SureFire G2 Review – Entry Level Tactical Illumination

The concept of tactical illumination has been around for a while, but only in recent years have the tools been widely available for individuals not affiliated with law enforcement or the military.  Many manufactures offer tactical flashlights, so let’s examine an entry-level light by a premier manufacturer, the SureFire G2

Countless EDC, Urban Survival, and Bug Out Bag lists focus some portion on illumination, but the time has come for expanding capabilities rather than simply shining your way to tactical illumination.

What is “Tactical Illumination”?

Surefire G2 Parts

Tactical illumination is a beam produced by a flashlight powerful enough to stop or confuse an attacker by temporarily blinding and disorienting them. 

The general consensus is that 60 lumens is the minimum level of power for a mid-range encounter.  Anything less will not guarantee results.

Surefire G2 P60 Bulb

The SureFire G2 comes stock with a P60 lamp, which is the heart of the light.  It produces 65 lumens for approximately one hour.  You can upgrade the bulb to a P61 for 120 lumen output, but this reduces run time to 20 minutes.

What Makes the G2 Attractive?

Surefire G2 Colors
  • The G2 is made out of “Nitrolon”, a glass reinforced plastic, which makes it rugged and light weight
  • Factory specs are 4.1 ounces with batteries
  • The body is available in four colors; Black, Desert Tan, OD Green, and Yellow
  • The body is molded with ridges that make it easy to hold, even when wet or when wearing gloves.

The tailcap is tactical-style, and can be backed off to lock out the light to prevent it from accidentally switching on.  It has a tailcap switch that makes it easy to use with a handgun.

Surefire G2 Red Filter

SureFire also warranties their lights with a no questions asked warranty (batteries and bulbs excluded.) The flashlight is modular and can be upgraded with a host of accessories.  You can add flip-up colored filters and covers, different tailcaps, different bulbs (P61 or P60L), and different bezels.

Drawbacks to the G2?

The major drawback is the short run time.  Usually this is not noticeable when the light is used in short bursts, but if you’re using it to hike back out of a trail you could end up with a dead flashlight.

Surefire G2 Batteries

The other drawback is the use of CR123 cells.  These are more expensive than AA cells, but do have advantages for the survivalist.  They are lithium cells and have a shelf life of 10 years.

If you plan using a G2 as an EDC light or as a backup light for a camp out, you are better off buying cells in bulk.  If run time is a large concern, you may want to step up to the Surefire G2 LED, which provides tactical level illumination for 3 hours with a total run time of 11 hours before draining the batteries.

G2 Pros and Cons


  • Rugged and lightweight
  • Weighs only 4.1 ounces
  • Very bright
  • Different colors available
  • Ridges provide a good grip


  • Uses uncommon batteries
  • Short run time


Can the light beam be adjusted?

A: The intensity of the light can be adjusted but the beam itself cannot be adjusted to be wider or more narrow.

Does the G2 have a strobe mode?

A: No it does not have a strobe mode, just a soft low setting and a brighter high setting.

How many batteries does it take?

A: The G2 requires two CR123 batteries

Can this light be mounted to a firearm?

A: Yes. With the proper mounting hardware the G2 can be paired with many different firearms.

Better Prepared

Surefire G2 Black

With a light like the G2, you will be better prepared. Stash one in your truck back or in your Get Home Bag.  You will have the ability to disorient an aggressor, as well as aid search and rescue.  Basically, with such a small, bright light, you can easily find your way out of a tough spot.

There are better lights in the SureFire lineup, but the G2 is cheap enough that it’s accessible to most preppers.  I find them to be handy, tough lights that are cheap enough that I don’t mind if I lose or rough one up, and on the rare occasion that I need to, SureFire has always been outstanding about replacing broken parts.

Photos by: mr smashy

Written by Joel Jefferson

Joel is one of the original founders of After college, he joined the USMC where he served as an (0302) Marine Infantry Officer. Joel is an avid outdoorsman and spends much of his free time in the mountains. Joel’s hobby is researching survival gear & weapons as well as prepping. Read his full interview here. Read more of Joel's articles.

