Olight’s PL-MINI 2 – a weapon light for today’s compact pistols.
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Recent years have seen some interesting defensive handgun developments including weapon-mounted lights, small pistols, and a proliferation of miniaturized red-dot sights (MRDS). Driven by concealed-carry demands, scaled down versions of mainstream defensive pistols have popped up like daisies from just about every manufacturer.
Weapon-Mounted Pistol Lights
Weapon-mounted lights have been around for a while, so many compact pistols come with an accessory rail. Out of necessity though, most are abbreviated versions that create fit hassles. Recent compact pistol weapon lights tend to be costly, and they still may not fit every compact pistol due to proprietary rail designs.
Case in point: I recently attempted to fit a small light to the rail of my first-gen S&W M&P. No luck. The light prematurely contacted the trigger guard, preventing engagement with the rail’s cross-slot.
A similar 2.0 M&P fared better, providing enough extra clearance for a solid lock. My S&W Shield was a no-go since it lacks any rail, but a similar-sized Springfield Armory 3.3 XD 9mm was a flop due to its very short rail. The many different lights and varied pistol brands further complicates everything. There comes a need for an ultra-small but adaptable compact pistol weapon light with decent output.
Today, many folks live or die by “lumen” ratings even though other factors exist. So, in the interest of brevity, we’ll go with ‘em here. For comparison’s sake, in the not too distant past, I issued weapon lights to around one hundred plain-clothes troops within my agency. These relatively small (for that time) QD units were rated at 100 lumens. Still, they were deemed bright and useful for searching interior spaces, etc. Today, they look like relics.
The new light that gave me mounting headaches is not only smaller but can beam out 1300+ lumens – seemingly enough to use for welding. Too bad it won’t fit my pistol.
Fortunately, this situation took a turn for the better upon the arrival of even smaller light, rated at 600 lumens. That’s six times the output used successfully by my agency during real-world conditions. The best part: It seems to fit about anything with a rail.
Enter Olight’s PL-MINI 2 Valkyrie
I discovered the new Olight on my front porch, well-chilled by sub-freezing temps. The first thing to blow me away was its ultra-small size – really tiny! The second grabber was its quality; small yes, but by no means chintzy. The third was its innovative mounting system.
This light is a mini version of its slightly bigger brother, the PL-PRO Vakyrie (read Derrick’s review of it). It’s closer to the site of the Olight Baldr Mini (read Drew’s review of it). It’s quite unlike the Olight Freyer (read Derrick’s review of that). This PL-MINI 2 is about as compact a compact pistol weapon light as you can find.
The amount of light this little unit could throw was the “icing” on the cake. From the box, it was cold as an ice cube with a questionable charge, but its output was nevertheless impressive. The packaging included a few useful extras and a multi-language set of directions.
Inside the box you get the PL-MINI 2 Valkyrie, wrench, 1913 and screw, MCC Special (Magnetic Charging Cable), and the user manual.
Billed as “the world’s first rechargeable light with an adjustable rail,” the light is rated for 600 lumens, maximum. The beam is listed with a throw of 100 meters, certainly far enough to cover justifiable defensive scenarios. The light itself is designed to slide fore or aft on a separate mounting chassis, locked via a QD lever. This concept is sorta the same idea as a rifle scope that can be slid in its mounting rings prior to establishing a final position. Clever!
The Valkyrie’s overall weight is a mere 2.57 ounces. Length (in its smallest configuration) is 2.07-inches. Opposing tail pads are conveniently located to offer momentary or full-on activation, via a downward press of either.
Press and hold for momentary. Tap for constant-on. Acquiring an optimum reach can be easily accomplished while mounting the light.
The Mini Valkyrie is shipped to fit proprietary Glock rails, or mil-spec Picatinny types. Opening its lever causes a pair of opposing jaws to spread apart and grasp the rail. A small central lug on the light’s mount then engages a cross-slot. Any movement is eliminated when the lever is closed.
Two lugs are provided with the light; one for Glocks (preinstalled), and another designed to mesh with Picatinny slots. Switching them is accomplished via two small screws and an included Allen wrench. A couple extra screws are provided, but I’d still take care to make the switch in a spot where the tiny parts won’t disappear.
Other Compact Pistols
Hoping for the best I retrieved the problematic 1st Gen M&P. The little Mini Valkyrie not only slipped right on but wound up too far forward. No problem though; before closing the throw-arm I simply slid the light section rearward until it abutted the trigger guard. Both activating paddles were then nicely positioned for a trigger finger. To remove the light I just swung the throw arm outward and plucked it off the pistol.
The single-stack 3.3 Springfield XD Compact raised initial concerns. It has a short rail and forward cross-slot. As it turned out though, mounting was easily accomplished by reversing the process.
To fit the XD, the light was slid forward on its mount and then locked for perfect access of the pads.
Fit hassles appeared to be resolved. But would it perform?
One concern with a miniscule weapon light is an adequate power source. Olight’s solution is a rechargeable system, easily connected by a USB cable that terminates in a magnetic coupling. Fully charged, the light is rated for an hour of useful output. That might not seem like much, but today’s light strategies rely more on momentary activations. As I found out during testing, an hour can be a pretty long time.
Some higher-octane units can generate enough heat to require a cool-down period. The Valkyrie does bump down, possibly to shed heat, but certainly to conserve juice. Its full 600-lumen output is just ten minutes, from there gradually decreasing to 60 lumens. Before going flat it’ll display a low-battery warning light.
Need a recharge? The magnetic pad on the charging cable will hop right on to a corresponding connection ring. It can be charged with the weapon light mounted or unmounted. To avoid any unsupervised contact with the gun, I play it safe and remove the light while charging.
