Pump shotgun weapon lights are always tricky. Finding the right combination of ergonomics, light output, and design is a real hassle.
One company that’s been doing it right for decades is Surefire. They’ve been building integrated forend weapon lights, it seems, forever. The Surefire DSF 870 is pump integrated with a weapon light that’s long been a proven design.
The integrated pump weapon light combination ensures you are always in control of the light and the weapon. With different lighting systems, you may have to abandon the pump momentarily to activate the light, and using an intermittent mode is impossible.
Attaching lights to pumps like the Magpul series gives you an easy reach pump, but you sacrifice ergonomics for it. The trickiest part typically being a pressure pad that’s put under too much pressure when the weapon is racked.
The Surefire DSF-870 – Designed for Success
The Surefire DSF 870 gives you a powerful and easy to control light option that will still allow you to stick the gun in a weapon rack. The light has two output-modes via the output-mode-selector switch; high (600 lumen maximum output) and low (200 lumens). The Surefire DSF 870 has ambidextrous controls, and that means you have two control buttons on each side. The left side has the output control button.
The forward-most button is the momentary mode that’s perfect for quick light-ups and turns off as soon as it’s released. The rear button is the constant illumination mode.
On the left side, the third, much smaller button it the output control. To set the output between 200 or 600 lumens, turn the light on in constant mode and hit the brightness button to adjust as needed.
The buttons are massive, very easy to find with your hand. They are rubberized and offer a distinct texture over the rest of the pump so there’s no fumbling or guessing.
My standard right-hand grip allows either my thumb or index finger to work the light. My thumb rests in such a way that I can activate the momentary mode without moving my hand. My index finger rests in such a way that it can activate the constant mode.
If you’re in constant mode, hitting either the momentary or the constant mode will turn the light off, so if it needs to be off in a hurry, it can be. The controls are extremely well thought out and work with ease. Any idiot with minimal training can be effective with this light, which suits your author just fine.
On the very bottom of the light is a kill switch that deactivates all the buttons. This allows the gun to be stored without worrying about accidental activation and draining the batteries. The Surefire DSF series runs on two CR123A batteries and will last for three hours on the 200-lumen mode.
As the name makes obvious, the DSF-870 is designed to replace the original factory forend on the ubiquitous Remington 870 shotgun and all its variants (Surefire makes a version for the Mossberg 500/590 as well).
I have the Surefire DSF mounted on a Remington TAC-14, which may seem silly, but I’m going through a form 1 and creating an SBS, and I think this would be the perfect light for a dedicated home defense SBS. The light stays slightly south of the barrel, and this helps create less shadow with the 14-inch barrel. A 12.5-inch barrel might be even better.
How It Holds Up
Recoil on a normal shotgun can be a breaker of things, and the TAC-14 in its stockless configuration can be even rougher. It’s a good test for durability, and I’ve pumped many a round through this set-up. Mostly birdshot, but quite a bit of standard 00 2.75 inch buckshot and lots of reduced recoil Federal Flitecontrol buckshot, too.
The DSF-870, with its tough polymer construction aluminum light module, never even flickers under fire. Round after round after round goes through the gun without phasing the light. It seems positively recoil-proof and even stood up to five rounds of Winchester PDX slugs without any problems.
With the front of the light being behind the muzzle, the build-up of carbon isn’t a major issue. I tend to give it a wipe-down with a napkin after a range trip and it keeps things clean.
As I mentioned, barrel shadow isn’t a big problem. In fact, it only occurs when the pump is actuated. The 14-inch barrel is absolutely perfect for this light and gives you a nice clear beam of light. It’s more of a spotlight that a precision-guided beam, giving you a wide view that fills your peripheral vision.
One of the benefits of a shotgun is its ability to react quickly to close range threats and deliver a lot of power per trigger pull. The wide spotlight beam style light lends itself perfectly to closer-range shotgun applications.
One side benefit of tossing the Surefire DSF on a short-barreled shotgun or firearm is the fact that the unit creates a big lip that gives you a hand stop. If you’re in a hurry, you most certainly won’t throw your hand in front of the muzzle with the Surefire DSF-870 mounted on your gun.
The Surefire DSF-870 LED weapon light is built like a tank. It’s durable, incredibly strong, and quite bright.
The downside of the TAC-14 is that without a stock, it’s quite unbalanced when you’re aiming it. However, that extra weight on the front end gives you a noticeable reduction in muzzle rise. It also adds over 17 ounces to your gun, so that’s a consideration you’ll have to make.
The Surefire DSF-870 is an extremely well-made piece of gear. It can be used, abused and trusted for both home defense and duty use. Surefire is a company well-known in the professionally armed world, and that reputation is well-deserved.
Specifications: Surefire DSF-870 Pump Shotgun Weapon Light
Output: 600 lumens (high), 200 lumens (low)
Bezel Diameter: 1.37 inches
Weight: 17.8 ounces with batteries
Batteries: 2 CR123A
Runtime: 3 hours on low, 1.5 hours on high
MSRP: $399 (about $290 retail)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Ergonomics: * * * * *
Sometimes gun gear seems to be designed by someone who doesn’t shoot. The Surefire DSF 870 isn’t that at all. Surefire expertly designed this light, and I can’t help but think the designer must love the shotgun as much as I do.
Reliability: * * * * *
It doesn’t stop. With its mil-spec hard anodized light unit as well as o-ring and gasket seals weatherproofing, rain, snow, or recoil don’t slow down the DSF-870. The two-output level light is made to last for years and you can still find working models of Surefire’s early shotgun lights from the 90s.
Bang for Your Buck: * * *
I spent my hard-earned $300 on this thing and I’ll admit it’s worth the money. However, as a normal Joe, I doubt I need something this tank-like. If I was a soldier or law enforcement, I’d want the best, but with the Streamlight TL Racker being about half the cost, this is a tough call.
Overall: * * * * 1/2
The Surefire DSF-870 is a brilliant (no pun intended) tool for a shotgun. It’s well-made, expertly crafted, and designed to last. The initial investment is high, but the price is well worth it. The Surefire DSF-870 is the ultimate weaponlight for shotguns on the market.