The Best Pistol Light For Your Needs – We Look At 5 Great Pistol Lights

CHOOSING THE BEST PISTOL LIGHT

What is the best pistol light? Chances are that if you ever have to use your weapon, you will be in an environment with little to no lambent. To be able to use your not only effectively, but safely too, you are going to need a good flashlight.

To mount or not to mount

Before we dig into which one is the best pistol light, we should talk about the pros and cons of a mounted beacon. There seems to be a bit of a debate between some folks about whether it is better to hold it in your one hand and the gun in your other or to mount it to the pistol.

The folks who argue that you should not mount it, but rather hold it in your free hand, believe it is a much safer option. If you have a flashlight in your free hand, you can sweep an area with the bright without having to actually point your weapon in that direction. With a mounted one you will need to point a deadly weapon at whatever you want to shine a luminous on…and that is how unfortunate accidents can happen. Also one attached to your arm will add weight to it, which could influence your accuracy when shooting. Tactically, a torch mounted to your gun also gives away your pistol’s positioning and aim. All a opponent has to do is aim for the bright and shoot.

The folks who argue that searchlights should be mounted believe it is much more efficient in a tactical situation where speed could be the difference between life and death. With this mounted to your gun, you have one more hand to either defend yourself, hold your gun steady and to reload much quicker.

You can read more about shooting effectively in the dark here.

Can the shine be too bright?

A lot of people will assume that the best pistol light should have the brightest luminosity possible so that you can blind any possible attacker in a self-defence situation . A bright one definitely will blind a possible attacker…but it can also blind you. If you are in close quarters combat situation, chances are there will be many reflective surfaces (think mirrors, glass windows, etc) off which a bright one can reflect back into your own eyes. This means your torch then becomes a liability. Most of the best pistol light options allow you to adjust the brightness though. A lower brightness setting also results in your battery power lasting longer.

You can determine a brightness by checking how many lumens it produces. In indoor close quarters combat situations you probably only need something that can produce ~40 lumens or so. For outdoor use something that can produce ~100 lumens would be good. You do get some super bright products that can do hundreds of lumens…but for a self-defence purpose use in coordination with your weapon, that would be over-kill.

If you want to go a step further with it as a self-defence weapon, some of the best pistol light options also have a strobe function to help blind and disorientate a possible attacker.

5 Great options

Below we discuss 5 top options that you can consider if you are looking for a flashlight to mount to your gun.

Streamlight 69220 TLR-3

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Streamlight is one of the better know brands when it comes to tactical products and you cannot talk about the best pistol light options without talking about a Streamlight. They tend to also be a bit more expensive than some other options, but you do get a lot for your money. The TLR3 from Streamlight is a lightweight and compact option that measures in at 2.7 x 1.2 x 1.5 inches and weighs 4.8 ounces.

Materials

A key factor in the best pistol light is the quality of materials used in its construction. This is not just some cheap plastic option. The case body is made from impact resistant nylon polymer, and the face cap is made from 6000 series machined aircraft aluminum with anodized finish. The lens is made from borofloat high temperature glass.

Luminance

As you would expect from one of the best pistol light options, it has an LED choice. LED is better, especially for a tactical torch, as it does not break as easily as a incandescent bulb would when it might be dropped or receive a hard knock. The C4 LED of the TLR-3 has a 50,000 hour lifetime and produces 125 lumens of output.

Fit on the weapon

This is a rail-mounted choice which should fit most weapons, using a key kit that comes with it. It is not a very long option, so it should not protrude to much past the muzzle (if at all).

It has a ambidextrous momentary/steady On-Off switch, so you can toggle the light on and off as needed.

Other things to note

It uses lithium batteries, so you can recharge the batteries rather than having to keep buying new ones. The batteries are listed to last approximately 1.5 hours (which seems to be the norm for mounted pistol lights). It is also waterproof up to 1 meter for 30 minutes, with a IPX7 rating.

Differnt to the other lights on our list of the best pistol light options, this one is serialized, so if you ever loose it or it gets stolen you can positively identify it again if it is found.

Some short comings

While this is a definite contender as one of the best pistol light options, it has some areas that are not perfect. It is made from plastics/polymers, which means if you twist the cap too much it can result in cross-thread due to the threads being plastic/polymer.

We also do not like that it does not have a strobe function. We would like a top tactical product to have such a feature, but it is not such a huge factor. You also cannot adjust the focus/beam of the luminosity, which makes it a bit less flexible in its use.

AIM Sports Tactical 150 Lumen LED product

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This little choice from AIM Sports is probably not the same quality as the Streamlight options, but it is a fraction of the price of the Streamlights! Similar to the Streamlight TLR-3, it is a small and compact one that measures in at 2-5/8 x 1-5/8 x 1-5/8 inches and weighs 2.5 ounces.

