This Little Light of Mine
September 24, 2018 By Dave Young (YoungBuckDave)
Over the next two months we are going to dive into the subject of flashlights and specifically into the subject of some good reliable flashlights for your rifle and pistol. Next month we will talk about the subject of pistol lights. I will highlight some reliable brands I have used; whether you prefer to mount them on your handgun or carry them. This month I will discuss the topic of rifle lights, and compare three rifle mounted flashlights I have been using for some time. I will also explain some of the punishment they have gone through without them failing me. The three lights I will be comparing are not the same number of lumens. I will compare the number of lumens in each light so you can determine how many lumens you prefer for your own situation and life style. You might be a police officer with a patrol rifle and have been considering mounting a flashlight on the rifle but don't know what strength to get. You might be the person that has chosen to use their rifle for home defense and want to outfit it with a light bright enough to ID the target and disorient them so you can determine if this is someone that should be in your home. Or you might be the person that loves to shoot and takes awesome tactical classes (like at GTI and GTI Legion wink, wink) to master their skills with firearms and have decided they need a good light for a no light/low light class that's coming up. In any of these, and many other, scenarios my goal is to help answer peoples' questions from the experiences I have had using these lights. I will also talk about some of the trials and tribulations each light has endured.
I am going to start out with the highest lumen rifle mounted flashlight I own, which is the Streamlight ProTac HL-X, and work my way down to the flashlight with the smallest number of lumens. Do not be fooled by the phrase "the smallest number of lumens". Even though some flashlights do not have the highest number of lumens, they can still totally disorient you during a number of situations. The Streamlight ProTac HL-X is the newest rifle light I have and has seen a lot of action since I got it in my hands 6 months ago and mounted it on my favorite rifle, the MK18. The Streamlight ProTac HL-X takes two CR123A batteries (which are included), providing the light with 1,000 lumens. In addition to the batteries, Streamlight really hooks you up and includes a pressure switch that can be mounted on a picatinny rail, a push button switch, zip ties to secure wires, and a platform to mount the pressure switch on a picatinny rail. The ProTac HL-X also has the capability of being able to strobe constantly and only deactivates after you release the pressure switch. Even though the ProTac HL-X hasn't been with me as long as the other rifle lights, it has seen plenty of use since the rifle it is mounted on is my new favorite setup. If you are familiar with Streamlight's pistol lights, then you will not be disappointed by their rifle lights. They are extremely durable and can withstand being dropped and banged around while training or on a mission. Along with Surefire, Streamlight is one of the leading brands when it comes to flashlights used by law enforcement officers, first responders (Firefighters & EMS), and even just your everyday person. I carry a Streamlight pistol light on my VP9LE often and have even cracked the lens on one; the light works just as good as it did on day one. I will discuss that topic in depth next month when we talk about pistol lights. Streamlight is easily one of my favorite brands because they do not overcharge their customers and do not sacrifice reliability when it comes to their products. The light beam from the ProTac HL-X reaches out extremely far with a high concentration in the middle, but also illuminates the surrounding areas as well. There is a rumor going around the tactical and firearms industry regarding lights that have too many lumens which may cause disorientation to the user due to splash back. I have tested this theory specifically with the ProTac HL-X and its 1,000 lumens and can report that the rumor is false. Yes, certain surfaces like mirrors, or a white wall, may cause the light to splash back a bit, but it doesn't blind the user. That entire problem can be solved if you aim the light either a little lower or higher which prevents the light from splashing back into your eyes. All and all, I believe that you cannot go wrong with anything Streamlight makes and, if for some reason, something fails they have a life time warranty that will have your back!
The next two lights I'm going to talk about are both from Arisaka Defense. I picked up both the 300 and 600 series lights around the same time, which is a little over a year ago. The first Arisaka Defense flashlight I am going to talk about is their 600 series light. The 600 series light is built like a tank, to be blunt. I keep the 600 series mounted on the rifle I use during force on force training. This is a perfect test of any gear to make sure it is reliable because of the intensity of that training. My 600 series light has been stepped on countless times on concrete, slid across the floor, thrown across a room, and even dropped unintentionally on cement because I guess a lot of my friends have butterfingers. Regardless of the punishment that light takes, it has never failed me…. EVER. My 600 series light is equipped with a Malkoff Devices high output head which provides the light with a very focused beam for maximum distance. I honestly couldn't be happier with the quality Arisaka Defense puts into their lights and recommend it to anyone who is looking for a great quality light that once again will not fail you in your time of need. The tailcap is their own Arisaka Momentary Tailcap and eliminates accidental constant activation under stress. Their tailcap can be replaced with the Surefire click switch cap or pressure switch cap and, along with their tailcap, the 600 series is compatible with all Surefire scout mounts, if you prefer one of their mounts. Both the 600 and the 300 series are compatible with both the Surefire mounts and tailcaps, which is a nice bonus. My 600 series light has seen the most use out of all three of the lights and has withstood mass amounts of punishment and never faltered. This light is perfect for all walks of life that want a high lumen light that they can rely on in a worst-case situation.
The final light I am going to talk about is the 300 series light. This light produces 300 lumens and is equipped with a Malkoff E1T Head and gives the light plenty of throw for close – medium range use. The 300 series is much smaller and more compact than both the ProTac HL-X and the 600 series lights making it an ideal light for CQB, home defense, or just your average shooter. This is an AMAZING all around light that can be mounted on everything from your standard 16in barrel AR-15 or a sub machinegun like an MP5. Both of the Arisaka lights are manufactured without the mounting interface for the picatinny clamp found on certain lights like the ProTac HL-X which gives you the ability to mount it on various mounts, whether that is keymod, MLOK, or picatinny and allows the light to be kept extremely close to the rail. Even though the 300 series isn't as bright as the ProTac HL-X or the 600 series, the light is still extremely useful and can be used in countless situations to provide the user with ample light to illuminate their area of operation and still disorient anyone they may come across. Just like the 600 series light, the 300 series is built like a tank and can take extreme amounts of punishment and never fail you. As I stated before, the 300 series can also accept the Surefire tailcaps that the 600 series can take too. From my experience you cannot go wrong with any light from Arisaka Defense.
Have you ever heard of the phrase "There is always the right tool for the job?" Well I believe whole heartedly that this applies perfectly to the firearm and tactical industry and definitely applies to this discussion of flashlights. Regardless of the route you choose to take for your situation, choose any one of the three rifle lights I talked about and you will not be disappointed one bit. I expect all of my equipment (whether its gear, guns, or accessories) to be able to take abuse as advertised and still stay strong and work perfectly.