Breach-Bang-Clear Review of the Streamlight TLR-1HL

Today’s guest article is from Hondo Wallace. He took a look at the Streamlight TLR-1 HL, but wants us to warn you in advance these are just initial impressions. Also, he talks a lot in grunts and mutters and only rarely counts as high as 21 even if he’s nekkid so don’t expect a lot of big words or fanciness. Just a combat effective eval. Though he’s a bit of a broke-dick, courtesy of a helo crash during OEF and a number of fun times as an 0311, his opinion is still mostly good. The Mad Duo

TLR-1 HL Overview by Hondo:

Looking for a new tactical light for your pistol? Well I recently got my hands on Streamlight’s new TLR-1 HL (thanks to TacticalGear.com) and I’m not gonna lie, I like it, I like it a lot and I think you will too. Way back in the ole days I had me an old Steamlight on my Glock 22, and I was content with it, but I always wished it was just a little brighter.  I don’t remember what the lumen power was exactly, and to give it it’s due, it was pretty decent for the time. (That was way before LED light started to even come into my picture.) Over the years I have used a number of different lights for personal use and even reviewed some. There were a few that were pretty awesome and then of course there were those that were awesome, but affordable only to metrotacticals in TAD Gear and S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. Sure, it’s nice sometimes to have all the bells and whistles, but at what point do you draw the line for cost? I can do without certain features if it will save me the money to get on the range a couple more times.

Those who know will attest that I am nearly as firm a believer in training on the proper use of a handgun mounted light as I am on getting proper shooting training period—after all, when are you more likely to get in a fight?

I’m not going to sit and debate the pros and cons to having or using a weapon mounted light versus a hand held flashlight, or anything like that, let alone argue brand types. That’s not the point of this. We all know such debates will loop around and around. You can argue until the cows head back to the barn and then after, and never get anywhere. Today I just want to share my initial impressions of the TLR-1 HL.

Let me start with the hard facts that you can get from Tactical Gear’s website.

First and foremost, the actual illumination power. The TLR-1 HL provides a 630 lumen blast of light for maximum illumination while clearing a room, searching an alley or providing de facto ambience (grunts: de facto and ambience) for your favorite single dancing mom. Its wide beam pattern lights up large areas so you can identify who or what is nearby. 630 lumens. That’s 4 or 5 times the white light its predecessor cranked out (which might be why it’s called the HL: High Lumen).

Other basics:

●        C4® LED technology, impervious to shock with a 50,000 hour lifetime

●        12,000 candela peak beam intensity and up to 630 lumens.

●        TIR optic produces a concentrated beam with optimum peripheral illumination

●        Run Time: 1.25 hours regulated run time. Solid-state current regulation for consistent illumination level

●        Powered by two 3-volt CR123 lithium batteries with 10-year storage life

●        Rail grip clamp system securely attaches/detaches quickly and safely with no tools and without putting your hands in front of muzzle

●        Mounts directly to handguns with Glock-style rails and to all MIL-STD-1913 (Picatinny) rails.

●        Includes keys for Glock-style, Picatinny, Beretta 90two, S&W 99 and S&W TSW

●        Machined aluminum sealed construction with black anodized finish

●        Ambidextrous momentary/steady on/off switch

●        User programmable strobe can be enabled/disabled

●        Fits existing light bearing holsters

●        3.39” (8.61 cm); 4.18 oz (118.6 grams)

●        Operating temperature: -40°F to +120°F.

●        IPX7 waterproof to 1 meter for 30 minutes

●        Lithium Battery Notice under TECH DOCS

●        Remote switches are available as optional accessories and must be used in conjunction with 69130 remote door switch. All switches and door switch are sold separately. Reference TLR Accessories Brochure in DOCS/INFO tab for more information.

●        Limited lifetime warranty

●        Assembled in USA

Now that the information about the specs are out of the way, let’s get to talkin’ about how it feels and works. As you read it comes with the keys to mount on different weapons, which is a great feature in my not so humble opinion. It’s always nice to know if you have, say, both a Glock and a Beretta (not sure why you’d have a Beretta unless you need a boat anchor, but whatever), you can switch fairly easily depending upon the weapon you’ll be using.

In the past I’ve had a few lights that only mounted to certain pistols, and always thought it was kind of a waste of money being it could only be used on that gun only (not that you had much of a choice, then). Once I mounted this light to the rail of my Glock 22 (which by the way was a breeze) I was ready to get outside and go loud. Unfortunately it was raining like a cow pissing on a flat rock and I didn’t have steel handy, just paper—first shots had to wait.

