When you talk about weapon-mounted lights, SureFire is one that many talk about and use. Their legacy weapon lights are undeniably a world standard. Their Hellfighter is the king of their weapon light portfolio. It was used by the US military and we will look more closely at it in this article. The Friday Night Lights series is brought to you by ATN Corp, manufacturers of night vision and thermal optics like the THOR LT. As with all of our sponsored series, Friday Night Lights will continue to bring you unbiased news and reviews from a variety of companies.
SureFire @ TFB:
One Light To Rule Them All And In The Darkness, Blind Them
The SureFire Hellfighter is a monster of a weapon-mounted light. It was designed for use on heavy crew-served weapons. This is the first generation version and is reported to have 3,500 lumens and over 700k candela.
When the Hellfighter first came out, SureFire called it the Hellfire. However, due to confusion over the Hellfire missile system, they changed the name.
Unleash A Storm Of Light. Air, land or sea, the SureFire Hellfighter 4 (HF4) is a rugged lighting system that fulfills the extreme needs of crew-served weapons such as the M2, M240, Mk 19, Miniguns and chain guns. Its high-intensity (HID) beam is virtually immune to failure from recoil, vibration, or impact, and its specialized reflector directs light out to 1,500 meters while also delivering a wide cone of peripheral illumination for enhanced patrol or search efficacy. Its dual swing-open filter/cover system protects its multi-coated, tempered window from impact and debris, and allows the operator to quickly choose between unfiltered white light and filtered IR (730–4,600 nm range). With its sealed, high-strength aerospace aluminum body and Mil-Spec Type III hard anodizing, the HF4 thrives in the combat zone.
I got my Hellighter almost a decade ago. I bought it used for $500 and that did not include any accessories. Normally, the Hellfighter comes in a large pelican case as seen below, still using the Hellfire name.
There is a large compartment for the M weapon mount and some cables. The SureFire Hellfighter does not have batteries or a body. I have a custom-made one seen above and will explain that later. The Hellfighter was designed to be powered by the vehicle the weapon was mounted to. Like an M2 on a Hummer. The cable could be tied into the 24v system of the vehicle and then plugged into the back of the Hellfighter. The cable has a grip switch for remote activation that aids in activating the light when it is mounted on a long gun like the M2.
There are a number of covers and filters for the Hellfighter. Most of the used ones I have seen come with either an infrared filter, a light-blocking cover, or a yellow filter.
Using The Hellfighter
Since I do not have a crew-served weapon of my own, the Hellfighter is used as a stationary illumination device. I had a custom 12v accessory cable made so I could plug the Hellfighter into a normal 12v socket in any vehicle. I then tripod mount the Hellfighter using a Pig Saddle.
Lighting up a tree 500 yards away.
The Hellfighter is a monster of a light. See the white speck in the middle of the hot spot below? That is a small building 530 yards away. The light can illuminate a good-sized field. There is a slight problem with how bright the Hellfighter is, and it is due to the hot spot. It is a giant column of light shining outwards. Particulates in the air are lit up and make it harder to see down the beam. It is better to have the light a little ways off to the side like how I photographed the picture below.
Here is a photo of the Hellfighter with an infrared filter. I photographed this with my full spectrum Sony A7S.
The Hellfighter is normally mounted on a proprietary weapon mount. Many of them come with an M2 mount. Since I do not have an M2, I found the mount fits my Can Cannon.
I ended up using a QD mount and bolted it to the carry handle of the Hellfighter. This way I can attach it to any Picatinny rail.
Powering The Hellfighter
Fans of SureFire like buying the SureFire Hellfighter (SFHF) but struggle to power it. Your only options are trying to source military batteries to feed it otherwise custom solutions are your only hope. With my custom 12v cable, I was able to briefly power it using a Goal Zero Yeti power supply.
Due to the high amp draw of the Hellfighter, this power supply stopped working after a while. The power bank still functions but refuses to power the Hellfighter.
Back when I was an active member of CandlePower Forums, a fellow member was making custom battery handles for the Hellfighter. I ordered one and picked it up. Due to the variances between Hellfighter, the battery handle did not work. Then he realized they reversed polarity. We had to Dremel one of the screw holes to make a new ground and then it worked. Because of this uncertainty, he stopped making these handles. He only made two of them.
The custom handle uses 4x 26650 batteries and runs the Hellfighter for 1 hour. Below is an x-ray my other friend helped me take of the Hellfighter with a battery handle.
There is a cousin to the Hellfighter and that is the SureFire Beast. Both of them are HID or Arclights. However, the Beast has a ring of auxiliary LEDs for lower power illumination. The Beast was marketed as a search and rescue light.
In true “SureFire Lego” fashion, the battery handle of the Beast fits the Hellfighter.
I only have the basic model Beast. The battery handle holds 20x CR123s to power the light.
My friend Craig of Illumn.com owns two Beasts GenII and a Prototype Gen 1.
The deluxe version of the Beast comes in a larger Pelican case that acts as a recharging dock. The Beast comes with two handles – the same 20xCR123 battery handle that I have and a rechargeable battery handle.
Craig has two Beasts and the prototype. The one in the middle and smaller case is my Beast.
Final Thoughts On The Hell Fighter
The SureFire HF is a cool light and is bright. But it is not the brightest light out there. There are other lesser-known lights that can throw light further or crank out more lumens. That doesn’t mean the Hellfighter is obsolete. But the proprietary nature makes it a bit unusable for most. You need to source or build your own way to power it. It does not mount to anything unless you modify it.
One aspect I noticed was the bright beam is actually a bit too bright for my naked eyes, especially if I am directly behind the light. Similar issue with LEP lights, all I see is a bright column and not the object I am illuminating. Dust and other particulates in the air interfere with the light. If I use some magnified optic I can overcome this problem.
That being said, if you are ok with the power supply problem and can find one for cheap, it might be worth it to pick it up. But to buy a new one at full retail of around $6,500-$9,000 is a bit steep. Go to SureFire’s website to find out more about their latest version of the Hellfighter.