Top Hunting Lights Reviewed and Compared
If you’re after the best hunting lights in 2019 but don’t feel like spending the time to get familiar with all the products available out there, then we’ll tell you straight off that the Streamlight 44902 might offer the best bang for your buck, at least as far as handheld spotting lights are concerned. Don’t let the figure of “just” 550 lumens that this item produces fool you, as people who’ve used it unanimously found it to be very bright. This is because of how well the beam is focused, which pierces through the dark as far as 625 meters (2050 ft) away. The convenience it offers for hunting is, in a word, excellent. It has a pistol grip, a wristband, attachment fittings for filters, and an integrated stand for use as a scene lamp. If you’re dead set on something that can be attached to a Picatinny rail, then the Klarus XT12GT might be your best bet.
Our top choices
With the large array of options available out there, it might be hard to find just the right hunting lamp for your needs. That’s why we’ve looked through scores of hunting lights reviews and we’ve narrowed the options to some of the best rated products available for sale from a number of different categories.
This is an all around good choice for a handheld hunting light as it offers a good level of performance and high functionality in a light, durable package. The specifications cited for this item differ greatly according to source, but all customer reviewers have found it very bright, with a maximum reach of around 600 yards in the most powerful setting and a very focused beam.
According to some sources, there is also a strobe mode that can cover a wide area, but the manufacturer only mentions a high intensity setting, of 550 lumens, 100,000 candles and 625 m of reach, and a low one of 40 lumens, 7,900 candles and 178 m, which should be used for hunting cautious pray or saving battery life.
This model can run for as long as 82 hours in low intensity and 10 h in high on 4 C batteries but there is also the option of connecting it to a car battery with a 12V DC power cord for camp use. To better serve as such, it comes with its own adjustable stand.
While it doesn’t include any filters, these can be easily attached as the item already has all the appropriate fittings. At 1.8 pounds with batteries and featuring a rubberized pistol grip together with a wrist cord, this unit will be very easy to work with in the wild.Buy from Amazon.com for ($56.24)
Best hunting flashlight
It has 2 modes of use, including a discreet one, which will serve you well when hunting for cautious prey or when you want to conserve battery life. It’s powered from a Klarus 18650 3600 mAh battery which provides a long running time and charges from a magnetic USB charging connector that also uses a micro USB cord.
For extra convenience, there’s also a battery capacity indicator and a 10 lumen warm tinted light attached to the charging connector. There’s a number of other goodies to be found in the package, like a holster, a lanyard cord for wrist holding and a replacement O-ring to provide a watertight seal if the one on the item happens to break.
It can attach to the barrel of a gun but also to clothing via a clip, or you can just hold it in your hand as it has a fairly grippy body.Buy from Amazon.com for ($81.93)
Predator Tactics Coyote Reaper
The kit also contains a battery extension tube to add an additional Li-ion piece and increase the overall charge, two rechargeable Li-ion batteries together with a wall and car cigarette charger, an on and off remote switch tail and a green LED that can develop as much as 400 lumens.
You won’t need any more than that for hunting coyotes, as these animals are notoriously easy to scare off. The green color should reflect off the prey’s eyes, making it easier to spot in any of the two lighting modes. There’s flood which provides a wide beam for wooded areas and a spot for long distance shooting.
Besides the adjustable focus, this product also features a built-in halo shield for better, more even illumination. Battery life is said to be particularly long, especially when the extension is added, and while moderately hefty, the product is lighter than its direct competitors.Buy from Amazon.com for ($155.57)
Orion Predator H30
This comes with specialized mounts for both 20mm and 50mm scopes, as well as upper and lower rail ones. The battery life, however, doesn’t match the other product, with only 4 hours of continuous function on the maximum setting of 300 lumens, 5 hours on the 190 one, 17 hours on 50 and 120 hours at 6 lumens.
However, there are a number of batteries this unit is compatible with, either pairs of CR123A and RCR123 or a single 18650, which is included in the package.
It can cast a focused beam as far as 273 yards, and uses one Cree XP-E2 LED, either red or green. LED lights are generally durable as they are, but this one has been reinforced for outdoor use and it also features military grade waterproofing.
The confidence Orion puts in this product is reflected in their warranty service, offering up to 10 years of service. The package also comes with a remote pressure switch and a rechargeable battery, together with a charger.Buy from Amazon.com for ($129.95)
Elusive Wildlife The Kill Light XLR250
You can also choose between different modes of operation, a single mode with an on/off switch, a single mode with a pressure switch, or a triple mode, with either on/off or pressure. We’ve looked at a triple mode since this provides the highest degree of versatility and can help you save on battery charge.
