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In what seems like eons ago, a package arrived from Streamlight with a TLR-1 Game Spotter. Since then, I’ve mounted it on pistols and rifles. I’ve managed to drop it, beat it against hard objects, use it for hours at a time, and generally abuse it extensively. It has survived six months of hard use and come out on the other side still ticking. Oh and it’s still running on the original batteries! The Game Spotter is an insanely bright weapons-mounted light that claims to throw a beam of green light some 300 meters or so. They also say that green light preserves night vision and aids in spotting game . . .

The prevailing science says that red or green is probably best for preserving night vision, but green (they say) is better for picking out detail at night which is important for after-dusk game hunting. Having put various varmints under red, white, and green lights over the last few years, I can safely say that green light does two things well: 1) it seems to be less alarming to critters and 2) it makes the reflection of their eyes “pop” making the spotting part very easy. On a nighttime rabbit hunt, Nick and I used the Game Spotter with great success and bagged several rabbits for a friend of mine. The furthest shot was taken at a touch over 100 yards by Leghorn and it was very easy to identify our target.

That said, for nighttime navigation, I find that a red light seems to preserve my night vision much better than green. This is evidenced by the fact that I can still pick out details when I shut the red light off, but my eyes usually take a few minutes to adjust after the green light winks out.

From a form factor, there’s one thing I love about this light and one thing that really irks me. Positive news first — the switch on the rear is perfect for “fumbling in the dark” use. Flip one way for momentary, the other for continuous. No other controls are needed. In my mind, that’s the way a light is supposed to work. So simple a caveman can use it.

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On the down side, the bell of this light is too large in diameter. As you can see, it just clears the handguard on my AR. And on each pistol I mounted it, the bell sat only a few millimeters below the barrel in a prime spot to be hit by muzzle blast, gas, and particulates. The regular TLR-1 has a much smaller form factor and I’d prefer it over the Game Spotter for weapons-mounted use. I don’t know what the effect would be on the ability to cast a beam, but I can tell you that bell unscrews so it seems to be user replaceable.

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The worst time I had using the Game Spotter was when I mounted it in the configuration above. The bell hangs out over end of the objective, blocking the view slightly, and the butt of the light bumps the turret cap. Version two of this light would be so much better if the bell were about half an inch smaller in diameter and the body shrunken in length ever so slightly. The configuration you see above is very popular with those using rifles that don’t have sixteen feet of rail space, like a lot of bolt action varmint hunters.


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I didn’t have the same problem mounting the Game Spotter on a Midwest Industries Rail, but this might be an isolated case.

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Specifications: StreamLight TLR-1 Game Spotter

  • Output: 150 lumens
  • Runtime: 1.75 hours
  • Mounting: MIL-STD-1913 rails + Glock-style rails
  • Switching: Ambidextrous momentary/steady On-Off.
  • Power: (2) 3V CR123A lithium batteries (included)
  • Construction: Anodized aluminum
  • Lens: Polycarbonate lens with scratch-resistant coating
  • Waterproof: 1 meter for 30 minutes
  • Operating temperature: -40°F to +120°F
  • Length: 4.83 in.
  • Weight: 5.3 oz
  • Warranty: Limited lifetime
  • Assembled in USA
  • Price: $114.14 from Amazon $129.99 from Midway

Ratings (out of 5 stars):

Form, Function, Operation * * * *
Given that the Game Spotter easily attaches to any Picatinny rail out there and the switch only has two positions, it’s nearly perfect. However, the bell is just a touch too large and interferes with a lot of good mounting positions.

Durability * * * * *
I had to backtrack half a mile in the dark to find it on a nighttime hunt. I found it on a flat rock where it had fallen from approximately three feet and skittered across the ground. I was no worse for wear, clicked back on and kept running. I’ve also managed to run it up against walls, door frames, and metal buildings. Takes a licking and keeps ticking.

Lighting Ability * * * * *
The Game Spotter is holy-shit-bright and has no problem lighting up wide open expanses of ground. It’s actually too bright to use indoors (especially with white walls). It casts a wide beam but has a very “hot” center as well.

Battery Life * * * * *
I’ve had it for months now, used it weekly and the beam is still very bright. I’ll update this if it ever winks out, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

Overall * * * *
Other than the oversized bell, this is a perfect nighttime hunting light. It’s bright as all hell, in a color that seems to preserve night vision as much as possible with a bright light, and doesn’t seem to spook animals. At right around $100, its a damn fine deal.

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19 Responses to Gear Review: Streamlight TLR-1 Game Spotter

  1. Wondering if I could get a sweet drop leg holster for my G17 that would accommodate that. I could definitely operate with that.

  2. I love my tlr1s for my guns. I have a 160 and 300 and both are amazing lights. Friend has the HL and likes it. It’s stupid bright.

  3. I have a TLR1 on my Beretta 92A1 beside my bed. I really like the thing and it works well on my AR as well. I took a look a HL version the other day. That thing is ridiculously bright.

    • Which gen? An autogated gen 3 (such as the PVS-14A) will not white out if exposed to visible light.

      It’s not GOOD for them, but you won’t go blind….

      • Mines a gen 3. I was just curious if it worked worse or better than lights designed for night vision.
        I’m looking for a better light than the one I have. (Only good for 50 yards)

  4. Nice Review Tyler. Enjoying your night hunts vicariously here on TTAG.

    Sadly, in CA, if I used a light after dark I’d lose my gun to the Wild Justice ecoboys.
    Same for night sights.
    And mufflers.
    And 30 rd mags.

    damn. now I am depressed…:)

    • That’s a great link. Bookmarked.

      Texas

      Night Hunting: Allowed, non-protected nongame animals (Armadillos, Mountain lions, Rabbits, Bobcats, Frogs, Porcupines, Turtles, coyotes, ground squirrels, prairie dogs) and fur-bearing animals (Badger, Mink, Opossum, Ring-tailed cat, Beaver, Muskrat, Otter, Skunk, Fox, Nutria, Raccoon) may be hunted at night with the aid of an artificial light on private property. Contact the local game warden before doing so to let them know where, when, what, how and who is hunting. Night hunting is not allowed on public lands.

      Night Vision: Allowed, not listed as a prohibited device per the Summary of 2010-2011 Hunting Regulations. Per consultation with Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept, it is legal to use night vision scopes while hunting at night for fur-bearing animals, nongame animals, and exotic animals & fowl (i.e. feral hogs).
      Website: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us
      Phone: 512-389-4505

    • Well that link looks pretty bad to me. They are wrong for MT laws, they didn’t even get the name of the agency that regulates game correct and they don’t reference actual laws for any of the states that I looked at. I wouldn’t trust that site at all. Unless you can read the laws or regulations yourself don’t trust random websites on the internet.

  5. I have found that Streamlight’s are great flashlights in general. I have four of them. Hand held and weapon lights. While I wouldn’t want to lose them, their price point would make it a lot easier to swallow then some of the more expensive lights out there.

    • I agree. I own several different model Streamlights, and love them all. You can pay more, but that doesn’t mean you’ll get more. Or you can roll the dice and go cheap (not recommended). For my dollars, Streamlight is the best combo of cost, performance, and durability.

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