IDENTIFYING YOUR TARGET is paramount for defensive shooting. Furthermore, being able to see the threat in the first place can make the difference between life or death.
Statistics show that the vast majority of criminal activity occurs in darkness, so it is increasingly commonplace to have a weapon light on one’s firearm of choice.
Weapon lights are constantly shrinking in size and increasing in brightness. Now it seems that nearly every light manufacturer is offering something near the 1,000-lumen range and beyond as the industry chases all the lumens. Defensive firearms instructors are now recommending the brightest lights as the best option to blind attackers and give defenders the upper hand.
Most weapon lights will easily attach to the railed dustcover on your handgun. However, be aware that some manufactures such as H&K or Sig might have proprietary mounts that require an adapter.
Glock is popular enough that every light I’ve owned came both with standard picatinny rail and Glock adapters. Smaller compact pistols might require a smaller compact light to fit under the dustcover.
Also, decide what style locking mechanism you prefer. Some lights have locking levers that are quick, but might not always be the most snug. Some offer quick tabs that snap right into place. Some will have a tension screw that needs a coin or screwdriver to torque the light into place.
The most popular style of switches are ambidextrous levers or bumpers that can be reached with your support hand to activate the light. Furthermore, most of these are dual purpose. One direction of the paddle will activate the light to constant on, and the other direction will only activate it momentarily. Or perhaps holding the bumper will activate momentarily and tapping it will bring it to constant on.
Some switches can be loose and easy to activate. Some are quite stiff to avoid accidental activation. On my Streamlight TLR-1s, double tapping the lever activates a strobe designed with a flash rate to disorient an attacker.
Some lights such as Viridian and Surefire offer companion holsters that activate the light on the draw. With so many options, it takes a bit of research and thought to choose what best fits your needs.
The most common reason I hear for not having a light on a defensive handgun is the hassle of having to find another holster that fits with the light mounted. If you have a pistol as just a “nightstand gun” (safely secured of course), this isn’t as much of an issue. However as stated earlier, with the growing popularity of weapon lights many manufacturers make holsters—even concealable IWB models—matched to your weapon and light. So yet another option you should think about before purchasing a light is to find a compatible holster.
Finally, don’t just slap on a light and never hit the range with it. Even if your range doesn’t allow night shooting you can at least train with the light to ensure it is reliable and doesn’t break or fall off your pistol while being used in live fire.
Dry fire training is free—set up a safe scenario with an unloaded firearm and simulate working the controls until it is second nature. Live fire training will reveal even more, such as the smoke of your shot reflecting the light and half blinding you or actually being able to see your bullet fly through the air becausethe light reflects off the tail end.
Safety first—never use your weapon light as a flashlight. Never point your muzzle at anything you don’t wish to destroy.
Whatever light you choose, weapon light or even a handheld, train and be proficient to be as safe as possible in darkness.
Email Dustin Ellermann at [email protected]