It’s not every day a new company can come out of the blue to challenge well-established competitors in a massively competitive industry — but Olight has somehow managed to do just that by creating new, interesting illumination products and offering them at remarkably competitive prices.
We put one of their most popular products, the PL-Mini 2, through its paces to see if the comparisons with more established manufacturers are truly warranted.
In This Article:
Olight PL-Mini 2
Who is Olight, and what do they do?
Founded in 2006, Olight’s primary focus is what they call “quality illumination products,” which I guess is corporate-speak for “decent lights” focused on flashlights, headlamps, and weapon lights. Their big break was gaining popularity in the outdoor and flashlight markets in Europe, which enabled them to expand into the more competitive U.S. market over time.
Later, they focused on creating higher-end products for the tactical market and worked with law enforcement and government agencies to fulfill their need for lights and illumination products that can stand up to their high standards. This innovation is core to Olight and helpsP.L. them maintain relevance in the market and expand their offering well beyond those early days.
These days you’ll Olight products that run on CR123A batteries, A.A., and AAA batteries, plus their rechargeable battery packs and the signature magnetic charging port for which they have now come to be known.
Once Olight had a toe-hold on the tactical market, they began building toward establishing new civilian customers, the target market for almost all of the products they release today.
Olight manufactures their LED flashlights & flashlight accessories, including activation switches, light filters, and rechargeable batteries and chargers — all of which are tested to ANSI/NEMA FL1-2009 standards (giving Olight a unique focus on quality that sets them apart from competitors).
When you think of pistol lights, you probably think of brands like Surefire and Streamlight, which have been around for over 30 years. Olight has quickly made a name for itself among the ranks of these giants and produces quality products at the right price point for many consumers. As such, they reached out to me and asked if I could put their PL-Mini 2 to the test.
What’s in the Box?
The PL-Mini 2 Valkyrie came with the light with a built-in lithium polymer battery on a Glock compatible rail, a magnetic USB charging cable, a 1913 rail mount adapter, a t8 socket head wrench, and a user manual.
The light is rectangular shaped with the light at the forward end, the polymer battery and magnetic charging port are located in the center of the unit, and the controls are at the opposite end. The included magnetic USB recharging cable mounts to the bottom of the device while the top features a rail adapter that slides onto the quick attach release mounting system.
The best way to compare the size of the light itself is that of a newer electronic car key or a Zippo lighter. It’s pretty tiny.
Construction, Size & Weight
The PL-2 Mini 2 is what they call an “ultra compact” light — which means it’s pretty darn small. It weighs 2.57 ounces and is slightly over 2 inches long, making it compatible with most compact pistols with short rails.
The firearm must have approximately 1.57 inches of clearance between the trigger guard and rail slot to ensure a proper fit, so measure twice cut once, as they say.
Which of the two rail mounts included with the PL Mini you’ll use depend on the gun to which you’re mounting the light, but both are designed for use under the pistol’s muzzle.
The dual rear switches permit ambidextrous use when mounted to the gun, so this light is friendly to righties and lefties right out of the box without moving anything around.
Pressing a control switch downward activates the light. This particular model has a constant-on activation mode but no strobe feature. A second press turns the light back off.
The Mini 2 is powered by a built-in rechargeable battery with a maximum output of 600 lumens of white light with a stated beam distance of 328 feet, or as it says on the box, “600 lumens with 100 meters of throw”.
The LED delivers a maximum output of 600 lumens for about one minute and will gradually fade to 60 lumens within about 10 minutes.
The device is rated Waterproof IPX6 — anything rated “6” or less is considered water-resistant but not waterproof. The IPX6 protects against high-pressure water streams from any angle, and while they can’t claim it is waterproof, it’s pretty darn close. Just don’t plan on taking it on any scuba adventures.
One strength is Olight’s warranty policy. Olight warranties headlamps for two years and batteries for one year. If a light you purchased is within a 30-day window of purchase and is defective, Olight will repair or replace it. Olight will repair or replace a light that isn’t working within five years of the purchase date for regular use. After five years, Olight will assess the damage and provide a list of fees you’ll incur for the repair or replacement.
I don’t know the last time I used a single pistol light for five years, so the warranty seems to be well above expectation.
I put the light to the test to see if their performance claims hold water.
Using visual assessment, it was clear the brightest beam lasted right just over 60 seconds on a full charge. Beyond that, the reduction in the number of lumens of white light was evident, with the center of the beam slowly diminishing over time.
The light lasted much longer than 10 minutes, but the final light output was much too soft to assist even in total darkness. A red indicator light on the left side of the light turned on, letting me know the battery needed to be recharged.
One of my concerns about testing pistol lights is the heat most lights and batteries radiate when in constant use. Surprisingly, the light itself was cool to the touch through the entire test duration, and the battery area was only slightly warm.
There are usually only seconds between finding your intruder and pulling the trigger in a gunfight, which means in an everyday defensive situation, a light that lasts longer than 60 seconds is most likely not needed. However, in more tactical applications, such as clearing buildings, the worst light you can mount onto your gun is one that burns you from being left on.
The lithium-polymer battery (built-in) did not emit any intense heat, nor was it too hot to touch even after minutes of use.
Without recharging the battery, I turned the light back on after a 30-minute delay and noticed it still emitted enough light to sufficiently light up my house.
If you were in a situation where you needed to rely on a light to function one last time before charge, odds are the Olight PL will make it through until you can connect it back to the magnetic charging cable without leaving you in the dark.
