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Thread: Surefire A2 Aviator Fan checking in

  1. #1
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    Default Surefire A2 Aviator Fan checking in

    The greatest incandescent flashlight ever conceived. A masterpiece of technological innovation. A thing of beauty and wonder. A flashlight so unique that no other exists like it.

    As you can tell by my opening statement, I am a HUGE A2 Aviator fan. Maybe huge is an understatement. Either you get this flashlight, or you don't. I was enlightened to the miracle and wonder that the A2 is many moons ago. And there has yet to be a time when this little light has not put a smile on my face.

    Despite LED technology advancing everyday, lumens getting brighter and brighter, into the thousands of lumens, nothing is as beautiful to me as the wonderful white, digitally regulated beam that the A2's little filament produces. I've seen the best hotwire beams there are, yet none brings me the joy that little "50 lumen" beam produces. And nothing matches the perfection and simplicity of its UI, the Surefire 2 Stage tailcap.

    Surefire has attempted to make 2 successors to the Aviator, and in my humble opinion, neither has come close to matching the original A2. It's uniqueness and legacy is unsurpassed, and will stay that way.

    If I was forced to give up every single flashlight I had, but only keep one, I would keep my A2. Long live the A2 Aviator, the greatest incandescent flashlight ever!

  2. #2

    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator Fan checking in

    Welcome to the site.

    Yup the A2 was a goody.
    John 3:16

  3. #3

    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator Fan checking in

    I tend to agree with everything you say about the Aviator, but the leds are horrible. I like that the 6p offers many more options for lamps and upgrades. but, I still find the Aviator to produce a better beam. I just can't get past the horrible tint of the white leds and the bizarre artifacts of the other colors. I have a love hate relationship with it. Its much more suitable to a pocket EDC than the 6p though. I know there have been some led upgrades in the past. Wish I could have gotten my hands on them because then the Aviator would be my absolute perfect light.

    Of course, at the time it was as good as it gets for leds. And, I'm unaware of another incan that compares to it, especially since they're not exactly being manufactured to great extent anymore. So, you may be accurate that it is the best incan of all times.
    Last edited by Lumen83; 05-04-2018 at 07:00 AM.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator Fan checking in

    I love mine. Bought more than ten of them a few years back...every colour and then some extras.
    Great light.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator Fan checking in

    Lumen83,
    If you get one of the aftermarket "led rings" by Koala, you can plug in any 5mm led you wish, including the Yuji "high CRI" 5mm leds. While you are in the process of prepping the leds (trimming the leads, removing the flange), you can sand the leds with, for example, a thin grey Scotch 3M sanding sponge (fine grit), and you will have no artifacts or cloverleaf pattern. Calipsoi makes, or used to make, an led ring also.

    Tad Customs makes a bulb adapter and sells the very economical bulbs to go with them, to replace the expensive/hard-to-find Surefire lamp assembly.
    Last edited by novice; 05-04-2018 at 03:05 PM.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator Fan checking in

    I have a Tads 3712 in my user. Better beam than the SureFire bulb too.

    But at 2am I fail to notice the Mickey Mouse/purple haze beam when nature calls and a black dog is sprawled out on the floor between point a and b.
    John 3:16

  7. #7
    Administrator Kestrel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator Fan checking in

    OP, happy to have you on the site and also to hear your respect for such a classic light.
    Have owned a number of SF's, but never the Aviator - partially because of the beam quality issues from the LED's.
    And also because of my immense preference for 17670's when I really got into LiIon rechargeables.


    I'm curious, did you follow the work of WQuiles and his regulated M6 battery pack offering a few years ago ?
    Outstanding work in every respect, and perhaps the ultimate extension of the digital regulation concept that SF abandoned after their Aviator.

    Best regards,

    Edit: I have always been confused by the next-generation LED Aviator which changed from Throw/Flood to a Flood/Flood concept though ...
    Last edited by Kestrel; 05-04-2018 at 12:01 PM.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator Fan checking in

    Quote Originally Posted by novice View Post
    Lumen83,
    If you get one of the aftermarket "led rings" by Koala, you can plug in any 5mm led you wish, including the Yuji "high CRI" 5mm leds. While you are in the process of prepping the leds (trimming the leads, removing the flange), you can sand the leds with, for example, a thin grey Scotch 3M sanding sponge (fine grit), and you will have no artifacts or cloverleaf pattern. Calipsoi makes, or used to make, a led ring also.

