Gear Review: Streamlight TLR-7 Sub Gun Light

Shrinking tech doesn’t affect the gun industry much. There’s only so much room for a 5.56-round or a 9mm magazine. Where we see some advancement is in the electronics we slap on our guns.

Red dots and lights have slowly gotten smaller while also getting more powerful. The Streamlight TLR-7 SUB, for example, can fit on a subcompact or micro-compact pistol and still provide a bright white light source when you need it most.

I remember my M3X in the Marine Corps. It was about twice the size of the TLR-7 SUB and put out all of 150 lumens. For non-light people, that’s not very much illuminating power. My little keychain flashlight does twice that. The TLR-7 SUB puts out more than three times that amount, with 500 lumens total. Lumens are cool, but candela is important too, and the TLR-7 SUB packs 5,000 candela.

Tiny But Mighty

When we look at light output on modern pistol lights, the TLR-7 Sub does well for its size. No, it doesn’t match the OWL, or Modlite, or the Surefire Turbo series, but the TLR-7 Sub is a smaller package.

To better visualize the light and its power in relation to its size, it’s best to talk about the guns it fits. Mine fits the SIG P365, both the standard and XL models.

The mini Streamlight fits perfectly on subcompact firearms (Travis Pike for TTAG)

The TLR-7 SUB also works for the GLOCK 43X and G48 MOS models, as well as the Springfield Hellcat. There’s also a M1913 rail model that fits a wide variety of subcompact handguns like the VP9SK.

On guns like the SIG P365, the lens extends just past the muzzle. On the G48, it sits behind the barrel. The TLR-7 SUB is basically the same light as the standard TLR-7A but trimmed and adapted to fit smaller everyday carry firearms.

The TLR-7 SUB is 2.51 inches long and weighs 2.39 ounces. The uses a single CR123A battery and lasts for 1.5 hours.

TLR-7 SUB Ergonomics

The TLR-7 SUB is super simple in its design. You get a set of ambidextrous switches that make it easy to activate the light. A short press activates the constant on mode, and a long press delivers momentary mode that shuts off when released.

The switches are pressed rearward and very easy to access. It can be done quickly and one-handed or two-handed grip. The lightweight nature of the design doesn’t throw the gun off balance with too much muzzle weight.

Dual switches make it accessible to everyone (Travis Pike for TTAG)

Put In Work

Indoors the TLR-7 SUB is quite capable and bright. It throws light into a room and into every crevice and corner where darkness seeks to hide. The hotspot is wide and easy to detect. The transition between the hotspot and the spillover is easy to see. It’s a beam that focuses on filling a room with light and illuminating a target.

In the great outdoors it’s not superbly powerful. (Travis Pike for TTAG)

Streamlight clearly designed the TLR-7 SUB for close-range use, not as a long-range uber-focused beam. It lights up a room for sure. Up close and out to say, 25 yards, it’s quite intense. In the great outdoors, though, it won’t leave a lasting impression. I live in the middle of nowhere, and in my ten acres of darkness, the beam doesn’t seem travel very far.

Indoors in denser urban environments, it’s certainly enough light to establish positive identification of a threat. Environments like parking garages, alleys, and dark stairways are what the TLR-7 SUB is made for.

When taken indoors the Sub works very well (Travis Pike for TTAG)

The TLR-7 SUB wouldn’t be the best option in a foggy or smokey environment, but it’s better than a prayer. In the kind of environments and distances where most defensive gun uses happen, it’s got all the power and illumination strength you’ll need.

What’s the Point?

There will certainly be an argument about the point of a smaller light on a small carry gun. Isn’t the point of a small gun to stay small, light, and carryable? A weapon light adds bulk that lots who carry a gun simply don’t want.

While true, adding a pistol light to your EDC pistol shouldn’t cause you to break concealment. If some extra bulk on the end of the barrel in front of the the trigger guard results in your breaks concealment, you might have a problem.

If your little gun is your everything gun a nice light is good to have (Travis Pike for TTAG)

Yes, the TLR-7 Sub adds some weight, but not very much. I’m accustomed to weapon lights, and I appreciate the versatility they offer. That said, I still carry a flashlight while I also see a lot of benefits to a weapon-mounted light. When I travel, it’s my one gun in an Airbnb or hotel, and I want a light on that gun.

For concealed carry, it’s another tool in the box, one I might never use. To be fair, I’ve never had to fire my P365 in self-defense either, but I carry it daily. The TLR-7 SUB fits smaller carry guns well and it fits in your holster for those times when the sun goes down.

Specifications: Streamlight TLR-7 SUB Weapon Light

Lumens: 500
Candela: 5,000
Length: 2.51 inches
Weight: 2.39 ounces
MSRP: $225.75 (under $140 street price)

Ratings (out of Five Stars):

Overall * * * *
The Streamlight delivers impressive performance for its small size. It also fits a variety of small carry guns that are often challenged accessory-wise. The little TLR-7 SUB shines brightly and consistently. It’s now my number one choice for micro-sized pistol lights and beats out the Surefire XSC and anything Olight has to offer. The TLR-7 SUB is quite capable, very durable, and as ergonomic as a pistol light can be.

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