Have you been following illumination technology? I fully admit to being in the dark (pun intended) about the speedy, inexorable progress of lights for quite some time. Heck, until a few short years ago, I was of the opinion the Mini-Maglite was the pinnacle of flashlight technology.
By Drew Forge, contributing writer
Weapon lights? Yeah, I didn’t even bother – the big, clunky incandescent Weapon Mounted Lights (WMLs) took big batteries that never lasted very long. The sheer bulk of the lights, and the required clunky mounting setups, meant I didn’t even grace these nutty apparatus with a second glance.
Advanced Weapon Light Technology: Smaller and Brighter
Fast forward a few illuminating years (again, pun intended), and you’ll find that flashlights are dynamite pieces of technology with incredible output, LED reliability, and utilization of Lithium-Ion batteries or rechargeable options. 1000 lumens of brilliance shining from a 5” long light? Yawn. Multiple output levels offering DAYS of runtime from a CR123A or 18650 battery? SO blasé. You can get flashlights that run off a single rechargeable AAA battery and put the old multi-D-cell Maglites to absolute shame, right next to the checkout at a hardware store. Really amazing when you think about it.!
These outstanding technology advances weren’t just kept to flighlights – weapon lights with 500+ lumens of output and integral lasers, are now small enough to live in front of the triggerguard on Glock 26. Amazing light products from several manufacturers with increasingly brilliant innovations are on our doorstep after a couple clicks, adaptable to an astounding array of firearms with few, if any, modifications.
It’s a magical time, and it’s just getting better by the day. You want an example? Well, how about the new Olight Baldr Mini light? It’s kind of a big deal.
Enter the Olight Baldr Mini
The Olight Baldr Mini is a diminutive powerhouse of a weapon light, the little brother to Olight’s larger, more powerful 1,350 Lumen (!) Baldr Pro series light. Designed to run in the same circles as lights in the “micro” Streamlight TLR-7/8 and Surefire XC series class, the Baldr Mini offers a suite of unique features that will surely endear it to anyone considering a small but powerful light on their arm.
The small size will likely be the main consideration for clientele of the Olight Baldr Mini. Dimensions are a svelte 2 ¼ inches long, 1 ¼ inches wide, and weight with the integral 230 mAh battery is just a bit over three ounces, its machined aluminum casing adding minimal weight to the desired firearm home. These dimensions place the Baldr Mini roughly in the same overall dimensions as the familiar aforementioned Streamlight and Surefire products – and that’s about where the similarity ends.
Mini but Mighty
You want pint-sized performance? You got it with the Olight Baldr Mini. Pumping out a bread-toasting 600 lumens/4225 candela from its LED bulb, the Baldr Mini eclipses the Streamlight TLR-7/8 (500 Lumens) and the Surefire XC1-B (300 Lumens). Olight advertises that the full-power stream will throw a white light for about 420 feet. On a full charge, the Olight Baldr Mini boasts about 40 minutes of runtime on just the light, and 30 minutes of continuous-on with the laser running at the same time as the light.
Oh yeah, the Olight Baldr Mini has an integral green laser onboard to accentuate the unit’s main purpose of throwing light. Olight did an outstanding job integrating the laser into the light housing – no holster-ruining afterthought pods hanging under the light like Streamlight employs; no gaudy puckered emitters like Surefire. Olight provided a hidden home for the laser right inside the light lens. Olight really knocked this feature out of the park, in my opinion.
A great benefit of Olight’s laser positioning – above the LED light emitter – is it pushes the laser closer to the bore, meaning the laser offers less of an oblique, radical angle in relation to the bore line. What does this mean? The laser – once dialed in via two clean, recessed adjustment screws on the passenger side of the Baldr Mini – is more precise over a longer distance. It’s simple geometry: the closer to the bore axis a laser is, the further out the beam will stay closer to the bullet’s line of travel before the laser’s path actually rises above the bullet’s arc of travel due to the need to point upwards from under the gun to meet the bullet’s required point of impact at a set distance.
And this, my friends, is a good thing if you use your laser for its intended purpose. The Olight Baldr Mini offers a simple sliding switch to choose between functions: light only, laser and light, laser only – for those of you who like options.
BALDR Mini Sounds Cool. What Else Does it Offer?
As the famous infomercials proclaim, “but wait – there’s more!” The Olight Baldr Mini has included some interesting features to improve the end user’s (operators for you cool kids) ergonomics and interface.
The Streamlight TLR-7 (bottom pic) is what hangs under my carry Glock 19. The light is really pretty good, but my biggest complaint is that the two buttons used to actuate the light are just out of reach of my medium-sized fingers when holding the gun in a firing position, requiring me to rock the gun slightly and lose my firing grip in order to initiate the light.
Olight offers two key features to beat this problem handily. First, the Baldr Mini utilizes small paddles that protrude backward from the body of the light – a simple downwards tap activates the light/laser. (If you’ve ever used a Streamlight TLR-1, you’re familiar with a similar setup.) The paddles are pedestrian yet effective; however, the OTHER solution is innovative and ridiculously effective.
The Olight Baldr Mini offers a quick-detachable lever on the side for easy light release – it’s there if you need to charge the light, swap to another gun, use the laser to entertain your cat, whatever. However, that lever also releases the lower portion of the light to slide back and forth (or off, be careful!) on the upper part of the light that attaches to your firearm’s rail. This feature needs to be tried to be appreciated. When I first mounted the Baldr Mini to a Glock, (I’ll admit I was completely unaware the light body moved), the light sat far so far forward underneath the dust cover of the Glock I could fit my index finger between the triggerguard and the light. I couldn’t actuate the paddle switches, it looked stupid, and I pretty much thought, “psssht, how the heck am I supposed to review THIS?”
