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If you use your rifle for home defense or tactical shooting, a weapon mounted light is pretty much mandatory.
Whether you’re into handgun mounted lights or not, you can use a handheld flashlight with a handgun. However, rifles require two-handed operation. So, there’s no way to get illumination without mounting your light on your rifle.
Top AR-15 Light Models on the Market
Our Favorite Choice
Tacstar WLS 2000 Weapon Light
But, if you want a light that’ll cover just about any shooting context at a reasonable price, get the Tacstar WLS 2000 Weapon Light. It’s just no-fuss function.
All of you who want to know what else is out there should stick around for the rest of the show.
We’ll talk about all the best lights available, so you can really dial in your gear.
Best AR 15 Light Reviews: Shining a Light on the Best Gear
1. Tacstar WLS 2000 Weapon Light - Best Overall AR-15 Light
Naturally, the first thing to know is how bright the light is. This light puts out 75 lumens. That’s nothing crazy intense. But it’s enough for target identification and finding your way around.
This light uses a clamp-on mounting system, which attaches to the barrel, rather than your forend. It’s nice because it doesn’t take up any rail space. However, if you use a carbine with very little or no exposed barrel beyond the forend, it’ll be tough to mount this light.
There’s an included remote pressure switch. So, you can control the light from wherever you put your support hand. If you prefer not to use a remote switch, there’s a tailcap with a simple on/off button.
This model uses CR123A lithium batteries. These are common batteries, that aren’t difficult to get.
However, the runtime is only 1 hour of continuous use. Not that you should be running your mounted light continuously. But, there are lights with better battery life.
Of course, the body is sealed to be waterproof and shockproof, in case you need to shoot outside.
All in all, though, this is a solid option for a home defense rifle or mild tactical shooting. Law enforcement and military shooters may prefer something a bit brighter.
2. Streamlight ProTac Rail Mount - Versatile AR-15 Light
Over the last decade or so, Streamlight has become a legitimate competitor to the long standing tactical light brands. The Streamlight ProTac Rail Mount provides excellent flexibility and utility.
Brightness: this model comes in three variants, each with different brightness capabilities. There’s a 350 lumen model, a 650 lumen model, and a 1000 lumen model. The 350 lumen variant is plenty for most shooters. But, serious tactical shooters may want one of the brighter variants.
This light runs on either AA or CR123 batteries. CR123 batteries last longer. But, they’re more expensive. So, you can use whichever batteries best suit your use.
There’s a high and low output setting to help with battery management. Even if you use alkaline AA batteries, you’ll get at least 8 hours of runtime on low, and 1.5 hours on high.
The light itself mounts to any mil-spec 1913 rail. Unfortunately, the rail mount is molded to the body. So, it can’t be changed out.
There’s an included pressure switch. So, you can control the light with your support hand, regardless of where you mount your light.
Lastly, the whole thing is waterproof and shockproof. So, take it outside. No problem.Overall, this is one of the most adaptable lights on the market, in terms of conforming to your budget and use schedule. However, it’s powerful enough to satisfy demanding military and law enforcement shooters, as well.
3. Inforce Gen 2 Ultra Compact Weapon Light - Low Profile AR-15 Light
If you run multiple forend attachments, it can be tough to get everything on your rifle without making it awkwardly front heavy. The Inforce Gen 2 Ultra Compact Weapon Light offers a low-profile, lightweight option that won’t add too much bulk to your rifle.
How bright is this little thing? 400 lumens bright. That’s more than enough light for home defense, and enough light for tactical shooting.
There’s also an infrared illuminator. Which makes this a totally viable option for anyone who uses night vision.
This light is controlled with a push button switch. And the tailcap is angled. So, it’s easy to get your thumb on the on/off button without compromising your grip.
The button is also protected with a simple lockout system that prevents accidental activation, but won’t hold you up when you need your light.
This model takes CR123A batteries, which provide 1.5 hours of white light, or 4 hours of infrared illumination. Longer battery life would be nice. But the runtime is enough for all but the most demanding operators.
The mounting system is universal, and will work on just about any forend. However, the design of this Inforce light makes it impractical to mount on the top rail. So, it’s best for those who mount their light on a side rail.
