There are lights you can put on your rifle and then there are rifle lights. Illumination tools purpose-built for hard use conditions in the worst conditions and in extended use on hard-recoiling guns. The new Colt Microtac M-Scepter 400 is unquestionably a light that qualifies as a hard use, heavy duty weapon light.

Most lights shooters put on their AR or other rifle are consumer grade flashlights. They’ll do fine on an Airsoft gun or .22 and crank out some lumens, but they just aren’t built to take hard use, let alone the kind of abuse and round counts you’ll run in a weekend of hard training. Or even many spirited hog hunts.

So when Colt decided to get into the weapon light business, lumen output and a cheap price weren’t the goals. They set out to build a battle-proof light that soldiers and heavy-use consumers can rely on to work under the most demanding conditions.

That all starts with the Microtac M-Scepter 400‘s LED. Colt uses a variety of CREE emitter…one they won’t ID for competitive reasons. It’s much more robust than those used in pocket flashlights and ensures uber-reliabilty as well as consistency in beam color and performance. In other words, this isn’t one of those ‘as seen on TV’ lights that’s available now for the low, low price of $19.95…if you act now!!

As for physical durability, the Microtac is rated for 35,000 rounds of 5.56 fire in either semi- or full-auto. That’s the kind of bone-jarring use that would reduce a bargain light to a quivering pile of parts.

The W stand for white light. Colt will be adding different color and infrared option to the line.

The design is unique, too. It’s a modular, reversible design made of heavy aircraft aluminum that gives you a variety of options in configuring and mounting the Microtac.

The M-Scepter is comprised of four main component parts; the beefy Picatinny mount, a body section (basically a battery tube), the tail end switch and the reflector/LED head. These parts mix and match and are reversible.

That means if you want to use it in its full-length, two-coppertop configuration on the left side of your rifle, you mount it as seen above.

Want something shorter and lighter? No problemo. Just unscrew the middle body section and remove it. That cuts down the length and weight and allows you to run a more compact unit on a single AA battery.

If you like your light on the left site of your AR, just screw the end cap/switch section on the opposite side of the mount and attach the emitter to the other end. It makes for an easy-peasy, flexible plug-and-play design.

Those Colt blue dual o-rings at each joint mean the Microtac is ultra-insulated to keep out dust, dirt, sand and water. I turned mine on and dropped it in a pan of water. When I came back about a half hour later, it was still shining and the internals were dry as a bone.

The Picatinny mount is extremely solid with two heavy-duty knurled screws to affix the M-Scepter to a section of rail.

The solidly built tail end has a simple, rubber-covered on/0ff switch as well as a rubber-covered remote switch input (remote sold separately). Colt’s MSSRT-SWT switch hasn’t hit the market yet, but will sell for $79 when it does.

The M-Scepter’s rated to throw its beam for 650 yards thanks to its highly polished reflector. Rather than a mirrored piece of molded plastic, the Microtac’s reflector is machined from a solid bar of aluminum and then “silver”-coated to improve service life and performance.

Which brings us to cost. The M-Scepter sells for $259, not an insignificant amount of cash. And if you’re comparing it to those Airsoft-grade lights you can buy for less than one fifth the price, Colt’s new offering probably won’t look very compelling.

But for a meaningful comparison, you have to look at other weapon lights meant for use in battle conditions. Comparable lights from makers like Surefire or Steiner cost more for fewer lumens without the modularity. Colt’s also opted for AA batteries in the Microtec (and managed to generate a remarkable 400 lumens from them), rather than the more expensive, harder-to-find CR123 batteries (that generate twice the voltage) used by other lights with longer rated run times.

400 lumens at 35 yards

The upside is you’ll be able to find batteries for your rifle light virtually anywhere on the globe, even in a SHTF or TEOTWAWKI situation. And even if you can only manage to scrounge one measly AA, the Microtac can easily be configured to work that way. So on an apples-to-apples basis, the Microtac is extremely competitive.

