Gear Review: Streamlight TL-Racker Shotgun Light

Travis Pike for TTAG

As far as defensive and military shotguns go, it seems that the pump-action still rules the roost in the United States. While semi-autos are more and more accepted, the transition is slow.

The USMC adopted the M1014 shotgun in 1999, and my infantry battalion’s armory had zero of them…in 2012. We did have a ton of Mossberg 590s, though in various configurations. That’s because they’re versatile and reliable. That’s also why so many Americans choose a pump gun for home defense.

If you choose a pump shotgun for your home defense weapon, then a white light is still a must. But attaching a white light to a pump-action shotgun is tricky. A long time ago, Surefire figured out the best way to do it was to make the light integral to the pump. Streamlight then ran with the concept and gave us the TL-Racker Shotgun Forend Light.

(Travis Pike for TTAG)

The TL-Racker is similar to the Surefire DSF in a few ways, but it’s a lot less expensive (about half the price retail). The TL-Racker is produced for America’s favorite pump guns, the Remington 870 and the Mossberg 500/590 series.

Although the Mossberg variant will not fit on the Shockwave, the Remington model will fit the TAC-14. I have the Mossberg 500 variant of the TL-Racker, and it sits on my 590 with its 20-inch barrel, 9 round capacity, and a bayonet lug.

TL-Racker – The Basics

The light runs for 1.5 hours at 850 lumens and uses two CR123 batteries (you can also use a rechargeable 18650 battery). It’s IPX7 rated, which means it can be submerged in water 1 meter deep for up to 30 minutes. The TL-Racker uses an LED emitter and is built to be impervious to shock. The Mossberg model weighs 10.78 ounces and is surprisingly light.

The light uses a single button as its control, and that button is massive…it’s the Streamlight logo on each side, and it’s easy to activate with a standard grip. That’s important when adrenaline is pumping. The light has both constant-on and momentary modes.

Light ’em Up

The TL-Racker puts out a bright and clear 850 lumens and has a reported effective range of 237 meters. The beam casts more like a spotlight than a focused beam. It’s wide and covers an area that fills your peripheral vision. Especially indoors.

Cameras kind of suck at capturing it. They tend to either white-out or the camera dims the light automatically. However, the room this was taken in was pitch black.

(Travis Pike for TTAG)

If I were holed up in my bedroom during a home invasion, I’d be able to quickly establish identification on whoever comes through the door and act accordingly. Notice that the barrel and bayonet lug do cast a shadow over the light onto the door.

I also stepped out what would be the longest shot I would take inside my house in a completely dark room and turned the light on. It illuminates everything I’d need to see and, again, does it more so than the picture accurately portrays.

The overshadow from the barrel, and bayonet lug also becomes less of a problem. Notice it’s on the ceiling instead of in my direct vision.

(Travis Pike for TTAG)

Outdoors the light has a very impressive useable range. While it may reach 237 meters at its peak distance, I don’t think I’ll be identifying anything that far away. Within 50 yards, the beam is quite intense and able to quickly light up a threat. You can make out fine details and see if they’re carrying a weapon.

To me, this is mostly an indoor tool, but for some, it’ll have outdoor use as well.

Ergonomics

The light is straightforward. Push the big button on the side and hold it for momentary use. Push and release and the light stays on. Hold it down for a half a second, and it will turn off when released, giving you your momentary mode. The Surefire DSF does this a bit better with separate switches and programmable modes, but there is something to be said for the simplicity of the TL-Racker

The TL-Racker is well textured and provides a sure grip. That big divot 3/4s of the way up acts almost as an angled grip. It gives a good amount of control to your weapon, and you’ll never feel it slip or fail to be able to grip it. The TL-Racker is also light and compact, and that’s why I appreciate this design.

(Travis Pike for TTAG)

Mounting the light doesn’t make the gun feel front heavy or awkwardly balanced, though it adds a little bulk. The TL-Racker integrates without issue. If you’re high speed and low drag, you may find this to be moderate drag and acceptable speed.

But what if I accidentally turn it off while pumping the gun!

Oh, whatever will you do?

Well, you can probably just hit the switch again and turn it back on. It’s bound to happen. You’ll probably fumble a bit at least once at first and turn the light off while pumping the shotgun. I assure you, you can have it back on before it becomes an issue.

(Travis Pike for TTAG)

Of course, the light’s beam will also change as you pump the gun. That’s not a significant issue, and if you are moving fast, you won’t notice or care. Pumping the next round in the chamber means getting the light back on target, and that’s a lot more important than worrying about how your light shifts.

In the end, I appreciate the lower cost of the TL-Racker, as well as the lighter weight, simple ergonomics, and the bright, clear light it provides. It gives a simple, wire-free shotgun option at the click of the ambidextrous Streamlight logo.

Specifications: Streamlight TL-Racker Shotgun Forend Light

Lumens: 850
Power Source: 2 CR 123 batteries
Run Time: 1.5 Hours
Length: 8 inches
Width: 1.95 inches
Height: 2.64 inches
Weight: 10.78 ounces
MSRP – $225 (about $150 retail)

Ratings (Out of Five Stars):

Light Output * * * * 
850 lumens is a lot of light and the Streamlight beam is bright and clear and provides a peripheral vision-filling beam. It’s perfect at shotgun ranges. I knocked one point off due to the design’s barrel shadow issues.

