Light is an essential aspect of self defense and home defense. Many violent crimes occur under cover of darkness, and if you can't see what's in front of you, you won't be able to defend yourself against it effectively. This is why every defense-oriented firearm we own — rifle, shotgun, or pistol — is equipped with a weapon light. We've tested and reviewed countless different weapon lights over the years, but recently had an opportunity to get our hands on two variants of a new light design: the Valhalla Tactical Baldr SOL and the HRT Advanced Weapon Light System (AWLS). The two companies collaborated to produce a family of weapon lights with Valhalla's clever omni-directional activation switch. Read on for our review and impressions of the Baldr SOL and HRT AWLS.

HRT & Valhalla Tactical Collab

The photo above shows a HRT AWLS prototype we received for testing. Shortly after we received it, we also received Valhalla Tactical's final production version of the light design, known as the Valhalla Tactical Baldr SOL. Both lights are clearly based on the same architecture, and each offers a full-size 18650/2x CR123 version as well as a compact 18350/1x CR123 version. Both lights use the same Valhalla Tactical ODA tailcap with an innovative omni-directional activation switch. Much like a joystick on a video game controller, it can be pushed in any direction to activate the light in momentary mode, or clicked inward for constant-on mode. ODA sensitivity inserts are also included to fine-tune how much pressure is required to activate the light.

If you prefer a standard push-button tailcap, the “joystick” portion unscrews to reveal a rubber button that works like any traditional flashlight tailcap.

Both the HRT AWLS and Valhalla Tactical Baldr light bodies feature integrated MLOK mounts which allow the light to be installed directly onto most rifle, carbine, and shotgun handguards without a need for additional components. This solid aluminum, monolithic design is strong and simple, with only two mounting screws as opposed to four or more. Here's a photo that shows the AWLS installed directly on the handguard of a Primary Weapon Systems MK116 carbine alongside Walker Defense Research NILE grip panels and a BCM vertical grip:

After a close examination, the Valhalla Tactical and HRT tailcaps and bodies appear identical, aside from the laser-engraved logo near the mounting surface. The head is where the two lights begin to differ noticeably. Both heads use industry standard SureFire M600DF thread pattern, so they can be installed onto Dual Fuel SureFire light bodies.

In the photo above, the head on the left is Valhalla Tactical's version, known as the PDG DF Mod 1. It produces a maximum of 1,600 lumens and 58,000 candela. HRT's head, pictured on the right, is known as the PSF-Mk6. It produces 1,700 lumens and 90,000 candela.

For those who aren't up to speed on flashlight terminology, this means that the total light output of these heads is similar, but the beam pattern is quite different. The Valhalla head creates a softer and wider beam that's preferable for close to intermediate range, while the HRT head produces a focused spotlight pattern that's better-suited to long-distance engagements. The version you prefer will depend on the environment where you plan to use the light.

One more noticeable difference is that the HRT head's output color is rated at 5,500K, a neutral “daylight” white. The Valhalla/PDG head's output color is slightly cooler — we'd estimate it's about 6,500K. Both are within the color range we'd consider acceptable for weapon lights.

Testing the Baldr SOL & HRT AWLS

The 18650-size HRT AWLS fit nicely on our 16-inch PWS carbine, and seems well-suited to this application. Activating the light is as simple as reaching a thumb over the bore and pushing down on the ODA “joystick.” Constant activation is also easy to access with a quick press forward.

It's also worth noting that this light body is reversible, so you can swap the head and tailcap if you want to use the light on the left side of a weapon. Along with inverting the body on either side, this allows for four different mounting positions.

Granted, the HRT AWLS we have is a prototype, but we did notice a strange activation delay with this version of the light. When we press the switch, there's about a 1/2-second pause before the light turns on. This is not the case with the production-ready Valhalla Tactical Baldr SOL variant, which activates instantly as you'd expect. It's also not the case if we swap the Valhalla DF Mod 1 head onto the HRT body, so it appears to be isolated to the HRT PSF-Mk6 prototype head.

We can't say for sure if this issue carries over to the production HRT head, since we haven't used one yet.

As for the Valhalla Tactical Baldr SOL, we attached it to a Magpul forend on our custom Vang Comp Systems Remington 870 shotgun. Since this gun doesn't have much room for a remote tape switch, the all-in-one design is a great fit. The Valhalla head also creates a wide beam pattern that's suitable to close-range shotgun uses.

Above: The Valhalla Tactical Baldr SOL with ODA tailcap and DF Mod 1 head attached to a Magpul MOE 870 shotgun forend.

Final Thoughts

The HRT AWLS and its sibling the Valhalla Tactical Baldr SOL are refreshing additions to the list of weapon lights currently on the market. The ODA tailcap is one of our favorite new products to hit the market in recent years, winning Recoil's Best Accessory of SHOT Show award in 2022. We love that it offers all the functionality of a regular clicky tailcap with the added versatility of a removable, omni-directional joystick option. The light body, whether you choose HRT's or Valhalla's version, is sturdy and easy to install on any MLOK rail without a need for additional mounts or adapters.

As for the HRT PSF and Valhalla DF heads, each offers pros and cons for differing environments. The wider beam and lower candela of the Valhalla head offer better visibility in enclosed spaces, while the HRT's higher candela and better throw would be preferable for punching through obstructions such as car window tint or for use in outdoor engagements beyond 100 yards. The activation delay we noted with the HRT head is an annoyance, but that may be a prototype-exclusive issue.

Lastly, we should discuss pricing. A complete Valhalla Tactical light setup (head, body, and ODA tailcap) costs $190, while a complete HRT AWLS setup costs $295. This $105 price difference is hard to stomach, since (as far as we can tell from testing and hands-on examination) the only functional difference between the two lights is candela and color temperature. The tailcaps are identical, and the bodies are identical aside from the logo. But HRT's standalone head costs $200, only $9 less than a Modlite OKW or PLHV2. For this reason, the Valhalla variant seems more appealing unless high candela is absolutely mandatory for your application.

For more information on the HRT AWLS, go to For more information on the Valhalla Tactical Baldr SOL and ODA tailcap, go to

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