I see a lot of questions regarding weapons lights for AR-15 platforms (and rifles/carbines in general). There are a lot of options out there, from handheld flashlights in a ring mount to pistol lights to dedicated rifle lights. Even a handheld flashlight in a ring (assuming its a quality flashlight and ring) is an improvement over nothing, but in my opinion, a 600 series Scout-type light is the ultimate AR weapon light for two simple reasons – modularity and capability.
If you’re interested in a discussion of why you even need a light on your gun, see here.
First up – modularity. The 600 series Scout is the most modular flashlight I’ve found. There are multiple options for heads, bodies, and tails. It’s completely customizable to your needs. Now, keep in mind that there are two primary Scout styles, the 300 (a single CR123) and the 600 (dual CR123). Of the two, the 600 has the most options currently. The 300 is customizable as well, but not nearly as much as the 600. New models coming out by Modlite may change that soon.
For bodies, there are the original Surefire, the Arisaka 600, the Impact Weapons Components/Haley Strategic Thorntail series, and the new Modlite Systems series. The benefit to an aftermarket body versus the original Surefire involves intended use. Aftermarket bodies typically are designed with modular mounts (KeyMod/M-LOK) in mind, versus the standard Surefire 1913 mount. For this reason, they tend to sit closer to the rail, minimizing snag hazards. There are also purpose-built mounts for working with lasers, etc., for individuals that need those capabilities.
For heads, a 600 light can be configured to throw anywhere from 350 to 750 lumens of white light, as well as IR light for those who need the capability. And as a modular system, you choose the level of light that you need, not just whatever stock model is offered. The two big competitors for aftermarket heads are Malkoff Devices and Modlite Systems.
For tails, you have your choice of click on/off, momentary, tape switches, or combinations.
For mounts, you can choose 45 degree offsets, KeyMod, M-LOK, 1913, CMR, inline, the sky’s pretty much the limit here. It’s all about how you plan on running your light and your gun.
As far as capability is concerned, it’s something of a subset of the modularity, especially as it relates to the light head. The standard 600 head is 350 lumens, but there are white light LED versions of 550 lumens with a long focus, and 750 lumens with a wider focus. This allows you to customize based on your particular illumination needs. And while few responsibly armed citizens – or even police officers – have a need for infrared illumination (mostly due to the expense of night vision), if your mission (or budget) changes, you can find a white/IR head for your 600 as well.
So, for all the reasons above, if you are looking for an rifle-mounted light, I highly recommend you consider a Scout-type 600. I personally prefer Arisaka, since they’ve performed well and are located not far from where I grew up, but between the options mentioned, you probably can’t go wrong.
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