SureFire Y300 Ultra

Review: SureFire Y300 Ultra

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The new Y300 Ultra is SureFire’s latest entry into the compact handheld flashlight market and features a decidedly different look than any of their previous handheld flashlights. Based upon the X300 Ultra weapon light, the new Y300 Ultra is powered by a pair of 123A lithium primary batteries, arranged side-by-side rather than inline, resulting in an extremely compact design. In addition to a 500 lumen maximum output, the Y300 Ultra also adds a 15 lumen low mode suitable for up-close work.

To provide multiple carry options, the flashlight has an integrated magnetic base in place of the weapon mounting hardware of the X300 and may be used with the included quick-detach belt clip or steel 2-way pocket clip. The Y300 Ultra has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price of $295.00 with retail pricing approximately $210.00.

A sample of the Y300 Ultra was provided by SureFire for the duration of this review.  

SureFire Y300 Ultra – Overview

The Y300 Ultra arrives with the standard assortment of SureFire literature along with a pair of SureFire CR123 primary batteries, magnetic quick-detach belt clip, and removable 2-way steel pocket clip.

SureFire Y300 Ultra

The body of the light is constructed of high-strength aerospace aluminum with a matte black hard-anodized finish. A polymer cover, secured to the top of the Y300 Ultra by four screws, houses the powerful magnet. The 1.125” bezel has mild crenelations and is compatible with the SureFire F04-A diffuser, F05-A red filter, and F06-A blue filter (see their mini-review).

SureFire Y300 Ultra

Turning the light over reveals the plastic thumb latch which secures the battery compartment cover. Aluminum protrusions on either side of the latch protect it from damage or inadvertent opening. Large markings indicate proper battery orientation.

SureFire Y300 Ultra

The battery compartment cover is hinged at the top and swings up to allow access to the batteries which are supported by springs at both the head and tail. A gasket is used to maintain a weather tight seal when the compartment is closed.

SureFire Y300 Ultra

The built-in magnet holds the batteries solidly in place, even with the cover open, requiring a hard shake to remove them from the compartment. When installing new batteries, the magnet will pull a single battery toward the center of the compartment, sometimes making it difficult to insert the second battery. For this reason, it’s easiest to slide both batteries in at the same time, taking care to ensure proper orientation.

The ambidextrous switching mechanism is also incorporated into the battery compartment cover with two toggles, one on each side. Momentary output is achieved with a light press (toward the front of the light) while constant-on output is initiated by pressing up or down on either toggle.

SureFire Y300 Ultra

The opposing toggles are connected such that moving one moves the other in the opposite direction. Operation is the same no matter which way the toggles are moved allowing predictable results regardless of how the light is held.

SureFire Y300 Operation

The Y300 Ultra always turns on in high mode first with low mode accessed by turning off and back on again within 1 second. The switch allows moving between momentary and constant-on output without changing output modes. There is no way to “lock out” the Y300 Ultra to prevent accidental activation.

SureFire Y300 Ultra – Mounting Options

Right out of the package, the Y300 Ultra is ready to be used with the provided magnetic pocket clip. The clip also has its own magnet which helps guide the light into place in either vertical or horizontal orientation where it could be used for hands-free illumination.

SureFire Y300 Ultra

Four protrusions on the clip ensure correct orientation and help hold the Y300 Ultra securely in place. Regardless of orientation, two will engage between the Y300 body and magnetic cover while the remaining two lie alongside the cover preventing the light from rotating while in the clip. The magnetic attraction is strong enough that it is difficult to remove the light if trying to pull it straight from the clip. Pulling outward on the bezel provides additional leverage and allows the light to be removed quickly and easily.

SureFire Y300 Ultra

The clip is sized for belts or straps up to 2” wide and presents a very low profile when the light is removed. When the Y300 Ultra is placed in the clip, it protrudes less than 1.5” from the face of the belt. (Click for larger images)

Alternatively the provided 2-way steel pocket clip can be used in place of the magnetic belt clip. A larger version of the clip used on E-series SureFire lights, the 2-way clip is installed by first removing the 4 screws securing the polymer cover to the body of the Y300 Ultra.

