There are many reasons why we should use pistol lights, but when we are actually using them, we want them to be reliable. A good light should be one that you do not have to worry about falling off, is bright enough to see everything, easy/ intuitive controls, and turns on when you need it. So in this article, I have put together a list of my five favorite pistol lights, along with a few things to look for in a quality light.

Why Do You Need a Pistol Light?

The most obvious reason to have a flashlight equipped with your pistol is so that you can see in a dark situation and be able to not only acquire targets but also identify them. It sounds simple enough, but this is extremely important. If you are in a situation that may call for deadly force, you want to be able to identify a could-be threat before you pull that trigger.

Another huge advantage having a pistol light gives you is that you do not have to hold a flashlight in your non-dominant hand. If you do not use a pistol light, then your other hand will be busy holding a stand-alone flashlight instead of being available for other tasks. 

Your non-dominant hand is important. You use it to better stabilize your firearm, reload, clear malfunctions, and interact with variables of your environment(opening doors, fighting, etc). So if you have to put your flashlight down every time you have to do something like that, not only are you going to be fiddling with a flashlight, but afterward, it will be dark. 

Lastly, a pistol light serves as a counterweight that will reduce the upward kick of your firearm. With reduced recoil and a second hand to hold onto your firearm, you can easily see how you will be much more accurate and prepared with an attached pistol light.

What to Look For in a Quality Pistol Light

When you shop around for a pistol light, there are a few features that you will compare. You need to know what these are and what they mean so you can be confident in your choice. Let’s take a dive into what I look at when picking out a light.

Brightness Output

You will most likely see a unit called Lumens when you look at the output of a pistol light. In general, the higher the number the brighter the light is. Although technically, the unit lumen defines the amount of light produced. You may also see a unit called candelas, which defines the intensity of the light.

With a flashlight, candelas are going to tell you how bright/intense the center of your beam is going to be. Lumens are going to tell you how much total light is going to be produced. The lens and reflectors inside the flashlight are also going to change the pattern of your light, so only use these numbers as a general guide.

Intuitive/Easy Controls

When you are in a tactical situation, the last thing you want to be doing is messing around with your light. It should have super simple controls that you can use without thinking. My most preferred type of control is a simple ambidextrous switch on the rear of the light. I can flip this up or down with my trigger finger, or my off hand. Buttons are easy enough to use, but not nearly as easy as a switch. 

Another thing I look for is a light that does not over complicate its modes. Some lights have plenty of modes you can cycle or flip through. Again, you want it to be as simple as possible while you are using it. One of those features I think are unnecessary is a strobing feature.

Strobe Feature

A strobe feature is fairly common on pistol lights. Although when you look at what the professionals use, you will see that most of their lights do not have a strobe feature. This is because multiple studies have shown that this feature is nearly useless. 

Strobing does not have the effect that most people think it does on a target. Sure the flashing bright light in a dark area can be a challenge for a perpetrator, but so is a solid light. Plus strobing also makes it harder for you to see. So this feature just adds unneeded complexity to your pistol light and it is something you should probably stay away from.

Integrated Laser

Integrated lasers can be a cool addition to your pistol light. A laser will make it much easier to aim and always know where your barrel is pointed during use. Since it’s dark when you are trying to use a light, it can be hard to clearly aim your pistol, especially if you do not have night sights. A laser removes the need for sights entirely in close quarters.

Typically pistol lights with an integrated laser will be more expensive than the exact same light without a laser. Although with the added functionality and ease of use,  I would say having a light with a laser is a good idea for many users.

Holster Compatibility

For the longest time, I would bring my carry pistol home every day and put a light on it and place it on my bedside. Then I finally decided to buy a light that also fit into a holster with my pistol. I eventually decided to put a different pistol by my bed with a light attached; but if you want to carry a pistol with a light, you need to make sure that you can buy a quality holster that fits them both.

Weather & Water Resistance

I like to make sure that any piece of gear that I will rely on is waterproof. Of course, I never plan on going scuba diving with my Glock and pistol light, but not worrying about a little water, dirt, or mud is always nice. 

