These days, we are lucky to have technology on our side. With super bright LED technology, superior batteries, high tech polymers and CNC processes for turning metal into useful tools, the things we buy are smaller, more powerful, longer lasting, and just as durable, if not more so than they were just 25 years ago.
This is the Streamlight TLR-1s. It is part of Streamlight's Tactical Gun Mount Series of flashlights currently produced. Streamlight describes it as a rail-mounted tactical light, or strobing tactical light, which is where the "S" comes from. It is designed to be quickly attached and detached from a weapon that incorporates a weapon light rail, like a 1913 picatinny rail or those commonly found under the frames of handguns. The Streamlight TLR-1s comes with adapters that allow you to mount it to various pistols like Berettas, Glocks, S&W, etc; I've personally found that the GL (Glock) adapter works on the Beretta M9A1, Ruger SR9, and 1913 picatinny rail.
TLR-3, and .38 ounces heavier than the Surefire X300. By way of comparison to the X300, the TLR-1s is shorter, a little fatter, costs half as much, is still waterproof to 1 meter, and produces only 10 less lumens than the Surefire. I think the Surefire is cool, but not so cool as to demand twice the cash for minimally extra features that don't add any real value to me. If I was a Navy Seal, or intended to take my guns swimming on a regular basis, the 22 meter submersibility of the Surefire might be attractive to me. Since there are no swimming pools in my bedroom night stand, the waterproof qualities of the Streamlight TLR-1s are suitable for me. The size of the TLR-1s makes it impractical for smaller guns, but it fits the Beretta M9A1 like a glove.
The LED is what Streamlight calls C4 technology, which they claim makes it 3x brighter than the competition. This marketing gimmick seems accurate, and the intensity of the LED is impressive. With just 2 CR123 batteries providing power for this light, the 160 lumen output of the light is both offensively bright and will illuminate an entire room just by bouncing the light off the floor. The beam pattern is clean with an intense spot in the middle, with a clean cutoff around the edges - no inclusions or halos to speak of. You can thank Streamlight's parabolic deep dish reflector for that. Because of how bright the light is, you do not need to point the weapon at anything to identify it. You simply aim the gun and light at the ground, in the low ready, and flip the paddle switch. Your target is easily identifiable without running the risk of negligently shooting a loved one or someone who is not a threat.
fact sheet that Streamlight provides. What all this does for you is give you optimum brightness over the life of the batteries. 2.5 hours may not seem like much to you now, but let's understand that you won't be constantly illuminating with the weapon mounted light. You will be momentarily taking snapshots of your surroundings; more on that later. Getting back to the burn time, you will notice a significant drop in light output all at once when the batteries go beyond their usefulness as a power source. I have two other Streamlight flashlights in my coffers: the Scorpion X and the Stinger LED, both previously reviewed here. Each of those lights also utilize current regulation to maintain maximum brightness until the power cells are discharged. The TLR-1s is no different. For the home defense user, the effective light output will last you a long time. I'm on my second set of batteries and I've had this light for a year and a half. That's not too bad when you consider that the first year or so has seen me shoot with the light on steady for the sake of testing it. I wanted to ensure I could trust my life with it, after all. Either way, for tactical use, the run time is sufficient. If you carry the light with your weapon for either duty, or in your combat load-out, it may be a good idea to keep an extra set of batteries on hand simply because you don't want to be caught without them. My personal load-out platform consists of three separate flashlights (handgun, rifle, & utility) that all use the same batteries. When it comes to the life saving potential of a good light, you can never have too many.
Another misnomer is to hold a hand held light away from your body while illuminating. Okay, fine, but remember that one hand on a weapon is not the most efficient way to shoot. For maximum recoil control, aiming, follow through, both hands should be on the weapon at all times, except when doing admin stuff like checking doors, ensuring your family's safety, or perhaps picking up your kids and taking them to a safe room in the house. If you are injured, or your reaction side hand is unavailable, the weapon-mounted light is still usable. Being able to operate unencumbered by a handheld standalone light is worth the effort to get a light onto a gun. The notion that a bad guy is less apt to hit you with your light 1 foot away from your head is absurd. When faced with a powerful light, the bad guy will be disorientated at least, blinded at the most. If they have a gun, they are likely to spray and pray, hoping one of their errant shots finds its way into your belly. If they are hopped up on drugs or alcohol, they may not react to light like you and I would. They may be either extremely light sensitive or desensitized to it. Either way, when things go wrong, it won't matter if the light is 1 foot from your face, or 1 inch. Your number 1 priority after identifying the threat is to get rid of it. You won't have time to do fancy flashlight work when the shit hits the fan. For me, my priority is on weapon control and followup. Holding a flashlight out, away from my body, takes away from weapon control and increases the potential for me to miss, giving the bad guy the critical moments he or she needs to make a move on me. Chances are, if I hit that light, and I see a weapon in their hands, the trigger is going to be pressed before they have time to react. Why? The advantage of being in control of the light gives me the opportunity to be in control of the situation. Own the light, own the fight!