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Review: Streamlight TLR-6 – Handguns

Liberty


The Streamlight TLR-6 is a combination light/laser designed to fit dozens of compact and subcompact handguns, including 1911s without frame rails.

Streamlight is the choice of many serious users in law enforcement and elsewhere. Its products reflect the latest trends in light/laser technology. Streamlight’s venerable TLR is its flagship weapon light, and it’s developed into an entire line of products.

The TLR-6 is a relatively new combination light/laser meant for smaller guns, and there are models to fit dozens of different handguns. Most of the various TLR-6 units clamp over trigger guards (since most carry guns don’t have rails on the frame), but Streamlight does make rail-mounted versions of this product as well. (Ed. note: And even more recently, Streamlight introduced the TLR-7 and TLR-8 for guns with accessory rails.)

The TLR-6 features a polymer housing and is lighter than it looks. With the two provided CR-1/3N lithium batteries, the unit weighs only 1.2 ounces. This light weight is important, especially for those units that clamp around trigger guards. With every shot, recoil forces work on separating the pistol from anything attached to it. The lighter the light/laser, the less force gets applied to it under recoil.

As a unit meant for subcompact pistols, the TLR-6 is relatively small. It is 0.6 inch wide and 1.6 inches tall. The unit body itself is just over two inches long, but some versions of the TLR-6 designed to fit different pistols (such as 1911s without a rail) have a longer polymer housing that clamps over the bottom of the trigger guard.

The activation switch is a round button on either side of the unit body. Because of where it is positioned in relation to the firearm—and depending on how small the gun is or how long your fingers are—you might not be able to work the switch with the tip of your trigger finger. I got two samples of the TLR-6 to test, one that fits 1911s without a rail and one that fits the S&W M&P Shield. I couldn’t reach the button of the TLR-6 installed on the 1911 with my trigger finger, but I could on the one installed on the Shield.

There aren’t many steps in the installation process, but doing them in the correct order will make attaching the unit to your handgun’s trigger guard a lot easier. In other words, don’t toss the instructions as soon as you open the package.

I review lights and lasers a lot, and these products are getting so advanced Streamlight doesn’t even like using the term “flashlight.” The light in the TLR-6 is referred to as the “LED illuminator.” It provides 100 lumens. The flashlight beam has a reflector designed to work well at point-blank range or at distance.

For close-range work, the beam the TLR-6 throws is really wide. At a distance of six feet the beam is roughly six feet wide and is dimmer at the edges. The center of the beam is much brighter, which is helpful for identifying threats at distance. At six feet the bright center circle is about a foot wide; at a distance of seven yards, the bright center is about three feet wide, and the entirety of the light circle is more than 15 feet wide.

The laser positioned below the light is a 640- to 660-nanometer red laser. At seven yards the red dot is a quarter-inch wide but looks bigger. Like all modern red lasers, it is more than bright enough to see indoors or outside at dusk or in darkness, but it’s tough to pick up outside on bright or sunny days.

You have your choice of using either the flashlight or the laser or both. I love the simplicity of the controls. Push a button (either side) to turn the unit on. If you want to change modes, press both buttons at the same time and the unit will cycle through your options—light only, light and laser, or laser only. To go into momentary activation mode, press and hold either the on or the off button.

The interesting thing to me is the listed battery run time. Using the flashlight only, the battery will last an advertised one hour. Running both light and laser, the battery will last…one hour. Using just the laser, battery life is listed at 11 hours. This tells me the laser barely draws any power compared to the flashlight.

I think a light on a handgun has far more utility than a laser, but never forget, if you’re shining that light or laser (or both) at someone, you’re pointing a loaded gun at them, too.

I understand more options are always better, but if you just want a laser for your handgun and really don’t know if you’ll ever use the light function, I think you’d be better off getting a dedicated laser-only unit because they’re much smaller and don’t affect holster fit, which is always an issue when you start clamping accessories to a handgun.

However, if you do like the light/laser idea and think the TLR-6 is the unit for you, Safariland and Comp-Tac are offering holsters to fit various pistols with the TLR-6 attached.

Streamlight makes its housings in a huge number of fitment variations, and it’s extremely likely there’s a TLR-6 to fit your gun. If not, or if you want to be able to move your TLR-6 from one gun to another, Streamlight also offers the TLR-6 Universal Kit, which includes one light/aser module and six housings for use with 18+ subcompact handgun models.