    Tad Customs makes a bulb adapter and sells the very economical bulbs to go with them, to replace the expensive/hard-to-find Surefire lamp assembly.
    Does Koala still make those? If so, I would love that. I didn't think they were available anymore. Can I sand down the existing leds? Sorry if thats a dumb question. I've never opened it up beyond to replace the main bulb.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator Fan checking in

    Although the calipsoii rings are no longer available, if you plan to open up your A2, his installation instructions are well worth a read, here ...

    http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/...-Run%29-*OPEN*

    The screws are indeed tiny, and can get mis-threaded rather easily
    ... is the archimedes peak

  10. #10

    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator Fan checking in

    Quote Originally Posted by Lumen83 View Post
    Does Koala still make those? If so, I would love that. I didn't think they were available anymore. Can I sand down the existing leds? Sorry if thats a dumb question. I've never opened it up beyond to replace the main bulb.
    No, it's not a dumb question. It is possible to open up the head and sand the leds, but there are a couple of things to keep in mind: If your A2 ever stops working, and you were to send it back to Surefire for repair, I believe it is quite possible that they would look at sanded leds and consider that it voided the warranty. This is pure speculation on my part, but I think it is quite possible. Also, if the tiny soft brass screw-heads were marred or burred, it is probable that they would know that someone unauthorized "had been in there" and might very well consider the warranty void. The choice is yours, of course. I have the Koala ring in my A2 lights, and it is nice not having a cloverleaf pattern. When I removed the original stock led ring, I tried to be as careful with the screws as I could, and carefully stored the stock led rings in protective "Blistex" containers, with a tiny amount of foam, for the day I might have to replace them in the lights.

    Koala sold one of his led rings as recently as last December. I think it is definitely worth a try to post a "Sent PM" on his sales thread, and then send him a message.
    Last edited by novice; 05-04-2018 at 07:00 PM.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator Fan checking in

    Has anyone tried a rechargeable 16650 cell in the A2?

    1. Does it fit, and if so, what brand? (I don't have any)

    2. If a 16650 does fit, does it fully power either the Streamlight Strion or Stinger (yellower beam in this use, I know) bulb in Fivemega's bulb adapter, or the bulbs that Tad offers for use in his adapter?

    I put 2x16340 in mine, and they are a medium-snug fit. I DO NOT RECOMMEND DOING THIS in your A2 unless you have a Koala's led ring in there. Some people have done this with their stock led ring, but the general consensus is that it overdrives the leds too hard, and Surefire warranty policy will not cover this kind of use of rechargeable Li-ion cells. The incan voltage regulation circuitry will step down this kind of voltage to a level that the incan bulb will handle. I have no experience with Calipsoi's ring.
    Last edited by novice; 05-04-2018 at 03:18 PM.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator Fan checking in

    While I admit that the LED's are not that great, the important thing is that they do their job just fine. The beam pattern doesn't bother me as the LED's are meant for close up work, where it is unnoticeable. If it's a big deal to some, like others have suggested, they can be sanded down for a more smoother beam.

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    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator Fan checking in

    Quote Originally Posted by Kestrel View Post
    OP, happy to have you on the site and also to hear your respect for such a classic light.
    Have owned a number of SF's, but never the Aviator - partially because of the beam quality issues from the LED's.
    And also because of my immense preference for 17670's when I really got into LiIon rechargeables.


    I'm curious, did you follow the work of WQuiles and his regulated M6 battery pack offering a few years ago ?
    Outstanding work in every respect, and perhaps the ultimate extension of the digital regulation concept that SF abandoned after their Aviator.

    Best regards,

    Edit: I have always been confused by the next-generation LED Aviator which changed from Throw/Flood to a Flood/Flood concept though ...
    Yes, now that you mention it, I do remember the
    WQuiles
    regulator for the M6, though I have never seen or owned one. Too bad they are no longer available.

    I couldn't agree more with your thoughts on the A2L Aviator, not exactly a worthy successor to the A2 in my opinion.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator Fan checking in

    I have two and I love them!!
    If i had one day left to live i would want to be at my workplace.Because every day is like a frickin eternity.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator Fan checking in

    Quote Originally Posted by DayofReckoning View Post
    The greatest incandescent flashlight ever conceived.
    It was a revolutionary piece of gear, like so much else produced by Surefire in those days.
    “May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.”
    J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator Fan checking in

    The saddest part of the tale is that Surefire had a whole lineup of these regulated incandescent's in the works. So sad they never saw the light of day

  17. #17
    Flashaholic* fivemega's Avatar
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    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator Fan checking in

    Quote Originally Posted by novice View Post
    Has anyone tried a rechargeable 16650 cell in the A2?
    Please see here.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator Fan checking in

    Quote Originally Posted by fivemega View Post
    Please see here.
    Thank you, Fivemega.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator Fan checking in

    The A2 is still one of my favorite. I had two in the past (red and yellow/green bulbs). After awhile, they ended up in the collection drawer.

