25 06 2011


In my last review which covered the Wilson 1911 Barrel Wrench, I stated that I felt it was impossible to beat the functionality per dollar spent.  Truth be told, there is a VERY close second to that excellent tool – the Barrel-Lite.  This simple and inexpensive device allows you to illuminate your barrel with any external light source.  I’ve had numerous barrel lights before, and this is by far the best such device I’ve encountered.

First, the device…


More details, pictures, and ordering information can be found at the manufacturer’s website (


 As you can see, it is nothing more than a piece of clear plastic with a metal clip for securing it in pockets, onto slings, etc.  It is about 4″ long overall, about 1.75″ wide.  The diameter of the plastic starts near the clip at 1/2″ and tapers to the end you insert into the breach, reaching 5/16″.  The metal clip can swivel around the device, is approximately 1.5″ long, and is not unlike what you can find on a good pen.  The wider portion under the clip is hexagonal in shape (6-sided), and the sides bear the name, “Patent Pending”, the name and city of the manufacturer (J. Bar Products, Friendship, WI 53934), and proudly states it is “MADE IN U.S.A.”.   The plastic is mildly scratch resistant – the above piece I have owned for years, and it gets tossed into my range bag with my other tools (mostly steel).  The scratches are almost purely cosmetic, and I have noticed no decreased functionality.  There is a seam in the plastic that splits the device into two equal halves, and while this is visible upon close inspection it also does not appear to be noticeable from the far end of a barrel.  Unit is light in weight as one would expect.

The price is hard to beat at $4.98 with $3.00 S&H.  The price decreases the more you buy, and I would suggest buying a few – one for the bench, one for the range bag, one for the hunting coat, etc.  I have heard that they are available at some gun shows, but I have yet to find them at any of the shows I’ve been to in the last year.  The company’s website accepts payment via PayPal.

The device is simple to use.  Open the breach of your firearm, verify that it is unloaded, and insert this device’s small end into the chamber so that the narrow portion is aiming down the barrel.  Now peer into the muzzle.  You can move the device around slightly to bounce light off of the barrel at slightly different angles, and if you need more light – or even a different color light – the world is your oyster!  Anything you shine into the larger end, which is now perpendicular to the barrel – will shine down the barrel allowing you to inspect it with good detail.  In my experience, my basement bench’s ambient lighting is good enough.  Your mileage may vary.

To test this device, I pulled out my trusty Winchester Model 71 lever action.  Without disassembling the action and removing the bolt, there is no easy way to site down the barrel.  Here’s a 4-second exposure showing you what the barrel looks like with nothing more than an open breach.  To be honest, this picture is quite generous – in real life it is much harder to see this amount of detail at this light level.

Unlit Barrel

Now here I inserted the Barrel-Lite.  It came to rest about 45-degrees from vertical.  The nearest light fixture was a fluorescent fixture that started at the end of the muzzle, approximately 4′ above the barrel, with 2x 6500K T8 bulbs.  In real life, your eye can adjust to the varying light levels and see details all the way up to the chamber where the Barrel-Lite is sitting – my camera just has a hard time showing this correctly.


Ambient Barrel-Lite

Finally, I pointed a bright bluish-white LED flashlight into the receiving end to show the brightness that is easily achieved using whatever flashlight you have laying around.  Again, the human eye can pick up details all the way from the muzzle to the chamber – but my camera had issues showing this correctly.

LED Barrel-Lite


As you can see, this device is extremely useful if you own firearms that are not easily disassembled to get the bolt out of the way for proper bore-sighting.  I have even used this device with revolvers to help shed extra light on the barrel when cleaning.  This little guy has quickly become one of my most-used tools, getting used any time I clean any of my military service rifles (mainly my M1A and M1 Carbine), 22’s (10/22, lever action), or my Model 71 shown above.  It is simple, inexpensive, versatile, and light.  If you find yourself dissatisfied with your existing bore light, or are tired of replacing batteries in them – then this tool is for you!




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