View Full Version : Surefire M-4 versus Polar Bear 426 shoot-out

black bear 84
September 15, 2005, 01:18 PM
Surefire M-4 versus Polar Bear 426 lumens shoot-out

As I have promised, here is the shoot-out between the Surefire M-4 flashlight and my new offering, the Polar Bear 426 lumens.

The Surefire finally arrived from Bass Pro shops with the full price of $330.00 plus shipping.
It is a nice light, having a Heavy Orange peel reflector that really smoothes out any imperfections in the beam; a true Surefire quality beam. However, the beam pattern is not round but oval, but is only discerned in the pictures or against a white wall.


Now others do it all the time, but I never go white wall hunting. On the contrary; my tests are against dark backgrounds to see how capable they are in illuminating a dark area.
That is why you see so many beam testing pictures taken in my dark paneling basement.

Well following with the description of the Surefire M-4, it runs in four 123’s disposable batteries, and comes set up with them ready to use.
I changed the lower output lamp for the HOLA (high output lamp assembly) for the 350 lumens that it outputs.

In the gripping department, I like this light better than the Surefire M-6 (with its thicker body) but that thin tube really heats up fast. In only 10 seconds you can feel the heat and it can become uncomfortable to hold when run for long periods of time. This is a light that is really “tactical” to use only in short “bursts” and if you envision yourself holding it for a long time like the guys in CSI do, forget about it.

How is the heat issue in my Polar Bear 426 lumens? It is not an issue; I use a floating sleeve for the battery carrier that is inside the flashlight semi-permanently attached. That sleeve creates an airspace between the body of the flashlight and the batteries, just like in the Thermos principle, so you can hold my light comfortable for long runs.

And how much is a long run in comparison with the Surefire M-4?

Well the Surefire M-4 will run for 20 minutes (not continuous as is it subjected to Thermal shutdown) on the four Surefire 123’s batteries for a cost of $6.64 (when bought thru Surefire at $15.00 plus $5.00 shipping for a pack of 12).

My Polar Bear will run on the Lithium Ion rechargeable fully protected batteries for 70 minutes “plus” (I got 70 minutes run in the second charge. The more cycles you do the more capacity you get, that is where the “plus” comes from).

Free 426 lumens for seventy minutes and a recharge is as far away as your pocket (if you buy extra batteries) or to a trip to your charger that comes included with every Polar Bear.

How close are the 350 lumens of the Surefire M-4 to the 426 lumens of the Polar Bear?
Well actually quite close, if you look at the pictures carefully you can notice the 76 lumen difference, but you have to know how to look. As an example, look at the right side of my desk-target in the basement and you will see more light areas that way with my Polar Bear than with the Surefire.

Surefire M-4 350 lumens lamp


Polar Bear rechargeable 426 lumens


I was using the Surefire with the brand new fresh batteries, and I am really impressed by the output for the first few minutes (9 or 12). Then the output is diminished as the batteries get used up and go down in voltage supply. The Lithium disposables are good, much better than alkalines, but they still show a little of this dropping down.

Not so with the Lithium Ion cells, which are fully protected from overcharges, shorts, and over-discharges by a circuit in the tail. So when they sense that they are running out of juice, they cut the emission of juice to protect from over discharge and reverse polarity.

Where you can appreciate the difference a little more is in the tool shed pictures that were taken at 15 yards from the shed BUT with the lights coming from 43 yards away.
You can toggle your elevator up and down and see the more illuminated pictures of the tool shed with my Polar Bear light.

Surefire M-4 350 lumens


Polar Bear rechargeable 426 lumens


By coincidence, my Polar Bear also has an oval hot spot center; it doesn’t show if you don’t go white wall hunting.
In any outdoor or indoor situation with both lights you will see an intense spot and plenty of side spill to illuminate what is around.

My Polar Bear is a little bigger and longer light, it helps a lot with the “heat” issue, as my light could be used as a flashlight for longer time in your hand and the Surefire can not.
But after all, the Surefire is sold as a tactical light and not as the use the Crime Scene Investigators from the program put it to.

The important issues here are that my Polar Bear’s run time is three times and a half more than the run time of the Surefire, which brings us to the second issue. When you have used your M-4 for 70 minutes you have spent $23.25 in batteries.

If you want more information on the Polar Bear, please see my thread in THR,
or in the B/S/T section of this Forum.

Best regards,
Black bear

September 15, 2005, 04:03 PM
I see you give the price of the Surefire M4 but I don't see the price of the Polar Bear 426 lumens. I followed the link you gave but only found Info. on the Mag.lights you sell. Also how does the Polar Bear stand up to abuse? The Surefire lights are a standard for taking tough abuse and keeping on working. Have you given the Polar Bear a test of tough abuse like a few drops on hard surface from 15 feet? :confused:

black bear 84
September 15, 2005, 06:42 PM
Happy Gunner,
Thank you for your interest
You missed it is near the end of page five, together with a MAG 951 II in red color. The price is also there.
I don't want to break any Forum rules so I didn't want to mention the price here.

I have made three now of the Polar Bear and I will be making more if I see enough interest, but I am fully committed to my MAG 951 lumens and my Black Bear 678 lumens lights, with many ready to ship and in several colors and the standard black.

The "host" of this light is a Maglite, if it ever gets damaged to the point of needing another body, it is available anywhere (Home Depot, Wal Mart) for less than $20.00 you just change the parts to the new host.

A member of that Forum, Blues Bear is my official torturer he have my lights drop from several feet many times with not issues.(he posted in that thread his findings)
I also have put them under water for 20 minutes and have a 4,000 pounds car roll over them. You can find links in that thread conducting to those tests.



I almost dropped the Surefire M-4 in my concrete walkway, but I cached it in time, but my heart stop for a couple seconds.
If they hit concrete they are going to get banged and dinged and scratched like any other flashlight, yes some models have the hard anodized type III (the M-4 does) but it is just more wear and scratch resistant than regular anodizing, it is not indestructible!!

I have a Surefire M-6, but in all honesty I can run it for any length of time, due to the cost of the batteries.
My light is geared for those that want a MEGALIGHT but can not afford the Megabucks or the burden to run one in 123's batteries.

A MAG 951 will run for 500 hours in a $24.00 pack before needing another, the Surefire M-6 will have go to well over $5,000.00 in batteries before it gets to 500 hours.

If the agency you work for pay for the light and the batteries, good for you!! but if in the other hand you are a underpay Police Officer or Wildlife Officer or Firefighter that have to pay for your own equipment, you will be wise to look at the economics of run a MEGALIGHT that runs in 123's batteries.

The Polar Bear is affordable and free to run, it is here, and those that need it can come and get one.

black bear 84