What makes a good light? What makes a good weapon light? How is the brightness measured and what does it mean? How do I know how bright I want my gun light to be anyways? What about the gun, do I need a mount? Can I mount a light on my particular rifle? Which lights can handle the recoil of my rifle? There are so many questions that a new gun buyer will have when shopping for a light to mount on his rifle. And all of these questions are generally going to be individual to you and your rifle set up. Shopping for and choosing a rifle light takes time, so don’t rush it.
I know this all too well from working at multiple local gun shops, managing one, and from being a gunsmith, customer, and buyer myself. There are a lot of factors to consider that all make a difference in what I am going to pick for my rifle. The light I choose to put on my 16” barrel AR15 may differ greatly from he light I choose for my 16” barrel AR10. Don’t even get me started with the choice and requirements when choosing a light that can handle the recoil of your 12-gauge shotgun. However, with a little guidance, we can make our way through the various Top Rated Rifle Lights together and use the knowledge we have and the knowledge we gain to make a great choice that fits your needs… or we can throw caution to the wind and just pick out a wicked cool light for your badass AR15. Either way.
Table of contents
Estimated reading time: 32 minutes
Brightness: Lumens and Candlepower
This can be a rather complicated subject for the un-initiated. There is an easy way to explain it and a harder way to explain it. The super short answer is, the Lumen rating of a lamp or light source is the rating of the total light output of that specific light source. Candlepower, on the other hand, is a measure of the most intense part of that light source, such as a flashlight. Most of the rifle lights you are going to run into are going to be measured in Lumens, so if you don’t want to worry about the ins and outs of why lights are rated the way they are, I get it.
But, it is very useful knowledge for you to have in case you need to understand how bright a bulb is and the rating system that company is using is Candela or Candlepower. Candela is an old school unit of measure based on how bright or intense a specific size candle actually is at a specific distance in a specific area. If you come across a light or flashlight that is rated in Candela, you can convert the Candela output to Lumens by multiplying the Candela number by 12.57. Just bust out you calculator and go to town. Candlepower or “Peak Beam Intensity” is measured as the brightest part of the beam on the flashlight when it is focused.
LED Bulbs and Incandescent Bulbs
There aren’t a lot of light bulb types that are used with flashlights, really. The main ones that are used more than any other types are LED or Light Emitting Diode bulbs. LED bulbs are very popular for many reasons. LED’s are more robust or tougher than incandescent bulbs. LED’s stand up to more abuse than their incandescent cousins. LED bulbs tend to last a lot longer and they are brighter. The LED bulbs are going to run at a much lower temperature than the incandescent bulbs, and LED bulbs don’t have to take a bunch of time to “warm up” to full brightness. Speaking of brightness, LED bulbs are able to be manufactured in multiple colors, not just variations of a few colors. LED bulbs also usually end up being more efficient with regards to energy use and battery life. I haven’t studied this aspect as deeply as some aspects of the LED bulb versus the Incandescent bulb, but the energy use and savings is a well-known selling point for LED bulbs that are used throughout the house. Another interesting and super badass factor for choosing an LED bulb flashlight over incandescent is the multiple colors that can be done with just one LED. Or multiple LEDs in one LED set that provide multiple colors. Have you ever seen the Headlamps that have a White LED and one of those RGB or Red Green Blue LEDs? The advantage of multi-color LED’s is something to keep in mind.
Types of Rifle Lights
Let’s discuss the various types of rifle lights out there before we dive into the picks. There are a few different types to be aware of while you are deciding what light you want. You don’t necessarily have to pick the lights I choose. Hence the reason I want to give you enough background and information on lights and choosing one, so you can apply that to choosing your own light if none of my choice appeal to you. You can go your own way, I promise I wont be offended.
So let’s get you some knowledge on the topic. First, we are going to talk about the well-known and heavily used button-activated type of lights. There are quite a few companies that use a simple button on the back of the light to have your thumb activate the light as you grip the forend of your Rifle. I have included a couple of button-activated lights in my picks, but there are many more. There are also lights that come with both options in the box. The versatility of those types of lights is a big plus in my book. Some examples of the button-activated type of lights are the Inforce WML lights, and the Cloud Defensive OWL lights. Both of these lights and some other examples have buttons that were designed into the lights… not the other way around. It is important to take the construction of the light into account and the materials the light is built from.
