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A trustworthy flashlight is one of the most important elements in any every-day carry setup. It lets you illuminate dim corners during your daily routine, navigate dark streets or trails at night, and find your way to safety during power outages or inclement weather. For those of us who carry firearms, a good flashlight will also provide much-needed visibility for target identification in self-defense situations. And if you're unarmed, it can be used for hammer-fist strikes against attackers.
Although we often hear claims to the contrary, the little LED on your cell phone is not adequate as a primary EDC light source. It may suffice for the most basic of tasks, but there's really no replacement for a high-quality dedicated flashlight in your pocket.
If you've ever shopped for an EDC flashlight, you've almost certainly encountered SureFire. For decades, the company has offered a wide range of handheld flashlights and weapon lights that are designed and built in the USA. These lights have become a staple among law enforcement officers, members of the military, and the civilian gun enthusiast community. They're certainly not the low-price leader in the market, but their reputation for reliability and rock-solid build quality is well-known.
In the last year, SureFire has launched several new pocket-sized flashlights. Two of these recent models caught our eye: the EDCL1-T and the G2Z-MV. Although the two lights exhibit some key differences, they also share many similarities, so we set out to compare them head-to-head. If you're looking for a new flashlight, especially a new SureFire, the results of our comparison should help you choose the EDC flashlight that's better for your needs.
Before we discuss the variations between these two lights, we'll look at some similarities. The SureFire EDCL1-T and G2Z-MV CombatLight were released in 2017 — March and November, respectively. Although the EDCL1-T (and its larger EDCL2-T sibling) are targeted at every-day carry, they're also clearly influenced by the tactical market. The G2Z also straddles this line, though it leans more towards tactical use.
We've listed the key specs in the table below:
|Runtime at Full Output
|Weight with Batteries
Although the lights have similar dimensions, the EDCL1-T is powered by a single CR123A lithium battery versus the two batteries in the G2Z. A two-battery EDCL2-T is available, but its larger 5.8-inch length and much higher 1,200-lumen output are less comparable to the G2Z. While it may seem unusual to compare a single-battery light to a dual-battery light, the rest of the specs are quite similar.
Aside from the battery capacity we just mentioned, there are some prominent features that distinguish these lights. The EDCL1-T is a traditional SureFire construction, with a knurled aluminum body and the company's tried-and-true two-way pocket clip. If you've had another light in this category, such as the EB series, the EDCL1-T will look and feel familiar.
On the other hand, the G2Z is made from high-impact Nitrolon polymer. This keeps it relatively light weight despite its size and battery capacity. The body has also been molded with SureFire's CombatGrip, which features a reduced-diameter midsection and conical grip ring with rubber lip. These features are clearly designed to improve retention for tactical use, either for handgun techniques or physical strikes.
Speaking of retention, that's another notable feature — or perhaps a lack thereof. The G2Z-MV doesn't have a pocket clip, and instead comes with a lanyard that can be attached to a free-spinning ring between the body and tail cap. The lanyard is intended to provide a means of pulling the light from a pocket; it also helps the user retain the light in the support hand while manipulating a weapon.
Let There Be Light
Switching these lights on reveals two different approaches to the concept of a tactical flashlight:
The EDCL1-T does not feature a click tail cap, so the button on the end will require continuous pressure to keep the light activated in momentary mode. Alternatively, the user can twist the cap to enter constant-on mode. Also of note is the fact that this light has two brightness modes: 5-lumen low and 500-lumen high. A half-press of the switch or partial twist of the tail cap will enter this low-output mode.
The G2Z sticks with a more mainstream control scheme. It uses a tail cap switch that can be depressed partially for momentary mode or clicked fully for a constant light source. The single 800-lumen output mode its only function.
Yet again, these two lights diverge. The EDCL1-T uses SureFire's Total Internal Reflection (TIR) lens design for a center-heavy spotlight with plenty of long-range throw. Although this is its primary purpose, this beam is not a one-trick pony, since it also provides a broad wash of light outside the central hotspot. SureFire says this was an intentional choice to provide improved situational awareness — the spotlight stays on your target while the rest of the beam illuminates its surroundings.
The “MV” designation in the G2Z-MV's name indicates SureFire's MaxVision beam. This short proprietary reflector design is surrounded by a thick 14mm bezel, and shapes the 800 lumen output into a smooth and uniform wide-angle beam. This is intended to flood a large area with even light, yielding an expanded field of vision in dark rooms and corridors.
If you're not sure which beam configuration is best for your needs, we'd recommend reading the “How to Choose WeaponLights” article on SureFire's site. It explains the differences between these beams and the advantages of each.
To evaluate this light, we carried it every day for a few weeks, using it frequently as part of our every-day carry gear. From an ergonomics standpoint we really liked the EDCL1-T — its length, diameter, and knurled texture make it feel just right in the hand. The machined aluminum body and strong two-way pocket clip have the virtually-indestructible feel we've come to expect from SureFire.
This light's “gas pedal” switch allows the user to quickly cycle back and forth between low and high output by varying thumb pressure. We found that twisting the tail cap 180 degrees clockwise or counter-clockwise can help bias the light towards one setting or the other — tightening it will make the light change to high output almost immediately, and loosening it will make high output accessible only through a very firm press.
The non-click control scheme on this light is an acquired taste. If you find yourself using a flashlight primarily in short bursts, you'll probably like it. If you're used to a clicky tail cap switch, it may be an annoyance to have to twist the tail cap repeatedly for constant activation. Although we generally prefer click tail caps for EDC purposes, we found this control scheme to be a good balance between daily-use and tactical weaponlight applications.
Despite what it may sound like on paper, the EDCL1-T's low-output brightness mode is quite useful. The 5-lumen output is perfect for close-up tasks like map-reading, and the TIR optic makes the most of these lumens. High-output mode seems to exceed its 500-lumen rating, since the flashlight's throw is so impressive. We can perceive a slight greenish tint to the light produced by the EDCL1-T, but this is by design. The human eye can detect more light in this part of the spectrum, so a cooler light would seem dimmer in comparison.
Just as we did with the EDCL1-T, we carried this flashlight for a few weeks and used it daily. The fact that the G2Z has no pocket clip will certainly be off-putting to some users, but it's a necessary omission to allow for the raised CombatGrip design. Fortunately, dropping the light into a pocket with the lanyard protruding makes it almost as easy to access as if it were clipped in place. And if you're not a fan of the lanyard, it's easy to remove.
The combination of the grip ring and lanyard keeps this light secure in your hand, whether you're running, shooting, or striking a foe with its metal bezel. We also liked the feel of the Nitrolon polymer body and its rubber insert. Despite its slightly larger size and additional battery, this construction keeps the G2Z-MV's weight within 1 ounce of the aluminum EDCL1-T. It also helps keep the price affordable.
As for the MaxVision beam, it excels at its primary goal of illuminating a wide area. Its 800-lumen pure white output is perfect for clearing rooms or hallways, although it sometimes felt like too much light for close-up everyday tasks. As a combat light, the single brightness mode is fine, but the G2Z would have felt more well-rounded with a second low-output mode. A low setting would also extend the battery life, since this flashlight will burn through its two CR123As in an hour and a half.
Based on our impressions from carrying these lights, we'll share the pros and cons of each light below.
For more info on these flashlights, go to SureFire.com.