A good light should always be able to handle plenty of water and grime. You also want it to be able to take a hit. So make sure you check out the specifications on weather and water resistance. I would definitely take a dimmer light that can be run over with a truck and thrown in a pool over a brighter one that couldn’t take either.

Reliability

Of course, you also want a light that is going to turn on when you need it, and that is going to stay attached to your pistol. This is where you really need to rely on reviews and real world testing. Sure, you can buy the cheapest light off amazon if you want, but after a fall or a little water it may never turn on again. 

There are five pistol lights that we and the rest of the market have tested and found are the best out there. These lights are sure to do everything you need to do time and time again without fail. Let’s take a look at why these lights rock.

Our 5 Top Picks

These are the five best pistol lights that I would consider running on my pistols. These lights are popular for good reason, and if you want a new light, these five should definitely be at the top of your list.

#1 SureFire X300 Ultra

The SureFire x300 Ultra is considered by many to be the best light on the market. This pistol light is used in all sorts of military, and police departments. This is a reliable light that has been tested time and time again. 

This is a bigger light though. It is 3.6 inches long which means it will poke over the end of a standard size pistol. It also weighs 4 ounces. With all that size comes an awesome light though. The X300U is a 1000 Lumen light and its center spot reaches over 11,000 candelas. The beam of this light also goes over 200 yards.

This light has a tight center, which allows you to really light up what you are looking at. Although it still provides ample light around the center so that you can see around you as well. It also comes in an A and B version. The A version features a quick disconnect feature, however, I prefer the B version. This is because the quick disconnect feature can get loose over time and you really do not use it all that often. So the B version is much more reliable.

This is also a light that can take a beating. You can bet that the SureFire X300U is going to still work after being slammed around a bit. Plus it is able to survive under a meter of water for up to 30 minutes, which effectively makes it totally waterproof in its application. 

Seeing as this is the go to light for professionals, it also has a professional price tag. This pistol light runs just under $300.

SureFire X300 Ultra Version B (Recommend)

SureFire X300 Ultra Version A – Quick Detach

#2 Streamlight TLR-1 HL

Streamlight is an awesome brand that many people have come to love and trust over the years. Their TLR-1 HL light is one of the best out there. While it is also 1,000 lumens, it features a 20,000 candela beam intensity. That means that the center of the beam for this pistol light is going to be much more intense than your typical light. 

This is a long light, coming in at about 3.4 inches long. So you will definitely need a special holster for the 4.18 ounce Streamlight TLR-1 HL. With such a bright light you may expect low runtimes, but this pistol light has a run time of 1.25 hours.

While this is awesome for outdoor use, you may want to consider what it will do indoors. Some users say that it is too bright for indoor use and it blinds them just as much as their target. However, if you do use it outdoors, this light has a beam distance of over 300 yards.

Like any light on this list, the Streamlight TLR-1 HL is going to take a beating and still perform. These lights are as tough as you are. They are also waterproof in a meter of water for up to 30 minutes.

While this is still a high quality light, its price tag is a bit better than the SureFire’s. The Streamlight TLR-1 HL costs around $140.

#3 Streamlight TLR-7A

This Streamlight is a little bit smaller, and not quite as bright. This light is about 2.6 inches which makes it in line with most barrels on standard size pistols. The Streamlight TLR-7A is a 500 lumen light with a center beam that reaches a max intensity of 5,000 candelas. 

This makes it much more useful indoors than its big brother. The reduction in brightness is what makes it easier to use. When you turn this one on inside, it may blind someone if it is in their eyes, but the person behind the light will be able to see just fine.

The reduction in length and brightness means that this light can afford to be a little lighter. This light weighs 2.4 ounces. It also has a beam length of over 150 yards, so it can still be used outdoors as well. 