I am not sure if you will agree with me that these are “lever-activated” or not, but these types of lights do exist. One of the most common types of lever-activated gun lights is the Streamlight TLR series of lights. You will notice a “lever” on the rear of the light that allows momentary or constant on, and depending on the model, strobe. Is it the best method for activating a light? I don’t know, but it is one of the options and the Streamlight TLR’s is one of the best-known series of lights with that set up, even though Streamlight is not in my Top Rifle Light Picks list.
Tape-Switch Activated Lights
You know those gun lights that have a cable coming out the back of the light? This kind that are attached to a rectangular or “tape” switch, instead of a tailcap button? That is one type I am referring to in this section. Multiple companies make these from Surefire to Streamlight, and Fenix to Olight, and many more. Many operators prefer to use the tape-switch set up for their firearms, as long as they can keep the cord from the tape-switch out of the way. There are companies that even make custom adapters to house the switch itself and attach it to the rail or MLOK set up you might have. I have even milled my own adapter out of G10 for a tape-switch that I had lost the adapter for. Of course, when I was in gunsmithing school, I made all kinds of custom gear for myself cause the tools I had available were far above and beyond what I have in my own shop. Good times.
There have been many forend lights over the years, vertical and otherwise, but few remain. One of the most expensive versions that I loved but could never afford, was the Surefire M900V Vertical Foregrip light with the IR and Red Navigation lights. My gosh they were beautiful, but alas, Surefire no longer makes them, that I know of. There are other forend lights still on the market such as the Crimson Trace RIG or Rapid Illumination Grip. This is a unique looking light we will cover later. All of these lights are activated by your thumb or one of your fingers, and have various features included. Some of the forend lights even come with ambidextrous buttons and an optional tape-switch. It’s nice when manufacturers think ahead and don’t charge you for the extras, right?
There are also lower quality foregrip lights on the market such as ones from VISM, NCStar, and other brands along those lines. If all you can afford is one of those, and that’s what you want, then by all means, get what you need. But, if you can buy higher quality gear, please do.
Best Weapon Lights
#1 Surefire M300V Scout Light
My choice for Number One (#1) light has to be Surefire. Why? Well, I have multiple reasons why I love me some Surefire lights, but mainly because Surefire lights are well designed, well made, USA Made, and have a robust secondary market and warranty plan. I also love the fact that there are many options for upgrades directly from Surefire. Speaking of upgrades, the light I specifically chose as my #1 is the Surefire M300V Vampire Scout Light with the M75 weapon mount. I chose this light because it is bright at 250 lumens, but not overly bright for working inside a structure. If you have ever shined a really bright white LED light at the white walls of the inside of a house, you will understand what I am referring to. It can straight up blind you or at least give you some wicked “white spots” in your vision that you would not want if you were searching room to room.
It also has a dual output head that brings White LEDs and IR LEDs to the fight so I can use this badboy with my Night Vision Devices, or use it without the Night Vision gear if I choose. Its simple to activate the Surefire M300V Vampire Scout Light by clicking the tail cap. When your Scout Light is on, and you want to switch to IR, you take hold of the knurled bezel of the head, and rotate it. You can switch between White LEDs, IR LEDs, and “OFF”/”Lock Out” modes. The 250 Lumen output White LEDs have a max runtime of 1.5 hours when running on the single CR123 (The battery comes with the light, damn right.) battery. Or, if you need to run the 100mW IR LEDs, you can get a healthy 6.0 hours out of that one CR123 battery. The White LEDs will project light for 190 meters or a little more, so using this light outside is definitely on the menu.
