Tuesday, April 23, 2024

My mind has been changed... mostly.

At the TacCon presenter's dinner this year, Andy Stanford passed out SureFire Stilettos to attendees as door prizes.

When the Stiletto was introduced, it was very much the flavor of the month and all the cool kids used them for a bit before moving on to whatever the next awesome light was. I am very much an uncool kid and I stuck with my trusty EDCL2-T, which I'd been using since they were introduced back in '17.

I stuck with that 2-cell light until a few months back when I downsized to its single-cell EDCL1-T cousin as part of a general pocket clutter shrinkage project: Sabre Red Mk.6 to a POM dispenser, Spyderco Delica to a Spyderco Dragonfly, et cetera. Since doing so, I haven't found myself feeling limited by the single cell light's 500-lumen output. It's still plenty if your job doesn't include nighttime traffic stops and clearing structures.

The Stiletto is roughly the same size as the single-cell EDCL, but nice and flat and more comfortable in the pocket.

When I popped the packaging open I immediately felt stupid. See, the reason I didn't jump on it like everyone else back then is... um... I didn't realize it had a "tail cap" button that served as a momentary switch for the full 650 lumens.

For some reason I had thought the only buttons were the ones on the side (one a light control and the other used for programming the sequence of toggling between 650, 250, and 5 lumen settings) like the setup on the Guardian or Sidekick. 

That side button is fine for normie flashlight use but sucks for "tactical" applications. Further, you don't want to have to toggle through brightness settings to get to the full output in a "tactical" light, but having it immediately pop on with 650 lumens and then toggle down to 5 reduces its utility as a normal task light. That was the genius of the EDCL series, where a light press of the tailcap got you a task light, but a full press summoned up the face-melting output.

So I've been carrying and using the Stiletto for something over a week at this point and here's my rundown:

  • It really is comfortable in a pocket. It's slim and light and my fears of it turning on in a pocket seem to have been overblown.
  • The dual button configuration makes it handy for both normal and "tactical" use. You can program the side button so the bright light comes on first, but why would you? Use the tailcap button for that.
  • It doesn't look "tactical". Some security people have started getting squirrely about knurled metal "tactical" flashlights, even ones without scary fanged bezels. You're less likely to be told you need to leave it in the car than the EDCL1-T.
  • You don't generate a steady stream of dead CR123 lithium batteries that need to be disposed of.

  • Supposedly it's plenty tough and rugged and waterproof, but I just don't get the same reassuring vibe from plastic, no matter how "high-impact" it is, that I do from knurled metal.
  • When the internal batteries go flat, you have to plug it in to recharge it and that takes time. You can't just toss a fresh cell in there and be up and running immediately. Also, SureFire... Micro-USB? Really? The rest of the world is basically standardizing on USB-C. Why not step boldly into The Current Year?
On balance, though, the Stiletto is an improvement over the EDCL1-T, I think, so I reckon I'll stick with it for a while, unless some flaw I haven't noticed pops up.