I have a backyard range so I placed an FBI-type black Q silhouette target at the 100 yard line. Two hours after sunset, I wandered outside, snapped the fully charged Valkyrie on the forend of an AR-15, and positioned it on a shooting bench so the beam would illuminate the target.
The sky was overcast with only minimal moonlight, and snow flurries for further ambience. The temperature was a relatively balmy 22F; much warmer than I’d hoped for, but still among the coldest evenings of January, 2021.
Temperature note: During my tenure as OIC of a government firearms training unit, procurement was a key duty. We learned the importance of testing new gear in extreme conditions, which for us involved deep cold. We’ve seen a number of well-regarded electronic, polymer, and Kydex products fail after a January overnight in a vehicle. Zero or below isn’t uncommon here. Arizonians will no doubt worry more about heat.
Initial Distance & Brightness
A tap of a paddle activated constant-on. I could make out the black Q-target, but one hundred yards appeared to be the outer limit for the Valkyrie. The beam is fairly broad (not necessarily a bad thing), so it more quickly dissipates. A shot with iron sights would’ve been tough, even on the high-contrast target. Then again, most handgunners would find that challenging at high-noon. Defensively, it would also be darned hard to justify.
Anyhow, I gave the AR-15 a try and discovered I could’ve easily made hits thanks to its scope; a 30mm Vortex 1-6 Strike Eagle. The crosshairs could be resolved on the black silhouette without activating its illuminated reticle.
After several minutes, I moved forward to a 65-yard bench and saw a major improvement. Hits with iron sights seemed doable, and the scope was a no-brainer. Since the light had been continuously running, I parked the AR on the bench and continued to monitor its output. I never did observe a distinct decrease.
Eventually, my teeth began chattering as the clock continued ticking – slowly. Turns out, even 50 minutes can be a really long time! That’s when a small red warning light finally appeared above the light’s throw-lever. Can’t say I was disappointed.
Low Battery Phase (finally)
Even here I didn’t notice a dramatic loss of light. Actually, the output remained surprisingly consistent, although the 65 yard target did look more like the 100-yard version had at the start. Out of curiosity, I backed out to 100 yards again and tried the scope. No luck with plain crosshairs, but the lowest illuminated setting presented a doable target.
Geesh, an hour can be an eternity! Still, I persevered, accompanied by distant howling coyotes. Wandering back up toward the house with the scope on 2X, I tried simulated room searches underneath the elevated back deck. It was really dark below, but despite its 25-yard length, I had no trouble identifying various objects like gas cans, firewood, etc.
70-Minutes (enough already)
The beam was still about as bright as the old AA Mini MAGLITEs many of us carried in the 90s. I could’ve easily dispatched a skunk on the lawn.
At the 75-minute mark it was a chillier 20F, and the woodstove was increasingly attractive. BUT, I could still manipulate the light’s control pads using gloves or numb, bare fingers.
Wimping out, I returned to the house, unsnapped the light, and clipped on the charger. Almost immediately, warm air condensed on its surface including the lens. Since this light is sold as “water resistant” no harm was noted. Taking the advertising at its word, I resisted the urge to dunk it in a pot of water.
Recharged. Within an hour, the red light turned green and I was back in business.
Darkened Room Test
The darkest daytime spot is my windowless attic. The following day, I hung another bottle-target there, backed up ten yards, and killed the lights. The PL-MINI 2 Valkyrie was easily up to the task while mounted to the XD pistol. Even with its muzzle indexed to a low-ready position, there was plenty of spill for positive target ID. On-target, the XD’s basic three-dot sights were clearly visible.
Okay, the light works, but what about holsters?
Olight has thoughtfully provided a list of manufacturers who offer holsters to accommodate this light when mounted on various pistols (you’ll find it on their website).
If you do wind up with the light before a holster, all isn’t necessarily lost. Many concealed-carry folks use the same pistol for home defense. During daily activities it could still be carried per normal. Once back at the hacienda, the light could be easily installed to address any nocturnal threats.
Actually, searches can be safer with a broader beam. A weapon-mounted light will follow your muzzle, making indiscriminate illuminations unsafe. By maintaining low-ready sweeps with intermittent blips, subjects can still be identified in the beam’s periphery. If necessary, engagement can occur almost instantly.
Compact Weapon Light on an AR-15?
I only used an AR-15 to simplify outdoor winter testing. This small light is obviously much better suited for handguns. Light size is less of a concern with long guns or AR-type “pistols”, although the Valkyrie could be useful if positioned for the support hand. I never did switch the Glock lug for the spare Picatinny unit. The light seemed secure but, unless a Glock is in the picture, the change is probably worthwhile for positive mounting.
Also, regardless of the firearm, this little Valkyrie is strictly a light, engineered to minimize its size. As such, any focus, strobe or laser features are absent. Then again, so is a high price tag.
Cost versus Quality?
Perhaps the best surprise is its cost. Olight lists the PL- Valkyrie 2 at $89.95 in black, desert tan, or OD green. A quick search of Amazon showed the same price. Given its rugged aluminum construction I’d have expected a steeper sticker. The only plastic parts appeared to be its switch paddles. The literature shows a drop rating of one meter. The warranty is advertised as two years.
Of course, a design like this won’t be practical without a means to recharge it. And, even with a dependable AC source, since the charging unit is proprietary, it wouldn’t hurt to have a spare. No idea how long the internal battery will endure. Actually, considering the light’s modest cost, an entire spare unit could be the viable option.
Compact Pistol Weapon Light Conclusion
For the money, the PL-MINI 2 Valkyrie has a lot to offer. It’s small but adaptable, simple to use, and seems well-made. It also solves small-pistol fit issues while offering credible performance.