Even with this mounting limitation, this is an excellent light for those looking to keep their rifle lightweight and streamlined, even if they need a lot of forend attachments.
4. Streamlight Protac HL-X Laser Flashlight - AR-15 Light with Integrated Laser
Running a light and a laser is not unheard of. But, using both attachments can crowd your forend pretty quickly. The Streamlight Protac HL-X Laser Flashlight provides both illumination and laser sighting in a package no larger than a standard flashlight.
The bulb puts out 1000 lumens of light. That’s bright. This light is bright enough for any shooting context.
The laser is standard red laser, suitable for short range shooting. It’s a nice feature for a home defense rifle or those who do a lot of CQB shooting.
Streamlight offers two power solutions for this light: 2 standard CR123A batteries, or a Streamlight rechargeable battery. The Streamlight battery is rechargeable via USB connection.
The rechargeable battery lasts longer than two CR123A batteries.
But, even if you use the CR123A batteries, you’ll still get 20 hours of operation on low, and .75 hours of runtime on high. The runtime on high is a little short. But at 1000 lumens, you have to expect this thing to eat batteries.
The included rail clamp attaches to mil-spec 1913 rails. However, the rail clamp is separate from the flashlight. So, you can move and rotate the flashlight without changing the laser zero settings. Or, you can change out the rail clamp if you have a different one that fits the light.
Last, there’s a pressure switch and a push-button tailcap. So, you can control the light from wherever works best for you.In the end, this is an excellent light for anyone who wants a single unit for illumination and aiming.
5. Surefire Mini Scout Weapon Light - Compact AR-15 Light
The Surefire Mini Scout Weapon Light is designed to save space on your forend rail, and minimize interference with your support hand grip when you’re not using your light. It’s essentially a short version of the Surefire M600DF Scout Weapon Light.
In terms of illumination, this light puts out 500 lumens in a concentrated beam. It’s bright enough for any shooting context. But, it’s no so bright that it might be blinding in an enclosed space.
The light is powered by a single CR123A battery, and controlled with the push-button tailcap. However, you can add remote control capabilities with the Surefire remote switch. But, the remote switch is not included with the light.
One battery offers 1 hour of runtime. It’s average. Unfortunately, there’s no low setting to prolong the battery life.
This Surefire model mounts to any mil-spec 1913 rail. The rail attachment is molded to the body of the light. It’s a durable design, but you can’t change the mounting system.
Although the technical specs aren’t special, the short form factor makes this an excellent option for short-barreled rifles and shooters who need to save rail space for mandatory duty attachments.
6. Steiner Optics MK4 Battle Light - High End AR-15 Light
The Steiner Optics MK4 Battle Light is built for high end rifles and high intensity applications. It also has a good design for use with other rail attachments.
This model delivers 500 lumens of white light. Plenty for home defense or tactical shooting, and not so bright that it will cause your eyes to dilate too much (though, completely blinding if you’re on the other end).
There’s only one mode of operation. Which means that you’ll get 1.25 hours of runtime from 2 CR123A batteries. The battery life is decent. But a low power mode for battery management would be nice.
Steiner includes a remote pressure switch with the light, in addition to the standard push-button tail cap.
Also, the picatinny rail mount is offset.
So, you can mount the light on the top rail without interfering with other optics or obscuring the light with your front sight.
The mounting bracket is designed to push the light as far forward as possible and minimize the shadow from your barrel.
Lastly, this light can also be used as a handheld light. This is handy if you want to use a single light for home defense and low light handgun shooting or other shooting contexts.
Although this Steiner Optics light is a bit on the pricey side, it’s well designed and offers excellent performance and versatility for home defense and tactical shooting.
Turning Out the Lights
If you use your AR-15 for any sort of low light shooting, you need a light. There’s just no other way to illuminate your target without night vision.
Tacstar WLS 2000 Weapon Light
But, there’s an AR-15 light for everyone. If you want a quality, all-purpose weapon light that won’t kill your wallet, pick up the Tacstar WLS 2000 Weapon Light. It’s affordable, and will meet the needs of most shooters.
You need some sort of illumination to shoot during almost half the hours of each day (unless you live in Alaska. Then you need a light for a lot more hours each day). So, it’ll to grab a weapon light before your next shooting session.