As handheld lights have evolved, so have weapon-mounted lights. My first one I bought back in the late 1990s. It was a dim, yellow light that wasn’t that effective, but it was the best that we had. Today, the LED technology that revolutionized handheld light power has done the same to mounted lights.
While there are a lot of rechargeable lights, some people forget how useful good old-fashioned batteries are. If you’re camping or find yourself in a blackout, what are you going to do when your light’s power runs out? With the new, powerful lithium batteries that can be stored for a long time, the battery-powered light is still a preferred option in some situations.
SureFire took this strength and incorporated it into its E2D LED Defender Ultra light, which uses two of the ubiquitous CR123 lithium batteries. This tiny LED gives a blinding 500 lumens of light on high with a run-time of 2.25 hours. If you go on a low setting of 5 lumens, the light will last 67.75 hours. The light is made of aluminum, weighs 4.2 ounces, is 5.6 inches long, and is only slightly wider than an inch. The aluminum body as well as the lens is made for strength—the Total Internal Reflection (TIR) lens is coated and tempered to resist impacts. On top of it all, the LED emitter itself is incredibly strong. The on/off switch is a tail-cap button. Surrounding the lens is a scalloped bezel that can be used as a defensive striking platform. And to top it all off, the light is weatherproof.
The TLR-1 HL from Streamlight is made of sturdy aluminum, giving it a far more substantial feel—it weighs 4.18 ounces. It’s finished in standard business black. It is far more than enough to momentarily blind a potential threat, as well as illuminate whatever is downrange. At distance, this ability fades, but for the ranges you will generally be using a handgun at, the HL series is definitely adequate. The light also comes with a strobe setting that is very disorienting to most people, but as the shooter, I found it distracting. The LED light is shockproof, essential to any light attached to a gun, and the TLR-1 HL is waterproof up to 1 meter for 30 minutes. On top of that, the light is covered by Streamlight’s limited lifetime warranty. I can attest from firsthand knowledge what it means it when Streamlight says it takes care of its customers.
SureFire is no stranger to weapon lights. It can be credited with producing some of the first weapon-mounted light systems long before guns came standard with rail mounts. Not one to rest on its past success, SureFire has also renovated its X300 weapon light. Upgraded to a 500-lumen output with a 1.5-hour run-time on two lithium CR123 batteries, the X300 Ultra has all the power needed to light up a good-sized room. The unit’s sturdy aluminum body is hard anodized to mil-spec requirements and weighs in at 4 ounces. The LED is made to handle recoil, and uses SureFire’s TIR lens. Twin paddles at the back act as switches for either momentary-on or continuous-on. The X300 attaches via a locking rail lock without a screw-down to tighten it. The system is O-ring- and gasket-sealed for weatherproofing. SureFire offers a “no hassle” warranty, and remember, that SureFire is a staple among U.S. law enforcement and military operators, so if it means no hassle for those users, the light must be made well.
Lights have evolved from dim, yellow, incandescent bulbs that we used eons ago to today’s LED powerhouses. As tools, these are no longer just for law enforcement, but also for everyone who wants a good light to carry on a dark night and to keep on their pistol when something goes bump in the night. These new lights don’t just illuminate your threat; they blind and disorient them.