Streamlight TLR-2 gun light
Courtesy Streamlight
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Streamlight TLR-2 Gun Light
Courtesy Streamlight

Over decades of firearm ownership, competition and using gear hard – some of our writers have a wealth of experience to tap. When we went around the table, I got a bright idea…

Author disclosure: This author was NOT compensated by Streamlight for this article and purchased all of the products he owns with what little money he has left after alimony and mortgage payments.

There is no shortage of opinions in the gun culture and lights are a very touchy subject. You’re typically either a die hard Streamlight fan or a die hard Surefire fan. I’m a Streamlight guy. All the guys at my old department used to carry them, they worked very well and the warranty support was superb when something went wrong.

Most of the time we just called Streamlight, mailed in the product and got a replacement mailed right back. Seamless and fast, just as it should be.

Streamlight TLR-2 Gun Light
Courtesy Streamlight

The venerable TLR-2 gun light isn’t cheap, but they’re bright and they’ll take a beating. I’ve had a number of them over the years attached to pistols and/or rifles and they have all performed very well.

CR123 batteries are just about everywhere, from Staples to Home Depot to the battery compartment of the Magpul STR stock – it’s never a bad idea to have some spares around. I have yet to burn out a set of Energizers on my TLR-2 after almost 10 years of one being mounted on my pistol.

It’s simple and it just works. Not much can be said for it in a Dragnet Joe Friday-esque “Just the fact’s ma’am” way so I’ll color up this article with some personal experiences.

I have suggested the TLR series of lights to all my friends who just want a solid, high performance light, and if they’re not gun owners – there are plenty of regular flashlights, penlights and headlamps that Streamlight produces that all perform well, too.

A few months back, I met a young woman at the gun club who was just getting into self-defense after her soon-to-be ex-husband decided to go completely unhinged.

We got to talking and she asked me what light I had and I suggested the TLR lineup to her. In fact, I knew I had a new spare TLR-3 from an old H&K promotion where if you bought a gun, you got a free TLR-3 after a mail-in rebate.

I’m a big proponent of paying it forward so I asked her when she was going to be at the range next and I threw the light in my trusty range bag and met up with her to give her my spare light.

I was thanked with a big smile and she told me I lit up her life. Heh. I shot right back, telling her that I don’t want to light up her life I want to light up her field of fire.

After some laughs, I mounted the light to her VP9 and she got some practice with it as the sun started going down. The power of today’s modern weapon lights is almost unbelievable.

I remember back in the old days having a rifle and a Surefire M961 and thinking I was Billy Badass. In 2019, the flashlight app on my phone generates more lumens than that thing.

We’ve come a long way. These are tools that help us see what we’re shooting — or not shooting — at and we’re fools if we don’t let the tools do the work.

One other feature of the TLR-2 that I really like is its integrated laser. I am NOT a fan of using a laser to guide gunfire, but I AM a fan of using all available tools to help me teach.

One trick I’ve picked up over the years is keeping a TLR-2-equipped pistol handy and when shooting at paper targets from a static position, I will use the laser to demonstrate the natural arc of movement when holding a pistol and point out specific shot placements.

This beats having to call a line cold, walk over to the paper, take out a sharpie and point. I’m able to indicate what I need to in real time, in between shots if necessary, and the TLR-2  helps me be a better instructor. It delivers a better student experience and a better time at the range.

This is a weapon light that really does not suck.


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  1. I’ll be honest. Surefire and Streamlight are good products, but I’ve switched to Olight for all my applications now. That TRL-2 is way too huge for that G17 in the photo. My G17 has an Olight Valkyrie PL-mini that matches the width and profile of the gun perfectly.

    • The trend of using larger lights these days (or rather, longer lights) is the usefulness they provide as a standoff device. If one were to drive the muzzle of that G17 into a target at ‘rasslin range, the light would help prevent the slide from being pushed out of battery and would help ensure a discharge under weapon-to-target contact conditions. Just something to consider, another tool in the box.

    • Like I Haz A Question, I have switched to Olights for weapons lights and carry flashlights.

      The Olight Baldr Pro weapon light is about the same size as the TRL 2, and both use two CR123A batteries, but the Baldr Pro is much brighter (1,350 lumens, 16,900 candella) for the first continuous minute, has a green laser, and is about 1/2 the price. The Baldr Pro $149.95 MSRP, but I just bought a second one on the Black Friday weekend sale for $120 with 2 free small flashlights and free shipping. They have a new model in olive green that would go perfectly on a green CZ P-01 if I can ever find another one in stock (LGS had one briefly that was snapped up before I made it back to purchase it).

      I also use the smaller size Olight PL-MINI 2 Valkyrie on carry pistols (600 lumen, 2500 candela, rechargeable, no laser, $89.95 MSRP). The PL-MINI 2 is unique in that it can be adjusted along its rail mount forward or backwards to be flush with the muzzle or have the switches alongside the trigger guard.

  2. I identify as a non binary cat, I don’t need lights, I can see at night as clear as during the day. It’s 2019 and liberals told me I can be whatever I want.

    • “I identify as a non binary cat, I don’t need lights, I can see at night as clear as during the day. It’s 2019 and liberals told me I can be whatever I want.”

      Whiskas, as far as I’m concerned, as long as you keep the mouse population under control, and like a nice belly rub (without biting), you’re OK with me… 🙂

  3. The TLR-2 is alright. Just big enough that careful consideration should be given to your purpose/setup.

    It’s a PITA when combined with a full sized pistol and an Osprey suppressor though. If you get a good deal on the unit the light’s great. I sighted in the laser and have used it once since to chase a milk jug around. If you don’t need the laser then get something else that’s cheaper, unless like I said, the -2 is on sale. That’s how I got mine.

  4. That TLR2 on a G17 is so 2008. There are a hundred different options that are smaller, lighter and cheaper.

  5. I have 8-10 Surefire handhelds. A TLR on my nightstand pistol. I like the toggle switch on the TLR better than the push on/off on the Surefire. At least I guess how a Surefire works. Been awhile since I played with a Surefire weapons light.

  6. The TLR-6 is better for the glock in the picture. Does the same thing but it’s 1/3rd of the size and fits the pistol.

  7. Streamlight is good quality, but I don’t like the 2″ of mechanical offset since the laser is at the very bottom of the unit. All Streamlights and most Surefires have this configuration. I prefer the laser closer to the bore, which other manufacturers accomplish by putting the laser above or beside the light.

  8. Lasers are great for showing what small movements do for your aim and point of impact to new shooters.

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