Best AR-15 Flashlights – Ultimate Review [2020]

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Tactical, practical, and completely attachable, the AR-15 is a gun modder’s dream.

There is no situation an AR-15 can’t be made to fit. Sometimes those situations require a little extra illumination.

This article will look at some of the best tactical lights and mountable flashlights for your AR-15.

Comparison Chart of the Best AR-15 Flashlights

PRODUCTDETAILS
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Streamlight TLR-1s HP

  • Best AR-15 flashlight comes complete with all hardware
  • C4 LED technology is shock-proof and has a lifetime of 50,000 hours
  • 245 meter high-intensity beam and runs for 1.75 hours on full charge
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Orion H40-W Tactical Flashlight

  • AR-15 LED tactical flashlight with pressure switch and scope mount
  • High-intensity 500 lumens light and durable body
  • Shock-resistant, waterproof, and can be used a a handlight when needed
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SureFire X300

  • Ambidextrous and ergonomic push button switch with blinking modes
  • High-strength aluminum construction and integral T-slot mounting system
  • Can be used with AR-15 and with handguns, as well
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Monstrum Tactical Light

  • Low power 90 lumens flashlight for close-range use
  • Can be mounted to any Picatinny or Weaver rail
  • Easy to install and offers great value for money
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Streamlight 88040 ProTac HL 750

  • Solid state power regulation enhances battery run time
  • Can run up to 18 hours on lowest illumination setting
  • Knurled body for better grip and a clip for easy handling
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Why Would I Need a Light For My AR-15?

Tactical flashlights are useful because they provide light without requiring an extra hand. This means you have a more controlled, safer grip on your weapon, and, if necessary, a free hand.

Whether it’s early morning, late night ,or even mid-day, having a flashlight can serve many purposes. During the daytime, flashlights are useful for identifying animal tracks or for getting a closer look in darkened places. At night, flashlights are essential for IDing a target before taking your shot.

The main need for a flashlight comes from identifying targets in low-light situations. This is especially important for home defense. A dark house makes it hard to discern between an intruder and a guest.

By having the flashlight mounted to the handguard, you leave a hand open for better aim or for self-defense.

What to Look For in a Light

A good tactical flashlight should have a few qualities: battery life, brightness, low weight, and durability (especially under recoil). And of course, it should be simple to use – no one wants a high-end mounted flashlight that is difficult to turn on and off under pressure.

Brightness

Brightness is the most hotly debated topic when it comes to mounted tactical lights. There are as many schools of thought as there are tactical flashlights. Generally flashlights can range from as few as 80 lumens to more than 1,000. So how is one supposed to know what to get?

For indoor uses, I fall into the camp that says around 150 lumens are more than enough. This can illuminate small spaces without risking night blindness. But for outdoor lighting, it’s less clear-cut. I tend to feel that high-lumen flashlights have their uses, but ultimately can interfere with proper night vision.

To complicate things further, many tactical lights come with different modes, like “moonlight mode.” These adapt your flashlight to different light levels. Everything comes down to a matter of opinion. Knowing what tasks you’ll need your light for will help you decide how powerful your flashlight needs to be.

Battery life

As with all portable tools, battery life is a concern. If you want a rechargeable light, that has certain advantages. Having batteries that can be replaced offers other benefits. Consider that most lights will have between one and four hours of life while in use, which will vary based on whether use is continuous or in bursts.

Construction (Durability, Ease of Use, and Weight)

The construction of a flashlight has the biggest impact on its usefulness. The type of plastic or metal it’s made of will add or subtract weight and durability to your tool.

Remember that sometimes one thing will come at the expense of another. A more durable flashlight may be weightier than a lightweight, fragile attachment.

And ultimately, make sure the tactical flashlight is easy to use, to install, to turn on and off, to activate any extra features, etc. Or it’s all for nothing.

Rail Mounts and Other Mounts

Most tactical flashlights are designed to be easily mounted on a Picatinny or Weaver rail. Installation is no more difficult than standard mounted gear. But you don’t have to be limited by rail positioning. Many tactical lights can fit into separate mounting kits made available by gun retailers.

