Streamlight TLR-1 Weapon Mounted Light

— Jason MosherCADRE Dispatch

In the world of tactical lighting, Streamlight is a powerhouse brand, and for good reason. They are trusted by police and citizens around the country because of their quality and reliability.

I’ve carried a variety of their lights over the years on and off duty. One of the lights I carry most is the TLR-1. It’s perfect for handguns but also works with rifles, shotguns, and PCCs.

Streamlight TLR-1 HL light.
The Streamlight TLR-1 and TLR-1 HL are among the most popular weapon-mounted lights for handguns. [Photo: Jason Mosher]

We live in a fast-moving world where yesterday’s equipment is voided from today’s advancements and techniques. Those new to firearms see a weapon-mounted light as a standard attachment, but not so long ago, a weapon-mounted light wasn’t a thing.

I remember training to shoot my handgun with one hand while holding a light with the other. It was awkward and less than ideal, but what else was there to do when you needed a light?

Now, we have more weapon-mounted lights than the Kansas City Chiefs have Super Bowl rings, and among the best is the Streamlight TLR-1. Let’s look at one of the most popular handgun-mounted lights ever made.

Streamlight TLR-1 Light

Made to mount on a Picatinny rail, the TLR-1 is a durable 300-lumen light that runs on two CR123 batteries.

With two CR123 batteries, the TLR-1 has a run time of 2.5 hours on the standard version. If you want a brighter light, the TLR-1 HL has 1,000 lumens but a shorter run time. I have both models and the HL is worth having the shorter run time if a brighter light is one of your priorities.

You can change batteries by opening the hatch-style door on the back of the light. Using quality batteries will help with overall performance and run time.

Battery compartment on the Streamlight TLR-1 light.
The TLR-1 runs on two CR123 batteries. [Photo: Jason Mosher]

The TLR-1 uses a quick detach mounting system, so no tools are needed to attach/detach the light from your gun. This is one of my favorite features as I often use my TLR-1 on multiple handguns. Multiple “keys” come with it for mounting on a variety of handguns. I’ll talk more about compatibility keys shortly.

The body of the light is made from machined aircraft aluminum, which is a durable, lightweight metal. It has an anodized finish with a high-temp treatment and impact-resistant BOROFLOAT glass lens.

It’s easy for companies to use big words that make their products sound impressive, but what impresses me about the TLR-1 is how well it holds up in the field over time. As I mentioned in the beginning, I’ve used the TLR-1 for a long time, and I’ve seen the quality firsthand.

Durability is a must with weapon-mounted lights

Beyond the price and compatibility with the host gun, most of us want to know how durable a weapon-mounted light is.

On one occasion, a deputy at my agency broke a truck window out with her gun and the attached TLR-1 light. Let me start by saying that is not the correct way to break glass. But that’s what she had in her hand and the situation didn’t give her time to adjust, so she began smacking the glass with the end of her gun.

On the range with the Streamlight TLR-1 light.
The TLR-1 light is used by members of law enforcement and the public. [Photo: Jason Mosher]

We later found the corner of her light was smashed in some and the glass broken out. This isn’t surprising considering what happened to it, but what did surprise us is that the light still worked. Over the years, I’ve seen the TLR-1 take all kinds of abuse from police and this first-hand experience is why I continue to use Streamlight today.

The TLR-1 has an IPX7 waterproof rating, shock shock-mounted lens, and is live-fire tested for impact resistance. Because of this durability, Streamlight offers a lifetime warranty except for the batteries and bulbs, abuse, and normal wear and tear.

If it breaks, they will fix it. If you smash in a car window and claim the glass broke, you’re probably out of luck. But I bet the light still works…       

TLR-1 Keys for handgun mounting

As I mentioned above, a “key” is a part on the rail mount that can be changed to fit a specific handgun. This part is easy to swap out and helps the light sit in the correct position on the handgun. Here are some of the most popular guns you can use with one of the available TLR-1 keys:

Glock (standard key)

  • Full-size Glock Pistols
  • Beretta Vertec
  • CZ P-01
  • HK USP full-size and compact
  • Ruger KP645 and SR-9
TLR-1 rail key.
The “key” fits into the rail mount and works with specific guns. [Photo: Jason Mosher]

1913 Key

  • Beretta CX4 TLR
  • FN 5.7
  • HK P30
  • Kimber TLE RLII
  • Sig Sauer GSR or 1911 Style

Special S&W Key

  • Smith and Wesson TSW and 99 models.

Accessories for the Streamlight TLR-1

For those who want more than a simple light on their handgun, Streamlight has a lot of accessories to choose from. This includes a Glock-style contour remote, AR-15 rail adaptor, red filter cover, remote pressure pads, and more.

The teeter-totter style switch on the TLR-1 is easy to operate on handguns. For those wanting to use it on a rifle, the remote pressure pad is a great option. You can find just about any accessory you need on Streamlight’s website.

Safariland 6354 tactical holster.
Safariland 6354 RDS tactical holster for Glock 17 with Streamlight TLR-1 light and red dot. [Photo: Jason Mosher]

When it comes to holsters, the TLR-1 stands out as one of the most readily available weapon lights with a wide range of compatible options.

I use mostly Safariland holsters for the same reason I use Streamlight products. I’ve seen them work in the field for years. Safariland offers a wide range of holsters for the Streamlight TLR-1 and TLR-1 HL. When purchasing a holster from Safariland, you can also find a holster that’s compatible with the optic you have on your gun. The easiest way to find the right holster for your firearm is to use the Holster Finder.

One of my favorites is the 7360 RDS SLS-ALS holsters for a Streamlight TLR-1 HL and handgun optic. This holster has multiple locking devices to help keep it secure. If you want something a little simpler and with some different finish options, try the 6354RDSO Cordura wrapped hardshell STX holster.

Ready for a light?

The TLR-1 comes with a light, two batteries, and multiple keys for mounting on your favorite handgun. When selecting the accessories for your gun, I recommend making a list of everything you plan to buy. Then cross cross-check each one for compatibility. Make sure the light, optic, and holster all work with the gun you plan to use.

There are some other good lights out there, but it’s hard to beat the TLR-1 for the price. Streamlight makes a long list of accessories for it, holsters are easy to find, and it will take a licking and keep on ticking. Or I guess in this case — keep on shining.

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