SureFire A2 Aviator, retail $175 (
Manufactured by SureFire (
Last updated 04-22-12

The SureFire A2 is not just another incandescent flashlight with some LEDs stuck in the reflector. The incandescent bulb is regulated, meaning it will stay the same brightness until the batteries poop out. And when the batteries get pooped out enough so the bulb goes out, you can still use the LEDs to get around until you change the batteries.

The A2's regulator includes a "soft start" feature that helps the incandescent lamp last longer, by slow-starting the bulb instead of subjecting the bulb's filament to the full rage of the batteries when you throw the switch.

The A2 comes in an aluminum body that features a hard-anodize type 3 (known as HA-III) coating, so it shouldn't become marred or scratched in everyday use, and would even continue to look nice banging around in a toolbox.

It also features a two-stage switch that allows you to run the LEDs by themselves, and add the 50 lumen incandescent bulb when you need the extra light.

The A2 Aviator was originally designed for pilots who needed to check the outside of their airplanes at night yet not destroy their night vision inside the cockpit, however anybody can use the A2 if you find having two flashlights in one body to be advantageous.


To use the A2 Aviator, first load it with batteries (see below).

To turn just the LEDs on, press the rubber button on the tailcap partway in, or twist the entire tailcap clockwise (as if screwing it in) until they light.

To turn on the incandescent bulb on, press the rubber button on the tailcap harder, or twist the entire tailcap clockwise even more.

To turn the A2 off, let go of the rubber tailcap button, or twist the tailcap counterclockwise (as if unscrewing it) until it goes off. First, the incandescent bulb will turn off; after another turn the LEDs will also turn off.

To engage the LOTC (Lock out tailcap) function, turn the tailcap counterclockwise approximately two full turns past the point at which the LEDs go off. There are "witness marks" on both the body and tailcap that you can use to know when you've unscrewed it two full turns. In this locked-out state, the A2 can't turn itself on inside a box or bag, regardless of how hard other junk presses on it.

To change the batteries in an A2, unscrew & remove the tailcap, and set it aside. Dump the two dead CR123A cells out of the barrel, and dispose of them how you see fit.

Insert two new CR123A cells, button (+) positive end first, into the flashlight's barrel. Screw the tailcap back on, then back it off a bit when the LEDs or incandescent bulb comes on. There. Done with that.

I measured 1.43 amps; this is with the LEDs and incandescent lamp going. I don't have any measurements of just the LEDs, so that will have to be up to somebody with more sophisticated equipment than just a DMM.

Sooner or later, you'll blow a bulb and have to change it.
To change the bulb, unscrew & remove the A2's head. Inside the A2's head, you'll see a small metal thing. Pull this small metal thing straight out (do not try to pull it out at an angle or twist); this is the lamp assembly that you're replacing. Take a new SureFire MA02 lamp assembly, and slide it straight in the hole in the center of the head, bulb-end first. Screw the head back onto the A2's body, tightening it finger-tight. Your A2 should now be as good as new.
Dispose of the burnt out lamp assembly as you see fit.

If you touched the glass bulb with your fingers, clean it with 100% isopropyl alcohol (tape head cleaner is great for this) and toilet paper or kleenex before putting the lamp assembly in your A2.

The SureFire A2 Aviator appears to be very well built, and should survive most common flashlight accidents without so much as a scratch. It's also water resistant, and you should not worry about using it in the rain or snow; or dropping it in a mud puddle, creek, or snowbank. Just take the garden hose to it if it falls in mud and becomes dirty. Don't just shoot water directly into the end of the tailcap, but it ought to be OK anywhere else on the flashlight.

There is a Chemkote treatment to the inside of the flashlight to help make it more corrosion resistant; this is a gold colored material that you should not try to remove. The outside of the flashlight has a hard anodize type 3 ("HA-III" as us flashaholics know it) coating; this is the hardest material that a flashlight body can be protected with at the present time.

The A2 has a regulator and soft-start circuit for its incandescent bulb. These features are not seen in other incandescent flashlights. The soft-start circuit slowly ramps the current up to the bulb filament when you turn it on. Instead of the high inrush current going to the filament at turn-on (when bulbs often blow out), this circuit feeds an increasing current to the bulb over time (the wink of an eye, but a long time by incandescent bulb standards) that avoids this high inrush current and the bulb is less likely to blow out at startup as a result.

