Buy Once, Cry Once

I seem to keep learning the same lesson, over and over again.  Buy once, cry once.  The lower light is a Streamlight 600 lumen.  I picked it up at a bargain of $50.  I liked it a lot, and at the time my Surefire’s were all 200 lumen.  After a little bit of T&E, I mounted it on my issued HK416D.  I trained and used it at work for about a year without issue.

A few weeks ago, we were called to serve a warrant for a .gov agency on an out of state suspect wanted for really bad things.  Due to the layout of the house, we decided to surround it, and have the negotiators call them and ask them to come out.  The outside temp was around 10 degrees, so during the prep time, I changed out all of my batteries on lights and comms.  I tested everything and it was light and bright.

Long story short, we went to the scene and it took approximately 15-20 minutes for the negotiators to make contact, and then for the suspects to come outside and be taken into custody.  Once secure, we had a search warrant to execute, so we began a slow and deliberate approach on the house.  A set of rickity stairs led to the apartment.  I got to the top of the stairs, began to pie off the door, and actuated my light.  (Note- the light had been in the cold for about 25 minutes at that point).  The light was so dim it was useless.  I said some inarticulate words at that point, and transitioned to my pistol once we got into the first room.  The rest of the time, the X300 Ultra on my pistol worked great, and it was uneventful.  We turned the scene over to detectives and went back to the building we staged out.  I showed a couple of the guys how dim the light was, and swore I’d order a Scout Light as soon as I got home.  After our debrief, I picked the rifle up, and the light worked as advertised, the same that it did during gear prep.  I took the light apart later, and couldn’t find a defect with it.  I also changed out the light for a Surefire when I got home.  Later, I replaced it with a Scout light.

I seem to learn the same lessons over and over again.  Most of it is an old opinion I have always had.  “Try new things so you have a first hand opinion”.  These opinions seem to keep falling back to “Buy once, cry once”.


This entry was posted in AR15/M4, Review, Weapon Modifications and tagged by Jerry Jones. Bookmark the permalink.

About Jerry Jones

Jerry Jones has been a Sheriff's Deputy in Kentucky since 1996. Jerry is currently assigned as a patrol deputy, firearms instructor and senior operator/training supervisor with a multi jurisdictional tactical team. Jerry is Kentucky POST certified to teach firearms, SWAT, and sniper operations and deployment at the Academy level. Jerry is also the President/CEO of Operation Specific Training and the Law Enforcement Representative for Apex Tactical Specialties.

22 thoughts on “Buy Once, Cry Once

  1. I’m curious was this Streamlight a model with “Ten-Tap”? like the current ProTac HL? or some other model?

  2. Could it be cold batteries? Could the same effect happen with another light or was it due to the high lumens/power draw of that ligth.

    I suspect the cold had a lot to do with it.

    What type of battery.

    Another effect of cold. Imagine your lifeline depending on that battery. Used to have to keep the batteries in my sleeping bag for the radio before usage. LOL

  3. A friend has this sign in her salon: “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price disappears.”

  4. I’m anxious to see how your new X300 performs in identical conditions.
    Keep this in mind: your pistol was in a holster in contact with your body (heat source).
    Your Stream Light was attached to your AR, a heat sink. I’m proposing that your light was near ambient temperature, -10 degrees, It was not your light that failed, it was the battery inside your light. I am not a battery expert, I do live in a cold climate and have had identical experiences so I suggest you put your X-300 in a deep freeze for an hour and then check it’s function. As far as a better quality battery goes call customer service of a battery mfg. They will probably tell you they make their products to meet ASE standards. Perhaps the SPECOP community can be of help

    • Ive left my ccw pistol in my car with a surefire x300 on it in sub zero weather for over half a day, and just for kicks I wanted to test the light when I returned to the vehicle. It worked flawlessly.

  5. It could have been due to the cold weather since lithium based batteries abilities are severely reduced by the cold. Going out in 10 degree weather and the battery being in a metal tube that transfer the heat /cold easy may allowed it to get cold real quick there fore hampering the batteries output. Just a guess.

  6. Can you articulate what exactly about the design of the Streamlight caused it to fail? And what exactly about the design of the Surefire would make it perform better? I’m just wondering if this was some sort of quality control fluke, or if there is something inherently better about the Surefire design. I only ask because I have generally had very good experiences with both companies, even in very cold climates (far colder than 10 degrees.) Additionally, what model of Streamlight was this? Streamlight makes lights at a wider variety of price points than Surefire, so I find myself wondering if your results may have been better using a higher priced Streamlight.

