The majority of threats occur in the dark. Whether it’s from animal predators or human, dark seems to be when danger lurks nearest. Many people choose to have a weapon to help deal with these threats, whether through deterrent or through action. Not having enough light means that you’re only prepared for threats that occur during the day. Most people still simply carry a quality flashlight, however some people prefer to use a dedicated weaponlight.
Meat and Potatoes
The Olight PL-1 Valkyrie is only the second weaponlight that I have tested. The first had a major flaw that caused me to completely lose trust in it for emergency situations. That flaw was corrected, but I didn’t keep it around long enough to know whether it will ever show up again. The inherent design of the PL-1 eliminates that particular concern, leaving me free to evaluate it, rather than simply dismiss it.
The very first thing I noticed when I opened the package is that this is a fairly large light. I was excited to try it out this time because I now own a Springfield XDs that has an included rail, unlike my Sig P226, so I wasn’t forced to borrow someone else’s weapon, or purchase a rail for the Sig. Those hopes were quickly dashed however when I tried placing the Valkyrie on the compact pistol. No dice. The PL-1 is such a monster that it was literally impossible to mount. The dimensions were way off. Oh well. Guess it’s designed as a full-size pistol light only then. Time to search for other options.
I ended up buying myself a rail adapter for the Sig, supposedly designed to fit the P226. I’m glad I’m not reviewing that, but that’s a story for another time. Suffice it to say, that eventually I managed to get the light properly mounted. That’s when I learned another interesting fact about accessory mounts that I didn’t know previously. There are more than one type. Apparently, though most companies use a standard 1913 Picatinny mount pattern, Glock has designed their own Universal mount that uses a slightly narrower locking bar than the 1913. The Valkyrie comes standard with the Glock locking bar installed, but thankfully includes the 1913 as an option. Since the Glock rail felt loose when mounted to my Sig, I switched over to the Picatinny. The PL-1 uses a unique side lever release to attach to the pistol rail. This is a brilliant concept. It is incredibly fast, and reasonably solid lockup. It never even hinted at falling off during any of my testing.
Off to the range for testing. The PL-1 comes with a very nice switching mechanism. I don’t know how the physical components are situated underneath the rubber, but on either side of the light, there is a soft, electronic switch that can easily be activated by either pressing forward, or inward on the rubber pad. It never failed to work exactly when I wanted it to, and it never accidentally activated without intentional input. Beyond that, being an electronic switch, rather than a physical, it is utterly silent, a potentially useful feature.
The PL-1 Valkyrie is a powerhouse, cranking out 400 lumens from a single CR123A cell through the Cree XP-L LED. While I would have prefered a focusing lens, Olight has done well designing this reflector to produce a smooth even beam of light. The hotspot is fairly well focused (surprising, from such a narrow aperture), but there is a wide, vaguely star-shaped corona that blends the light evenly out into the wide spillbeam. Thankfully there are no distracting artifacts.
The aesthetic presentation of the Valkyrie is excellent. I still don’t know what it is that I didn’t like about the finish on early Olights I reviewed, but any concerns I had then are long gone now. These things are universally so well polished (metaphorically) that I can’t find anything not to like. The looks are spot on. The anodizing is immaculate. And the laser engraving is growing ever more graphic despite being utterly flawless.
Finish on the Valkyrie may be flawless, but there’s a component of fit that leaves a little to be desired. The two screws that hold that replaceable locking bar in place, are just barely long enough and their threads are fine enough that between the tightening I gave it when I changed from Glock to 1913, and the recoil from firing a box or so of 9mm, they completely stripped out the threading. I suspect that it was the soft aluminum body of the light that was damaged, since the screws themselves appear still intact. This had the effect of loosening up the light so it rattled a little on the rail, however it still didn’t really appear in any danger of falling off. I’ll probably try a little glue/locktite to re-establish a solid hold here, but I haven’t tried yet.
The only other gripe I have about the light is the UI. My personal thought is that a weapon light or any other truly tactical torch should be as simple to operate as it possibly can be. The last thing you want in a stressful situation is to have the wrong light level activate and have to stop and think about what you need to do to fix it. Most of the PL-1 UI is straightforward and decent. Click on. Click off. Press and hold on the button for momentary on until you release, and finally a double click from off will bring it into a semi-hidden strobe mode. I’d personally prefer not to even have that, but that’s personal preference. The Valkyrie however goes beyond that. Clicking both side buttons simultaneously activates a weird, low level blue floodlight that Olight claims is designed for secretive movement and maneuvering. It is a relatively low output light, and will work somewhat for this purpose, however the deep blue is an odd choice for this. Generally a low level red would be preferable to preserve your night vision. I’ve heard arguments for green or yellow/green to better facilitate map reading. Low white seems to be the absolute best, hands down for being able to accurately see your surroundings (to your tactical advantage, I would think. Blue hasn’t really ever come up in the discussion previously. My personal preference would be to eliminate this function entirely, saving both physical dimensions, and UI complexity.
The Olight PL-1 Valkyrie is well made, beautifully finished, smoothly operating as a torch, and even a “pretty good” weaponlight. I tend to hold anything to do with firearms to a much higher standard of quality, so I can’t rate it as spectacularly there. I won’t have any qualms about keeping it on my Sig in the safe for home protection, however I would feel much better about even that if it didn’t have the locking bar issue. Beyond the large size, I do find it too complex of a UI to recommend it as an EDC weaponlight however. This is an arena where less is truly more.