Light Review: Surefire 2211 Signature Wrist Light

Surefire have expanded the choice in their 2211 Wrist Light range with the addition of the 2211 Signature Wrist Light. This features an integrated watch face (like the Luminox version) which is a special new Surefire branded version.

Taking a more detailed look:

This review sample was a final pre-production example, so had no packaging and has a rubber strap instead of a NATO strap. All other details are the same as a production version.

You might have seen the earlier ‘Luminox’ version of the 2211 Wrist Light, so this large watch may look familiar, but is the new ‘Signature’ model.

At the 3 o’clock position there is an angled, faceted reflector creating Surefire’s “MaxVision Beam”.

And at the 9 o’clock position there is the watch crown and USB charging port.

A bold tactical style watch face is incorporated into the 2211 Signature. Note there is some reflection in the glass of the camera lens so this is not any type of smudging on the watch face.

Being a rechargeable model, the 2211 Signature has a micro-USB B port for maximum compatibility.

For a watch, the body is exceptionally thick, but that is of course because this is a Wrist Light. Remember the strap on the production model is a NATO strap.

The back of the 2211 Signature is a smooth flat plate.

On opposite sides of the 2211 Signature’s body is a rubber covered switch.

A closer look at one of the two switches.

There is a 60-click unidirectional bezel. The watch glass is not specified, so is most likely mineral glass.

On the face there are bold numbers and this is surrounded by clear markings on the dial ring. The hands stand out well with large areas of lume providing the contrast.

An XP-G2 LED sits in the bottom of the angled, faceted reflector of Surefire’s “MaxVision Beam” first seen on the Titan.

Charging is simple, and you just need a Micro-USB charger.

During charging the ‘fuel gauge’ window lights up red. This starts to turn a slightly amber colour and once fully charged it turns green.

The hands have lume on them, but there is no lume on the rest of the watch face.

Strap fitting / changing is easy as the lugs are positioned so that you can release the spring pins using a pusher.

To access the watch, first loosen the two black Allen bolts near the lens of the light.

Then loosen the two Torx grub screws either side of the crown.

You can now lift out the watch.

The recess in the 2211 Signature’s body for the watch to fit in, plus the four fixing points, two bolt holes and two grub screws.

The watch itself is a completely self contained module.

On the back of the case we see the only indication of waterproofing with a 100m water resistant rating (which is not shown on the watch face).

Here you can see one of the four watch back screws. In the centre of the image the slight ding in the plastic case created by the grub screw is visible. The groove in the crown is essential for ease of use, as will be explained in more detail later.

The beam

Please be careful not to judge tint based on images you see on a computer screen. Unless properly calibrated, the screen itself will change the perceived tint.

The indoor beamshot is intended to give an idea of the beam shape/quality rather than tint. All beamshots are taken using daylight white balance. The woodwork (stairs and skirting) are painted Farrow & Ball “Off-White”, and the walls are a light sandy colour called ‘String’ again by Farrow & Ball. I don’t actually have a ‘white wall’ in the house to use for this, and the wife won’t have one!

Surefire’s “MaxVision Beam” is a lovely smooth part-focused, part-diffused beam that gives you a soft edged hotspot and reasonably wide spill. Here you can see the tendency of a Wrist Light to catch the user’s knuckles in the outer edge of the spill (on the right hand side). We’ll see what this beam looks like with a sight picture later on.

Modes and User Interface:

In this section I’ll be referring to the operation of the Wrist Light rather than the watch. The watch movement is a Citizen 2115 and operates exactly as you would expect a simple date display movement to work.

There are two electronic switches on the body, positioned on the sides at the 12 and 6 o’clock positions. These control the three constant output levels.

To turn the 2211 Signature onto High – pressing either switch once. To turn OFF press either switch after it has been ON for at least 0.5 seconds.

To turn the 2211 Signature ON to Low – pressing either switch twice within 0.5 seconds. This will turn onto High and then to Low. To turn the light OFF, press either switch again once.

To access Low directly on the 2211 Signature – press and hold both switches simultaneously. This will turn ON to Low. If you continue to hold both switches, the output will cycle through Medium, and then High 0.75 seconds apart. Release both switches when the desired output has been reached. To turn the light OFF, press either switch once.

