I'm an avid gun guy (been in the gun industry for well over a decade now) and an avid hunter. While I'm not breaching doors or clearing rooms on the regular, I defend my home and spend countless hours in the woods and fields. A homeowner needs a good tactical light when something goes bump in the night. A hunter can use it for night hunting coyote, pigs, raccoons and the like, based on what is legal in their locale. The homeowner may only use the tactical light a few times, but the hunter will push it to its limits, by staying in the fields or woods for hours on end in sub-freezing temperatures or bad weather. It was the needs as a hunter that drove my search for a good Weapon Mounted Light. I first got a cheap $50 light/laser combo for a coyote hunt a few years ago, and it lasted maybe three hunts before the temperature and moisture did it in. Now I want something better. A lot better. I started my search based on what I know in the business and came across several by Streamlight and Surefire. This was what I expected. However, the unexpected happened, and I found Cloud Defense. For me, it's going to be a tough decision, but I think I've got it narrowed down to 3.
Streamlight is a leader in weapon-mounted lights (or WML). If it were for a pistol, they would probably be my first choice. However, for a long gun, they are my third. The one that piqued my interest the most is the Protact Rail Mount HL-X. This is a laser/light combo that produces 1,000 lumens (18,200 Candela) that can reach out 270 meters, which helps during night hunting. It is 6.25" long and weighs a hefty 10.8 oz. (the heaviest of my choices). It has a run time of up to 22 hours (depending on battery type and settings). There is a model choice that allows running on either CR123 batteries or rechargeable USB batteries, depending on which model you choose. It has a TEN-TAP programmable multifunction tailcap and remote pressure switch. Durable and impact-resistant, it comes with everything you'll need to mount it to a Picatinny rail on your favorite long gun. While I'm not a huge fan of having a laser to depend on regularly, it makes a nice option while calling in feisty coyotes at night. With a limited lifetime warranty and retail of either $210 (CR123 batteries) or $225.75 (USB batteries), it is a good option to look at for a solid WML.
Surefire is another name that is highly recommended for a solid WML. For a long gun, they had a lot more options to choose from. After some back and forth, I settled on the M600DF (Duel Fed) LED light. Two things that I came to appreciate on this WML are the size and lumens this light produces. The light is 5.56" long and weighs only 5.15 oz (smallest and lightest on this list). It runs on high with 1500 lumens for 1.5 hours continuous run time and 10-year shelf life. Unlike the Streamlight this WML will run on either CR123 batteries or rechargeable USB Batteries in the same unit, getting better performance with USB Batteries. It has solid reliability and brightness for sure. It is best suited for medium to long-range applications, which suits my hunting needs. It is ruggedly built with an O-ring to keep the environment out. Easy to mount with thumbscrews on M1913 rails and its reliability makes this the better option for me. It retails for $299.99 and for only $62 more you can get the ST Remote Tape Switch for pressure switch activation.
Cloud Defense was recommended to me as a great new WML to check out. When I did, I could see why. It simply out-performs the rest. Size comparison to the others is pretty close with a 5.255" length and weight of 9.9 oz without the battery. It's the capabilities that stand it apart. First, the light produces 1,250 with 50,000 Candela (which means the light is better focused on the target). The mount is unique. It is both fully ambidextrous and houses the pressure switch (meaning no wires to tangle with between the light and pressure switch, also no push button on the back of the light which I've always found awkward while mounted). Another unique feature is a duel use, built-in tool for attaching the mount and changing the bulb quickly, by the end-user. It is fully waterproof, submersible to 200 meters for 24 hours, shockproof and dustproof. It comes with a lifetime warranty and knowledge that they stand behind their products. With the convenient features and solid construction, this WML would work great for my coyote hunting and any other use you could come up with. Retailing at $399.99, it is a bit expensive but the best option for me.
There are tons of options out there, and you may not have the exact needs I have. However, when it comes to light, you want a good one when you need it. While your needs may push you to a different model, these companies are the way to go. Whether it's for a handgun or long gun, large or small, short distance or long; Streamlight, Surefire or Cloud Defense are my top choices and what I'd recommend to anyone in the market.
* The views and opinions expressed on this web site are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Guns & Tactics Magazine, the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.
Prices accurate at time of writing