The TLR-6 Universal Kit has a suggested retail of $210, whereas individual TLR-6 units have a suggested retail of $175. A quick Internet search turned up street prices for various TLR-6s to be in the neighborhood of $100. Streamlight is the choice of many serious users in law enforcement and elsewhere. Its products reflect the latest trends in light/laser technology. Streamlight’s venerable TLR is its flagship weapon light, and it’s developed into an entire line of products.

The TLR-6 is a relatively new combination light/laser meant for smaller guns, and there are models to fit dozens of different handguns. Most of the various TLR-6 units clamp over trigger guards (since most carry guns don’t have rails on the frame), but Streamlight does make rail-mounted versions of this product as well. (Ed. note: And even more recently, Streamlight introduced the TLR-7 and TLR-8 for guns with accessory rails.)

The TLR-6 features a polymer housing and is lighter than it looks. With the two provided CR-1/3N lithium batteries, the unit weighs only 1.2 ounces. This light weight is important, especially for those units that clamp around trigger guards. With every shot, recoil forces work on separating the pistol from anything attached to it. The lighter the light/laser, the less force gets applied to it under recoil.

As a unit meant for subcompact pistols, the TLR-6 is relatively small. It is 0.6 inch wide and 1.6 inches tall. The unit body itself is just over two inches long, but some versions of the TLR-6 designed to fit different pistols (such as 1911s without a rail) have a longer polymer housing that clamps over the bottom of the trigger guard.

The activation switch is a round button on either side of the unit body. Because of where it is positioned in relation to the firearm—and depending on how small the gun is or how long your fingers are—you might not be able to work the switch with the tip of your trigger finger. I got two samples of the TLR-6 to test, one that fits 1911s without a rail and one that fits the S&W M&P Shield. I couldn’t reach the button of the TLR-6 installed on the 1911 with my trigger finger, but I could on the one installed on the Shield.

There aren’t many steps in the installation process, but doing them in the correct order will make attaching the unit to your handgun’s trigger guard a lot easier. In other words, don’t toss the instructions as soon as you open the package.

I review lights and lasers a lot, and these products are getting so advanced Streamlight doesn’t even like using the term “flashlight.” The light in the TLR-6 is referred to as the “LED illuminator.” It provides 100 lumens. The flashlight beam has a reflector designed to work well at point-blank range or at distance.

For close-range work, the beam the TLR-6 throws is really wide. At a distance of six feet the beam is roughly six feet wide and is dimmer at the edges. The center of the beam is much brighter, which is helpful for identifying threats at distance. At six feet the bright center circle is about a foot wide; at a distance of seven yards, the bright center is about three feet wide, and the entirety of the light circle is more than 15 feet wide.

The laser positioned below the light is a 640- to 660-nanometer red laser. At seven yards the red dot is a quarter-inch wide but looks bigger. Like all modern red lasers, it is more than bright enough to see indoors or outside at dusk or in darkness, but it’s tough to pick up outside on bright or sunny days.

You have your choice of using either the flashlight or the laser or both. I love the simplicity of the controls. Push a button (either side) to turn the unit on. If you want to change modes, press both buttons at the same time and the unit will cycle through your options—light only, light and laser, or laser only. To go into momentary activation mode, press and hold either the on or the off button.

The interesting thing to me is the listed battery run time. Using the flashlight only, the battery will last an advertised one hour. Running both light and laser, the battery will last…one hour. Using just the laser, battery life is listed at 11 hours. This tells me the laser barely draws any power compared to the flashlight.

I think a light on a handgun has far more utility than a laser, but never forget, if you’re shining that light or laser (or both) at someone, you’re pointing a loaded gun at them, too.

I understand more options are always better, but if you just want a laser for your handgun and really don’t know if you’ll ever use the light function, I think you’d be better off getting a dedicated laser-only unit because they’re much smaller and don’t affect holster fit, which is always an issue when you start clamping accessories to a handgun.

However, if you do like the light/laser idea and think the TLR-6 is the unit for you, Safariland and Comp-Tac are offering holsters to fit various pistols with the TLR-6 attached.

Streamlight makes its housings in a huge number of fitment variations, and it’s extremely likely there’s a TLR-6 to fit your gun. If not, or if you want to be able to move your TLR-6 from one gun to another, Streamlight also offers the TLR-6 Universal Kit, which includes one light/aser module and six housings for use with 18+ subcompact handgun models.

The TLR-6 Universal Kit has a suggested retail of $210, whereas individual TLR-6 units have a suggested retail of $175. A quick Internet search turned up street prices for various TLR-6s to be in the neighborhood of $100.

 



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