NOTE: Surefire state “Do not activate, deactivate, or adjust your 2211 Signature while holding a firearm.” – heed this warning.

The 2211 Signature has a ‘Fuel Gauge’ LED to indicate the battery charge status during use and while charging. GREEN means the battery is full (or has reached at least 90% when charging). AMBER indicates the battery is low and the output level should be reduced or the 2211 recharged. RED indicates an empty battery and the 2211 should be recharged immediately.

Batteries and output:

The 2211 Signature runs on a built-in battery. For the watch, the Citizen 2115 movement is powered by a SR626SW / 377 / AG4 button cell which is expected to last 2-3 years.

To measure actual output, I built an integrating sphere. See here for more detail. The sensor registers visible light only (so Infra-Red and Ultra-Violet will not be measured).

Please note, all quoted lumen figures are from a DIY integrating sphere, and according to ANSI standards. Although every effort is made to give as accurate a result as possible, they should be taken as an estimate only. The results can be used to compare outputs in this review and others I have published.

___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
Surefire 2211 Signature using built-in cell I.S. measured ANSI output Lumens PWM frequency or Strobe frequency (Hz)
___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
High 387 0
Medium 77 0
Low 27 0

* Beacon and Strobe output measurements are only estimates as the brief flashes make it difficult to capture the actual output value.

There will be parasitic drain but it cannot be measured due to the design. Long term testing of the Surefire Sidekick would indicate that this drain will be very low.

This particular 2211 Signature sample both over and under performs. Maximum output is more than the specified 300lm output for the first 30 minutes of use, but runtime is lower than the one hour specified. Between 20 and 27 minutes, the output fluctuates by around 55lm where the battery is starting to struggle to maintain the over 340 lm output. This then settles into a gradually stepping down output through the 30 minute mark, dropping more rapidly and reaching the ANSI cut off at 45 minutes of total runtime.

Troubleshooting

This section is included to mention any minor niggles I come across during testing, in case the information helps anyone else.

No issues were encountered during testing.

As per the description of this section, this information is provided in case anyone else finds a similar ‘issue’ that might be fixed in the same way.

The 2211 Signature in use

Although pictured with the rubber strap provided with this sample, in line with the Surefire final specification, I’ve changed this and used it with a NATO / ZULU strap. I have also tried it with a metal bracelet strap just to see how this worked.

It is a really good call by Surefire to go with the NATO strap for the final version as this means that the failure of a single strap pin will not cause the 2211 to fall off (which is the reason for the NATO strap design itself).

For those not familiar with this type of strap, here you can see how the nylon webbing passes behind both strap pins, so if one breaks, it will still be attached to the strap.

In use, I’ve also found (thanks to trying all strap types) how critical it is to have the most stable fitting on your wrist. You need to fit the strap to be snug, as any looseness results in the beam being less controllable and responsive.

You certainly know when you are wearing the 2211 Signature as it has real presence on the wrist. There is definitely a sleeve incompatibility consideration as the depth of the 2211 Signature means it doesn’t easily fit into most sleeves. Taking off a jacket or shirt is not really an option with the 2211 Signature on your wrist. It is better fitted to the outside of a sleeve or glove cuff, but you’ll need to try out a few things to find what works best for you. The ideal arrangement is summer clothing with no sleeves at all.

So, does it work? Based on the 2211 Signature being fitted securely to your support hand wrist, and being turned on before handling a firearm, without even thinking about it, you come up on aim and there is light on the target. You can see that the right hand edge of the spill is showing knuckle shadow, but there is still plenty of light to work within.

Searching, moving and tracking brings the light with your sight picture, and points as naturally as the sights (as long as it is fitted securely and is not loose on the wrist). But you don’t have access to turning it on or off.

A crucial point to note here is that this system does not work if worn on your primary hand, the one holding the gun. Due to the wrist position being too close to the centre line of the gun, the gun hand blocks half of the beam leaving you with only half the target area lit. In my testing this was more or less a vertical line at the point of impact.