Typically positioning for a mounted light is on a top-facing rail, somewhere on the handguard. But some flashlights are designed to be placed on a foregrip. Some foregrips are even designed to hold a standard ½” or 1” flashlight. Foregrip mounts will typically either accommodate an accessory with a rail, have a mounting apparatus built in, or have a specific hole meant to accommodate the flashlight.

The placement of your flashlight will depend on your intended use. The handguard & top-mounted flashlights are most common. Foregrip-mounted has the advantage of not obscuring line-of-sight or altering hand position. And often foregrip-mounted lights are easier to remove and use as standalone flashlights.

Quick Take - The Best Lights for the AR-15

These are our recommendations for the best AR-15 flashlights:

  1. Streamlight TLR-1
  2. Orion H40-W Tactical Flashlight
  3. SureFire X300

Review of the Best AR-15 Flashlights

The following is a list of the five best flashlights currently on the market. While looking through each one, you should note any characteristics and features so you can find something that is close to your ideal flashlight. Once you find one that’s close enough, you’ll know you've found a favorite of yours for a long time.

These should give you an idea of the range of options available for a mounted flashlight, from brightness to battery life. Let’s dig in by talking about the first flashlight on the list:

Best Overall:
Streamlight TLR-1

Pros

  • Durable
  • Easy to mount
  • Removable batteries
  • Programmable features

Cons

  • Short battery lifetime
  • Wire for the pressure switch could be longer

What Recent Buyers Report

Most new users were quite happy with the flashlight. They managed to navigate through corners and obstacles in pitch-black darkness. Many new users were coyote hunters looking to use the flashlight for the purpose of getting around. One user said it’s durable and shockproof, thus making it a tough little unit even through hundreds or thousands of rounds. 

Why it Stands Out to Us 

This flashlight is made with high-quality aluminum housing, which is designed to absorb the shock derived from AR-15 recoil. So the flashlight will stay in place while also providing incredible brightness with each and every use. Shock can ruin a perfectly good flashlight and dim it down a bit. But not this flashlight, in particular. 

The Streamlight TLR-1 is an 800-lumen light that delivers a wide beam great for searching open areas like fields, alleys, yards, and forests. It is lightweight at only 4.18 ounces and offers just under two hours of constant run time. It offers a convenient battery bay for switching out batteries on longer hunting trips. It is designed to be mounted on Picatinny rails with ease. It has several programmable features, such as a user-initiated strobe, as well as momentary on/off and lockout features to prevent running down the batteries when not in use.

The TLR-1 has a durable but lightweight aluminum construction with a durable Boro glass lens that won’t break on the field.

Who Will Use This Most 

This flashlight will be a great choice for coyote hunters out and about in low-light or nighttime conditions. You will definitely have a flashlight that won’t disappoint in performance whenever you use it. So, if you want something that is solid in construction and bright like broad daylight, this could be what you need. 

Bottom Line

The Streamlight High Lumen Rail-Mounted Tactical Light will fit almost any rail system you’ve got on your rifle while delivering you the best brightness for navigational purposes. This flashlight will be useful to you in more ways than one, regardless of your chosen application. 

Orion H40-W 500 Lumen LED Tactical Flashlight with Pressure Switch and Rifle Mount

Pros

  • Durable
  • Lightweight
  • Good for small spaces
  • Moderately high lumens

Cons

  • Simple features
  • May need some adjustment out-of-the-box to function well

What Recent Buyers Report

Most new buyers were satisfied with the flashlight. They managed to install this on their rifle’s rail system with ease. Once installed, it remained stable through about 500 or more rounds. One user said he was quite impressed with the solid construction and overall brightness. 

Why it Stands Out to Us 

At 500 lumens, it’s still bright enough for you to see in low-light and nighttime settings. On top of that, it has a constant on the button you can use. You can quickly switch up the brightness based on your need or selected application. So, if you’re using it for hunting or tactical purposes, you’ll have it all set up with one touch of a button. 

