The Ultimate Guide to the Surefire M951 Weaponlight: Part V
This article is the fifth and final part in a comprehensive overview of the Surefire M951 Weaponlight. If you haven’t read my previous discussion of the alternate parts and upgrades for the M951, you can check that out here: Part IV
In Part V, I will discuss the competitive viability of an upgraded M951 as a weaponlight today, using some contemporary lights and setups for comparison. Be it through cost effectiveness, or straight up durability, the M951 is, in my opinion, still a contender for a weaponlight in the current market.
Surefire’s Current Weaponlight Offerings
As of January 2017, Surefire is currently offering their baseline M300C Mini Scout and M600C Scout Weaponlights, as well as some upgraded light kits for each of them. Two of the updated kits are designated the M312C and M612C.
The “12” lights come with a DS07 Tailcap setup (essentially a smaller Scout version of the XM07 setup), and an RM45 Offset mount that bolts onto an M1913 Rail and is not quick detach. There are some other Surefire lights available with different mounts, batteries, and IR compatibility, but the base M300C/M600C and the “12” kits are clearly the flagship lights, and the most relevant to my current discussion.
M300C (M600C) Base Specs
Bezel Diameter: 1.125 Inches (Same)
Tailcap Thread Diameter: 0.75 Inches (Same)
Battery Capacity: One CR123A (Two CR123As)
Length: 4.1 Inches (5.4 Inches)
Weight with Batteries: 4.8 Ounces (5.6 Ounces)
Stock Mount: Scout Thumb Screw Mount (Same)
Activation Method: Z68 Click Tailcap or UE00 Tape Switch Cap (Same)
Output: 300 Lumens (600 Lumens)
Tactical Runtime: 1.5 Hours (1.75 Hours)
Price Comparison of Current Surefires and an Upgraded M951
In Part IV of this series, I stated that an upgraded M951 would cost a lot less than a factory M312C, the most current complete successor, and roughly half the amount of a similarly assembled M300C. I shall confirm that. Furthermore, I’ll talk briefly about the Surefire M600 Series lights, and briefly talk about a relative newcomer to the market, the Streamlight Pro Tac HL-X. For pricing, I will use the cheapest prices available for the necessary parts from OpticsPlanet and eBay at the time this is published.
Upgraded M951 and Current Surefire Light Pricing
M951 Complete Base Light: $100*
Malkoff M61 Drop In LED Module: $48
Total Price: ~$148 with complete light and Drop In LED Module
M312C/M612C Scout Light: $429 complete**
M300C Scout Light: $200
DS00 Dual Switch Tailcap: $96
XT07 Tape Switch: $30***
Total Price: ~$326 complete
*Average eBay pricing for a decent condition light complete with an XM07. Prices for base lights can vary depending upon overall condition, inclusion/exclusion of certain tape switches, tailcaps or accessories, and stupid auction luck
**Price on Amazon/OpticsPlanet/Every other site using MAP (Minimum Advertised Pricing) as this article is written
***Average eBay auction price. New in package price is around $50
Upgraded M951: ~$148
M300C Build: $~326
The M312C/M612C’s MAP are a lot more than the other two options. Furthermore, an outfitted M300C comes out to about double the price for a similarly configured M951. Yes, prices can fluctuate up and down for each part and light depending upon sales and availability. You can also get into the minutia of parts necessity I:E “needing” a DS00 or a Tape Switch. Regardless, the upgraded M951 will generally be significantly cheaper than a similar M300C or M312C/M612C.
Of course, if you look at the specs, the M951 will be just under double the weight, and half as battery efficient as the other Surefires, either by way of the M300C’s single cell, or the M600C’s 600 lumen output. However, with these deficiencies comes affordability, and the ~$178 you save can buy a lot of CR123s, probably more than you will use in a number of decades. Or, you know, two M951s.
Other Alternatives and Why an Upgraded M951 is Still Probably Better
But YNH, weaponlight X cost Y dollars and puts out Z lumens!
There are other affordable weaponlights with competitive specs for sure, but with the M951, you are getting a legitimate tank of a weaponlight which boasts a 15 year service history with the U.S. Military. Even if it’s specs on paper are slightly less than a random competitor that is slightly more affordable, the M951 brings with it a soft spoken confidence that random Chinese light X does not.
As for specific examples that are not Surefires, the only other light on the market worth mentioning by name, in my opinion would have to be the Streamlight Pro Tac HL-X.
Aaron Cowan of Sage Dynamics did a review of the HL-X where the light demonstrated insane brightness and reassuring durability. Moreover, the HL-X is in fact a lot brighter (1000 effing lumens), comes with a rail mount dual activation tape switch stock, and is fairly cheap (~$109). But, comma, it’s a relatively new light to the market, and has no provision for dual redundancy as a Surefire does with an XM or DS Tailcap. One could argue the necessity of that, but either way, It’s an edge that the M951 has over the HL-X. In summation, the HL-X is, in my opinion, the only true price point contender to the M951, but I still think the M951 has enough clout to not be eclipsed by the HL-X overall.
BUT YNH! I CAN USE HANDHELD LIGHT W WITH X LUMENS AND Y MOUNT FOR Z DOLLARS!
Again, totally true, but those setups are not vetted or recommended by manufacturers, even by Surefire. In fact, my first light setup was a Surefire 6PX Tactical in a Haley Strategic Thorntail Offset Light Mount, and that setup showed it’s deficiencies very quickly. In short, handheld lights in ring mounts have the potential to rock forward in their rings and come loose if not properly mounted. This is what happened with mine, due to a malformed Thorntail ring (which IWC replaced, they are totally cool, not dissing them in the slightest). Not only that, but the “permanently affixed” bezel from the 6PX came loose, probably from the heat radiating off the gas block and melting the threadlocker inside the bezel. This all happened in the span of ~100 rounds. To be fair, this is definitely an extreme example, but it does rightfully highlight the potential problems of handheld ring mounted weaponlights. Since that setup, I only opt for machined body weaponlights, like the M951, as they are just more durable with less to go wrong. I for one will be sticking with my M300C and my M951 for my weaponlight needs.
Conclusion of the Series
Welp, that’s the M951. A veteran, a competitor, a light shining in darkness, and dare I say, a legit meme? I’m glad I could compile all this information along with my own experiences into a confined series regarding this light, especially considering that there isn’t a really concentrated source of info on the M951 anywhere else. The irony of the lack of concentrated M951 info and the ubiquity of the light still isn’t lost on me either. I hope that this series will act as a good enduring M951 resource, and allow fellow /k/ommandos and gun enthusiasts alike to gain an appreciation for this light. At the end of the day, the M951 has been there and done that, still has a lot to offer as a light, and is a piece of equipment ultimately worthy of respect. I for one love my Gen 2 Fat Body with SW02 Tailcap and will hold onto it as long as I can.
And just for the sake of /k/, here’s my early Iraq M4A1 Clone Build with the light mounted:
Thanks for reading.