There are weapon lights out there with a few more features. And there are definitely less expensive options. But the Microtec M-Scepter is purpose-built to a higher standard to serve those who put their lights (and their rifles) through the toughest tests in the worst conditions. The M-Scepter is built like a brick lighthouse and flexibly designed for a variety of mounting positions. It’s definitely worth your consideration when kitting out your favorite rifle.

Specifications: Colt Microtac M-Scepter 400 AA Light

Batteries: 2 AA (included)
Output: 400 lumens
Run Time: 1 hour
Projections: 650 feet
Construction: Aircraft-grade aluminum body
Lens: Facet-cut glass
Reflector finish: Quadralux smooth
Length: 6.6 inches
Weight: 8.4 oz. full-length with batteries
MSRP: $259.50

Ratings (out of five stars):

Ergonomics: * * * * *
The simple on/off rubber switch is right where it should be and as easy as it gets. The multiple mounting options make it work for virtually any rifle and shooter.

Function and Build Quality: * * * * 
Tough as year-old beef jerky, the Microtac M-Scepter is built to take a licking and keep on emitting. Some may want more brightness options (and maybe a strobe), but when push comes to shove, simple is usually better. And you can add a remote switch to it if you want.

Reliability: * * * * *
I couldn’t get it to fail. No matter what. This thing is tough as nails.

Value * * * *
When you compare it to similarly built rifle lights the Microtac gives you all the toughness and performance you need at a competitive price.

Overall: * * * * 
This isn’t a dual-use light. You won’t be EDC’ing it in your 5.11’s. The Microtac M-Scepter is built as a rifle light and it excels at its one job. No variable brightness, no strobe. It fires an amazing 400 lumens from two common AA’s. It ain’t cheap (in terms of price or build quality). But if you want a rifle light that will take whatever you throw at it and keep on shining, the Colt Microtac fills the bill.

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30 Responses to Gear Review: Colt Microtac M-Scepter 400 AA Rifle Light

  1. 400 lumens only on a weapons light is not the best idea. Turn it on in a hallway at night after you eyes have adapted and get back to me how simple is better. (I did a handgun night shoot with a flashlight with similar power and ended up pointing it at the floor to keep from blinding myself). Also the Shurefire 2AA is going for about the same money.

    • +1 My favorite indoor low-light-shoot weapon-light is an old surplus incandesent TLR-1. Was less than $50. Bright enough to see by but not blind indoors. Nice center for aiming with halo around. Works great on a pistol or rifle. Emp proof?!

      I don’t do much outdoor shooting at night and I’m sure that is a whole different beast. I have a surefire G2X for that but haven’t used it much.

    • yes, agree… That’s exactly why we made the Predator version which comes with green and white heads. The green doesn’t mess with the night vision so much, but makes target identification good when your target is alive.

  2. I’m glad I’m not going to battle, so I can afford to stick a $7 cheapo on there that only needs to last for 1 mag worth of firing.

  3. The 1980s are calling, they want their awkwardly large, single purpose flashlight back. Any weapon light should run on CR123 batteries, or a single 18650…buy one of the many good 1″ diameter lights out there, put it in a 1″ scope ring, and you’re done. Seriously, that junk pictured above is a colossal waste of money, and many years behind the curve. And CR123 batteries are cheap if you buy them 10 at a time on eBay.

    • AA flashlights are now just as powerful as 123. The “Cheap on eBay” is not going to do you any good if you need to get new batteries NOW.

      • Ugh…CR123 is available now on ebay, and they’re available now in the store. Time frame doesn’t matter, and you should have stocked up on EVERYTHING beforehand…food, bullets, flashlights and batteries. Of course AA lights are just as powerful, but they’re ALWAYS more bulky because you need 3 AAs to equal 1 CR123. Look, you just want to run your mouth, and you’re not making any useful points…do you live in Texas by chance? You seem like someone from Texas.

    • In the photos there it does look large, but that’s the photo. The actual unit is smaller and slimmer than any CR123 light out there.
      There are 2 versions as well. 2AA and 2AAA.
      See them on Colt’s coltlights Facebook page or better yet coltlights Instagram for lots of good photos that show how low profile it is.
      You can also remove the body to make it even more compact making it the most durable weapon light of its size on the market today.