Taking this to the next conclusion, the 2211 Signature is only suitable for right handed people (or at least those who hold their gun in their right hand). It must be worn on the support hand, so for left handed people, this means that with the light pointing forwards the watch face will be upside-down if worn on the right wrist. Left handed people may as well go for the non-watch versions of the 2211 range.

Another point to note with the 2211 Signature is due to the crown being positioned at 9 o’clock, you can’t adjust it while wearing it (unless you are a contortionist). The groove in the crown is essential to allow the, effectively recessed, crown to be pulled out using your finger nails; not the easiest crown to use.

Of course, one major advantage is that you are not going to drop this light, so gives you the benefits of hands-free use. Unlike any other hands-free options (excluding gun lights), the location of the light makes it ideal as it naturally points with the gun and doesn’t shine onto the back of the gun (which would create glare).

Like all tactical equipment, one is none (two is one), so I would not see the 2211 Signature as the only lighting option one would carry, but it does give you a really functional option for those instances where it fits in with your clothing. The major advantage of the 2211 Signature over the plain wrist lights Surefire make is that you won’t need to sacrifice wearing a watch, as the 2211 Signature includes a timepiece.

Review Summary

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Hands-free Tactical handgun lighting. Must be worn on the Support hand.
Incorporated Tactical Watch. The Watch is only usable for right handed people.
USB rechargeable. Cannot adjust time/date while wearing it.
‘Fuel Gauge’ battery level indicator.
Smooth and wide beam.

 

Discussing the Review:

The ideal place to discuss this reviews is on a forum. If you started reading the shorter forum version of the review, but followed the link this full exclusive review, please return to that forum to discuss the review there.
If you read the review entirely on Tactical Reviews, please consider one of the following to join in any discussion.

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Watchuseek – The Most Visited Watch Forum Site … In The World.

WatchFreeks – The #1 Watch Forum for wrists of all sizes.

Light Review: Surefire Sidekick (Compact Fob Light)

Though not the first to make a USB rechargeable keychain light, Surefire have applied their philosophy of ‘excellence in illumination’ to this EDC essential.

 photo 09 Sidekick on P1170827.jpg

Taking a more detailed look:

The Sidekick comes in a cardboard blister pack.
 photo 01 Sidekick Boxed P1170798.jpg

Inside is the Sidekick itself, a short USB charging cable, a metal clip and the instructions.
 photo 02 Sidekick Box contents P1170803.jpg

The underside of the Sidekick has a metal heat sink panel with the model engraved onto it.
 photo 03 Sidekick angle P1170808.jpg

At the top is the power button and a moulded Surefire logo. The main body is a tough plastic and has a split ring at the rear.
 photo 04 Sidekick rear angle P1170812.jpg

On the angled corner at the front you can see the micro-USB port for charging.
 photo 05 Sidekick port angle P1170815.jpg

I only noticed the small piece of plastic case under the micro-USB port was cracked when I was preparing these photos. This has not affect the function at all.
 photo 06 Sidekick port close P1170816.jpg

Set into the front is Surefire’s MaxVision Beam reflector assembly. This has a multi-faceted reflector surface to smooth out the beam without the losses of a textured reflector.
 photo 07 Sidekick reflector angle P1170822.jpg

Looking straight into the faceted reflector at the Cree XP-G2 LED. (For some reason Surefire don’t specify the actual LED anywhere in the documentation.)
 photo 08 Sidekick LED P1170824.jpg

Plugging in the micro-USB cable to charge the Sidekick.
 photo 10 Sidekick charging P1170830.jpg

Even the compact metal clip has ‘SF’ on it.
 photo 11 Sidekick clip P1170831.jpg

The split ring is very stiff, so getting the clip on isn’t easy, but its not going to come off by mistake.
 photo 12 Sidekick with clip P1170834.jpg

The beam

Please be careful not to judge tint based on images you see on a computer screen. Unless properly calibrated, the screen itself will change the perceived tint.

The indoor beamshot is intended to give an idea of the beam shape/quality rather than tint. All beamshots are taken using daylight white balance. The woodwork (stairs and skirting) are painted Farrow & Ball “Off-White”, and the walls are a light sandy colour called ‘String’ again by Farrow & Ball. I don’t actually have a ‘white wall’ in the house to use for this, and the wife won’t have one!

