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Thread: Surefire A2 Aviator review

  1. #1
    *Flashaholic* carrot's Avatar
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    Default Surefire A2 Aviator review

    Preface: Yep, I know I'm pretty late to the party concerning the A2 Aviator, but since I just got the light and have the need to share my excitement, I decided to write a review, which I will later modify a bit for structure and post to KevinL's FLDB. I will be comparing it on several occasions to my G2 Nitrolon, as it is the only other Surefire light I own.

    With JasonC8301's help, I was able to purchase myself the A2 on Friday. The A2 Aviator was the light that sparked my interest in high-end flashlights, in a Surefire advertisement in Popular Science magazine. (this one - large image) For reference, I have the flat four-sided white LED A2, which features the Surefire logo on one side and Digital Plus Series || A2 AVIATOR on the other.

    For some reason, many pictures of lights tend to make them appear much larger than they actually are, and the A2 is no exception. In my hands, the A2 was impressively small -- a lot smaller than I had envisioned it being. The clip is springy, but also fairly tight. I felt no need to adjust the pocket clip. Since I have previously EDC'd the Surefire G2, the A2 feels like it's barely there, clipped inside my front right pocket. I'm a little worried about the knurling making holes in all my pants, though. The A2, with its aggressive knurling, was a little uncomfortable to hold in my hands at first, especially if I held it like a pen, but I quickly got used to the feeling (and now I can't stop touching it). The HAIII finish is a beautiful matte gray / dark green with the added bonus that it is one of the hardest materials known to man, second only to diamonds. It's also very nice looking, with an aesthetically pleasing styling that reflects what the A2 really is -- a serious illumination tool, unlike the G2 which could be shrugged off as a cheap plastic POS (until you turn it on). The entire light just reeks of quality, and except for a very slight imperfection on the body tube near the bezel (so tiny I didn't notice it until examining the entire light very carefully), it truly appears to be the model of perfection.

    And then there's the business end of the A2, the bezel. This is what the A2 is really all about. It's one of the few hybrid lights in existance, and its regulated incandescent lamp, outputting at least 50 lumens of beautiful white light (as we all know, Surefire consistently underrates their lumen outputs). The beam is beautiful, and although the hotspot is slightly oval, and casts a bright semi-ring around the flood it's amazing nonetheless. Coming from a reflector with 3 gaping holes in it (for the LEDs), it's downright impressive. The P60 in the G2 has a (barely) nicer beam in terms of shape, but the A2 has got it beat in whiteness. The incandescent lamp does not seem at all yellow to my eyes when switching between high and low output; rather, the only time the beam appears yellow is when it is competing with sunlight.

    On low, the LEDs cast a bluish tint, but are definitely whiter than both the Arc-AA and Gerber Infinity Ultra I have to compare it with. Jason tells me it's the whitest one out of the batch he tested, and the bluish tint doesn't bother me at all. I guess like most "average consumers," I equate blue to "space-age," "modern," and "futuristic." The blue tint also doesn't affect me at all in what the low output was designed for, darkness-adapted reading. On low, the A2 is not the greatest for night-time navigation, but in a pinch, it will do fine. The great part is, even if the incandescent lamp burns out, you're not left completely in the dark.

    Taking off the dual-stage tailcap, which appears to use firmer springs and requires a little more torque to turn than on my G2, you notice the beautifully machined threads, which are thick and smooth. No detectable metal shavings or machining remnants, which probably helps the tailcap in being so silky smooth to twist. The spring in the tailcap button is likely to tire out your thumb from the sustained pressure required to keep the light in high mode, but if you keep it on that long you should be twisting it on anyway. The witness marks on the A2 do not work as expected, as Surefire apparently changed the leaf springs to be more robust without changing the positioning of the witness marks, but still serve as a useful reference point in switching the modes of the A2.

    Moving right along, back to the bezel. If you take off the bezel and look into the tube, you can see the metal contacts that hide the heart of the A2 inside the body tube. As a result, you can only replace batteries from the tail end of the light. The lamp assembly is tiny, and if you've owned any E-series incandescents, you'll know what I mean. Its diminutive size makes me wary of changing the lamp in anywhere but a controlled, unstressful environment. The lamp assembly lacks anywhere to grip it properly, so care must be taken when switching the lamp. Don't touch the glass envelope of the lamp! Surefire expressly warns not to, and for good reason: the oils from your skin can weaken the glass envelope and cause the pressurized lamp to explode when run. I'd also take care to not get any dust inside the bezel, as everyone knows touching the optics or reflectors of a light is bad.

    As THE Surefire that got me hooked -- from the minute I saw it, I knew I wanted it, and at that point my wallet was doomed -- the A2 is sure to remain one of my favorite lights for many years to come. The A2 Aviator, as someone else once said, is certainly not the best at anything, but everything it does, it does well, making it a terrific all-around light. Bottom line is, if you're going to own only one good light, the Surefire A2 Aviator is the perfect candidate.