    Recently, I picked up another A2 in the aftermarket with Koala onion ring with Yuji High CRI led. Combined that with Tad'a custom bi-pin, it become my favorite again. It's been in my EDC for the past month. Every time I use it, I grin a little. It's not the brightest nor smallest, but having the old school Incan with led is just plain enjoyable to use.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator Fan checking in

    It doesn't seem that it would be that hard for someone skilled in the machinist arts to make a single-cell extension for the A2, making it an "A3". The tailcap end does not "separate" the cells the way that the E-series normally does. Using 2x16500 cells, the runtime would begin to be in the neighborhood of an A2 on primaries. Aesthetically, the lines would not exactly "flow", but that happens with legos sometimes.

    I use AW IMR 16340 cells in my A2s. I don't have any 16500 cells, and have not tested the fit.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator Fan checking in

    IIRC, there was a 3xCR123 prototype SF A3 Aviator; I have seen pics here many years ago.

    Back in the good old days, we saw more of those eye-popping oddballs that the 'old guard' posted.

  22. #22
    Flashaholic* fivemega's Avatar
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    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator Fan checking in

    Quote Originally Posted by novice View Post
    It doesn't seem that it would be that hard for someone skilled in the machinist arts to make a single-cell extension for the A2, making it an "A3".
    I don't have any 16500 cells, and have not tested the fit.
    I have tested 2500mAh Keeppower protected 16650 which is too tight to fit an A2 body.
    It's easily possible to make extension tube but there are few problems.
    1- Finding some 16500 with acceptable capacity which will fit in A2 body.
    2- Color matching of natural HA which normally may vary from olive drab to grey. Black is easier.
    3- Even if we found right battery set, brightest option is Strion bulb which is slightly brighter than original bulb while some people wish to get at least double the brightness.



    Quote Originally Posted by Kestrel View Post
    IIRC, there was a 3xCR123 prototype SF A3 Aviator; I have seen pics here many years ago.
    There was discussions about A3 many times but I can't remember any prototype picture.
    Years ago I talked to Mr. William Hunt about brighter option of regulated incandescent but never got answer from him.
    I also talked to owner of BCS PowerStick who is friend of Michael (Surefire owner) about more powerful BCS
    We agreed about price and quantity then paid some deposit (2/3 of grand total) but this never happened. I did not see any interest from his side and returned the deposit.
    BCS was similar to this but powered by 4S/2P alkalines and regulated to 3.6 volt with soft start.

    Last edited by fivemega; 05-29-2018 at 09:01 PM.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator Fan checking in

    Gee I hope I'm not incorrect ?

    I know that SF had a few of the 'Digital' regulated incan prototypes - incl. a 3-cell version - but discontinued that evolutionary line in favor of LED development. So maybe not an A-series aviator perhaps ...

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator Fan checking in

    Quote Originally Posted by Kestrel View Post
    Gee I hope I'm not incorrect ?

    I know that SF had a few of the 'Digital' regulated incan prototypes - incl. a 3-cell version - but discontinued that evolutionary line in favor of LED development. So maybe not an A-series aviator perhaps ...
    I think I recall talk of an A3 prototype so it's not just you.

    I definitely recall seeing a picture of a turbohead A2.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator Fan checking in

    The line was originally called "Digital Fusion" but that name was scrapped due to a trademark issue. A few lights with this branding escaped Surefire. I"m sure they would be worth bookoo dollars if ever shown up on the marketplace.

    If someone would make a 1 cell extender for the Aviator so that 1 more CR123 primary could be run, I would buy a few in a heartbeat.

  26. #26

    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator Fan checking in

    Reading on this forum is like learning a new language.LOL.

    I've been fortunate to own two of these lights,one an original with clear led's and a newer one with red led's.

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator Fan checking in

    Quote Originally Posted by StudFreeman View Post
    I think I recall talk of an A3 prototype so it's not just you.

