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Thread: What criteria do you use for collecting lights?

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    *Flashaholic* Monocrom's Avatar
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    Default What criteria do you use for collecting lights?

    Do you have a toy collector's mentality of never opening up rare lights that are NIB, or would you pay a bigger premium for lights that have a history and a story of usage behind them? My mentality is that of the latter. But which criteria do you guys use?
    "The World is insane. With tiny spots of sanity, here and there... Not the other way around!" - John Cleese.

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    Moderator Kestrel's Avatar
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    Default Re: What criteria do you use for collecting lights?

    I have copied off the conversation from the 'Show your Rare/Unusual Surefires' thread and quoted it below.
    It was an enjoyable conversation but somewhat off-topic for the thread it was in, so I felt it would be better in a dedicated thread. Monocrom was kind enough to create a new thread with a suitable introduction for the prior conversation.

    Please continue.

    Best regards & thanks everyone,
    Kestrel

    Quote Originally Posted by It01Firefox View Post
    This just arrived here:


    A Surefire Z3, not as rare as some of the others in this thread, but it's still BNIP.
    I'm still trying to work up the courage to open it
    Quote Originally Posted by Helmut.G View Post
    I suppose this is the one that was on ebay a few days ago? Nice to see it went to a CPFer. I didn't bid because I wanted to avoid the conflict whether to open it or not
    Quote Originally Posted by It01Firefox View Post
    Yup, that's the one. Thanks for letting me have it.
    I'll put the decision off till I get home tonight
    Quote Originally Posted by cland72 View Post
    I respect y'alls willpower -- I have yet to buy a NIB light that I didn't immediately rip open when I got it home. Maybe that's why I don't consider myself a collector
    Quote Originally Posted by Kestrel View Post
    I know I'm the oddball (less so in this thread though), but I wouldn't open it - I think that the Z3 is rarer than most folks give credit for.

    It's deceptive in that it's relatively recent production, but I see way more 3P's, 6Z's, and 9Z's changing hands even though they are considerably older and more desirable when in mint condition. I almost never see a Z3 up for sale on CPF/MP - there just aren't that many out there.

    I know its wishful thinking, but I'd love to see production numbers for the various SF's. I think the low #'s of Z3's would surprise some folks.

    I know that collectibility is a function of rarity and desirability, and I feel that the Z3 is rather rare. They are less valuable than other collector SF's because they are not considered to be as desirable, but those types of things can change over time.

    What did this Z3 go for, BTW?
    Quote Originally Posted by It01Firefox View Post
    Well I have a lot of Surefires but I usually get them to use them, so the only SF I have that is NIP, other than this Z3, is a 6P gift set of which I have two, so I only opened one.

    But you're right, I think the Z3 is a rare find, too, so I'm on the fence on this one.
    Ah well, we'll see how this one plays out at home

    80$ incl. shipping.
    Quote Originally Posted by ARA View Post
    Very nice and a steal at that price
    Open it and enjoy it, part of the fun IMHO
    Quote Originally Posted by archimedes View Post
    Wow, congrats - nice deal! I think that one is probably worth more than $80 ... plus a (user) Z3
    Quote Originally Posted by Monocrom View Post
    I say open it and enjoy it, or re-sell it.

    I never understood the concept behind buying something and never opening it up, never taking it out of the box. It is meant to be used.
    Quote Originally Posted by Kestrel View Post
    If the new lucky owner wasn't in Germany, I would offer to trade my mint Z3 (without packaging) for his NIP Z3 so he could enjoy it. I'm just that nice of a guy.
    Quote Originally Posted by Monocrom View Post
    Yes, you are a nice guy. I agree.

    But anything can be re-shrink wrapped with just a hair-dryer. How do we know the member in Germany didn't get a length of lead pipe when he bought that box? Honestly, the likelihood of that would be rather tiny. But if that was mine, the small bit of doubt would slowly eat me alive.
    Quote Originally Posted by Helmut.G View Post
    If he re-sold it to a "collector" who can never open it without destroying the "collector's value", nobody would ever notice the scam
    Quote Originally Posted by It01Firefox View Post
    That's a real nice offer, but now here you make me feel like mine might be more valuable to you, since I could have one without the packaging in just a few seconds ...
    Plus this lucky owner gets to travel to the US usually twice a year ...