Materials

Like most of the best pistol light options it is made from machined aircraft grade aluminum, so it should be reasonably durable during heavy use. There is not much information available on what kind of glass the lens is made from though, so do not expect high spec glass like you would maybe find on some of the other flashlights contending to be the best pistol light. The flashlight does come with different colored lenses though, namely yellow, red and blue.

Luminosity

As you would expect, it uses LED for its luminosity source and produces a bright 150 lumens. Disappointingly, this product also does not allow you to adjust the beam.

Fit on the arm

It is designed to allow for quick and easy mounting and detaching to the gun using a weaver or picatinny rail. It is intended for compact products, such as the Beretta PX, Glock 19 or Sig P250.

It has a ambidextrous momentary/steady On-Off switch, so you can toggle the bright on and off as needed.

Other things to note

It comes with CR2 lithium battery, however users were not very impressed with the batttery life. There is no indication from the manufacturer on how long you can expect the battery to last. We would expect the best pistol light to have a good and reliable battery life.

Some short comings

Similar to the Streamlight, it too does not have a strobe function. It is also not listed to be waterproof or have any type of IPX rating, so if you are likely to use your weapon in the rain or wet conditions…it might not work. Not good.

Overall there are a lot of positive feedback about this option, but there have been some concerns raised about the construction qaulity and reliability of it. However, for the price you pay it has to be argued that you actually get a pretty good one.

If you want a really affordable product that will get the job done, this is possibly the best pistol light for your needs.

Surefire Ultra High Ouput LED Weaponlight

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What is a list of the best options without a Surefire on it?! This product from Surefire is a serious choice with an equally serious price tag. At more than double the price of the Streamlight, this is a pretty expensive option. The Surefires are designed and assembled in the USA. The Surefire measures in at 3.5 x 1.4 x 1.4 inches and weighs 4 ounces.

Materials

As you would expect from a beacon at this price, it is made from only the best materials. Designed for tough conditions, it is made from high-strength aerospace aluminum body, which is Mil-Spec hard anodized. The lens is made from coated tempered glass.

Luminosity

Using LED, this is a really bright choicet producing a whopping 500 lumens! The shine produced is white focused by a Total Internal Reflection (TIR) lens to produce a tight beam with extended reach and significant surround bright for peripheral vision.

Fit on the weapon

The Surefire Rail-Lock system is designed to allow this choice to be mounted to either univeral or picatinny rails easily and quickly. You can also purchase adapter mounts if you weapon does non-railed.

It has a ambidextrous momentary/steady On-Off switch, so you can toggle the shine on and off as needed. You can press the switch on either side for momentary-on activation, flip up or down for constant-on activation. You can also buy a Surefire DG grip switch for pistols.

Other things to note

It comes with standard CR1123A batteries and are listed to have approximately 1.5 hours of tactical run time (before the light dips to 50 lumens). It is fitted with an O-ring and gasket sealed to make it weatherproof. However there is no IPX rating listed for this light. We would not necessarily expect the best pistol light to be fully water-proof, but do think it is important that you are able to use it in most conditions.

Some short comings

Besides the price, there generally is not much you can fault this light for in terms of quality and reliability. We would have liked to have a strobe function on it, but for use on an arm that is not really necessary anyway. For indoor tactical situations it might be a bit too bright though with its powerful 500 lumen beam. However this is specifically designed with the intention of blinding any would-be attacker.

InForce APL Pistol Mounted Light

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One of the sleekest looking options on our list of the best pistol light options is this product from InForce. It is not a cheap one, but is still almost half the price that the Surefire X300 is retailing for at the time of this article being written. It measures in with a length of 3 inches and a width of 1.2 inches and weighs 2.83 ounces. Similar to the Surefire, the InForces are designed and assembled in the USA.

Materials

Where most of the other on our list of the best pistol light options are made from machined aircraft grade aluminum, this is made from lightweight fiber composite construction. This construction is designed to handle heat and impact much better than an aluminum body would. The lens is made from high-impact glass.

Luminosity

Not quite as bright as the Surefire, but it does produce a very bright 200 lumens using an LED bulb. It produces a white beam with a good profile. There is a hotspot at the center but it is not as defined as most and transitions smoothly to the bright spill beam. It really illuminates a large area.

Fit on the arm

The InForce product has a universal mounting system that can accommodate out of spec rails. As expected, it is designed to be quick and easy to use. The lever system is smooth and it really seems to lock down tight to the rail. It is also great that it allows the shine to be affixed to a firearm without having to slide it on from the front. This keeps the user’s hand away from the muzzle.

Note that this product is listed on the InForce website to not fit the the Beretta PX4 Strom or the H&K USP.

It has a bilateral paddle switch, which makes is suited for both left-handed use and right-handed use. It offers constant and momentary options. It is designed in such a fashion to make it really easy for you to just tap the switches to turn on the shine. You can also deactivate the switches by twisting the face of the luminance a quarter turn.

Other things to note

It runs on CR123A batteries and is listed to last approximately 1.5 hours, which appears to be the standard run time for most of the options on our list of the best pistol light options.

