Malkoff M61 Head Review - SureFire Upgrade?

Disclaimer: The Malkoff M61 units were purchased at the cost of the Author.

Malkoff M61 Review Featured Image

The race for more lumens and higher candela has been in full swing for some time. Modern LED flashlights put out thousands of lumens, and many thousands of candela. However, what if you wanted to do a quick upgrade to an older light? Well, if that light is an older SureFire 6P or M95X series, the Malkoff M61 head unit might be your fix.

What is the Malkoff M61?

Malkoff Devices is an Alabama based company that specializes in flashlights, and flashlight components. They've been a big name in lights for a long time, being known for their incandescent to LED conversions for older flashlights. Malkoff also produces their own lights now, but that is a tale for another time.

The M61 is an LED conversion for specific models of SureFire lights. The M61 is the "high" lumen head unit, pushing out 450 lumens, at roughly about 5700 candela. These are drop in pieces that replace the venerable SureFire P60 incandescent lamp. SureFire's P60 had a whopping output of 65 lumens, and roughly about 390 candela. This is a major upgrade!

Malkoff M61 Vs. Surefire P60
The shiny Malkoff M61 sits on the left, with the SureFire P60 on the right.

The Malkoff M61 has a brass construction for the body, with a beefy spring for making battery contact. The build quality is great, and has some heft to it that the P60 does not. The reflector is also brightly polished, and aides in the throw of the light. Battery runtime of the M61 is about 75 minutes with a taper run-off, when using two new CR123A batteries.

The Malkoff M61 retails for $55 directly from Malkoff, but they tend to be on sale often. I've personally picked up two of them, one for a SureFire 6P, and one for the M952. Malkoff recommends avoiding this specific unit for use in the completely plastic SureFire G2s, and recommends the lower output heads instead.

How does the Malkoff M61 head compare to the SureFire P60 bulb?

Using the Malkoff M61, and SureFire Comparison

SureFire M952
A SureFire M952 unit was used for testing and comparing the M61 to the P60.

For the following testing, both the M61 and the P60 were used in the same SureFire M952 light. The KommandoStore Gondola was positioned on a fencepost, about 25 meters away from the flashlight. First up was a close zoom-in with the camera, to show the hotspot on both heads.

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Next came a wide shot, to show the throw and usable spill on both heads.

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It goes without saying, but the M61 blows the socks off of the P60 bulb. This isn't surprising, but it makes the point that the old lights can be upgraded. However, this also leads to the next factor: durability. With the M61 being an LED head, and made of brass construction, it will survive more than the P60 bulb can. LED's won't burn out at the same rate that the filament in a bulb will. LED's have obvious advantages, and the M61 capitalizes on this.

M61 KS Gondola
Gondola REALLY likes the Malkoff M61.

I've used the Malkoff M61 for about 8 months now, and can solidly say that it is a good purchase, but only if you have a reason to buy it. What are my reasons?

Reasons to Purchase the Malkoff M61

The M61 is a great, worthwhile upgrade to any older SureFire light. However, the Malkoff M61 is not better than a modern handheld flashlight. For the price of the M61, a new SureFire G2 or 6PX can be had. Both of these lights put out superior lumens and candela, and are well made. If you factor in purchasing an older Surefire and then buying an M61, you could have something like the EDCL2-T for the same money.

I think that there are two reasons to purchase an M61 head:

  • If you already have a compatible flashlight.
  • If you are cloning period gear loadouts, or a firearm.

Both of the SureFire lights that I have installed M61 units went onto period guns. One is a 1990s' Colt 723-ish gun, and the other is on an early GWOT carbine. I picked up my M61s for the second reason I listed. However, the M61 would be great to retrofit into a light that you already own, and don't want to replace. Maybe it was dad or mom's special light, or it is a sentimental piece from an older time. The product is good, just requires the right reason to purchase.

Should You Purchase the Malkoff M61?

Yes, but only if you meet one of the aforementioned stipulations. The M61 is well made, and is a very fine upgrade to an older SureFire, but only if you have the right reasons.

723 Clone SureFire 6P
The M61 can upgrade an older light, to make a cloner gun more usable.

I would like to thank the previous online users that have run the calculations on lumens, candela, and lux for the M61 and P60 units. Their online posts are linked above in that section.

I would also like to thank my friends over at KommandoStore for their Gondola doll for an identification target during light testing. Thanks for purchasing it, Nate. 

About Paul Whaley 67 Articles
Paul Whaley is a guy with an interest in practical and defensive pistol shooting techniques with an eye for quality gear.

1 Comment

  1. I got a Surefire 6P about 30 years ago when I was working graveyard patrol and needed a light that would work without fail. It served me well in uniform, and I continued carrying it when promoted to plain clothes assignments. After retirement, it continued as my EDC light, in total I carried it for about 20 years, until I finally replaced it with another Surefire light, a newer LED model. A couple of years ago, I upgrated my original 6P with the Malkoff Devices head unit you tested. I too was really impressed with it's upgraded performance. While I don't carry it anymore, it now rests in a place of honor, on the stand next to my bed, ready to be used again at a moments notice if needed.

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