One of the most important accessories you can buy for a handgun is a tactical light. We went through dozens of mounted lights and picked only the best pistol lights for you. We’ve all been in this situation: you go out with some friends and shoot at some targets for fun. You are all having a great time. But when evening comes and the light gets dimmer, you need to pack up and go home. That is just one situation when owning weapon lights is important. You can use them to have some fun shooting targets at night or for airsoft competitions. You can use them for perimeter checks of an objective. You definitely need one in your house defense pack. Picking out a mounted light requires knowing what your particular needs are… Do you use it for fun at the range? Do you want to use the gun for home defense? Do you need it for a tactical team? Here mentioned all the possibilities in the below pistol light reviews post for you.
Streamlight 69260 TLR-1 HL Rail-Mounted Tactical Light
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Streamlight 69220 TLR-3 Weapon Mounted Tactical Light
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Streamlight 69240 TLR-4 Compact Rail Mounted Tactical Light
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Ade Advanced Optics Tactical Compact Rail Mounted RED Laser Sight
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InForce APL Pistol Mounted Light
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Aimkon HiLight P5S 400 Lumen Pistol LED Strobe Flashlight
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Best Pistol Light Reviews
1. Streamlight 69260 TLR-1 HL Rail-Mounted Tactical Light
The Streamlight TLR – 1 is a relatively small light, measuring only 3.4 x 3 x 3 inches and weighs 4.2 ounces. The LED-powered tactical light can be mounted on a large variety of guns. It can produce 800 lumens and an astonishing 12000-candela peak beam intensity. The high peak beam will determine high illumination on the focus point. This model has the beam distributed over a wider area, so your focus point will be larger than those of other models.
The light uses 2 CR123A batteries which are included in the box. The battery lasts for about 1.25 hours of continuous use. The light beam is very bright. It can easily illuminate objects placed at 50 feet, maybe even more.
The tactical light is very easy to mount on your handgun. You can put it on right away if you’re using a Glock, or you can use one of the multiple keys it comes with to fit it on other models. It is very light, so you can barely tell it’s mounted when you fire.
This particular light is a great fit for everyone that enjoys target practice at night, airsoft players, even members of task forces. The light beam is very bright, so it will illuminate a street or a room without problems. If you intend to use it as a home or property defense weapon it will do the job well, but if you don’t have a large yard or large chambers in your house, you could probably make due with another, less bright model.
2. Streamlight 69220 TLR-3 Weapon Mounted Tactical Light
The Streamlight TLR – 3 is a small and compact tactical light that you can mount on almost all types of handgun rails. It delivers a neatly concentrated light with a good peripheral spill so you can easily illuminate objects up to 30 – 35 yards. When we say small, we mean it. The light measures only 2.7 x 1.2 x 1.5 inches and weighs 4.8 ounces. It is easy to mount. It comes with rail keys, so you can fit it on a wide variety of handguns. You just have to find the right key for your gun (the instruction manual tells you which key to use for most types of guns) and screw the light on the rail.
The TLR – 3 has an LED light that produces 90 lumens, but the real story is the 4100 intensity of the candela peak beam. That ensures you get a good, bright illumination in the center. The orange peel style reflector gives it the ability to disperse the beam better, in turn determining a large peripheral area of light.
The tactical light uses one CR2 Lithium battery that comes in the box. The runtime is about 1.5 hours of continuous use. Another nice feature of this model is that it’s made out of polymer and that makes its impact and water-resistant. The light is a proper fit for everybody that likes to shoot at night, even for airsoft players. If you want to use the gun for home or propriety defense, when identifying the right person is crucial, this light will definitely suit your needs.
3. Streamlight 69240 TLR-4 Compact Rail Mounted Tactical Light
The Streamlight TLR – 4 is a lightweight tactical light that comes equipped with aiming laser as well. It also comes with C4 LED technology, one of the latest available. It measures 2.7 x 1.2 x 2 inches and weighs 2.9 ounces, so it’s really light. The LED light is able to produce 110 lumens and 5000-candela peak beam intensity. It’s easy to mount using different keys for a large variety of gun models. After you find the right key and mount the light, remember to put on the clip on the opposite side of the built-in screw. The manufacturer recommends putting on this clip, as it will reduce the possibility of slipping because of the recoil.
The 110 lumens of the TLR – 4 deliver a powerful light beam and the high candela intensity brightens up its center. The parabolic reflector has a textured surface and that enables you to see a large and quite bright peripheral illumination, even for targets placed at 35 – 40 yards. The 640 – 660 nm red laser delivers a long-range beam you can spot in darkness without any difficulty.
