Rating: 5 / 5
Ok. So, one is unable to justify the $$$ for the U2 - try as hard as one might. Well, then, perhaps the L2 might fit the bill. It is after all a whopping hundred bucks cheaper (that ain't sayin' too much though).
1. Still pricey at $175-$179.
2. Switch ergonomics somewhat inconvenient (two-stage push-momentary; two-stage twist tail-cap constant-on).
3. Wait...there is no #3, IMO, that's it for the CONS.
0. [ZERO...yeah, i'm a computer geek]Simple operation:
a) Partial press of the butt/tail-cap switch and LO o.p. (output) mode is activated (22 lumens for 18hrs[Mfr. claimed]; ~9:30 to 75%; 10:40 to 50%; ~11.45 to 25%; ~12:30 to 20%; ~13:30 to 15%; ~15:00 to 10%; ~15:40 to 5%; then pretty much flat at ~2%-3% out beyond 20h);
b) Full press of the butt/tail-cap switch and HI o.p. mode is activated (a WHOPPING 100 lumens for 60min; ~0:40m to 75%; 50%@50m; 25%@~1:20; 20%@~1:30; 15%@~1:45; 10%@~2:05 & then flat out beyond 3:30)
c) Twist the butt/tail-cap (righty-tighty; lefty-loosey) until the light comes on in constant LO o.p. mode. Twist/tighten further and constant HI o.p. mode is selected.
1. Can fairly easily learn a somewhat inconvenient one-handed operation for constant-on modes. Just hold flashlight barrel in palm of hand and grip with last three fingers. Then use the thumb and index finger of same hand to tighten (or loosen) the tail-cap in order to operate the constant-on modes.
2. Clip faces towards back of light so it can be clipped to a STIFF hat or cap brim. Clip is stiff and compresses well, so the light stays in place. The light is long at ~6.1", however, some of the light's length is forward of the clip. So a short "brim-de-chapeau" would NOT suffice.
3. Rivals the more expensive U2 on high o.p. in a side-by-side comparison.
4. LO o.p. mode is MORE than sufficient for night hikes, coupled with the long burn time on LO makes the L2 a desirable light. In a particular dicey situation, the retinal searing HI o.p. mode is available (blows away the Myo XP boost mode, plus no 20-sec time limit on use, unless one's batts are very low!).
5. Fairly light at only 4.2oz.
6. The smaller diameter head (around an inch in diameter, i'm visually estimating) of the L2 versus the U2 makes it much easier to both carry in one's pocket, as well as to "side-mount" using a Jakstrap or Nite-Ize head-band.
7. The butt/tail-cap has two other nice features (or inherent side-effects of the design - i must say i'm still NOT a fan of the ergonomics of twist on/off tailcaps, preferring instead the simple push-button approach found in both the U2 and some, not all, Fenix lights, among others):
a) to prevent inadvertent operation, the tail-cap may be unscrewed sufficiently to both keep the cap from falling off, as well as to prevent a FULL depression of the tail-cap switch from either accidentally or intentionally causing the light to turn on.
b) the tail-cap can be tightened just enough that a full depression of the tail-cap switch will ONLY cause the light to come on in momentary LO o.p. mode, so no accidental momentary HI o.p. mode activation can occur. Obviously, given the tail-cap switch design/operation, this does not carry-over/extend to the constant-on modes.
8. The light is VERY robust - no plastic here; all metal construction.
9. The 2xCR123A batts are a good power source to maintain long (in LO o.p. mode only) regulated burn times. They can be found many places On-Line for $1.50-$2.00 each, and as low as $1.00 each for Titanium brand (www.amondotech.com, or call 408-747-1123 and ask for Lucy - she's very nice and didn't even criticize my very poor Mandarin).
10. Classic Surefire beam pattern - VERY BRIGHT!!! Bright Center (can't really call it a "spot") with a very gentle spill gradient and LARGE overall output. In HI o.p. mode, it lights up nearly the entire (not behind the user, obviously) a large 15'x24' darkened basement workshop and, outdoors, easily illuminates objects over 100' away. Like the U2, it is, IMO, the perfect balance b/t THROW (for distant viewing) and OVERALL (for wide field of illumination) outputs. One doesn't get the impression that either THROW or OVERALL output is sacrificed in favor of the other. For me, I echo Rick Drehrer's comment that "beam pattern" is most important in a lighting device (for me, burn-time, with adequate light output for my intended purpose, viz. night hiking, is second most important). In these respects, i.e. beam pattern and burn-time (in LO which provides plenty of light for night hiking 22 lumens decreasing to ~11 lumens over the first 10-11 hours), the L2 is quite superior to most lighting devices (it better be since it costs and arm and a leg, no, wait, just a leg, the more expensive Surefire U2 [cf. my Review of the U2] costs and an arm and a leg!).
So, is the L2 worth the money? That's an individual question. If one were to purchase the L2 (or the more expensive U2), one might later regret having spent so much $$$ on a flashlight, but the regret certainly wouldn't come from either light's performance. One can genuinely see the "Surefire difference" with either of these two lights. However, whether that alone justifies the exorbitant expense of either of these lights is, IMO, really a personal matter. One thing for "Sure", the performance of both of these lights sure does NOT disappoint!
Scuttlebutt: [that's "Rumor"/"Grapevine"]
Some Surefire lights, sometime in '07 [supposedly] are going to be upgraded to a Cree LED. The U2 and L2 are NOT supposedly being upgraded in '07 (or ever???). Some of the lesser 3W (vs. 5W like the U2 and L2) lights are being upgraded. The tiny L1 (to be reviewed at a later point in time) is supposedly to be one of them. The Cree LED will give Surfire the option of keeping burn-time and upping light output, keeping light output and increasing burn-time, or "trading-off" b/t the two. Which will they select to do? My hope is more burn-time. All Surefire lights that I have seen are bright enough as is. An exeption might be the LO o.p. mode of the little L1. In this case, I'd vote for 2x the light output and still keep the VERY long burn-time. Can't wait to see what Surefire does.