The Surefire TIR Lens actually shapes the lights’ beam, giving it a stellar mix of overall light, and projected distance for Long to Medium range operational usage. Another feature of the Surefire M300V Vampire Scout Light I absolutely love is the Military Spec Hard anodizing that is done to the beefy aluminum body of the light. Let’s be honest with ourselves as shooters and guys (and girls too), we beat the hell out of our gear. So, having a light that will “just barely make it through” is not going to make the grade for shooters like myself. I need gear that almost wants to stand up to the abuse I’m going to dish out, a.k.a. Surefire. Another feature that speaks to the toughness of the overall light is the use of LEDs for the light output. Anyone who is “in the know” will tout the advantages of LED bulbs of incandescent all day long. And, when it comes to weight, this little Surefire has itself squared away at only 4.0 ounces… WITH the battery in. It is IPX7 waterproof rated, a tiny 1.06” diameter bezel head and the light is barely 4.1” inches long (or 10.4 CM if you are from anywhere other than the USA).
The Surefire M75 mount usually runs about $30.00 but the Surefire M300V Vampire Scout Light model number M300V-B-Z68-BK comes with the M75 mount. The M75 mount is designed specifically for the M300 and M600 Scout Lights, and features a rapid attach thumbscrew. Of course, the fact that the M75 mount is made of lightweight Military Spec hard anodized aluminum doesn’t hurt either. The M75 easily mounts to any MIL-STD-1913 Rail and is quite small and tough due to its well-thought out design. You can get the M75 in Black or Tan to match whichever Scout Light you choose.
The next accessory I would grab for my Surefire M300V Vampire Scout Light would be the Scout Light Rear Cap. It is Type III Military Spec hard anodized like all of the Surefire aluminum parts. You can grab one in Tan or Black, whichever matches your light, and you can use it to “lock-out” your light so you don’t have to worry about “giving away your position” by accidentally activating your light when on patrol. This Rear Cap fits all of the Surefire lights with a body diameter of 0.75” inches. This accessory is necessary if you plan to run the SR07 Weapon Light Switch, and only costs $62.00 on the Surefire website. I’d say it’s worth picking up to have the option of running a Tape Switch like the SR07.
The SR07 Weapon Light Switch is one of the optional accessories I personally believe you must include in your arsenal if you run a Surefire M300V (Or M600) Vampire Scout Light. The SR07 Weapon Light Switch gives you the distinct advantage of consistent remote activation that you can count on. The clamp snaps directly on to Picatinny rails and weighs very little. It has a standard 7” inch cable and works with the Scout Light line, the Classic Universal line, the Millennium Universal line, and the X200, X300, and X400 lights with the XT Tailcap installed. And finally, the SR07 Weapon Light Switch is designed for both ‘constant-on’ and/or ‘momentary-on’ to be available to the shooter on the same tape switch. Plus, its only $101.00 on the Surefire website. How can you argue with that?
And, to finish up my #1 pick, I would go with a pack of batteries for this particular light. The chosen batteries for this light are the Surefire 123A Lithium batteries. Surefire sends batteries with each of their lights anyways, but the lights are powerful and bright so you will need replacements after training with your light and getting the hang of how it functions when you are target shooting, when you are training, and when you are… “working”. So, grabbing a minimum of a 12 pack of 123A Lithium batteries is a great idea. Or, if you can swing it, grab a 72 pack of these 123A batteries. You won’t regret it.
#2 Olight ODIN Mini Tactical Light
One of the lights in my picks that may surprise you is light number two (#2). The Olight ODIN Mini Tactical Flashlight is one of the best priced lights on the market, when you look at the features and the way the light is built. First of all, I think it should be noted that the ODIN Mini has 58 reviews… all of which are 5 out of 5 stars. ALL of them. Olight has built a reputation of quality and strength over the years they have been in business. They have innovated in the field of lights and brought features to the market that have been sought after for many years.
I chose the Olight ODIN Mini because it has many features that I want in a tactical gun light without the cost that can sometimes accompany tactical lights. The ODIN Mini’s list of features is a long one. The 787 foot (240 meters) beam throw distance with a maximum lumen output of 1250. On top of the beam distance and lumen output, the custom 18500 battery gives the ODIN Mini a maximum runtime of 5 hours. That many lumens running for that many hours is nothing to scoff at. The ODIN Mini can be had in Black and Desert Tan color.
