Top Handgun Lights for 2024

Modern firearms make accessorizing easier than ever. If you can dream it, chances are that someone has already made it possible. But before you start building something worthy of the Syfy Channel, you should address the basics. And a quality weapon light is probably the most basic, and useful, accessory you can add. Weapon lights have come a long way, with great options at every price point. Need something for under a hundred bucks? No problem. Want to spend several hundred to impress your friends? You can do that too. Or perhaps your job requires the best stuff that money can buy. Those lights are out there, along with everything in between.

Streamlight TLR-7 Sub on a Sig Sauer P365XL pistol
Streamlight’s new TLR-7 Sub is made especially for subcompacts like this Sig P365XL. (Author’s Photo)

So, with that in mind, here’s a totally subjective list of weapon light options based on personal experience and that of a few trusted colleagues. But first, let’s look briefly at why you need lights for at least some of your blasters.

Weapon Lights: You Need at Least One

This section is for the millions of new gun owners who have recently joined the ranks. You old hands can skip ahead if you want. If you’re a new gun owner, you likely had a reason for buying your first firearm. Home defense, perhaps, or maybe you want to carry concealed. Whatever your reason, chances are that your new handgun can accept a weapon light.

Needing a weapon light is part of the fourth rule of firearm safety: know your target and what is beyond it. A weapon light is particularly relevant here in home defense and concealed carry roles. Most break-ins occur during the day when thieves take advantage of people being at work. But nighttime incidents are still common. That bump in the night could be a burglar. Or it could be your 17-year-old coming home from a date. If you choose to deploy your firearm, you better have a way to tell for certain in darkness or low light.

If you intend to carry concealed, your chances of needing your weapon are not dictated by bright daylight. Honestly, your chances of needing it at all are very slight. But they are far from nonexistent. And you’ll have little control over that emergency scenario’s lighting conditions. Best to equip yourself accordingly. That means a light of some kind, perhaps a weapon light.

Some people will tell you that a weapon-mounted light can be unsafe because using it requires you to point your gun at whatever, or whoever, you’re looking at. They aren’t wrong. You can get around that by carrying a handheld light to use without pointing your gun. That’s a good option, but you must train with it. If you choose to go exclusively with the weapon light, you better train with that too, emphasizing proper trigger and muzzle discipline. Only you can decide what’s best for your situation. I carry a handheld light along with a weapon light.

Choose the Right Light

You should always do your homework before purchasing a weapon light. Even the “cheap” ones aren’t exactly inexpensive. Here are a few things to consider:

What role will the light fill?

A home defense light can be bigger than a concealed carry light. It doesn’t have to be, but think about how big, or small, you want that light to be. Keep in mind that brighter lights will often be larger, and they don’t necessarily have to fit a holster. My home defense pistols never see a holster with the light attached. If your pistol has multiple applications, you’ll need to find a holster that fits.

What role will the light fill (Part 2)?

Your light’s role can also determine how bright it should be. You can get quality handgun lights ranging from a mild 300 to a supernova bright 1,500 lumens. I prefer my concealed carry lights to be in the 800- to 1,000-lumen range. My lights need to be able to illuminate a dark street if that’s what I need.

I don’t like my home defense lights to be so bright. I like them right around 500 lumens. Some will tell you that a bright light can blind an intruder, giving you a momentary advantage. That can be true, just don’t rely on that light to drive him away. But a too-bright light can also reflect on the shooter, degrading his or her vision. I have light-colored walls. I tested a 1,000-lumen light and found that it was too much. 500 seems just about perfect for me. You decide what’s best for you.

Streamlight TLR-7A on an IWI Masada pistol
The Streamlight TLR-7A is an upgrade to the already good TLR-7. (Author’s Photo)

Does it Fit Your Gun?

Not every light is compatible with every handgun. Manufacturers should list all compatible handguns on their websites. Check that before buying.

Check Holster Options.