    I definitely recall seeing a picture of a turbohead A2.
    I remember both of those things as well. I think it would have been a better light in a three cell version with a turbohead, and if they had decided to drive the main bulb a little harder. The A2 lamp is too orange IMO compared to most Surefire unregulated lamps with fresh cells or lithium ions. The three cells and turbohead would have made it more up to its intended task as a small aircraft inspection light. I love the A2, but I'm never going to sing praises about the output lumens, throw ability, or the color temperature of the main lamp. Yet it's cool for so many other reasons.
    Last edited by ampdude; 06-25-2018 at 08:32 PM.
    ampdude

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    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator Fan checking in

    Quote Originally Posted by ampdude View Post
    I remember both of those things as well. I think it would have been a better light in a three cell version with a turbohead, and if they had decided to drive the main bulb a little harder. The A2 lamp is too orange IMO compared to most Surefire unregulated lamps with fresh cells or lithium ions. The three cells and turbohead would have made it more up to its intended task as a small aircraft inspection light. I love the A2, but I'm never going to sing praises about the output lumens, throw ability, or the color temperature of the main lamp. Yet it's cool for so many other reasons.
    That's demonstrably false. With all due respect, if that's your experience with the A2 then something is wrong with either your eyes or your light. The A2's beam is 3300K, or higher with lamps like the LumensFactory lamp, which is listed as 3350K, and is whiter than just about every combination I've used. How you describe the A2's beam as "orange" is beyond me. One of the most common praises of the A2 has always been how white the beam is.

    And the most important point to make is the CCT is the same at the end of the run as it was at the beginning. No other Surefire combination of battery/ lamp/ light can make this claim.
    Last edited by DayofReckoning; 06-25-2018 at 08:54 PM.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator Fan checking in

    Quote Originally Posted by DayofReckoning View Post
    That's demonstrably false. With all due respect, if that's your experience with the A2 then something is wrong with either your eyes or your light. The A2's beam is 3300K, or higher with lamps like the LumensFactory lamp, which is listed as 3350K, and is whiter than just about every combination I've used. How you describe the A2's beam as "orange" is beyond me. One of the most common praises of the A2 has always been how white the beam is.

    And the most important point to make is the CCT is the same at the end of the run as it was at the beginning. No other Surefire combination of battery/ lamp/ light can make this claim.
    I'm well aware of this. I think people's views have been tainted by the "white" (angry blue) LED's in the majority of the Aviators out there, and that affects the perception of the beam color.

    I do prefer tungsten based lamps that are more highly driven than the A2 does with the OEM lamp assembly, and even the Lumens Factory version.

    I've done many lamp tests in the past on different A2's vs. other Surefire lamp assemblies and concluded that the A2 lamp should be driven harder.

    We all know it has a reputation for being bomb proof because of the soft start, but I think it is also not driven as hard as other lamps in the Surefire line at the time.

    I prefer a lamp assembly that is being driven at the high end of 3000K.

    Also, the CCT is not the same at the end as at the beginning as at the end of the run most A2 lights go into a "low" incan mode when the batteries reach the last quarter of their life.

    But I think that the CCT is not very great to begin with, compared to a highly driven incan.
    Last edited by ampdude; 06-25-2018 at 09:33 PM.
    ampdude

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Surefire A2 Aviator Fan checking in

    Quote Originally Posted by ampdude View Post
    I'm well aware of this. I think people's views have been tainted by the "white" (angry blue) LED's in the majority of the Aviators out there, and that affects the perception of the beam color.

    I do prefer tungsten based lamps that are more highly driven than the A2 does with the OEM lamp assembly, and even the Lumens Factory version.

    I've done many lamp tests in the past on different A2's vs. other Surefire lamp assemblies and concluded that the A2 lamp should be driven harder.

    We all know it has a reputation for being bomb proof because of the soft start, but I think it is also not driven as hard as other lamps in the Surefire line at the time.

    I prefer a lamp assembly that is being driven at the high end of 3000K.

    Also, the CCT is not the same at the end as at the beginning as at the end of the run most A2 lights go into a "low" incan mode when the batteries reach the last quarter of their life.

    But I think that the CCT is not very great to begin with, compared to a highly driven incan.
    I'm afraid this post shows you are misinformed. The A2 with the factory lamp is driven at 3300K. The LumensFactory lamp is even hotter at 3350K. That is as hot and white as it gets. You say you prefer "the high end of 3000K", yet criticize the A2, which is achieving CCT higher than what you say you prefer.

    And yes, the A2's CCT is the same at the end of the run as it is at the beginning, and when I say end of the run, that means right before the batteries don't have enough juice to fully fire up the lamp. So I'll reword it as follows, "same at 26% as when 100%. I don't consider the dim incandescent mode to be part of the actual run.
    Last edited by DayofReckoning; 06-25-2018 at 09:50 PM.

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