Best Pistol Lights for 2023: Lumen, Candela, Quality and Durability Considerations

best pistol lights

So what are the best pistol lights and why use one in the first place? Well, it’s simple. When you’re in a low-light situation where every millisecond counts, especially a home defense scenario, a bright light attached to your pistol can make all the difference.

Choosing the right pistol light isn’t just about picking the brightest or coolest-looking one. It’s about understanding your needs and how different factors come into play. For instance, are you using it on your carry gun or on your home defense pistol? Do they have Picatinny rails for easy attachment?

The world of gun lights is vast and varied with many factors to consider, so let’s start unpacking!

Evaluating Quality Factors of the Best Pistol Lights

Durability and Reliability

Quality and durability are the priorities. You want a mounted light that’s tough as nails, ready to withstand any situation you might find yourself in. Think about it, would you trust a flimsy light when your life could be on the line? I don’t think so.

Durability isn’t just about being hardy. It’s also about reliability. A good light won’t fail you when you need it most. It’ll shine bright and illuminate your path or target, even in the darkest spaces.

Brightness Settings

Next up, let’s talk about brightness settings. This isn’t just about how much light output your device can produce – though that’s certainly important. We’re talking usable light here; a concentrated beam that gives you clear vision without blinding you or washing out your peripheral vision.

A quality pistol light should offer adjustable brightness levels so you can adapt to different environments and situations. A blindingly bright white light output might be great for open spaces but could be detrimental in close quarters where softer lighting is preferable.

  • Check Brownells for an excellent selection of pistol lights with adjustable brightness settings.

Battery Life and Rechargeability

Finally, what good is a high-quality pistol light if its battery dies on you mid-action? That’s why battery life and rechargeability are crucial factors in determining quality.

Longer battery life means more time between charges or battery changes. And if your pistol light has rechargeable batteries? Even better! They save time, money, and reduce waste – making it not only convenient but also eco-friendly!

When evaluating battery life, consider both continuous run-time (how long the light lasts when left on constantly) and intermittent use (how long the battery lasts over time with sporadic usage).

Remember, choosing the best pistol light isn’t just about picking one with the highest specs or fanciest features. It’s about finding a balance between durability & reliability, brightness settings & usability of white light output, and practical aspects like battery life & rechargeability.

Understanding Lumens vs Candelas

Lumens: The Measure of Light Intensity

Lumens measure the total amount of visible light emitted by a source, such as a bulb. It’s like the horsepower in your car; the more lumens, the brighter your lumen lights will be.

Ever wondered why some bulbs are brighter than others? It’s all about the lumens. A high-lumen bulb type emits more light compared to a low-lumen one.

Let’s put it into perspective. Imagine you’re in a pitch-black room, and you turn on a 1000-lumens bulb type. You’d experience an instant burst of brightness that would quickly fill up every corner of the room. Now switch to a 500-lumens bulb type. You still get light ample light, but not as blinding and overpowering as with the higher lumen output.

Candelas: The Directional Intensity

On to Candelas now. While lumens tell us how bright a light is overall, candela measures its directional intensity. Think of it like this – if lumens are how much light is produced, then candela is where that light goes.

Picture yourself holding a flashlight with high candela in front of you. The beam focuses intensely on whatever you point at while leaving everything else in relative darkness.

In contrast, lower candela means less focused intensity resulting in softer and more diffused lighting.

Comparing Lumens and Candelas

So how do lumens and candelas stack up against each other? Well:

  • Lumens: Total amount of visible light from any source.
    • High Lumen: Brighter overall illumination
    • Low Lumen: Dimmer overall illumination
  • Candela: Directional intensity from any source.
    • High Candela: Focused intense beam
    • Low Candela: Softer diffused lighting

It might seem confusing at first glance but think about it this way – if you’re looking for something specific in your garage (say those darn keys), you’d want a flashlight with many lumens for maximum brightness and high candela for focused intensity.

But if you’re setting up mood lighting for movie night at home? A lamp with fewer lumens and lower candela would do just fine!