If you think you may carry your gun with a particular light, check for compatible holsters. Again, holster manufacturers should have that information on their websites. Good holsters aren’t cheap either. It would be a shame to spend the money if one doesn’t fit the other.

Is the Light Reliable?

Quality lights abound, but keep in mind that you may have to bet your life on this purchase some dark night. There are tons of reviewers out there. Check them out. Check out more than one or two. Find a consensus on a light that fits your needs and your budget. Those reviews will also tell you whether the controls are easily manipulated or not. That’s a good thing to know since they don’t all work the same, though many are similar.

Do You Want a Built-In Laser?

This article isn’t about lasers and their uses, but many lights come with a laser option. Think about why you might, or might not, want a laser, then decide.

Some Top Handgun Lights

As I mentioned, this is a subjective list based on my experience and that of a few colleagues. I will undoubtedly leave some deserving lights off the list due to no hands-on experience or just because the article can’t be 5,000 words long. If you don’t see your favorite, it’s nothing personal. I’ve ordered these alphabetically by manufacturer. Let’s get to it.

Holosun P.ID

Holosun is moving up in the world. They first drew my attention with their inexpensive red dot optics. As their quality and reputation grew, I finally got around to buying a Holosun red dot, and it’s been great. The company recently introduced the P.ID (Positive Identification) weapon light series. I haven’t tried one yet, but a colleague has, and he likes it a lot. The P.ID is affordable and reliable. Its small size provides flexibility while also packing a 1,000-lumen punch. It features a rechargeable battery, which some may like, and some may not. Recharging capability is nice, but you can’t quickly swap out batteries if you run low.

Holosun P.ID weapon light
Holosun products keep getting better, including the P.ID weapon light.
  • 7075 aluminum construction
  • 1,000-lumen maximum output
  • 23,000 candelas
  • O-ring sealed construction
  • IP68 waterproof
  • Compatible with most Picatinny rails
  • Ambidextrous push-button controls
  • High and low modes
  • Built-in 18350 rechargeable battery (60 minutes runtime on low setting)

Holosun also offers the 800-lumen P.ID-HC, the P.ID Plus with a Green Laser and the P.ID-Dual with Green and IR lasers.

Inforce WILD1

Inforce’s WILD (Weapon Integrated Lighting Device) series replaces their APL lights. The WILD1 is a compact, 500-lumen option for concealed carry or home defense. The ambidextrous paddle controls allow easy cycling through the constant, momentary, and strobe functions. 1913 Picatinny and Glock Universal rail compatible.

  • 6061-T6 aluminum housing
  • 500-lumen maximum output
  • 7,500 candelas
  • Ambidextrous paddle controls
  • Waterproof
  • Up to 2 hours of battery life
  • Runs on two CR123A batteries
Inforce WILD1 and WILD2 weapon lights
The Inforce WILD1 (left) and WILD2 lights are solid choices.

Inforce WILD2

The Inforce WILD2 is another highly recommended 1,000-lumen light. The light features constant, momentary, and strobe functions controlled by the ambidextrous paddles. It is compatible with 1913 Picatinny or Glock Universal rails.

  • 6061-T6 aluminum housing
  • 1,000-lumen maximum output
  • 25,000 candelas
  • Ambidextrous paddle controls
  • Waterproof
  • Up to 1.5 hours runtime on constant mode
  • Runs on two CR123A batteries

Nightstick TWM-30

Nightstick is an emerging force in the law enforcement and concealed carry realms. They’re also smart marketers. The TWM-30 is not a carbon copy of Streamlight’s popular TLR-1 HL (covered below), but it fits TLR-1 HL holsters while offering 200 more lumens and a slightly longer runtime. It also works with other TWM-Series holsters. That’s one way to get holster support while offering value.

The TWM-30 offers 1,200 lumens with a 1.75-hour runtime. The ambidextrous controls let you easily select from the constant, momentary, or strobe functions. The LED light provides a defined halo for superior peripheral illumination.

