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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.