  4. I never understood the tendency for people to mount fing searchlights on their rifles. I mean, seriously, how much light to you really need? The best example I can give is one guy who mounted a 300 lumen light on his rifle and would up looking like a tacticool lighthouse after the sun went down.

    Realistically speaking, light discipline is probably the most important part of night time operations. Outdoors a powerful light just lets everyone know where you are. Indoors it just destroys your night vision. It’s why I keep all my lights in the 100-150 lumen range and use IR illumination for outdoor situations.

    • Definitely some valid points, but it also depends on your particular situation and needs: as for me, I live in a very rural area and want the brightest & longest beam light so I can see my barn and other outbuildings that are at various distances or to penetrate underbrush or look across hay fields in order to see either four or two legged critters.

      • Same. I’m more likely to need to illuminate a pasture to pop a coyote stalking my animals than a hallway. The rifle above the door has a 250L green light just for that. If I didn’t have that green light, a 400-600L white light would work well. The nightstand pistol has 150ish lumen light for indoors.

  5. I like lights, I really like combo light-laser and IR is a huge plus. I like having them on my weapons, but I don’t like them if they even appear ‘snaggy’. Air-soft is referenced a lot here, Airsoft is ‘snaggy’. If you need to use a weapon, in an environment that requires you to employ a weapon light, you are likely to also be moving, and movement requires very slicked-down stuff. With all of Colt’s experience, you’d think they’d have a single-purpose light and mount not look like a go-pro boom.

    I don’t mind weapons manufacturers dumping their ‘this didn’t make it thru to military contract selection’ products, but those better fit the bill anyway.

    • Perhaps a better reference instead of “Airsoft” would be .22cal rated. Most weapon lights today are actually not designed to handle significant recoil. This is why recoil ratings are absent from nearly all of them. But if you open your light up and see a spring touching the batter, or worse, the circuit board touching the battery, chances are its rated for .22 max.

  6. Fenix LD22 – 2015 edition – 4 brightness settings (up to 300 lumens), 1 hr 25 min runtime on brightest setting with rechargeable AAs, with a little electrical tape for a shim and a viking tactical mount – $80.
    And it isn’t a cheaply made flashlight either. Run it on my AR all the time.

  7. Currently these Colt Weapon Lights are the most advanced combat duty rated weapon systems and most durable systems available world-wide. There are no models from any brand more robustly built or even their equal.

    We at Colt worked 2 years engineering these lights. A quick side by side with ANY of the top brands and I guarantee that you will see and feel the difference both inside and outside. And because the head, tail and body are swappable, they are the most durable and highest quality customizable combat-duty weapon system in the world today.

    Other brands quality doesn’t even begin to come close until you get to well over $600-$900.
    And there is NO other brand whose lights can stand up to Colts weapon or tactical illumination systems 35,000 round standard. In testing, we could not find one reach even 1/3 of that. That is the Colt Challenge.
    Bashers working from those other brands aside….

    These Colt weapon and tactical systems are the only full line of long gun weapon mountable systems of any brand today. Even our smallest $59 tactical light is rated for All long rifles, full auto.
    Every light, whether hand-held of integrally mounted, are all designed to mount on the largest long guns sold today.

    In other words….Colt is the first and only top competitor whose illumination lines are All weapon recoil rated.
    Unlike many brands who also still insist to “brand-stamp”, these are 100% Colt designs.

    We love the guys who are commenting because they’ve tried them….
    Thanks guys

    • Ok…

      1. I’d hazard to bet that most Colt RIFLES in military service have never fired 35,000 rounds. Why would I need a light that’s going to outlast the next three guns I mount it on? In the time it takes me to run said 35,000 rounds, I can probably afford to replace the light three or four times and will need to due to the abuse a gun with that high a round count will undergo.

      2. Your product is gigantic. There were clearly no provisions in the design process to save size or weight. A half pound light on the business end of a rifle is not a good thing. Not to mention the fact that by going with AA power, you deliberately sacrificed size and weight for a convenience most people will never use. (My sea bag always had a pack of batteries in it.) I don’t see myself needing to scavenge AA batteries when CR123 rechargeables and solar chargers are both things that exist.

