The Best Pistol Lights of 2022 – Outdoor Life

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Published Sep 23, 2022 3: 00 PM

I’ve served as a law enforcement officer for 14 years, and I can tell you that pistol lights can be the difference in life-or-death-situations. After dark, it’s much more difficult to identify friend from foe. And if you’re counting on a light for your self-defense handgun, you want one that’s dependable and intuitive to use. It doesn’t matter how bright your light is if turning it on isn’t second nature or if it fails. To help you find one that you can depend on should the need arise, I’ve compiled a list of some of the best pistol lamps available today.

Why It Made the Cut 

The X300U-A generates 1, 000 lumens with a hybrid beam that provides good spill for up close engagements but also pushes out for intermediate distances.    

Key Features 

  • one, 000 lumens
  • 1 . 5-hour runtime
  • Two CR123A batteries
  • Ambidextrous push/toggle
  • IPX7 waterproof rating


  • Extremely rugged
  • Rapid attachment with Rail-Lock system
  • Activation doesn’t require altering your own grip
  • Hybrid beam pattern


  • Expensive
  • Too large with regard to EDC

Product Description

For the past eight years I’ve been running Surefire X300s on my duty handguns and have upgraded each time they roll out a new one. The X300U-A is my favorite model because of the rail-lock that allows for rapid attachment plus removal of the light. Intuitive switches, durability, and the holster compatibility of the X300U-A made it the preferred pistol light regarding duty use.

Featuring a precision TIR lens, the X300U-A has a beam that reaches out for mid-range engagements, but it also provides surrounding light on the peripherals intended for close proximity. This combination provides excellent all-around performance when it comes to throw and leak.  

Ambidextrous switches around the X300U-A allow for one-finger control with either your thumb or index finger, and momentary-on can be accomplished by simply driving your support hand thumb forward onto the particular switch while shooting. You can activate constant-on by toggling the switch up or down, which allows the user to keep the light activated with one-handed shooting.

With an aluminum body that’s corrosion resistant and an IPX7 waterproof rating, the X300U-A is a rugged plus robust gun light and was a no-brainer for the top spot.

Why This Made the particular Cut

The Streamlight TLR-7 Sub’s small footprint makes it an ideal option for IWB or EDC.  

Key Features

  • 500 lumens
  • 1 . 5-hour runtime
  • One CR123A battery
  • Ambidextrous rear switch
  • IPX7 waterproof rating


  • Small footprint
  • Peripheral illumination to get close closeness shooting
  • Lightweight


  • Lights are model specific and not compatible across manufacturers

Item Description

With the same 500 lumens and intuitive switches as the popular TLR-7 A, and Sub Ultra Compact light performs like a full-size light, yet it is small enough to carry IWB. The Sub securely attaches to most of the popular slim frame guns on the market.

Ambidextrous rear switches provide constant-on with a simple click on possibly side from the rear changes, or you can run them as momentary-on by holding down the switch for more than half a second before being released. The particular safe-off feature also allows you to lock the sunshine to prevent accidental activation during storage.

The sub attaches via a rail clamp which can be done without tools, as well as the light, anodized body is scratch resistant. Given that the light is intended to fit slim-frame pistols primarily used for EDC and concealment, the TLR7 Sub has a generous drip that illuminates the inside of residential structures extremely well pertaining to such a small pistol lighting.

Why It Made the Cut

The particular convenient out-the-front battery change, intuitive controls, and generous lumens plus candela make the modlite an exceptionally capable pistol light, but all the features come with hefty price tag.    

Key Features 

  • 5700 Kelvin color temperature
  • 1350 Lumens
  • 54, 000 Candela
  • PHLSTER ARC change paddles
  • 18350 rechargeable electric battery


  • High candela
  • Out-the-front battery change
  • Two-cell battery charger included
  • Multiple switches to customize meant for user


  • Attachment rails and buttons had quality issues but are remedied in current model
  • Costly

Product Description

The Modlite PL350 includes an entire suite associated with accessories, such as a 18350 rechargeable battery, a set of PHLSTER ARC switch paddles, and a 2-cell XTAR USB charger.