This can light up an area as far as 250 yards and reflects off the eyes as far as 500, helping you scan the horizon for the next kill. This is powered by a single 18650 lithium battery, but the package also contains a spare and a charger, which operates on either 12V from a car cigarette lighter or AC with an adapter.
For fitting, you’ll get a Kill Light Rapid scope mount for quick attachment over a scope as well as a low profile AR style mount that works with a Picatinny rail on the barrel guard.Buy from Amazon.com for ($169.99)
SureFire M Series Scout Light
Fairly versatile for both hunting and home defense, it has one 350-lumen LED which provides white light and a 120mW LED that works in the IR spectrum and is regulated to maximize runtime for light output.
The lens uses total internal reflection technology which offers both an intense beam for long distance shooting and enough surround light to allow you to scan for a target in tight spaces or woods.
Like most other items of its type, this has been made with military standard materials, and its frame is aviation grade hard-anodized aluminum to provide both impact and corrosion resistance. Waterproofing is handled by an O-ring and a gasket seal.
It uses 2 CR123A batteries to run, which at 350 lumens should hold a charge for a fairly long time, even in low temperature, high humidity conditions, which are known to drain batteries very fast.Buy from Amazon.com for ($339)
Streamlight 61070 BuckMaster
First, there’s the central C4 Power LED for spot lighting of up to 175 yards. Then there is 1 green LED that according to owners has 2 intensity settings, one of these very dim so that predators or vermin aren’t spooked.
Three top-mounted white LEDs will offer plenty of peripheral vision for navigating through the woods or rocky outgrowths. The lowest intensity setting will allow it to run for 63 hours uninterrupted, powered by 3 AAA batteries, which are included in the package.
As is the case with most Streamlight products, there’s also a battery low level indicator, so you aren’t left in the dark if forgetting to change the batteries. Fairly durable, it’s been impact tested for up to 2 meters and it enjoys an IPX4 water resistance factor. It comes with 2 different straps, one specifically designed to be used with a hardhat and a general purpose elastic one.Buy from Amazon.com for ($28.97)
Finding good hunting lights might not be the easiest thing in the world, as there are a lot of things to take into account, such as the style of item best suited to the way you hunt, the lighting power and battery life. Among these, style, or the way the light would be held, might be the most important as it dictates your reaction time and the functionality of the device.
These either have a pistol grip or a more conventional straight design and will almost always occupy a hand. This might make them less suitable to be used with long arms because it will take some time to drop the flashlight to train the gun.
However, this won’t be an issue if hunting with a pistol, especially a low powered one that doesn’t impose any problems when firing with one hand. Most good hunting lights of this variety have a band so they can dangle from your wrist, greatly improving reaction time with both rifles and pistols. Alternatively, you can prop it against the gun with your non-shooting hand, but this might require some dexterity, and might increase the chances for the object to get dropped.
Weight, as well as battery life and durability, will be important factors when choosing handheld lights. Since these are the most prone to getting damaged from dropping on the ground, it is advisable to look for an object that is sturdy and well built, preferably with some rubber inserts.
Hunters are generally not too keen to carry a lot of weight around especially as an item that weighs more than 2-3 lb will tire your arm with extended use. Finally, changing batteries in the dark will always be a difficult task, so look for items that work for many hours on a single charge.
Since the handheld device can double the best as a scene lamp, an electric cord that will allow it to feed on a car battery or generator will be a useful feature to look into.
Gun mounted lights
Gun lights can be mounted on either pistols or rifles and they offer the best response times since they allow you to shoot as soon as the animal is spotted. This is especially important when hunting for predators and varmint, like hogs and coyote, because these can learn to associate bright lights in the night with humans and run away as soon as one is trained on them.
The downside is that the light will almost always be connected to the weapon, meaning you’ll have to point it to whatever needs illuminating, and this includes maps, campsites and fellow hunters. This might not be the safest thing ever, especially if you like to have a few beers during or before hunting — but that would make the whole hunting or camping experience unsafe.
These units can be attached either to the top or bottom of the barrel, with the first distribution generally referred as it will make it easier to carry the rifle on your back with no additional item in the way.
While gun lights are relatively light, these will always affect the rifle’s balance, especially if weighed down by big C batteries.
Hat or head lights for hunting
These will leave both of your hands free and won’t affect the balance of the gun. They are either simple headlights that go on your head with straps or come as full hats with a light built in under the brim or at the braw. Regular flashlights that come equipped with a clip can sometimes be attached to the edge of a hat or the fold of a beanie if the whole set-up doesn’t prove to be unreliable.
These often have more than 1 LED, so they illuminate a wider area to cover as much of your field of view as possible. Besides the advantages already mentioned, these will basically light up the place where your head is already pointing, making maximum use of the beam. This will also mean that you won’t have to point your gun at someone to see him or her clearly in the dark.