But wait, there’s more! The ODIN Mini has a multifunction Tail cap that allows the user to use it in hand or on their weapon, and the tail cap utilizes dual low output and high output settings. The Magnetic Remote Pressure Pad Switch that’s included with the ODIN Mini features a lockout option to prevent accidental breach of “light discipline”. (We can talk about light discipline another time.) On top of that, the Remote Pressure Pad Switch also has a “push-to-lock” feature to keep it connected to the tail cap. It also comes standard with a magnetic charging cable that fits the tail cap. The M-LOK Rail mount is designed to lock your ODIN Mini in place or be quickly detached if you want to go handheld. A multi-function tactical light for under $150.00 is a hard one to complain about.
#3 Cloud Defensive OWL – Optimized Weapon Light
My next choice (which is #3) is going to be The Cloud Defensive OWL or Optimized Weapon Light. It is, by far, one of the most INTERESTING offerings in the realm of tactical lights and low light “work”. Generally, when a new light hits the market, we all kind of say a collective “Yeah Yeah, been there done that.” And we look at the minutia of what the light offers such as more lumens, a strike bezel, lighter weight, multiple LED types or colors in one head, and more. Few and far between are the lights that are truly different. The cool thing about the Cloud Defensive OWL that you will immediately notice, is how simple the concept is. When you look at it, you just think, “Wow, how has no one thought of this before now?” And if you have seen or thought up a similar design, you cannot help but admire the execution of the design itself. It is truly well-done and over-built… among its other features.
What features, you ask? Well, the Cloud Defensive OWL is not short on features by any means. First and Foremost, this bad boy is made right here in the good old USA! Can’t take that away from them. Next, the nitty gritty of it all. The Optimized Weapon Light or OWL puts out an impressive amount of light for its size. How much Dane? Well, the OWL boasts 1250 big ass lumens, dude!! That’s A LOT of light my friend! Some additional features include one rechargeable 18650 battery that comes with it, standard. You also get the Nitecore Ui2 battery charger and a USB Cable for it too. Pretty much everything you need is included in the package.
Interestingly, the Cloud Defensive OWL is one of the few, if any, lights that you cannot lose your adjustment tools for. I don’t know about you, but I have lost the Allen wrenches and Torx wrenches I have gotten with other light packages. It is highly unlikely that you will lose the Cloud Defensive OWL tool because it is integrated directly into the back of the tail cap of the light. The OWL also features Precision CNC machined 6061-T6 Aluminum construction for toughness and overall durability. All of the OWL’s aluminum parts are put through Military Spec Type III Hard-coat Anodizing to further increase overall durability and strength. The ‘momentary-on’ or ‘constant-on’ switch is all one piece and built to last through combat zones and rough treatment. The Runtime of the light on HIGH, with its included 18650 battery, is reported to be 85-110 minutes. Interestingly, the way you disconnect the tail cap or light head are not the usual threaded type. Instead, the OWL utilizes patent-pending tech they refer to as “Lug-Lok”. Being a gunsmith and knowing how the bolt lugs lock into the barrel extension (On an AR15 anyways), this “Lug-Lok” technology has my interest peaked for sure!
And that’s not all. The OWL is 100% fully submersible and IPX8 Waterproof rated. It has been tested for 24 hours at 200 feet down. According to the website, the specialized electrical system allows the light to function even if water somehow gets inside the inner workings. In addition to the waterproofing, its also dustproof and shockproof. You don’t have to fumble with the usually wires and pressure pads that some lights use either, which is awesome. The battery comes out to recharge so you also don’t have any USB ports or plug-in areas to worry about dust getting into. And finally, the dimensions of this light are 5.255” inches long overall, 2.76” inches wide, the height is 1.26” inches, and it weighs in at 11 ounces with the battery installed. And of course, it has a kick-ass USA lifetime warranty. With all of that and its 1250 Lumen (or 50,000+ Candela power) LED, its easy to make the choice to mount one of these lights on your rifle.