SureFire Y300 Ultra

The 2-way clip is then slipped over the cover until it engages with a raised tab on the bottom. The entire assembly is then reattached to the Y300 Ultra as before.

SureFire Y300 Ultra

The 2-way clip allows the Y300 Ultra to be pocket carried or attached to a strap in a bezel-up or down position. The clip is much stronger than those found on E-series lights and provides a very secure hold.

SureFire Y300 Ultra

SureFire Y300 Ultra - Manufacturer's Specifications

 SureFire Y300 Ultra
Output (High)500 lumens (2.25 hours*)
Output (Low)15 lumens (15 hours)
Length3.6 inches (91 mm)
Body Width1.47 inches (37.3 mm)
Body Height1.04 inches (26.4 mm)
Bezel Diameter1.125" (28.6mm)
Weight (with batteries)5.5 ounces (156 grams)

* Until output drops to 10% of initial level

SureFire Y300 Ultra – Performance

The Y300 Ultra uses a 22mm Total Internal Reflection (TIR) lens to produce a beam with a bright center hotspot for extended reach while maintaining a very broad spill beam for peripheral vision. The beam has a generally cool tint with the hotspot and surrounding corona having more of a creamy white tint. Even at the lower 15 lumen output level the Y300 Ultra provides good reach and is very well suited for more close-in tasks.

The following slides show a comparison between the Y300 Ultra and several other lights to give some perspective regarding its output and beam profile. The beamshots can be compared across the full width of the image using the slider and additional images can be accessed by using the navigation buttons in the bottom-right corner.

The following lights are used in the comparison:

  1. SureFire EB1 Backup (Review)
  2. SureFire E1D LED Defender (Review)
  3. SureFire P2X Fury (Review)
  4. SureFire EB2 Backup (Review)
  5. Elzetta Bravo with AVS (Review)
  6. Armytek Predator Pro

Beamshots – 30 Yards to Swing

Beamshots – 100 Yards to Building

 

Runtime

The Y300 Ultra is rated to produce 2.25 hours of runtime (until output drops to 10%) in its highest output mode when powered by two CR123 lithium primary batteries. As with other SureFire LED lights LFP123 rechargeable batteries may also be used.

SureFire Y300 Ultra

Tests were conducted using Battery Station 123A lithium primary batteries and K2 Energy LFP123 cells to measure the Y300 Ultra’s performance over time. The 100% value shown on the following chart is based on the light’s output after 30 seconds of operation.

SureFire Y300 Ultra runtime

With both battery types the Y300 Ultra produced an initial higher burst of output which declined over the first several seconds before settling down into a period of regulated runtime. Output remained relatively stable for the remainder of regulated runtime.

When powered by the Battery Station 123A primary batteries, the Y300 Ultra maintained regulation for over 90 minutes before beginning a long decline as the batteries were depleted.  Output dropped to 10% of the initial output after 128 minutes but the light continued to produce a useful amount of light until the test was ended after 4 hours of continuous operation.

The rechargeable LFP123 batteries produced nearly identical output for the first 45 minutes of the test before beginning a very rapid decline as they were depleted.

When operated continuously, the Y300 Ultra can become quite warm but not too hot to hold.

SureFire Y300 Ultra – Conclusions

The Y300 Ultra is an interesting light and since it was first announced I have wondered how well a weapon light could be adapted for handheld use. After a week’s worth of use I can say there have been some surprises.

To begin with, I expected the Y300 Ultra to have essentially the same beam profile as my two EB2 Backups and E2D LED Defender Ultra. However, it was immediately obvious that something was different. With the Y300, the center hotspot is broader and slightly less defined with a much nicer creamy white tint. Subjectively the overall output appears the same between all the lights although the Y300 Ultra has slightly less reach with its broader hotspot. The beam tint and profile is a close match to the newly released E1D LED Defender and it appears they may use the same LED, driven at different levels.

