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[Hands-On] Best Shotgun Lights for Home Defense

Picture this: Saturday night; it’s late and stormy. I’m drumming away on my X-Box when BOOM – lights out.

My wannabe guard dog goes off the absolute rails…viciously barking. The hair on her back stands up, and she’s jumping against the door.

Power Outage
What now?

Without power, I’m kind of screwed phone-wise — the pain of living in the middle of nowhere includes limited service and reliance on Wi-Fi calling.

Seriously, it’s 27 minutes to civilization from where I live. People just don’t accidentally stumble out here.

Did I suddenly find myself in a horror movie?

Scream
Cool mask, bro

Well, if this is a horror film, the unfortunate slasher has come across the wrong house…

I’m a shotgun guy, so my Mossberg 590A1 is loaded down with eight rounds of Federal FliteControl buckshot, and of course, it’s equipped with a weapon light.

Best Pump Shotgun
520
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

I remove the gun from my safe, chamber a round, and top-off the tube.

My hand goes to the integrated pump light, and I keep my fingers pinned against the on-button. The light stays off, though, until the right moment…

Shotgun Lights
Lights…you definitely want them when things go awry in the dark

I glide through the house quietly, standing offset from a window overlooking my backyard. My dog is still whining, growling, and losing her mind, but I don’t see anything against the occasional lightning strike.

Lightning

My ears pick up something or someone on my porch…a loud thump and a clang.

From my perch, I have a clear line of sight to my porch. I raise the shotgun and activate the light, shining it at the roof on my porch — letting the light illuminate the area.

11 Shotgun Lights
Tossing some lumens out to see what’s there…

My eyes meet a pair of masked trespassers. They chitter and go back to their work.

Raccoons.

Raccoon
Well played, raccoons, well played.

A pair of them are tonight’s visitors. The thieved bandits love their find, a trash bag with some great fried chicken in there.

Honestly, this was the best possible resolution. I’d much rather deal with raccoons than burglars.

The weapon light on my shotgun was an asset in this situation. It allowed me to identify a potential “threat” and realize it was just some adorable nocturnal mammals and not Michael Meyers with a kitchen knife.

Michael Myers
Why are you so angry???

Shotguns are like any other weapon. If you decide to use one for home-defense, you’re gonna need a light.

Unfortunately, the lights/shotgun pairing isn’t as easy as handguns and rifles.

But that’s why you have us. We’re going to walk you through your options and help you navigate the confusing world that is lights and shotguns.

Table of Contents

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The Trouble with Scatter Guns

Shotguns make it tough to attach a weapon light, especially pump-action shotguns.

Moving the pump back and forth proves tricky when it comes to attaching a light. The manual-action makes pressure switches a pain as they are likely to come loose as the user works the action.

When the light is mounted to the pump, it can be hard to keep control of the light and utilize the weapon.

Addams Family Shotgun

The gun’s recoil can also give your thumb a nice smack against the light with every shot.

Semi-auto shotguns, however, are a little more polite due to fewer moving pieces.

Shotgun Lights TLR RM2
The Streamlight TLR RM2

Luckily, if you still love shotguns and want a weapon light, you have options and a means to properly outfit your weapon for defensive use. In my experimenting, I’ve found a few solutions that work, so let’s check out which lights you should consider.

Surefire DSF

Surefire is one of the most praised light companies on the market, and for good reason. The stuff they make works…and works well.

Lights from Surefire are incredibly bright, durable, and the chosen light of most police and military forces.

Shotgun Lights Surefire DSF
Meet the Surefire DSF.

The DSF is no different and was the first to build a light into the pump. It also incorporates top-notch ergonomics and a bombproof design. 

Featuring a high and low mode, it shines as bright as 600 lumens and as low as 200 lumens.

On high mode, the battery lasts 1.5 hours while low mode lasts 3 hours.

349
at Primary Arms

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

With 13,000 candelas, the beam is intense! But more or less designed for medium-to-close range encounters, which is the shotgun’s most effective kill area.

The Surefire DSF packs a wallop of power and is a professional-grade light.

