So you’ve bought yourself new pistol/handgun, with all the cool tactical accessories and a storage case to store your precious investment — but did you remember to get a pistol light?
Whether someone is indoors or outside, they can’t always control the lighting conditions around them. If it gets too dark, the chances of hitting your target go down significantly. Light is important for visibility, and visibility is paramount for firearm accuracy. Sure you could use a separate flashlight to light your way, but no serious handgun owner who cares about their accuracy (especially at long range) should have to compromise. What you need is a pistol light with a laser.
If you have a handgun, chances are that it is equipped with a picatinny rail system. These rail systems are used to attach accessories such as a pistol light. As big as the tactical market is, weapon lights have managed to carve their own niche within it. Every year with each passing iteration, pistol lights keep get brighter, smaller and more often than not, cheaper.
But what is the best pistol light for you? Should you go with SureFire X300 or the Streamlight TLR 1? It depends. Not all pistol lights are created equal and each one is designed for different individual needs. While you may not need a light with 500 lumens, 600 lumens or even 800 lumens of illumination, it does need to be bright enough to be useful. Thankfully, we’ve put together this collection of pistol light reviews to shed some “light” on the situation and help you choose the best pistol light money can buy.
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Our first model is not actually a pistol light but still a very useful accessory to have. The Streamlight TLR Weapon Light Contour Remote Switch is ergonomically designed to perform in any tactical situation, allowing you to easily access your lights functions without missing a beat. To be clear, this is not actually a pistol light but a switch for a TLR gun. If that’s what you need, look no further.
Whether you are using a light or laser only, this Streamlight product offers the optimal amount of tactical flexibility. The remote allows momentary activation of the Streamlight TLR-2HL on whatever mode you have the light’s selector selected on; when you squeeze the pressure to the handgun grip, it turns on the light without having to take a finger off of the grip to turn the light on or off. The switch features a strobe mode as well as the option to hold down a button for a steady light.
Due to the way it is designed, this Streamlight TLR switch is very convenient to use, regardless of your hand size! Installation is a breeze, taking less than five minutes.
However, there are a few tradeoffs with this Streamlight TLR switch. Some users report quality control issues, such as faulty switches or a touchy electrical connection. This can prevent the light from coming on or activating the light and laser on your handgun at the same time. Due to the position of the button on the switch, users may find that they inadvertently activate their light.
The Streamlight Compact Tactical Weapon Light TLR-3 offers targeted light in low-light circumstances, and is specifically designed to fit the rails on sub-compact and compact weapons and full-size handguns. Easy to install, this gun mounted light from Streamlight is easily mounted to a wide variety of firearms and detached with a rail clamp that provides a one-handed, snap-on and tighten interface, while keeping hands safely away from the gun muzzle. The Streamlight TLR-3 is suitable for any situation and individual, whether you’re a law enforcement personnel identifying threats on night patrol or just a cautious homeowner prepping your home defense.
What does it feel like to use? Good, almost great. In general the Streamlight TLR-3 is a well-designed, good-looking and easy to use product. It offers an extremely bright light and laser combo with plenty of illumination, almost as much as the more expensive brand name models on the market, for a fraction of the cost. If you need more light, the Streamlight TLR 1 is a good alternative.
This particular model is also lightweight, easy to install and does not protrude too far past the muzzle of your pistol, so you do not have to worry about it affecting the accuracy of your shot.
The Streamlight TLR-3 will fit most handgun models — it comes with several different adapters for your convenience. Make sure you use the supplied keys to anchor this light to your rail inserts
However, there are a few areas for improvement for this weapon light. While the installation is rather simple, Streamlight TLR-3 provides some rather poor instructions out of the box. This pistol light also has some questionable long-term reliability after multiple rounds of shooting. Depending on the weapon that you use, the recoil of your shot can cause the fixed part of the mounting bracket to crack and become compromised from stress; a stronger material like aluminum could have prevented this.
In terms of battery life, it is fairly short, lasting anywhere from 1 to 1.5 hours (depending whether or not the laser is turned on). This weapon light uses a CR2 type of battery instead of the typical CR123a batteries found in other tactical lights. Unfortunately, this is the tradeoff for the compact build of the Streamlight TLR-3. If you need a longer running light, check out the TLR 1 or TLR 2.
Equip your pistol with a Streamlight TLR-6 Tactical Light for Glock 26/27/33 to light up your surroundings for enhanced vision capabilities in the dark. Streamlight products are made from rugged, impact-resistant polymer, and are water resistant, so you can use them in the harshest conditions. This particular model includes an ambidextrous push-button switch to accommodate both left- and right-handed shooters. With a powerful light and red laser combo, you can navigate the night with ease.
After careful testing, the TLR-6 does offer plenty of visibility for your handgun, even if it is not the brightest weapon light available (it is effective for targets up to 15 yards/20 feet in true darkness). This is not surprising as a Streamline is well known for creating quality tactical accessories. The parabolic reflector on this model does a good job of creating a perfect balance of beam and peripheral illumination. It’s also very flexible, providing the shooter with three different viewing options: laser only, light only and a laser and light combination.
