Duty use lights have become highly specialized over the last few years. The market is full of numerous weapon-mounted lights, handheld “tactical” lights that rival a Jedi light saber for wattage output, and even mini LEDs for navigation or searching for dropped keys.
It seems everybody and his uncle now has a “tactical” light. But from what I can tell, most of these are just standard lights painted black. They offer nothing different or more useful to the tactical operator.
One company that makes truly specialized lights is Streamlight. Its TL Series is a line of tactical lights, hence the “TL.” Now Streamlight has teamed up with Clint Smith, who runs the Thunder Ranch shooting school in Texas, to bring the Streamlight Thunder Ranch TL-2 package to the market.
Smith served in the Marines in Vietnam, was a police officer for seven years, worked at API (now known as Gunsite) under Jeff Cooper, and was the director of training for Heckler & Koch before founding Thunder Ranch. So with this partnership you are getting a light from a well-known manufacturer of duty lights and someone who knows a thing or two about using a “tactical” light.
In this set you get the TL-2 LED, a green filter and flip-up lens cover, a Key-Mate mini LED light, a DVD about using the Streamlight TL-2, and the Tiger Ring, which is a mini lanyard. As an added bonus, the lights are embossed with the Thunder Ranch logo.
I didn’t know what to expect when I first opened the packaged system, but I was pleasantly surprised.
I have used one of the mini LED lights for the last year or so and, although it’s tiny, it’s great for tasks like finding the keyhole to unlock a door. Granted, it’s not suited for searching a room or field, but it is truly useful.
I was even more impressed with the set’s TL-2 LED. I’ve used it on a daily basis for six months and the original batteries are still chugging along. The 42-lumen tactical light easily illuminates a 10-foot-wide path at a distance of 40 or so yards. It puts out more than enough light to identify a threat in the darkest conditions and I’ve used it on the range for dusk and night shooting. It operates with a base push button that provides momentary light. Or twist the end cap to turn it to constant on.
But what sets the Thunder Ranch TL-2 apart from its competitors? To start with, the light’s checkered body gives the operator a good, solid purchase while wearing gloves or in the wettest of conditions. Next is the light’s bezel. Its flat surfaces keep the light from rolling away, which can come in handy. Last is the pocket clip, which keeps the light at hand in a pocket. If you don’t want or need one, simply remove it.
Also in the TR TL-2 LED package is the Tiger Ring. It’s attached to the clip of the light with a small split loop, like that of a key ring. I found this unobtrusive loop allowed me to retain the light on the index finger of my non-dominant hand and still manipulate my handgun, spare magazines, or whatever, without setting the light down.
Overall, I have been impressed with the Streamlight TL-2 LED Thunder Ranch Light System. The DVD provides a lot of information, the mini LED light is very useful for day-to-day use, and the TL-2 light is a workhorse, too. You won’t be disappointed with this set.
Scott Smith is a disabled veteran who served as an active duty Army MP and in the U.S. Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard as a security policeman.