Released in 2019, the Streamlight TLR VIR II is an all-in-one illumination solution for your pistol, subgun, or rifle. At least, according to Streamlight. With a three-mode selector switch underneath, the TLR VIR II can toggle between 300 lumens of white light (with 5,000 candela and a 1.5 hour run time), a safe/off mode, and an IR mode, which uses 850nm wavelength LED emitters putting out 600mW/sr radiant intensity (whatever the f*ck that means), with a 12 hour run time. Its laser is fully adjustable for windage and elevation, and the unit is water resistant to 1 meter for 30 minutes.
Everything above is pulled directly from Streamlight's press release. I recently acquired an SP5K, and wanting to keep the look as classic as possible, wanted a do-it-all solution to give me an option for active aiming under night vision that was also compact enough to be at home on a backpack gun. This limited me effectively to three options. The Surefire x400v, the Surefire XVL2-IRC, and the Streamlight TLR VIR II. Being somewhat limited on funds (see the part where I acquired an SP5k), I decided to give the TLR VIR II a shot. I'm also somewhat familiar with the performance of the two Surefire options, so they will be a rough benchmark, but keep in mind the large price discrepancy. The Streamlight TLR VIR II can be had for $300. The x400v is 250% more than that, and the XVL2-IRC is about 450% as much.
So is the TLR VIR II the do-it-all solution it claims to be? Here's my findings.
Streamlight TLR VIR II Construction
The Streamlight TLR VIR II has an all aluminum construction with a Type-III Hard Anodized finish, and a Borofloat glass lens. If you have no idea what makes Borofloat glass special, don't worry, neither did I, and that's why I just linked you to a comprehensive article on it. In short, its very heat resistant, very scratch resistant, has great infrared light transmission, and doesn't distort light passing through. So sounds like Streamlight picked the right glass for the job. In fact, it's the same glass that Surefire uses.
Everything feels quality, and nothing feels like I'm going to break it. The only possible exception to that is the battery compartment door, which I needed pliers to open, and was hesitant about how much force I was putting into it. However the entire unit is solidly constructed, and it looks & feels quality.
Streamlight TLR VIR II Durability
Great, so it seems like it's constructed well, but how does it actually translate into it's durability?
Overall, pretty good. Keep in mind, I'm no operator, and I'm not doing Aaron Cowans drop test (not because I care about the Streamlight necessarily,... I just don't want to ding up my MP5. There, I said it). So what stress did it go through?
Well, still a fair amount since I'm still a mongoloid. Over the course of about 1,500 rounds fired, we took this setup on several hunts, a night vision event (NOD's & Chill), two weekends of living in a backpack around town and off-roading, and more drops and bangs around the house than I care to admit. I also let it hang out in the snow in the bed of my truck for a couple hours, and left it in the bathtub for a bit.
I would say it has seen more than the normal amount of use over the 5 weeks that I've had it. And that is always the perspective our reviews will be from. We tend to use our gear more than most, but we aren't the hardest out there.
So how did it hold up? Very well. I did have one issue with zero shifting a few inches after particularly rough ride off road, but I attributed it to my failure to properly torque it down. After I made sure to really tighten it, and zero my laser again, I've had no more issues with zero shifting over the last 4 weeks. And I've had no other issues with it either. The Streamlight TLR1 is a common duty optic, so the durability of this laser isn't something I'm concerned with.
Streamlight TLR VIR II Ergonomics
Ergonomics on a light like this are never too complicated, but I still like what the TLR VIR II has going on. I like the sliding selector switch on the bottom of the light, as it keeps me from potentially flagging my hand with a muzzle compared to the Surefire x400v (which changes modes by twisting the bezel, which frequently extends beyond the muzzle of the handgun). I also actually prefer the way the light activates as well. The switch is easy to manipulate, but not so easy that you may have a light ND. Also, instead of pushing in for momentary, I can just push the left side of the switch down (via my support hand on a pistol), or when mounted to my SP5k, it is very easy to push the right side of the switch up, which also activates momentary. It sits at a very ideal location to be able to activate while holding the VFG.
Streamlight TLR VIR II Performance
The Streamlight TLR VIR II has three areas of performance to review, and I'll break it up into three sections. This is where it's really going to boil down to this light being the jack-of-all-trades that Streamlight markets it as,... or not.
White Light Performance
First, 300 lumens at 5,000 candela is nothing to write home about. That said, it's very comparable to the Surefire X400v (which has 350 lumens), and even the XVL2-IRC only has 400 lumens.
That said, 300 lumens is absolutely usable, and probably more than enough for most tasks on a pistol or a subgun (you're going to see that repeated a lot). I've you're in a large city with a lot of photonic barriers, you won't be able to punch through them at distance. However, for ranges 50 yards and in, and especially 25 yards and in, it does it's job well. I can illuminate through car windshields, and easily identify someone and what they're holding out to the distances you expect to be effective with a handgun.
However, the white light is probably too weak for any rifle that does work past home defense distances. You're not going to be getting good PID 50 yards or so, and certainly not at 100 and beyond.
No other way to say it, the IR is pretty anemic. And it is ALL flood. This is... pretty disappointing. While the Streamlight TLR VIR II is great for room distances, and pretty good out to 15-25 yards, past that its actually a bit of a hinderance. The excessive flood can gate your tubes and make anything outside of its illum more difficult to see, which is... most things. It also lacks the power to really punch through barriers.
So for the MP5k, it's usable, but disappointing. For anything other than a bag gun, or a handgun, I wouldn't recommend this for your IR source.
Summary: Streamlight TLR VIR II
It's about what we expected for the price. Listen, if you have a handgun or a subgun that you want an easy option for to have both white & IR light, and you're not using it outside of short distances, then go for the TLR VIR II. It's durable enough to rely on, and plenty adequate for close quarters use. In fact, inside of a structure the flood is really a plus.
However, if you have the budget for more, or if you ever feel like you'll need illumination past 25 yards, I would recommend another option. Like, strongly. But hey, it's your money!
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