Princeton Tec Surge

Princeton Tec 'Surge', retail $25.00
Manufactured by Princeton Tec (
Last updated 03-20-08

LED Light

Do you value your eyesight?
If so, then don't look down the barrel of this tough guy when you first turn it on, because you'll be in for a rather nasty surprise!

The Surge is a remarkably intense xenon type incandescent flashlight that has an adjustable beam, a unique lever-action switch, and an unusual "four barrel" battery carriage holding 8 AA cells in a compact plastic body.

Size reference

The Surge comes ready to use as soon as you open it.
To turn it on, flip the barrel-mounted lever switch over to the right until it "clicks" over the small nib on the barrel and snaps into place. To turn it off, flip the switch the other way; being sure it clicks over the little nib so it stays off.

The focus can be adjusted from a fairly tight spot with soft edges to a wide flood beam by turning the rubberized bezel. Tightening the bezel tightens the beam; loosening the bezel widens the beam.

The Surge uses a high pressure xenon fill bulb, which you'll find plugged into a "socket" on a circuit board just behind the reflector. If you're changing a bulb that just popped, allow several minutes for it to cool. Then just unscrew & remove the bezel/reflector assembly, and pull the bulb straight out of the socket. Plug a new bulb into the holes provided, pushing it straight down until it stops.

The type of bulb used in the Surge does not like being grabbed with bare hands. Use a kleenex or some toilet paper to hold & install the new bulb. If you did touch it at all (even a little), clean it with rubbing alcohol or cassette player cleaner and clean tissue or a clean cloth before putting the reflector back on! If you handled the bulb barehanded and forgot to clean it, the bulb may
explode shortly after being turned on.

[image 8 AA cells]
The compact Surge gets its power from a clever series-parallel arrangement of 8 "AA" alkaline cells. The cells are contained in a one piece carriage that lifts out of the flashlight body.

Surge battery carriage

To get the carriage out, remove the bezel & reflector assembly and discard it. Oh wait, you'll need that later. :)
You'll see a pair of black tabs sticking straight out of the flashlight barrel. The trick is to squeeze both of these inwards while simultaneously pulling them straight out. Design flaw: there's no ribbing on these prongs to grip onto, so it's a bit hard to remove the carriage - and probably worse if your hands are cold & wet, or if any of the silicone O-ring lubricant has made its way onto the prongs. :-O
Holding the flashlight body with the opening facing the ground while you squeeze and tug at the prongs should help the battery carriage slide out. Shaking the flashlight gently while squeezing the prongs may also help.

The batteries are mounted in individual compartments in the carriage. Replace them according to the (+) and (-) signs cut out of the side of each battery holder. Don't use the positions of the spring and cap contact to determine polarity, because that doesn't work here. Some batteries go in with the button end facing a spring - exactly the opposite of what you'd expect. Those polarity markings are permanently die-cut into each cell's holder for a reason.

When you're all loaded up, look for the small switch on the bottom of the circuit board (the green plate thing holding the bulb) and slide the whole carrier into the flashlight so the side with the switch is on the same side as the lever on the flashlight barrel. If you try to put it in wrong, it won't go all the way down. Once the guts go all the way inside the light, place your fingers on the ends of the two prongs and give it a gentle push straight down so it locks into place. Then screw the reflector assembly back on, and be on your way. Don't forget to gather up & discard the 8 dead batteries before you take off.

So although you can actually reassemble the light in the dark if it comes down to it, changing those batteries in pitch blackness may be *very* challenging, if not downright impossible.

For an incandescent light, the Surge is definitely built to take any abuse you can dish out. The body is made of tough plastic. As with any incandescent though, the weak link will be the bulb. If the Surge is on when you drop it, don't be surprised if it is no longer on when you pick it up. But don't be surprised either if it stays on. Some kinds of bulbs can take more abuse than others.

LED Light
The intense Surge burning a hole in a door. :-)
Measures 3150 candela (3,150,000mcd) on a Meterman LM631 light meter.

Spectrographic plot
Spectrographic analysis of the bulb in this flashlight.

ProMetric analysis
Beam cross-sectional analysis.
Image made using the ProMetric System by Radiant Imaging.

Evaluation sample was provided courtesy of Texas Tactical Supply. Thanks William!

UPDATE 01-08-02:
The Surge was the brightest light I owned until the UK Light Cannon (a 10W metal halide HID) arrived. The Surge was pitted against the Light Cannon, and some results & photos can be found here.

UPDATE 11-17-03:
From another flashlight review website, comes this information:

The Surge has undergone a critical failure. While positioned over my meter hanging by the lanyard in clear air at room temperature, after 10 minutes the bulb socket solder melted and the bulb, with the sockets still attached, fell into the reflector. This problem was supposed to be resolved in the current revisions of the light. Not good. Now starts the wait for a replacement and we'll see if that one passes or not.

The Surge does come with a lifetime warranty though, so if yours fails in this manner, you can get it replaced at no cost to you, other than perhaps the postage needed to send your defective flashlight back to Princeton Tec.

Brightest easily available light for its size.
Case is compact & durable.
Beam is adjustable.
Small enough to carry in the pockets of some types of clothing.
Uses inexpensive and easy to find batteries.
Weatherproof and submersible.

Heavier than other "small sized" flashlight.
Batteries cannot easily be changed in total darkness.
Replacement lamp not readily available in an emergency.
Flashlight barrel has too little texture, and may slip out of the hand under adverse conditions. Use the provided lanyard in such conditions - that's what it's for.
Possible failure mode - see 11-17-03 update above.

PRODUCT TYPE: Medium-small, quad-barrel style sportslight
LAMP TYPE: Xenon fill halogen, 8 watts
BEAM TYPE: Adjustable from soft-edge spot to flood
SWITCH TYPE: Lever action with locking detents
BEZEL: Ribbed rubberized bezel with water-clear plastic lens. Coarse stippled ("orange peel") reflector.
BATTERY: 8 AA cells
SUBMERSIBLE: Yes, depth to be determined
ACCESSORIES: Duracell batteries, generous wrist lanyard
WARRANTY: Full lifetime
WEIGHT: 10.8 ounces fully loaded


Princeton Tec 'Surge' * Princeton Tec (

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