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I have always been an advocate of lights on any firearms being used as self defense weapons. You really want to see what you’re aiming at when things go bump in the middle of the night. And while I’m not a noob, imagine my surprise when I noticed that the instructions packaged with the Streamlight TLR-1 HPL includes a blurb stating that the light can be mounted on a GLOCK or other pistol’s “universal rail” (via changing rail keys of course). While that may be technically possible, I’m not sure I’d recommend it . . .

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Just to see, I mounted the TLR-1 HPL on my Springfield XD Tactical, the largest handgun I own. While the light maintained its integrity while mounted on the XD, it definitely made the pistol a tad front-heavy. I didn’t fire the XD while the light was mounted because, as you can see this is definitely a long gun light.

The TLR-1 mounted easily on my AR. I had to switch out the rail keys to mount to my Picatinny rail, rather than the standard rail key labeled “GL”.  This was also a simple process and the step-by-step instructions are easy to follow, just in case. The only tool needed was the included hex wrench. Streamlight packages four different rail keys, so the TLR-1 will mount on virtually any rail.

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This light looks really great on the AR-15, in this case, my Wyndham upper on a Sun Devil lower. I chose to mount it on the left rail rather than the bottom because the toggle switch was easier for me to access from that angle.

 

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When mounted in a position that is comfortable for me, I was easily able to turn on the light, turn off the light, and enact the “strobe” option. Although I’m unsure of when I would ever want to or need to use the strobe option, it is available. The light can also be programmed to remove the strobe option from it’s operational functions and the directions to do so are in the instruction manual. I did disable and enable the strobe function just to say I did and to see if the instructions were accurate, and of course they were. It is pretty simple to do this should you decide the strobe isn’t something necessary.

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Aimed at a Mosin Nagant 91-30 in the corner at a distance of 6 feet with water droplets on the lens

The photo below is with the light attached to the AR-15 and aimed at a Mosin Nagant 91-30 in the corner (just to give some idea of the detail that can be seen) at a distance of 2 and 7 yards. It is quite obvious that it will illuminate much further.

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When it comes to brightness, the TLR-1 HPL is hard to beat. At 775 lumens, 48,000 candela peak beam intensity, a wide lens, and a LED bulb, the light created is unbelievably bright and covers a large area. Streamlight says TLR-1 HPL works up to 438 meters (479 yards) and I see no reason to dispute that. It effectively turns the night into day.

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I’m extremely impressed with the power of this light. Because it’s so bright, one could have a problem focusing on the sight immediately if it’s turned on in the dark. I didn’t have any problems, but your mileage may vary.

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Durability is also top notch. The light is made of machined aluminum with a virtually unbreakable polycarbonate lens with a scratch proof coating. It’s IPX7 waterproof and O-ring sealed.

While I didn’t try hard to destroy the TLR-1 HPL, I did scratch at the lens with pen and it didn’t do any damage. I also didn’t submerge the light in water as destruction of this product was not my goal. I did get it wet, though, simulating rain, splashing the lens and the battery compartment area. The unit took a licking and kept on lighting.

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The last stress test I did, was firing the rifle with the light on. Leaving the light on for longer than three minutes will make it hot to the touch, but that’s to be expected. (There’s a label helpfully proclaiming “HOT” in case you aren’t sure). That was the hottest I felt this light. I could touch without being burned, but it definitely was warm. Still, the light held firm through hundreds of rounds of fire.

Specifications – Streamlight TLR-1 HPL Weapon Light

Weight: 5.3 oz. with batteries and standard switch
Length: 4.83 inches with standard switch
Illumination: 775 lumens; 438m beam distance; 48,000 candela peak beam intensity; runs 1.75 hours
Power: Two 3V CR123A lithium batteries
Price: about $125 street

Ratings (out of five stars):

Installation  * * * * 
While you may have to change out the rail keys to get it installed on your particular gun, it’s a simple process. A rank beginner could install this light with negative perspiration.

Ease of Use  * * * * *
Once mounted in a position that’s comfortable for you, the light can be used easily, effectively, and quickly.

Illumination * * * * *
If I could give it more stars in this category, I would. There’s no comparison. It illuminates perfectly, in my opinion.