    Thanks for listening.
    [gearcarrot.com] Collector and distributor of (mis)information.
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  2. #2
    *Flashaholic* this_is_nascar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator review

    Nice review carrott. As you've found, the A2 is really a great light.
    ... it's not what you take when you leave this world behind you, It's what you leave behind you when you go.

  3. #3
    Flashaholic* leukos's Avatar
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    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator review

    Carrot,

    Nice review. I appreciate the enthusiasm for one of my favorite lights! I would recommend taking that clip off and tightening it. SF lights have a tendency of working their way out of your pocket. Here's a thread about tightening it: http://candlepowerforums.com/vb/show...highlight=tune
    Light is sweet and pleasing to the eyes....

  4. #4

    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator review

    I just got my A2 (w/ white LED) a couple weeks ago and it is my first high end flashlight as well.. I kept seeing Surefire ads in outdoor/hunting mags and kept thinking - I need to buy a "good" light sometime. Before I thought my mini-mags, and 4C Mags were great, boy I really didnt realize how much better it got until I got the A2.. After checking out the SF website over and over, I narrowed my selection down to the A2, L4, or the E2O or E2L Outdoorsman..

    I am very pleased with my A2 purchase and have been carrying it every day.. After seeing pics of it online, I didnt realize how compact it was.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator review

    Quote Originally Posted by carrot

    Taking off the dual-stage tailcap, which appears to use firmer springs and requires a little more torque to turn than on my G2, you notice the beautifully machined threads, which are thick and smooth. No detectable metal shavings or machining remnants, which probably helps the tailcap in being so silky smooth to twist. The spring in the tailcap button is likely to tire out your thumb from the sustained pressure required to keep the light in high mode, but if you keep it on that long you should be twisting it on anyway. The witness marks on the A2 do not work as expected, as Surefire apparently changed the leaf springs to be more robust without changing the positioning of the witness marks, but still serve as a useful reference point in switching the modes of the A2.


    .
    Ive been looking a A2 and noticed the witness marks arent quite right . If you bring them to line up at the first chance they get at the top of the thread you can only use the LEDs , is this normal ? and also when you lock it out its quite near the end of the thread and you can almost see the o ring , again is this normal .

    Dunc

  6. #6
    *Flashaholic* carrot's Avatar
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    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator review

    Quote Originally Posted by Dunc5
    Ive been looking a A2 and noticed the witness marks arent quite right . If you bring them to line up at the first chance they get at the top of the thread you can only use the LEDs , is this normal ? and also when you lock it out its quite near the end of the thread and you can almost see the o ring , again is this normal
    Mine does not do this. The very first time you align the witness marks, it is locked out and you cannot see the O-ring, but untwisting it any further reveals the O-ring. Rotating it one full turn allows LED use only, and then another full turn puts LED on constant-on. It takes about a 3/4th turn to lock the incandescent on.
    [gearcarrot.com] Collector and distributor of (mis)information.
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator review

    Yes after a second look the very first time you line them up you cant see the o ring but back any further then you can , but when lined up the first time can you see the line below the o ring which has no finnish on it ? It just seems a bit near the end of the thread and i feel i want to wind it in a bit , say till the mark on the tailcap lines up with the clip .Is this right

    Duncan

  8. #8
    *Flashaholic* carrot's Avatar
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    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator review

    I think "right" is pretty subjective. I never lock-out my A2, so this has never been a concern for me.
    [gearcarrot.com] Collector and distributor of (mis)information.
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    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator review

    Thanks for your help carrot. So you think this tailcap is normal ?

    Dunc

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    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator review

    Dunc5 I think the one you have is functioning normally.

    Mine works the same way you described.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator review

    Quote Originally Posted by onlinewarlord
    Dunc5 I think the one you have is functioning normally.

    Mine works the same way you described.

    Many thanks , i havnt bought it yet but i think i might .

    Dunc

  12. #12
    Flashaholic* Timson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator review

    Everywhere I look on this forum I see A2 A2 A2

    Its got to the point where I can't function normally, cos I'm constantly thinking that I must have the all conquering A2 that everyone raves over.

    I keep trying to talk myself out of it because I'm about to undertake the mother of all mortgages and I have to start being grown up.

    Despite this I cant stop myself scouring the net and E-Bay for A2 bargains.

    Today .....It happened .....a beautiful, brand new - too good to miss priced Red model on E-Bay.

    So I thought...What the hell....I'm gonna need to learn how to live with my debt, so I may as well start here - Besides - once that mortgage actually kicks in there's no way I'd be buying a new Surefire......So I clicked BUY IT NOW

    So this will be my last flashlight investment for a while until finances stabilise - but from the thousands of positive comments about this light I think I've made the right choice.


