A while back I reviewed the INFORCE WML, a lightweight, polymer body weapon light that attaches to a rifle, carbine or shotgun. The short version of that review is that I was, and continue to be, very impressed. I actually run a WML on all of my carbines now, and I’ve even used them hog hunting (yes I know, a bit outside of their intended use).
The APL, which stands for Auto Pistol Light, is a 200 lumen light that attaches to both Universal and MIL-STD-1913 rails. The APL came out late 2012, and I’ve been testing one for a few months now. Once again I find myself impressed.
|Run Time||1.5 hours|
|Batteries||(1) Lithium 123A|
There are a few features that make the APL stand out as a pistol light.
Operation and Ergonomics
The APL has bilateral paddle switches on either side of the light, and is very easy to actuate. A single tap of either paddle turns the APL on in constant mode, tap again to turn it off. If you press the paddle and hold, the APL turns on in momentary mode.
I really like the operation modes and find them to be very intuitive. The reason is that if you want the light to come on and stay on, you only need to tap the paddle. Tap again to turn it off. If however, you want to momentarily look at something, just press and hold the paddle. When you’re ready, let off the paddle and the light will go off.
By any estimation, the APL has superior ergonomics. The paddles push in towards the frame and are very easy to actuate. If you’ve used other pistol lights before, the ergonomics are the thing that will most likely stand out for you using the APL.
Another nice feature is the ability to lockout the light making it inoperable. To lockout the APL, simply turn the head cap a quarter turn and the paddles will no longer actuate the light. I like to lockout my APL when I throw it in a bag to save my battery from inadvertent use.
Let’s Talk Lumens
First off, 200 lumens is nothing to laugh at. If you’ve ever been lit up in dark by even 100 lumens, then you know what I’m talking about. If you’re close enough to the light, you’re temporarily blinded, but even if you’re not blinded, in most cases you can’t see what’s behind the light, and it’s very disorienting.
Second, 200 lumens is almost too much for use indoor use, regardless of whether it’s handheld, or mounted to a pistol, rifle or shotgun. The reason is reflection. Light reflects off of walls, especially light colored walls, and this reflection can blind you and wash out the surrounding area.
Also, it’s important to note that lumens don’t tell the whole story on a how effective a light is. That would be like judging the speed of two different computers based on processor speed alone, and not taking into account other important factors like memory and hard drive. The same is true for lights. The intensity of the beam, the quality of the LED, and the quality of the reflector all affect light output.
I realize that everyone is going to have a different answer for this one, but for me, 200 lumens is more than enough.
Compared to SureFire X300
My other pistol light is a SureFire X300, which is also a great light. I’ve had several people ask for a comparison, so here’s a few brief thoughts.
First off, you can’t wrong with either light. Having said that, I prefer the operation and ergonomics on the APL over the X300. The X300 has switches that you can move either up or down to turn on/off the light, whereas the APL has larger and more ergonomic paddles that you press in towards the frame. This motion is more natural feeling for me.
The APL is also shorter in length than the X300 by .6 inches, which is definitely noticeable. There is not a noticeable difference in width. The X300 has an aluminum body, whereas the APL has a polymer body. The X300 has a longer runtime rating of 2.4 hours, but requires two 123A batteries instead of the APL’s one 123A battery.
There are a few other differences of course, but nothing that is of great importance to me. For example, the X300 is 170 lumens versus the 200 lumens of the APL, but as we have already discussed, I think 170 lumens is more than enough, and 200 lumens is the top end of what I want in a close to mid range light.
I’ve been very impressed with the APL’s durability so far. It feels very well made, and has held up well to normal use and some moderate abuse. So far I’ve thrown the APL down the hallway several times, done the standard drop testing, and shot about 300 rounds with it mounted to various pistols.
Since these lights are new to the market, I thought it would be a good idea to do some further testing and see just how much abuse they can take. To that end, I will be putting my APL through further abuse, documenting the results, and reporting back, so stay tuned.
Overall I’m extremely happy with the APL. About the only negative I can think of is that it doesn’t fit the HK USP or Beretta PX4 Storm. I don’t own either pistol, so I’m not complaining. They are reasonably priced (real world prices are around $125), very ergonomic, compact and lightweight.
If you’re looking for a pistol light, you certainly have a bunch of good options. My favorite though, is the INFORCE APL.