The TLR – 4 is powered by a single CR2 battery and has an average run time of 1.5 hours. If you only use the laser, the runtime will increase up to 11 hours. The TLR – 4 offers great value for your money. Small, compact and made out of polymer, it will be a great purchase no matter the purpose. You can use it at the range for target practice, in home defense or for tactical teams.
4. Ade Advanced Optics Tactical Compact Rail Mounted RED Laser Sight
The Ade Advanced Optics is one of the best handgun lights laser combo we picked for our list. It is a small 3 inches long light that weighs 3.5 ounces. This light will fit all pistol models with mounting rails of at least 1.5 inches long. It is very easy to attach to your weaver mount. You just slide it on, pull the front spring and then, when it reaches the end of its rail, the spring comes back into place. This system allows you to quickly remove the light if you want or need to.
It is made out of aircraft-grade aluminum and steel. It’s durable and water-resistant. It uses two CR123 batteries for power, but they are included in the box. The average run time is 2.5 hours.
The Ade Advanced uses a 220 Lumens C4 CREE LED. This type of LED is highly resistant to shock and has over 50000 hours of run time capability. The laser is in perfect alignment with the light and you can pick out a target at about 30 feet. The light has a high candela peak beam but even if the center of the target is bright, you can clearly see the laser dot. The peripheral light on this model is somewhat dim, so if you intend to use the light to search an area at night, you should go for a different model. If you want to buy a light for target practice this will be a good fit. It
5. InForce APL Pistol Mounted Light
The InForce APL is a great looking pistol light. It measures 3 x 1.2 inches and weighs 2.83 ounces. This light will be able to fit a lot of handgun models because it comes with an integrated mounting system. Please take note that if your gun doesn’t have a Picatinny rail, you won’t be able to mount this light on it.
Before mounting it on your weapon, you need to get hold of a flathead screwdriver. Then you need to unscrew the mounting system, put it on the weapon and then tighten it on the barrel. This might be a time-consuming process, but the manufacturer chose safety over accessibility.
The body of the light is made out of composite, so it is durable shock and water-resistant. The light beam output is 200 lumens and the power source is a single Lithium 123A battery. The average run time is 1.5 hours. This model delivers an optimal peripheral illumination and a bright center. You can use it to aim at targets up to 30 yards.
A great feature of the APL is the On/Off paddle system. It’s an ambidextrous system that allows you to access it with your trigger finger. When you quickly press the paddle, you turn it on and it stays on. If you press it for a longer time it will allow you to manually control the light. If you just tap it, you will turn it off. This model is great for target practice, airsoft competitions, and home defense. Due to the short distance that it is able to illuminate, we can say it’s not so good for guarding a large area.
6. Aimkon HiLight P5S 400 Lumen Pistol LED Strobe Flashlight
The Aimkon HiLight P5S is a cheap low profile handgun light, probably one of the cheapest decent handgun lights out there. It measures 2.5 x 1 x 1.2 inches and weighs 2.9 ounces. It is made out of aluminum.
The P5S has 300 lumens LED bulb and it’s powered by a single lithium metal battery, which is included in the box. The runtime for this model is only 45 minutes. This light model has a quick attach/detach system. You just press the side buttons and slide it off the weapon. When you want to mount it again, just slide it on the rails and it will fit right in.
The HiLight has a modest runtime, but you can use it to illuminate targets up to 20 feet. After that distance, the center of the light can’t be seen. The peripheral spill of this model is decent.
The On/Off system is a push through a button. Push it from one side and it turns the light on, push it from the other side and it turns off. The problem with this kind of system is that if you hit the side of the gun against something, or you put the gun down on a hard surface, you may find yourself in darkness.
Why did we put it on our list? It gets the job done. If you’re an airsoft enthusiast and you want a cheap, reliable light for your competitions, look no further. If you want to try a mounted light for a new handgun, but you’re not interested in firing with it on for a long time, it’s perfect.
Pistol Light Buying Guide
If you are still looking for buying a handgun, better read our blog post about the top-rated air pistols first. And if you want to buy a light, but you don’t have time to browse through all handgun lights out there, here’s what you should keep in mind when searching. Remember, you need to find the best pistol light for you.
1) Why Do You Need It?
You need to clearly identify how you intend to use the handgun light. That will make your decision making easier.
- Want it for home defense – If you want a tactical light for home defense you should pick a light that is capable of delivering a medium number of lumens. You don’t need to overdo it. If the situation arises, and you need to use the light in the full darkness, you want the light to help you see, not to blind you. The candela peak beam should also be medium. You don’t need a large area of illumination, but you need a clear, visible center.
