Top 5 Weapon-Mounted Lights

If you have a firearm you use for defensive purposes but don’t have a weapon-mounted light, it’s probably time to rethink that. Having a good weapon-mounted light on your gun is a good idea for target and threat identification. This is especially true if it’s your home defense gun. If you’re not sure where to start picking a weapon-mounted light, don’t worry: we’re here to help. Check out our selection of the top 5 weapon-mounted lights for your self-defense gun.

streamlight tlr7 a
The Streamlight TLR-7A is great for handguns with accessory rails. (Photo: Streamlight)

Streamlight TLR-7A

There are a lot of different manufacturers out there offering different features and brightness levels. The Streamlight TLR-7A is designed for handguns with accessory rails in front of the trigger guard. Mounting the light is straightforward and takes just a few seconds. This is a light-only model—some weapon-mounted lights also have lasers—and it’s designed for general use. It does have a few different settings, such as a strobe, but for the most part, it’s an off-and-on type of light. This one keeps things simple.

The Streamlight TLR-7A produces 500 lumens on high and has a reported 140-meter beam reach. It’s powered by a single CR123A lithium battery and can run continuously for up to 1.5 hours. As mentioned before, it does have a user-activated strobe that can be useful for tactical applications. It has an IPX7 waterproof rating to a depth of 1 meter for 30 minutes. Features include a safe-off setting to stop it from getting accidentally turned on and draining the battery, ambidextrous rear paddle switches, and a custom optic design engineered to produce a more concentrated beam. This weapon-mounted light measures 2.58 inches in length and weighs 2.4 ounces.

surefire light
Surefire designs and manufactures an extensive line of high-quality weapon-mounted lights. (Photo: Surefire)

Surefire XSC Weapon Light

If your carry gun is a micro or subcompact like the Sig P365—or even if it’s full-size, but you simply want a more compact light—try the Surefire XSC Weapon Light. This is a duty-grade light that delivers across the board for durability, brightness, and functionality. It measures 1.94 inches in length and weighs in at a scant 1.7 ounces, so it doesn’t add much to your gun. This light is made for handguns with accessory rails and has a proprietary quick-detach design. It runs off a rechargeable lithium battery, which is handy because it means you don’t need to worry about swapping batteries out. Surefire markets it as being virtually indestructible, and in our experience that’s accurate.

The Surefire XSC Weapon Light produces 350 lumens and 2,000 candela. Surefire utilizes parabolic reflector technology to create an ultra-bright, focused light with a strong central beam. Runtime for this light is 30 minutes and beam reach is 90 meters. Features include ambidextrous off/on switches, a hard anodized finish for resistance to use-related wear, and choices between momentary and constantly on. This micro-compact weapon-mounted light is great for concealment because it’s not large enough to be a printing issue, and it’s ideal for close-range self-defense use.

nightstick weapon light
This light is a complete long gun kit with different switches and mounting options. (Photo credit: Nightstick)

Nightstick LGL-160 Full Size Long Gun Kit

For those who prefer long guns for home defense, there’s the Nightstick LGL-160 Full Size Long Gun Kit. This light comes with everything you need including a tail cap switch and Picatinny mount. There’s also an NS-PIC1 pressure switch, an NS-WM1 wire management clamp, an LGL-RPS2 remote pressure switch with a six-inch cable, and an adhesive-backed Velcro mounting strip. The light requires two CR123 batteries although it is possible to get a single rechargeable lithium-ion battery from the manufacturer, which makes things a lot easier.

The Nightstick LGL-160 Full Size Long Gun Kit is designed around the LGL-160 weapon light. The light’s housing is made from 6061-T6 aluminum for durability with a black hard anodized finish to protect it from bumps and scrapes. The tail cap switch and pressure switch both allow the user to select either momentary or constant-on settings. This light produces 1100 lumens on high and has a high beam distance of 304 meters. The high candela is 22,541. It’s IP-67 dustproof and waterproof and has a two-meter dropproof rating. The light has a length of 5.3 inches and a weight of 6.3 ounces. It’s a great and incredibly bright, focused light for ARs.

crimson trace laser
A laser and light combo can be a great way to go for both defensive use and hunting. (Photo credit: Crimson Trace)

Crimson Trace CMR-204 Rail Master Pro Universal Green Laser Sight & Tactical Light

If you’re going to mount a light to your handgun it stands to reason that it might be logical to get one that includes a laser. Crimson Trace is well known for their effective lasers, and the CMR-204 Rail Master Pro gives shooters the best of both worlds: lights and lasers. This particular setup includes a green laser which is easier to visualize in daylight hours and also fantastic in low light/no light scenarios. According to Crimson Trace, this light and laser combo also has broad compatibility and can be used on any rail-equipped handgun or rifle.

The Crimson Trace CMR-204 has dual side activation, instant activation, and a wide variety of possible use combinations. Settings include laser/light constant on, laser constant on, light constant on, and laser with light dazzler. The green laser has a dot size of around 0.50 inches at 50 feet and the light produces 100 lumens. It has an auto shut-off feature after five minutes to save battery life. This is a great option for gun owners who want more than just a light and is also a good fit for hunters who prefer a little aiming help. If you’d rather have a red laser, Crimson Trace makes those, too.

foregrip light
Grips that double as lights are nice multi-purpose tools. (Photo credit: Viridian)

Viridian 4LUX CQ Grip Light

Shooters who like having a forward grip on their AR-15 might enjoy the versatility of the Viridian 4LUX CQ Grip Light. This light is in a forward grip housing so it can be used both as a weapon-mounted light and as a gripping platform for a sure hold during maneuvers. It’s ergonomically designed for comfortable use and functionality. The light is designed for close-quarters use and is an LED with a floodlight lens. It’s grip-activated and, according to Viridian, will mount to any long gun with an M-LOK compatible handguard or forend.

The Viridian 4LUX CQ Grip Light is made to be seriously tough and to withstand hard use. It’s impact and weather-resistant and has an operating temperature range of -40 degrees Fahrenheit to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. The light takes two CR2 3v batteries and has a 90-minute battery life if it’s constantly on. It produces 400 lumens and 850 candela. Viridian offers it in either black or flat dark earth so you can select the one that’s the best match for your firearm. Multi-purpose components can be great, so if you’re a fan of foregrips, consider this light.

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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