39 thoughts on “SureFire G2 Review – Entry Level Tactical Illumination”

  1. I am considering adding the new Streamlight Sidewinder to my gear line up.
    •C4® LED, 50,000 hour lifetime
    •Pull and rotate locking color selector knob to attain desired color
    •Double click button to initiate strobe function from "Off" position
    •Push and hold button for light output levels
    •Pull-to-turn locking rotary selector knob prevents accidental mode changes and allows selection of 4 illumination sources: White C4 LED; IR LED; Red LED; Blue LED – tactile indicator on rotary knob for IR LED position
    •Powered by 2 "AA" batteries. Click here to see full runtime chart
    •Also accepts 2 "AA" lithium batteries, which allow extended operation and use in extreme temperatures (-40˚F – 150˚F)
    •Mounts to MOLLE or ACH for hands-free use
    •O-ring sealed for waterproof operation. Meets MIL-STD-810F, Method 512.4
    •US and foreign patented design
    •Height: 4.65" Width: 2.34" Weight: 5.02 oz.
    •Colors: Coyote and Green

    and is available on Amazon for under $40

    • The Sidewinder is meant to be mounted on your load bearing gear as a hands-free light, and as a replacement for the old USGI angle-head flashlight. Mostly they're used attached to rigs as a hands-free light with the additional benefit of an IFF. They are good lights, but heavy and not very bright. They are for general purpose illumination and not tactical illumination (max. output is 50 lumen on the white light.)

      Be careful when comparing lithium AA lights and CR123 lighs; the cost per battery can be more for lithium AAs and they both hold the about same amount of energy.

  2. Montezuma,

    Two things:

    First, if you do get one, by all means come back and let us know how its working out for you.

    Second, the stats you put up don't mention any Lumen output or runtime. How does it compare to the SureFire

  3. check out the fenix line of flashlights…
    their Tk10 has proven to be better light than my surefire centurion
    for less than half the price

  4. I received a 2010 Surefire catalog yesterday. I am currently looking for a model that I can EDC comfortably without having to stick it in a bag.

    • I carry a SureFire L1 in my pocket daily and feel that it suits my needs perfectly. It's a good general purpose light that can be used in a tactical role if need be. I carry a bigger light in my EDC bag, but the L1 is always in my pocket. Lumens are 10 on low, 65 on high. I've also EDC'd a SureFire E2D and E2L, both are great lights. The new E2L is outstanding.

    • Hey Josh, check out the E1B. Vey small but bright and has a pocket clip that allows it to be carried lens up or lens down. I dont leave home without mine!

      • Both the flashlight recommended by you and my Mr. Smashy look really good, but at the 140-160 dollar price tag I think this is going to have be a delayed purchase. I guess I am just going to have to stick to my little key chain light for now (que sad violin music).

  5. The G2 does come in a LED version with similar lumens (80 or so) but a run time of about 12-15 hours. You can also ad an LED upgrade to an already purchased incandecent G2 for about 30 bucks.

    The G2 is great. Fenix lights are also excellent and far brighter.

  6. While certainly not a tactical light let's not forget the venerable Mini Maglite.They come in handy for other than tactical use. Many upgrades available at Nite Ize .com. And the right kind of AA rechargeable batteries can be recharged in a solar battery charger.

  7. all i got to say is carry an extra light or 2 . i got cought in the woods after my bulb broke and damn near poked my eye out on a tree limb !!!! now stop laughing !!!

  8. Myself, I will stay with the mini mag AA flashlight. I can by (3) for a decent price on sale and always have a light in all of my packs. If i do need to upgrade them its Nite Ize. This also gives me the advantage of being able to salvage parts if they break down out there in no mans land.

  9. IMO one of the best lights for the money I have found is the LED lensers made by coast cutlery they have a one that is under their tactical line that has performed flawlessly for me.I have been using it in an industrial setting for 2 1/2 yrs now and even accidently washed it in my work clothes and it still is as bright as a streamlight incandesent stinger and it uses 3 aaa batteries as opposed to cr123a type.I have owned and broke surefire 6p's and streamlight stingers, I use a light for inspection purposes probably 15+ hours of run time a week and have really enjoyed the dependabilty of the lenser.I like them so much I bought 2 more for our BOB's


    I'm probably going to get slammed on this one and get a lot of hate comments, but what the heck. I consider myself a flashlight aficionado. Ok, Im just a guy with a huge flashlight fetish… sue me! I've loved em since I was a kid. It's not often that I find a flashlight that makes me say, "WOW". There has been the rare exception of 20-million candle power handheld search lights or the first "shake" light, but thats about it.
    I've owned everything from $1 Dorcy lights to several hundred dollar high end brands, LED to Halogen. There seems to be a "tri-fecta" problem. Brightness–purchase price/battery cost– burn time. You usually have to pick two of those and forgo the third.
    I'm not going to get deep into the mathematic formula that I used to figure this one out but it was basically lumens over time broken down by cost to purchase and operate and bulb life expectancy. I'm not a scientist and I'm sure you could figure in a trillion other factors, I just chose to pick the common ones. In no way do I endorse any one product or brand, this was just a study to entertain myself. I'm also not going to list all the flashlights in order or anything like that. Most of the flashlights tested, I own, have owned, or tried out. A few were done from manufacturer specs. Of course, I also said, "If I don't own the winner, I'm buyin' one!"

