The last in this series of three Streamlight reviews, is the TLR-1HP dedicated gun light. The TLR series of lights are well regarded as a good value alternative to a more expensive military specification brand. (The first two reviews of this series can be found here (Knucklehead Spot) and here (Waypoint))
There are a few different flavours of the TLR series including more compact versions, and some with strobe and laser sight features. On test is the HP version with remote switch. This is the largest of the TLR series as it has the extended switch casing with remote switch port and the large reflector for focusing the beam for powerful throw.
The TLR-1HP achieves a strange combination of feeling solidly built but also being light weight. Both are of course ideal for a gun light, which needs to be built well enough to withstand recoil, but be light enough not to affect the balance of the gun.
All the component parts are crisply finished and well thought out in layout. There is a great deal of attention to detail, the side-by-side battery layout to reduce length, the paddle switch with momentary or constant-on and the spring loaded picatinny rail mount to name but a few.
If you are used to gun mounting what is really a hand held light, the more you use the TLR-1HP, the more sense a dedicated gun light makes.
What is in the box:
The TLR-1HP’s well presented box.
Included are the TLR1-HP, an instruction booklet, a set of arrestor blocks for rail mounts with different width slots and the remote pressure switch with both rail-mount holder and adhesive pad.
Taking a closer look and looking inside:
Where to start! There is a great deal of detail to cover here, so bear with me as we work through it.
The TLR series all use the same mounting system, but in this next image there are several different features to consider.
The mount comes with the Glock/Universal arrestor block fitted. A set of alternative blocks are supplied with the light, as well as an Allen key for the bolt which locks the block in place. Also visible here is the main mount bolt, which is also spring loaded for easy mounting, the movable part of the rail clamp, the battery door locking flap the paddle switch, and the remote switch port cover.
Looking end on at the switch, here on the remote switch version, the paddle only has one end as the other end of the paddle has been removed to allow for the remote switch port (shown with the rubber cover fitted)
Here the remote switch port cover has been removed. The pivot for the paddle switch has what looks like some sort of port, but this is just a hole with no apparent function.
The specific feature of the HP version is the large and deep reflector. Streamlight still use their ‘C4’ classification for the LED, but my guess from appearance and performance would be that the emitter is an XP-G R4.
This is a deep reflector.
The battery polarity is shown on each side of the casing. The casing itself is a slightly different black to the switch or reflector.
The end of the main mounting bolt is retained by a circlip making the entire mount captive, so there will not be any accidental dropping of parts.
The head of the main mounting bolt has raised ridges to allow fingers to get a grip, and a coin slot to tighten the bolt and make sure there is no movement in active use. Also visible is the arrestor block retaining Allen headed bolt.
With the mount fitted to a rail, you can see that the battery door locking flap will not be able to move. This feature prevents the battery door from opening when the light is rail-mounted. A double safety feature, firstly preventing any degree of recoil shaking open the battery door, and reducing weapon handling while changing the batteries could prevent accidents.
To open the battery door, first remove the light from the gun, and then lift the locking flap.
Through a series of linkages, the flap allows the battery door to lift at one side.
The other side of the door has a flange and corresponding slot inside the body to lock it into place. Having raised the opposite side of the door, the flange can be pulled out of the slot freeing the battery door to swing out of the way. The battery terminals inside the body are shaped to provide reverse polarity protection.
With the remote switch fitted, the pressure pad has two mounting options. One slides onto a rail and holds the pressure pad from each end. This method is secure but allows it to be moved and removed. There is also a 3M adhesive pad for fixing the pressure pad on guns without a suitable rail.
The reflector unscrews from the front for a better look at the LED and mount board….
….and the well finished threads and o-ring seal.
To enable me to test the TLR-1HP on my semi-automatic shotgun, Streamlight also supplied the 12 Gauge mag tube mount. This provides a quick and easy solution for fitting a rail to a shotgun magazine tube and therefore providing a mounting point for the TLR series of lights.
The size of the mount suits the TLR perfectly
To fit the TLR-1HP to a rail, you first loosen the main mount bolt. There is a multi-layer spring washer which keeps some pressure on the clamp. This spring loaded action means that to fit it onto the rail, you need to press the bolt in against the spring, clip the TLR-1HP onto the rail and release the pressure. The spring will hold the TLR-1HP firmly in place allowing you to tighten the bolt enough for active use. This snap-on feature takes all the awkwardness out of mounting and un-mounting the light.
Modes and User Interface:
The TLR-1HP’s interface is very simple. Without the remote switch fitted, there is just the paddle switch. Moving this in one direction it will latch for permanent on, to switch off you need to flick the paddle back to the middle position. If you move the lever in the other direction and keep it pressed there, you get the momentary on, letting go turns the light off.
With the remote switch fitted, this provide a second method of using a momentary-on switching. Simply press anywhere along the pressure pad and the TLR-1HP will come on, let go and it goes off.
Batteries and output:
The TLR-1HP is powered by two CR123 primary cells. Streamlight go so far as to specify a limited number of manufacturers, whose CR123s are considered suitable.
So officially only CR123s…….however, as someone who prefers options, I have also taken into consideration that typically 2xCR123 powered lights will work down to 2V input. Under load, CR123s can drop to 1V when getting near the end of their lives.
The TLR-1HP does have a maximum input voltage of 6V, so using two RCR123s is definitely ruled out, but using one, with a dummy spacer, is not. The capacity is of course significantly reduced, but it will run perfectly well.
For self defence, this would not be the preferred choice, as if your life may depend on it, you go with dependable primaries, but for regular use, you may prefer the more economical option.
To measure actual output, I built an integrating sphere. See here for more detail. The sensor registers visible light only (so Infra-Red and Ultra-Violet will not be measured).
