The Streamlight TLR-7 Sub: Concealable Illumination

I have weapon lights for almost every defensive gun in my system. Rifle or pistol, it doesn’t matter. Excepting my ankle gun (when I carry it), every firearm that I might deploy for home, vehicle, or personal defense has a dedicated light. Despite some recent assertions to the contrary, there’s really no reason not to do that. Lights are available everywhere, even if they’re cheap. A cheap light is better than no light. The Streamlight TLR-7 Sub is not a cheap light, but it’s not a particularly expensive light either. My TLR-7 Sub rides on my Sig Sauer P365XL, which is my usual carry gun.

Streamlight TLR-7 Sub on Sig Sauer P365XL pistol
The TLR-7 Sub is the perfect size for my Sig P365XL. (Author’s Photo)

Streamlight has become my go-to weapon light brand. Not because of any particular brand loyalty, and I certainly didn’t plan it that way. But Streamlight seems to have the light I want at the price I want whenever I go looking. That includes the TLR-7 Sub. Let’s hit this light’s specifications, and then we’ll cover what I like about it and a couple of things I think could be improved.

Streamlight TLR-7 Sub Specs

  • High Lumens: 500
  • Max Candela: 5,000
  • Beam Distance: 141 meters
  • Machined aluminum construction
  • Length: 2.51 inches (6.38 centimeters)
  • Weight: 2.39 ounces (67.76 grams)
  • Battery Type: 1 CR123A Lithium (included)
  • Run Time: 1.5 hours
  • Ambidextrous high or low rear paddle switches
  • “Safe off” battery saving feature
  • IPX7-rated; waterproof to 1 meter for 30 minutes
Drawing a Sig Sauer P365XL pistol
The TLR-7 Sub, in a proper holster, doesn’t inhibit carrying or drawing.

Streamlight TLR-7 Sub Features

The TLR-7 Sub is designed for slim subcompact pistols, so it’s small and lightweight. The lens protrudes about a quarter inch past my P365XL’s slide, and the housing is about 1/8 of an inch wider on each side. But the housing is smooth, so it’s snag-free. I have no issues running mine in a Safariland Incog X holster.

Optional Features

Streamlight includes a strobe function, but you have to enable it. I like that feature because I’ve never liked strobes. I know it can disorient an attacker, but it messes with my eyes, too. So, I appreciate that Streamlight makes it optional. Another optional feature is what Streamlight calls the “safe-off.” You can partially unscrew the lens to avoid accidental activation, thus saving your battery. I don’t use that feature because I’ve never had that problem. And I don’t want to add a possible failure point if I forget to screw the lens tight when holstering my gun. But you can do it if you want.

Streamlight multitool
The TLR-7 Sub’s multi-tool makes installation and paddle changes easy.

Some Good, Some Less Than Good

Streamlight says the rail clamp system doesn’t require tools to attach or detach. Yet the package includes a multitool for just that purpose. And you do need the tool. Maybe they mean you don’t need a screwdriver. Whatever, but it’s a misleading statement. I wish the TLR-7 Sub and other Streamlight products had a quick detach mechanism. Most of my lights stay on my guns, but this one goes on and off depending on which holster I use. A QD capability would be nice.

Finally, the TLR-7 Sub includes high and low paddle switches. They’re tactile, responsive, and easily reached. The paddles are just like the switches on other Streamlight handgun lights. I chose the high switches on all my other lights but not the TLR-7 Sub. The high paddles protrude too far into the P365XL’s trigger guard for my taste. They got in the way. So, I swapped them for the low paddles. The process is very easy, taking about a minute using the multitool.

Streamlight TLR-7 Sub high and low paddle switches
The high paddles (left) protruded too far into the trigger guard for my taste. The low paddles are much better for me.

The low paddles leave the trigger guard clear, but in my case, their position isn’t the only difference. I activate the high paddles by pushing down with my trigger finger. I find that awkward with the low paddles. So, I push straight ahead along the barrel’s axis. It works fine, but it took some getting used to. I’m considering changing my other lights so my technique will stay the same on each gun.

TLR-7 Gun Compatibility

Certain firearms companies can’t get with the program and offer Picatinny rails across the board, so Streamlight offers different TLR-7 Sub models. Make certain you get the right one. Mine has the Sig rail system, which Streamlight helpfully notes on the clamp. I noticed they do the same for Glock-compatible models. The TLR-7 Sub works with the following firearms:

Sig-compatible rail clamp
Streamlight offers rail clamps for various proprietary systems, like my Sig. (Author’s Photo)

Keep in mind that even though my light is Sig compatible, it won’t fit wider Sig Sauer handguns like the P320.

TLR-7 Sub Performance

The TLR-7 Sub packs a nice punch for such a small light. The 500 lumens and 5,000 candelas provide a bright beam with enough spill to light up a decent-sized room. Outdoors, it does a good job, though I wouldn’t want to depend on that stated 141-meter range. But out to 25 or 30 yards, maybe a little further, it does very well. I could see things past that distance, but I wouldn’t want to engage them.

Streamlight TLR-7 Sub outdoor throw
The TLR-7 Sub has a nice throw.

The controls worked well, and once I got the technique down, they were easy to operate. The TLR-7 Sub’s weight is negligible, and I don’t really notice it’s there. Holstering and drawing have not been a problem since I have a proper holster that’s compatible with this light.

The TLR-7 Sub has proven durable. I haven’t torture-tested it since that’s not really my thing. But I’ve carried it for several months now, and it’s been knocked around as carry guns and accessories often are. The clamp has held tight, and the light always works.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I like the TLR-7 Sub. It’s light, compact, and powerful, just as advertised. Sure, there are a couple of things I would change, but those are minor issues and may well be unique to me. An accessory’s ultimate requirement is that it has to work every time. This little light does that and does it well. The other stuff is just semantics that I can and did train for.

Streamlight TLR-7 Sub in Safariland Incog X holster
The TLR-7 Sub mates up well with the P365XL and the Safariland Incog X holster.

I like that Streamlight tailored a product to the slim subcompact pistol. Those guns are popular for a reason, and they don’t look to be going anywhere. If you’re looking for a light to upgrade your subcompact, maybe give the TLR-7 Sub a look. It might be just the thing.

William "Bucky" Lawson is a self-described "typical Appalachian-American gun enthusiast". He is a military historian specializing in World War II and has written a few things, as he says, "here and there". A featured contributor for Strategy & Tactics, he likes dogs, range time, and a good cigar - preferably with an Old Fashioned that has an extra orange slice.

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