    I actually bought several and WOW I'M IMPRESSED!

    Drum-roll please………………………………………..
    HERE IS TH START OF THE SHOCKER…. The light was invented by a kid (15 years old). Not only that….. It isn't a big corporation name brand, and it doesn't cost hundreds of dollars.

    Here it is…………… THE PAK-LITE SUPER or ULTRA with the use of a 9-volt lithium battery.

    (the main difference between the SUPER and the ULTRA is that the ultra comes with a lithium battery)

    Will YOUR flashlight run continuously for over 1-year on the same battery (8760+ hours)?
    Can it survive a drop a 250ft drop from a plane?
    Does it cost under $30.
    Will it fit in your shirt pocket?

    Yes, it is an LED and YES it is amazingly bright!

    I recommend these to ALL campers and survivalist. Check em out and post your opinions on em.

    • I actually really like it. IMO, this is exactly what a survival light should be. I haven't examined the quality of the construction, but simple is good.

      I have used many tac lights and I would never put one in my BOB. they are heavy, too bright, expensive, they burn through batteries, and they use unconventional batteries. These are generalities of course, but true for most.

      Ok, I might have to explain "too bright". In the woods at night, you fire up your tac-light and then you are basically blinded for the next 20 minutes until your eyes readjust to the darkness. This causes you to use your light even more. Use low light or a a red lens filter to lessen the effect. Better yet, don't use your light unless you absolutely have to.

      Best light IMO: $5 Rayovac Headlamp from walmart. Buy 2 or 3.

  11. ok, like Kevintthenurse, i'm a flashlight aficionado, well actually i'm a collector. I have about 40- 50 different kinds of flashlights/ lanterns and they range from a 1930 Rayovac bullet style all the way to the surefire g2. all get used and i would have to say that most have been upgraded to LED (if possible). I just got my G2 in August as a gift from my wife and i must say i haven't found a light that i like more. She purchased it from Gander Mountain for about $60. Now i know your saying $60! WTF! Right? Well, this G2 came standard with the LED bezel producing 120 lumens for at least 2 hours of runtime. I've had it for 2 months now and use it almost everyday for work, home, etc. This is also my on self EDC light, I carry it in the V85A Speed holster from surefire witch also holds 3 spare batteries. Its a little bulky in all but would def recommend this light to anyone looking for a good light. (scratch that, a great light!)

  12. ok, i like my surefire g2, had the damn thing for as long as ive known my wife. 10 years, and ive changed the batteries maybe 5 times altogether. plenty bright, and durable as all hell. used it on my 3 week long float trip with my dad, to set camp each night. use it in my work as a bouncer pretty often. and it rides my belt or pocket pretty easily. one light i really like though, is the little tiny one made by streamlight. i bought one and liked it so much and got so many compliments on it that ive been giving them as gifts. its not exactly a tactical light, but very useful. yet to see if its as durable as my g2, but that'll take a while for it to catch up.

  13. ok, i like my surefire g2, had the damn thing for as long as ive known my wife. 10 years, and ive changed the batteries maybe 5 times altogether. plenty bright, and durable as all hell. used it on my 3 week long float trip with my dad, to set camp each night. use it in my work as a bouncer pretty often. and it rides my belt or pocket pretty easily. one light i really like though, is the little tiny one made by streamlight. i bought one and liked it so much and got so many compliments on it that ive been giving them as gifts. its not exactly a tactical light, but very useful. yet to see if its as durable as my g2, but that'll take a while for it to catch up.

  14. Compared to everybody else, I'm hanging out at the low cost end of the spectrum on this 🙂 Also, given that I have done far more work in security than I really care to think about I have become something of an expert on low cost flashlight and LED systems.