In short, understanding both these units can help us make informed decisions when choosing our best pistol lights or any other lighting gear that you might need.

A Few of Our Top Budget-Friendly Picks

Olight PLPro Valkyrie- Affordability Meets Performance

The Olight PLPro Valkyrie, often referred to as the Olight PL Mini, is a top pick for those on a budget. This pistol light doesn’t skimp on performance despite its affordable price. It’s like getting a gourmet burger at fast-food prices – you’re getting more bang for your buck.

The Olight PLPro Valkyrie runs on lithium batteries, giving it an impressive runtime. The battery type used in this model is rechargeable, so you won’t have to worry about constantly buying new batteries. Plus, with the quick recharge feature of this Olight pl mini model, keeping your pistol light ready is hassle-free.

Standout Features

  • Power: The Olight PLPro Valkyrie boasts of 1500 lumens output at max setting. That’s brighter than most competitors within its price range.
  • Versatility: This model isn’t just compatible with pistols. You can mount it on rifles too! Talk about getting more value for your money.
  • Usability: With its easy-to-use switch and quick attach/detach system, even newbies won’t have trouble using this pistol light.

User Feedback and Reviews

Don’t just take our word for it; let’s see what others are saying about the Olight PLPro Valkyrie.

On Optics Planet, one of our favorite online retailers for shooting gear, users rave about the quality and affordability of this Olight PL Mini model.

Here’s what some users had to say:

  1. “For its price point, you can’t beat the features and performance of Olight PLPro Valkyrie.” – User A
  2. “I was skeptical at first because of how cheap it was compared to other brands but after using it extensively in my night training sessions… I’m impressed!” – User B

Of course, no product is perfect and there were a few who preferred other models like Baldr mini or had issues with certain aspects such as battery life or brightness levels.

But overall? The consensus is clear: if you want an affordable yet reliable pistol light that delivers in terms of performance and features… then the Olight PLPro Valkyrie is a solid choice that just might fit your needs!

Comprehensive Review: Surefire X Ultra

Performance and Durability

Ok, I’ll admit it, I love Surefire products and the Surefire X300 Ultra (also known as the Surefire X300U) is a top-notch firearm accessory that doesn’t disappoint in terms of performance and durability.

This beast of a pistol light is built to last with its high-strength aerospace T6 aluminum body, which has been hard anodized for superior toughness. It’s shockproof, so it can handle the recoil of any firearm you might pair it with.

The Surefire X300 Ultra isn’t just tough though; it also performs exceptionally well.

With its 1000 lumens output, this bad boy can light up any target in low-light conditions. And with a waterproof rating that allows for outdoor use even in the most challenging weather conditions, you won’t have to worry about your gear letting you down when you need it most.

Unique Features

What sets the Surefire X300u apart from other pistol lights?

Well, for starters, it comes with an ambidextrous switch that allows for easy one-finger operation and quick toggling between constant-on and momentary-on illumination. The inch bezel features a precision TIR lens that creates a smooth, far-reaching beam with enough surround light for peripheral vision.

And… the Surefire x300 ultra includes a Rail-Lock® system for rapid attachment to and removal from both Universal and Picatinny rails.

Real-World Application Scenarios

So where does the X300 Ultra shine? You’ll find this piece of gear excelling in various real-world application scenarios:

  • Law enforcement officers appreciate its robustness during their nighttime operations.
  • Outdoor enthusiasts value its waterproof rating during hunting or camping trips.
  • Homeowners rely on its bright illuminating power during home defense situations.

In short: whether you’re busting perps, bagging game, or protecting your castle – the Surefire x300 ultra got your back!

To sum up this individual review: if you’re looking for one of the best pistol lights out there – look no further than the Surefire x300 ultra. Its durable construction ensures longevity while delivering top-tier performance across different environments and applications.

That said, this level of quality comes at a price and a pretty hefty one at that. You can expect to shell out around $350 for this light

Spotlight on Glock Lights: Streamlight TLR HL

The Streamlight TLR HL is a game-changer when evaluating the best of the best pistol lights.