      3. Your control interface is obscolenscent. The tail cap switch will be hard to reach and your tape switch uses a snaggy cable design from the mid-90s. Streamlight, Surefire, and other competitors went to low-profile tape switch cables for a reason. It’s a good reason. On top of that, using a proprietary tape switch means that I need to have two of those suckers on my rifle. (1 for the light and another for the PEQ-15) Even worse, your switch looks to be the larger Streamlight profile that makes it impossible to mount it on a VFG greatly reducing the options I have for manipulating my weapon and still being able to access my light.

      4. Where is the multi-spectrum functionality? For this price range, I would expect to have both IR and white light diodes in the emitter array user selectable via a switch or something similar.

      What you have here is a decent light, but don’t piss on our heads and tell us it’s raining. This product is half a decade behind your major competitors and all your bragging about an irrelevant round-count spec won’t change that.

      • You make some good points. You don’t see our low-profile tape switch in the photos. It’s a dual mode tape switch with highly durable engineering built in to increase reliability. The quick-connector for it is virtually indestructible. Easy to clean out should dirt enter in. 35,000 Rounds is a lot…may need some barrel changes depending. But indestructibility is a must for anyone overseas. And when you’re being supplied bullets while on duty fighting the enemy, whose counting rounds. I could do 1500 rounds a day in some cases, and a long tour with lots of action burns bullets up fast. Lights fail in those cases, ask anyone whose seen significant action.
        The heads switch out rapidly for color variants and IR for military use. The Predator system comes with 2.

        Lights routinely get switched from gun to gun. Failure and compromise, which can be seen in most models out there, are not acceptable. These are zero-compromise.
        That counts if its your son or daughter behind the trigger. My daughter deserves the best and she’ll be using the best. That makes me sleep better knowing we didn’t compromise for the sake of aesthetics of budget cuts.

        All that being said, it’s clear that the trend is to make consumer models for the general public and then special ones for our troops. Do you believe that should be done? We don’t. Make the best always.

        The photos make it look bulky and old style. Look on Instagram. There was nothing like them in the 80’s/90′.or 2000’s. The knobs are the only piece of old-style.. but these were put there for the build.

        Thanks for taking the time to write back. I do hope you take the time to try one out.
        take care

        • Ok…

          1. Interchangeable arrays are a horrible idea. Basically it means that there’s more bits and pieces for me to carry and lose. There’s no technical reason why you can’t put IR diodes in the same array and simply select which to power using a switch. That would be an innovative product as this option is hard to find on scout lights.

          2. If you go through even 10,000 rounds in one deployment from your personal weapon, you can officially complain about having a rough tour. I’ve run the same Surefire M300 mini-scout light on my rifles for about a decade. It always lives on whatever rifle I have in rotation at the moment and has lived on .308, 7.62×39, and 5.56×45 platforms. Over the years, I have easily put 20,000 rounds through the various rifles that have played host to it with no issues. The interesting part is that it weighs about 1/2 of what this monstrosity does.

          What would make this thing competitive and innovative?

          1. Get the weight down. 8oz for a scout light is quite a lot. Especially for only 400 lumens of power.
          2. Give me a user selectable IR / White light array that does not require additional parts.
          3. Make the tape switch smaller (so it can fit in a VFG) or give me a dual button switch that can also control a laser module.

          Right now, you have an “also ran” product that’s not very price competitive. (The M300 is actually cheaper as it comes with the tape switch.) Your round count claim is impressive, but given how solidly built top-shelf lights are these days, it’s not much of an argument. I have never seen a quality light fail due to round count. You’re not competing with $60 airsoft products, but with companies that have been making solid weapons lights for decades and have a reputation for durability. It really sounds to me like your product development team didn’t really do a lot of research about your top-shelf competitors and had you bring an average product to the market. As it stands, you’re not offering anything that’s not already available elsewhere at the same or better price point. (Again, your round-count claim is nice, but hardly relevant given the durability of modern lights.)