Using four big buttons that allow you to easily control the light, it offers both constant-on and momentary modes. A universal kill switch also ensures the light stays off during transport or storage.

Shotgun Lights Surefire DSF

Everything has a downside, though, so what’s that look like on the DSF?

Price and weight.

It’s a heavy beast at 17.8-ounces and comes with a price tag of around $300.

Also, the series is made only for the Mossberg 500/590 series and the Remington 870 series.

350
at Optics Planet

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Streamlight TL Racker

Streamlight followed Surefire’s example, building a light into the pump of the gun.

The TL Racker is the answer to a shotgun light for your Remington 870 and Mossberg 500/590 series shotguns. Streamlight’s device packs a punch with 1,000 lumens and 20,000 candelas, throwing a beam further than the Surefire.

Shotgun Lights Streamlight TL Racker
It may not be much of a looker, but it sure has all the lumens.

It’s also a good bit brighter.

Powerful enough to work for duty, it makes target identification and even slug use possible. The TL Racker opts for a massive control pad fitted to both sides of the pump. And this design proves easy to use.

Featuring momentary and constant-on modes, TL Racker also comes in at a lightweight 12-ounces. It’s smaller and sports an aggressive texture granting a sure grip.

Shotgun Lights Streamlight TL Racker

No lie, it’s become my preference for shotgun stuff.

Did I mention it’s affordable?

Retails for around $150! Not a bad deal for such an excellent light.

Afford That

The TL Racker also comes in a Shockwave variant and a bright orange model for less than lethal shotguns.

Oh, and it’s raccoon approved. (It was the light on my shotgun when the mini-masked intruders raided my trash.)

140
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Streamlight TLR RM2

A 1,000-lumen light, the Streamlight TLR RM2 brings the power. The design is ergonomic with an awesome rear switch.

Simply put, the RM series is absolutely fantastic! And I should know. I wrote a whole review about the RM 1 and RM2.

Shotgun Lights Streamlight TLR RM2
Streamlight’s TLR RM2 is pretty small in comparison to other lights.

With a relatively small and lightweight design (especially for long gun lights), the RM uses the limited space on shotguns and does so well.

The ramped rear design certainly keeps fingers from getting smashed and gives you a little more room on the pump.

Streamlight also has a pressure switch system for semi-auto guns that allows you to mount the light further forward on the gun and still access the on/off switch.

Shotgun Lights Streamlight TLR RM2

These new lights are perfect for shotguns and perfectly matched with the Streamlight rail. 

I wrote a full, hands-on review of the Streamlight TLR RM2 so be sure to check that out for an in-depth look.

161
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Steiner Mk7

The Steiner Mk7 is a neat idea that seemingly never took off. Also, the light has been discontinued, which makes it harder to find.

They pop up every so often at excellent prices, though, if you keep an eye out. I purchased one for $50 and another for $22.

Shotgun Lights Steiner Mk7
It may be an older model, but it’s still a decent option for shotguns.

What makes the Steiner Mk7 cool is that it replaces the magazine endcap with a flashlight.

It’s made for the Remington 870, the Beretta 1301, Benelli Nova/MA shotguns, and Mossberg 500 — not 590.

Using a two-piece system, the Steiner introduces a threaded endcap into the equation. From there, the light threads into the new endcap. This allows the Mk7 to detach and be used as a regular, handheld light if needed.

That’s a nice touch and useful for a hunting shotgun.

48
at Optics Planet

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Boasting 350 lumens, the light is built for close range, more or less, and works best indoors.

With excellent side-to-side vision, it’s bright enough to illuminate a room.

Also, talk about lightweight! Weighing only 4.1-ounces, it keeps your shotgun streamlined.

Shotgun Lights Steiner Mk7

That said, not everything is rosy with this light. Ergonomics presents a bit of a problem.

The Mk7 features two buttons positioned on the light’s body, meaning you have to reach beyond your pump to activate. Longer the magazine tube, the harder it is to reach the on/off button.

So, for the experience, use it on guns with shorter magazine tubes.