  • LED technology
  • 1,200 lumen maximum output
  • Ambidextrous paddle controls
  • 75-hour runtime
  • 194-meter range
  • Battery safe mode
  • Runs on two CR123A batteries
Nightstick TWM-30 weapon light
Nightstick’s TWM-30 offers big performance at a great value.

Olight PL-Mini-2 Valkyrie

I know, I know. Lots of people don’t like Olight. I get it. But when I first began buying weapon lights, Olight was what I could afford. I own several, and I’ve never had a moment’s problem with any of them. They perform just as advertised. The PL-Mini-2 Valkyrie is probably my favorite of the Olights I own. Like other Olight products, this little weapon light is rechargeable via a magnetic USB cable. I like that, but, again, quickly swapping out batteries isn’t possible.

My favorite feature is the adjustable, quick-release mounting system. Unlike other lights, you can slide the mount forward or backward to adjust the fit for different guns. The quick-release lever locks up tight which means you never need a tool to attach or remove the light. The PL-Mini-2 Valkyrie is compatible with 1913 Picatinny and Glock Universal rails. Ambidextrous paddle controls make for easy selection between the constant and momentary settings. And you get all that for about 90 bucks.

  • 600 lumens
  • 60-minute runtime
  • 100-meter throw
  • Weight: 2.57 ounces (including battery)
  • Built-in 3.7V 260Ah/960mWh lithium polymer rechargeable battery
Olight PL-Mini-2-Valkyrie weapon light on a Walther PPQ pistol
The Olight PL-Mini-2 Valkyrie is a favorite light, not least because it’s easily recharged. Note the quick detach lever. (Author’s Photo)

Streamlight TLR-1 HL

This is the first of several Streamlight products. I love Streamlights because they give me great quality at attractive prices. And remember, I said this was a subjective list. That means Streamlights.

The TLR-1 HL is a compact 1,000-lumen light with a 283-meter throw. The ambidextrous controls provide easy access to the constant and momentary functions. One thing I like about newer Streamlights is that the strobe function isn’t a default setting. You can enable it or leave it off. I want it on some guns but not on others, so that’s nice. The TLR-1 HL is also compatible with Streamlight remote pressure switches, making it easy to run on a rifle or carbine, as well as your pistol.

  • Precision-machined anodized aircraft aluminum housing
  • 1,000-lumen maximum output
  • 20,000 candelas
  • 5 hours runtime
  • 283-meter throw
  • Toolless installation
  • Ambidextrous controls
  • User-activated strobe setting
  • Runs on two CR123A batteries
Streamlight TLR-1 weapon light
The Streamlight TLR-1 HL is a 1,000-lumen monster.

Streamlight TLR-7A, 8A, and 8G

Streamlight upgraded their already good TLR-7 and TLR-8 models by adding new, ambidextrous paddle controls, which also give you the option of low or high-mount switches. These 500-lumen lights, in my opinion, are more tailored toward home defense, as I discussed earlier, but will also do the job for concealed carry.

The TLR-8A is the TLR-7A with a red laser. The TLR-8G has a green laser. I currently run a TLR-7A on my nightstand gun, though I’m thinking about upgrading to an 8G, since I like a laser on a home defense pistol. I was running an Olight BALDR S with the green laser, but the 800 lumens were a bit much inside the house. The 500-lumen 8G should be just the thing.

  • 500 lumens
  • 5,000 candelas
  • 5 hours runtime
  • 140-meter beam
  • Custom Streamlight optic produces a concentrated beam with optimum peripheral illumination
  • Ambidextrous rear paddle switches, with high or low configuration
  • User-enabled strobe setting
  • Streamlight’s proprietary “Safe-Off” feature prevents accidental activation and saves battery life
  • Anodized machined aluminum construction
  • IPX7 waterproof
  • Powered by one CR123A battery
Streamlight TLR-8A weapon lights
Newer Streamlight products, like this TLR-8A, let you choose between high and low control switches.

