One of our readers asked us what we thought of clone lights and while I would never advocate useing a knockoff product in place of the real thing there are recreational shooters out there who have the luxury of this option , so in that vien we picked two of the best selling x300 clones on the market and did a comparison between the two.
Flying Edition (non-trade marked version) vs. Emerson
Surefire X300 replicas appeared, I believe sometime around late 2010 and were made popular by the myriad of photos on the internet of Navy SEAL Mk25s’ mounted with these weapon lights. There are several Chinese companies that have since made their own clone versions of the X300, however this review will focus on two of the higher quality replicas on the market.
With nearly identical aesthetics and functionality with SureFire’s X300, but at 1/3 less than retail price, one can easily see why these are very attractive option to those who want an X300 for their SEAL impression, but can’t justify spending upwards of $300 on the real thing.
I won’t go into too many details of the technical specs of the X300; you can read them on the SureFire website. I’ll just go over some general features but the focus will mainly be on the comparison between the Emerson and the Flying Edition (FE) clone that might help people make up their minds about which one to get – Emerson or FE?
Both versions of these clones have been mounted to both a 9mm and a 40cal ‘real-steel’ to test their shock resistance and even after 600 rounds of each still function perfectly! It may be of some value to note that when mounted to a pistol, the lenses protrude past the muzzle by at least an inch and a half which is certainly within the muzzle blast area. I have tested some other clone lights including some NC Star brand ones that simply do hold up to the shock and heat of the blast.
Both units were placed under a running tap for 10 minutes with no notable impact to their functionality (Water submersion was test was not done)
The Emerson clone is only slightly heavier, than the FE version, both brands are identical in phyical shape and dimensions to the SureFire. Both clones will fit the Safariland 6004 and any other holsters designed to accommodate the X300. While both the Emerson and the FE are available in both blank and Trademarked versions, overall, I prefer the look and aesthetics of the Emerson better – the FE has a shinier finish while the Emerson one has more of a matte/flat black one and the laser engraving is crisper by comparison. Like the Surefire X300 both clones have plastic rails that require you to slide the light onto the rail from the front while depressing the rail lock. The rail lock is spring loaded which keeps it locked into place. Just as with the SureFire, both clones come with a Universal rail adapter and a Picatinny rail adapter (differentiated by the “U” or the “P” markings under the adapter) and an allen key for removing the 6 set screws.
The battery cover contacts are the spring type for better contact –as opposed to the older leaf-spring style battery contacts found on the earlier SureFire models which can have a tendency to ‘flatten’ out over time and provide less pressure on the battery.
Some slight differences between the two versions are:
• FE: Battery cover retaining pin – A small clip that inserts into a small hole behind the battery cover release button prevents it from disengaging accidentally.
• Finnish – As mentioned previously, the FE model has a bit more of a shiny finish as opposed to the more matte finish of the Emerson model. The engravings on the Emerson version are also slightly more refined.
• Emerson: Tighter Springs – the springs on the rail lock, and the tail cap latch are much stronger on the Emerson making it more snug.
• Another difference between the FE and Emerson is the bezel assembly and lens. Both utilize the same 5 watt LED as the SureFire, however the FE lens is convex like a fish eye, and focuses the beam into a narrow spot. The FE clone has a slightly brighter, tightly focused beam, just a bit brighter than the Emerson with more throw. Both beams spots are circular but the Emerson spot is more even. Rotating the tailcap switch on the FE counter clockwise once turns it on momentarily, and again clockwise turns on the strobe, turning it counter clockwise turns on steady strobe and again turns it on. That being said the Emerson clone swithc functions are identical to the SureFire: push the switch forward on either side will activate the ‘momentary on’ rotate the switch up or down turns the light on, there is no strobe function. The switch design itself on both lights, replicate the real X300 and are fully ambidextrous. The FE switch does appear to have a bit more play by comparison and the Emerson switch seems tighter and feels more solid.
I don’t see any practical difference in illumination performance between the two, and I’m guessing that people will be making their decisions based on how important the Strobe feature is to them.
Based on operator requests for a wider beam for searching small rooms in closer quarters, the SureFire X200B model was developed. Like the X200B the Emerson version has a flat lens and ripple-coated reflector that produces a beam that has a brighter periphery and a more diffused center spot. While the FE version has a longer throw (reach), the Emerson is better for indoor use as the beam illuminates a larger area which makes it easier/quicker to find things (or people).
Watch this video below, where Travis Haley talks about some important considerations when selecting a weapon light.
[url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V78tH6aVpuM”%5DHaley Strategic Darkness Solutions – YouTube[/url]
The comparison photo below illustrates the differences in the FE and Emerson beams, which was taken with the lights about 2 feet from the wall. The FE has almost no peripheral illumination while the Emerson has a more diffused spot and a wide peripheral beam (about 4.5 ft across at that distance).
• Emerson switch – The standard X300 switch is a rotating toggle which turns the light on and off. Rotating the switch either way locks the light on. Pressing forward on the switch turns it on momentarily. The Emerson switch functions identical to this however the FE has an added strobe feature which I actually like, and is activated the same way as the solid beam.
• Packaging – the FE comes in a Pelican type hard case with foam inserts whereas the Emerson one comes in a thick cardboard box with foam inserts.
In summary, both these clone lights are extremely well made, durable, and have nearly the same light output as the Surefire X300 (170 lumens). Obviously the main selling feature of any clone light is price, and at an MSRP of anywhere from $80-$100 both the Emerson and the FE are hard to beat and are worth every penny. These lights give the casual shooter everything they need at a third of the cost of the real deal without having to sacrifice too much (if any) in functionality. By overall comparison, both clones are pretty close, however the Emerson gets the slight nod as a slightly more exacting replica for the matte finish, the tighter laser engravings, and for keeping the switch functions the same as the real SureFire. For all intents and purposes, the Emerson version is an exact replica of the Surefire X300. The Flying Edition version does have an added strobe feature that neither the real X300 or the Emerson one has which is really nice, and the lens assembly does look a bit better made.
There you have it guys, I hope you found this review at least somewhat useful or at the very least slightly entertaining.