Ergonomics * * * * *
It’s simple. Push the button, make light. The momentary takes some practice to get comfortable with but it’s not difficult. The light is also very light weight and keeps the gun balanced which I appreciate. The TL-Racker isn’t just a good light, it’s a good pump.

Overall * * * * 1/2
The Streamlight TL-Racker is an outstanding shotgun light. It’s well built, bright, easy to use, and blends well into your shotgun. Never is it cumbersome or not worth its weight. The TL-Racker is stupid simple and stupid simple is the name of the game with a pump shotgun.

 

comments

  1. avatar former water walker says:

    Does this work on a Maverick88 which I got?!? Or just a 500. Looks really groovy😋

    1. avatar BobS says:

      Yes, it fits the whole range: Maverick 88, Mossberg 500, Mossberg 590

  2. avatar daveinwyo says:

    This would go on my re-configured 870.
    But I do like the bayonet on my Mossy.
    Honest occifer he tripped and fell onto my gun! I never even shot him!

  3. avatar I Haz A Question says:

    I installed an offset flashlight bracket on my 870. Works great for a fraction of the cost, and I can remove the flashlight in 30 seconds. But the bracket is affixed to the mag tube, so racking the action can slam your thumb into the bracket upon forward-cycle. Maybe I’ll look into this Streamlight as a possible upgrade.

  4. avatar TODD G says:

    I use a TLR-1 mounted on a Magpul forend on my 870. My finger rests naturally on the rear switch, making on, flash, or brief-on easy. That, and the bit of light spillover onto the front night sight makes the Trij tube glow nice and bright. Great solution, and I can move the TLR to different guns if needed.

  5. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

    I had the Surefire light on my Sctttergun Technologies 870. (I was required to have an 870.) Deployed it twice that I can recall. DXed it as soon as I retired. Never saw a bad guy with feathers. Saw some do a good imitation of a chicken though. That said, big fan of lights on defensive weapons. Keep your lasers.

  6. avatar Merle 0 says:

    I’d like to see more integral lights like this. I remember there used to be an mp5 with an integral light in the forend similar to this.

    1. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

      Merle, you must be old, too. Lots of trigger time on that MP-5 with that forend. It was just a simple flashlight compared to what we have today. I don’t think H&K even builds the MP-5 anymore. Shame. Best submachine gun I ever used. I remember when I worked Katrina with some guys from a SWAT team that had the replacement. Didn’t impress me enough to even remember the model number. I’m sure it was less expensive than an MP-5.

      1. avatar I Haz A Question says:

        The MP5 is still in service. One of my LEO buddies was recently issued one as part of his promotion into a breach team.

      2. avatar Merle 0 says:

        I’m gettin up there. I’m a big fan of the mp5 too. All the good semi auto clones are just a bit out of my price range or I would definitely have one.

  7. avatar Sam Hill says:

    Guess this makes my 3 D cell Maglite and a third of a roll of Alabama chrome kinda obsolete. Actually, personal preference is nothing on weapon to hang up, make unnecessary thought, and muscle memory confused. This look like it might alay those problems real well, but there are two more problems outstanding. Not a fan of telling the enemy my position, number one most positive. Two, I’m damned if I’ll pay a hundred and fifty bucks for a flashlight that don’t talk or make coffee in the morning.

    1. avatar Specialist38 says:

      Sooooo…..if you’re going to illuminate your target….you have to turn on a light…..and they will see the light.

      Ain’t no free lunch.

      I’ll take my chances with a light.

    2. avatar I Haz A Question says:

      $150 is a small price to pay to be assured I’m not about to pull the trigger on a sleepwalking member of my household.

      1. avatar former water walker says:

        The FIRST thing I did to my AR15 was change the foregrip and install a light…for now it’s an ordinary Taclight from Wallworld. But it’s reliable and damn brite.

        1. avatar TODD G says:

          After taking a couple of low-light shooting classes I came to understand that brighter isn’t always better. Enough to identify the problem and surroundings gets the job done, lumen hoses just blow out my low-light perception. I started my first LL first class with a Glock mounted TLR-1, ended up completing that class and most of the next two with a handheld single-AAA Streamlight micro-light. The shotty is a bit different as a true 2-handed machine, but I’m no longer chasing mo-lumens mo-bettah.

        2. avatar I Haz A Question says:

          @Todd,

          Yes! Exactly. During my own first low-light (nighttime) training course, I quickly learned that I prefer the lower lumen settings on my weapons lights as their defaults. I moved my higher-lumen light from my night stand Glock to my AR, and bought a more compact Olight PL Mini for the Glock. Now when I train, I don’t squint when I flick on the light, or find my eyes going wonky in the blackness when I flick it back off.

    3. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

      Sam, the first weapons mounted light I had was a 3 cell Mag Light duct taped to a Benelli M-1 Super 90. Light is good when shooting. Just remember. Light on. Shoot. Light off. Move. Repeat as necessary.

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