In early 2020 Streamlight released a new line of weapon-mounted lights. One of those was the TLR RM2 long gun light, which I’ve reviewed here. Another was the Streamlight TLR-9 is a new-for-2020 weapon-mounted light for handguns. Let’s take a closer look at the TLR-9 handgun light.
Full Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. The light reviewed in this article was provided by Streamlight, at my request. I receive no financial incentive for the sale of Streamlight products.
The TLR-9 is is part of Streamlight’s latest crop of weapon-mounted lights. Holding two CR-123s and boasting 1,000 lumens with a throw of 200M. That’s nothing mind-blowing by today’s standard but it’s also not bad, especially compared to the 300-lumen TLR-1 it replaces on my M&P9.
Intended for handguns the TLR-9 comes with several mounting plates. These plates fill a void on the light’s contact surface with the firearm and serve to adjust the fore and aft placement of the light, making the light a near-universal fit. Personally I found these just a tad annoying to work with and it took several rounds of trial and error to find the one that worked with my S&W handgun.
The form-factor of this new line of lights is a bit of a departure from the tradition of side-by-side batteries. With batteries in a fore -and-aft arrangement, Streamlight has saved a bit of space on the width of the light. Compared to the flagship Streamlight TLR-1 the difference is obvious. There’s no free lunch, though, and this makes the light long – much longer than a lot of handgun lights. I think this would be right at home on a long-slide gun, but it does increase the lenghth of my 4.25″ M&P. This isn’t a huge problem when firing but it would require a much longer holster, a problem for carry and concealment.
Like the TLR RM-2, the TLR-9 has a nifty lockout feature. By twisting the bezel one can deactivate the light. This is an awesome tool for storage, ensuring the switch doesn’t get pressed and your batteries stay fresh. The bezel is tight enough that it is highly doubtful this feature is going to engage itself. Just make sure you don’t forget to disengage the lockout prior to putting the firearm into service.
Using the TLR-9
The TLR 9 has a brand new switching method. Rather than the legacy rocker switch of the TLR-1, this model has a simple pressure switch. The switch is ambidextrous and, if the light is mounted properly, easily accessed with a thumb from either side of the gun.
The TLR-9 switches with two interchangeable switch plates. The high switch show above is for shooters who prefer a “high grip,” and the “low switch” is for those preferring a lower grip. I imagine most of my readers will prefer the high switch but both are included with the light. I have found the switch very well-designed and easy to actuate with my support thumb. In fact, I great prefer this style of switch to the older rocker-style.
I have kept the TLR-9 on my M&P9 for almost six months now and love it. Though this gun doesn’t see a ton of use I keep hanging on to the idea that one day I’ll transition to the M&P series of handguns, so I do shoot this one quite often. A problem I’ve run into with this combination is holster availability. Obviously the TLR-1 is a long-time favorite of mine but it’s width makes it very undesirable to carry IWB. The TLR-9’s narrow width should alleviate that. Unfortunately…
Light-bearing holsters often index the gun and light off the body of the flashlight. This is certainly the case with the M&P/TLR-1 holster I have. It’s also the case for the excellent PHLster Floodlight, a holster that doesn’t care what gun you carry, only which light is mounted on it. In my searching I’ve yet to find a holster for the M&P/TLR-9 combo. Likely it will take time for holster-makers to catch up; in the meantime this isn’t a light for carry (except maybe on a Glock 19).
Other Features of the TLR-9
Let’s look at just a couple other features of this light.
Momentary ON: The TLR-9 actuates into either ON (on until you hit the switch again to turn it off) or Momentary ON (on until you release the switch. This is where I have one minor beef with this light (and the TLR RM2 and the TL Racker): the difference between ON and Momentary ON is very subtle.
To turn the light ON, quick press the switch. To turn the light Momentarily ON, press and hold. In practice I’ve found that if I turn the light on for more than a second and release it will turn back off (Momentary operation). Much less than a second and the light stays on when you release the switch.
Strobe: I’m not a big fan of strobes, and good news – you don’t have to put up with a strobe on the TLR-9. If you do like them good news, too: you can enable a strobe function. The strobe function is disabled when the light is shipped. To enable it, simply press on switch nine times and hold it down on the tenth press. The strobe should come on. In the future to us use the strobe, simply double-tap the switch rapidly (within 1/4 second per the instruction manual).
I didn’t start this blog as a fan of Streamlight lights…but I guess after having reviewed the Microstream, ProTac, TLR-1, TL Racker, TLR RM2, and now the TLR-9 it has happened. The recurring theme is rugged, dependable lights with excellent features. The TLR-9 is no different. This light has found a home on my pistol. I wish it weren’t quite so long, but otherwise the TLR-9 WML itself is awesome – just don’t plan on carrying it in a holster for a while. Right now the Streamlight TLR-9 retails for about $150.