Over the past year or so, more and more shooters have been mounting
weaponlights to their carbines that were originally designed as
pistol-mounted weaponlights. These designs typically consist of two
batteries in a side-by-side configuration as opposed to the typical
in-line configurations of most dedicated weaponlights intended for
carbines, or hand-held flashlights that are pressed into service as
carbine-mounted weaponlights. Most of these lights have also changed
over from incandescent bulbs to LED, which adds a bit of protection
from the shock of the recoil of the carbine. The two most commonly
seen examples of this type of light are the Streamlight TLR-1
and the Surefire
X300. There is a third
option, the Insight Technologies XTI Procyon
which is less
commonly seen. All three of these lights are updated versions of
previous models from each maker; The Insight M3, Streamlight TLR, and
I decided to buy an X300 and a TLR-1 to compare the two. Eventually
I'd still like to add one of the Procyon lights to the comparison but
I'll have to find one to borrow. In handling all three, and looking
over the specifications online, I was able to find applications where I
thought I could use both the TLR-1 and the X300, but I found the
Procyon to be a bit lacking.
What follows below is a series of comarison pictures, with commentary, and my overall impressions of both lights at the end
Streamlight TLR-1 mounted on carbine @ 12 o'clock
Surefire X300 mounted on carbine @ 12 o'clock
The two lights mount in completely different manners. However, both come with different adapters to work on different spec rails, with the primary types being the military Picatinny rail found on upper receivers and M4 rail systems and the Glock rail that exists on the dust cover of Glock polymer-frame pistols. The Glock mount will work on Picatinny rails but will slide back and forth slightly, but the Picatinny rail will not mount to the Glock rail as it will not lock into place.
The X300 has a spring-loaded locking bar that runs across the rail and engages the notches to lock it into place. This makes for an attachment method whereby you slide the light onto the rail from the front and the locking bar clicks into place locking the light in position.
The TLR-1 uses a cross-bolt that is threaded and the light mounts from the top of the rail and the cross-bolt is then tightened to hold the light onto the rail. The cross-bolt also engages the notches in the Picatinny rail to keep the light from sliding back and forth.
Streamlight TLR-1 mounted forward of front sight
Surefire X300 attempt to mount with front sight in the same location as it was with the TLR-1 mounted. Note the locking bar is not engaged.
Surefire X300 Detached from carbine, front sight in same location. Note that the locking bar is aligned with the first slot on the rail, but the body of the light extends too far back and hits the front sight.
Surefire X300 Front sight moved back one notch on the rail so that the X300 has enough room to mount.
Because mounting these types of lights on the 12 o'clock rail has gained such popularity, height above the rail in these applications is of concern for some. When people see pictures like the ones at the top of this page, their first question is often "doesn't that interfere with the sight picture?" The answer, basically, is no. Hopefully the photographs below will help illustrate that.
TLR-1 on left, X300 on right Note the thumb-screw attachment method of the TLR-1 and the locking bar tab of the X300. The red line is added to show the relative height above the rail of the two lights.
X300 on left, TLR-1 on right On this side the other end of the X300 locking bar can be seen, as well as the other end of the cross-bolt that clamps the TLR-1 onto the rail.
View from Muzzle In this view you can see that neither of the lights extend far enough above the rail system to intrude appreciably on the rail sight picture at all.
Focus on Target One of the advantages of using a red dot sight (RDS) is the ability to keep your focus downrange and on the target. In these photographs the lights are mounted to the carbine but clearly do not impede the sight picture. The very top of the hood of the TLR-1 bezel can just barely be seen in the bottom of the Aimpoint tube.
Focus on Sight A "two is one, one is none" redundancy leads to the inclusion of a backup iron sight (BUIS) when using an RDS. Using the BUIS requires focusing on the front sight. Note, again, that the top of the TLR-1 bezel is just barely visible and could be considered to be impeding on the sight picture with the iron sight.
Angled, focus on light body This picture is strictly for illustration purposes. In looking at the tube position you can see that the angle is almost identical, and you can see that the bezel of the TLR-1 sticks up just slightly higher than the X300. No one would shoot from this position.