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Author: Frank Ross
Hi-tech products have become the norm, as consumer expectations for more flexibility and features have created demand for more performance and quality, even in flashlights. The compact, power-packed Surefire A2 Aviator exceeds expectations.
In the technical jargon that has developed around today's modern flashlights, the SUREFIRE A2 Aviator isn't a flashlight it's an illumination tool.
While that may sound a bit pretentious, once you wrap your hands around this unit the level of quality engineering will become readily apparent to anyone who appreciates a finely crafted sports car. SUREFIRE illumination tools are the equivalent to a BMW or Mercedes of the automotive realm. In a like manner, comparatively, the obvious with these autos is their eye appeal, the finely tooled leather, and natural wood appointments that make them desirable. But like any work of art, it's the beauty that lies within that matters their precisely engineer chassis, suspension and computer-controlled motors are state of the automotive art.
Like many great ideas, the concept for the A2 Aviator was born out of need. Pilots, flying at night, needed a light that would enable them to run their exterior pre-flight safety check and then switch to interior duty for reading flight plans or checking items in the cockpit without ruining their night vision. The A2 fills that need in spades with an ultra-bright 50-lumen arc of pure white light that will reach to the top of a 747's massive tail section, and a three-LED assembly that comes in color choices of blue, red and infrared. Since these same dual attributes would also come in handy for any outdoor related activity, I was anxious to see how well it worked in an unrefined setting.
SUREFIRE lights are used by the military and police tactile units in all types of extreme conditions, but lacking a hostage situation to resolve, I set out on a new moon night in search of the wily coyote.
The xenon bulb's piercing beam made it very easy to locate the obscure flag that marked the fencepost where I needed to access the land I was to hunt. I field tested the model with red LEDs and found it to be excellent for viewing topo maps at night, and checking my footing along the trail to the ridgeline that I was targeting. Everything looks different at night and it took a few minutes to get oriented.
I was concerned about setting up in exactly the right spot, and the LEDs lit the way very handily. Since light from the red lens is invisible to game or predators, it wasn't a problem to use it repeatedly for frequent checks of terrain that is critical for successful calling. Most important, when I finally got set, even after repeatedly viewing my map and the trail, I was able to see very well for the conditions.
One feature of the A2 is a real plus in terms of avoiding a miscue with the switches. Digital Plus ™ two-stage switching is a concept that allows you to select, activate and lockout lighting modes so you don't accidentally switch on the bright white light at the wrong time. For light activation, depress the tailcap pushbutton switch for momentary illumination. A partial depression gives only LED light, and pressing the tailcap fully lights up the xenon bulb. To avoid accidentally turning on the light inadvertently, turn the tailcap one and one half turns to the left of the momentary position. For constant use, crank the tailcap all the way to the right for full brightness, or back it off slightly for only LED light. One feature of the A2 is a real plus in terms of avoiding a miscue with the switches. Digital Plus ™ two-stage switching is a concept that allows you to select, activate and lockout lighting modes so you don't accidentally switch on the bright white light at the wrong time. For light activation, depress the tailcap pushbutton switch for momentary illumination. A partial depression gives only LED light, and pressing the tailcap fully lights up the xenon bulb. To avoid accidentally turning on the light inadvertently, turn the tailcap one and one half turns to the left of the momentary position. For constant use, crank the tailcap all the way to the right for full brightness, or back it off slightly for only LED light.
I particularly like the extra large clip that easily attaches the light to the bill of a cap for hands-free operation when necessary. The clip is very stout and holds the body in place even with strenuous movement.
Two SF123A batteries power this unit for about 200 hours run time using only the LEDs. You've got about 50 minutes of burn time using the xenon bulb, but two unique features of the internal digital circuitry are a bonus. This unit's innovative circuitry manages the power consumption to maximize run time and light quality. When the xenon bulb is on, the electronic circuit moderates the power to produce the maximum use, so that you get a constant quality output right to the end of the batteries high output life span. Once this limit is reached, the xenon bulb will not light up, but you still have many hours of operating time left for using the LEDs.
It's a good idea to have several spares on hand, in case you need additional time with the high output light source and the good news there is that SF123A batteries have a useful shelf life of approximately 10 years, depending on the conditions they are stored under. For maximum storage, keep the batteries stored in a cool, dry place.
When using the light, keep in mind that anything that produces this much light generates some serious heat. Do not leave the A2 activated while unattended, and do not set it face (lens) down or against any combustible material or any material that could be damaged by heat. Most importantly, do not hold the bezel (lens) against any part of your body while illuminated.
When replacing the two lithium batteries, make sure that you insert them with the positive end first. Putting them in backwards can damage the internal electronic circuitry that controls the bulb's intensity.
Click this link for more information or to purchase the SureFire Aviator Lights.
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