Photos by Mark Fingar
No firearm is harder to equip with a duty-capable light source than a concealed-carry pistol (CCP). Think about how much life sucks for a CCP. It’s going to get stuffed into a pair of pants and spend all its days in that warm, dark and moist environment. Life is even bleaker for a light and its accompanying electronics.
Lights mounted on CCPs also have to stand up to the training regimen followed by many that carry. Not only does such a light have to be small, it has to be rugged.
Surefire came out with the XC1 a couple of years ago, and it defined the concealed-carry handgun light. This tiny light is 2.38-inches long, about an inch wide and tips the scales at a trim 1.6 ounces. They don’t get much smaller than that.
Surefire has been making quality firearm lights longer than anyone else, and they are extremely tough to beat when it comes to building a stout light. SureFire products were and are standard unit purchase items in all the U.S. special operations forces units that I know of and for good reason — they last. You can pack one to the back 40 in Afghanistan and not worry about it going tits up on a dark and dangerous night.
I’ve had a couple of XC1s for about a year and a half, and the size and durability is hard to beat. It puts out 200 lumens, which means it works well for distances it’s likely to see in concealed-carry scenarios.
However, I didn’t particularly care for the toggle switch that had to be held down to keep the XC1 on. When scanning for threats, it’s a great switch. You hold it down while you’re looking for threats, then pull your thumb off the switch when you’re done. There are no white-light accidental discharges, and you can’t get lazy and leave the light on while you move. That’s a bad idea because anything out there hiding will know right where you are.
The problem is that your thumb has to stay on the switch as long as you need the light to stay on. Since the support hand gets jostled around under recoil, so does the switch that thumb is resting on. It felt kind of like having to hold your tongue just right while shooting your pistol. It’s totally doable, but it’s one more thing to think about.
The XC1-B is the same size and shape of the XC1 but with a boost in output (300 lumens) and an improved switch. It’s a noticeable difference and gives the light some extra range when outdoors.
Some fear too much light is a bad thing indoors, but the throw from the XC1-B is the same as the XC1. These lights were designed for use indoors or at close range, so they throw a wide beam that doesn’t splash back like a focused beam would. Even if you shine the light on a white wall, the beam isn’t focused enough to blind you once you turn it off.
The boost in lumens is nice, but the change SureFire made to the toggle switch is what I like the most. Shooters desiring the light to stay on simply give the switch a quick tap. The tap turns the light on, and it stays that way until you give it another quick tap to shut it off.
If you prefer the XC1-B to stay on only while you hold the switch down, you have that option as well. Holding the toggle down provides momentary on, and the light turns off as soon as you release the switch.
There is also a sliding bar that sits near the back of the mount that doubles as a constant-on switch. Push the bar to one side and the light stays on. Push it back the other way and it turns off. Both the XC1 and the XC1-B have the same sliding bar.
The XC1-B attaches to any pistol with a section of Picatinny rail on the dust cover (portion of the frame forward of the triggerguard). Some pistols look like they have Picatinny rails but actually have proprietary rails that may or may not pair with this light.
The XC1-B is a great light for anyone keeping a pistol for home defense and definitely an essential item for those carrying concealed.
Type: pistol-mounted light output 300 lumens
Length: 2.38 in.
Weight: 1.6 oz. (with battery)
Battery: 1 AAA
Manufacturer: SureFire, surefire.com