The biggest weapon lighting trend at SHOT show 2017 was integrated weaponlight and laser combos. Streamlight and Crimson Trace both had some of the most well-integrated models—each with their own unique features.
Previously, I was not a weaponlight kind of guy and only saw these as entry tools for the tactical elite, but my mind has been changed. After getting literally destroyed by a guy with a Streamlight TLR-2 equipped airsoft trainer during the Shivworks Armed Movement in Structures training course, I left convinced that a combo light and laser weaponlight is an undeniable advantage… the guy destroyed us round after round. Where the advantage of these lights becomes clearly apparent is when working through clearing or defending very dark areas or in mixed lighting areas.
The light and laser equipped gentleman in question went through the Armed Movement in Structures training before and had experienced the same in-training realization that lights and lasers are game changers. If you are clearing a dark room, the light delivers the ability to illuminate those dark areas. Creative backlighting and use of reflective surfaces with a weaponlight can also help you see hiding silhouettes that were not visible before.
Yes, green lasers are better than red. What you will see is that red lasers wash out easier in light or on darker colors. Green lasers have much higher contrast for the eye, so even during very fast movement on a shooter, you can still stay on target. As a defender hunkering and bunkering these light-laser combos give you an option to surprise, identify, and engage targets extremely effectively and quickly. More than once, we were caught by surprise seeing a green dot on our chests followed by a painful airsoft reminder of our exposure.
Let There Be Light
The idea of a weaponlight with laser is not to replace a handheld light; rather it is a tool to help identify, distract, control, disable, sight, and engage after identifying a potential threat. Most people understand that using a loaded gun as a flashlight is not the best idea when checking on kids in the middle of the night. However, neither is firing a gun and holding a flashlight at the same time—even if you have trained on this. A weaponlight takes over where the handheld light leaves off. It allows for full weapon control and a free hand for opening door or securing a kid.
These lights both deliver on these weaponlight capabilities and feature a high output LED light with a sharp contrast green laser integrated into one unit. Both models deliver:
- Light only
- Laser only
- Laser and light combo
- Laser and strobe light settings
On the street, the retail price of either of these weaponlights ends up around $300. Between these two units, the decision really is size and convenience versus brighter and longer-range power. Certainly, there are a number of manufacturers offering combo laser-light weaponlights. However, of the models I’ve handled, I liked the execution of these two the best of all.
Crimson Trace Railmaster Pro
Crimson Trace Railmaster Pro packed a bright 100-lumen LED light and green laser weaponlight combo into a super tight small concealable package compatible with any weapon with a picatinny rail. The little LED is far brighter than you would expect and the green laser is plenty bright for daylight use. The Railmaster Pro is literally only a little wider than most weapon-mounted compact laser sights with a MSRP of $380. [Editor’s Note: The Railmaster Pro retails for $349 on DefenderOutdoors.com] The Crimson Trace Railmaster Pro is about half the size and a third less weight than the full sized Streamlight.
What I really like about this unit is that it is the essentially the same size as most compact trigger guard-integrated weaponlights, but in a format that you can easily move from one handgun or rifle to another. If you have a smaller compact gun like a Glock 26, Walther PPS, HK P30SK, or other similar sized compact gun, or do not want a giant weaponlight hanging off the end, then this is the right sized weaponlight for you. I also really like this for small compact AR15 pistol builds, which when mounted at the end of the rail acts likes a hand stop. Attachment is via two bolts and a variety of included weapon-specific rail adapters.
In a time where we have access to 800+ lumen lights, 100-lumen may not seem like a lot or enough. However, it is more than enough for movement inside a home or office building, and sufficient for distraction and positive identification of a threat. There are many people who consider anything over 200-lumens too much light for typical defensive room clearing as an overly bright light can actually blind the user from reflected light off walls. This light fills the requirement for a weapon-mounted light that can more than sufficiently identify an attacker from your son slipping into the window at 3AM. One hundred lumens is quite enough to illuminate most standard-sized rooms, stairs, and closets when you hear that bump in the night.
The function is simple. The paddle actuators are about the same size as a full-sized light, hard to miss, and offer tap-on tap-off functionality. These large paddles are an important feature of Crimson Trace’s Railmaster Pro in that it feels and operates like a full-sized weaponlight in a compact size. Often finger-operated buttons on small trigger guard-attached lights/lasers are something you must think about to use and can be easy to miss with a finger in a tactical situation. More importantly, many of these small, flat, integrated buttons can be literally impossible to use with gloves. The Crimson Trace Railmaster Pro has a giant, cannot miss, paddle on each side allowing a finger, thumb, or even a boot heel to activate the light. This very unique feature made this light stand out for me during my review and a feature that clearly stands out when you move the light to an AR15 pistol or SBR.