    • Fairly simple to articulate. None of the SureFire lights failed that exact day. The new Surefire Scout has performed as advertised in colder weather than that. (Last night it got to -10). The batteries have been removed from the Streamlight, and placed in a Surefire Fury on my belt with no issues with brightness in said temperatures. When you remove all the variables, it comes down to the light itself. The lower end Surefire’s have the exact same dependability as the higher end lights do. So, why use a brand that requires one to buy a “higher priced” unit to be reliable?

      • Tell us the make and the model of the CR123a battery. Cause they are not all made to the same level of quality. The Surefire and Streamlight batteries claim that they can do those temps and They have proven it in all My Streamlight and Surefire lights. The off the shelf Wal-mart/cheap battery cannot!!

        • Good point. Our department used the cheap ones until they turned a weapon light into a flash bang inside a patrol car one night.

        • Surefire 123s. The batteries that came out of the failed light work fine in a Surefire Fury in actual colder conditions.

  7. What are the temp ratings of the two lights?

    Manufacturers will frequently publish those. If it is public knowledge and you failed to research it an consider your environment then it is not a failure of the product.

    In my area we are so mild of a climate the trunk of my patrol car is the most extreme it is going to get. As far as cold, it once got down to freezing at night. Once.

  8. I’m in Jerry’s camp with product selection.

    Circa 2000, I worked with LEOs that actually were the “hand models” for Streamlight. It was a local company and they have outstanding customer service. Prior service Active Duty Army, I was in a National Guard SF unit that went overseas after 9/11 and I brought Streamlight with me.

    A light failure on the other side of the world made no difference to the level of customer service. The light failed. I never purchased or carried another Streamlight since then, even though work purchases them in bulk.

    I’ll spend my own coin for a SureFire every time.

  9. Thank you for sharing your lesson learned.

    This discussion also reminded that not all batteries are created the same. I good set of batteries will be replacing the energizer 123’s in my EDC light.

    Quality subject.

  10. I love when people have a hard time hearing that their bargain brand is bargain for a reason 🙂

    There isn’t much that should stop a light from working in the cold. In most times, everything should work better! I’m an EE but I won’t speculate as to why the Streamlight wasn’t working. If I were to guess, I’d say tolerances or a flaw in their opamp or stepping circuit, could be that they have an oscillator and a PWM circuit and it had a super slow messed up duty cycle, but really who knows!?

    I will say this… I’ve had had the fortune to train with guys from Recon, Delta, AF PJ, Rangers, SWAT, marshal’s/fed, normal mil, and the people with legit low light training – ONLY – use Surefire. There is a reason for that. I watched a Streamlight take a dive in an indoor force on force class after hitting the ground during a scuffle. There is just no reason to not buy the SF and forget about it.

    But… People love to “save money” all the time.

  11. I’ve been running Streamlights since 1998 and I’ve never had one fail. The older incandescents have been given to my kids to use in the backyard (they’re treated really well as you can imagine) or converted to LED. They all still work. They’ve been dropped, stepped on, thrown across rooms accidentally, used as emergency door suppers, emergency hammers, and lived the life of patrol lights. One of them is silver now…..started out black. I had a Surefire Fury also, and it also never failed (I lost it) and provided the same service as the Streamlights. Admittedly I’m simply a police officer not a HSLD guy. I’m not diving through the ocean with mine, or spending days at a time in snowy wet mountains. My needs are different from hardcore sof types I’m sure, but for what my needs are the Streamlights work great at a good price point, I bought once, and I never cried at all.

  12. This gave me good reason to test my lights. I currently have all of them in the freezer right now. I have an Inforce APL, Streamlight TLR-1 and TLR-1HL, Surefire X200 and X200 Ultra as well as an old Surefire L-1 Lumamax that still gets used quite a bit for EDC. So far its been 2 days in the freezer, and they all still function 100% with the SF batteries, albeit just a bit more frosty than usual.

  13. I’ve been storing my Surefire 123s in my freezer. Remember reading somewhere to do that. Haven’t had any problems with Surefire, Streamlight & Fenix products. Your Streamlight might have been defective.

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