    • You guys very clearly ripped off the Steiner MK4 battle light.

      Aside from that, Ill stick to Surefire or Streamlight. Feel free to fight SIG for “its been on clearance for 75% off at L.A. Police Gear for 3 years now” market.

      This reminds me why i stopped coming to this blog.

      • Ripped off like the way Streamlight ripped off the Surefire M300 & M600 w/their made-in-China RM1 & RM2 clones?

        • Both the SF scout and the ProTac Railmounts look like “just weapon lights”. Streamlight copied the mounting footprint but the rest is no different than any other weaponlight or flashlight.

          The Colt copied the integrated mounting bracket body and tailcap from Steiner, both in styling and function. There’s significantly more signature in the look of the Steiner light than in the Scout series.

  8. PS.. Take the Colt-Challenge.
    We challenge anyone to do a photo-review of any brand, side by side, inside and out next to a Colt. Nearly every light currently on the market has an actual rating of .22cal. Most weekend shooters will never shoot 500 rounds at night. But when you are overseas, failure’s not an option. Those are the guys and girls we made them for.

    Send your photos into Colt’s contactus@coltgunlights.com for a chance to get one of our latest releases. No purchase required.

  9. Um this looks great for my hog hunting setups. It may not be perfect for everyobe but im interested. Sure ive bought cheap flashlights and used tape and scooe rings to mount it, but that can be a pain to replace batteries and also align it with the rifles sightz

  10. I designed my own AR15 flashlight using a 3 1/2 inch Ultafire LED flashlight from Ebay with 6000 lumens adjustable beam, 3 mode high, low and strobe, AA battery and it only cost me $20 and an hour to make the costume mount.

  11. I like AA’s ’cause most of my other gear (lights, GPS, radios, etc) run on AA’s so this simplifies my logistics.
    Plus, I use a vertical foregrip on my AR’s and the offset mount makes using the light on the right side of the hand guard practical instead of having to use a pressure switch or change my grip on the vfg.
    Is this the be-all/end-all of WML’s? No…
    However, I like what it offers enough to pick one up for testing and will make my own decision after I’ve had a few night shoots w/it.
    Q: What’s the lumen output when using a single AA and are the electronics fully potted?

  12. With 1 battery, lumens cut exactly in half. The optics are very good, no coated plastics. Finely polished and curved machined bar stock for the extended range so that you get much more range per lumen. See Big Haddy Hoffman’s video on the coltlights com website and youe looking at the AAA version which is more impressive than most of the cr123 lights.

    The guys who think it looks a bit like one light or another need to simply compare a side by side. And the inside of each unit which contains the dual spring recoil system allowing for the recoil of magnum shotgun semi auto rounds. Colt answered many of the issues. Including customization. Having 4 parts which allow for 6 mount options doesn’t mean you loose parts. Quite the contrary. The other lights mentioned in this article need to be removed from the weapons, and in fact, do leverage the rail and even break mounts in CQB. The Colt lights will not. This means the light never need to be removed from the rail and there is no risk of breakage during severe CQB. Batteries can be rapidly changed through the head too.
    The Control circuit is the industry’s top.
    Colt engineers are responsible for many of the premium circuit designs in the industry over the years(engineers often help each other out cross brands), so we put together some awesome controllers designed to be grunts and not fail.
    The MAP pricing is not shown on the coltLight com website but keep in mind that dealers can sell at MAM if they so choose. Like anything prices come down with time.
    One thine we can say. Regardless of what people who have never touched a Colt weapon or tactical illumination system say, Colt lights are exceptionally better builds than any of the top competitor including all of the brands mentioned in this article. The other brands are nearly equal in build. That can only be seen and felt in person. And we certainly do hope that those writing will eventually get a personal view.

    Also, take a minute to view the “Colt Judge vs 12 Gauge shot gun” and see what a Colt tactical flashlight can take. That was 4 rounds of a 12 gauge point blank. The other lights mentioned in this article would not fair so well.
    We guarantee that you’ll like Colt’s very high end illumination tools.

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