#4 Inforce WML Gen 2 White/IR Weaponlight
The number 4 pick for my Top Rated Rifle Lights list is going to have to be the Inforce WML Gen 2. This light is one of my favorites because of its extensive list of features. One of my favorite features on that list has to be the angled button that activates the light. This light has many other advantages that made me add it to my list of Top Rated Rifle Lights. I am a fan of any product that innovates in the right direction… meaning… any product that adds something positive and needed to the industry. The Inforce WML’s angled activation button is a biggie for me. It is, again, one of those designs that you look at and think: “How has it taken this long for someone to do this?”
The Inforce WML or Weapon Mounted Light is hitting hard with how many factors set it aside from other lights in its class. How you ask? Well, first off, it runs a 400 lumen White LED head with the option to switch to 100mW of bad ass Infrared Light. If you are one of the few out there that have Night Vision gear, you will understand just why this is so important. If not, I’ll explain. Many night vision devices come with Infrared Illumination built-in or they work off of ambient light in the environment. But what happens if you are “working” on a moonless night? What happens if you are moving through an area that is in totally black out? Or, what about if you are doing “work” inside of a structure that has literally no light coming in at all? Night vision isn’t much help without a bit of light. So, having a tactical light that gives you the option to use its 400 lumen bright white LEDs or switch over to the 100mW IR mode if you need to let the “goon squad” put in some work, is a real asset.
The Inforce WML White/IR Gen 2 light comes standard with the option for constant on, momentary, strobe function, and IR mode. It features the angled button design for intuitive activation and the WML is built from glass reinforced polymers. The heat of the LEDs can get a bit much at times but Inforce thought of that too and added in vents at the front of the light to dissipate the heat transfer and reduce overall thermal signature. The reinforced polymer also gives this light a high level of impact resistance, as well as reducing the weight of this type of light down to a mere 3.22 ounces. The Inforce WML is just 4.2” inches long, and it is waterproof rated down to 66 feet. The WML also has 2 lockout systems for accidental activation prevention; one “lever” at the rear that can be moved to cover the activation button, and the bezel can be rotated to lockout the light so you can store it for later use. It includes the one CR123 battery you will need to run it, and that battery will give the user 1.5 hours of continuous white light or 4 hours of IR light for plenty of fun. This light is extremely affordable and one of the nicest lights on the market today in my humble opinion.
#5 Fenix PD35TAC Light
The Fenix PD35TAC is another affordable light on the list that is hitting well above its weight class and comes in as my #5 pick. This light brings just as many features to the table as the more expensive lights and looks good doing it. Fenix is one of those companies you know about but maybe you haven’t had a chance to dive deep into their gear yet, but I am here to tell you, get their lights… you’ll be glad you did. Fenix designed the PD35TAC from the best-selling Fenix PD35 model but they added some upgrades and additional engineering. And the way I look at it, if you are going to call the light “Tactical”, it damn well better be a tactical light. Or it should be capable of use during tactical operations. So, Dane, what makes this light so special in your mind? Why is it so cool? I’ll show you.
The Fenix PD35TAC does just what its name implies, it focuses on tactical use and deployment. It comes from the factory with a CREE XP-L type LED that boasts a 50,000-hour lifespan. Being that there are 8760 hours in a year, that means you have a little under 6 years of continuous light out of that one component alone, well, 5.7 years to be exact. The PD35TAC can run on two CR123 batteries of your choosing, or if you want to have some real fun, you can grab one or two of the rechargeable 18650 batteries and always keep one charged for any situation. Fenix also points out that the new CREE XP-L type LED gives their lights a boost in performance of 251% over the previous LED model. That’s definitely a marked improvement.
