Streamlight TLR-2 Review

Lights and lasers have come a long way.  Just a few decades ago, it was pretty unusual to see either on a firearm.  Now, many guns are available from the factory with lasers, and lights have never been more plentiful.  In today’s Streamlight TLR-2 review, I will look at a product that combines the two devices into one unit.

The Streamlight TLR-2 is a single unit that houses a bright LED flashlight and a red aiming laser into a single unit that mounts to a firearm via an accessory rail.  The unit does not require any special tools or skills to install.  If you can turn a thumb screw with your hand, you can install this on your own.

Streamlight TLR-2 Review

A pair of CR123a batteries powers the unit.  Running the light (with or without the laser) will get an average of 2.5 hours run time.  With the laser only, expect about 48 hours of use.  Batteries are included.

CR123A batteries

The housing is made of anodized aluminum and water resistant to IPX4 standards.  A limited lifetime warranty comes with the TLR-2.

The Streamlight TLR-2 has been around for a while, but these units have been upgraded with new technology…

White Light Output

The upgraded Streamlight TLR-2 has a lot more output: 300 lumens and 12,000 candela.  The white light output will give most people all the light they could want in self-defense situations.  For long range applications, the candela might be a bit low for some people.  Let me explain…

Lumens is a measurement of total light output.  Candela is a measurement of peak beam intensity.  Consider a lightbulb; it will give off a lot of light (lumens,) but it is not focused in any one direction (candela).  So, for a given lumen measurement, a lower candela will suggest a less focused light.  A higher candela rating will increasingly focus the main part of the beam.

Streamlight review
I used a Smith & Wesson SD40 in this Streamlight TLR-2 review.

So, if you take a look at my review of the TLR-1s HP, you will see the lumen output is lower (200,) but the candela rating is much higher (46,000.)  Even though the total light output is lower, since the beam is more focused, the TLR-1s HP is more likely to light up a target at long ranges.  But for close in things, like room clearing, the TLR-2 is likely to light up the area better.  (If I’ve confused you, drop a note in the comments and I will try to clarify.)

Streamlight TLR-2 adjustments
The aiming point of the laser can be adjusted for elevation and windage at these points.

Red Laser

The TLR-2 utilizes a red laser aiming device that is incorporated into the bottom of the unit.  When activated, it emits a laser that effectively places a red dot on the target.

Like any aiming device, you need to make sure the laser is adjusted to be “on target” at the distance you want.  Like a rifle scope, the laser will not be exactly aligned with the bore, and bullets will be high or low when not shot at the precise distance at which the laser is sighted in.  For the vast majority of shooters who attach the Streamlight TLR-2 to a pistol, sighting the laser in at 10-15 yards is likely ideal.  Shots made at less distance than that will be off the mark, but only slightly.  Just understand that you cannot make precision shots with the laser if you don’t know the distance and the bullet rise/drop.

My TLR-2 appeared to be sighted in around the 10-15 yard mark from the factory, so I did not adjust the point of aim.  If yours is off when delivered, there are adjustment screws for windage or elevation on the bottom of the unit.

Streamlight TLR-2 for sale
The Streamlight TLR-2 (left) has the laser diode below the light. The TLR-2 G (right) has the diode inside the flashlight bezel.

Brightness of the laser is always a concern; if the dot is not visible, you cannot aim with it.  Red lasers are especially susceptible to being washed out in daylight.

I found that the laser in the TLR-2 was not immune from the power of the sun.  In bright sunshine, the red dot was hard to find.  In overcast skies and indoors, it was much easier to use.  The color of the object the laser is reflecting from is also important.  When pointing at a black tire, the red dot was smaller and less visible as compared to pointing it at the painted surface of a car.  The more reflective the surface, the brighter the dot will appear.

Streamlight TLR-2 Review

Green lasers are much brighter in bright light situations.  Streamlight is making the TLR-2 G with a green laser now.  The green laser appears much brighter than the red, but also costs you significantly more money.  Green lasers also have some temperature sensitivity issues.  Read my Streamlight TLR-2 G review here.


There are two switches for operating this Streamlight weapon light.  The first is a three-position toggle switch that operates horizontally.  This switch controls what mode the unit is in.  The left position is laser only, while the center position is light only.  All the way to the right is for both light and laser simultaneously.

Streamlight TLR-2 Review

A rocker switch operates vertically and is ambidextrous.  Pushing down on one side is the same as pushing up on the other side.  Pushing down on the right will activate the unit in a constant on.  Pushing down on the left is a momentary on.  This is the same set up that Streamlight has used for years.  It has always worked fine for me, and I’ve not heard any complaints from anyone else about it.

Final Streamlight TLR-2 Review Thoughts

I believe that most people can benefit from having a white light mounted on their home defense pistol.  Having one mounted on a concealed carry pistol is not always feasible due to size and holster options.  But, being able to identify your target is an absolute must in a self-defense situation.  Perhaps the only thing worse that being shot is shooting an innocent person.

Streamlight TLR-2

I had this unit out on the range and attached to my Smith & Wesson SD40.  The light and laser held up to the shooting as I expected it would.  These Streamlight weapon lights are proven technology and they know how to build good stuff.

The TLR-2 serves as a great weapon light.  The 300 lumens is very bright and enough for most people and most situations.  The TLR-2 takes things one step farther and incorporates a red laser aiming device into the package.  If you are looking to add a laser to your gun, this package would seem to be a good one to consider.  The MSRP is $492.66, which might seem a little high to some people.  The good news is the unit can be had through reputable internet retailers for much less.  Amazon currently has this unit for about $265, which seems to be a very fair price for a high quality light and laser combination.  (Note:  If you buy the Streamlight via Amazon, I do get a small % to help keep the site running.  It does not cost you any extra.)

Streamlight TLR-2

Quick note – If you like the TLR-2, but are looking for more light, take a look at the Streamlight TLR-2 HL.  This is a similar light/laser to the TLR-2 reviewed here, but with 630 lumens instead of 300.  Candela still measures 12,000.  They are slightly more expensive, but not much.

This Streamlight TLR-2 review is meant to be informative to you, the reader.  If you have any thoughts on, questions about or experiences with the unit, please list them below.  When we share our experiences and knowledge, all of us benefit.

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