Underbarrel flashlight: features of choice and popular models

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The amount of prey brought directly depends on the skill and completeness of the equipment, and in this aspect, an under-barrel flashlight for hunting is considered indispensable: a correctly selected device contributes to effective targeted shooting in night conditions. Options designed for smooth-bore shotguns are in demand for hunting birds, small and large animals (wild boar, elk).

What kind of under-barrel flashlight should it be?

First of all, it is a tactical device. It is designed to be used in conjunction with a weapon without impeding immediate use of the weapon. Since the most common place for mounting such a device is under the barrel of a smooth-bore weapon when attached to the fore-end, the design of the under-barrel flashlight has some specific features that distinguish it from models for other purposes:

  • The diameter of the case usually does not exceed an inch. Thanks to this, the lamp is easy to attach to the bracket.
  • The diameter of the head part with a reflective cone is no more than 4.2 cm. Otherwise, the flashlight either will not fit under the barrel, or will experience negative effects from the high temperature of the barrel with each shot.
  • Additional accessories. A remote button on the fore-end allows you to turn the flashlight on and off without letting go of the gun.
  • Sufficient range. A lantern for hare hunting
    should provide good illumination at a distance of at least 100 m in winter and 80 m in summer.

Advantages and disadvantages of under-barrel flashlights of domestic manufacturers

The domestic market offers a fairly wide range of products from various manufacturers. In view of this, every hunter has the opportunity to purchase a suitable under-barrel flashlight that will exactly meet his needs and requirements.

A domestic brand that produces under-barrel flashlights of fairly high quality. The design of such flashlights is based on a xenon lamp, as well as a number of reflectors, due to which the light beam of such flashlights for hunting at night is quite bright. In addition, the products of this manufacturer have proven themselves to have good build quality, durability of fasteners and brackets.

Barrel flashlights Bars

Currently, Bars products are considered the best on the domestic market. Bars flashlights use the most modern technological solutions. For example, the well-known model Bars FS-5 GREEN is equipped with green LED emitters, which eliminates the need for an additional removable light filter. Bars flashlights are equipped with power regulators, so you can choose the optimal brightness level. Some models also use xenon lamps. They are distinguished by greater power, but LED lighting devices are characterized by longer operation without recharging. In parallel with Bars models, Kaban flashlights with red filters, which are optimal for hunting other types of animals, are popular.

In addition, specialized stores offer gun flashlights from foreign manufacturers, which also deserve the attention of owners of smooth-bore weapons. It is worth noting that owners of weapons of the IZH 27 or MP 153 brands often purchase flashlights specifically designed for these models, since they work optimally when included.

What should be included?

Since the purpose of such a device is to use it in conjunction with a weapon, in addition to the flashlight itself, the hunter will need several more devices, namely:

  • Weapon mount . Most flashlights have a universal mount for installation on a handguard of any diameter. Some models are designed for mounting on a Weaver or Picatinny rail.
  • Remote button . It allows you to turn the flashlight on and off without changing the position of your hand on the forend of the weapon. Thus, the hunter is always ready to shoot.
  • Set of light filters . Light filters installed in front of the flashlight lamp allow you to give different colors to the light output, which will be useful when using the flashlight in certain weather conditions and at different light levels.
  • Carrying case . Allows you to protect the flashlight from dirt, water, and mechanical damage.

A useful, but optional feature for an under-barrel flashlight is the ability to use it separately from the weapon, like a regular flashlight.


Not many hunters hunt in the dark, but their number began to grow with the advent of under-barrel hunting lights, which make the work of hunting animals easier.

Choosing the right flashlight for a particular gun is not so easy, but it can be done quickly if you know the basic features that a good flashlight model should have.

Typically, it should be durable, waterproof, have a long charge life, have a remote button, easy to mount, light weight, less than one inch in diameter, and have a light output of about 1,000 lumens.

