Adding a light to your handgun is easily one of the most popular first upgrade steps you can take to immediately increase your firearm’s versatility.
Weapon mounted lights allow you to illuminate both your target and surroundings in a bad situation.
If a pistol is a part of your personal or home defense setup in any meaningful way, it probably makes sense to ensure that you can still use it effectively when it’s lights out.
While there are plenty of lights on the market, Modlite is one company that immediately springs to mind when talking illumination.
We’ve covered them before, so we were stoked to get to try our hand at one again, this time in the form of the Modlite PL350.
So, today, let’s take a tour of the Modlite PL350, talk about its features, pros/cons, and get it out on the range at night to see how it does.
If you want to skip the article or see the Modlite in all its glory, check out the video below.
As always, be sure to head over to Pew Pew Tactical’s YouTube channel for more guns and gear.
Table of Contents
Lumens vs. Candela
First things first, we need to get some terminology out of the way.
Chances are if you’ve encountered any discussions of weapon lights elsewhere, you’ve likely heard the phrase “lumens.”
Lumens are the most common unit used to measure brightness over a given area — where one lumen is approximately equal to the brightness of one candle.
Though most casual shooters can get by just fine throwing down the cash for a 1,000-lumen light, there’s more to the story here…and it’s become a big part of the conversation surrounding weapon mounted lights.
While lumens are a measurement of brightness, candela is a measurement of luminous intensity in a direction. Basically…how much light makes it to your target.
So, while light with a high lumen rating is great, ideally, you want to make sure you’re able to throw that light downrange. This is where having a high candela rating comes in.
On to the goods…
Modlite’s PL350 is unique among pistol weapon lights in that it’s fully compatible with Modlite’s existing rifle light heads.
But for this review, we’re focused on the PHL2V it shipped with.
The PHL2V boasts 1,350 lumens, putting it neck and neck with the other titans of the handgat illumination category from Surefire and Streamlight.
Most Versatile Pistol Light
Installation: Easy When You Read the Instructions…
We got the complete PL350 package which includes:
- light body
- PLHv2 head
- 18350 battery and USB charger
- inserts to fit the light to your weapon
- toggle switches for the light’s activation levers
Because I didn’t read the instructions before hopping in, I mounted the PL350 and started banging away.
Then the light fell off about three times before I realized I needed to pop the Glock insert into the light body to get it to stay in place. Oops.
The plus side is it survived three unintentional drop tests.
How Does It Feel?
On that note, first impressions here are quite stellar, and the PL350 feels rugged as hell.
I don’t quite know how to explain it, but the light’s got this sort of simplistic, almost brutalist flair that I didn’t quite dig at first.
But it’s grown a lot on me during the time I’ve spent with it.
Not that aesthetics should be anywhere near the forefront of your decision-making process when it comes to choosing a weapon light.
But my gun looked dumb as hell with both this thing and the Deltapoint Micro on it.
You’ve probably noticed that the PL350 does have a good amount of standoff distance from the barrel itself on a standard G17.
So, if that’s not your thing, or you’re considering the light for concealed carry stuff, you might want to look elsewhere.
One of the bigger selling points here is the modularity between other slim Modlite products. Swapping heads on the fly is a breeze if you need to do that for whatever reason.
The toggle switches notably lack a momentary-on feature, but honestly, after a few mags getting used to it, it didn’t bother me at all.
Its toggle switches have this really pleasant tactile click when flipped either up or down, with both directions locking the unit into the “on” position and throwing angry photons downrange.
However, I feel like the toggles are slightly too short.
I really had to reach to manipulate the stock toggles. When I could reach them with my trigger finger, I didn’t generate a ton of force to adequately flip the switch off without some overtravel.
Luckily, the fact that the complete light package includes different length toggles means you’ve got options at least.
Honestly, I’m probably going to wind up popping the longer ones on to see how I feel about them.
Beam Me Up…
Given that most of my night shooting experience is under night vision and not with a weapon light, there were certainly some learning curves at play here – so keep that in mind.
The light that normally lives on my Glock is a Streamlight TLR-1 HL.