Another important feature of the A2 is that the bulb is regulated, meaning it starts out bright and stays bright until the batteries poop out. Ordinary lights start out bright, but become yellower and dimmer as the batteries become depleted. When the batteries in your A2 start to get low and the bulb goes out, don't worry because the LEDs will stay on. (Yes, I actually did put a pair of almost-dead CR123A cells in there just to see what would happen!)

Yet another important feature is that two-stage switch, so the LEDs can be used for lower light needs, or the incandescent can be used when you need more light. You can use the LEDs by themselves to look for something in a closet or wander around at night, and use the high powered bulb to see what made that squeaky noise behind the tent at night or to light up house numbers from the street.

The A2 Aviator was designed specifically for pilots; the incandescent bulb can be used for preflight inspections of the outside of an aircraft, and the LEDs can be used in the cockpit for reading instruments and whatnot. But you don't need to be a pilot to find the A2 useful.

Beam photograph (incandescent) at ~12".
Measures 1,700 foot-candles (1,700,000mcd).

Beam photograph (LEDs) at ~12".
Measures 25,900mcd.

Spectrographic plot
Spectrographic analysis of the LEDs in this flashlight.

Spectrographic plot
Same as above; newer spectrometer software & settings used.

Spectrographic plot
Spectrographic analysis of the LEDs in this flashlight; yet newer spectrometer software & settings used.

Spectrographic plot
Spectrographic analysis of the LEDs in this flashlight; spectrometer's response narrowed to a band between 440nm and 490nm to pinpoint native emission peak wavelength, which is 465.601nm.

Spectrographic plot
Spectrographic analysis of the incandescent bub in this flashlight.

Spectrographic plot
Same as above; newer spectrometer software & settings used.

Spectrographic plot
Spectrographic analysis of the incandescent bulb in this flashlight; yet newer spectrometer software & settings used.

USB2000 spectrometer graciously donated by P.L.

ProMetric analysis
Beam cross-sectional analysis (incandescent).

ProMetric analysis
Beam cross-sectional analysis (LEDs).
Images made using the ProMetric System by Radiant Imaging.

Unit was received in late 2002 while I was away. Yes, I got it and used it a bit during that time. I apologise for the delay in getting the A2 on my website.

The A2 uses a SureFire MA02 incandescent lamp assembly, which you ought to be able to get directly from the SureFire website, at the uppermost URL on this page. You can also get the A2 flashlight itself with white LEDs, blue LEDs, green LEDs, or red LEDs.

UPDATE: 04-29-05
SureFire has confirmed that all current SureFire lights should be waterproof to about 33 feet/10 meters. Some evaluations were posted before Surefire made the affirmation that their lights were watertight to 1 atmosphere depth. Any new SureFire lights you purchase now should be considered waterproof to 33' (10M).

Rough and tough case
Fully regulated incandescent
Soft-start lengthens incandescent bulb life
Digital circuitry with 2-stage switch
Has both incandescent and LED light sources
Water resistant

Batteries could be expensive or difficult to find in an emergency

    PRODUCT TYPE: Small, tactical-style 2-way flashlight
    LAMP TYPE: Xenon lamp, and three 5mm LEDs
    No. OF LAMPS: 4
    BEAM TYPE: Spot with soft fall-off (xenon), narrow flood (LEDs)
    SWITCH TYPE: Twist tailcap on/off; momentary tailcap button
    BEZEL: Bulb & LEDs in integral reflector, Pyrex glass window
    BATTERY: 2x CR123A lithium cells
    CURRENT CONSUMPTION: As of yet unknown
    SUBMERSIBLE: Yes, to 33 feet
    ACCESSORIES: Should come with 2x CR123A cells
    LENGTH: 5.6 Inches
    WEIGHT: 4.0 Ounces with batteries
    WARRANTY: Lifetime, except batteries & incandescent bulb


    Star Rating

SureFire A2 Aviator * WWW.SUREFIRE.COM

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