I have always been a huge fan of the Surefire E2-Series tactical flashlights. They are rugged, reliable and simple to operate during a stressful situation. However, the older models that use incandescent bulbs have been overtaken by the enhanced performance and energy efficiency of the newer LED versions.
Unfortunately, Surefire’s factory LED conversion for the E2-series is prohibitively expensive [currently $150 MSRP/$110 street price]. That is more than the total cost of the entire E2D flashlight. The insanely high price of the Surefire factory conversion has created a significant market for lower-priced, Asian-made replicas. The conversion we are looking at today comes from a retailer in Shenzhen, China.
The price was a paltry $20 on eBay from the seller “airsoftparkstore”. The product [Tactical Q5 LED Conversion Head w/Crenelated Bezel for SureFire E2E E2L E2D L4] is an exact copy of the original Surefire LED model KX2. Needless to say, my expectations were very low considering the price and place of origin. However, I felt that $20 was not a huge risk, and decided to give it a try. The item arrived at my US address about 2.5 weeks after I ordered it, as indicated by the seller based on my location.
Upon opening the package and inspecting the product, I immediately noticed the quality of the manufacturing. It was not some cheap piece of junk. Instead, it was very well made, with clean machine work, solid soldering welds and a very nice internal focal lens. I could not visibly tell a difference in materials or workmanship between this and a brand new factory E2D LED from the local retailer.
The new KX2 LED conversion head fit perfectly onto the old E2D body. It should work the same on all E2-series, 2-battery flashlights. Once installed, it produces a superb beam of light. The LED head is very bright, casting a clean, focused, tight circle of bluish-white light. Battery life should also be improved somewhat compared to the incandescent head. However, I have not performed a burn test to confirm this. The new head has been in use for about a month now with the same batteries I installed when it arrived. It is still as bright as it was on day one.
What I don’t like about it: The KX2 [be it Surefire original, or Asian replica] will add some bulk to the front of the light. The old head is more properly balanced, and more compact. Also, the KX2 LED bezel is far less aggressive than the incandescent head, making it less useful as a CQ striking weapon. One of the best things about the original E2D is the nasty, scalloped bezel. That feature is greatly reduced with the new conversions.
Over all, I was very impressed with both the quality of the product, and the service of the retailer “airsoftparkstore”. I was contacted by their staff twice; first at the time of shipping to inform me of delivery dates, and again after delivery to ensure that I was satisfied with my order.
I still do not understand why Surefire needs to charge $150 for this conversion head. The relatively low complexity of manufacturing this item does not justify their price. I understand that they must charge more to offset their lifetime warranty loses, but ~7 x as much seems excessive me. While I am all for buying American products first, US firms need to be at least somewhat competitive.