In the meantime I realized I didn’t have a holster specific to the TLR-1 HL (I’m used to the traditional pain in the ass of having custom holsters that fit only specific lights). A quick check showed that it would fit well enough in a holster designed for the TLR-1. That said, I only tried the one, and it was leather. You’re going to want to double check this, particularly if you’re running custom Kydex. That said, I apologize for not being better prepared

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Like most weapon mounted lights, the TLR-1 HL can be used ambidextrously. I am ambidextrous (mostly) and make all attempts to train that way. No wank sock jokes necessary Nasty! As you can see by from the pictures, there’s nothing startlingly new in the construction. Manipulation is simple, responsive and consistent. I could used the thumb of my non trigger hand to quickly change from constant-on to momentary (a quick double tap of the switch pushes it to momentary). Switching it to strobe-constant can be a little trickier but shouldn’t be impossible unless you’ve got great big Frankenstein dick-skinners.

I say this because it’s not as simple as double tapping the switch to constant strobe. There is a fine line between a soft tap and pushing the switch all the way over. I wouldn’t say this is a flaw, necessarily, it certainly doesn’t count against the light in my book. It’s just something you will want to practice a few times so you’re used to getting it where you want (and able to do so under stressful conditions).

It took me a few times to get the constant-strobe down myself, but some of you may pick it up a lot quicker. Regardless, get used to it before you take it anywhere you might have to fight with it.

If you are wanting constant-on, no strobe, you just flip that switch one time and you’ll be good to go. If you’re watching the video and hearing the switch causes noise discipline concerns, just remember the light was new and the camera pretty close. I’m confident it would break in and settle into a smoother action.

Anyway, the main thing I like about this light over all the others I have is that it. is. bright. This bitch glares out of the lens. While it will light up a room in a heartbeat (remember to watch for splash from walls and nearby walls), it performs very well outside too. I could see a well lit area at 100 feet or more with ease (in fact it’s easily comparable or even superior to some earlier rifle mounted lights). Since I’ve never before had a weapon mounted light that generated this amount of lumens, I was like a kid in a candy store. I’ve used some very powerful handheld lights, and obviously you don’t want a weapon light to ever become a utility instrument (vs. a tactical one), but damn there is something about having a light on your gun this bright that makes you appreciate cool new technologies and wonder what’s to come.

It also makes you want to go hunting the border (I live in a Cartel-haunted area) for assholes so you can sear their face off with the light beam (if not scare the living shit out of them and face-shoot the ones who deserve it).

Note: no Cartel assholes, criminals or insurgents were scared, sunburnt or shot in the face during this review.

Now if you read the specs carefully you will see it says that “IPX7 waterproof to 1 meter for 30 minutes.” You don’t have to ask me twice for anything, let alone a challenge. That earlier rain wasn’t enough to really test it, so I went out to Gunfighter Alley (yeah, I named one of the ranges on my ranch that, so?), filled a big damn bucket up and dropped the light in. While the TLR-1 HL was soaking in water, cow-slobber and protein lick I relaxed on the porch sippin’ sweet tea.

It’s Texas. Don’t expect me to drink ginger ale or all natural fruit juice or whatever.

After about half an hour I walked back out, removed the light, mounted it to my pistol and headed for the shed without drying it off. Lo and behold it worked then, and still works now. I’m not sure if anyone would be 3 meters deep in the water with their light on, let alone smoke-checking anyone but Aquaman with a handgun, but I could see it being dropped in water and having to find it. With that in mind it passed the water test just fine.

One other thing this light can do is work with remote switch. Those are sold separately, however, and I didn’t have one. (Honestly, it works fine the way I have it.)

So the last thing you might be wondering about is the cost. I have seen them online from anywhere from $150-$269, but Tactical Gear offers them for $120.99. This light is absolutely worth that price, in my opinion. (Note: remember, Tactical Gear provided this for my review, and as far as I know I’m going to be keeping it, but don’t let that color what I’m saying. Trust me, if this was a POS I’d say so.) As with anything you might have to depend on in a fight for your life, don’t make a decision based on just one review—that said, as you start your research, chalk this one up to a definite cleared hot.

Keep in mind when you watch this video that 1) I was a dumbass and didn’t turn my phone to landscape; 2) it’s filmed with a phone, not some gozillion dollar omega camera and 3) there’s no real way to adequately convey how bright this thing is in a simple video. My advice – try to test one out if you’re unconvinced and you have a friend/comrade who can loan you one.

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All in all I think the Streamlight TLR-1 HL is an awesome piece of gear! So if you are looking for a new light I hope this helps you out a little bit. If you have one already I’d love to hear what you have to say about it and hear your opinion on it.

I’ll write some more after I have some more range time with it. We’ll see how it holds up long term.

Out here.

Hondo Wallace

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