The Orion H40-W is an excellent lightweight tactical flashlight, putting out an easy 500 lumens. This light is well-suited for indoor and close-quarters use without risking night blindness. It weighs only 3.4 ounces without batteries and has a strong anodized aluminum body with a hardened watertight glass lens. It works as both a constant-on light and with a pressure-switch for momentary use.

Who Will Use This Most 

If you are a member of law enforcement, the military, or the coyote hunter’s club, this flashlight might be the perfect tool for you. All you have to do is install this sucker on your favorite AR-15 rifle of choice and you’ll be set for quite a while. Therefore, if you have a rail system that can easily accept this flashlight, you’ve got the all-clear to get this.

Bottom Line

The Orion H40-W 500-Lumen LED Tactical Flashlight is solid, bright, and just might have the easiest settings for your intended application. Nothing too complex to operate. Just a simple design and simple way to use it. Next time you’re out hunting or in a tactical situation, this bad boy will be your sidekick in helping you get around.

Best for the Money:
SureFire X300

SureFire X300 Ultra LED Handgun or Long Gun WeaponLight with T-Slot Mount, Black

Pros

  • Heavy
  • Easy to install
  • Weatherproof
  • Tight light beam

Cons

  • Expensive
  • No pressure switch
  • Not a good flood light

What Recent Buyers Report

As expected, most new users were pretty happy with the flashlight. They installed this in a matter of minutes and were able to switch it on and off quickly. Application-wise, it was best-served by those who were hunting at night or used it in the event of a survival situation. One user said it was quite bright and would not be surprised if it was visible from about a mile away. 

Why it Stands Out to Us 

This flashlight is short in length, but it definitely delivers a lot of coverage when you turn on the light. Once you turn this on, you’ll be able to see an entire room or a good part of your surrounding area if you’re outdoors. It makes for the perfect flashlight designed for navigating every nook and cranny of your hunting ground. If you need a light that is small, but insanely bright, this could be what you need. 

The SureFire x300 is a bright, 600-lumen flashlight that offers a tighter beam to make sure you have full illumination on your potential target. Because of its tight, bright illumination, SureFire advertises this as being excellent for disabling a target’s vision (and they’re not wrong!).

At 7.2 ounces, it’s a bit on the heavy side, but it makes up for its weight in punch. It has ambidextrous constant and momentary on-switches, making it easy to use. It can be mounted on any Picatinny-style rail and is made of hardened aluminum.

Who Will Use This Most 

If you’re looking for a flashlight that would stand out as one of the best for coyote hunting or any use, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything else quite like this. For a flashlight that’s small, it can absorb a lot of shock and keeps your surroundings illuminated through hundreds or thousands of shots. 

Bottom Line

The SureFire X300 Ultra LED Handgun or Long-gun Weapon Light is exactly what you need if you have a small amount of room to fit a flashlight. Once installed, it will be ready to cover so much ground. Who says a flashlight this small can’t do anything? 

Monstrum Tactical 90 Lumens LED Flashlight with Rail Mount and Detachable Remote Pressure Switch

Pros

  • Simple to use
  • Long battery life
  • Small & lightweight

Cons

  • Low amount of light output
  • Only basic features

What Recent Buyers Report

Most new buyers were in search of a flashlight that could fit either rail system. They were glad when they found this flashlight. Not only does it fit either rail system, but it also provides them with a solidly built flashlight that can absorb shock without hurting the light’s brightness. One user said the flashlight stays in position and doesn’t wiggle around at all once attached. 

Why it Stands Out to Us 

This might be the only flashlight on the market which is compatible with just about any AR-15 rail system. In short, it’s pretty darn versatile. If you want a flashlight with that kind of ability, you’d be crazy to pass up the opportunity to give this one a closer look. Besides, it’s bright enough for you to tread around in the woods or navigate dark corners (in a tactical situation). 

The Monstrum Tactical Light is the lightest, smallest, and cheapest light available on this list. It only produces 90 lumens, a significant step down from the others. But this has its advantages: its small profile and relatively low light output make it perfect for home defense.

It takes up no space on a weapon and will not flood a room with so much light that you endanger yourself. It also has a much longer battery life than the other lights – as much as nine hours – meaning you can rely on it to function at a moment’s notice.