Durability * * * * *
The lens wouldn’t scratch even when I tried to do it. When wet, it still functioned at 100%. I didn’t try to destroy the TLR-1, but it will handle quite a bit of torture and abuse.

Overall * * * * *
This is the best light I’ve used and it will remain on my AR-15. It provides incredible illumination, performed beautifully and looks good on my AR, too.

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13 Responses to Gear Review: Streamlight TLR-1 HPL Weapon Light

  1. I have a Stylus Pro I EDC, the anodizing is long gone but the light works fine. If the build quality is close on this it’s definitely a winner.

  2. I wonder how this compares to the TLR-3 HLG in light output, besides what the specs say? I have one and while it’s currently on an XDm 40 it will make its way to a suppressed SBR when it’s complete. It felt pretty good on the rifle.

    • You mean TLR2 HLG. There is no HL model in the 3/4 lightweight series. The main difference isn’t as much in the lumens as in the focus of the beam. This light is very focused and can through the beam very far. But the standard TLR-1HL is a wider beam for close-in work.

  3. Looks like a much better offering than the TLR-4 I had. That model is plastic and it just didn’t hold up. The plastic holding it onto the rail started to crack and when I dropped with it attached to the pistol it was done for. It is now a really expensive pocket flashlight.

    • I had a similar problem. I returned it to the manufacturer, after getting an RMA. They fixed it and sent it back to me with a note saying not to use a screw driver and not to over tighten. I never did that.

  4. Now how does this flashlight work when wearing your tactical yoga pants? Or watching out for male patrons when using dimly lit ladies rooms?

  5. I own the same light, mounted on my Shadow Ops/PSA build. My rifle has Magpul furniture and I got a section of rail to mount it to the MOE mid-length forearm. I also have a MOE forward grip as well. The light is mounted at 10:00, just ahead of the forward grip. By extending my offhand out a bit I can grip the forearm in the supposedly popular “Costa” manner at the base of the forward grip, it provides for a very natural resting spot, and I can easily activate the strobe function by bumping the top of the switch with my left thumb, or turning it the other way with same thumb to solid light.

    I can also attest to the brightness, although the local critters are smart enough to stay behind the treeline at all times. 🙂

    Tom

  6. Nice review, Sara. One of these long-range Streamlight carbine lights has been near to top of my “want” list for some time, but it keeps getting bumped out of the top spot by other items. This is a good reminder to remedy that.

    One note on bottom-mounting a carbine light vs side- of top-mounting; in areas where fog, dust, snowflakes, or even insects are thick, a bottom-mounted light can make use of the “shadow” of the barrel to prevent glare-producing illumination of stuff located directly in front of the carbine. If the over-barrel/sight-line area in the first 5-20 yards is brightly lit-up, reflections from the above items/conditions can close down your pupils and restrict your view of longer-range targets in low-light conditions. This may not be a factor which will override the importance of ease-of-use of the controls, but it should be considered. Side- or even top-mounting may be a better choice for close to medium distances, but bottom may make more sense for long-range (and then there’s grass interfering when prone…).

  7. Ms Tipton may not know it but she is using the wrong light. Her TLR-1 HP L is intended for night time shooting. That large reflector bell focuses the output into a tight beam that pushes out over 100 yards.

    In contrast, her rifle seems to be configured for relatively near in/defensive use.

    She would be much better served by the smaller TLR-1 HL, which has similar light output but throws a wider beam.

    Used indoors, the HPL (and some would also say the HL) is simply too bright. Yes, your light can be too bright, as it will utterly destroy your night vision. Ask me how I know. I own an HP L and an HL. I also own an older TLR1 non-HL version (200 lumen vs 600) and actually prefer it indoors.

    Yes, there can be too much of a good thing.

    Also Ms. Tipton’s comment about the light being so bright she couldn’t focus on the sight reveals that while she may be an excellent shooter, perhaps she should take some defensive shooting classes. At any distance inside any home, especially with an AR, you should be point shooting with a hard focus on the threat, not looking for sights.

    Don

  8. Good write up! And while the interweb experts have weighed in on what is better I think it was a great choice! I have one on my .300blk DMR concept build. I’m sure some “expert” will denounce a .300blk DMR/SPR concept, but for my needs I came to the conclusion that for a longer (medium) range precision DI operated weapon that the tlr-1 hp would be a great option when using magnified optics…anywho, great article!

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