    Well there are two Surefire model number stickers on the shrink-wrap itself, so I guess that it's the real deal.
    Quote Originally Posted by Toohotruk View Post
    So have you decided to open it or not?
    Quote Originally Posted by It01Firefox View Post
    It's still sealed.
    Quote Originally Posted by Monocrom View Post
    That poor, poor light.
    Quote Originally Posted by Rat View Post
    Is it a crosshair logo ? How low is the serial number ?
    If you cannot answer any of these questions I think you will need to open it
    I would be willing to buy it from you and open it if you would like

    I do not see the point in not opening it as long as you keep the box and light in mint condition thats the main thing.
    Quote Originally Posted by Monocrom View Post
    It's sad to think that we have adopted the same practices as toy collectors . . . Leaving dolls and action-figures in the box . . . sitting on a shelf . . . never to be touched . . .
    Quote Originally Posted by Kestrel View Post
    I do understand where you're coming from, but I would wager that even in the SF collections on CPF, the 'users' & the opened lights vastly outnumber the NIP/unopened collectors lights ~100+ to 1.

    I confess that I am very much bit by the 'collector' bug, but checking my SF's, there are 12 'users' (nearly all of which are no longer in production) and 4 mint 'collectors' (all of which are opened and have no associated packaging or materials with them).
    Quote Originally Posted by Monocrom View Post
    I might be crazy, but I'd pay more for the users; than one in the box that has seen no use and has no history. To me, it's a lot like collecting military knives. It's not the ones that sat unused in a surplus depot that command a premium. One of the reasons why V-42 daggers command such high premiums is because many didn't make it back from World War II. They were used, lost, had to be left behind, etc. Their use is what contributes to such a high price for collectors.

    There's an individual who found an absolutely mint-condition Rolex watch from the first World War. And yes, he is asking a ridiculous amount of money for it. About the same amount of money as a gold and diamond-encrusted Rolex Daytona model. He's gotten a few offers from some collectors. But no where near his asking price. He refuses to budge on the price, and is still to this day holding out for someone who honestly is insane enough to meet his price.

    Two things. Rolex started out as a British brand and was nothing more than a caser. Buying stock movements from other companies and putting them in cases which bore the Rolex name. (A lot of relatively new micro bands in existence that do nothing more than the same thing today.) A Rolex from that era wasn't too special. And it contains zero precious metals or stones.

    Second thing is, that particular Rolex must have sat unused in someone's drawer or cabinet for nearly 100 years in order to be in that good of shape. No history, no story behind it. if you find the same watch in less than mint condition, but you can document its use in the trenches by an officer or soldier; it's going to be worth more than an absolute mint model that sat in a drawer for about a century.

    Hell, I'd pay a huge premium for a SureFire with some documentation that it was carried and used by a soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan.
    Quote Originally Posted by Kestrel View Post
    My wife did carry our SureFire L2 in Afghanistan for 6 months before it (and she) got home and started getting chopped up for modification (the light, not her). It even got stolen from her (a pickpocket) and she had to buy it back from a local vendor a week or two later. Does that count?

    At any rate, an interesting conversation but unfortunately we seem to have gotten off-topic for the current thread. I can split a number of posts off of this thread if you would like to write a post #1, otherwise perhaps we should end the intermission and get back to the 'Show your SF's' hm?
    Quote Originally Posted by Monocrom View Post
    Sadly, I have to agree with you. Too off topic.

    But I'll make that post #1 in the Flashlight collecting sub-forum right now as I believe this would make for an interesting topic of discussion.

    Also . . . If that L2 had not been chopped up for modification, yes; I would have asked if perhaps your wife would be willing to part with it.
    Last edited by Kestrel; 09-03-2012 at 06:28 PM.

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    Moderator Kestrel's Avatar
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    Default Re: What criteria do you use for collecting lights?

