Debuting in late 2018, the Surefire Stiletto was all the rage. Its unusual form factor, combined with support from big names in the industry instantly catapulted it into the "must have" category for anyone in the know. Seeking higher performance and superior ergonomics, I had to try one for myself.
Surefire Stiletto Form Factor
Most immediately noticeable is the unusual shape of the Surefire Stiletto. Instead of being cylindrical like most flashlights, the Stiletto is wide and flat. If you've caught on, this shape is similar to that of a stiletto knife, hence the name. This flat body improves comfort when carried in the pocket, conforming better to the wearer.
The majority of the light is made from polymer, with the bezel being surrounded by aluminum for durability. This composite construction helps to keep the hand cool during extended use, while ensuring a long lifespan. Even when left on high for over 10 minutes, the body was just slightly warm with a bezel that could be touched without pain. The polymer is fairly smooth, with ridges along the sides for a solid purchase in poor conditions. Front and back of the light are slightly larger to prevent the Stiletto from sliding out of your hand. The Stiletto is IPX-7 rated for water resistance.
A melonited pocket clip is fixed to the aluminum bezel. Unfortunately, this is permanently in place. Due to this, the Stiletto must be carried bezel-up. Surefire updated the Stiletto Pro with a reversible clip, but did not update the original design. The clip is fairly wide and offers excellent retention. It's strength in concert with the thin light body help to keep the Stiletto in place during aggressive movements. Not once has this light fallen from my pocket where others frequently get left behind unknowingly. The Stiletto is light enough to be effectively clipped to my cap's brim, frequently acting as an impromptu headlamp.
The Surefire Stiletto features two activation buttons. On top of the light is the primary switch, accessed with a TV remote style grip. This is a constant-on switch that is fairly large and round, slightly raised from the body. A single press activates one of the three brightness settings. Leaving the light on for over two seconds and pressing the primary switch again turns off the light. Pressing this switch in under two seconds swaps between brightness settings.
Gentle presses are more than enough to function the primary switch, though timing for a quick on/off at lower levels can be tricky. This sometimes results in cycling brightness settings instead of turning off the light. Once off, the Stiletto will not remember your last brightness setting, and will return to either high or low based upon user programming.
- High: 650 Lumens, 1,350 candela, 1.75 hour runtime
- Medium: 250 Lumens, 2 hour runtime
- Low: 5 Lumens, 30 hour runtime
At the rear of the Stiletto is a small oval button, in a syringe-like setup. This is the "tactical" switch to be used with an icepick style grip. Operating on momentary only, pressing this immediately activates the 650 lumen high mode. Users also have the option of strobe functionality using the tactical switch. Three rapid presses of the tactical switch will activate strobe. Once released, the Stiletto defaults back to high mode unless triple tapped again. This button requires a little more force to activate, but not so much to be difficult to hold. While small, the tactical switch uses its entirety for activation, so there are no dead zones on the button.
Of note, the Tactical switch protrudes slightly above it's protective ears. This means that the Stiletto cannot be placed on end to provide umbrella lighting.
Next to the primary switch is the crescent shaped programming button. Settings described above are default for the Stiletto. Users can independently change modes for both switches to suit their preference. Mode two for the primary switch simply reverses the order of cycle into high to low. Mode two with the tactical switch changes it to constant on at high brightness, removing the momentary and strobe functions. There is also an emergency mode which changes the programming button to a medium strobe.
Power and Performance
The Surefire Stiletto relies solely on its rechargeable battery for power. Recharging is done via a micro-USB port just below the primary and programming switches. This is covered by a rubber flap to protect it from weather and debris. This means you can charge it anywhere you have power, from a portable bank or wall outlet. The downside is there is no way to instantly return to full power, and if you don't have a power source, you can't charge the light.
Luckily, the Stiletto holds a charge for a very long time. I first bought mine in December, which came fully charged. In April the light still reflected 95% or higher charge, even with frequent use. Despite this, I plugged it into the charger before a low light course with Agile Training & Consulting. After a long night of constant use, the Stiletto is still showing green. Without a doubt, the Surefire Stiletto has the best battery life out of any handheld light I currently own. Whether the rechargeable battery maintains its performance over time remains to be seen.
Users can check their battery on the fly. Pressing the Program button when the light is off will illuminate a small LED just below the Program and Primary switches. This LED changes color based upon the current charge of the Stiletto, and is also on while the light is running.
- Green: 100% Charged
- Yellow: Charging, medium capacity
- Red: Charging, low capacity recharge immediately
- Flashing red: Pre-charge mode battery critically Low
- Green: 95-100% Charged
- Yellow: Battery charge low (reduce light output level or recharge)
- Red: Low capacity recharge immediately
- Flashing red: Battery critically low
The Stiletto uses Surefire's Maxvision reflector. This is designed for wide flood, but relatively little throw. Combined with medium lumens and lackluster candela, the Stiletto is certainly focused on nearby problems. Even when indoors, getting proper ID on targets at 15 yards can be a challenge, as the beam rapidly dissipates. Up close, the light is extremely bright, being very capable for average room distances. If you're looking to light up things at a distance, look to something like the Surefire EDCL2 or the Streamlight 1L-1AA.
As distance closes, the light really begins to shine. The wide beam helps to pick up things you might normally miss. This also can potentially illuminate your cover where other lights wouldn't have the spill to, for better or worse. While I greatly dislike the reduced reach, the extended battery life and functionality have kept the Stiletto in my pocket.
Final Thoughts on the Surefire Stiletto
Overall the Surefire Stiletto seems to be a solid offering for a handheld light. It provides an excellent form factor and effective controls. While it comes up short in terms of reach, it performs well at typical use distances. If you're looking for an administrative or defensive light in urban/suburban areas, this might be a good choice. If you frequent rural areas, or need something with more throw, you'll want to look elsewhere.
The Surefire Stiletto is available now, with an MSRP of $109.00. You can purchase yours >>HERE<<