Top 5 Weapon Mounted Lights: ID Your Target

Having a weapon mounted light on your self-defense gun is a good idea whether that gun is used for daily carry, home defense, or as a truck gun. And if you’re like many gun owners, you might prefer a weapon-light-only product over one that includes other things, like a laser. By using a light-only platform there’s no battery sharing with other features, reduced bulk, and no zeroing. It doesn’t matter if you have a handgun or a long gun in need of a light, there’s one out there for you.

Check out our top 5 list of weapon mounted lights, in no particular order. And remember, just because a product lists a particular firearm doesn’t mean the company doesn’t also make it for other platforms, because they usually do.

1. Streamlight ProTac 2.0 Rail Mounted Long Gun Light

streamlight for long guns
The Streamlight ProTac 2.0 Rail Mount Long Gun Light is available with a pressure switch for easier use. (Photo credit: Streamlight)

Streamlight has a reputation for making good mid-range lights. They work well, there are a number of styles available, and they’re typically reasonably priced. The Streamlight ProTac 2.0 Mounted Long Gun Light is, as its name suggests, designed for long guns that have rails. That means you’re most likely to put this one on your AR-15 or AR-10. This light produces 2,000 lumens when set to high and has a max candela of 17,700. It’s a nice workhorse light for an AR, and it has quite a few features beyond basic on and off.

Features of the ProTac 2.0 Rail Mounted Long Gun Light include TEN-TAP programming, which allows the user to choose from three different operating programs. Options include high, low, and strobe, each of which has a different battery run time and offers various applications. The light’s housing is made from 6000 series machined aircraft aluminum and has a Type II MIL-Spec anodized finish for resistance to wear and tear.

It’s powered by a Streamlight SL-B50 protected Li-Ion USB-rechargeable battery pack (yes, you can charge this light by plugging it in). And while it’s offered as the light on its own, if you get the full system package it comes with a paddle pressure switch you can mount to your gun’s rail to operate the light without being forced to adjust your grip excessively.

2. Surefire X300U-A

surefire weapon light
Surefire’s X300U-A is designed for superior brightness. (Photo credit: Surefire)

When you hear “Surefire” there’s a good chance you immediately think of bright lights. This is a company known for producing weapon-mounted lights capable of fantastically focused beams, and the X300U-A is a nice example of their quality.

The light is made for handguns with an accessory rail and is made with tactical and defensive applications in mind. It produces 1,000 lumens on high and has a max candela of 11,300. Now, these numbers might appear lower than others at first glance, but this light has a TIR lens that focuses the light at longer distances. Thanks to that lens, it produces a bright, clean center spotlight while also providing some surrounding light.

According to the manufacturer, the X300U-A is recoil-proof, which is an important feature. It’s made to mount to both Picatinny-style rails and universal accessory rails. Features include an integral ambidextrous momentary and constant-on switch for easy activation, IPX7 waterproof to a depth of 1 meter for up to 30 minutes, and an overall weight of 4.0 ounces. There’s also an optional pressure-activated DG and XT remote switch to make operation simpler. This is an excellent option if you’re looking for a high-quality defensive-use light capable of withstanding hard use.

3. Modlite PLHv2-18350 Light Package

modlite weapon light for rifles
The Modlite PLHv2-18350 Light Package is designed to be a combination flood and throw light. (Photo credit: Modlite)

It’s just not a weapon light roundup with Modlite. The Modlite PLHv2-18350 is meant for long guns and, according to the Modlite’s testing, it can hold up to the recoil produced by a SCAR17 with a select fire switch (which we also enjoy referring to as a giggle switch). That makes this an enormously durable light and one well worth considering for your rifle, regardless of the gun’s specific purpose. This light produces approximately 1350 lumens with a max candela of 54,000. You could say this one’s bright.

