Streamlight is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of portable lighting products. What began more than 30 years ago as a NASA project to develop a solar simulator has turned into a major company that now produces and markets a variety of precision engineered flashlights for many uses, including law enforcement and firefighting.
Many officers will recognize the company’s flagship model SL20 as one of the toughest, most reliable rechargeable duty flashlights ever to be developed. Many of these lights have been in service for decades with only a limited amount of upkeep and maintenance.
Officers long have valued the performance of this light under the harshest of conditions and have repeatedly turned to Streamlight for their other lighting needs over the years. Streamlight currently has a catalogue with a variety of lights—rechargeable or battery-powered, incandescent or LED—that an officer can depend on when the chips are down.
While the SL20 is an absolute workhorse, it is large by today’s standards. What officers need and want are lights that are capable of the performance of the SL20 in a much smaller package. Streamlight offers several lights that meet these criteria, such as the Stinger and the Scorpion, and the company also recently began producing the Strion, Night Fighter and TL series of lights.
The Strion is a rechargeable 3.6-volt, 6-watt light. It is 5.3 inches in length and weighs 4.6 ounces. The Strion uses a xenon gas-filled bulb to produce 116 lumens for more than 70 minutes of continual use. Offered in a standard handheld and the new Tactical Strion version, the light is bright and offers much to an officer who needs a small rechargeable light that can be worn in a belt holder.
The new Tactical Strion is sure to be a hit with officers who deploy departmental long guns such as patrol rifles. The new light offers a specially knurled body that is adapted for use in a quick detachable mount for use on the weapon. The mount allows for the light to be quickly affixed to the weapon at the beginning of an officer’s shift and then quickly dismounted at the end of a tour. The mount even allows for the light to be used independently if required, which increases the versatility of this system exponentially.
The NF (Night Fighter) tactical lights are small lithium powered incandescent and LED lights that are useful during low-light searches and confrontations. Measuring just 4.8 inches in length and weighing 4.7 ounces, the NF is small enough for comfortable pocket carry using the conveniently located clip.
The NF-2 that Streamlight sent for testing was found to be extremely useful for building searches and other situations that would require an officer to use the light in combination with a weapon. Featuring a large ring for a sure gripping surface, the light produces 114 lumens for one hour of continuous run time.
Like the Night Fighter series, the TL series lights has much to offer. The TL3 in particular is one of the top lithium powered lights on the market. Featuring a blinding 211 lumens for one hour, this 9-volt light is handy at 6.25 inches in length and weighs just 7 ounces. This duty light is more than capable and should receive careful attention by those in the market for such a device.
The TL series has a rear-mounted activation switch—ideal for tactical use—and a removable pocket clip and lanyard. The TL series can be used on a weapon in a mount nearly identical to that of the Tactical Strion, and the series has several different remote activation switches.
Officers who used the TL3 felt that the light was one of the best values on the market for someone looking for an extremely bright light for carry on a duty belt. Everyone thought that the light was easy to use and more than rugged enough for daily street use.
TLR-1 LED Light
While both the Tactical Strion and TL series lights can be mounted on a long gun, until recently, Streamlight did not produce its own pistol-mounted lights. The company used to market the M3 and M6 pistol light made by Insight Technologies but is now introducing its own series of pistol-mounted LED lights—the TLR series. The two versions, the TLR-1 and TLR-2, were tested by several tactical and patrol officers; they were found to meet Streamlight’s high standards.
The TLR-1 is an LED-based, shock-proof, waterproof light that uses the latest in super high-flux 3-watt LED technology to deliver up to 80 lumens of white light with 2.5 hours of continuous run time. The machined aluminum bodied TLR-1 will attach to either the Universal rail such as commonly found on Glock pistols or the 1913-style Picatinny rails found on other weapons. The light is attached to either rail using a proprietary mount unique in its operation.
This mount is a rail clamp design where a button on the side of the light is depressed so the light can be affixed to the rail and then tightened down to prevent it from being accidentally dislodged.
Officers who tested this unit loved the blinding white light in urban, close quarters encounters, finding that it was more than sufficient to search for and confront suspects. They all praised the light as being extremely well-made and felt that it was one of the top performers among pistol-mounted white lights.
As is normally the case with most LED-based lights, the TLR-1 experienced no problem with the recoil of any pistol, including 9mm and .45 ACP weapons. Using an LED for a pistol-mounted light is a dream come true for officers. Incandescent lights are susceptible to recoil and other impacts, which can break the light’s filament, causing failure. Because an LED has no filament, it is theoretically impervious to these effects. With a life span of more than 20,000 hours, the LED used in the TLR series should provide for many years of care-free service.
TLR-2 LED Light and Laser
The TLR-2 has the same light capability of the TRL-1 model while, and it also offers a co-witnessed laser that can be used as an effective aiming tool.
Officers who tested the TLR-2 were enthusiastic about the combination of the bright tactical light and a Class 2 laser. The laser, which can be zeroed to bullet impact using both windage and elevation adjustments, provided a bright, easy-to-see aiming point during no-light and low-light encounters.
During bright daylight, the laser is similar to others in that it remains useful at close range where most gunfights occur but can be “washed out” by the sunlight at ranges longer than 15 yards. This issue is common with weapons-mounted lasers.
Officers like the fact that the unit can be adjusted to function as a light only, a laser only or the combination of the light and laser, all at the flick of the bottom-mounted switch. Officers said the butterfly switch used to activate both the laser and the light is intuitive and sure when activated.
The TLR-1 retails for about $185, but the street price often is considerably less. The TLR-2, with the built-in laser and enhanced capabilities, costs about $460.
Accessory of the Year
In May 2006, for the second year in a row, Streamlight won the prestigious Shooting Industry Magazine award for “Accessory of the Year.” In addition to this award, the National Tactical Officers Association (NTOA) gave the TLR-1 and TLR-2 an “excellent” rating in NTOA member testing. The TLR-1 got a rating of 4.8 out of 5, and the TLR-2 got 4.28 out of 5. These scores are averages of the ratings given by officers who evaluated the lights on design, performance, durability and versatility.
Streamlight’s new pistol-mounted lights can be counted on to increase officer and civilian safety in real-world applications. Because they are affordable and dependable, they will no doubt become increasingly common for officers.
Lights on Pistols
For years, officers have been faced with searching buildings or becoming involved in low-light confrontations while juggling a pistol in one had and a light in the other. They now have the technology that allows them to concentrate on the dangerous job at hand rather than struggling with their equipment. Officers who use the TLR series can be sure of target identification and will be able to maintain a two-hand hold on the pistol, which increases overall hit potential.
Holsters are available to fit many common law enforcement duty weapons with the TLR-1 or TLR-2 attached. Holsters such as the Safariland 6004 and 6280 represent the best of this breed, allowing for a quick weapon presentation while at the same time retaining the needed security for law enforcement duty use.
Streamlight is an experienced company, and it does not have a “one light for all occasions” mentality. Streamlight has committed itself to being a leader in the field of law enforcement lighting equipment for the past three decades and will continue to provide new and innovative products for officers who must literally face down the darkness.
Scott Oldham is a supervisory sergeant with the Bloomington, IN Police Department where he is assigned to the Operations Division as patrol supervisor, as well as being one of the team leaders for the department’s Tactical Unit. He and his partner, Sergeant Mick Williams, provide contract instruction on a wide range of subjects, including tactical and patrol-based skills. He can be reached at email@example.com.