    Quote Originally Posted by Monocrom View Post
    [...] If that L2 had not been chopped up for modification, yes; I would have asked if perhaps your wife would be willing to part with it.
    Interesting point of view. To me, it's an outdated SureFire L2 w/ LuxeonV emitter. The light body cannot take 17670's without being bored slightly, but the existing boost driver is an excellent match to a single (larger) LiIon rechargeable.

    It has a story, yes, but it has zero use to me due to the greenish tint common to the Lux V's, its limited physical capacity for rechargeable cells, and output which is far far behind my current up-to-date lights.

    To me, that's no collector; it will still have its 'story' but will have the added benefit of keeping up with my much more advanced lights once I (finally) finish modding it.
    Last edited by Kestrel; 09-03-2012 at 06:00 PM.
    In the past we have had a light which flickered, in the present we have a light which flames, and in the future there will be a light which shines over all the land and sea.
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    Moderator Kestrel's Avatar
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    Default Re: What criteria do you use for collecting lights?

    I also contend that the story of that well-traveled SureFire L2 is much more valuable to us than to most anyone else - anybody can buy a SureFire L2 if they so desire.
    • Why would someone else pay a premium for it? They don't know me nor my wife.
    • Why would I sell it for 'market value', i.e. what others would pay for a similar SureFire L2? I have some sentimental attachment to it which increases its value to me.
    In the past we have had a light which flickered, in the present we have a light which flames, and in the future there will be a light which shines over all the land and sea.
    - Winston Churchill

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    *Flashaholic* Monocrom's Avatar
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    Default Re: What criteria do you use for collecting lights?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kestrel View Post
    I also contend that the story of that well-traveled SureFire L2 is much more valuable to us than to most anyone else - anybody can buy a SureFire L2 if they so desire.
    • Why would someone else pay a premium for it? They don't know me nor my wife.
    • Why would I sell it for 'market value', i.e. what others would pay for a similar SureFire L2? I have some sentimental attachment to it which increases its value to me.
    True. Anyone can track down a stock SureFire L2 and buy it. But finding one with a history and story behind it is not nearly so easy.

    * I'd pay a premium for the fact that someone relied on it during wartime, while stationed in a hostile nation. that's good enough for me. I'll even go so far as to say that it's good enough for others who are into SureFire lights or quality lights in general.

    * You don't sell a light like that for Market Value. The story attached to it would command a premium over even a new SF LX2. You can't just go online and buy that sort of history / story attached to the light.

    As for upgrading it, it's like upgrading an Omega Speedmaster with a date feature and a rotor. That's not the original model that astronauts relied upon when they blasted off to the moon. It wouldn't be the same, and thus less valuable to a collector.
    "The World is insane. With tiny spots of sanity, here and there... Not the other way around!" - John Cleese.

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    Flashaholic* Toohotruk's Avatar
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    Default Re: What criteria do you use for collecting lights?

    I had never thought about what Monocrom said about having a "history," but it makes a lot of sense...a beat up old pistol carried by General Patton is going to be worth much more than a similar one that was never used. Obviously, that's exaggerating the point, but a light that has seen some action holds more interest than an older light still sealed in a box. The secret is to find an item that is somehow documented...I've got a beat up old 6P, but I don't think my using it to look for socks behind the couch, or looking for keys out on the lawn will make it worth more.

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    *Flashaholic* Monocrom's Avatar
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    Default Re: What criteria do you use for collecting lights?

    Probably not.

    But going back to your example above, it doesn't even have to be a notable person. While the premium will drop quite a bit, something along the lines of a pistol carried by one of Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders (if it can be documented as such) would still be worth a lot more than a gun in better condition that was sold to the average person over 100 years ago.
    "The World is insane. With tiny spots of sanity, here and there... Not the other way around!" - John Cleese.

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    Flashaholic* Toohotruk's Avatar
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    Default Re: What criteria do you use for collecting lights?

    Right. And I agree with you as far as something just being used by a nameless soldier in a hostile foreign land should be worth more.

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    *Flashaholic* Monocrom's Avatar
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    Default Re: What criteria do you use for collecting lights?

