Surefire E1E Review (Text)

Today I want to talk about the Surefire E1e which is a truly iconic flashlight in my opinion. To be fair, it’s certainly not on the same level as the Surefire 6P which was simply groundbreaking for its time, but the E1E is a very cool flashlight in its own right. 

The E1e Executive Elite was released in early 2000 and disappeared from Surefire’s product catalog in 2008, although I do think production continued for another couple years. Sorry about the vague numbers, guys. When it comes to older lights like this, sometimes I’m able to offer my own input, but when this light was in production I was in elementary school. It’s crazy how time flies. 

The crux of the E1e’s allure rests on its platform which is commonly referred to as the E-series platform. There is a plethora of aftermarket parts that allow for far more customization than modern customs allow for, as well as widespread modularity between different E-series flashlights and their components. 

Because there’s so much aftermarket support, you can very much build a flashlight to your exact specifications. And to make my point, if we look at my E1e, this one has had quite a few mods done to it. First, you can see that there is an aftermarket stainless steel tail shroud to facilitate tail standing. Tail standing is a must-have feature for most flashlight geeks. Next, if I click the button, you can tell that there is a McClicky switch in there too. The McClicky is more robust and better for multiple outputs than is the stock switch.  

What’s most cool about the E-series in my opinion, though, is bringing them up-to-date with modern tech. Because a lot of the older E-series were incandescents which used a simple Xenon bulb module, you can very easily drop in a new light engine to bring the light up to modern standards. This E1e is running a drop-in from Tana with programmable firmware and a 4000K Nichia 219b. Now this is subjective, but a lot of people will agree that the Nichia 219b simply has one of the best tints out there. Anyways, Tana is sort of the go-to guy for modding these lights, and he does a lot of cool work such as even throwing triple LEDs into E-series heads. 

With all this said, the E-series isn’t without drawbacks. Most notable is the lack of 18mm cell support. Because of how thin the walls of the E-series are at the threads, it’s risky business. Another issue with older lights is mismatched anodization. Because of the manufacturing process, it’s very hard to get consistent results with natural hard anodization. You can see that on mine, if the light hits it right, the colors of the head and body are different shades. 

That said, the E-series platform is just super adaptable and freaking cool. That a more than a decade old torch can hold its own against modern torches is truly laudable. And more than anything, at least for me, I think it’s cool to know that I can still use – and use effectively – a torch that is almost as old as myself. 

And on the topic of age, I want to make a comment on customs in the flashlight market. And what I’m going to say next might trigger some people, but hey, it’s the truth. Here it is: Most customs have neither 1) liquid cash value nor 2) prestige. This can be predicated on the mass market saturation of them; they follow the same tired design distinct of bodily aesthetics. And in short, as a result, they’ll never leave a lasting, significant mark on the flashlight world like the E1e will. To this end, in recent years, the E1Es have become of collector status, and are quite desirable on the secondary market. Picking them up is still quite possible, but it’s getting increasingly rare to find them in good condition, and you’ll pay a premium over what they used to go for. 

All this said, the E-series platform, similar to the venerable P60 platform, has become much overshadowed by the screw-in pill that is common on most customs and DIY flashlights. I personally don’t think it’ll make a resurgence, but it’s certainly cool to own a piece of history. I actually used to own quite a few more E-series lights, but have had to liquidate the collection as it got too big.

Grade: C- (Incan)

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