 50%
brightness is achieved in about 15 hours of exclusive
LED use (advertised). The light continues diminishing
after that, trailing off for many, many more hours.
Plus, when the digital regulation circuitry decides
there isn't enough juice to run the incandescent bulb
(~50 minutes), the LEDs continue to operate so you aren't
left in the dark.
The A2 can be purchased with one of four
different LED colors. White is my personal favorite
for any LED light since they give good color rendition
under all circumstances. Red is available for those
who wish to preserve their natural night vision when
working in the dark. Blue is used in forensics or by
hunters who find that following a blood trail from wounded
game is often easier under blue light. Green is compatible
with night vision equipment as it doesn't cause the
display to "bloom" as much as white light.
The incandescent bulb is intended to be
user replaceable, while the LEDs are not.
This light takes two 123a lithium batteries for power.
These batteries are very expensive in retail stores,
but can be had for a good price online. At the time
of this review, Surefire.com has some very good prices
when bought in a box of 12. Simply unscrew the tailcap
to change the batteries.
One of the few problems with the Surefire high-output
personal lights has been the lack of a low-light option.
The A2 addresses this problem and adds in several other
advanced features which make it, plain and simple, what
I would consider to be the best personal light you could
carry. If I had something higher than a 5 Star rating,
I would give it to the Surefire A2.
+ + + Pluses: Water resistant,
Tough, Regulated incandescent, Long LED battery life,
Bright, Easy battery change, Lightweight
- - - Minuses: None