    I can honestly understand the Toy Collector mentality of keeping an action-figure in the box in order to preserve its value. After all, it's a toy. What type of interesting or historic significance will it realistically have? Honestly, none at all.

    With gun or knife collectors, those items (just like lights) are tools. Tools can and sometimes do end up being used for significant purposes.

    Due to that, just seems to me that flashlight collecting would follow similar standards of those of other tools, instead of Toy Collecting standards.
    "The World is insane. With tiny spots of sanity, here and there... Not the other way around!" - John Cleese.

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    I used to take the toy collector mentality with lights and knives and keep them as pristine as possible. I have since sold off lights that I would never use because they have primarily collector value (Surefire 6p USA).

    Knives and lights to me are tools and need to be used and abused to be enjoyed. I have nearly a dozen 6P's all with Malkoffs that are locked and loaded for use.

    However I do understand the toy collector mentality with some of those titanium tritium machined wonders. Personally I think these are more pieces of fine jewelry than flashlights and this should be treated accordingly. My two cents.

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    Flashaholic* Toohotruk's Avatar
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    Default Re: What criteria do you use for collecting lights?

    I can see that some "limited editions" that would be worth more in the box.

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    Flashaholic* ABTOMAT's Avatar
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    Default Re: What criteria do you use for collecting lights?

    For my actual "collection" I'd want everything as pristine as possible, unless it had a really amazing story attached to it. But this is talking vintage police flashlights so it really is rare to find one in the box, or even uncarried condition.

    For modern mass-produced lights I don't keep anything worth more than a user. If someone gave me a NIB Surefire Titan I'd sell it and buy a beat up one for $50 less.
    Do something alone and it's weird, do it with others and it's a club.

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    Moderator Kestrel's Avatar
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    Default Re: What criteria do you use for collecting lights?

    Firearms are a great example as noted above (if I'll take the risk of going a bit OT again )

    I have the Arisaka Type 99 that my Dad brought back from occupation duty from Japan. It doesn't have any associated 'war trophy' documents (which do add modest collector value when present), but it's valuable to me - my Dad brought it back.

    However, if I was to sell it, I would never get anything beyond its current base market value.
    If you go to a gun show, you can find other Arisaka Type 99's for sale - all for comparably low prices relevant to a relatively 'rough' & common milsurp shooter.

    The funny thing here - they all were brought back as war trophies, so 'my' story is of no monetary value - the rifle is worth no more than the tens/hundreds of thousands of other Arisakas that have beeen brought back. On the other hand, the very very few Type 99's that were unissued and/or unfired - now those have considerable collector value and demand a substantial collectors premium.


    I think that there is a huge difference between a hypothetical WWII firearm brought back by Patton for example (very very few) and the vast numbers of WWII Mausers that saw honorable service in the Wermacht - all of these have stories but virtually none of them occupy a higher pedestal than the millions of others that are currently in circulation.


    To bring this example back to flashlights, the SF L2 my wife carried in Afghanistan has virtually nothing in common with anything from TR's 'Rough Riders', Patton, or the Apollo Astronauts. It has more in common with the hundreds of thousands of WWII Mausers that were brought back after WWII, if that. And those don't get any collector premium because each individual item is rather indistinguished - I can guarantee that this particular SureFire L2 didn't get any combat or glory.
    Last edited by Kestrel; 09-03-2012 at 09:09 PM.
    In the past we have had a light which flickered, in the present we have a light which flames, and in the future there will be a light which shines over all the land and sea.
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    Enlightened liveris flashlights's Avatar
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    Default Re: What criteria do you use for collecting lights?

    My criteria for flashlights: Good looking and brightness. After that: size, runtime and batteries (how many and which type).
    Be prepared for darkness.

