At a Glance: The Best Pistol Lights
Comparison of The Best Pistol Lights
Our Top Pick
|Editors Pick: Streamlight TLR-8 Tactical Light with Laser Sight||View Latest Price|
Our Top Pick
|Runner Up: Streamlight TLR-1 Weapon Light||View Latest Price|
Our Top Pick
|Best Budget: Firefly V2 Flashlight Laser Sight with Strobe Function||View Latest Price|
If you are like most shooters, you probably started researching useful accessories for your pistol as soon as you purchased it, if not sooner. While it is easy to get caught up looking at flashy upgrades, one of the best investments you can make is a weapon-mounted light, which is why we have compiled a list of the best pistol lights.
Our Guide to the 6 Best Weapon Mounted Lights for Your Pistol
Choosing a good weapon light can seem daunting at first, especially if you have never purchased one before. During our review of the 6 best lights for your pistol, we looked at everything from the shape and ergonomics of the lights to their reliability and unique features so that you can find the right light for you.
Editors Pick: Streamlight TLR-8 Tactical Light with Laser Sight
First up is the TLR-8 Tactical Light and Laser manufactured by Streamlight. The TLR-8 provides approximately 1.5 hours of battery life and is powered by a non-rechargeable CR123 battery. It features a 500-lumen light and an option between a red or green laser.
The TLR-8’s laser is fully adjustable for both windage and elevation, allowing you to achieve rapid target acquisition. The light has an ambidextrous toggle switch that allows for three function modes: LED only, laser only, or both light and laser. The button is located on both sides of the light and functions as a continuous toggle, eliminating the need to maintain constant pressure on the button.
The TLR-8 lightweight design makes it suitable for pistols of all sizes. However, it is important to make sure that you purchase a compatible holster that can accommodate the light. If you opt for this light, I recommend getting a custom Kydex holster to ensure the best fit and prevent any accidental activations of your light within your holster.
The only real downside to this light is that it does not have a strobe feature. The 500-lumen light is bright enough to provide substantial interference to a target’s vision, even without the strobe. The added utility of the laser, tool-free install, and overall ease of use make the TLR-8 a strong option for personal and professional applications.
- Red or green laser available
- Bright, 500 lumen light
- Good battery life
- Quick disconnect feature
- No strobe feature
Runner Up: Streamlight TLR-1 Weapon Light
The fifth entry on our list is the Streamlight TLR-1. This light runs on non-rechargeable CR123 batteries and is manufactured from machined aluminum. The locating keys on the mount of this light are interchangeable to accommodate a wide variety of mounting styles including Picatinny, Glock-style, and many others.
The TLR-1 is a simple and user-friendly light that provides 1.5 hours of illumination in constant-on mode or approximately 60 hours of intermittent use on a single set of batteries. The TLR-1 is a simple and effective light that I have used on my personal Glock for years. It does not offer many features outside of the strobe and only packs middle of the road brightness, but it offers the kind of reliability that you can bet your life on.
It has an ambidextrous toggle located on the back of the light, allowing for both constant on and momentary output. The light is activated by pressing the toggle either up or down, depending on the desired type of output. It also has a strobe feature, which is activated by double-tapping the toggle switch in the desired direction.
The TLR-1 provides 300 lumens of light and allows for easy mounting and dismounting through the use of a hand screw on the side of the light. It provides a secure fit that holds firm even during the harshest shooting sessions. Some weapon-mounted lights that are hand tighten tend to loosen on their own as you shoot, but I have never encountered this problem with the TLR-1.
- Ease of use
- Strobe feature
- Constant and momentary-on options
- No laser
- Only 300 lumens
Best Budget: Firefly V2 Flashlight Laser Sight with Strobe Function
Our third entry is loaded with features and is also rechargeable. The Firefly V2 offers 220 lumen light and a laser sight. The laser sight is available in green or red and features windage and elevation adjustments so that you can sight it in, which will help you with more rapid target acquisition.
The Firefly V2 is one of the smallest and lightest lights on our countdown, making it great for even the smallest subcompact pistols that include a mounting rail. It has multiple settings that allow you to use the laser or light independently or simultaneously. It even features a strobe setting that can be used with the laser or by itself. The buttons are located on both sides of the light to accommodate right-handed and left-handed shooters.
