I never used to understand the benefits of pistol-mounted lights. I should say that I understood them, but I had so many lights already I had trouble justifying any more. My house is basically a home for wayward flashlights. I even spent some time practicing using handheld lights with my nightstand guns in the past and I guess because it never caused me a ton of trouble, I just never made the jump. But starting about six months ago when I received the TLR-6 to mount onto my Glock 43, I saw the light. Light…ha…I’m here all week.
Fast-forward about six months and I have also been wowwed by the Streamlight TLR-1 HL on my Wilson Combat Beretta 92G in the nightstand and the Pro-Tac Rail Mount 2 on my AR. I have become a giant fan of the free hand that you gain by employing a handgun-mounted light—be that for grabbing a cell phone and calling for help in a home invasion scenario or concealed carry situation, keeping your light and gun trained on someone simultaneously, keeping your firing grip on the gun consistent in daytime or nighttime conditions, or even just because it makes it easier to know where your light is at all times as you go throughout the day in case a sticky situation should arise.
The brightness and the overall quality of the current Streamlight offerings has also instilled a great deal of confidence in me. The 100 lumens emitted by the TINY TLR-6 is plenty. And the 800(!) lumen output of the current-gen TLR-1 HL is bright enough to guarantee you temporarily blind someone on the other end. I’ve even blinded myself with it pointing it at the wall a few times. Once was a spider hunt for my lovely wife. Spoiler alert: found it.
The performance of lights like these makes them more than worth the trouble of always keeping a handful of CR-123 lithium cells on hand, in my opinion. But for those of you who just really hate the idea of not being able to find batteries for a decent price without ordering them online or going to a gun store (like you needed an excuse…), Streamlight has introduced lights with a great dual-fuel capability that I have been impressed with so far.
I currently have the TLR-1HL on the front of my Wilson/Beretta 92G Brigadier Tactical model, which has staked a solid claim to the nightstand. It has nothing to do with the reason I picked the gun, but this light fits almost exactly flush with the end of the barrel on the 92G model and it looks so awesome that my eyes water a little every time I look at it. It’s also bright enough to make anyone’s eyes water a little whenever they look at it, so don’t go thinking I’m overly sentimental.
The TLR fastens securely to the rail without any tools (I used a penny), and the battery life has been good for such a bright light. The paddle switch on either side is easily activated and it can be held down so that it springs back into the “off” position or clicked on for continuous use until you turn it off. Replacing the batteries does require removing the light from the pistol, but I don’t mind that at all because that means the batteries won’t pop out with the light on the gun, either. Plus most people shouldn’t have to replace them very often unless they’re running around the house making pewpew sounds at night like I might or might not do. Please don’t judge. Bottom line: the TLR-1 HL puts out a blinding amount of light and has a pretty decent runtime of roughly an hour and 45 minutes—excellent runtime, considering the 800 lumen output.
The TLR-6 is a true gamechanger. I never would have bothered trying to find a light for a non-railed carry pistol in the past, but the universal kit for the TLR-6 gives you the option to mount a super small light that packs a 100-lumen punch in minutes on over 18 different compact and subcompact pistols. Installation was a breeze, and the batteries have lasted far longer than I thought they would per set. FYI, though, CR1/3N cells from Viridian are cheap on Amazon and come in 4-packs, which I keep on hand now in my CR123 stash. I got a 4-pack for roughly $9 a few months back. Runtime is listed as roughly one hour of use, but it isn’t designed to be the light you use to look for things in the garage or under the sink, so runtime was less of an issue for me on this one. It allowed the use of a light on guns it wasn’t possible for in the past, which more than made up for its slightly shorter battery life. Considering the size of the CR1/3N cells and the brightness of the TLR-6, I was actually pretty impressed by the battery performance.
If I am being honest, I have never been a fan of lasers. As a rule, I think sometimes people begin to rely on them instead of the sights and their proficiency declines as a result. However, this one has changed my mind to an extent. Playing around with my carry gun in the dark with this I have realized that for people like me with poor vision, I can see the red dot even when I can’t see the sights without my contacts or glasses. As a result, after this epiphany with the TLR-6 I think I’ll be giving the same approach a go with the TLR-2 HL G in the near future. Nothing wrong with a little help in the dark.
Having said that, if you don’t want to use the laser feature, the TLR-6 can operate with just the light, just the laser, or both simultaneously, so there are plenty of options. One area where there are not as many options might be holster selection. However, High Threat Concealment and a number of other holster companies have started making concealed carry models that are compatible with the TLR-6, so it is becoming less and less of an issue as more and more people discover how awesome this little light is.
PROTAC Rail Mount 1/2
The Protac series of lights is great, and the Rail Mount versions of the 1 and 2 are compact lights that pack a punch and mount on your AR or any other long gun with a MIL-STD-1913 rail via a built-in clamp in a few seconds (or minutes, if you use the pressure switches). These lights also fill a niche in the market that had been occupied almost exclusively by other manufacturers until this year, so it is good to see Streamlight continuing to expand its lineup. Each light includes a remote pressure switch and a tailcap on switch as well to allow people with either preference a satisfactory way to activate the light while attached to a rifle.
The Protac 1, while not as bright as the 2 (350 lumens versus 625), has the innovative “Dual Fuel” feature. What that means is that if you really don’t want to stockpile CR123 lithium cells (I don’t mind it because they have a 10-year shelf life and I tend to go through them pretty frequently), the Dual Fuel lights will operate at a lower brightness level—which is still a fairly bright 150 lumens—with standard alkaline or lithium AA cells. Preppers or other preparedness-minded individuals might like this feature too because AA cells would almost certainly be more readily available in the event of a terrible natural disaster or some other type of calamity. Not to mention Streamlight includes one of each type of battery with the Protac Rail Mount 1, so you can try it out both ways before deciding.
Both Protac rail models also offer a lower brightness setting for applications requiring less brightness or extended runtime. And hey, everybody loves options. For not being much longer at all, the Protac 2 is substantially brighter, but it takes twice as many CR123 batteries and gives up the ability to run with AA’s in a pinch. Plus, 350 lumens is nothing to sneeze at. So it’s anyone’s guess which one you might decide is best for you after considering all of the options. And there certainly is not a bad decision in this case.
Skip to here for the bottom line…
All of these lights are extremely bright and are available for very reasonable prices, especially considering how much some other companies’ mountable lights and lasers cost these days. I’ve been seeing Streamlight’s name on stuff since I was a kid and it has always worked. These lights have upped the ante with ridiculous lumen outputs and solid battery life specs, all for prices that hover around $100-$130. That isn’t a lot. I can see some people rolling their eyes now, but for a light this bright that can take a beating under recoil, it is a great value.
So bottom line? (1) The TLR-6 is awesome and you should get one if you carry a Glock 43/S&W Shield/etc. Period. And (2), these are affordable lights that perform at a level on par with any other tactical lights in the industry and leave you with more money for ammo.
I am sure that we can all agree more money for ammo is a very good thing. HP
*Thank you to Streamlight for sending us some great lights to demo for purposes of writing this article.