Features of this light include a crystal clear BOROFLOAT lens to allow around 98-99% light transmittance, a housing made from 6061 Series Alum bezel with Mil-Spec hard anodizing, and a cool white 5700K emitter tint. This light has an overall body width of 1 inch, a 3.5-inch length without the tail cap, and a weight of 4.2 ounces with the battery in place. It takes a Modlite 1200mAh 18350 battery and, according to the company, is not compatible with lithium CR123 batteries. It offers an impressive throw and comes with the company’s lifetime guarantee.

Modlite offers a wide range of high-quality, bright lights that are purpose-driven and specifically meant for defensive applications. And if you want a Modlite on your handgun, too, they also make those.

4. Nightstick TWM 30FD Weapon Mounted Light

Nightstick TWM-30 Full-Size Handgun Tactical Weapon Light
Nightstick’s weapon lights are designed for threat identification and overall superior performance. (Photo credit: Nightstick)

Although the Nightstick TWM 30FD is a flat dark earth model, this light is also offered in flat black. The TWM 30FD is a handgun weapon-mounted light the company states has been optimized for threat identification and target discrimination. In addition to its focused spotlight, this light delivers a clear halo to help illuminate peripheral areas as well. The light produces 1200 lumens on high and a max candela of 9,379. Beam distance is rated at 194 meters, which translates to approximately 212 yards, and has a run time of around 1.75 hours.

Features of this handgun weapon-mounted light include single-motion switches, momentary or constant-on options, and a sharp, focused beam at longer distances. It’s rated as being IPX7 Waterproof and is impact and chemical-exposure resistant. The TWM 30FD is powered by two CR123 batteries. It’s made to be durable, thanks to Type III hard anodizing and an aircraft-grade 6061-T6 aluminum housing, and each unit is serialized for identification purposes. The team at Nightstick puts a lot of work into making their lights useful and high-quality, and this is a great light for your defensive handgun (of course, it’d be useful for a hunting handgun, too).

5. Crimson Trace RIG (Rapid Illumination Grip)


crimson trace RIG
Crimson Trace’s Rapid Illumination Grip is designed for versatility. (Photo credit: Crimson Trace)

The Crimson Trace RIG isn’t just a light, it’s a forward grip for your AR platform rifle. Multi-purpose tools are pretty awesome, especially when you’re trying to minimize weight and bulk on a duty or hunting gun, and this light delivers. Peak lumens are listed as 500 with max candela not noted.

The RIG is compatible with M-LOK and Picatinny rails and has a 1-hour runtime on high. This system is designed as a basic tactical light integrated into a forward grip that mounts to your long gun’s handguard. It’ll work on any AR or AK platform as long as the gun in question has one of the compatible mounting systems.

Features of the Crimson Trace RIG include push button and remote switch activation, ambidextrous operation, and an ergonomic design. The location on the rail depends on where the user chooses to place it, meaning it’s useful for a variety of arm lengths, and the angle of the grip itself is comfortable for extended use. It’s IPX4 rated for water resistance and has a relatively tough housing. The company made it to be streamlined to reduce risk of snagging on something or being excessively likely to bump into objects. It’s also fairly lightweight. If you want to put a forward grip on your rifle, consider something like the RIG so you get a multi-purpose aftermarket accessory rather than one with only a single use.

What’s your preferred weapon-mounted light? Tell us about your experiences in the comment section.

Kat Ainsworth Stevens is a long-time outdoor writer, official OGC (Original Gun Cognoscenti), and author of Handgun Hunting: a Comprehensive Guide to Choosing and Using the Right Firearms for Big and Small Game. Der Teufel Katze has written for a number of industry publications (print and online) and edited some of the others, so chances are you've seen or read her work before, somewhere. A woman of eclectic background and habits, Kat has been carrying concealed for over two decades, used to be a farrier, and worked for a long time in emergency veterinary medicine. She prefers big bores, enjoys K9 Search & Rescue, and has a Master's Degree in Pitiless Snarkastic Delivery.

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