- Want it for the range – If you only intend to use the light only at the range or at target practice, you can get a cheaper version with a few lumens but with a high candela peak beam. You don’t need the peripheral light so much, but you need a bright spot to take aim properly. This is also the recommendation for the airsoft enthusiasts out there.
- Want it to protect property – If it’s a large property, you definitely need a mounted light capable of delivering a large number of lumens and a high candela peak beam. You need to be able to see distant targets and the brighter the light, the better. The peripheral spill is also very important when you have a large area to cover. Lights that have a wide distribution are the ones you should be looking for.
- Want it for a taskforce – In this case, bigger is better. You never know the situation you might find yourself into and having a bright light might be exactly the thing you need. You should look for a combination of a very high level of lumens and a high candela peak beam. Impact and water-resistant models should give you an advantage. Some models even have a strobe mode which might help.
2) Brightness and Illumination Area
Most buyers believe that having more lumens is always better, so they go ahead and buy the first 800 models they stumble upon. But that’s not always the case. Before we start to explain the best way of choosing the brightness and illumination area that will suit you best, there are some things regarding physics you need to understand.
First of all, you can’t see all the lumens in a light beam. The human eye can only observe a difference in light every 200 lumens. So if you have to pay 50$ more for 50 lumens, that may be a bad choice.
But that’s not all. Not only lumens matter. There are a lot of elements in play. The candela peak beam intensity is an important, even a crucial element in determining the efficiency of your light. As the candela beam intensity increases, the center of your light will become brighter. But that’s not the end of the story because you also need peripheral luminosity, right? Peripheral luminosity is also obtained from the light source, light bulb or LED, especially if it’s widely distributed, but most of it comes off the reflector.
The reflector, as you can tell from its name, reflects some of the light emitted by the source. The pattern of the reflection is determined by the polish of its surface. But that’s enough about physics. You need to decide what you want to get out of your light. Now that you have a basic understanding of physics, you need to find the right balance between lumens, candela beam intensity and reflection power that suits your needs. And the best way to do that is, some of you may have guessed it already, either through trial and error or through nice pistol light reviews such as this one.
3) Size and Weight
- Size – Some people don’t like to have a mounted light that is longer than the barrel and extends a little beyond the muzzle. Many say that this will make the gun less effective as it will perturb its balance. We don’t know how much truth is in this since you are able to take aim while you have the light mounted, but there are some advantages and disadvantages with longer lights. The main disadvantage is that after you fire the gun for a while, all the residue from the barrel ends up on the tip of the light and the lens. This means that in order to have the light at the same luminosity as when you first used it, you have to clean it once in a while. An advantage is that in close quarters the longer light protects your muzzle. There is a smaller chance that something or someone can block the muzzle and thus mess with the automatism of the handgun.
- Weight – Again, some people complain that having a light mounted disturbs their aim. This shouldn’t be a problem for experienced shooters, but if that’s the case, you should opt for a smaller, lighter light. Some of them weigh up to 2 ounces, so that’s not much weight added. Some of the heavier lights might prove to be more durable in the long run, but that’s not a guarantee.
Most of the mounted lights will work perfectly for many practice sessions, but you must think about how many rounds you want to shoot with the light attached. Only a few models will withstand several thousand rounds fired, especially if the caliber is large. Consider how much you want to practice with the light on before making a purchase. If you want maximum durability, you might have to pay a higher price for it.
After mounting your light you should be able to fire at least 200 rounds before you have any kind of problems with it due to recoil. If you didn’t reach this number and experienced problems such as slight movement, or worse, it slips and falls, then you either didn’t mount it properly, or the model you chose was bad. Always buy a product that comes with a warranty.
5) Mounting Type
There are several different ways to mount the light on your gun, depending on the model and producer. No matter what the assembling system is, from models that need screws and screwdrivers to models that can be mounted only using your fingers or a coin, you should always keep in mind some simple rules that apply to them all.
Don’t overdo it. When you tighten a light too much, you might damage it. Aluminum and even the more durable polymers might bend under the pressure. You might end up upsetting the frame harmonics and damage your gun. Some guns had issues functioning properly from over tightened weapon lights, so if you have the possibility to choose the mounting system, always go for the ones you can mount and tighten using only your hands. Some models come with a clip on the opposite side of the built-in screw. Always make sure you put the clip on before using the gun, as it gives extra protection against slipping because of the recoil.