Streamlight TLR-2 HL G
The Streamlight TLR-2 HL G—decoded as a Tactical Light Rail 2 High Lumen Green Laser—is considered the beast in the industry. The TLR-2 HL G sports a blinding 800-lumen light coupled with a super bright piercing green laser wrapped in a very durable billet aluminum casing with heavy-duty mil-spec polymer parts. The giant full-sized Streamlight TLR-2 HL G weaponlight lacks reasonable concealability, and is a better option as a crossover light that you would move between pistol and rifle while still delivering the light output needed for rifle use. The downside is the TLR-2 HL G has an MSRP of $580. [Editor’s Note: Actually, you can grab one for just over $300 on DefenderOutdoors.com right now] However, the street price is shockingly similar to the Crimson Trace.
What I really like about the Streamlight TLR-2 HL G is that is delivers a level of brightness far beyond expectation for a light this size. You do not expect 800-lumens from a light this size which turns night into day…and eyesight into blindness. If you get hit with this light, you are not seeing anything until your eyes readjust, giving the user plenty of time to take a shot or maneuver around you. The huge light output is both a blessing and a curse. There is so much light that in extremely tight confines or without a lot of attention to when using the light, its reflected light is so bright it can blind the user. On the other side of the argument, you can hit any area of a room and light up every corner with all that output. One of my friends noted the green laser was soul-piercing and crazy daylight bright. For those situations where you might reach out a bit further, or even use this light for predator control, the brilliantly bright LED and laser in the Streamlight TLR-2 HL G is a huge benefit. If you want to add a pressure switch, the TLR-2 HL G comes equipped with a remote-pressure switch port. Like most full-sized weaponlights, the Streamlight TLR-2 HL G offers an adjustable quick-release style screw allowing you to attach or remove the light quickly.
One of the features I liked the most about this particular weaponlight, is it allows direct access to all the settings without going through a menu thanks to the lower toggle switch. You can easily change the lower mini toggle on the fly from light only to laser only to both laser and light. The actuation paddles pivot up and down to activate momentary or constant on operation of whatever mode you select. Double-tapping the momentary switch accesses the strobe function. It is one of the most intuitive weaponlights I have found.
Of note, both Streamlight and Crimson Trace offer a wide array of mighty fine full-sized and compact-sized light and laser weaponlights. However, I personally liked the operation these specific models the best. It came down to the ease of operation and use. Neither of these are cheap weaponlights; they are a tool you can depend on with your life. Let me tell you first hand, you can die fast in the dark without one of these lights.
The Rail Master Pro™ Universal Green Laser Sight & Tactical Light combines two tactical tools in a single compact unit. Crimson Trace designed this versatile unit to fit most modern pistols, rifles, and shotguns with an M1913 Picatinny or Weaver-style accessory rail. A powerful green laser anchors the unit and provides up to one hour of continuous use on a single CR2 Lithium battery. The Rail Master Pro also includes a powerful 100 Lumen white light for target identification. The unit features four operational modes including:
- Laser/Light Constant On
- Laser Constant On
- Light Constant On
- Laser w/Light Dazzler
Activation is instant, with tap-on, tap-off controls and a programmed auto shut-off at five minutes to conserve battery life.
|Activation Mode||Switch activated – Light only, laser only, or both|
|Sighting||Factory sighted at 50 feet – re-zeroable|
|Battery Type||CR2 lithium battery X1|
|Laser Output||Up to 5mW green laser|
|Activation Mode||Switch activated|
|Laser Visibility||Approx .5-inch diameter at 50 feet|
|User Adjustable||Windage and elevation|
|Warranty||3-year full warranty|
|Dot Size||Approx. 0.50 inches at 50 feet|
|Light Output||100 lumen LED white light|
|Light Specs||100 lumen LED|
|Weight||2.5 ounces including battery|
|Size||2.25L x 1.3W x 1.4D inches|
- LED and Green Laser combo tactical light
- Engineered optic produces a concentrated beam with optimum peripheral illumination
- Green laser provides high-visibility long-range targeting
|Laser||510-530nm direct drive green laser|
|Light||C4® LED technology, 50,000-hour lifetime, impervious to shock|
|Range of Light||245 meters|
|Battery||CR123A Lithium X2|
|Length||3.390 inches (8.61 centimeters)|
|Weight||4.780 ounces (135.51 grams)|
|Activation Mode||Switch activated – light only, laser only, or both|
|Sighting||Factory sighted at 50 feet – re-zeroable|