Additionally, the Fenix PD35TAC has 2 overall settings that each have multiple modes of operation to fit the needs of the user. The 2 options are the “Outdoor” or “EDC” setting and the epic “Tactical” setting. The Outdoor setting has no less than 6 individual modes of operation. The modes are: Strobe, which functions are 1000 lumens, Turbo, which also gives you 1000 lumens and 1.17 hours of use. Then you have the High mode which provides 500 lumens and 2.92 hours of light. Next up you have the Mid-range mode that puts out 200 lumens at 8.5 hours, Low which is at 60 lumens and 29.25 hours, and finally you can run the light on Eco mode giving you just 8 lumens but allowing for 140 hours of light. And that’s just the Outdoor setting. The Tactical setting gives you the same Turbo mode and Strobe mode at 1000 lumens and 1.17 hours, and you have the option of Low power mode which is at 60 lumens and allows for 29.25 hours of light. On the Turbo Mode of either setting, the PD35TAC has an impressive beam range of 656 feet as well.
The PD35TAC is made of aircraft-grade aluminum that has been Hardcoat anodized with the premium type III finish that is often used for military applications. It has an Anit-reflective coating on the robust all glass lens and it is IPX-8 waterproof rated. The body of the light is knurled to make it easier to hang on to and use or mount, and the body of the light is machined to prevent the light from rolling if set down. The PD35TAC will maintain consistent brightness due to its digitally regulated battery output. It features a Tactical Switch Tail Cap with momentary on option, and a stainless steel switch on the side of the light as well. It also features an intelligent memory circuit design that remembers the last mode the user was utilizing and automatically starts the light in that mode the next time its turned on. And finally, the PD35TAC also has reverse polarity protection built right in so even if you put the batteries in wrong, it won’t harm the light.
The PD35TAC is 5.4” inches overall length, 1 inch in diameter and weighs just 3.1 ounces. Now, the light does not include batteries, but if you are anything like me, you already have the batteries you need to run this one for awhile. It does come with the light itself and a pocket clip, a holster, a lanyard and spare O-rings, a rubber boot and the manual. This light also has 4.9 out of 5 stars from 755 public reviews on the Fenix website. Additionally, this light is not very expensive and could likely be on almost anyone’s rifle. You will need a few additional parts to mount it and operate it a bit more efficiently, but otherwise, it’s a stellar choice.
What other parts do I need Dane? I’ll explain.
The Fenix ALG-00 Gun mount is a must-have for your light. It gives you the ability to mount the PD35TAC to your picatinny rail on your rifle, and its adjustable for the size of the light if you choose to use it for any other type of light you want. The ALG-00 has a great feature called an Anti-Skid Rubber Cushion. I love this feature cause not only does it keep the mount from ripping up my anodizing, it also keeps ly light in place inside the ring. Two birds, one stone, etc. It also features a Quick Rail Clip, making the action of removal and installation a breeze. The adjustable diameter goes from .89” inches to 1.02” inches. And finally, the precision aluminum with anodized finish weighs in at just 1.98 ounces. Barely anything. On top of all that, it also comes with spare rubber cushions. Winner!
Then, the next part you will need to run your Fenix PD35TAC is the AER-02 V2 Tactical Remote Pressure Switch with ALG-05 tactical kit. This pad, it and of itself is pretty awesome, but what it can do is even cooler. The AER-02 has a pressure pad that has 2 buttons. One button activates the On and Off of the light at whatever setting you have your light on at the moment, and the other button is the pressure pad itself. The pad acts as a kind of “momentary on” switch, so if you need to shine your light into a corner of a room real fast without breaking light discipline too much, you have that option. Light discipline is extremely important, but we can talk about that another day. This pad and the tactical kit will interface with your light and allow you to mount the button on to your picatinny rail. That is one heck of a nice option. The entire kit is not very expensive, and I would be happy to have it on my rifle. Take a look.
