March 31, 2021
By Jeremy Stafford
Let me first acknowledge the no-compromise carry audience. There is a shrill chorus chanting, “Carry a medium- or large-frame pistol with a Surefire X300!” I’m happy to know that untold tens of thousands of gun owners are carrying, regardless of what they carry. Armed citizens exist, and that is a very good thing. A subcompact gun on the belt beats a full-size pistol in the safe.
For those who carry the new breed of subcompact semiautomatic pistols, Surefire has responded to demand for more lumens. Meet the XSC.
Certain gun manufacturers are using proprietary rail specifications. (I’m looking at you Glock, SIG Sauer, and Springfield Armory.) So, Surefire has launched the new XSC to support three of the most popular platforms: Glock 43X/48 railed models, the SIG Sauer P365 and the Springfield Armory Hellcat.
Versus Surefire has raised the bar for subcompact pistol-mounted lights with its XSC challenging the Streamlight TLR-6. The TLR-6 is available with or without a red aiming laser and is advertised as having a 1-hour runtime using two CR-1/3N lithium batteries. The Surefire XSC has a shorter runtime than the TLR-6 at just 30 minutes on a proprietary, rechargeable lithium polymer 3.7V battery.
Both lights pack a lot of punch into small packages. Thanks to a lightweight aluminum body, the XSC weighs just 2 ounces, and at 1.94 inches long it sits nearly flush with the muzzle of the newer micro-compact pistols. The polymer TLR-6 is lighter, between 1.12 and 1.27 ounces depending on the model, but also longer at between 2.2 and 2.97 inches.
Measuring effective output is about more than just numbers, but the 350-lumen XSC beats the 100-lumen TLR-6 for raw power. Beam distances both measure around 90 meters, and, in my opinion, both lights are up to the task. The Surefire’s performance does come at a cost; the XSC retails for $329 compared to 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 design space on small guns. A quick tap activates the constant-on mode, while continuous pressure provides the momentary option. In use, I found the switches to be robust, intuitive, and thoughtfully designed. Each side of the light also features a scoop cut, allowing the shooter’s thumb to have some purchase. Most thumbs can reach the controls without breaking a firing grip.
As mentioned, the XSC is powered by a proprietary lithium-polymer 3.7V rechargeable battery labeled “B12.” While some may not want a rechargeable battery on a defensive-use light, Surefire 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 over the long run.”
Surefire’s B12 battery is quickly interchangable without having to remove the light from the pistol. It charges completely in an hour to offer the full 30-minute runtime. During my evaluation, I cycled through numerous lights, batteries and handguns. I noticed some lumen drop-off towards the end of the battery’s charge. Each battery has an LED fuel gauge, though, consisting of three white 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 recharge.
The XSC comes with a dual-battery charging station, and extra batteries will soon be available for purchase at $35 each. 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. Personally, I plan on purchasing an extra battery or two, and swapping them out on the charger every week.
What’s important? Let’s revisit output. Given the compact design, I was expecting the lumens of the XSC to be as low as the Streamlight TLR-6. The XSC may not be a 1,000-lumen retina scorcher, but 350 lumens is respectable. 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. I did not have to strain my eyes to accurately identify the targets. In tactical use, the light will aid target identification 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 than I do with the TLR-6.
For times when circumstances call for carrying a subcompact pistol, the XSC provides an excellent pistol-mounted light source. Given the recently enhanced capabilities of subcompact pistols, the ability to also add size-appropriate red dots and a light means the performance gap between duty guns and modern micros continues to shrink.
Surefire XSC Specs
TYPE: Subcompact 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: 90m
FINISH: Hardcoat anodized
BEZEL DIAMETER: .78 in. (1.9 cm)
POWER: One (1) B12 3.7V battery, lithium, rechargeable, proprietary
CONTROLS: Ambidextrous, dual-mode switches; momentary- and constant-on
MANUFACTURER: SureFire, surefire.com
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