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Surefire XSC Micro-Compact Pistol Light: First Look

Small, lightweight and purpose-built for sub-compact carry guns, Surefire's XSC pistol light takes on the EDC illumination segment.

Before I begin discussing Surefire's new XSC, let me first acknowledge the no-compromise carry crew. I already know that there is shrill chorus in the background chanting, “Just carry a medium- or large-frame pistol with an X300,” but I’m just happy that untold tens of thousands of gun owners are carrying, regardless of what they are carrying. Armed citizens exist in record numbers, which is a very good thing. We can all agree, a compact gun on the belt beats a full-size pistol left in the safe any day.

For shooters who carry one of the new breeds of sub- or micro-compact semiautomatic pistols, Surefire has heard your cries for more lumens. Enter the Surefire XSC. Because many popular gun manufacturers are using proprietary rail specifications (we’re looking at you Glock, SIG Sauer, and Springfield Armory) the new pistol-mounted light is available in three models to fit the Springfield Armory Hellcat, the SIG Sauer P365XL and either of the railed, slim-frame Glocks: the G43X MOS and G48 MOS.

Versus

Without question, the Surefire XSC brings some much-needed innovation to the subcompact pistol-mounted light. Currently, the XSC challenges the existing Streamlight TLR-6, with or without red aiming laser. The TLR-6 is advertised having a 1-hour runtime using two CR-1/3N lithium batteries. The Surefire XSC is has a shorter runtime than the TLR-6 at just 30 minutes.

In keeping with the design intent of the micro pistols, the Surefire XSC packs a lot of punch into a small package. Thanks to its lightweight aluminum body, the XSC weighs 2 ounces, slightly heavier than the TLR-6, which weighs between 1.12 and 1.27 ounces depending on model. But the XSC is a bit shorter at 1.94 inches in length, whereas the TLR-6 measures between 2.2 and 2.97 inches.


The 350-lumen Surefire XSC beats the Streamlight TLR-6 100-lumen output, but beam distances measures about the same at 90 meters for the XSC compared to 89 for the TLR-6. How much does the Surefire’s increased performance cost? The XSC retails for $329, twice as much as the $175 TLR-6.


More XSC Details

Surefire developed a new switch design for the XSC featuring bilateral, easy-to-use levers. The controls actually push in, rather than down. It’s a subtle change, but it works well given the limited real estate on the subcompact pistols. A quick tap activates a constant-on mode, while a continuous pressure provides the momentary option. In use, I found the switches to be robust, intuitive, and thoughtfully designed given the light’s defensive mission. Each side of the light also features a scoop cut, allowing the shooter’s thumb to have some purchase and access to the control levers without needing to alter the shooting grip.

The XSC utilizes a proprietary lithium polymer 3.7V rechargeable battery. While many of us may not be enamored with rechargeable batteries on a defensive light, Surefire representatives told Guns & Ammo, “The reasoning behind the choice is sound. The rechargeable batteries meet the requirements for both power and size, and a non-rechargeable solution would have been significantly more expensive.”

The Surefire B12 battery charges completely in an hour for the full 30-minute run time. During our evaluation, we cycled through numerous lights, batteries and pistols. I did notice some lumen drop-off towards the end of the batteries’ charge. Each battery has an LED fuel gauge, though, consisting of three lights and a button. When all three are lit, it’s fully charged. Two lights indicate that the XSC still has a bit of power, and if only one LED illuminates, it’s probably time for a charge.

The XSC comes with a dual-battery charger, and extra batteries will be available for purchase. Lithium-polymer cells hold a charge for quite a while, so considering a pistol light is a tool that gets carried a lot and used little, simply topping off on the charger a couple of times a week will suffice for everyday carry use. Personally, I plan on purchasing an extra battery and swapping them out on the charger every week.


What’s Important?

Let’s revisit output. Given the compact design of the XSC, I was expecting the lumens to be AS low as the Streamlight TLR-6. The XSC may not be a 1,000-lumen retina scorcher, but it does put out a respectable 350 lumens and 2,000 candelas. Because of the parabolic reflector, to my eye the light seemed similar to an older model 500- or 600-lumen X300. In a dark training environment, running plates at 10 yards and hitting man-size steel at 20 to 30 yards was easy, and there was no straining of my eyes to accurately identify the targets. In tactical use, the light will aid target ID out to at least 50 yards, and it has enough lumens to be useful within its task and purpose. Will it illuminate a hallway or a large room? Absolutely. I fall firmly into the “more is better” camp when it comes to illumination, and I don’t feel under-equipped with the XSC. For the $329 price, I’m getting more illumination.

For the times when circumstances call for carrying a subcompact pistol, the XSC provides a superb pistol-mounted light source. Even with full-size guns, a pistol-mounted light is only one piece of the puzzle, and I recommend that you always carry a handheld light, too. Given the recently enhanced capabilities of sub- and micro-compact pistols, the ability to also add size-appropriate red dots, and a light means the performance gap between big guns and modern micros continues to shrink.

Surefire XSC Specs

  • Type: Micro-Compact Pistol Light
  • Output: 350 lumens
  • Peak Beam Intensity: 2,000 Candela
  • Weight: 1.7 oz. (48.2 g)
  • Length: 1.94 in. (4.9 cm)
  • Runtime: 30 min.
  • Illumination Distance: 90 meters
  • Materials: Aluminum
  • Finish: Hard Anodized
  • Bezel Diameter: 0.78 in. (1.9 cm)
  • Power: One (1) B12 3.7V battery, lithium, rechargeable, proprietary
  • Controls: Ambidextrous, dual-mode switches; momentary- and constant-on
  • MSRP: $329
  • Manufacturer: Surefire, 800-828-8809, surefire.com
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