Streamlight TLR-7 Sub

The TLR-7 Sub is the TLR-7 optimized for subcompact handguns. I got this one for my Sig Sauer P365XL, which has the annoying proprietary Sig rail. The TLR-7 Sub is compatible with Sig Sauer P365/P365XL; Glock 43X MOS/48 MOS and 43X Rail/48 Rail; and the Springfield Armory Hellcat. It also works with select 1913 short-railed subcompact handguns, including the Smith & Wesson M&P M2.0 subcompact, Beretta PX4 Storm subcompact, Springfield Armory XD-E and XD-S, and the Heckler & Koch HK45 compact. Make sure you get the right light for your handgun.

  • 500 lumens
  • 5,000 candelas
  • 5 hours runtime
  • Ambidextrous rear paddle switches, with high or low configuration
  • User-activated strobe setting
  • Anodized machined aluminum construction
  • IPX7 waterproof
  • Powered by one CR123A battery

Streamlight TLR-9

The TLR-9 is a full-size, 1,000-lumen weapon light that will do just about anything you need. This light taught me that 1,000 lumens was too much for inside my house. You can decide that for yourself. I currently run it on a full-size IWI Jericho II from a battle belt. The TLR-9 brings the daylight when I need it and would let me range effectively to 200 meters if I wanted, which I really don’t. But this is a tough, reliable light. It has ambidextrous paddles, a user-enabled strobe, and constant or momentary functions like the other Streamlights I’ve mentioned. It also has high and low switches, so you can choose what works best for you.

  • 1,000 lumens
  • 10,000 candelas
  • 200-meter throw
  • 5-hour runtime
  • Anodized machined aluminum construction
  • IPX7 waterproof
  • Ambidextrous rear paddle switches
  • User-enabled strobe function
  • “Safe-Off” feature to save battery life
  • Powered by two CR123A batteries
Streamlight TLR-9 weapon light on an IWI Jericho II pistol
The Streamlight TLR-9 is a full-size light with full-size power. (Author’s Photo)

Surefire X300 Ultra A and B

I couldn’t possibly put together a credible weapon light list without at least one Surefire product. There’s only one because I can’t really afford Surefires, but a couple of non-poor friends have the X300 Ultra. Looking around, it seems that the X300 Ultra is kind of the industry standard. Oh sure, there are some lights with more power or a higher price tag. But few, if any, outperform the X300 Ultra.

Surefire lights are super reliable and tough as nails, making them military and law enforcement mainstays. The “virtually indestructible” LED emitter puts out 1,000 lumens and 11,300 candelas. The Proprietary TIR lens provides a focused light beam out to 213 meters. Ambidextrous controls offer easy manipulation while the battery gives you 1.25 hours of runtime. The X300 A features a rail-lock mounting system, while the X300 B has an improved T-slot mount.

  • 1,000 lumens
  • 11,300 candelas
  • Lightweight aircraft aluminum housing
  • High-performance LED emitter
  • Precision reflector
  • 25-hour runtime
  • IPX7 waterproof
  • Compatible with Surefire pressure-activated DG and XT remote switches
  • Runs on two CR123A batteries
Surefire X300 Ultra weapon light
The Surefire X300 Ultra is quite possibly the industry standard weapon light.

Something for Everyone

So, there you have it. My favorite handgun lights and others that come highly recommended. In the end, only you can decide which one is right for you. Brightness, size, weight, features, compatibility, and price all come into play.

But whichever you choose, try to envision why you want it. If it doesn’t fit the intended role, it will likely end up in a drawer somewhere. I’ve been through that myself. It took some trial and error, though I eventually accumulated enough guns to employ most of my lights at any given time. Since you can never have too many guns, or accessories for those guns, it’s not a bad problem to have. But I had to be careful at first, and I made a few missteps. I hope this helps a bit if that sounds like you.

Finally, Gun Mag Warehouse carries all but one of these lights. And the prices are more than competitive. Go find yourself a deal.

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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