Specifically designed for Glock pistols, this flashlight is more than just an accessory. It’s a tool that enhances your shooting experience and could help save your life.

A Closer Look at Streamlight TLR HL

The Streamlight TLR HL boasts high lumen output, offering excellent brightness and clarity even in low-light conditions. Its C4 LED technology guarantees top-notch illumination, while its deep-dish parabolic reflector produces a concentrated beam with optimum peripheral illumination.

Additionally, the Streamlight TLR HL fits several Glock models like a glove.

Whether you’re sporting a Glock 17 or a compact Glock 19, this light will mount directly to your handgun’s rails without any need for adapters or tools.

But what sets the Streamlight TLR apart from other lights?

Here are some features:

  • TIR lens: This produces focused beams perfect for close-to-mid-range targeting.
  • Rail clamp: Allows rapid attachment and detachment from the side of the weapon.
  • Holster support: Many popular holster brands support this specific model.
  • Night vision compatible: It doesn’t interfere with night vision equipment due to its controlled lighting mode.

User Experience With Streamlight TLR HL

When I owned my gun accessory business, this unit was always a top seller and users raved about their experience with the Streamlight TLR HL. They loved that it offers both strobe and steady modes and appreciate how easy it is to switch between them using one hand only.

The fact that it uses two, common and easy to find CR123A batteries (included) which provide 1.25 hours of continuous runtime also scores major points among users.

Gunmag Warehouse reviews echo these sentiments, praising its ease of use and compatibility with various holsters like Gunmag Warehouse Gunmag Warehouse holsters.

The consensus? If you’re looking for reliable handheld light for your Glock pistol, you can’t go wrong with the Streamlight TLR HL. Its impressive features coupled with positive user feedback make it stand out as one of the best pistol lights on today’s market.

Inforce APL Pistol Light Experience

Finally, let’s talk about the Inforce APL Pistol Light. I really like it and run it on my Glock G23. I especially like the ambidextrous controls, 2 brightness levels, and light weight. My one and only gripe would be the run time. I find that I have to change out the batteries on this unit more often than on others.

Features Comparison

FeatureInforce APL
Brightness400 lumens
Run Time1.5 hours
Weight2.83 oz
AttachmentUniversal or Picatinny rail

The Inforce APL Pistol Light shines with 400 lumens, making your target crystal clear even in low light. It runs for a cool 1.5 hours, giving you plenty of time to get the job done. Weighing in at just 2.83 oz, it won’t weigh your pistol down. It’s waterproof, so you don’t have to worry about a little rain.

Plus, it attaches to either a Universal or Picatinny rail, giving you options.


  • High brightness level
  • Lightweight
  • Waterproof
  • Flexible attachment options
  • Shorter run time than some competitors


Compared to its competitors, the Inforce APL Pistol Light stands out with its high brightness level and lightweight design. However, it falls a bit short with a run time of only 1.5 hours.

User Experience

  1. The Inforce APL Pistol Light is easy to install.
  2. The light beam is powerful and clear.
  3. The lightweight design doesn’t affect the balance of the pistol.
  4. The run time could be longer

Best Subcompact and Compact Pistol Lights

Top Choices for Small Firearms

When you’re packing heat in compact form, every ounce counts. You need the best pistol lights that won’t add unnecessary weight or bulk to your firearm, but the fact is, they are often hard to find.

Here’s a look at some top-notch options:

  • Streamlight TLR-6: Fits like a glove on subcompact pistols such as, my personal favorite, the Sig P365 and P365L. This light punches above its weight with an impressive 100 lumens output.
  • Surefire XC1: Another featherweight champion, this compact light is perfect for concealed carry due to its slim design.

These choices are ideal for smaller firearms because they maintain lightweight balance while providing sufficient illumination. Their compact size doesn’t compromise on performance – they still pack enough punch to light up any potential threats.

Why Size Matters

In the world of subcompacts and compacts, less is always more. The last thing you want when carrying concealed is a bulky accessory that could potentially give away your position or make your weapon unwieldy.

