Gear Review: SureFire X300 Ultra

Lumens vs. candela isn't the question to ask. The right question is, what are you going to do with your flashlight?

by
posted on December 12, 2022
Myself? I'm a Turbo lover.

A weapon-mounted light, or WML, can be a very useful thing to have on your defensive firearm. It allows you to be much more certain that yes, indeed, you are aiming your gun at somebody who needs to have a gun aimed at them. With the proper technique, WMLs can be used to light up a room as well. The question then becomes, what do you want from your WML: Do you want to light up a room so you can quickly see if there’s a threat inside the room, or do you want to shine a concentrated beam of light downrange to light up a distant target?

Let’s begin by defining a few terms. The first, lumens, is something that you’ve probably heard over and over again. Lumens refers to how much light is actually pouring out from your WML. Candela, however, is a way to describe how tight those beams of light coming out from your flashlight really are. “Candlepower” is the old unit of measurement and is very similar to candela, but we’ll go with candela for this article, as it’s been the standard for almost 75 years. 

Lumens vs. Candela: Is It Too Much To Ask For Both? 

Discussions about lumens have dominated the talk around WMLs and tactical flashlights, and they absolutely have a role to play in choosing a defensive flashlight. Think of lumens as the amount of water going through a hose, and candela as the tightness of the stream of water flowing out of the nozzle. There are times when you want a tight spray of water to reach out and go a long way, and there are times when you want to water the entire lawn.

light on gun

When it comes to tactical flashlights, the answer may seem obvious. Of course you want the range. What possible advantage could there be to a light that casts a wide beam versus one that lights up people in the next county? 

This is the path that you’ll probably choose if you’re military or law enforcement. Engagements in low light situations at 50 yards are not  uncommon for those professions. Therefore, having a light with you with a lot of throw makes a lot of sense, especially if it’s mounted on a firearm. 

Choose Your Gear Based On What You Do

However, this decision is a little bit more complicated for the armed citizen. Our job isn’t to arrest a suspect or take over a town, it’s to stop a threat to our lives and protect what is near and dear to us. The longest shot I have in my house measured out to 12 yards: Do I really need a light that’ll throw a high intensity beam for 50 yards? 

Well, it turns out that yes, I do. Maybe not on a weapon-mounted light, but having a hand-held flashlight with a lot of throw came in very handy a few weeks ago when a neighbor’s dog got loose and I spent a Friday evening using my handheld to spotlight it as it moved from house to house. I may not need all that candela in a WML, but it sure was a useful feature to have in a searchlight. 

This need to have all the candela handy when it’s called for is why SureFire came out with their Turbo line. The Turbo series has the same form factor and features of some of SureFire’s most popular lights such as the Scout Light Pro and the X300 series, but with a tight beam pattern that can reach out and illuminate items at longer distances. 

Now You’re Playing With Turbo Power 

Think of the Turbo Series as a parallel evolution of a standard SureFire light. They’re not meant to light up a room, rather, they are there to light up something a long distance away. SureFire has Turbo versions of the X300 weapon mounted lights in both the quick-connect and thumbscrew-connect versions, as well as Turbo versions of the Scout Light Pro light for long gun and the handheld EDC1 and EDC2 lights. 

The differences in the performance between the Turbo and non-Turbo versions are clear once you compare one to the other. Let’s take a look at the popular X300 pistol/long gun light, for example.

 

Lumens

Candela

Battery Life

MSRP

SureFire X300 Ultra

1,000

11,300

1.25 hours

$359

SureFire X300 Turbo

650

66,000

1.5 hours

$369

The two lights are functionally identical. They both have SureFire’s momentary and constant-on switch on the back, and fit onto a short section of Picatinny rail. Both lights are powered by two CR123A batteries and are each available with either a quick-attach or thumb screw-tightened models. 

From a practical standpoint, the Turbo version has a very different beam pattern than the standard X300 light. The X300 Ultra throws more lumens out there, but the X300 turbo packs what lumens it has into a tighter beam. 

Ultra vs Turbo

Which is best for you? Well, as the saying goes, the mission drives the gear. If you see the need for a weapon mounted or handheld light which throws out a narrow beam that is useful for searching or identifying targets out beyond 15 yards, then a Turbo version of a SureFire light might be your best option. However, if you need a light to see what’s inside of a room, or are looking for a handheld light that works both as a defensive flashlight and a worklight, then a standard SureFire light is probably the way to go. Either way, given SureFire’s well-earned reputation for features and dependability, you’ll have a light that will be ready to work when you need it the most. 

 

Latest

Federal Punch 25 ACP
Federal Punch 25 ACP

First Look: Federal Punch Ammunition in .25 ACP

Add a little oomph to your pocket pistol.

First Look: New Thermal Monoculars From ATN

Now it's even easier to get into the world of thermal optics. 

One Million Gun Sales for 58 Months Straight

The pandemic buying spree may be slowing down, but sales are still strong.

Practicing Precision and Transitions

Improve your pistol skills, even on an indoor range.

First Look: Falco A909 Hybrid AIWB Holster

Carry your defensive pistol and a spare magazine, front and center.

First Look: Onyx Home and Office Fire Safes

A stylish and secure way to keep your valuables safe.

Interests



Get the best of Shooting Illustrated delivered to your inbox.