The TLR-7 from Streamlight really changed things up. It was the first light of its kind that blended small size with decent power. The TLR-7 was aimed at the compact pistol market. It would sit flush with the frame of your Glock 19, your CZ P-10C, and the like. It succeeded, and from there, the TLR-7 became one a mainstream Streamlight weapon light.
Streamlight TLR-7 SUB
by Travis Pike
They utilized the TLR-7 design to build several lights, including the TLR RM 1 and RM 2, as well as the TLR-10, TLR-9 and now it’s returned to form as the TLR-7 Sub.
Small Guns and Small Lights
Sub stands for Subcompact, and the TLR-7 Sub aims to bring compact power to the subcompact platform. More and more small guns are coming equipped with rails. The SIG p365 and P365 XL both come with rails. As does the Hellcat, the G43X/G48 MOS, and the Taurus GX4. Sadly, subcompact weapon lights were rather weak.
The TLR-6 is the most famed subcompact light, and it packs a mere 100 lumens of light as well as a laser. One hundred lumens is roughly the same as a penlight and doesn’t provide the most impressive firepower. The TLR-7 Sub changes all that. No longer will we be constrained to twenty tiny wannabe penlights on our firearms.
Now we have a light that packs a surprising amount of power for the teeny, tiniest of 9mms.
Power and Specs: TLR 7 Sub
Streamlight did an interesting shakedown to the TLR 7 when creating the TLR-7 Sub. Before we discuss that, let’s look at the numbers.
Lumens – 500
Candela – 5000
Battery – CR123
Battery Life – 1.5 hours
Length – 2.51 inches
Weight – 2.39 ounces
Let’s start with size, and I’ll taunt and tease about power for now. Compared to the TLR-7, the TLR-7 Sub is actually a fair bit longer. The TLR-7 is only 2.2.15 inches long. However, it’s a fair bit chunkier and wider than the TLR-7 Sub. In fact, it’s wider than the frame of most single stack and micro compacts. To absolve the light of some bulk, they lengthened and stretched it out.
Weight-wise it’s almost the exact same, and the same thing goes for the light’s power. The TLR-7 Sub didn’t sacrifice a single lumen or candela in its creation. It packs the same power and battery life as the TLR-7. The TLR-7 was great for its size, but the TLR-7 SUB is truly impressive for such a small light. Five hundred lumens back by 5,000 candela is no OWL, but it’s a fair bit of light for a micro-compact pistol.
Ergonomics and Mounting
The downside to tiny guns and tiny rails is that the rails are rarely the same between guns. They often differ a fair bit, and as such, you might need a weapon-specific model. This particular model is for the P365, and they make one for the G43X/G48 MOS models as well. Finally, we have the model designed for ‘short’ Picatinny rails like those found on the Hellcat. Mounting was easy, and it mounted like any other weapon light—no need to take it apart like the TLR-6.
Ergonomically the TLR-7 Sub uses the new style TLR 7 switches which are absolutely fantastic. The ambidextrous switch design is very responsive, easy to reach, and tactile. The loud ‘click’ is nice to hear, and if the button is accidentally pressed, if the presence of light doesn’t expose it, the noise will.
The TLR-7 Sub packs three modes. We have your average constant and momentary modes and a user-programmable strobe mode as well. I prefer the constant and momentary modes. Using either is quick and easy. A quick click activates the constant, and a press longer than a second or so activates the momentary. When that long press is released, the light shuts off.
The TLR-7 Sub is quite light, and as such, it’s hardly detectable on your little gun. It adds less than 3 ounces total. The good news is that this doesn’t make it tough to carry comfortably. A few extra ounces off the tip helps with muzzle rise, surprisingly, and that’s always great on small guns.
Inside, Outside, Nighttime
We know the numbers, but what does that mean? Well, the only way to find out is to take it out at night and give it a run. I did just that, and it was a helluva night. Fog and rain alternated, and it truly tested the light and its capability. The little 500-lumen beam isn’t made for long-range threats. That’s immediately apparent. To be fair, my P365 isn’t made for long-range threats either.
Out to 25 yards, I had zero issues shining up my IPSC steel target and the area around him. I could easily make out the target, and if it was a person, establish positive identification. The light is a little more focused than I anticipated, and the hot spot was nice and bright. Spill isn’t minimal, but it’s not the main feature of the light.
The little head of the TLR-7 Sub and its small reflector can only do so much. From a concealed carry perspective, it’s more than enough light for the average defensive encounter. It’s bright enough to cause some temporary discomfort and buy you a few seconds of blinding white light time.
Inside the home, the light really shines, no pun intended. It’s bright and very powerful indoors. Perfect for positive identification inside a building. With a tighter area, the smaller light is less limited in its ability to cast a beam. For many owning an arsenal of firearms isn’t desirable, so owning one gun for carry and home defense can be invaluable. Being able to add a light like the TLR-7 Sub adds some inherent value to your carry turned home defense pistol.
Five hundred lumens and 5000 candela might be impressive for a teeny tiny light, but compared to full-sized WMLs, it’s somewhat weak. It’s less capable of overcoming photonic barriers than most full-sized pistol WMLs. This means things like street lights or lights pointed directly at you might be tough or even impossible to see through with just the TLR-7 Sub.
A powerful handheld light might be the right way to go, and since you have to (or should) carry a handheld anyway, it’s not a major concern. At least not to me as a concealed carrier.
Sunday Night Lights
It’s Sunday night as I type this, so that’s the heading you get! The TLR-7 Sub does a great job of translating the bigger TLR-7 into a more compact package. The TLR-7 Sub lights things up and casts a bright and powerful beam into a dark, dark world. It outperforms any other micro-compact light by a wide degree and is worth the relatively affordable price point.
About the Author: Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner, a lifelong firearms enthusiast, and now a regular guy who likes to shoot, write, and find ways to combine the two. He holds an NRA certification as a Basic Pistol Instructor, is the world’s okayest firearm instructor, and a simplicisist when it comes to talking about himself in the 3rd person. Find him as Ser Longpyke with the Tactical Alliance or hit him up on Instagram, @travis.l.pike, with story ideas.