Since the days of the Solitaire keychain light, I’ve always had a compact EDC light on my keys. This shrunk to the photon size button cell type, but those really only served as a last ditch light, so the size I used grew again to include a USB rechargeable or AAA powered light. The beam of the Sidekick is a revelation in keychain lights, with its wide floody beam (with no glare) and plenty of power.

Just look at this beamshot and you probably think we were looking at something you wouldn’t attach to your keys. A really excellent EDC beam.

 photo 14 Sidekick indoor beam P1230310.jpg

Modes and User Interface:

The Sidekick has three output levels Low, Medium, and High.
From OFF, press the power switch to select Low, press again within 2s to change to Medium, press again within 2s of the last press to get High, and once more cycles to OFF.
If you are using either Low or Medium, if you wait over 2s before pressing again, the Sidekick will turn OFF (instead of going to the next mode and then OFF).

There are no indicator lights on the Sidekick, so no charge or low battery indicators. Instead the Sidekick uses its main LED. For low battery, the output simply reduces sharply to a lower level and starts to fade out. There is no sudden turn off, so while there is no actual ‘warning’ it is clear you are low on power.

For charging, the main LED is used as the indicator. With the USB power connected, the LED blinks to indicate the Sidekick is charging. During the charging process the LED sometimes comes on steadily for a few seconds then has a series of blinks. I’ve not so far managed to determine if there is an actual pattern to this. Ultimately, once fully charged the main LED comes on steadily at the low level and stays on as long as power is connected.

The default order of the modes is L-M-H, but this can be reversed to H-M-L by carrying out the following steps:

1. Plug in the charger.
2. Press the switch three times until the High level is activated.
3. Leave the Sidekick On for 5 seconds or more, then press the switch once to turn Off.
4. Unplug from the charger and test the sequence.

To return to L-M-H, repeat the previous steps except in step 2 you press three times to activate Low.
(Stopping on Medium at step 2 does not do anything.)

Batteries and output:

The Sidekick runs on a built-in 640mAh Li-ion battery.

Surefire have commented that the charge rate is fixed around 450mA, but it always seems to charge faster than the instruction manual, or this information, would suggest. In my experience (with a good charger) even fully depleted, it takes less than an hour to charge.

To measure actual output, I built an integrating sphere. See here for more detail. The sensor registers visible light only (so Infra-Red and Ultra-Violet will not be measured).

Please note, all quoted lumen figures are from a DIY integrating sphere, and according to ANSI standards. Although every effort is made to give as accurate a result as possible, they should be taken as an estimate only. The results can be used to compare outputs in this review and others I have published.

___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
Surefire Sidekick using built-in cell I.S. measured ANSI output Lumens PWM frequency or Strobe frequency (Hz)
___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
High 320 0
Medium 60 0
Low 3 100

* Beacon and Strobe output measurements are only estimates as the brief flashes make it difficult to capture the actual output value.

There is parasitic drain but as the light is sealed this could not be measured. During normal use over a period of over 6 months, the Sidekick has never noticeably self drained.

For such a compact lightweight light, the Sidekick has a fantastic performance on High. Not fully regulated, the output does however remain above 250lm for a full 45 minutes – very impressive for a keychain light.
 photo surefire sidekick runtime.jpg

Troubleshooting

This section is included to mention any minor niggles I come across during testing, in case the information helps anyone else.

No issues were encountered during testing.

As per the description of this section, this information is provided in case anyone else finds a similar ‘issue’ that might be fixed in the same way.

The Sidekick in use

Though it is compact, the Sidekick is relatively large for a keychain light. It gets away with this thanks to not being heavy and the plastic housing seems to help reduce its overall presence. Here it is shown next to a AAA keychain light and a photon button cell light.

 photo 13 Sidekick size P1170838.jpg

With this extra size and relatively high cost (compared to its rivals, and especially in non-US markets), the Sidekick needs to work well to justify itself. The excellent beam and 300lm output do just that.

