Gear Spotlight: Lights and Lasers Roundup


Streamlight Pocket Mate USB

As the saying goes, “two is one and one is none.” And if one of the two is a mighty mouse, all the better.

The Streamlight Pocket Mate is a tiny, and I do mean tiny, keychain light with a big attitude. Its single activation button — handy for a thumb — turns on the low-power mode which beams out 45 lumens of light. That’s plenty for making your way from the car to the house or finding lost keys or a light switch. Another press amps the output up to a whopping 325 lumens, turning the Pocket Mate into a viable alternate defensive tool.

The light weighs next to nothing (1/2 oz.) and features a mini-USB charging port. A charge will get you an hour at low power or 20 minutes on high. A spring-loaded hook allows easy keychain attachment, and a subtle clip lets you go hands free.

Fenix PD36R Flashlight

The Fenix PD36R features an internal rechargeable power source, so no batteries are required — ever. The included USB Type C cable connects to most any standard power source: laptops, phone chargers or 12-volt car systems. Depending on the brightness level you choose, you’ll get between just under three hours to 115 hours of continuous use.

On its Turbo setting, you’re pumping out a whopping 1,600 lumens of light, translating to a beam of light reaching out to just shy of three football fields. A brass button upfront cycles through the power levels. Eco mode produces an indoor-friendly 30 lumens, low 150 lumens, medium 350 and high 800. By holding the selection button for a half second, you can also select a disorienting strobe mode, useful for self-defense applications. The 5,000 mAh battery will take just about four hours to charge.

Streamlight Wedge EDC Light

Who says a flashlight needs to be round? While the classic cylindrical shape was mandated for decades by battery design, the new crop of reliable rechargeable lights can use batteries produced in nearly any form.

Imagine a .22LR pistol magazine, although longer and narrower. Remember how the “flat” shape fits neatly in the pocket without adding undue bulk? That’s the wedge. At 5.46″ long, just under an inch wide, and 5/8″ thick, the wedge slides into the pocket just as easily. An integral belt clip provides extra security and additional stowage options.

A USB-C port is exposed on the back end and when charged, the Wedge delivers a constant 300 lumens of broad pattern light. Push forward on the intuitive rotating thumb switch for a burst up to 35 seconds of 1,000 lumens. Time in THRO mode is limited to prevent overheating.
A useful and eminently portable EDC and general-purpose light.

SureFire G2X-LE

When I began police work, I carried a 5-Cell D Maglite. When you work the midnight shift, light is a major consideration. As technology improved, I purchased a SureFire G2 flashlight, which I still have and use today. At 90 lumens it was top of the line, and its durability was unquestioned.

Can it do the job today? Absolutely! I don’t think it’s possible to buy a 90-lumen light anymore. Now we’re looking at 300, 500 and even 1,000 lumens that are no larger than my trusted friend.

If I were working the street today, I’d carry something like the SureFire G2X-LE (Law Enforcement Edition). This is rated at 600 lumens for an hour and a half using the same 123A batteries that I use in my G2. Less than 5.5″ long, it’s easily carried and concealed. It also has a low output mode (15 lumens) lasting over 50 hours. This handy feature is efficient and practical. Let’s face it — you don’t need 600 lumens to look for the pen you dropped on the floorboard. And as an added bonus, you can choose between four colors: black, Desert Tan, OD Green and Safety Yellow. At $70, it’s money well spent!

Streamlight Stylus PRO USB Penlight

People recommend many noble ideas, but few follow through with action. One such apothegm is, “always carry a flashlight.” Easier said than done. Until now.

The Streamlight Stylus PRO is, quite literally, pen-sized, yet packs a wallop. The high mode beams 350 lumens for up to 1.5 hours while the power-saving low mode cranks out 90 lumens for 3.5 hours. A double tap of the tailcap switch changes the power mode. This same push button operates in either momentary “on” mode with a lighter touch or you can press to a full click to engage the light until you want it off.

My favorite feature is the USB rechargeable operation. No more batteries! The charging port is under the sliding lens cover, helping keep the stylus water resistant. Whether or not you wear a pocket protector, you can carry this one like any other pen.

Crimson Trace CMR-207G

Crimson Trace also offers dedicated lights and light/laser combo units. I have a CRM-205 Rail Master Pro I usually keep on a Beretta PX4. It’s one of my older units, but my wife or daughters can use this unit as a light only, laser only, or as a light/laser combo (its usual configuration) when I’m not around.

Crimson Trace now offers updated models like the CMR-207G. It offers a powerful 400 lumen light with the green laser. This would be the perfect combo for use in and around the home. It hits the “sweet spot” level of lighting without making the user uncomfortable with too much light. Plus, the laser takes away the worry of traditional sight alignment when under stress. It also hits the “sweet spot” with street prices around $250.

Streamlight TLR-1 HL

While you should always have a handheld light available for searching, a weapon light makes sense for target illumination and final verification.

The Streamlight TLR-1 HL features an easy on/easy off switch and provides a blistering 1,000 lumens of light. You’ll get 1.5 hours of runtime on a CR123A lithium battery. The rail grip clamp system securely attaches/detaches quickly and safely with no tools, and no need to put your hands or fingers in front of the muzzle.

Crimson Trace LG-660 Lasergrips

Speaking of Crimson Trace, I added an LG-660 Lasergrip ($250) to my M&P 40 several years ago. It’s seen action at the police academy, instructor schools, competitions and many hours of range time without a hiccup. I find it to be one of the most useful purchases I’ve ever made. There is no thought involved in its use; pick the gun up as you’d usually hold it, and the laser activates automatically. Its simple and reliable design is perfect for police use as well as concealed carry. Trust me, when you’ve been confronted with a gun-wielding suspect and get the automatic adrenaline dump, you don’t want to worry about switches, knobs, or buttons. Simple, intuitive and automatically functioning tools are critical to your survival. I’ve put my trust in Crimson Trace for decades and heartily recommend their products to anyone who might find themselves in danger. There are models available for a host of handguns and come in your choice of red or green lasers.

Streamlight TLR-8 A G

Handgun innovations exploded in the early ’90s. I turned in my Ruger GP100 for a Beretta 92 as our department switched away from the reliable wheel gun. Shortly thereafter, I carried the new GLOCK 22 in 40 S&W. Times were a changin’! The FBI Miami Shootout prompted a new level of thinking in law enforcement. Then GLOCK came out with a Third Generation G22 with an accessory rail. This opened up new doors and allowed many officers to carry rail-mounted lights (and in some cases light/laser combos). I purchased an Insight Technology M6. It delivered 80-90 lumens and included a red laser sight.

I still kept my G2X on my duty belt, but the M6 really shined (pun intended) on the street. Besides the light, the laser allowed me to do something critical when using my handgun — focus on the target rather than my sights. It’s hard to emphasize how important this is when your life depends on how well you can read the actions of another. Today, there are many options available from innumerable sources. That M6 still runs well today and is currently being used by a friend.

Upgrading today, I’d probably lean toward one of their newer models like the Streamlight TLR-8 A G. With 500 lumens, plus a brighter green laser, I’d have more visibility at longer distances and still get the reliability I insist upon. As an added bonus, this unit is much smaller and doesn’t change the way my gun handles. Retail is about $250.

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