Some short comings

The paddle switch system is great, but it does also result in the beacon being easily switched on inadvertently while being stored or carried. This of course can result in a dead battery just when you need your shine! However, if you are mindful of how you carry and store the luminance, this should not be a big concern. Other than that, the only things we would have liked to see on this product is for it to be weatherproof and maybe have a strobe function.

If you want something that is not the usual Surefire or Streamlight options, but still has the quality and reliability that you would expect from the best pistol light options, then this is a good choice to consider.

Aimkon HiLight P10S

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Aimkon is not as well known as Streamlight or Surefire and it shows in the price of this selection. The Aimkon is not quite on the same level as the Streamlight and Surefire options, but you do get a lot of value for the money you pay (which is less than half of what you would pay for the Streamlight TRL-3) and is definitely one of the best pistol light options available. The flashlight measures in at 3 x 1 x 1.5 inches and is listed to weigh 4.8 ounces.

Materials

As with most of the selections on our list of the best pistol light options this is made from aluminum, and the lens is anti-shattering ultra clear lens with anti-scratching and anti-slip.

Luminosity

We only have LED choice on our list of the best pistol light options, and this is no exception. It uses CREE XM-L2 LED to produce a bright 400 lumen output. 400 lumen is plenty bright…but maybe a bit too bright for indoor use.

Powered by a single CR123A battery, this does not last that long unfortunately. It is listed to only have a run-time of approximately 0.45 hours….that is about half of what the other options can do.

Fit on the gun

It is designed to fit most handguns with easy snap on and off from rails using the Aimkon quick release system.

The on/off switch is a horizontal slide switch that allows for easy one finger push action. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be any pressure switch options available for this option. Although you probably cannot expect that for a product at this price range.

Other things to note

It has a strobe function! To use the strobe function just switch the torch on and off to cycle through the function options. A strobe function is not super important, but it does add a nice extra dimension to it as a self-defence tool.

It is water and dust resistent with IP68 rating…but some users noted it is not quite water tight, so do not go dunking this one in a bowl of water!

Some short comings

While this is one of the best pistol light options available, there are some areas for improvement. Feedback has been really postive, but there have been a few cases where users complained about the quality and reliability of this flashlight. Some users did note however that when they returned it, Aimkon contacted them directly and replaced them and gave a really good service.

We don’t like the fact that the battery life is not very good. With such a short battery life it is very likely that the battery will die on you just when you need it…and who wants to carry a bunch of spare batteries with them all the time?!

As with all the other options on our list of the best pistol light options, there is no option to be able to adjust the beam. As this is a pretty bright option at 400 lumens, an option to adjust the beam would have been great.

Overall it is a good option, especially taking into consideration what you pay for it. If you want an affordable little one to mount on your gun, this is quite possibly the best pistol light for your needs.

Our Top Choice

Which option would we part our hard earned cash with to buy? Let’s recap the options we discussed above.

The Streamlight TLR-3 is compact,bright an little product that snaps on and off easily with not too much fuss. It has an ambidextrous on/off switch that makes flicking the luminosity on or off very easy. It does not have some of the features you would expect from a high-end tactical product though (such as a strobe function and adjustable beam).

The AIM Sports option is small and compact with a nice bright beam. It is made from machined aircraft grade aluminum, but there are some concerns around quality and reliability. It does not have some of the features we would like, but for the affordable price you pay it is good.

The Surefire X300 is wonderful but expensive. It is made from top quality materials, which shows in its reliability. As you would expect, it is designed to fit easily and quickly onto most weapons. It is a really bright one, producing a sharp 500 lumens beam. However that is probably a bit over-kill unless you plan to use this a lot in outdoor situations.

The InForce is lightweight and has a handy paddle switch system. It is made from composite fibers instead of the usual aluminum. With a beam of 200 lumens, it is bright but not too bright.

The Aimkon HiLight P10S is affordable with the qualities similar to the other selections we have on our list. It does have a strobe function, which none of the other options on our list have though! It is one of the brighter options at 400 lumens, but does not offer the ability to adjust the beam. It also has a easy to mount system and a switch that allows for quick and easy use.

Which option would we choose?

 

All 5 on our list make a case for the best pistol light. If you have the money, know you will use one on a daily basis and need something that is reliable then we would go with the Surefire. However for us it is a bit just too expensive. If you do not have the money and want something that still gives you value, then the best choice is the Aimkon. However if you know lives might depend on this, we may be a bit hesitant to go with this one.

If we had to give up our hard earned money for a solid and reliable choice, we would go with the Streamlight TRL-3. It will get the job done and is bright enough without being too bright. It is not cheap, but not as expensive as the Surefire though.

What Do You Think – What Is The Best Pistol Light?

Do you have any thoughts on what the best pistol light is? We are sure there are many other options that are strong contenders to be called the best pistol light. If you have some thoughts, we would love to hear them! Please share them in the comments section below.