Having an out-the-front battery pack, the PL350 also resolves the need to remove your gun light to replace the battery power. Simply remove the light head and replace the battery. It also offers amazing toss and spill with an ultra-clear BOROFLOAT zoom lens that allow 98- in order to 99-percent light transmission.  

This pistol light has 1, 350 lumens and 54, 500 candela, which is powered by the 18350 cell and that is more powerful than two lithium CR123 batteries. All this juice produces amazing throw or long-range engagements plus generous leak of the peripherals. When using the PL350 to identify targets on the range, I was able to illuminate steel silhouettes at 75 to 100 yards and still had spill within the edges to locate and identify objects surrounding the target.    

Activation was easy with changes that provided a tactile “click” up or down for constant-on, but it should be noted there is no momentary-on function with the PL350. While this lighting has several premium functions, they come at a premium price. But if you are counting on this light for a service or even self-defense weapon, it’s worth every penny.

The reason why It Produced the Cut 

The particular X300T-A Turbo combines high lumens and tons of candela to illuminate long ranges and provide great spill for the edges. What’s most impressive is that Surefire accomplishes this particular by using the same housing since the previous X300 models, which prevents any issues with holster compatibility for those already running a legacy X300.

Key Features 

  • 650 lumens
  • 1 . 5-hour runtime
  • 66, 000 candela
  • 2 CR123A electric batteries
  • IPX7 waterproof rating


  • Fits X300 holsters
  • Turbocharged beam design
  • Ambidextrous push/toggle
  • Rugged
  • Attaches to Picatinny and universal Rails


  • Tightly focused beam provides less drip to peripheral areas

Product Description 

The X300-A Turbo generates a tightly focused 66, 000-candela light beam pattern out to 100 back yards. The beam pattern also illuminates with spill to help you maintain situational awareness outside the hot spot, giving users the best of both worlds when it comes to illumination.  

Built with the same high quality and durability as their previous X300 models, the Turbo includes a rugged hard anodized body with an IPX7 waterproof rating. Intuitive ambidextrous fuses allow for instant activation without having altering your own shooting grip and can be activated because momentary-on or constant-on simply by either pushing the switch forward or even toggling upward or down respectively.

When I evaluated turbo charged model against the Modlite PLHv2-PL350, it was hard to distinguish a difference between the 2 beam patterns. Targets were easily illuminated and identified out to 100 yards. Surprisingly, the Guaranteed accomplished similar performance to the PL350 on two CR123 batteries.  

Exactly why It Made the Cut 

The Streamlight TLR-1 HL is one of the most common gun lights you’ll see at the range or on your local officer’s duty gun and for good reason. This intuitive plus brightly capable pistol gentle offers excellent performance in a reasonable cost.

Essential Features 

  • 1, 000 lumens
  • 1 . 5-hour runtime
  • Two CR123A batteries
  • Ambidextrous momentary/steady on/off change
  • User programmable strobe
  • IPX7 waterproof ranking


  • Concentrated beam along with peripheral lighting
  • Tool-less rail clamp system
  • Fits most light bearing holsters
  • Important system connects to most firearms


  •   Beam not optimized designed for long variety illumination

Item Description

The TLR-1 HL offers 1, 500 lumens associated with white lighting for clearing residential constructions or searching exterior venues. Its light beam pattern is wide with good spill to light up large areas, making it popular for law enforcement officers working in urban environments.  

With its rail clamp system, the HL hooks up or detaches quickly with no tools and mounts directly to any pistol that has either the particular Glock style universal train or MIL-STD 1913 Picatinny rails. The light body is made of durable anodized aluminum with an IPX7 waterproof rating and is engineered to produce a concentrated beam along with optimum peripheral illumination. Streamlight prioritized keeping the improved HL design inside the same exact footprint because the previous TLR-1, which allows customers to keep their old holsters.