The quality of the light is astounding. The light is not just bright in darkness but packs a punch in daylight as well. In close-quarters combat, the goal of the beam is not just to see your intended target but to blind and disorient them as well, which this light does rather well.
Like any battery-powered light, PL-Mini 2 Valkyrie is most potent when it’s fully charged and first turned on, which is the opportune time to make use of it. Even after minutes of constantly being on, the white LED light is powerful enough to clear a room or blind an attacker.
next test I performed was attempting to make the on/off toggles fail. The dual rear switches permit smooth activation and deactivation of the light, no matter which you press to turn it on or off. The worst gun, light, laser, or tool you can buy is one that is too difficult to operate in the heat of the moment.
Applying even the slightest pressure on either activation switch quickly popped the light on or off, and changing switches — pressing the left side switch to turn it on and the right side to turn it off — works without incident. Switch pressure was consistent from right to left, making it pretty seamless to operate with either hand
Mounting the PL-Mini 2 Valkyrie
Install and removal of the PL-Mini 2 Valkyrie could not be easier. Out of the box, the light is already installed on a Glock rail attachment. Rail adapters are provided to mount the light onto a Smith & Wesson, HK, Walther, or any other pistol that meets the required 1.57 inches of clearance between the trigger guard and rail slot. The user can adjust to any length or desired position along the rail. Once you get used to it, mounting and removal can quickly be done within one second.
If a rail mount adapter is needed, slide the rail adapter onto the gun into one of the Picatinny rail slots, ensure the mount doesn’t have too much play in it and close the lever. If it is still wobbly, tighten the mount on the gun by turning the set screw to eliminate slop.
Loosen the lever before sliding the Olight onto the mount, and press it back until it reaches the trigger guard. Close the lever, and you’re done!
If the activation control switches are too far for you to activate the light quickly, consider moving the rail mount back and forth until the switches are within activation distance. If you have larger hands and it’s too close to the trigger guard, you can simply slide the light further down the rail than moving the mount on the gun.
The light’s position should be comfortable and not awkward to toggle on and off, which the included adjustable rail makes quick and easy.
The PL-Mini 2 Valkyrie was then put to the test at the range. If you’ve never used a pistol with a weapon light, it can take some getting used to. The weight from the light isn’t enough to make a huge difference, but some shooters do find that additional weight up-front can help balance out the gun and slightly reduce felt recoil as well.
The best benefit of having a light or laser on your defensive firearm is the ability to rely less on your sights and more on the center of the cone of light or a built-in laser. You can point and shoot using the light as a guide rather than focusing with your sights, which can significantly speed target acquisition in a self-defense situation.
I found the easiest and fastest way to turn on the light is using your support hand thumb. After drawing the pistol with my dominant hand, my support hand naturally comes up to form the rest of the grip, but my thumb first activates the light, then finds its place back on the gun’s frame.
Another way to turn the light on even faster is using your trigger finger. Most likely, you’re going to pick up a bedside gun with one hand just like you’d draw your gun with your dominant hand. Without looking at the light or activation switch, your trigger finger can easily find and push down on the activation switch before resting against the gun’s frame or finding the trigger if you need to shoot.
The white light illuminates full USPSA targets clear as day, making it easy to see and defend yourself against an attacker even out to 10 yards distance, which would be one massive room in a home defense situation. The stated throw distance of 100 meters seemed accurate and I could easily make out objects in the distance when illuminated with the light’s beam distance of 100 meters.
After firing the first round, you may notice that some of the burnt powder’s smoke can give the light a slight haze. Shooting through the haze can take some getting used to, so it’s always a good idea to practice with your gun and light in low light conditions or at night if your local range allows for it.
Charging the PL Mini
The magnetic charging cable (MCC) couldn’t be easier to use. In fact, it’s simpler than an iPhone charger.
The light’s magnetic charging port is located on the bottom of the unit and connects to the magnet charger via USB cable without removing the light from the mount. You just slide the light off your pistol, and the Olight signature magnetic charging port snaps right onto the charging port located at the bottom of the light.
The included magnetic USB cable and magnetic charger are universal across all their lights. The simplicity of recharging any Olight without the need to locate its specific charger is a massive advantage if you have multiple pistols with different Olights.
Overall, the ease of use and quality of the light surprised me. I will be using an Olight PL Mini on my concealed carry pistol and bedside handgun.
Shortcomings & Alternatives
The one thing you need to think about before buying any pistol light is finding holsters available for your pistol model when paired with a specific light. While holster manufacturers produce non-custom holsters designed with a “one size fits most” approach, be careful with these universal holsters because, without proper retention, your gun can come out of the holster unexpectedly.
The best holsters are the ones that are custom-molded to fit your gun and light only, and there are fewer holsters explicitly made for Olight products than there are for the Surefires and Streamlights of the world.
Rechargeable batteries can’t always compete with longer-lasting standalone batteries that can power a light for hours. Even with the hassle of replacing a battery, there are times when the rechargeable powered Olight simply won’t be up for the job. A more powerful light with a longer battery life will be needed for late-night security or night shift patrol. For these kinds of use cases, I’d recommend brands like Surefire and Streamlight.
This mini light checks all the boxes for the average user looking for a light whose purpose is to be mounted on a bedside gun — one that will only be used for the once-in-a-lifetime home invasion.
The Olight PL-Mini 2 Valkyrie makes for an excellent defensive everyday carry light or bedside gun light. It is best used in short bursts for a self-defense scenario but would not be ideal for tactical scenarios where a light needs to work on and off several times throughout the night.
Keep this in mind, and you’ll almost certainly be happy with adding the PL-Mini to your collection.