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    *Flashaholic* Monocrom's Avatar
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    Default Re: What criteria do you use for collecting lights?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kestrel View Post
    To bring this example back to flashlights, the SF L2 my wife carried in Afghanistan has virtually nothing in common with anything from TR's 'Rough Riders', Patton, or the Apollo Astronauts. It has more in common with the hundreds of thousands of WWII Mausers that were brought back after WWII, if that. And those don't get any collector premium because each individual item is rather indistinguished - I can guarantee that this particular SureFire L2 didn't get any combat or glory.
    Not all collectors are the same way. There seems to be a general underlying belief that standards are the same for all collectors. Sometimes that's true. But not with all items. Your wife's L2 still carries a fascinating story. It has seen use. The fact that it was carried and used by not just a woman but a married one too, in a nation such as Afghanistan; that adds a premium. Would some disagree? I'm sure they would. But a premium for an item, along with just how much of one it commands is dependent to a large part on the sheer number of individuals willing to pay that premium. Honestly, it's one of the reasons why a vintage Rolex Submariner commands more of a premium compared to a vintage Blancpain Fifty Fathoms in the same condition. Even though the FF was the very first modern dive watch, and honestly is better quality compared to those early Submariners. But quality takes a backseat compared to the number of folks willing to open up their wallets. And that number is just bigger for a Rolex than a Blancpain.

    With that said, a Blancpain still commands a premium. I know I'm not the only one who would pay more than Market Value for a stock L2 with the same story attached as the one your wife owns. Would I pay more for an L2, A2, or U2 that saw combat strapped to a soldier's vest or tucked into a pocket? I sure would. But that L2 that your wife carried would still be worth more than simply fair market value. (And not just to me.)
    "The World is insane. With tiny spots of sanity, here and there... Not the other way around!" - John Cleese.

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    Default Re: What criteria do you use for collecting lights?

    That's strange to me, and confuses my emotions. I just find it weird that someone would pay extra for something I carried around while doing my job, regardless of where that job took me. I guess i'm kind of uncomfortable with a situation that makes it seem like I'm something special, like I'm worth more than someone else?

    I dunno. I've never owned a surefire, but I have a few knives and lights that spent plenty of time in Iraq with me. I just don't understand the added value when I feel like it wasn't worth the extra attention.

    It's a similar situation when someone calls me a 'hero'. I don't like it. I'm not a hero. I've never done anything 'heroic'. I spent a year in Iraq. Just like hundreds of thousands of others. Why should I be made to seem special? The heroes in MY opinion are the ones who died fighting or protecting others.

    But then, being a veteran is an interesting situation, with a whole range of emotions and thoughts that most don't have to deal with.

    Back to the original topic. Salvatore Giunta's knife or light? hell yes worth more. He's a goddamn hero. ANY soldier who deployed to Iraq or the Stan? I dunno.
    -Kestrel, no offense meant to your wife at all, I don't mean in any way to detract or take away from what she did over there. I'm simply relaying my thoughts as someone who deployed to Iraq. Cheers!

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    Moderator Kestrel's Avatar
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    Default Re: What criteria do you use for collecting lights?

    Quote Originally Posted by redaudi View Post
    [...] Kestrel, no offense meant to your wife at all, I don't mean in any way to detract or take away from what she did over there. I'm simply relaying my thoughts as someone who deployed to Iraq. Cheers!
    No worries at all, I agree w/ your perspective - thanks for posting.
    In the past we have had a light which flickered, in the present we have a light which flames, and in the future there will be a light which shines over all the land and sea.
    - Winston Churchill

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    *Flashaholic* Monocrom's Avatar
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    Default Re: What criteria do you use for collecting lights?

    Quote Originally Posted by redaudi View Post
    That's strange to me, and confuses my emotions. I just find it weird that someone would pay extra for something I carried around while doing my job, regardless of where that job took me. I guess i'm kind of uncomfortable with a situation that makes it seem like I'm something special, like I'm worth more than someone else?
    I'll try to put this in a way that makes sense. Apologies beforehand if I come up short.

    In nations that have mandatory military service for all young men, there are certain medical as well as other exemptions for some of them. First thing a young woman is going to ask someone interested in her is, which branch is he serving in? If it's one that's dangerous, then that's going to interest her more than one that is still honorable but less exciting. And if she learns he's not on leave but is exempt . . . Instant turn off. The same happens in America too. Take an average guy, asks a lady out, she might not be too sure about him. All of a sudden she learns he's (for example) a firefighter, oh hey; now she's much more interested in him than just a few seconds ago. Firefighter, or any type of job that requires courage and bravery to get the job done; especially one in which lives are truly on the line.