    I will note that Mag-Lite has come out with their own proprietary white LED technology flashlight, available in 2 and 3 D cell versions. I don't know what the rated output in terms of lumen is, but it is one bright flashlight. My current job has me working night shift, doing rounds in a warehouse that covers most of a city block. My criteria for a flashlight being "bright enough" is that I can stand on one end of an aisle that runs the entire length of the warehouse and see the nice, bright beam of the flashlight reflecting from the far end. The 3 D cell LED version does that handily, as well as giving light that is noticeably brighter than a standard 4D cell Mag-Lite and a 5D cell Mag-Lite with a xenon bulb. Now, I will grant that a 3D cell Mag-Lite might be somewhat larger and heavier than most people might want to carry in a BOB, but it might not be a bad piece of equipment to have in your vehicle or by your bed at night. Price for the 3D cell LED Mag-Lite is around $34.00 + tax at WalMart.

    However, as the old saying goes, "2 is 1 and 1 is none", so when I am on the job I also have a backup flashlight on me. For backup purposes I normally use something that will fit into a shirt pocket. It won't provide me with all the light that I'd like to have, but it will enable me to navigate from point A to point B without tripping over anything. The current one I've got is one I picked up at Costco manufactured by a company called "Coast". IIRC it was a roughly $20.00 item. It has three small LEDs and runs off 1 AA cell.

    However, while I like the new Mag-Lite, IMHO the "mother load" for LED flashlights in general is:

    I have an older version of their Trek light with two small LEDs that has lived in my BOB for years. Never had a problem with it.

  15. The G2 is definately a good flashlight and no one will ever say anything bad about SureFire but they're expensive. I've found that Fenix is a lot better for most preppers due to the price point. I have several Fenix's, from the LD10 to the TA21 and looking into getting the TK seriers lights soon.

    My favorite light and EDC light is the PD20. Awesome little guy that slips into your pocket and you forget about. Low setting is 9 lumems which lasts for 66 hours and high setting which lasts for almost 2 hours at 180 lumens. I really like CR123 batteries but many preppers dont because of their rarity post SHTF. For $55 on amazon its hard to beat for its versitility, size, and output.

  16. Im a rural guy , the closest thing I get ( or want ) to tactical gear is my confederate shell jacket . My camping steel D cell Coleman works just fine , and have used it as a club and hammer on occasion as well . Point is …. just make sure you have a good light .

  17. I agree with BOB122 with “Fenix” bieng better(Brighter) and cheaper for the most part. I carry on my person the LD10 as well as the LD20 in the Fenix line. I do have a couple of G2’s around as well as a tactical Surefire , but when I was introduced to the Fenix line I was converted.
    The Fenix LD series run off of AA batteries which for me is cheaper than the C123 batteries and like alot of other things around the house AA batteries are alot more common and easy to swap if the batteries run low. But like anything it is a personal preference.

  18. I am kind of a flashlight feak, hard to resist picking up a different one every time I go out. Anyway, the best light I have ever purchased is a rayovac roughneck. I believe it was 34 bucks, output is 200 lumens and runs on three AAA batteries. It has a high, low and strobe setting.

  19. I’m new here, but I’m really into this sort of thing, and I like to help people understand what is truly going on,l and how you can prepare for it.

    I came across this site last week, and I think you could all benefit from it.

    Anyway, mods, if this in in the wrong section, please move it, or, if you must, delete it. I think that this info needs to be out there though.

    I hope some of you find this helpful. Good luck, and god bless you

    2012 Survival

  20. I recently bought a 1 Watt LED bulb for my Mini Mag. When I got home that night I took it outside to try it out. I was BLOWN away by the distance and brightness of it. I took my 3 cell Mag out and the Mini Mag way out shined it in brightness but not quite the distance. I paid $14.95 for the bulb and have been using this light for 3 months off and on alot and have only replaced batterys once. I use the Energizer Lithium AA . The great thing about LED's is they dont pull as much juice from the battery's as regular bulbs and a Mini Mag is small and light.

  21. First I love the dark and deep water and light has one bad drawback you can be seen or silhouetted.

    in the first world war three on a match was bad JUJU today it is considered urban legend I think it has merit
    lighting your position and worse profiling yourself will get you shot.

    I do love the Pak=Lite in all it's forms hundreds of hours of light with a solar charger and a few batteries your set for
    a few years they take up less space than 3 BIC lighters no weight.
    since a candle can be seen many miles I see no reason for mini Q-Beam I have been on a quest for electronics that
    can use with adapters or not only AA, AA and 9 volt. and exclude all these high output cr123's and coin batteries
    Enloop batteries and C & D adapters are as of not the best and most powerful I use 2 AA's in a Pelican light with C size adapters.
    the only reason I keep this Pelican light is for water proof / diving use simple and durable.


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