Crimson Trace RIG – Rapid Illumination Grip
I just had to include this one as one of my Honorable Mentions. The Crimson Trace Rapid Illumination Grip is a step into a different universe. In that universe, the Crimson Trace Corporation Rapid Illumination Grip (CTC RIG) is the offspring of an angled foregrip and a weapon light. I want to say that this product is currently unavailable on the Crimson Trace website, as of the time of this writing. However, it will likely come back in stock very soon. Some of the cool features of the RIG are the ambidextrious controls, the impact resistant polymer construction, and the 500 lumen LED light output. The Rapid Illumination Grip has controls on both sides that can adjust the intensity of the light and power the unit on and off. The control area also looks to have an outlet for the Remote Power Activation Button on either side of the RIG. This light comes standard with the light unit, the Remote Power Button, a USB charging cable, screws and an Allen wrench, and 2 rechargeable batteries. According to Crimson Trace, the RIG can be mounted on any M-LOK rail or Picatinny rail system.
The RIG light is not overly expensive at $174.99 as of the time of this writing (that is the out of stock price on the CTC website currently). Crimson Trace talks about the use of this light on the AR15 Pistol platform, the AR15 rifle platform, multiple shotguns and there is even talk of this light being used on the AK platform. With the adjustable output of the RIG being an option for this light, it is a truly viable option for home defense as well. The strength of the polymer and the robust construction of the LED are selling points that shouldn’t be underestimated.
Steiner TOR Fusion
The Steiner TOR Fusion is one of those light/laser combos that you have likely always wanted but couldn’t swing the cash needed to buy it. If you know your accessories, you know Steiner. If you are a laser or “PEQ Box” fanboy, you know Steiner’s famous offering, the DBAL. The TOR Fusion is no different. It is well-built, uses top quality components, and it’s machined from type III hard-coat anodized aircraft aluminum. The TOR Fusion is available with a 520nm Green Laser and used to be available with a Red Laser too, but no longer. The Steiner TOR Fusion light/laser is IP54 rated, meaning it is sealed up, dust-proof, and splash-proof. It has left side and right side controls for any user. The Light output can be adjusted between 350 lumens and 470 lumens. It’s only 3.9 ounces meaning ir will barely be felt on your gun and should be able to fit in most holsters due to its small size. This honorable mention is one of my absolute favs but on my budget, I won’t be able to get this one or any Steiner any time soon.
Viridian XTL Gen 3 Weapon Mounted Light/Camera
This is something I just had to include, even though it could be mounted on a pistol or even a bow. The Viridian XTL Gen 3 Weapon Mounted Light/Camera is one of those products I wish I had known about sooner. This gives you the option to illuminate a target with up to 500 lumens of light and use the strobe feature if needed. But the best part? The best part is the on-board 1080p digital camera and microphone that runs in full HD. The Viridian XTL also features ECR (which stands for “Enhanced Combat Readiness”) that provides the shooter with Instant-On capability. It has a removable battery that is rechargeable, IPX-7 waterproof from the factory, and built-in charge lights to show you how much power you got left in that bad boy. Finally, it also comes with the battery cable you need to charge it up and full instructions. Granted, for $350 it is costly, and there is a version with a Green laser in it too, but I just had to include a cool gun light camera combo in here.
Princeton Tec Switch Rail Weapon Mounted Task Light
The Princeton Tec Switch Rail Weapon Mounted Task Light isn’t quite like the other lights on my list, but it has its advantages as well. One of the coolest things about this little light is the ability to use it for tasks OTHER than illuminating a room or other area. The Switch Task Light can be mounted to picatinny rails, it’s made of polymer for strength, and it comes in Black or Tan. The Switch can also be had with a number of LED options. You can get it in IR & Red, White & Red, and IR & White. The small size of the Switch gives you the ability to mount it for simple tasks that don’t require much light at all, and leaves enough room to mount a full-size weapon light for the “larger tasks”. The IR & Red version I chose comes in at just 10 lumens which is good for map reading and small tasks. Each of the other 2 options comes in at just 10 lumens as well, so you don’t need to worry that you’re going to blind your best friend when you’re out there shooting at night and testing your new NODs. For $50, it’s a no-brainer for me.
Factory Supplied/Integrated Mount
Lets talk about some of the hardware you can use for mounting your lights. Some weapon lights come from the factory with options to attach the light on the rail or forend area of your rifle. For example, the Cloud Defensive OWL (Optimized Weapon Light), has the method of attachment built directly into the light itself. Another type of light with this feature is the Steiner TOR Fusion light/laser package that has its mount built into the top of the light. Some shooters prefer this type of mount due to its sleek design and the inherent strength that an integral mount can provide.