I’ve been more than happy with it thus far, but sometimes you don’t know what you’re missing until you’ve got a side-by-side comparison.
While the TLR1’s throw is decent at longer ranges and provides a fair amount of ambient light that radiates outwards, the PL350 provides areas of “segmented” light with a brilliant “hotspot” in the center.
It offers a slightly less luminous outer ring that winds up downrange and a slightly dimmer area near you that softly illuminates your immediate surroundings.
Additionally, at closer ranges, that hotspot, in theory, is going to give you just a tad bit more feedback when rushing to get a shot off in an emergency.
Impressively, you’re also not getting a ton of light bounced back at you for the increase in candela even up close.
And although the beam is still very powerful, it doesn’t overwhelm or saturate the target to the point of obfuscation.
That said, I noticed that gas and carbon thrown into the air when firing winds up getting between you and the target visually to a much higher degree than with the TLR1 or X300.
I suspect that the increased candelas and their measurement of just how much light is in a beam are at play. It feels like when you throw your high beams on in the fog.
It’s not a huge deal, but it’s something to be aware of.
That extra candela also brings along the ability to overcome or punch through photonic barriers.
While I won’t bore you with the nitty-gritty on this one, having a weapon light capable of overpowering other ambient light sources — like streetlights, headlights, etc. — is probably a good idea.
To that end, the Modlite PL350 performs admirably.
There’s Always a Downside
Now that I’ve sung its praises, here are a few potential downsides.
As noted, the PL350 runs on a single rechargeable 18350 battery and features a runtime of anywhere from 30 to 40 minutes.
Comparatively, a TLR1’s dual CR123A power source gives it approximately 90 minutes of run time.
That, of course, is the price you pay if you want a light capable of throwing light this hard.
We also had another issue that popped up with my PL350.
Out in the desert, the light worked fine — no issues — but I was using aftermarket batteries. But upon coming back to the PPT studio and swapping the original batteries in…the light failed to work despite the battery’s apparent full charge.
I had no reason to suspect that the battery and charger were malfunctioning, so I initiated an RMA on the original PL350 body. Modlite got us a replacement within a few days. (Kudos to their customer service reps.)
I received the unit, hooked it back up to our light head, and it worked fine.
It sat on my desk for a week, and again, just before filming, as I went to make sure it was functional…I got a weak beam that flashed on and off at a fixed rhythm about four times…then shut off.
Exasperated, I threw in spare 18350s I had, and the light worked great…which made me think my original RMA for the light body may have been unnecessary.
I’m not sure if it’s a defective battery or the USB charger that’s messed up (because it indicated the battery was fully charged) nevertheless it’s worth mentioning here.
By the Numbers
While we’re pretty sure the issue was with the batteries or USB charger and not the light, due to the fact we had some hiccups, we’re knocking down the rating here advising that you pick up some spare batteries.
The ability to swap out heads makes this a versatile option.
Ease of Use: 5/5
It was easy to install and easy to use. Other than the battery situation mentioned above, the light was a breeze.
Admittedly, I didn’t like the looks, but looks aren’t everything…
Coming in at $330 for the whole shebang with a PLHV2, it’s significantly pricier than the TLR1 and about the same as the Surefire X300. I don’t see a reason not to spring for PL350 if you’ve got the means to do so.
Most Versatile Pistol Light
I really liked it and think it’s a decent option for those looking for a WML.
The Modlite PL350 fits great in my existing Safariland 6534 DO holster, throws more light down range than any previous setup I’ve played with, can quickly swap heads, rechargeable batteries in a handgun-centric package is welcome.
In short, I really liked it and think it’s a clear winner.
Personally, I think I’ve found my new go-to handgun light, even if it makes me slightly sad to replace my TLR-1.
Again, to see it in action, check out the video below.
What do you think of Modlite’s PL350? Let us know in the comments below. For more illumination, also read up on some of our other pistol light recommendations.
[Video+Review] Modlite PL350: Best Pistol Mounted Light? is written by John Currie for www.pewpewtactical.com