Who Will Use This Most 

This will be an excellent flashlight for the purpose of tactical applications. So if you’re in law enforcement or in the military, you’ll need something hardcore and can handle the high-stress applications. This light is pretty dang bright, so you’ll have no problem getting around corners or even using it as a self-defense tool to disorient your attackers. 

Bottom Line

The Monstrum Tactical 90 Lumens LED Flashlight will have your back in any tactical situation. It will help you get around and will handle all kinds of tactical applications when you need to use this the most. For a high-quality tactical flashlight that is compatible with most rail systems, this might be right up your alley.

Streamlight 88040 ProTac HL 750 Lumen Professional Tactical Flashlight with High/Low/Strobe w/2 x CR123A Batteries - 750 Lumens,Black

Pros

  • Long battery life
  • Comfortable grip
  • Lots of light level features
  • Fits in a foregrip flashlight mount

Cons

  • Short battery life (1.2 hrs) on high beam intensity
  • No default accommodation for Picatinny or Weaver rails

What Recent Buyers Report

As expected, a lot of buyers were pretty happy with the flashlight. They were most excited about how bright it was. It was so bright, it might be visible from long distances. A majority of users were mostly hunters while another handful utilized it for tactical and survival purposes. 

Why it Stands Out to Us 

The flashlight has three settings: low, high, and strobe. So ideally, each light level will be useful for any given application. The strobe setting will be ideal for disorienting any attackers in a tactical or self-defense situation. The low-light setting will be handy if you need it just for the sake of navigational purposes without giving away your position. Other than that, it’s pretty solid so it won’t break easily due to the shock from recoil.

Yes, another Streamlight tactical light! They really make excellent products. This one is very different from the TLR-1, though.

Unlike the other lights on this list, the 88040 ProTac HL will need a separate mounting apparatus since it is a standard round flashlight – that is, unless you have one of the foregrip mounts discussed earlier. The ProTac HL puts out a whopping 750 lumens and has a lightweight aluminum construction and several bells and whistles.

The ProTac has several brightness levels, as well as programmable disorientation strobing features. The light boasts as much as 18 hours of runtime on the low-light setting, which is amazing for such a small package.

Who Will Use This Most 

This flashlight will get the job done across many applications. But it will definitely excel in hunting and tactical applications. Whatever the purpose, you have a light setting that will be at your disposal. All you need to do is press the button until you have reached your desired settings. 

Bottom Line

The StreamLight ProTac Flashlight is what you’ll need for any purpose that may require a flashlight. Even better, it can easily attach to your AR-15 without any issue. So if you want something that is reliable and easy to install, this flashlight just might be your cup of coffee. 

Aspects to Consider Before Buying

As you are looking for a flashlight, you’ll need to consider some important aspects before making a final decision. It’s important that you look this over so you have a good idea of what to expect with the flashlight you buy. Here’s what you need to mull over:

How Bright Should It Be?

How many lumens should your flashlight be? Keep in mind, the higher the number, the better. So if you want something bright, start off with about 500 lumens and go higher from there. Lights that bright can even temporarily blind or disorient in situations like a self-defense situation. They can also serve you well in a situation where you may need to be rescued. 

What Situations Will You Need Them For?

Once again, a flashlight would be useful in some way or another. For example, most AR-15 users will use a flashlight for the purpose of navigating through dark corners and obstacles. It is best-used in low-light and nighttime situations. Sometimes, flashlights stand out as a tool you can use in survival situations. So in case you get lost, you’ll have something that will help draw attention to a certain area. 

Which Will Fit My Rail System?

Keep in mind that your Picatinny or Weaver rail will need to have enough room for a flashlight. So you’ll need to find a flashlight that will be compatible with either rail. Make sure it is also easy to install and able to stay stable on the mount itself.

Conclusion

Just like any tool in a shooter’s arsenal, good lighting can be a tricky spot to figure out. Luckily, with any of these products, you’ll be well on your way to finding out what features are most important to you. A good battery and a bright light can go a long way in the field.

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