The second surprise was just how well the Y300 Ultra fits in the hand when held in an overhand grip. While it’s nothing like a conventional round-bodied flashlight, the oblong cross section fits almost naturally in the crook of my fingers as I close my hand around the light. The switch is easy to operate regardless of which side is “up” and after a short amount of use seems almost natural. The side-by-side battery arrangement also creates a very compact package, shorter than even the old SureFire E1B Backup.

SureFire Y300 Ultra size comparison

The last major surprise was the effectiveness of the magnetic clip. To be perfectly honest I didn’t expect much from the magnets and, since many of my lights use the 2-way clip, I installed the steel clip soon after receiving the Y300 Ultra. I found the steel clip to fit very tightly and when carried bezel down (which I prefer) I tended to accidentally activate the light in momentary mode when sitting. After experiencing some “hot pockets” and switching to bezel-up carry I decided to give the magnetic clip a try and have not been disappointed.

Naturally the thought of trusting a pair of magnets to keep up with a $200+ light can be a little disconcerting but I have to say the magnetic clip works extremely well with the Y300 Ultra. The light practically locks into place when inserted into the clip and there is no way it will come off simply due to exertion or activity. The attraction between the two magnets is impressive and I found that, with the Y300 Ultra lying on a table, just waving the clip 1.5” above it will cause the light to jump to the clip and snap into place with authority.

Even with the strong magnetic attraction, deployment remains easy when the bezel is pulled outward away from the clip. I have only tried belt carry but this attachment method seems like it would be perfect for use on a pack strap or tactical vest. Aside from that, having a strong magnet attached to a light facilitates all sorts of impromptu uses anywhere a steel surface can be found.

SureFire Y300 Ultra

If there is a downside to the magnetic mounting system, it’s that the magnets are powerful enough to interfere with some electronic devices and is definitely strong enough to snatch up any small steel objects that get too close. In addition, SureFire specifically warns against placing the Y300 Ultra near pacemakers unless the magnetic base is removed. In instances where this is a concern, it appears the magnet could be removed from the base while still allowing use with the steel 2-way clip.

From an operational standpoint the light has worked well and I haven’t experienced any real problems. Normal mode changes seem to work well although I did experience a few instances of the Y300 Ultra staying in the same mode when rapidly and repeatedly cycling off and back on in momentary mode. However, this did not reflect what I consider normal use and should not be an issue for most users.

One feature I would like to see added is the ability to lock out the switch to prevent unintentional activation. Also, it would be nice if the magnetic belt clip was truly reversible. When the Y300 Ultra is carried vertically this doesn’t matter very much but if carried horizontally, it will face forward when carried on the left side of the body and rearward when carried on the right. Facing forward is good for hands-free lighting but facing rearward seems a more natural position for quickly putting the light to use.

All things considered the Y300 Ultra deserves more credit than I thought for being a viable handheld light.  It’s powerful, easy to use, and should be durable with its weapon light pedigree.  Add in the compact size and it’s an impressive little light that’s not much bigger than a deck of playing cards.

SureFire Y300 Ultra

Strengths

  • Ultra compact size for a 2x123A light
  • Good output with nice beam tint
  • Broad center hotspot with good reach
  • Magnetic mounting options
  • Some users (like me) will like the 15 lumen low mode more than the 5 lumen rating of some other SureFire lights

Concerns

  • Switch cannot be locked out
  • Powerful magnets may cause issues with electronics or other devices
  • Some users will not like the 15 lumen low mode and say it should have been lower!

For more information about the Y300 Ultra, be sure to visit the SureFire website.  The CR123A batteries used for runtime testing were provided by the kind folks at Battery Station.

Have you ever wanted to know what goes into the production of SureFire flashlights?  Check out our exclusive Behind the Scenes look at the SureFire machining and production facilities in Orange County, California.

 

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2 Comments

  1. Hi, Great review Jim…Is there any way to attach a lanyard to this flashlight? I remember seeing in 2014 SHOT show video, where all sf lights are attached to some kind of tether, so that it does not go missing…

    • There aren’t any built-in lanyard attachment points but there are probably a few ways a home made lanyard could be tied onto the light. If you were willing to modify the plastic battery cover you could probably do a few things as well. Thanks for visiting!

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