AR-15 Flashlights – The Best Rated and Reviewed

Taking a stock gun and customizing it to be exactly the way you want, is like taking an old muscle car and restoring it to its heyday. There are a number of modifications you can make to your gun. Whether it’s changing your barrel to different lengths, adding high end sights or a scope, or adding other attachments, customizing your gun can be a fun and great way to learn the ins and outs of your weapon. When it comes to personal defense, you want to guarantee that your weapon works the first time, every time.

In this article we’re going to talk about flashlights for AR-15s. Guns and flashlights have been a common match for years. With the emergence of LED lighting, you can get a bright light in a small, lightweight package. With this emergence, many gun makers have begun to manufacture their rifles with options for easily mounting them as well.

Handheld vs Mounted AR15 Flashlights

An important question to consider is if you want a handheld light, or something that mounts to your rifle. This is an important question because with every accessory you add to your AR, the more it weighs.

With more weight comes different handling, and that’s something to account for should you decide to equip your rifle with a flashlight. Be sure to take it to the range and become comfortable with the changes in how it handles.

Some people may say, “I don’t want the handling to change, why can’t I just carry the flashlight”? Although that’s a perfectly reasonable option, when it comes down to your safety, do you want to have to awkwardly carry a light, or do you want it mounted to your weapon so your hands are free for more important tasks?

Why do you need a Flashlight?

There are many different uses for flashlights. If you’re out hunting late and need to be able to see on your way back to camp, having a flashlight mounted to your weapon makes it convenient to see where you’re going. In a personal defense situation, having a light can help you see as you’re moving around and help you get the upper hand.

In a completely dark environment, turning your light on toward your enemy may temporarily catch them off guard and blind them; although I wouldn’t count on that to always help you.

It’s all about tactical advantage, and having a flashlight increases your chances by giving you the ability to see in the dark and identify a potential threat.

What makes a good AR15 Flashlight?

So what makes a good flashlight? Well, it depends on what qualities are important to you. If you choose to get a flashlight that mounts to your AR, you want to be sure that you get the most compact, lightweight light you can find.

As I mentioned before, it will certainly change how your weapon handles, but the lighter the weight of the flashlight, the less of an effect it will have. Another reason to keep it as compact as possible is so that it doesn’t impede your line of sight. One more important thing to determine is how bright your light needs to be.

Most recommendations are between 100 and 400 lumens. However, keep in mind that not all manufacturers measure lumens in the same way. The best thing you can do is to try a few out and see which one works best for you.

Here’s another thing to consider: Will you get a flashlight that stays on indefinitely once you turn it on, or will it have a pressure switch that you control? Personally, my flashlight for my AR has a pressure switch. “Why?” you might be asking. Well, here’s my reasoning. If you’re moving through a dark environment and you need to see, it’s better to flash your light on temporarily, just for a second or two, to guide you as you move, instead of it constantly being on and allowing your enemy to see the light, and in turn, know exactly where you are and where you’re heading.

Now you might be saying, “Well, I can still turn my flashlight on and off without a pressure switch”. Yes, that’s very true, but again, it’s all about tactical advantage. Do you want to have to reach forward to the front of your rifle and fidget around trying to find the on/off switch? Or do you want to keep your hands in a constant position on the grip and your finger by the trigger as it should be? When I considered that, it was an easy choice for me.

The 3 Best AR-15 Flashlights

Now that you’ve taken it upon yourself to do some research and educate yourself on the benefits of having a flashlight, the uses for one, and the important things to consider when choosing one, let’s take a look at a few and see what they have to offer!

#1. Ultimate Arms LED Tactical Flashlight

This flashlight features an aircraft grade aluminum housing that is waterproof and weatherproof. It installs onto any Weaver or Picatinny rail straight out of the box with the mount included. The LED light emits 130 lumens and has a strobe feature.

It weighs 8oz (batteries installed), is 6” long, and only utilizes 1.75” of rail space when installed. The light also features a push button tail cap to choose between solid light or strobe mode and comes with a pressure sensor cord.

Pros: Versatile mount that requires no gunsmithing. Impact resistant, durable, and waterproof. Includes constant on and strobe feature. Comes with pressure sensor switch for easy operation without moving hands away from grip and trigger.

Cons: Lowest light output on our list at 130 lumens. Heaviest light coming in at 8oz.

#2. PolyTac LED Flashlight

The PolyTac flashlight features C4 LED technology that utilizes a parabolic reflector that outputs 275 lumens. Its nylon polymer case makes it super durable and impact resistant. It features 3 different modes. The first mode, High, outputs the brightest light with a beam distance of 195m and a 3 hour battery life.

The second mode, Low, is used in situations where less light is needed in exchange for a higher battery life of 14 hours. The final mode, Strobe, is used for signaling or disorienting. The run time for strobe is approximately 5.5 hours. It comes in on the weight chart at 4.2oz (batteries installed) and a length of 5.34 inches.

Pros: Extremely durable. Lightweight. Variable modes for different situations. Works with standard rails (when purchased with optional mount).

Cons: Short battery life when used on High or Strobe mode. No pressure switch.

#3. Orion H40-W LED Tactical Flashlight

The H40-W tactical flashlight is made of high strength aluminum for extreme durability. It features a Cree XM-L U2 (cool white) LED that outputs an incredibly high 500 lumens at 175 yards. This LED is recoil proof due to its indestructible LED emitter.

It’s ready to be mounted to standard Picatinny rails with the mount designed for it. Featuring a constant on switch, as well as a pressure switch, this light is very versatile. Coming it at 3.4oz (without batteries) and 5.2in long, this flashlight is both compact and waterproof.

Pros: Highest output at 500 lumens. On/off switch as well as a pressure switch. Lightweight. Recoil proof. Works with standard rails.

Cons: Short battery life due to high lumen output (75 minutes).

Conclusion

All of these flashlights are versatile, well designed, and well suited for a variety of situations. My personal pick would be the Orion H40-W. Its 500 lumen output at 175 yards is truly impressive. The only downside is the relatively short run time of 75 minutes.

However, with its durable, recoil proof design, its pressure switch, and its compact footprint, I believe it’s a truly solid flashlight that is well worth the investment.

Now that it’s time to make your decision, be sure to do a little research when deciding on where to buy the light. Not every website offers these lights with the pressure switch, batteries, and mount included; so be sure to order those accessories along with the light, or find an all-inclusive package!

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