That’s why these specific models shine (pun intended) among other options – they offer optimal lighting solutions without sacrificing comfort or concealability.

For instance, the Sig P365 and P365L are renowned for their compactness, making them popular choices when carrying concealed. Pairing them with equally compact lights like the Streamlight TLR-6 or Surefire XC1 enhances their effectiveness without compromising their portability.

Suitability and Worth of Pistol Lights

Home Defense and Law Enforcement

Ever had to navigate a dark alley or check out a suspicious noise in your backyard at night? If you have, you’ll know that it’s not the best time to be fumbling with a flashlight.

That’s where the best pistol lights come into play. They’re like your own personal beacon in the darkness, guiding your aim and potentially saving lives.

Imagine this: You’re a law enforcement officer responding to a distress call in an unlit building. Your duty gun is drawn but you can’t see clearly. A pistol light would be invaluable here, illuminating your path and potential threats.

The same holds true for home defense scenarios.

Cost-Effectiveness vs Benefits

Now let’s talk about bang for buck. High-quality pistol lights might seem pricey initially, but when you consider the benefits they offer, it’s clear they’re worth every penny.

Think about it this way: What price would you put on increased accuracy, better target identification, and improved safety when your life, or the lives of your family are on the line?

These are just some of the benefits that high-quality pistol lights bring to the table:

  1. Improved Accuracy: The illumination provided by these lights improves sight alignment.
  2. Better Target Identification: With enhanced visibility comes improved threat assessment.
  3. Increased Safety: By ensuring proper target identification, accidental shootings can be minimized.

Dispelling Misconceptions

Despite these advantages, there are still some common misconceptions floating around about pistol lights:

  • “They give away my position”: Sure, if used improperly. However, good training teaches how to use them without compromising position.
  • “They affect my shooting”: This could be true if using cheaply made products – another reason why investing in high-quality pistol lights is crucial.
  • “I don’t need one; I have night sights”: Night sights are great for aligning shots but without illumination, identifying targets becomes difficult.

Like I’ve said before, every defensive situation doesn’t call for a light, but many do and I’d rather be over-prepared than under.

Summing Up Best Choices

The quest for the best pistol lights ain’t a walk in the park. You gotta weigh up quality, understand lumens and candelas, and consider your budget.

The Olight PLPro Valkyrie stands out as a top pick if you’re watching your pennies, while the Surefire X Ultra offers comprehensive features for those who want to splash out.

If Glock’s your go-to, check out the Streamlight TLR HL.

Don’t forget about size! There are some killer subcompact and compact options out there. And remember: suitability is king. A pistol light’s only worth its salt if it fits your needs.

So, I hope this info has been helpful and provided a few important insights for you when considering the best pistol light for your unique needs.


Q1: What’s more important: lumens or candelas?

Lumens measure total light output while candelas measure light intensity in one direction. Both are important but for different reasons – lumens for overall brightness and candelas for focus and reach.

Q2: Is Olight PLPro Valkyrie worth my dough?

In my opinion, it certainly is! It balances affordability with solid performance making it great value for money.

Q3: How does Surefire X Ultra stack up against other high-end pistol lights?

I’ll say it again, I love everything Surefire puts out on the market. I’ve found them to be absolutely top-notch. The Surefire X Ultra is no different and holds its own with exceptional features like high-lumen output and robust build quality.

Q4: Are Glock lights compatible with other handguns?

Some are, some aren’t. Always check compatibility before purchase – Streamlight TLR HL works well with most Glocks.

Q5: Do I need a compact light for my subcompact pistol?

Not necessarily but it can help maintain balance and handling ease of your firearm.

Q6: How do I determine if a particular pistol light suits me?

Consider factors like your budget, intended use (home defense, tactical situations), mounting system of your gun, battery life of the light etc.

Q7: Can I trust online reviews when buying a pistol light?

Yes, but be discerning – look at multiple sources including expert opinions like ours here at!