12 O’ Clock Light Height Comparison

I recently reviewed the INFORCE APL and mentioned that it worked well mounted in the 12 o’ clock position on a carbine. That statement spawned a couple of emails that asked if the APL obscured the sight picture when used in this position because it looks too bulky. So, I took this as an opportunity to compare the height of 4 of the most commonly used 12 o’ clock carbine lights: the Surefire X300, INFORCE WML, INFORCE APL, and Streamlight TLR-1.

12 o clock light comparison

I’ll let the above picture do some of the talking (click it for a larger version). The red line indicates the rough center of the optic which is mounted at 1/3 co-witness height. The green line represents the height of the tip of the front sight. The black line represents the height of the tallest light (the Streamlight TLR-1). I will tell you that, with the front sight up, you will not really even see any of these lights in your sight picture.

The lowest of the 4 is the INFORCE WML (WML review). It is a tremendous option due to its light weight, great switch, and clever lock out features. I absolutely love using this light in the 12 o’ clock position.

The INFORCE APL (APL review) is only slightly taller than the WML and, believe it or not, it is shorter than the Surefire X300. The picture has a bit of distortion near the edges that makes it appear otherwise but I can verify that the APL is about 1/16″ shorter than the highest point on the X300 (the battery compartment latch). Its switch lends it self very well to being mounted in this position and it is the lightest of all the lights shown.

The Surefire X300 is the third tallest light in this comparison but only because of its battery compartment latch. Without the latch, it is basically the same height as the APL. Its switch works very well in this position and it is used quite commonly for this application.

The Streamlight TLR-1 is the tallest light of the bunch but it still doesn’t block your sight picture. The switch is less ideal than the other lights (I find it to be better for right handed shooters since I think press down on the rocker switch is more intuitive and ergonomic for momentary activation). In spite of all that, it still works great.

You can rest assured. All of the above lights, including the APL, work very well in this role. If you would like more information on the advantages and disadvantages of 12 o’ clock mounted lights, check out our previous article on the subject.

Thanks to Stickman for the inspiration. He recently created a similar image with a few popular RDS.

7 Responses to 12 O’ Clock Light Height Comparison

  1. Dave April 17, 2013 at 10:22 #

    I think there’s one important fact missing: The sight plane is not parallel with the bore, but your rail is.

    This means that the farther forward your light is mounted (or the farther rearward your sight is mounted) the more the light will stick up into the iron sight picture. In the above picture, with the MBUS mounted where it is and using only irons, you probably won’t be able to see much of your post. Move the MBUS up to just behind the X300 and you’ll just barely be able to see the light.

    Why’s that important? Because (at least in my case, X300 just in front of a Troy fixed front on the end of an Alpha 13) it’s not the tallest portion of the light that I see in my iron sight picture, it’s the forward-most point on the bezel. I can’t see my X300 latch, I see the bezel. When I tried the TLR-1 with my setup, the bezel of that light covered the whole base of the front post. It was still usable, but I felt it was less than ideal (enough of a difference to spend the extra coin on a Surefire).

    • Matt April 17, 2013 at 10:39 #

      You are absolutely right Dave. Lining the lights up on the rail like that isn’t a great representation of how they will interact with the sight picture. It was only meant to be used as a comparison between the lights.

  2. Jesse April 28, 2013 at 12:04 #

    Great info.

    Through an Eotech (EXP2-0), with the raised QD base for 1/3 co-witness, will the WML be visible?

    • Matt April 28, 2013 at 13:00 #

      All of the lights will be “visible” to some extent. However, it will not obstruct your sight picture.

  3. Mark June 5, 2013 at 13:11 #

    Of the two, WML and APL, which would you prefer at 12 O’clock? Am leaning towards the APL as its shorter, leaving a longer sight radius, but wonder if its activation switch isn’t as user friendly as the WML’s. Also, is the extra brightness of the APL a potential detriment as it might be relflected to the shooters’ eyes?

    • Matt June 5, 2013 at 15:53 #

      I still prefer the WML but both have their strong points. Don’t sweat the sight radius. A notch or two won’t make a functional difference for you.

  4. Mark June 6, 2013 at 09:00 #

    Thanks for the great reviews!

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