Well, after a perusal of the instructions (funny how those are actually informative), I ended up being the one looking stupid, as I merely lifted the release lever and pushed the lower body of the light backward until it locked in place tight against the ugly Glock triggerguard with a satisfying ratcheting sound.
Clouds parted, the sun shone down upon me, doves flew, harps played, angels sang sweet melodies. With a simple motion, the Olight Baldr Mini transformed into an ergonomically superior light-throwing machine that I immediately loved. The controls were all now in easy reach of my shooting thumbs and fingers, and all was right in the world.
Charging the Baldr Mini Light
The Olight Baldr Mini doesn’t offer the user an interchangeable battery system; rather the small integral battery is charged via an included magnetic puck USB charger. The small blue proprietary Olight-labelled charger puck emphatically snaps onto the bottom of the Baldr Mini in a fashion very similar to an Apple Watch onto its charger. (In case you’re wondering like I did, I tried the Baldr Mini on an Apple Watch charge to no avail.)
I don’t have definite timed charging numbers, but it never took me more than a half hour or so to charge the Baldr Mini up. The charging cable has a built-in charging indicator – a red glow means the light is charging; green means the charge is complete – pretty standard fare.
This charging system leaves us in an interesting conundrum on the prepper front. The convenience of USB charging and complete lack of requirement to stock batteries is brilliant and eases planning requirements; however, if your light runs out of battery juice while you need it, there is absolutely zero way to pop out the dead batteries and replace with fresh units on the go.
Also, any charging stations you have in your preps need to be able to play nice with the Baldr Mini’s charging system. I hooked the USB cable up to a Hybridlight PUC solar lantern which has a USB out port – the light glowed green for a couple seconds then shut off. I assume the rated output needs to be a certain level to work; these specs aren’t available on Olight’s website that I could find. I suspect a bit of trial-and-error would be required in order to find the right combination. Also, I would certainly try to contact Olight to obtain a backup magnetic charging cable or two – just in case.
The Olight Baldr Mini in Action
I got the light in my hot little hands merely a week before the date Olight intended to release the product to the public, so I was not able to work with the light as much as I would have liked to. That said, going all tacti-cool and “clearing” my darkened house with an unloaded arm proved the Baldr Mini worked exactly as this light was intended to. The cool white output was not starkly bright or brutally blinding against white walls in the dark. At 15 feet, the Baldr Mini’s hotspot spanned about 30 inches – just about perfect for a home defense handgun light.
Outdoors in my village location, illuminating the houses around me and the road out front was a snap – identifying a target in the dark at 50 yards is simple indeed. During a recent tropical storm, I used the Baldr Mini from the comfort of my home to clearly watch the sharp winds blow down my corn crops in the garden 90 yards distant. I can say with confidence that the Baldr Mini is eminently usable out much further than most of us can shoot accurately.
I did notice that the light gets hot very quickly during prolonged use; just a little tidbit to keep in the back of your mind. All that output means all that heat!
Wrapping it Up
The Olight Baldr Mini is a positively stellar micro-sized weapon mounted light. If you can get past the charging situation (heck, many of us will embrace the convenience!) the light should really be on the top of your list for WMLs to buy, especially for your smaller carry guns – though the Baldr Mini is absolutely right at home on a full-sized handgun.
I really can’t find any “yeah, buuuuuut….” things to say about this light. Even the malady common to all new handgun lights – lack of holsters available – is completely eradicated by Olight, who happily provides a link on their website for compatible holster manufacturers. I DID try the Baldr Mini in holsters designed for a Streamlight TLR-7, but predictably these didn’t work – the large side QD lever is the culprit here. Unfortunately, the Baldr Mini did not fit on my new SIG Sauer P365 SAS – but it did work just fine on its big brothers, the P320 and P220.
Spare Parts Included
Olight also won my heart over by providing spare parts! Along with the required tiny allen wrench for adjusting the laser point of impact and changing out the rail keys (Olight priveds two keys -one labelled “Glock” and one for Picatinny rails), we also receive in a tiny zip lock bag additional rail key screws and laser adjustment screws.
Well played, Olight – and much appreciated. Olight’s price out the door for a Baldr Mini is well under a hundred bucks – and if you check out said Olight website, you’ll find value-oriented combo bundles that combine a Baldr Mini with their tiny i5T flashlight for just a couple bucks more than just the Baldr Mini alone. The Baldr Mini also currently is offered in plain black (like the one pictured here), along with gunmetal gray or desert tan for you range barbie peeps.
Light technology has improved by leaps and bounds, and we should all be ridiculously eager to embrace such forward progress. Scorching, feature-laden micro lights are the new norm. Olight not only offers this Baldr Mini but a staggering array of high-quality lights, with uses that span 1000+ lumen heavy duty lights to effective EDC lights to headlamps – and beyond!
This Baldr Mini is admittedly my first interaction with Olight products, and I am so completely impressed that further purchases are already in my cart on the Olight website – I guess I really can’t provide any better testimonial than that. The Olight Balder Mini is a well thought-out, first-rate quality piece of gear, absolutely worthy of your consideration for investigating bad things that go bump in the night.