The light is mounted by using a setscrew, meaning that quick removal is not an option. Fortunately, the Firefly V2 has a magnetic charging cable that easily attaches to the bottom of the light so that it does not have to be removed for charging. In addition, its size makes it easy to find a holster and the added weight is so insignificant that I barely noticed it was there.
The Firefly V2 is a good all-around light, but it does not offer the brightness of larger options. Also, it is feature-packed, but it will take a bit more practice to familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of this light, especially since the buttons are small and difficult to develop positive contact with at first.
- Includes a laser and light
- Two laser color options
- Strobe feature
- No quick dismount feature
- Buttons are somewhat small
- Only 220 Lumens
Olight PL-2 Valkyrie Rail Mounted LED Light
Our fourth pick is the Olight PL-2 Valkyrie. This light emits a 1200 lumen light and has a button on either side of the light to accommodate both left- and right-handed shooters. It also runs on non-rechargeable batteries and provides just over an hour of life in the constant-on mode.
The Olight provides a secure mount to your weapon and is secured by tightening hex screws. While the fit is extremely secure, the light cannot be rapidly removed and requires an Allen wrench, making changing the batteries a bit more tedious than with lights that feature a quick release feature.
The light is durable and water-resistant, making it a good choice for all weather conditions. Due to its brightness and shape, the light provides a wide, long beam of light that allows you to illuminate a large area. It also features a strobe feature, which is a nice plus.
The downside to the light is its somewhat unusual button function. They are large and easy to locate, but neither works as a toggle switch, meaning that one of the buttons must be constantly held down to achieve persistent illumination.
In addition, activating the strobe mode requires somewhat unnatural hand placement. Both buttons must be pressed at the same time to use the strobe feature, which requires you to either drastically move your support hand or push one of the buttons with your trigger finger.
- Bright 1200 lumen light
- Secure fit and lightweight
- Ambidextrous buttons
- Strobe feature is difficult to use
- No toggle for constant-on
- Inconsistent, short battery life
- No quick-release buttons
Olight PL-mini 2 Valkyrie 600 Lumens
This one is also manufactured from Olight and features a rechargeable battery. The PL-mini 2 Valkyrie produces 600 lumens of light and is built from durable aluminum alloy. The rechargeable battery provides approximately one hour of use and includes a low-battery indicator light, letting you know when it’s time to recharge.
Unlike its counterpart, the PL-mini 2 features a quick disconnect lever, making it much easier to mount and dismount. This is especially helpful since the mini 2 features a rechargeable battery. It is available in black, desert tan, and olive drab green.
Olight made a few tweaks to the activation buttons on this light. The mini 2 does not offer a strobe feature but features ambidextrous buttons on either side of the light. Like the Valkyrie, they must be depressed constantly for the light to remain on and do not offer a toggle feature. However, the buttons on the mini 2 have to be pressed downward, instead of inward.
The mini 2 is designed to be compact to make it easier to use with your concealed carry pistol. They definitely hit the mark in that regard. While you can find concealed carry holsters that are specially designed to accommodate full-sized weapon-mounted lights, smaller lights like the mini 2 will fit with most soft-sided universal fit holsters made from leather or synthetic material.
- Rechargeable battery
- Easy to remove/install
- Good brightness for a compact light
- No strobe feature
- Unusual button design
- No constant on toggle option
Surefire X300 Ultra Weapon Light
Our sixth and final entry is the Surefire X300 Ultra Weapon Light. This light is available in both black or tan and runs on CR123 non-rechargeable batteries. According to Surefire, the battery life of this light is approximately 1.5 hours. The light has one setting with an output of 1000 lumens.
The X300 has a push/toggle switch, which means you can use it in a constant or momentary-on mode, depending on which direction you push the button. The button is easy to locate and activate in either mode. This feature is a must-have for any of my personal weapon-mounted lights.
Surefire claims that the light has a battery life of approximately 1.5 hours, but this is largely dependent on the quality of batteries that you use so I would avoid skimping on them. The X300 is also designed to be removed easily at the push of a button, but I found that it was a little too snug from the factory. There are a series of adjustment screws on top of the battery that can be used to adjust the tension before mounting, it may take a little trial and error to get it just right.
Overall, the X300 is a solid option and is well built. However, it does not offer a strobe feature and gets extremely hot very quickly, so mind your hand placement when activating the light. The rapid heat transfer is due to the aluminum body of the light.
