Managing The Pistol Mounted Light

BY Herschel Smith
5 years ago

Jim Wilson writing for American Rifleman:

In some circles the pistol-mounted light has become quite popular as a personal-defense tool. The theory in the use of such lights is, of course, that you need to be able to identify the person as an actual threat before you employ deadly force. Further, we find that when we light up the target at night or in poor light, we can deliver our hits with much greater accuracy. However, there are some problems that can arise with the use of pistol-mounted lights that the defensive shooter should consider before making the transition.

Armed citizens often have two problems when considering carrying the defensive handgun. The first is that a suitable pistol, in a substantial caliber, often seems heavy, especially when one has been wearing it all day long. The other is that this same pistol can be more difficult to conceal. Unfortunately, mounting a light on the defensive handgun makes it even heavier. And it makes it more difficult to properly conceal the handgun.

Another potential problem that occurs when a person is using a pistol-mounted light is that he is tempted to use the pistol as a flashlight. I know of several cases in which the defensive shooter shined his light—and loaded pistol—on people and things that he had no intention of shooting.

We’ve dealt with this issue before of a light on the front of your handgun, and the lack of police officer discipline causing negligent discharges because of the trigger-like actuation of the light (pressure switch near the trigger guard, along with the fact that officers stupidly go around with their finger on the trigger of their weapons while pointing them at people and things).

Don’t do it this way, and keep your finger off the trigger.  Simple discipline solves that problem.  Lack of time, discipline and training also causes sympathetic muscle reflex responses like it did with poor Eurie Stamps (Jesus was that my rifle?).  But in general I am a huge fan of pistol-mounted lights for the right reason and under the right circumstances.

I think I’ve told the story about my purchase of one, but it bears repeating.  Before my wife’s grandmother passed away, I had to work on her house, oftentimes late into the evening on the weekends, and oftentimes not getting started until after dark.  The home was once in a great neighborhood, but it had turned for the worse because of gang activity, and it was in another town so we couldn’t be there except for me on the weekends.

There were also reports of ne’er-do-wells hanging around, and visual evidence of home entry when we weren’t there (along with electronic evidence such as unexplained power bills).  The home was left dark in order to minimize power bills, and every time I had to begin work after dark, I had to perform a sweep of the entire home.  Sometimes I had my Doberman, Heidi, and I was always safer and happier to have her.

But sometimes I didn’t have her with me.  The first time I ever did entry and sweep of the home, I did so using the hand over wrist method for holding a weapon in one hand and light in another.  The home had many rooms, many closets, multiple bathrooms and a garage as well as exterior structures.  I swore I would never use that method again.  It led to exhaustion and loss of fine motor skills associated with use of my hands and arms.

Before the next time I got a weapon mounted light and haven’t looked back.  I did entry, sweeping and room clearing using proper grip technique and without exhaustion.  I’ll grant the point that the handgun is unable to be concealed, and it’s a bit too heavy to carry without a rigger’s belt.  With a rigger’s belt and the proper holster it isn’t a problem, but you don’t usually carry a rigger’s belt, holster, firearm and weapon-mounted light to the grocery store (I wish we could all do that without people freaking out).

So my gun with the weapon-mounted light sits under my bed.  I’ll carry it in the car on trips, and sometimes I’ll carry it backpacking.  Otherwise, I do the classic routine of carrying a gun and tactical light (separately) with my other weapons.  You get something, you give up something.  No solution is perfect, and one size fits all doesn’t work with firearms.

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Comments

  1. On September 16, 2016 at 6:36 am, Daniel Barger said:

    If a cop has an oopsie and shoots someone by askident when he mistakes the trigger for the light switch it’s no big deal. He gets a few days off paid vacation, a bit of a talking too and it’s back out on the streets to ‘protect and serve (sic). If any money changes hands it comes from the pockets of the taxpayers and goes to the victim of his stupidity ( or the survivors of the victim). Case closed.

    Now if one of us mere mundanes slaps a light on a pistol, uses said light to see who the eff is making that noise at o dark thirty and accidentally shoots someone who isn’t a bad guy things
    will turn out OH SO MUCH DIFFERENT than in scenario A. The shooter WILL be arrested, he WILL be tried and he has a HUGE chance at spending years behind bars….how long will depend on if the unfortunate two legged target lives or dies. And since most people are ‘clearing’ their own
    premises in the middle of the night there is a GOOD chance the victim of their incompetence, jumpiness and poor muscle control will a relative, maybe their own kid sneaking back in to the house. Flashlights on handguns? Sounds good in theory. In reality….NOT WORTH THE RISK.

  2. On September 16, 2016 at 1:17 pm, DirtyMick said:

    Herschel,

    You can conceal a gun with a weapons mounted light. Most of my coworkers carry glock 19s with a surefire in a GCODE holster. Also Surefire makes a smaller light that is 200 Illumns if the traditional Surefire x300 is too much.

  3. On September 16, 2016 at 1:30 pm, DirtyMick said:

    Surefire’s newest light…

    weaponlights/handgun/xc1-led-weaponlight.html

  4. On September 16, 2016 at 1:32 pm, DirtyMick said:

    Surefire’s new weapons light…

    http://www.surefire.com/illumination/weaponlights/handgun/xc1-led

  5. On September 16, 2016 at 11:53 pm, Mark Dietzler said:

    I carry a full size M&P 9mm with an DG switch equipped X300U on it. I use Raven Concealment kydex, and it isn’t any harder to carry than the pistol without the light. A good stiff belt is required, yes, but you should have one of those anyway.
    Granted, I’m 6’5″ and not carrying appendix….

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You are currently reading "Managing The Pistol Mounted Light", entry #15599 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Firearms,Guns and was published September 14th, 2016 by Herschel Smith.

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