Ideally I prefer a smaller keychain light, but the extra size does make it more stable to hold, and you just don’t get that kind of output and runtime from something smaller and lighter.

If the housing were 100% plastic there would be heat issues, but Surefire have used a metal side panel which allows it to conduct heat out of the Sidekick. When using the High output this can get quite hot to the touch.

Perhaps the biggest annoyance for me has been that it is very similar in size to my car key, and when reaching into my pocket I now have to do the ‘pocket juggle’ of my keys to identify if I’ve grabbed my car key or the Sidekick.

The power button is quite stiff and has little feel to the click. The stiffness is an advantage in not having accidental activations (none so far, which I cannot say about other keychain lights), and eventually you do get some feel for the subdued click.

Not being a tactical light, the modes being L-M-H is ideal as for general EDC you most often only need a little light. One disappointment is the use of visible PWM in the Low mode. Medium and High have no PWM, and if only that Low mode was the same it would be much better.

Battery capacity is really great with the 640mAh cell always having plenty of output and runtime for everything I’ve thrown at it. Even with some unexpected night time strolls needing the path to be lit, using the full 300lm and plenty of other On/Off cycles to check things, and I’ve not needed to keep on recharging.

Recharging is one of those ‘love it or hate it’ things due to the main beam being used as a charging indicator. As it has never taken more than 1 hour to charge I haven’t needed to charge it overnight, so it is not that the main beam flashing and then going onto Low disturbs my sleep. However, the flashing can be annoying if you are in a room with lowered lighting. I was surprised by the Sidekick turning on the Low output once charging is complete, but actually it is a very clear indication that charging has finished, and even with a good charging circuit, it is never a good idea to leave any device on charge for a long time for no reason. The Sidekick tells you clearly to take it off charge. You can look at this either way, and to start with I thought it was not good, but having got used to it find it works pretty well.

The beam is very good, with a smooth floody profile and a neutral tint, which makes it so much better to use than lights with a 5mm LED or those with a more focused hotspot. This combined with the 300lm output, which is reasonably well maintained for a full 45 minutes of constant runtime, make this a really strong performer and the slight size penalty you pay is worth it.

Review Summary

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Excellent MaxVision Beam. Bigger than most keychain lights.
300lm output. Easily confused for a car key.
USB rechargeable. Built-in non replaceable cell.
Lightweight. Main beam flashes then comes on constantly while charging.
45 minutes runtime on High. Visible PWM used in Low
L-M-H mode order.
Comfortable and stable to hold.
Strong, small, metal clip.

 

Discussing the Review:

Please feel free to add comments to the review, but the ideal place to freely discuss these reviews is on a forum. If you started reading the shorter forum version of the review, but followed the link this full exclusive review, please return to that forum to discuss the review there.
If you read the review entirely on Tactical Reviews, please consider one of the following to join in any discussion.

CandlePowerForums – Flashlight Reviews Section (Largest and Friendliest Flashlight Community Forum)

EdgeMatters – Sponsored Reviews (UK based Forum for Knife Makers and Collectors)

(CLOSED) Instagram Giveaway Now ON! (Ends 1 Oct 2016)

CLOSED – Winners are @olivern246 and @ladynra1.
As a thanks to all my followers, and to celebrate passing the 5k mark, here is a Giveaway which will have two winners.

The two prizes are, a Surefire T-Shirt and Cap, and a F√§llkniven T-Shirt and Cap. Both T-Shirts are ‘XL’ and the first winner can choose which prize they get.

To enter, complete all three steps below:

1. Follow @tacticalreviews (you do not need to re-follow if you are already a follower).
2. Like this post.
3. Comment on this post and ‘@ Mention’ a Friend. (Mentioning a company or spoof account will invalidate your entry.)
(One standard entry per Instagram account.)

Full rules (and bonus entry information) can be found here: Full Rules.

The closing date for entries is 1st October 2016 or if I reach 10k followers. (There will be a 10k Giveaway as well)

By entering you agree that Instagram has no responsibility for this Giveaway.
This Giveway is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Instagram.

Don’t miss out on your chance to enter this giveaway – Good Luck!

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