Wearing a lot of weight on your head can quickly get uncomfortable, not to mention contributing to neck cramps in the long run, so the performance of these devices will generally be limited by weight, with the characteristic most affected being battery charge.
Most hunting lights use LEDs as a lighting source, and these are compact, very bright and more durable to impact than regular bulbs. The best ones use 4C or Cree technology, which gives the best performance for the lowest energy use.
A lot of light is not always desirable, especially if you’re hunting species that tend to scare easily, so it is better to consider your particular needs when choosing the right specs and not just go for the highest ones.
Even cheap hunting lights have low-intensity settings, which coupled with the right filter will make them highly effective devices for hunting frightful varmint like coyotes or hogs, not to mention provide a longer battery life.
The red light will make the eyes of most animals glow in the dark, and might not spook some animals as much as white light would. Red filters are primarily used for hunting predators, like big cats and canines during the dark hours when you can find them on the prowl.
While green is not as discrete, it can be used for the same purpose as red, with some hunters preferring it as it gives a far better view of the surrounding landscape. It is also widely employed for utilitarian purposes, like reading maps or setting up the camp.
If discretion is of no concern, you might consider using a spotlight, since these offer the most illumination. They make the best camping lamps and can be used to assist in a variety of tasks, from cooking and field dressing to repair work.
These are significantly heavier than LED handheld light and might not be suitable to take on long walks, as they will definitely tire the operator and their bulk might make them cumbersome to use walk around with through thick foliage.
Frequently asked questions about hunting lights
Why use red light for hunting?
Some animals, especially varmints and predators, can learn to associate white light with humans which might make them run off as soon as they spot the beam. Since red lights aren’t all that common, these will surprise the animals. Some species, especially canines find the red spectrum difficult to see, allowing the hunter to get close enough for a shot.
Also, most predator’s eyes glow in the dark, and red light arguably makes this reflection easier to see from longer distances, up to twice as far as the furthest area the beam itself can reach. There’s a debate on what color of light works well for which species.
Can coyotes see hunting lights?
This is, of course, debatable, but the common agreement seems to be that coyotes can barely see the red light, while green might tip them off easier to your presence. The red light will also pierce easier through high humidity air and won’t get drowned by the ambient white in nights with full moon.
There are hunters who swear by the green light when targeting coyote, and their preference has to do with the overall clearer picture this offers, as red tends to be absorbed by vegetation, making it difficult to navigate by.
Should my new hunting light be waterproof?
Losing your light when night hunting can be extremely frustrating, if not damn right dangerous, that’s why every precaution must be taken to keep it in working order, and this includes waterproofing.
This is especially true if you also use this to navigate, which often is the case although pairing a handheld white lamp with a colored rifle mounted one is not uncommon.
Waterproofing is done by adding rubber O-rings to the connected areas of the casing and sealing the gaskets, like plastic or metal, even if finely polished can generally allow for small spaces, such as scratches through which water could sip.
How bright do hunting lights have to be?
A good hunting light should be able to cast a focused beam as far as you will need to properly engage the animal you’re targeting. Most models vary in the range between 200 and 600 yards but consider you won’t really need to see at half a mile in order to hunt something like a raccoon.
There’s also the peripheral vision to consider for scanning and navigating, and a light that’s too bright can scare certain species off, even if colored green or red. Most hunting lights, regardless of type, can be set to various intensities for the application at hand.
Best hunting lights brands
This American brand is one of the premier manufacturers of colored night hunting lights, mostly of the gun mounted variety. They prefer to sell these in kits that can set you back between $200 and $300, which aren’t the lowest prices out there but can make for good value due to a large number of items involved.
These offer possibilities for attachment with both civilian and military-style guns, such as the AR-15 series and popular Picatinny rail. Quality-wise, Predator Tactics products are fairly well rated, and their customers appreciate the effort level put into specializing each light for a specific task.
Streamlight offers a wide array of products, from safety flashlights to be used on oil rigs, to small tactical hunting lights that can fit on the undernose rail on a Glock.
Their 44902 Waypoint line of hand-held spotlights is highly appreciated for the level of performance it offers in such a small package. These are outfitted with anything a hunter might need, including an extension cord to allow it to work with a car battery.
Most of their higher end products use C4 LED technology, which is some of the highest available.
The tactical flashlight manufacturer is known to produce some of the most powerful models available on the market. Primarily focused towards the military, their gun-mounted flashlights, generally found in white light, can serve a hunter’s needs very well, especially in open plains, where the high range of their beam can be put to full effect.
Otherwise, their items are built as tough as you would expect considering their purpose, with a very high degree of impact resistance and waterproofing. A number of innovative technologies are also used, such as magnetic chargers and universal attachment clips.