Please note, all quoted lumen figures are from a DIY integrating sphere, and according to ANSI standards. Although every effort is made to give as accurate a result as possible, they should be taken as an estimate only. The results can be used to compare outputs in this review and others I have published.
I.S. measured ANSI output Lumens
PWM frequency (Hz)
With a freshly charged AW RCR123 cell (and a dummy cell spacer) the following output curve was achieved on high.
Note, this is using one RCR123, not two CR123s, and the output is initially well regulated. The single RCR123 however starts to lose steam and then the output gradually declines as the driver struggles to draw enough power with the output starting to sharply decline after 30 minutes.
Bear in mind that RCR123s have a rating around 750mAh and under heavy load this capacity reduces. CR123s have a capacity around 1400mAh and with two fitted there is significantly more energy available.
In The Lab
NEW for Winter 2012 ANSI standards include maximum beam range. This is the distance at which the intensity of light from an emitter falls to 0.25lux (roughly the same as the lux from a full moon). This standard refers only to the peak beam range (a one dimensional quantity), so I am expanding on this and applying the same methodology across the entire width of the beam. From this data it is possible to plot a two-dimensional ‘beam range profile’ diagram which represents the shape of the illuminated area.
In order to accurately capture this information a test rig was constructed which allows a lux meter to be positioned 1m from the lens and a series of readings to be taken at various angles out from the centre line of the beam. As the rig defines a quadrant of a circle with a radius of 1m, all the readings are taken 1m from the lens, so measuring the true spherical light intensity. The rig was designed to minimise its influence on the readings with baffles added to shield the lux meter from possible reflections off the support members.
The distance of 1m was chosen as at this distance 1lux = 1 candela and the maximum beam range is then calculated as the SQRT(Candela/0.25) for each angle of emission.
In this plot, the calculated ANSI beam ranges are plotted as if viewed from above (for some lights there may also be a side view produced) using a CAD package to give the precise 'shape' of the beam.
As these are the first few ‘Beam Range Profiles’ I have published there are no direct comparisons to reference lights as I still need to profile these.
Starting with the 5m range grid you get an idea of the narrow local beam shape and strength with the spot punching through into the distance.
Then zooming out to the 50m range grid showing the extent of the beam’s range. The TLR-1HP is a strong thrower and this shows as the beam range profile looks very thin and long. The beam range reaches over 400m.
The indoor beamshot shows the narrow spill and intense spot
Under-exposing this shot reveals the intense perfectly round hotspot.
Moving outside, the powerful beam is laser-like in the tunnel of light it creates. In fact this beam, as well as lighting up the target, can also act like a laser sight requiring you to simply point at your target. Used on a pistol or shotgun, this is especially evident.
What it is really like to use…
Of the TLR series of lights, the TLR-1HP with remote switch is the largest, and not the most suited to being pistol mounted. Thanks to my local laws, I do not have the option to mount this light on a ‘real’ pistol, so instead here it is shown mounted on an airsoft pistol. This still gives a great feel for the ergonomics of the TLR-1HP. The light weight makes for minimal change of balance, and the switching is easily accessible. You could even fit the remote pressure switch to the grips if you wanted to.
Moving the TLR-1HP over onto the 12g semi-auto shotgun and fitting the remote switch makes for another great experience. In case anyone wishes to replicate this exact set up, the 12g mag tube mount does not fit the Hatsan Escort Magnum as it is, as the plastic magazine tube is larger than a metal mag tube. I have bored out the plastic clamp to accommodate the larger tube size.
With the pressure switch fitted on the side of the fore end this becomes an incredibly intuitive set up. Pick it up, point and away you go. For self defence this will work very well. When out rabbiting (lamping) the beam is a little narrow to work all that well with the broad area covered as you swing the shotgun onto target.
Of course as well as the remote switch you still have the option of permanent on using the paddle switch.
The TLR-1HP is a very neat addition to the shotgun.
Moving from pistol, to shotgun, to rifle. In this instance my main lamping gun, the Ruger 1022 (with a few extras added). The TLR-1HP sits perfectly on the tri-rail barrel block, a millimetre or two clear of the sound moderator.
The view through the scope is well illuminated and certainly far enough for a .22LR, and the combination of remote pressure switch and paddle switch make the TLR-1HP very easy and natural to use. I thought the remote switch cord might have been too short, but is worked perfectly without having any annoying excess cable.
If you ever need convincing of the benefits of a dedicated gun light over a gun mounted flashlight, give the TLR-1HP or any of the other TLR series lights a try. The TLR-1HP is a really well thought out light with features that make it a natural extension to the gun. With the TLR-1HP all the guns I have used it with have ‘pointed’ with ease and it gives you a beam of light that, with a pistol or shotgun, you can even more or less aim with.
Thanks for the awesome review! Am I correct in estimating that the LED is being driven at about 750ma? Any idea on how the mcpcb is secured into the light? It might be interesting to try out some different LED's seeing as the XPE-2 has nearly the same output as the XP-G R4 at the same current, or even an XM-L2 since there appears to be some extra space in the reflector opening.
Really well written review! I would love to see some more long distance beam shots (as I already have a TLR-1s on my recca and am considering the -1HP to replace it). I am also super excited to see how the LED is installed in this because its not anything the -1(s), it looks MUCH easier to swap out emitters!
Im going to save this thread and once I get ahold of one and play with it to see about he ease of emitter swaps ill update this.
Just got mine last night, gotta say it throws a beam far enough down range for me to identify small game in my scope at 100 yards... I too am interested in emitter swaps (why is it that we cant leave well enough alone, lol).. I would love to see a neutral/warm/high CRI emitter in there... Just wish I had opted for the remote switch version..