- Good battery life
- Bright 1000 lumens
- Gets extremely hot
- Needs to be adjusted for easier mounting
- No strobe feature
Pistol Light Buyers Guide – What You Need to Know
One of the best arguments for carrying your concealed weapon with you at all times is the idea that you would rather have it and not need it instead of needing it and not having it. The same can be said about having a reliable light source.
Why Buy a Pistol Light?
Having a good light can help you with confirming your target and even act as a deterrent. I hope that you will never need to use your handgun in self-defense, but if that day comes, having a quality weapon-mounted light can save your life.
Firing your weapon is no small matter and you will be held responsible for every shot that you fire. A weapon-mounted light allows you to verify who or what you are shooting so that you can confirm you are facing a threat that warrants the use of your handgun.
Tactical Advantages of a Pistol Light
A quality light offers many tactical advantages that can turn the tides in a deadly force encounter. In addition to helping you positively identify your target, the light can act to disorient them and make it more difficult for them to see you.
Weapon mounted lights with strobe features are especially effective at disorienting a target and can provide you the opportunity to retreat.
Weapon mounted lights with lasers will allow for more rapid target acquisition, which is invaluable during high-stress scenarios.
When exposed to large amounts of adrenaline, your fine motor skills will be greatly reduced, making obtaining proper sight alignment and sight picture difficult. A laser that is properly sighted in will provide adequate accuracy short to intermediate pistol shooting distances. I would recommend zeroing your laser in at about 20 feet.
How to Attach a Pistol Light to Your Handgun
Installing a weapon-mounted light is extremely simple. The lights featured on our list use a variety of methods to tighten the light, but all of them require that your pistol be equipped with a rail.
A Picatinny rail is the most common, but there are a few other types of rails, so checking the compatibility with your gun is important. Several of our options include a second insert or adjustment mechanism to accommodate these different rail styles.
Clearing Your Handgun Eliminates Any Risk of an Accidental Discharge
Once you have the light that will fit your pistol’s rail, I would recommend unloading and clearing your handgun during the first installation so that you can safely familiarize yourself with the light.
All of the lights on our list feature installation methods that allow you to keep your hands clear of the end of the barrel, but some of them require tools for installation. Clearing your handgun eliminates any risk of an accidental discharge.
The lights on our list will either require a hex or Allen key to install them or will feature a hand-operated mechanism such as a large screw or pair of buttons. Simply slide your light on your rail and tighten it using the mechanism. The light should be snug and not wobble or shake.
Note: it is important that you do not overtighten it because it could damage your rail, especially if you have a polymer rail such as those found on Glocks.
Pistol Light for Concealed Carry?
I often get asked if I really recommend a pistol light for a concealed carry handgun. My question to these folks is “When else would you need a pistol light?”
Unless you are in law enforcement or the military, buying a weapon-mounted light for a gun that you don’t plan to carry is not a very good investment.
Whether you carry a stand-alone flashlight or weapon-mounted light, you should always have a reliable light source with you if you carry concealed. Since you are already making the effort to carry a handgun, I find it much easier to add a light to my weapon rather than occupy another pocket with a flashlight.
I like to be prepared but being comfortable and mobile is also important to me. Saving a pocket by incorporating a weapon-mounted light makes me feel much less bogged down while allowing me to still carry all of the essentials.
Thanks to the compact and lightweight nature of the weapon-mounted lights on our list, there is a light available for handguns of any size. With that said, you will almost certainly need to purchase another holster.
While I prefer leather holsters for concealed carry with or without a light, Kydex is also a great option for holsters that accommodate a pistol light. You can also find synthetic, universal fit holsters that will work, but I generally avoid these because it is very easy to accidentally activate your weapon-mounted light. If you elect to go this route anyway, don’t’ worry, that warm sensation on your leg will quickly let you know that you turned your light on.
Best in Class
Our review featured many great light choices for any application, but one light hit all the marks in terms of features, reliability, battery life, and user-friendliness. The TLR-8 Tactical Light and Laser by Streamlight is an ambidextrous light that is sufficiently bright and can quickly be added or removed without the use of tools. Streamlight makes some of the most durable equipment that I have ever utilized. I own a Streamlight flashlight and two TLR-1’s that are equipped with both my Glock and my AR-15 that have served me for over five years without failure.