    I guess what I'm saying is, yes; you are indeed worth more than someone else. it depends on who that someone else is, and what they do. I'd put a veteran above a lot of individuals who work in far less dangerous professions. Plenty of folks would. An L2 used by a pizza delivery boy at night to check addresses isn't going to compare to that of a soldier who relied on his lights during his term of service to his nation.

    And I thank you for your's.
    "The World is insane. With tiny spots of sanity, here and there... Not the other way around!" - John Cleese.

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    Flashaholic* Toohotruk's Avatar
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    Default Re: What criteria do you use for collecting lights?

    I've found that most vets downplay their importance in the scheme of things, even true heroes that actually faced enemy fire, risking their own life to save others. They ALWAYS say, "I was just doing my job" and they try to give as much credit to their fellow brothers in arms...I guess that's human nature, but it doesn't make them any less important.

    In my eyes, anybody that does a job that puts them in harms way, with the potential for saving others, or performing a mission for their country/or the general population, such as soldiers, firefighters, police, paramedics, bodyguards, etc, even if they never actually put their life on the line, deserve more respect than the average joe working at Walmart or Taco Bell.* And to me, the equipment they use, such as flashlights is worth more, as long as it's genuine.

    *OK, I concede that people that work in retail, with jobs dealing with the public (if they do their jobs well), deserve MUCH more credit and respect than they get as well...but their flashlights aren't worth more than any other used light.

  20. #20

    Default Re: What criteria do you use for collecting lights?

    For me it's actually not too hard to collect Surefires. I just buy two of the same Surefires I want to collect, open one and keep the other NIB

    There seems to be a bit of sentimental value for some people when collecting things. I just read about Mick Strider and all the drama he brought on himself and his company. I actually really like his stuff, still trying to get my paws on a Surefire M2 Strider. Anyways its seems like the some of the value of his knives were based off some of his past military history. When some of that proved to be false some people seemed to have gotten pissed. I wonder if the value of the Strider knives took a hit? My guess is probably not since not too many people are even aware of all that drama.
    For me collecting flashlights really depends on how bad I want something, how much I like it, how rare it is and what shape it's in. My flashlights I try to keep in good shape even the ones I EDC. I usually EDC a Surefire M2 (with a C2 bezel) that I bought used from a CPF member. I can't even recall who it was but it was in good shape and I wanted an M2 badly. I bought it to have it with me, play with it, use it show it off. Thankfully I haven't dropped it yet.
    However later on I saw another Surefire M2 with the newer bezel and also bought it because it was a good price. It go added to my collection and it's still NIB. I also kept the ribbed bezel that my used M2 came with.

    I also have two black HA Surefire C2 that I bought from CPF members. Both of them are extremely rare as far as I know. One of them was used and the switch and was a bit beat up. One of them has been showed off in here in CPF in some threads in a member's old extensive collection. I value the history behind it. However even if didn't have any history behind it I would have still bought it and kept it.

  21. #21
    Flashaholic* jamesmtl514's Avatar
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    Default Re: What criteria do you use for collecting lights?

    I don't collect as seriously as others.
    I just buy lights that I find visually appealing and useful. I've owned 2x LS20, 2xSundrop, 3x Mule. I really liked the look of both the LS20 and the Sundrop, I just didn't find them useful so I sold them. I much prefer my Mule in visual appearance and usefulness.

    For my Surefire collecting. It's mostly the look and the rarity. I play with al(most) all my lights. I bought a LNIB 3P, and got 2 more users just because I want to have fun.
    I really like personalizing my collection. I absolutely love my M4. I got a brand new SW01 Fatty, and had it cerakoted along with the rest of the light. I don't collect in the hopes the item gains value, I do it to have lots of parts to make really cool Lego builds.
    My lightsWTB: Surefire: New/Used/Rare. Currently looking for everything Crosshairs + D2. Interesting trades available.Everybody, just send your lights directly to James - he'll end up with them anyhow, lol. -Kestrel

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