Looking For The Best Tactical Helmet Light? Read on!
It's part of the job to be working at night for any service provider or military member. It's important to be able to have visuals on possible threats or be able to write on a notepad at will.
While we typically have handheld flashlights, lights on our weapons systems, or vehicles. Handsfree tactical helmet lights, allows the user to do exactly that. Have the use of both hands for weapons, pens, toilet paper, or any other tasks that require a bit of light at night.
If you are old school like us, you remember a headlamp around your neck or stretched tight around your helmet. Both of which worked, but were not always ideal. When around your neck I commonly found that my teeth were used to hold the light where I needed it and that bending over to work on something, say a jammed feeder/de-linker on a mini-gun proved to be a pain in the ass. Just as bad was the headlamp stretched tight around a MICH helmet. Which you, of course, had to off-set to the side due to an NVG mount. Once it got wet a few times and lost its elasticness, it was right back around your neck.
Need is the mother of all invention though and it wasn't long before tactical helmet mounted lights started to appear. These solutions could be mounted directly to a ballistic or bump helmet for the right hand's free solution everyone needed. This article will cover some of the most popular ballistic helmet lights, and what we like and dislike about each!
One of the very first units we ever tested was the Surefire helmet light HL1 series lights. While we aren't entirely sure who was first to market with ballistic helmet lights, these little guys were the first we ever had our hands on. We used them on our BTE style helmets
. In typical Surefire fashion, they were rugged, bright, and easy to use. You could clip it directly to the edge of your helmet, or they had a MOLLE clip attachment to hook onto your plate carrier.
Running off of 123A batteries they weighed in at 3.1 oz and could provide 19..2 lumens for 6 hours of runtime. The Surefire HL1 series now has four different light configurations to choose from to fit whatever your needs may be. All of them include an infrared IFF (Identify Friend or Foe) light, watertight body, and 10-year shelf life. Infrared, blue, and red light options with high, medium, and low settings are all available as well.
UPDATE: For M-LOK type rails such as the ones on our ATE GEN2 Helmets of the MTEK helmets you will need an adapter such as the AD 21 that will work with 1913 rails.
- Obviously hands-free made life easy.
- The HL1 ballistic helmet lights are a relatively low profile and sit tight against the helmet.
- Surefire dependability and ruggedness
- Multiple light configurations
- The battery compartment would sometimes bang on your headset depending on how you have things set up.
- The battery cap is exceptionally tight, or we just have girly hands.
- Price, 190$ for the unit and $40 for any adapters.
Surefire X300 weapon light
Do you need a lot of light? By a lot, I mean 500 lumens worth? Designed more for a weapon light, the X300 can be mounted to a helmet rail using an adapter that comes with OPS-CORE helmets or a MIL-STD 1913 rail. It's certainly large and in charge, but if your application calls for lots of light, you can go wrong with this light. Almost 2 hours of runtime on 2, 123A batteries the X300 weighs in at 4 ounces.
- Extremely bright for applications that require lots of hands-free light
- Adjustable Beam
- Price is pricey as usual with Surefire $300
Princeton Tec started as a scuba diving company; their in-depth experience comes from making some of the best diving lights in the world. It seems to be a natural transition for them into the tactical light world.
Charge and Charge Pro MPLS
Designed to attach directly to the OPS-CORE ACH- ARC Helmet Rail System, or any other system that utilizes a dovetail design like our ATE
. In addition to having a U-Clip for edge mounting and MOLLE/PALS. The MPLS Charge and Pro is a great little fast helmet light. Partly because of the flex head and the ability to mount it above or below a rail system.
"Charge Pro incorporates a high-power white Maxbright LED for distance spotting, and a cluster of three Ultrabright LEDs (available in a choice of red, blue, green, infrared or R/B/IR and R/G/IR configurations) to meet the needs of specialized users."
Running on a CR123, you get 22 hours of burn time at 55 lumens with this little guy which is substantial when compared to the 6 hours of the Surefire and only 19 lumens. The non-pro version runs on an AA, and you get 46 hours of light at 55 lumens as well. The sacrifice is a bit more size. Likes
- Slim design that works with the rail system to keep the overall profile down.
- Obviously hands-free made life easy.
- Multiple light configurations
- Still a little pricey at $100, but not bad.
- Currently no mounting options for M-LOK type rail systems
If you don't need a ton of light and are looking for the least amount of profile than this is the light you should be looking at. It features the same flex head as the Charge versions from Princeton Tec but runs off a 2032 coin cell. Cutting the weight down to 17 grams and you get 36 hours of burn time at 10 lumens. It mounts just about to anything and anywhere and is available in white, red, IR, green or blue LEDs. Likes
- Low profile and extremely lightweight
- 40 dollars is extremely reasonable
- Multiple light configurations and mounting adapters
- Wouldn't mind a tad bit more brightness, perhaps 20 lumens
Streamlight helmet light has a fondness in our hearts because they produce excellent light solutions at a reasonable price. Though we think they could do a little better in the hand's free helmet light category. Currently, their best offering is the SIDEWINDER COMPACT® HANDS-FREE LIGHT. Available in 4 different models/light configurations it puts out 55 lumens for a 100 hour run time on 123A's. They have a couple of helmet mount accessories that will work with rails, and even NVG shrouds.
- 100 hour run time at 55 lumens
- Four levels of output intensities on each model
- Articulating 185° rotating head
- It's a big bulky and weird looking
- You have to buy the helmet mount accessories extra
INFORCE Rifle/Carbine Lights
These Inforce lights are slimline designs made originally for rifles, but they work great as a tactical helmet light as well. They come in a variety of options such as their WML White with 400 lumens at 1.5 hours or an 800 lumens model. IR options are available as well.
- Super bright at 400 or 800 lumens
- On/Off switch is easy to activate
- Light-weight for the power you get
- Shorter run times with this much light
- Might be too bulky for some tactical helmet light users
PETZL DUO Headlamps
Not using the front shroud on your tactical helmet for anything, but want lots of light? The PETZL high performance headlamps could be perfect for you then. This setup may be perfect for the patrol officer who isn't using NVG's, but commonly needs lots of light.
- Ultra-powerful with 1100 lumens in BOOST mode
- Five constant lighting modes
- Face2Face anti-glare function
- 4 hour recharge time
- Required mounting over or removal of NVG shroud
- Not enough adjustment for some helmets
This list is by no means exhaustive when it comes to what you can have for a military helmet light. With the modularity of rail systems
on most modern helmets, your options expand drastically. Especially since just about all of them have a Pictionary rail accessory or attachment.
*All photos used are the property of each of these great companies and you can find more information on these products by clicking the links of each!
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