The next option we will discuss is the “Light Ring” which is similar to a “Scope Ring” in design and function. Keep in mind that the Light Ring, of course, is meant to clamp onto a smaller diameter. There are some rings that come with the light and are already mounted but can be removed. Then there are some rings that have the rail or forend interface built into the opposite side of the light mount. And finally, there are some rings that have modular rail and forend interface options to give the shooter the choice of which type of base system they want to use.
The Offset type of mount is a little more recently versus the normal mounts we have all seen used for years. The Offset mounts can be used in conjunction with remote pressure pad switches and without them. They are able to be mounted on rifles that have a Picatinny rail system, M-LOK system, or even the older Keymod system. Offset light mounts are great for keeping your light cleaner, keeping your light from getting damaged by your muzzle brake, and making your gun a lot less bulky. Another benefit, for me at least, is a better-balanced firearm. When you put your light on the 3 o’clock position of your picatinny rail forend, it makes the overall signature of your rifle much thicker and can throw off the balance some, which I am not a fan of. To each their own though.
If you don’t know what the M-LOK system is or how its used, I have to ask, where have you been my friend? Kidding, of course. The M-LOK system was developed and marketed by the firearms accessory juggernaut MAGPUL. “M-LOK” is short for two words, “Modular” and “Lock”. The M-LOK system is actually a free licensed rail system that has been adopted by multiple companies that make their own accessories. The M-LOK system has also been adopted by many firearms manufacturers as well, to use with their own factory forends. M-LOK is similar to the US Military MOLLE system in that you can mount all sorts of accessories and gear to the firearm when using M-LOK compatible gear. Some examples of accessories you can mount with M-LOK are vertical foregrips, picatinny rails, flashlights, sling mounts, bipod mounts, sling swivels, lasers, light/laser combos, and much more. Take a look, you wont be disappointed.
The Picatinny rail system has been with the US Military for years now, and has proven itself over that time. Granted, more options exist, but the picatinny system is a heavy hitter nonetheless. The picatinny system, known in the military as the ‘MIL-STD-1913’ rail or ‘1913 rail’ for short. Some also call them ‘Pic Rails’ for short too. The picatinny rail is used for multiple firearms accessories to interface with firearms. You can mount a picatinny forend on your gun, and attach a separate pic rail to another interface system such as the M-LOK mentioned above. The picatinny rail system is the only known system like it that is used on top of the AR platform for mounting optics and iron sights. How cool is that?
Many lights on the market now have light filters available for them. A light filter can be something as simple as a different color lens that replaces the clear on inside the head of the light, or it can be an entirely different product. This other filter is more like a slip-on “cover” that can change the color of the light beam. Some of the light filters on the market are able to flip out of the way, and some just have to be slipped off. Either way, it isn’t hard to do. I have personally seen Red, Blue, Green, UV, and even IR filters available for many of the lights I have. This may be a much cheaper option for using your light with Night Vision gear instead of buying an IR light that may or may not be more expensive or unavailable. Good to know huh?
Thyrm Cell Vault
The Thyrm Cell Vault is one of the coolest battery storage options I have seen in a long time. It has the ability to store up to 3 of the CR123 batteries for your light or your optic. One thing I always dislike is having my optic go dead or my light start to get dim. Having a couple of these Thyrm Cell Vaults on your MOLLE gear will keep your glass and your lights up and running without fail. You can also use them to store cleaning supplies, extra gun parts, and even some friggin bubblegum if you feel the need. As I like to say, “You do You Boo Boo.”
When it comes to Rifle Lights, there are many options. You can pretty much have it any way you want it, and if you don’t see a light you like in your price range, just wait a few months. It may be on the drawing board of a major company right now. Seriously though, I hope you have enjoyed this article. If you have any suggestions for what you would like to see, let us know. If you have any questions at all or want to purchase any of these products, please reach out to us.