Today I am taking a look at Klarus’s first Pistol light the GL1. It produces 600 lumens for 1 minute, has an adjustable rail to fit a variety of different sized pistols and is MicroUSB rechargeable. Thanks to Klarus for sending this to me to review.
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Packaging & Accessories
The GL1 comes with a retail hanging box, and it’s basically what you would expect. It does have a runtime chart on the backend. Inside you get the GL1 itself, a MicroUSB charging cable, and a manual. You also get a replacement rail piece and a couple of small screws to lock it down once get it in place for your firearm.
The GL1 is made from aluminum and IPX6 water rated. It’s a one piece design and fairly slim up front with it getting a little wider as the taper flares out to the back. The front has a fairly deep bezel to protect the lens. On the right side (when mounted) it has a to show an LED, useful when charging, and to give power level indications. ON the bottom is the MicroUSB charging port covered by a silicone cover. Unlike the Olight it’s non magnetic which some will like.
At the back you have two plastic switches that hinge down slightly to turn on. There is a small rubber piece here to give you some give. It’s fairly stiff and at least for me on the glock platform it’s a littler further reach then the Olight PL-Mini 2. What I don’t like is the contour they have chosen for these buttons. For me I find the steep angle uncomfortable because my finger hits the sharper angle using less of the available finger pad to press the button. It works a little better if I come in from the top/side and not directly from top. I think I may file these down a little for better ergonomics.
The GL1 uses a more traditional screw mounting system and a spring loaded mount. You can loosen the screw by hand or with a coin or spent casing and then push on it to expand the jaws of the pickitniy rail section. The rail piece is adjustable. It slides on a stepped plastic track. The little rail section is spring loaded so once you lock it onto your firearm it won’t go anywhere. Its a mounting system that works pretty well, it’s a little slower than the Olight PL-Mini2’s system especially when switching between guns but overall it’s a pretty good design.
As far as holster options I know of no one yet supporting the GL1 to buy something off the shelf. This means if you do want to use this on a carry gun, you will need to have something custom made. I think it would be super smart for light manufactures to partner with a holster manufacture in advance or come out with something on their own when lights launch.
The Olight PL-Mini2 is the light that’s the closest competitor in basically all stats and even the size. As you can see from the photos here they are very similar looking from the front with the Olight having a slightly larger diameter bezel. The differences is the mounting systems, with the Olights being quick disconnect and a little easier to use. For comparisons of the beam be sure to check the video version of this review.
LED & BeamShot
The GL1 is using a Cree XP-L2 HD LED in cool white and powered by an internal 260mAh liion battery. No exact tint data is given but it’s not super cool. The LED sits behind a smooth fairly small deep reflector.
The beam quality here is good for it’s intended purpose. It’s fairly spotty but the focal point is medium size. There is a good amount of tint shift from the emitter in the center with it being warmer in the middle the the edges. The Olight throws just slightly further according to the stats but to my naked eye I can’t tell a difference.
Heat and Runtime
The GL1 produces it’s maximum of 600 lumens for right at 1 minute and then starts stepping down from near 100% relative output to 10% over the next 11 minutes. It was at 2:10 we see maximum heat at 35C which is fine. The next 50 minutes or so the light maintains that 10% and then the light is running at near moonlight outputs for the next 2 hours. Output here was a bit disappointing since it lost so much output so quickly. While most firefights won’t last very long I want more then 12 minutes of more then 60 lumens and the last 2 hours are near useless. It’s possible I have a bad battery here but I would rather see a more regulated driver and a few more step downs to better control things.
UI here is easy and straight forward. There is one mode, on with the light. Both sides switches work the same on the light. A quick press locks the light on. If you press and hold the light comes on in momentary mode. Strobe is available if you click both the left and right buttons at the same time.
The GL1 uses a a 650mAh lithium ion battery internally that’s sealed in the light. The bad here is that it’s non replaceable but that’s to be expected on a light of this purpose that’s so small. Recharging is accomplished via a MicroUSB port on the bottom of the light. While slightly less convenient the Olights Magnetic system the pro is that it’s a standard cable and easy to charge pretty much anywhere. It’s a trade off I will gladly take.
I measured recharging as taking just 56 minutes and the maximum speed I saw was just under 0.3A so a very safe charging speed for this size of battery. On the side of the light there is a LED that will be red when charging and green when charged.
- MicroUSB recharging means no proprietary cables needed here.
- Strobe is available if you want it.
- 1 minute of 600 lumen output I wish was a bit longer
- No holster options are on the market that I could find.
- Actuation buttons need revised ergonomics
My conclusion is the GL1 is a good first attempt from Klarus on a pistol light. Physically they did a great job, I think. It’s not really much of an original design but it’s enough to be different. The mounting system works pretty well for not being a QD mount. I do wish they would rethink the ergonomics on the rear buttons a bit for their future models.
Performance here needs a bit of work. A more regulated driver with stepped modes is important here, A shorter runtime is ok if the light produces more light while doing it, because we have to remember the use case here, you’re unlikely to have a pistol light in use for hours at a time. It’s much more likely to have it out for minutes at time.
I give this light a pass as it’s better then other brands first attempts at a pistol light. The use of MicroUSB here over a proprietary cable is smart. The UI is good and simple for it’s purpose. Lack of holster options will prevent this from being a cary or duty light but that won’t prevent it from being a good companion for a night stand or desk gun. It will be fun to watch where Klarus goes from here with their GL series of lights.