Find the right key – Most models can be mounted on a Glock straight after you take them out of the box. For other gun models, however, you need to find the right key in order to mount it. The manual might help, but as the number of gun models is already high and getting higher, you might be unable to see your model listed. Don’t hurry. Have patience and find the right key. Once you find it, mounting will prove to be easy and secure. Here you can find the night sights for Glock 19.
How to Install A Pistol Light?
Installing a pistol light will be different, depending on the model you choose, but we will explain the main mounting systems.
1) The Slide System
This is the easiest mounting system on the market. You need a gun with a Picatinny or Weaver rail and the light. The mounting light might have lateral buttons you have to press while you slide it in place, or it may have a clasp that stops the light’s advance on the rail. Either way, you will finish the mounting process in no time.
2) The Key System
These mounting systems rely on different keys you can attach to the light in order to make it compatible with a certain type of handgun. The keys are usually numbered or labeled alphabetically from “A” to “E”. Each key matches the rail of multiple gun models. You have to figure out which key is a good fit for your gun. The manual might help, as it usually specifies which key goes with what model, but sometimes some models are missing. Don’t worry. As long as you have a rail, chances are you’re going to find the right key for your gun.
After you find the right key and mount the light you have to tighten the built-in screw. They can usually be tightened with your fingers or with a coin, but be careful not to tighten it too much. You might break the light or damage your weapon.
3) The Screw System
This is one of the first systems used for mounting weapon lights and some producers still use it. When you receive your light, open the box and check the screw type. You need to look at the head, to see if you need a cross or a straight screwdriver. After you identify the right screwdriver, unscrew the mounting system, mount the light on your weapon and tighten the screw. Be very careful when you tighten it, so you don’t damage the light. These are the main mounting systems. If your light comes with another one, check the manual for instructions.
These are the main mounting systems. If your light comes with another one, check the manual for instructions.
How To Use A Pistol Light?
- The thing you need to keep in mind after you install a pistol light is that you cannot point the light straight at everything you want to see, even if the gun’s unloaded or you think the safety is on. An accident can happen. The best way to use your pistol light is to point it slightly down while it’s on. Use the peripheral light to get your bearings around objects. If you want to illuminate a certain person or object always double-check your safety is on before doing so.
- If you activate the light with your trigger finger always be careful when you put the finger back on the trigger. If you want to leave the weapon light on while you step away from it, put the safety on and don’t go straight in front of it. Lights that come with a laser will have a shorter run time when both the laser and the flashlight are turned on, and a longer run time if only the laser is used. The average run time should double when you only use the laser.
Here is an informative video!
- Most handgun lights have a run time of 1 – 3 hours. However, the light beam might get dimmer sooner than what the manual states. If this happens, you should change the battery.
- Make sure the light’s lens is clear after you use the gun. If you use the gun with the light mounted for a longer period of time, gunpowder or other residues might cloud the lens. If this is the case, clean the end of the light and the lens.
- Don’t leave the light unsupervised around children.
- If you don’t use the light for a long period of time it’s better to remove the battery.
Best Pistol Light Comparison Chart
|STREAMLIGHT 69260 TLR-1 HL RAIL-MOUNTED TACTICAL LIGHT||$$$||800||2 CR123A batteries required||4.2 ounces|
|STREAMLIGHT 69220 TLR-3 WEAPON MOUNTED TACTICAL LIGHT||$$||90||1 CR2 batteries required||4.8 ounces|
|STREAMLIGHT 69240 TLR-4 COMPACT RAIL MOUNTED TACTICAL LIGHT||$$$||110||1 CR2 batteries required||2.9 ounces|
|ADE ADVANCED OPTICS® TACTICAL COMPACT RAIL MOUNTED RED LASER SIGHT||$$||200||2x CR123 batteries required||3.5 oz (without battery|
|INFORCE APL PISTOL MOUNTED LIGHT||$$$||200||One CR123A Battery||6 oz.|
|AIMKON HILIGHT P5S 400 LUMEN PISTOL LED STROBE FLASHLIGHT||$||400||1 Lithium Metal batteries required||2.8 oz.|
When you consider purchasing a light think about why you’re doing it. Handgun lights come in multiple shapes, sizes, with a large variety of technical specs at different prices. You don’t always need to buy the one that has the best reviews. That might not be the best fit for you. If you’re looking for a light to help in home defense, one that has too much brightness might actually do you more harm than good. If you’re looking for a light to mount on your airsoft gun, you might not want to buy one in the 300$ range. Think of the ways you’re going to use it, make a list of the qualities you want it to have and only then go and search for it. If you’re looking for your first light, we’ve got the best pistol light reviews for you to look over. For better shooting accuracy, you can also consider scopes and reflex sights.