It’s also lightweight and conveniently allows you to replace the batteries without unmounting the light from your weapon. A very nice touch! In the durability department, the TLR-6 holds up quite nicely, even after a few hundred rounds of shooting at the range.
On the downside, the battery life is not the best on this weapon light, only lasting around 1 hour. Due to its design, shooters may find it difficult to procure a holster that fits this model properly. You will need to shop around a bit to find the right one.
All in all, at under $100, the TLR-6 is an exceptional value and one of the best pistol lights for concealed carry or home defense! If you do not own a Glock, the TLR 1 or TLR 2 are excellent alternatives.
The Glock Tactical Light GTL22 is a “safe action” tactical flashlight with a push button-activated red laser sight built in, designed to fit all current Glock pistols with the accessory rail. While the Glock GTL-22 Light and Laser is lightweight, it does not compromise on features and is specifically designed for duty use under extreme circumstances. The high-resistant polymer casing of this weapon light holds Xenon-technology electronics packing high luminous power that can easily be accessed using the ergonomic “soft switch.”
How does it perform in the field? It depends. This is a quality tactical light designed for certain circumstances and people in mind. If you are in the line of duty or someone who needs to up their self defense gun, this weapon light will get the job done. The Glock GTL22 comes in a durable polymer casing with water resistance and a spring-loaded switch so that shooters can easily activate the light and laser combo.
However, this isn’t the best option for everyone, especially if you do not own a Glock. With a light output of only 70 lumens, there are definitely more fully featured lights with higher lumens available. If you are looking for a brighter and more resistant light, you’d be better off going with the Streamlight TLR 2 or the SureFire X300. Battery life is about average, with the included CR123A battery lasting roughly 1 hour with continuous use before needing to be replaced/charged.
In the end, if you need the best, inexpensive pistol light for your Glock, you can’t go wrong with the Glock GTL22.
The Vector Optics Meteor 200 Lumen Pistol LED Light offers shooters a great tactical light for night time visibility at an exceptional value. Using a CREE Q5 Bulb, this pistol light comes with quick release picatinny mount base that allows it to fits most pistols with bottom rails. This is designed for real fire caliber, so it will not fit compact pistols.
For over 10 years, Vector Optics has been delivering a wide range of quality products, from riflescopes to weapon lights. This product is no different.
While it may not be the best pistol light on the market (like the Streamlight TLR 2), the Vector Optics Meteor 200 still offers an impressive amount of features for the price. With 200 lumens of brightness, it is bright enough to light up your targets, no matter how far away they are.
The included CR123A batteries are also above-average, lasting anywhere from 1.5 hours to 2 hours, depending on whether you also have the laser turned on. However, do your research and make sure you have the appropriate attachment system on your gun as you will need one with a bottom rail to attach this weapon light.
Bottom line, if you have the right pistol and need a surefire accessory to up your home defense at a great price (under $50), the Vector Optics Meteor 200 tactical light is a great, inexpensive alternative to the Streamlight TLR 1, TLR 2 or SureFire lights.
The Crimson Trace CMR-202 Rail Master Universal Tactical Light is a high-brightness, compact, space-efficient and energy efficient multi-use weapon light that can mount to a wide range of firearms and will fit almost any M1913 Picatinny or Weaver rail.
Crimson Trace is one of the best known brands in the world of tactical accessories. Since 1994, they’ve been a leader in firearms optics (primarily for pistols), earning a reputation for exceptional quality. The Crimson Trace CMR202 continues that tradition of excellence. This model marks Crimson Trace’s first universal fit weapon light and is built with industry leading quality, ergonomics and fit. White its compact size makes it an ideal flashlight for mounting on a pistol or other handguns, the Crimson Trace Rail Master CMR202 Universal LED Weapon Light works equally well on larger weapons such as rifles and shotguns (something most Streamline models like the TLR 1 or TLR 2 do not offer).
Whether you are using this for concealed carry or home defense, this Crimson Trace tactical light is the surefire solution for all your needs. With 200 lumens of brightness, this tactical light illuminates is bright enough for any low light condition, near or far. It will fit on most handgun models and as previously mentioned, it is versatile enough to fit on more than than one type of weapon! Conveniently, the Crimson Trace Rail Master Universal Light features programmable imbedded software, allowing the user to easily switch between the constant-on, momentary-on and strobe (Dazzler) modes.
Should you run into any issues, the Crimson Trace CMR-202 comes with one of the best warranties that includes access to a lifetime supply of batteries (these can be replaced without detaching the unit from the gun). Luckily, this tactical light comes with the typical Crimson Trace durability, with a rugged exterior that solidly protects the LED technology inside. Whether you’re tracking targets from long range or in close quarters, this model should be able to handle many rounds of shooting.
One of the few drawbacks with this model is that it can be overly sensitive — you may inadvertently activate the light and/or laser without intending to. Moreover, this will not fit many holsters. So if you want to avoid any headaches, do some research in advance to make sure yours is compatible.
If you’re looking for one the best fully featured, reasonably-priced tactical lights that works even at longer distances, you can’t go wrong here!