Powered by two CR123 lithium electric batteries, the TLR-1 HL includes a 1 . 5-hour runtime prior to needing a battery swap. The user-friendly ambidextrous switch is easy to operate for those first-time pistol light users, and it carries a sub $200 price tag.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Pistol Light

It’s easy to become overwhelmed from the countless offerings, but users should focus on how they intend to carry plus use their own light.  

Carry Style

If you plan to carry a subcompact or slim-frame handgun for your EDC (everyday carry), especially in a kydex holster , then options are reduced considerably due to size. If you want a light for the home-defense or even service tool, the possibilities abound, and you will likely narrow your search through personal preference and budget.  


If you’re working as a LEO in an urban environment around buildings and structures, then you’ll need high lumens and good spill, versus the rural LEO needing large candela just for long distance illumination.    


This particular comes down to personal preference, yet you’ll need to decide if disposable or standard rechargeable batteries best suit your needs. You might pay more upfront for a rechargeable light, but keep in mind that those replaceable batteries will add up, too.


Q: How many lumens should the pistol light be?

Your pistol light should have enough lumens to illuminate your surroundings, which depends on whether you are using it primarily indoors or outdoors. I would recommend having a light that will produces at least 500 lumens, which will provide sufficient gentle for most scenarios. Just remember that lumens is purely a measurement of how much light the LED can produce, but design traits in the weapon lighting like the size and shape of reflector and glass clarity will determine how bright the weapon light actually is. Quality gun lights with 500 lumens and high-quality reflectors plus glass often outperform higher lumen competitors, so focus more on how the light performs versus the product specification sheets.

Queen: What is the distinction between lumens and candela?

Lumens and candela are the most common terms you will see a manufacturer use when marketing their particular pistol lighting. Lumens refers to the raw measurement that describes how much light the particular LED can theoretically produce. Candela, on the other hand, describes the total amount of lighting within a certain beam angle and direction and helps measure the strength, volume, and intensity of light. Candela is a much better predictor of how the light is going to perform, especially for items like the Uncomplicated X300 Turbo and Modlite PL350, which are both designed to produce a ray that gets to out to longer ranges.

Q: What does throw plus flood mean when describing a pistol light?

Throw and flood are terms used to describe the weapon light’s beam pattern. Throw describes the light’s ability to project light over distance, where flood describes the ability to light up a large area. Based on your individual needs, toss or flood will be a priority. For example , our everyday carry pistol will most likely be used indoors or in close distance, so prioritizing a light with a generous flood that will illuminate a broad area is beneficial.  

If I was still patrolling both city and rural environments, pistol lights along with better throw that can reach across multiple yards or into a wooded area would be more beneficial. Pistol lights usually prioritize one of these attributes more than the other, but there are products like the Modlite PL350 that provide both throw plus flood within the same light.

Q: What other features are important in a pistol light?

We often spend much of our time obsessing over the light’s brightness, without considering other important features, like the gun light’s interface with the shooter.   Activating the light in an emergency needs to be intuitive. Toggles, paddles, and switches vary among manufacturers, and individual user choice plays a role. Switches such as the one in the Streamlight TLR-7 Sub plus Surefire X300 Turbo provide the ability to drive your thumb into the switch for momentary-on but can also be toggled up or straight down for constant-on. These models are my preferred style of switches. The ability to run momentary-on so that the lighting deactivates throughout reloads, malfunction clearances, or even movement is a must, since you don’t want to light up yourself during these tasks. Constant-on while shooting one handed is also valuable and applies to the law enforcement officer and everyday carry citizen alike.

Final Thoughts

The best pistol lights are a must for any defensive or duty pistol. Your ability to illuminate threats to provide proper identification is mandatory if you’re an LEO and critical if you’re depending on it for self-defense . Pistol lights should never be an afterthought in your preparedness and can be just as vital as the pistol it’s attached to.


The recommendations listed above were determined based on my personal experience with each light, as well as my role as a trainer at Fieldcraft Survival and former LEO. I’ve personally carried all of these lights (except the Modlite) on duty or in training. For the Modlite, I personally tested it at the range for its brightness capabilities and intuitiveness.  

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