When a discussion occurs around tactical flashlights, SureFire is always at the center of those discussions. Though the flashlight is not a new invention, SureFire was the company that created the first durable, compact, high-output, lightweight, handheld, tactical light and very soon after the first practical weapon-mounted tactical flashlight.
Militaries and law enforcement around the world quickly adopted SureFire tactical flashlights as a tool to replace heavy, cumbersome, and comparatively low-output metal baton lights. Today, SureFire continues being at the forefront of tactical light development, refinements and improvements and remains as the tactical light of choice for militaries, law enforcement and civilians around the world.
Tactical Retailer, a print publication owned by Grand View Outdoors, sat down with Mark Hanish, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at SureFire to talk about the company and its products. Here are excerpts from the Q&A.
Q. What [SureFire] products should [readers] know about?
Hanish: We are definitely known for tactical flashlights, but in the consumer and LEO segment the product mix has expanded to include lighting, magazines and suppressors, which we refer to as “high performance fighting accessories.” We also have ear protection, rapid transition sights, tactical pens, batteries and lifestyle products.
Q. Has the premier pricing of your products been a sales hurdle for SureFire?
Hanish: Initially SureFire was the only compact high-output tactical flashlight, and those who needed the best tactical flashlight to do their job would spend the money. We will never compete on price, but we are committed to having the highest quality dependable lights on the market.
There are a lot of Chinese competitors, however those who tactically train with lights and use lights in the line of duty have seen firsthand imported lights fail. A $40 savings is not a savings if it does not work when you need it most. A quality $100 light could save you an untold amount of money and grief to illuminate and identify the difference between a potential intruder or the daughter’s’ boyfriend. One of the reasons customers are willing to pay the extra price is that and we remain military’s and LEO’s choice and are still made in the USA. Our customers, trainers and field experience have shown customers that the investment in a premium tactical flashlight could be a lifesaver when you need it most.
Q. Have the suppressors been a strong seller?
Hanish: From a military perspective, they have. Crane Army Ammunition Activity did a huge test and selected our suppressors for all special operations commands. Many other NATO countries are using our suppressors as well. We have a fair representation in the consumer space and LEO markets, but right now nearly the entire production capacity is allocated to military sales.
Q. How have the other products performed for Surefire?
Hanish: Magazines and hearing protection have been the other non-lighting hot sellers. Our high capacity magazines have ridden the up and down sales wave depending on what is happening politically.
Our high-quality, reusable EarPro has been a great consumer product priced at only $12-$18 earplug set. We believe it is the best EarPro on the market. Customers love them and the U.S. and other militaries have bought them as standard issue.
Q. What buying trends are you seeing in the retail sector?
Hanish: For handheld products, the customers have liked the flexibility of the high/low output models, but we still have a lot of customers who want a single purpose/single output light as well. Most [SureFire] dealers stock both. The EDLC 1 and EDCL 2 1200 lumen (one and two battery) are unique and deliver gas pedal-like light control — jam the button you get all the light or a light touch gets a little light.
Most retailers opt for the X300 and X400 combo laser pistol lights, 300 and 600 series rifle scout lights and a few everyday CCW carry lights like the 6PX, G2X series, EDCL1 and EDCL2. Most will add in EarPro and batteries. Mags are hit and miss. Other popular sellers are our rifle lights over 1000 lumens, scout lights over 1500 lumens.
Q. Are all the components made in the USA also?
Hanish: Every part on our lights are made and assembled in the U.S. with the exception of the LED diode finishing work after we make the LED diode. The diode finishing step represents a very small percentage of the overall actual light manufacturing, but that process would be too costly to do in the U.S. The bodies, switches, formed parts, reflectors, LEDs, springs, bezels and all other parts are all made, assembled and tested here in the U.S. Customers are not just paying for the pride of a U.S. made product, they are buying the best quality control, premium materials and best manufactured light available anywhere.