The run time on this pistol light is also a tad longer than the larger one. Its run time is 1.5 hours. The Streamlight TLR-7A is also IPX7 rated, meaning it is waterproof up to a meter for 30 minutes. It also has an affordable price tag of around $120.

#4 Inforce Wild2

Inforce is a little bit newer to the game. Their pistol lights were released just a couple of years ago, but they are made in the USA. They have a much sleeker design and market it as an easy to use pistol light. They released two versions of their light, the Wild 1 and Wild 2. The Wild 1 is harder to find, but it is a smaller 500 lumen light, whereas the Wild 2 is a 1000 lumen full-size light.

The Wild 2 has a peak beam intensity of 25,000 candelas, so it is very bright in the center of its beam. This also lets it have a far beam distance of 345 yards. It is 3.5 inches long and weighs 4.7 ounces, which makes it the heaviest light on this list. 

Since these lights are just about a year old, it can be hard to say how reliable they are. However, from a few first-hand reviews, it is clear that many buyers love this light. It is a quality light that is extremely bright. 

Plus the Inforce Wild 2 is waterproof. The company states that they are waterproof up to 20 meters, but they do not say for how long. The Wild 2 is operated with two large buttons that are easy to use and get to. Lastly, this standard size pistol light costs around $180.

#5 Sig Foxtrot1x

Sig Sauer makes awesome firearms, but their pistol lights are not as well known. The Sig Foxtrot1x is a great light that is capable of performing any action that most users need. Plus it fits any Picatinny 1913, Sig Sauer proprietary, or Glock rails with no need for adapters or cross-slot modifications.

This light is 2.4 inches long, which makes it stick out a little past barrels of firearms like the Sig Sauer P320. It weighs just under 2 ounces which makes it the lightest light we have seen thus far. Even though it is smaller, it still produces 450 lumens.

450 lumens is not going to light up a field, but it is excellent for home defense. It is not too bright and not too dim. Unfortunately, there are not any candela specs on the beam for this light, but it does have a beam distance of 262 yards.

One of the best things about this pistol light is the price. This light cost around $80 which is much cheaper than other lights on this list. Is it as good as those lights? No, but for the money, it is definitely a good light. Plus it also carries the same IPX7 waterproof rating.

Comparison Table



Name
Surefire X300u-b
Streamlight TLR-1 HL

Streamlight TLR-7A

Sig Foxtrot1x

Inforce Wild2
Total Light Output(Lumens)1,0001,0005004501000
Peak Beam Intensity(Candelas)11,30020,0005,000Unknown25,000
Beam Distance(Yards)233310153262345
Runtime(to 10% Output, hours)1.25 1.251.51.51.5
Length(inches)3.63.392.582.43.5
Weight(ounces)44.182.41.94.7
Waterproof? (x meters for x minutes)Yes (1, 30)Yes(1, 30)Yes(1, 30)Yes(1, 30)Yes, up to 20 Meters
Price$296.00$138.56$118.61$80.49$179.99

Honorable Mentions

Those top five lights are awesome, and they will do just about any job, but they are not the only lights on the market. Here are a few more lights that I think are worth mentioning.

Nightstick TCM 550XL

The Nightstick is an awesome little light. It is just 2.5 inches long and weighs 2.5 ounces. It is 550 lumens and its center beam is 4,612 candela. This is not a super bright light, but it certainly gets the job done. It also carries the same IPX7 waterproof rating as previous lights. This little light has a beam distance of about 150 yards and costs about $120. 

NcStar

We carry multiple NcStar lights, and they are all nice lights. Some of their lights cost as little as $30, so they can obviously not compete with the $300 SureFire. However, if you just want a light for your pistol without having to spend almost half of what your pistol cost in the first place, check out our NcStar collection.

Battery Options

Lastly, you want to make sure you have some replacement batteries for your lights. You should replace the battery in your pistol light periodically. Even if you do not use your pistol light all that much and it is just on a pistol by your bedside, it is a good idea to change out the battery at least yearly. We carry both a 6 and 12 pack of SureFire Cr123a batteries that are perfect for the job.