When you start doing your research into the best pistol light your money can buy, it can be very easy to become overwhelmed by all of the options. Do you go with something modest like the Streamlight TLR 2 or something more heavy duty like the SureFire X300? Lucky for you, we are here to breakdown all that information and answer some of the most frequently asked questions about weapon lights.
Short answer, yes. Whenever you are firing a weapon, you always want to be sure of your target. Unless you’ve eaten enough carrots to be able to see in the dark or own a pair of night-vision goggles, you will want to have a tactical light at your disposal when it gets dark.
As a bonus, most come with either a red laser or green laser for increased accuracy. Lights that use a green laser tend to be more accurate during the day than their red laser counterparts. Some models offer a red and green laser for added versatility.
Did you know, in 2012, at least 27% of home invasions in the United States occurred at night? When you and your family are fast asleep in bed, you’re never more vulnerable. You need a surefire solution that you can rely on to light your way when it matters most.
Obviously, you can go with a handheld light but you can keep both of your hands free with a strong grip by mounting one directly onto your weapon. You never know what situation you’ll find yourself in, whether it is defending your home from unwanted guests or out at a range, perfecting your accuracy. Put yourself at an advantage and make your shots count.
Now that you know that you need one, how do you decide what light you need for your weapon? While not rocket science, there’s more to it than knowing whether they have a red or green laser. When purchasing pistol lights like a Streamlight TLR 1 or TLR 2, there are a number of factors and options that go into choosing the best one. Here are some features to keep in mind:
When it comes to the best pistol lights, as with most other things, you get what you pay for — the more you spend, the better you get. You want to purchase a handgun light from a brand name with a strong reputation (like the Streamlight TLR 1 or TLR 2). That means more often than not you’ll be spending at least $100.
When people first things people want to know when shopping for a pistol light is how many lumens it should be — the answer, however, is not that easy. In simple terms, lumens is the measure of how bright a light is. The brighter the light, the higher the number.
Does more always equal better? In recent years, there’s been a push towards the maximum amount of lumens. From 500 lumens, 600 lumens all the way up to 800 lumens. If you’re using your pistol for home defense, the prevailing idea is that a flashlight can incapacitate a bad guy or make them run away. That sounds great in theory but in reality, if they’re determined enough, they’ll still be able to hit you.
Moreover, if you go too high on lumens with your pistol light, it is a surefire way to blind yourself, especially if you’re in an indoor space.
So much should you have? Unless you need 800 lumens for outdoor work (check out the TLR 1 or SureFire X300), you should aim for a light with a maximum brightness between 200-400. However, it will ultimately come down to you. The best pistol light should be bright enough to suit your individual needs.
The mark of a good pistol light also lies in its spread pattern, size and activation methods.
A spread pattern refers to the spread of the light beam. There are two types — flood or throw. Each style serves a different purpose. A flood beam spreads out and lights up a wide area, increasing your peripheral vision, making it ideal for close, tight spaces. On the other hand, a throw style beam focuses its power into a narrow beam and provides an excellent hotspot, allowing you to reach further distances. If you plan to use your pistol light in a home, you should avoid this as it as surefire way to lose peripheral vision at closer distances (which in turn creates less situational awareness).
The best size for your pistol light will vary based on the size of your gun. Typically you do not want your light to be longer than the barrel of your gun as it will affect your performance. Weapon lights that are too long will pick up ammo residue after the gun is fired, which can settle on the lens and negatively affect the beam of light. They should also be compact enough that you can use it for concealed carry or home defense
Every handgun light has different activation methods, whether its a button, lever or tape switch. Buttons are common on rifles and handheld lights. Levers are usually found on pistol lights. Tape switches are a tool for rifle-mounted lights. These activate different light modes: momentary, constant-on and a strobe function.
There are two types of rail systems that are used on pistols: Picatinny rail and the Weaver rail. The best manufacturers make universal rail mounts to accommodate a pistol light. If you happen to own a handgun without a dedicated rail, you can purchase an add-on rail that connects to the trigger guard.
Durability should be a key consideration when purchasing a pistol light. The best lights (like those from SureFire) use stronger material, making them more durable and more reliable in the future. Unfortunately, this will cost you more money.
So you’ve purchased yourself a pistol light, but what do you need to do to keep it in the best shape possible? Here are some things to consider:
No matter how you use your pistol light, you should take the necessary steps to keep it clean and looking its best. When you train with your handgun light, tape it off with masking tape, as it keeps the muzzle blast and carbon dust from dirtying up the lens. Here’s a hot tip — to clean your lenses, use a pencil eraser. Now you know!
Not every pistol light will allow you to fit your weapon in a holster. The most popular brands of lights (such as Streamlight TLR or SureFire) usually have options that cater to this combo. If you’re using your weapon for concealed carry, this is an important consideration.
Most pistol lights like the Streamlight TLR-3 take a CR123A battery. All other lights usually take CR2 batteries. A good model will last at least 1.5 hours. Those that offer 500 lumens, 600 lumens or even 800 lumens of illumination will require more batteries.