Thanks for the additional details Brad. Could you post a photo?
I'm looking into these very inexpensive Cree LEDs which seem very bright for the wattage needed and the dynamic LED heatsink/housing may suit my purposes. Also you can get optics to create the wider/flatter pattern you mentioned. 1000 lm @ 500 mA and 12V!
These are the kind of LEDs that are used in headlamps (the kind you wear) and flashlights. I have a headlamp with a similar LED and it is insanely bright with the 8 volt battery supply.