Surefire Fury DFT Intellibeam Review

Introduction

In 2012, Surefire was struggling to compete in a quickly developing market. The original P2X Fury put them back on the map, and it has since been a staple of Surefire’s lineup; the DFT is just the latest iteration that uses their proprietary, output adjusting technology. I’ve been dully impressed with some of their more recent designs like the Stiletto, so let’s see what the Fury DFT Intellibeam brings to the table.

Specifications

  • Output: 15-1500 lumens
  • Runtime: Up to 40 hours
  • Peak beam intensity: 25,200 candela
  • Peak beam distance: 315m
  • Dimensions: 5.6″x1.39″
  • Weight w/ batteries: 6.5oz
  • Liquid ingress protection: IPX7

Physical Design

First, you have your typical Surefire build-quality. This review unit is on loan; however, it’s safe to assume that the build quality is very good. The DFT will probably take a beating, although it’s difficult for me to definitively say because I obviously don’t have the luxury of actually putting it through that type of stuff.

Surefire has long done away with the finger-groove indentations that the original Fury used. In its place is a consistently milled body with an inch or so of knurling in the center and more knurling on the tail cap. This is a nice step-up because a good grip on the original one could be dependent on your hand-size. There’s ridges at the head to prevent rolling, fins for heat sinking, and a lightly crenellated bezel. In short, the DFT gets a lot of the features right that I look out for in a flashlight.

The DFT’s still a bit large for an 18650 flashlight but that’s of no ill consequence because it’s a duty flashlight. And sure, there’s no retention method which I would generally prefer, but my grading system takes into account intended use. As a tactical/duty flashlight, the DFT is ideally used with a holster, and the lack of a clip further maximizes one’s grip on the flashlight. Overall, I’d say Surefire has their design cues down pretty well.

Physical Grade: A-

Technical Performance

Frankly, the DFT’s pure technical performance is not special despite Surefire’s marketing emphasis on the high lumen count – let me explain. The FL1 ANSI standard is a measure of a flashlight’s runtime to 10% from the initial output at 30 seconds. In a competitive market that preys upon the uneducated consumer by prioritizing lumen count above all else, it’s become increasingly common to game this standard. Take for example a flashlight that holds max output for a brief minute or two and then abruptly steps-down. It’s possible to stay just slightly above 10% following this step-down and to elongate the claimed runtime like so.

And this is exactly how Surefire has achieved a claimed 3.5 hours of runtime on the DFT. The real question, though, is how much this matters in practice? To this effect, I actually don’t think it’s a big deal. I’m no expert, but I can tell you that most gunfights generally happen much, much faster than most people think. Additionally, one would be hard-pressed to notice the step-down under duress because of the way the human eye perceives light. In the end, it’s fine. But Surefire joining the accolade of manufacturers gaming the standard is a little disappointing to see.

White wall at a couple feet. Shot on iPhone X with no editing. You can see there’s an indentation in the beam where the light sensor rests. Beam has a smooth transition with a slight hint of yellow and tint shift in real-life.

Let’s talk about the fun stuff now! A handy feature is support for 2xCR123a which was the right decision in my opinion. Much of the law enforcement world and military still relies on these cells for their disposable nature, and often times it can take a while for the industry to adopt new stuff. The performance isn’t as good on CR123a, and there’s no functional advantage, but it’s good to have flexibility. On the lines of batteries, something else I noticed is that the DFT will not run on flat-top 18650 batteries. Surefire includes their own cell with a USB port though.

The DFT’s Intellibeam feature is essentially a sensor that measures the amount of light reflected off a surface and adjusts the output accordingly. The idea here being that if you are clearing say a house, high output can actually backfire at close quarters and cause glare. Because it’s a sensor doing all the work though, there are certainly some limitations.

  • For example, if someone shines their own flashlight at you, you shine it on a mirror, or you get caught in a car’s headlights, it’s going to step-down. This isn’t exactly ideal for obvious reasons.
  • The Intellibeam mode only goes up to around a quarter of the max output. This is because the sensor is, well, actually not all that sensitive, and the flashlight can’t sustain max output for extended periods. The sensor’s not receptive to light out much further than 10 feet, but at least you’re always getting more than you need.

To my eyes, it’s not quite seamless, but works well enough in practice for me to accept the trade-off. In the event that you need access to max output, Surefire has also implemented an override with a second click or tap.

Click “ON”Intellibeam
Return to “OFF” and click “ON” within several secondsMax output
Because this is a forward clicky switch, the same principles apply for a momentary tap/tap-and-hold.

Overall, Intellibeam is a very nifty feature and I applaud Surefire for switching it up. Still, I value reliability and predicability above all else in a tactical flashlight and it simply falls short here. That’s not even to mention the subsequent lack of versatility. And for the naysayers who would point out the override: It’s a whole click away which can be crucial in a life-or-death scenario.

Technical Grade: C+

Assessment of Value

There are some other flashlights that have made use of auto-output adjusting technology, such as the Nitecore SENS. Olight is another good example with their X7R Marauder and H16 Wave flashlights (thanks ZeroAir, I can’t keep up with all the new releases), but none like this. At $220, the Fury DFT still commands a hefty premium, but I’m fairly confident it’s the only tactical flashlight on the market to use this technology. While Intellibeam’s no doubt somewhat finicky, I think that fact alone is enough for me to consider it a noteworthy advancement by Surefire.

Value: ★ (Worth the price)

The Verdict

Surefire’s been putting out some very innovative flashlights lately, and the Fury DFT Intellibeam is another prime example joining the ranks.

Let’s talk briefly about its brother, the standard Fury DFT which is basically my sample of the DFT without Intellibeam. Instead, you could easily grab one Surefire’s 6PX Tactical flashlights and run it off of a 16650 battery for rechargeable support and a more level runtime. As such, the added cost of the standard Fury DFT just isn’t worth it to me. I would only go for the standard Fury DFT if you’re dead-set on the Fury line-up and want a truly dedicated tactical flashlight. But if you want something with a little more flexibility, the Intellibeam feature is pretty decent for what it offers and is much more versatile than Surefire’s standard “Pro” models.

[Fury DFT Intellibeam] Cumulative Grade: C+ ★ 

[Fury DFT] Cumulative Grade: C

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