What’s the best weapon light? I’ll be honest and say I don’t know. That’s kind of like asking what the best car is if I don’t know what you’re going to use it for. But if you ask me what is the most versatile weapon light or what the best value in a weapon light is… The OLIGHT PL-Pro Valkyrie is going to be my first answer.
Remember the 4th rule of firearm safety? Of course you do. “Know your target, and what lies beyond your target”, or words to that effect. Unless you were gifted with superhuman abilities, that pretty much left out shooting at night, right? Well, it did until technology caught up with that problem a few years back.
The Future is Bright
People have been struggling with the problem of illuminating their target since well… since they’ve had something to shoot at one. Torches pretty much lit you up better than your target. Lanterns only cast light a few feet. Early electric lights were bulky and although they got smaller over time, incandescent bulbs needed a lot of juice and were relatively fragile.
The shock of a gun’s recoil probably meant a quick and untimely end for any weapon mounted light bulb with a filament, so your only option was a handheld light. Since most folks only have two hands this puts you at an immediate disadvantage. Sure, there were night vision devices and scopes but they were heavy, prohibitively expensive and pretty much the province of the military. They were not a common person’s nightstand solution for things that go bump in the night.
That all changed with modern solid state light sources (i.e. LEDs). Finally, we had technology that was small, lightweight, efficient and capable of surviving the extreme G-forces of a firearm’s recoil. Although LEDs came along in the 60s, it really only been in the last decade that the tech matured enough to provide super compact weapon lights with powerful illumination and generous battery life. It’s about time.
Wandering in the Dark
Like a present day Diogenes wandering the countryside I’ve kept looking for the best source of shooting illumination. (You were wondering when I’d work a Greek philosopher into a gun blog weren’t you?). OK, I did not find an honest man but I did find the most awesome weapon light, the OLIGHT PL-Pro Valkyrie.
The OLIGHT PL-Pro Valkyrie gets serious kudos for performance, design and versatility. It’s a pretty decent flashlight too.
Earlier I mentioned that asking what was the best weapon light is like asking what the best car is. It’s tough to say unless you know the specific need. However, I don’t buy a different car (or truck) for every different use. That would be kind of nuts, plus I don’t have that kind of cash!
So, it makes sense to buy a vehicle or weapon light, that is suited to a number of different applications. If you have a niche case that will only be filled by something specific, then OK – sometimes you have to specialize. If you need a light for your Sig P365, you’re going to need something model specific. But for a broad range of guns and uses, the OLIGHT PL-Pro Valkyrie might be your light.
The World’s Brightest Rail Mount Light?
OLIGHT touts the PL-Pro Valkyrie as the world’s brightest rail mount light and I have no information to dispute that. At 1500 Lumens and a 280 meter throw on the high setting it is phenomenally bright. Too bright in fact for close up use in a dark room. Luckily it also has a low power setting which steps down to a very serviceable 300 Lumens.
The light itself has five very useful and easy to use settings. There are of course the high and low power settings just mentioned that toggle between 1500 and 300 Lumen output by double tapping one of the ambidextrous control buttons on the rear of the light. A single push of the button toggles the light on or off and it remembers the last power setting.
OLIGHT PL-Pro Smart Features
Pressing and holding a button gives you momentary on functionality. If you operate both buttons together the OLIGHT PL-Pro will go into a blinding strobe mode. Trust me, you don’t want to be facing this light when it’s strobing (and that would be the point wouldn’t it?). It’s overpowering.
The OLIGHT also has a lockout mode. If you operate one button then the other and hold, after two seconds the light will lock out and only operate in momentary mode. This prevents the light from accidently being turned on and running the battery down. It would also be useful for quick covert use without the possibility of locking on, or strobing and calling undue attention to yourself.
The light produces a very focused center spot beam which is key to its brightness. There is a certain amount of light cast to the sides of the beam giving you peripheral illumination, but it is far less intense than the center spot.
The PL-Pro is a rail mounted weapon light. It fits on standard rails and secures with a spring loaded cam, quick release lever. It includes interchangeable stops for both Picatinny and Glock style tactical rails. The light will fit on most any pistol with a full size tactical rail but with the rail stop forward of center it’s really too long for any sub-compact I tried.
The Valkyrie is about an inch and a half wide in the shoulder to make room for the battery, so finding a model specific holster for a pistol with the PL-Pro mounted is going to be a challenge. If you don’t need the blinding 1500 lumens of the OLIGHT PL-Pro there is a 600 lumen PL-MINI that is much more holster friendly.
With all the possible real estate on a rifle the PL-Pro can mount most anywhere. At about 3 ¼” long and 1 ¼” high it is not going to get in the way. The Valkyrie weighs just over three ounces.
OLIGHT PL-Pro Magnetic Link
If you are mounting the PL-Pro on a rifle there is an optional, rail-mountable pressure switch which remotely toggles the light on and off. This brings us to one of the coolest features of the OLIGHT.
The PL-Pro has a magnetic control and charging connector on the body of the light. Get the matching connector of the pressure switch or the charging cable within about two inches of the OLIGHT and it practically jumps out of your hand to hook up with the light.
There is no fumbling with plugs or the need to replace the battery cover like some lights to use the optional switch. Although the mating of the magnets is fairly strong if you got the cable of the pressure switch snagged on something it’s going to release before you do any damage. This is slick.
This is also where the PL-Pro Valkyrie gets its juice. The light uses a custom Li-Ion battery to power the LED and a full charge will give you ninety minutes of run time at the reduced power 300 Lumen setting. Running the light on high is like running a jet engine on afterburner – it’s impressive but the fuel goes quickly.
OLIGHT figured running full out until the light dies wouldn’t be the best plan so they built some intelligence into the power consumption. After about a minute in afterburner the light is designed to automatically ramp down to a mid (and not manually selectable) output of 600 Lumens. This stretches out the battery life out to about 45 minutes at the higher setting.
There is a low battery indicator which is nice but depending on the orientation of the light it might not be visible to the user unless you’re looking for it. The battery is not field replaceable so your only option is to recharge – you cannot swap in a fresh battery.
The case is anodized aluminum and it comes in basic black or desert tan. It feels extremely solid all around. Nothing rattles and the action of the two switches is positive and feels high quality. And don’t worry about getting the PL-Pro wet. The OLIGHT is rated IPX6, so any water contact short of dropping it to the lake bottom is OK. (If you plan to have a boating accident – remove your PL-Pro first).
Will the PL-Pro Valkyrie Last?
I knocked around with it and shot with it attached to the SIG P320 .45 and, as expected, it held tight and worked flawlessly. I expect the OLIGHT would give years of service but in case there is an issue, OLIGHT provides a two-year warranty. OLIGHT could improve on that as most of their products are warrantied for five years but lights with “built in” batteries only get two. Are you listening, OLIGHT?
All in all, $130 bucks get you a lot of light. It compares favorably feature-wise with the Streamlight TLR-9, crushes it with a 1500 lumen high setting, is rechargeable and retails for $50 less than the Streamlight. That’s a seriously good value.
In addition, the magnetic charging and control interface rocks. However, OLIGHT should take notice of Streamlight’s lifetime warranty which is impressive. Time will tell if that will be an issue but as of right now, the PL-Pro Valkyrie is getting it done.
|Model: OLIGHT PL-Pro Valkyrie|
Output: 1500/300 Lumens
Battery: Custom rechargeable
Beam Distance: 280m
|Charge/Control Interface: Magnetic|
Strobe Mode: Yes
MSRP w/optional Pressure Switch: $159.90