Axeon Shotlight

The Axeon Shotlight is a descendant of the Mk7 if you will. Using the same idea, it replaces the magazine endcap with a light.

To be honest, given that it’s a newer design, I’m a little unsure about it.

Unsure

First, it’s a 120-lumen light, running off a single CR123A battery.

For those keeping track, 120 lumens ain’t a whole lot of light, but the tradeoff is that the Shotlight only costs $50.

An affordable price tag is an appealing choice if you are on a budget.

Second thing I’m not keen on — I can’t find any information or battery estimates. I’d imagine the low lumens ensure you have a high battery life, but right now, there’s no way to know for sure.

Axeon Shotlight

The light adopts a single constant-on mode with a very simple design. However, it presents the same ergonomic issues I saw with the Steiner Mk7.

Additionally, the Axeon seems a bit longer. This length pushes the button a bit further forward, which will probably make it a little harder to reach.

Besides the price, the upside is that it also comes with various adapters to fit Mossberg 500s, Remington 870s, and the Winchester 1300.

50
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Adaptive Tactical Light

Adaptive Tactical makes an interesting integrated pump-action light option.

It all begins with a Mossberg 500/590 series or the Remington 870. From there, the light is attached to the end of the pump via a handy rail. Adaptive Tactical’s light slips onto the rail and fits naturally with the pump-action design.

Runner-Up Best Pump Shotgun
400
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Its position at the forward end of the pump won’t smash your hand with recoil.

Another plus side to this integrated design?

The 300-lumen light can be removed.

Adaptive Tactical Lights

Controls are ambidextrous, using a switch platform to give you momentary, constant-on, and strobe mode. Two AA batteries also power it with a runtime of three hours.

I handled this setup at SHOT Show, and it seemed intuitive.

Adaptive Tactical makes some very cool stuff, especially for shotgunners, and this light system builds on their unique platform.

The Traditional Route

You’ve probably seen Mossberg and Remington quite a bit in this article, haven’t you?

Admittedly, these are America’s most popular shotguns, so a lot of the aftermarket chase those two brands.

If you own something outside of the standard shotgun, you might find yourself frustrated. However, there are a few options out there for you.

Granted, these aren’t the most ergonomic routes, but if your gun needs a light, they’ll do. First and foremost, I suggest the Streamlight Mag Tube Rail.

Streamlight Mag Tube Rail TL & Streamlight TLR RM2
Streamlight Mag Tube Rail TL & Streamlight TLR RM2

This little device attaches to your shotgun magazine tube and gives you a short rail to mount almost any light you want. I use this magazine tube rail on my Benelli M4, and it locks down extremely tight and allows you to mount the light at various angles.

If that’s not quite your speed, there are quite a few pumps with M-LOK slots or Picatinny rails. These are a pretty simple option.

20
at Optics Planet

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Conclusion

Like any other firearm used for defensive purposes, shotguns need a weapon light. Identification of a threat is vital and, without a light, you’re flying blind. Whether you’re equipped with a pump or a semi-auto shotgun, there’s a light out there for you.

Shotgun Kit
Ready to take on any threat…raccoons or otherwise.

Be it a tried-and-true Surefire or a newer Adaptive Tactical, a good light can make the difference between horror movie nightmares and a pair of masked critters looking for late-night KFC.

What do you have on your shotgun? Let us know in the comments below. Looking for another shotgun to add to your home-defense strategy? We got you covered with our round-up of the Best Home-Defense Tactical Shotguns.

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3 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    Colin

    High output.End cap switch. Rail mount. To fit my Stoeger 12g side by side Double Defender?

    February 16, 2021 11:26 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Michael

    Thanks for the insight. Looking for a light system for my Maverick 88. The Adaptive tech may be my choice.

    February 11, 2021 7:56 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Kevin

    I’ve got a Streamlight TLR2 on my KSG. I keep contemplating swapping it out for the RM2 because it seems more “appropriate”, but the rearward controls just work really well for me as is, especially with my hand placement on the foregrip. Just have to wince and hope nobody notices the laser because that’s just silly on a shotty

    ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    December 13, 2020 10:51 pm