Main characteristics of under-barrel flashlights

Today in stores there are many such products from domestic and foreign manufacturers. In order not to get confused in this diversity, we will name several characteristics that a high-quality under-barrel flashlight should have:

  • Dimensions and weight . The underbarrel flashlight should be no heavier than 300 g, otherwise it will significantly pull the barrel down. Using such a flashlight will tire the shooter’s hands and, of course, will negatively affect the quality of shooting. The diameter should be small, otherwise installing the flashlight on the weapon will be problematic.
  • High reliability , resistance to shock loads. A flashlight mounted on a weapon will inevitably experience recoil, so the product must have a durable body and be highly resistant. Flashlights in housings made of aircraft-grade aluminum alloys performed well.
  • Autonomy . To be sure that the flashlight will not let you down while hunting, you should choose devices with a declared period of continuous operation of at least an hour and a half. It is also worth making sure that the power is supplied from non-deficient types of batteries, and that changing the battery is possible without removing the flashlight from the weapon. And, of course, don’t forget to take a spare set of batteries with you.
  • Lighting quality . This includes the range of the flashlight and the brightness of the light. For most types of hunting with a smooth-bore weapon, a range of 100 m is sufficient. It is highly desirable that the cone of the flashlight reflector be as deep and smooth as possible. It’s good if the flashlight has a focusing lens with the ability to adjust the width of the light beam and its range.
  • Availability of light filters . For example, a flashlight for beaver hunting
    should produce a yellow or green light.
  • And of course, the price of the device is not the least important. But here everything is individual, and each hunter is guided by the possibilities of his own budget.

Criterias of choice

You can choose the best under-barrel flashlight for smooth-bore weapons based on the following parameters:

  • Dimensions. A suitable diameter is 25-35 mm, weight does not exceed 300 grams, without disturbing the balance.
  • The radiation range is up to 200 meters with a force of 1000 units.
  • The lens should give a clear outline of the reflecting surface.
  • Waterproof housing.
  • High strength factor.
  • Operating time on one charge is at least 1.5 hours.
  • High quality build.
  • Full set: batteries, instructions, cords, case.

How to install a flashlight on a weapon?

Installing an underbarrel flashlight is a task that has several solutions. The most common options are under-barrel and side mounting on the forend. There are also more exotic options, when the flashlight is mounted on an optical sight, but such solutions are much more individual and are considered in conjunction with specific models.

The simplest fastenings are two polyurethane plates, tightened with a screw. The weapon barrel is threaded into one mounting hole, and a fixed flashlight into the other. After selecting the installation location, the fixing screw is tightened, and you're done - the sight is installed. The cost of such fastening ranges from 200 to 500 rubles.

Another option involves mounting the flashlight on a Weaver bar. This is also a fairly simple and common method. However, most models of domestic weapons do not have a Weaver rail on the forend, so this option is more suitable for owners of foreign models.

Regardless of the model, under-barrel and tactical flashlights consist of:

  • Optical system. This is a reflector or TIR optics.

The reflectors are made of parabolic aluminum and have a light reflection efficiency of more than 80%. The luminous range of the flashlight depends on the depth and diameter of the reflector - the divergence angle of the central beam, side illumination. Reflectors can be either textured (crumpled, as if matte *example in the image) or smooth (mirror-like). The textured surface gives a smooth transition in brightness from the central beam to the side illumination. A smooth one will have a sharp transition in brightness, the central ray is well defined. The reflector not only forms a beam of light, but also removes heat from the LED, which allows you to increase the brightness without the risk of overheating.

TIR optics is a transparent plastic lens, also parabolic in shape, that works due to the complete refraction of light at the interface of media (air and the optics itself) due to the difference in density. Has a higher efficiency, about 90 percent. It is heavier than the reflector, does not dissipate heat, and provides light with a smooth transition from the central beam to the side illumination. This type of optics is not very common in under-barrel flashlights.

