April 05, 2023
By Brad Fitzpatrick
More so than other animals, humans are visual creatures. We rely almost exclusively on our eyes to navigate our world, and our dependence on light to navigate our surroundings is fundamental to our existence. Scientists believe it’s the reason we’re naturally afraid of the dark. When we lose awareness of our surroundings we feel anxious. Bad things happen in the dark.
That’s a lesson that many victims of violent attacks have learned the hard way. Predators, both the two-and four-legged variety, use the cover of darkness and our resulting vulnerability to their advantage. But you can level the playing field when you carry your own light source, and there are few companies that offer more solutions to illuminating your world than Streamlight.
The company’s newest family of weapons lights are the TLR-8 subs, which offer 500 lumens of illumination at the touch of a button as well as a red (TLR-8 sub) or green (TLR-8 G sub) aiming laser. Best of all, these powerful light/laser combos are small enough to fit most popular subcompact carry pistols.
“The TLR-8 sub and the TLR-8 G sub take the popular TLR-7 sub to new levels with the addition, respectively, of an integrated red and green aiming laser, to improve focusing on targets,” said Streamlight president and CEO Ray Sharrah. “Like other models in the TLR line, they have a high-power LED that provides extreme brightness for maximizing visibility and targeting capability in personal defense and other tactical situations. And each features interchangeable rear paddle switches that allow you to customize the TLR-8 sub to your shooting style.”
As every expert tactician will tell you, being able to illuminate the landscape is a major advantage in a self-defense situation, and with a TLR-8 sub on your carry pistol, turning on the lights in any situation requires nothing more than the touch of a button.
Designed to be mounted to the rail on the dustcover of a carry gun, the TLR-8 sub runs on a single 3-volt lithium CR123A battery that powers the light and laser for up to an hour and a half. By simply pressing the button on either side of the front of the trigger guard, an LED light blasts 500 lumens and 5,000 candela of light directly into the face of an attacker. For those who are unfamiliar with the terms, lumens measures the total amount of light emitted by a light source whereas candela measure the intensity of that light source.
Simply put, the TLR-8 sub produces a lot of light, and it concentrates much of that light in one direction—right into your attacker’s eyes. The beam distance is rated to 141 meters. The TLR-8 sub can be programmed to activate the LED light only, the light and laser, or the laser only when the unit is powered on.
When the LED light or light/laser combo is used, it has a battery runtime of 1.5 hours. The TLR-8 sub with red laser has a runtime of 60 hours in laser-only mode, and the TLR-8 G sub has a runtime of 11 hours. The green version costs about $80 due to the extra parts a green laser requires.
The TLR-8 sub is constructed from 6000 series aircraft-grade aluminum and has a black nitride finish. It’s 2.5 inches long and, depending upon the model, has a height of 1.45 to 1.63 inches. Weight is 2.8 ounces. They come with special clamp systems for mounting to rails as well as a key kit. A wrench to adjust the laser for windage and elevation is also included.
Two different sets of activation switches are included. One set of switches has a “high-tail” profile while the other set features a “low-tail” design. High- and low-tail positions refer to the location of the activation pad or tail on the switch.
One of the things I most like about these lights is the clever interface that allows you to mount them on the pistol with one hand, which means you don’t ever have to reach in front of the muzzle to attach the light/laser. By loosening the clamp, the TLR-8 sub can be rocked into position and then secured, and this can be done very quickly. A cartridge case head or coin can be used to tighten the unit into place, and once it is secured, there’s no way the light/laser unit can fall from the firearm even when the gun is dropped.
Installing the battery is a matter of unscrewing the face cap. With the battery in place and the face cap secured, that face cap also operates a lockout feature, which Streamlight calls “Safe off.” Rotate it a quarter-turn counterclockwise so the unit can’t be accidentally turned onsuch as in storage) and drain the battery.
I mounted the TLR-8 G sub green light/laser combo to the short rail on my Glock 43X MOS 9mm carry pistol. Like other Streamlight products, the fit is tight and secure. Large clamps bite down on both sides of the rail. I’ve had a Streamlight TLR-2 light mounted on a Glock 17 pistol for several years, and despite lots of abuse, the Streamlight has held up well. I wouldn’t expect anything else from the TLR-8 G sub.
The weight is noticeable on the Glock, but just barely. However, it’s worth noting that one advantage of rail-mounted weapons lights is they add a bit of weight under the barrel and reduce muzzle flip.
At night the TLR-8 G sub provided ample light, but Streamlight has done a good job of balancing that light. It produces an intense center beam yet provides ample peripheral light. In a large room even the dark corners are illuminated.
During daylight hours the green beam was indeed more visible. In full sun at 9:30 in the morning, I was able to visually track the green aiming point against clothing I hung from a target stand in bright sun to 17 yards. In full sun I could identify the green laser against shaded objects to 50 yards or more.
Making windage and elevation point-of-impact adjustments is simply a matter of inserting the included wrench into adjustment screw holes on the same side as the tension adjustment screw. The TLR-8 G sub was still secure after more than a hundred rounds of testing, and it held zero.
I’ve long been a fan of Streamlight products, and the reason is simple: Every product the company produces is well-thought-out and reliable. The TLR-8 G sub is no exception. It fits securely on a firearm, offers a long battery life, is easy and intuitive to operate, and doesn’t add a lot of weight to your pistol.
The TLR-8 sub with red laser costs $390, while the TLR-8 G sub costs $477. Currently, TLR-8 subs are available to fit Glock’s G43X and G48 MOS and G43x/G48 rail guns; SIG’s P365 and P365 XL; Springfield’s Hellcat; and select other subcompacts with 1913 rails such as the Springfield XD-E and XD-S, Beretta’s Px4 Storm, Smith & Wesson’s M&P 2.0 and others.
Streamlight TLR-8 G Sub Specifications
- Body: 6000-series aircraft-grade aluminum, black anodized
- Length: 2.5 in.
- Height: 1.5 in. (as tested)
- Weight: 2.8 oz.
- Power: 500 lumens, 5,000 candela
- Modes: light only, laser only, light/laser
- Activation: rear-mounted tail switches
- Power Source: CR123A 3V lithium
- Runtime: 1.5 hours light or light/laser; 11 hours green laser only
- Price: $477
- Manufacturer: Streamlight, streamlight.com