    I Don't need a U2
    I Don't need a U2
    I Don't need a U2


    Tim.
    M3-CB, C3-HAIII, A2-RD, Fenix L1P, Fenix P1D-CE, Tri-Star Phaser, Inova T3, Mag85, SNII Clone, DD LuxIII Mag,

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  13. #13
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    Smile Re: Surefire A2 Aviator review

    Tim, an excellent call (on waiting to grow up long enough to hit the "Buy it NOW" ) And as A guy that has had a chance to have both the U2 and A2 I much prefer the A2..you really don't need a U2. (I keep telling myself that)
    Topper

  14. #14
    Flashaholic* tattoou2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator review

    Tim, rest easy. You made a good choice.
    Everybody is somebody else's weirdo.

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    Flashaholic* dragoman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator review

    I agree, an excellent choice! You won't be disapointed.

    From what I see on teh boards, the U2 is a hit or miss proposition, with tint, doughnut, tailcap, etc.... issues.

    I haven't heard of any problems with the A2, plus I think the incan is a more useful beam.

    dragoman

  16. #16
    Flashaholic* Timson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator review

    Thanks guys....I knew I'd come to the right place for a bit of reassurance.

    Its the hit n miss tint / donut issues that have kept me away from a Surefire LED thus far... Especially as its not so easy returning the light to the US from the UK.

    Looking forward to being a part of the A2 club.


    Tim.
    M3-CB, C3-HAIII, A2-RD, Fenix L1P, Fenix P1D-CE, Tri-Star Phaser, Inova T3, Mag85, SNII Clone, DD LuxIII Mag,

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    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator review

    Good review Carrot! I have to quit reading things like this though. I am becoming convinced that I need an A2. I just can't afford it right now.

    Ron
    2 Dorcy AAA, Inova XO3, Surefire A2, G2, L4 (2 stage tail switch), HDS U60XR, Fenix L1T, Fenix L2P and CR123 Tube, Peak Matterhorn, PentagonLight L2.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator review

    Quote Originally Posted by Dunc5
    Many thanks , i havnt bought it yet but i think i might .

    Dunc

    Forgot to tell you guys that i went ahead and got it and its everything i hoped it would be , faultless.

    Dunc

  19. #19
    Flashaholic* Timson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator review

    Quote Originally Posted by ront
    Good review Carrot! I have to quit reading things like this though. I am becoming convinced that I need an A2. I just can't afford it right now.

    Ron


    Ron,

    I've been in your position for so long now (at least it seems like a long time).
    When you read reviews such as this, along with all the supporting comments from current owners and people who have purchased the A2 on these recomendations and then posted later about how pleased they were that they did.....You'll just start to get obsessed and won't rest until you've splurged - If you know what I mean.

    Only way to avoid this is to ban yourself from CPF

    Resistance is futile (Good Luck)

    Tim
    M3-CB, C3-HAIII, A2-RD, Fenix L1P, Fenix P1D-CE, Tri-Star Phaser, Inova T3, Mag85, SNII Clone, DD LuxIII Mag,

    Trilobike
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  20. #20
    *Flashaholic* greenLED's Avatar
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    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator review

    Yup, it was the EvilOrangeOne who planted the A2 seed in my head. I'm doomed.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator review

    Dang, I wish I knew that sooner.....I got a secret Raffle number for carrot.
    Don't tell nobody it is a secret. Jeff knows but he ain't talkin till the dust settles or I goof up on who got what secret number.
    Topper




    Quote Originally Posted by greenLED
    Yup, it was the EvilOrangeOne who planted the A2 seed in my head. I'm doomed.

  22. #22

    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator review


  23. #23
    Flashaholic* moraino's Avatar
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    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator review

    Now you guys got me going. Please tell me where to get a good deal.

    I was saving my piggy bank for HDS....but now I've got to stop the itch...I haven't got any Surefire yet because I can't stand the dimming.

    Henry

  24. #24
    *Flashaholic* carrot's Avatar
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    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator review

    Quote Originally Posted by moraino
    Now you guys got me going. Please tell me where to get a good deal.
    I'd say OpticsHQ has the best deals at $150 for the Surefire A2. The "greenLED's CPF Specials" link in my sig has details on how to get that price... or you could just call Mike at OpticsHQ.
    [gearcarrot.com] Collector and distributor of (mis)information.
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  25. #25
    Thread Killer Illum's Avatar
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    Ohgeez Re: Surefire A2 Aviator review

    thanks....I dont know why im responding to this old a link, but after your words have convinced me to buy one...now I have doubts about the light...gee thanks alot

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator review

    Great review. The A2 is my next obsession I meant purchase.
    We don't let them have ideas. Why would we let them have guns?
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  27. #27
    Flashaholic* MarNav1's Avatar
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    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator review

    You guy's are driving me over the edge......... I......must..........buy.......an A2!!!!!

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator review

    hehe...are you falling down the rabbit hole already? LOL just remember, its the jack of all trades - and the master of none.

    mark

  29. #29
    Thread Killer Illum's Avatar
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    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator review

    i was pushed down the rabbit hole my the sweet words of carrot....

  30. #30
    *Flashaholic* KevinL's Avatar
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    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator review

    carrot, I just found your thread and thought I would thank you for your review

    Let there be light.. and converts
    Celebrating the ROP.. 5 years of history

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