  • The light source is an LED. In the modern world of flashlights, LEDs have almost completely replaced xenon lamps, incandescent lamps and halogen lamps. Because in terms of characteristics, they are significantly better - efficiency is several times higher (longer operating time, less heat), longer service life (almost eternal), and are not inferior in brightness.

High-quality modern under-barrel flashlights use 2 types of LEDs:

CREE XP-G2 R5 (cool, white light), CREE XP-G2 R4 (warm, yellowish light);


CREE XM-L2 U2 (cool, white light), CREE XM-L2 T6 (warm, yellowish light).

Warm or cool light?

Cold light has higher brightness, more glare (for a tactical flashlight this is preferable), and higher contrast of illuminated objects.

In warm light, illuminated objects have more natural colors. For example, blood is better visible, which is important for a hunting flashlight when searching for wounded animals. Warm light also cuts through fog better. The beam of such an under-barrel flashlight is less noticeable in the air, so it hardly interferes with aiming through the optics.

The under-barrel flashlight on the CREE XM-L2 U2 LED can have a brightness of up to 1100 lumens, and on the CREE XP-G2 R5 670 lumens. However, this does not mean that the flashlight on the CREE XM-L2 will shine further. The point is the area of ​​the crystals - the smaller it is, the stronger the beam can be focused, and the farther the flashlight will shine.

In the photo below, the difference is clearly visible (on the left side is the CREE XP-G LED, on the right side is CREE XM-L2). All other things being equal, in order to have a glow range like the CREE XP-G2, the brightness of the CREE XM-L2 LED must be 2.5 times higher.

In general, it’s better to buy an under-barrel flashlight for hunting MP 153, Izh 27 or any other smoothbore weapon with a -2 LED - it shines brighter and wider (illuminates a larger area), and you still won’t have to shoot further than 100 meters.

For a carbine, it is better to buy a long-range under-barrel flashlight with a CREE XP-G2 LED, this will significantly increase the target detection range.

  • The tactical flashlight control driver is responsible for the number of modes and how they are switched. The best models of under-barrel flashlights can even be programmed - change the number of modes, their brightness, strobe frequency, type of brightness stabilization, etc.

There are ways to switch brightness modes:

turning your head - you need to quickly turn your head about 5mm and then twist it again

by pressing a button - you need to press the button located near the head of the flashlight, alternately scrolling through the modes until you find the right one

magnetic ring - when it rotates, modes change

Everything is as simple as I described, and each model has its own features that help you quickly select the desired mode, but I think the basic principles are clear.

  • Voltage control driver - when the battery is discharged (or in the cold), its voltage decreases. Then everything depends on the type of driver:

Boost – the brightness of the flashlight will not decrease. Because it will increase the voltage as needed. However, not everything is so good - these drivers are very sensitive to the type of battery because... If the voltage is exceeded, the lamp will burn out. They are used extremely rarely in under-barrel flashlights.

Step-down – you can use both CR123 batteries and 18650 batteries. But such flashlights will lose brightness as the battery discharges. And in the cold. This type of driver is widespread.

The buck-boost driver is also called “with full brightness stabilization” - the brightness will be constant and you can use any batteries of suitable size. This is the best type of driver installed in underbarrel flashlights.

  • Body coating - 3rd degree anodizing is almost always used, it is the most resistant.
  • Also, the body itself of almost all under-barrel flashlights is made of aircraft-grade aluminum. This is good.
  • Batteries: 2 CR123A batteries or 1 18650 battery. Batteries are expensive, so operating the flashlight with them is a little expensive and the 18650 battery immediately pays for itself. The only advantage of CR123A is that it can withstand low temperatures well, down to -40 degrees.
  • The grip-rest is a convenient thing for holding a tactical flashlight with different types of grips. Also, the flashlight does not slip out of gloved hands. For under-barrel use it can be removed.
  • In place of the power button on the under-barrel flashlight, you can install an external button. I’ll tell you below what else you can install on it.
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