Ammo For Sale

« « Golf ball launcher | Home | Gun Porn » »

Flashlights and guns

This SI article on flashlight shooting techniques got me to thinking. On the one hand, I can see the need for a flashlight mounted to a handgun for home defense. On the other hand, if your only source of light is on the end of your gun, that sounds like a setup for some major Rule 2 violations. Thoughts?

31 Responses to “Flashlights and guns”

  1. Heather Says:

    We have a light on our bump-in-the-night gun. Obviously I’d prefer to have other sources of light, and would try for those first if possible, but I’d rather violate rule 2 than not be able to see what I am shooting.

  2. JP Says:

    A flashlight mounted on your gun is fine for defense and fine while using the gun. If it is your only source of light, you need to get an additional flashlight.

    Never illuminate anything with a gun mounted flashlight unless you are going to be using the noisy part of the gun at the same time.

  3. Paul B Says:

    Have the feeling a flashlight is kind of like a tracer. Works both ways. On the other hand, knowing what you are looking at is key in a fire fight.

  4. Firehand Says:

    Kind of a trade-off: if you put one on the gun you can keep both hands on the the piece, if you don’t you only have one hand for each. And on a long gun, you either have the light on the piece or no light.

    Which means REALLY drilling on the ‘finger off the trigger until’ part of things.

  5. pdb Says:

    You’re right, using a gun mounted light for searching is generally a bad idea, and you *should* have a handheld light for that.

    Failing that, you can bounce the light off the floor to illuminate the room. You can see a lot that way without muzzling anything you shouldn’t be.

  6. The Duck Says:

    I perfer the light off of the gun
    If you are like the cop in the Bronx you can have a a rule 2 and a rule 3 violation

  7. Tam Says:

    What JP said.

    It’s a good place for a light, but it probably shouldn’t be your only light.

    “The mission drives the gear train.” What’s the light like in your house? Any lights burning all night? Where are the light switches relative to your bed? Relative to your bedroom door? Relative to your front door? Will you need to leave your bedroom to round up munchkins? Etc. etc. etc…

  8. DirtCrashr Says:

    Everything I’ve read says have two light sources. Don’t let the light on the gun be the only light.

  9. Rivrdog Says:

    Paul B said it best. Lights and lasers (and Trijicon sight elements if the enemy could be behind you) are nothing if not a simple way to take away your only advantage of the dark: concealment.

    In a firefight, instantaneous muzzle flashes might or might not give your position away, depending on how canny the enemy is, but a light is NOT instantaneous, and it WILL give your position away. Ditto a laser.

    For the defensive handgunner, there is a usable solution, and that is the Weaver Stance, except you put your weak hand UNDER your strong (gun) hand, grasping and aiming the light. If you have the right kind of light with the right kind of tail-cap switch, you can use shorter bursts of light, and you can also split open the Weaver stance, use the gun one-handed while moving the light away from your body, out to arms length. This gives you SOME relief from the aid you give the enemy to aim on your light for a head shot on you, and a little below the light for center-of-mass.

    This was a standard police technique, for years. I haven’t done any POST training for 9 years now, so I don’t know what is currently taught.

  10. Beaumont Says:

    You can also used your house itself as a tactical tool. Motion detectors on lights that are not near your sleeping quarters may startle or distract intruders, while leaving you concealed. Obviously this is moot if someone is trying to climb in your bedroom window, but often burglars (as opposed to home invaders) will try to avoid waking the homeowner.

  11. Wolfwood Says:

    I have a TLR-1 on my gun, and it’s mounted so that I use my trigger finger to actuate the light; I can’t use the light and the trigger at the same time unless I’ve given it a hard flick to on.

  12. Tam Says:


    In a firefight, instantaneous muzzle flashes might or might not give your position away, depending on how canny the enemy is

    Maybe when I’m staking out the Ho Chi Minh Trail, this will come in handy.

    Meanwhile, here in Indianapolis, severe civil liability is attached to every bullet that leaves my muzzle, while shooting the wrong target may actually be construed a s a criminal act. If you don’t mind, I’m going to try to get a good look at whatever it is I’m trying to ventilate…

    Besides, my yammering at the 911 operator will have already given my position away to the AK armed squad of ninjas I will no doubt be facing.

  13. Bryan S. Says:

    Anyone who says that nights sights are all i want is obviously ignoring the rule about identifying what is beyond a target.

    I carry a Tomahawk GP. Use it everyday, and the shape makes it easy to draw from my pocket and bring up to my firing hand, without any hand gymnastics associated with pistol grips and button press flashlights.

    And being a separate unit, it keeps the gun handling to a minimum and my holsters being useful (because they fit)

  14. TNLaw Says:

    I’m more accurate with two hands on the gun rather than any of the methods of gripping the gun and a separate light, so the gun mounted light cuts down on my risk of a stray bullet. Proper trigger discipline keeps the rule two violation from causing trouble, and if you know where friendlies are, you can still see all around them from the reflected light and wide angle of the beam without actually pointing the gun at them.

  15. Fred Says:

    To quote Tam- “Besides, my yammering at the 911 operator will have already given my position away to the AK armed squad of ninjas I will no doubt be facing.”

    That’s why I have a light attached to my go-to house gun, and the same reason it’s a pistol. If somebody’s breaking into my place and I’m in it, there’s a whole slew of things I may want to do with my hands, and if both are busy wrastlin’ a long gun, it may be tough to try and talk to the dispatcher at the same time.

    I’ve also got a decent handheld flashlight right next to the gun. However it’s nice to still have one if you need to ditch it to do something like open a door.

  16. Divemedic Says:

    I solved that issue by getting remote controlled electric outlets. I can activate a light far away from my position, and light the area without giving my location away.

    I can stay in my bedroom, light the area, and still not worry about messing around with lights and push buttons on my housegun.

  17. Bill Says:

    It’s a tough conundrum.

    I’ve avoided lights on my handguns for this very reason. On long guns, there are no options and you are going to light up and put your muzzle anywhere the light goes.

    I’ll choose the lesser of two evils, and violate rule 2. I need to know what is behind and around the target and the only way is with light.

    Inside the house, though, motion activated lights have become cost effective and I will be upgrading to those with my next remodel.

  18. Cargosquid Says:

    Hmmmm, motion activated lights…..

    Put a nice “beep, beep, beep” with a flashing red light, to attract the perps attention to the ceiling and then light off a couple of million candlepower halogen or led lights. I mean, you can get those handheld million candle power spots….why not mount some where they can do some good….

  19. DirtCrashr Says:

    I worry most about the loud *ping* that my M1 Garand makes after the eighth shot, inside the 2-bedroom condo with glass sliding-doors at each end. No way I’m putting a light on it and backli…m… Oh crap.

  20. Bubblehead Les Says:

    For MY situation, I have outside lighting that comes on at sundown, goes on low, then flares up for motion. Inside, I keep night-lights in certain rooms that are light activated, and 2 dogs that are Noise Activated. I also maintain my telephone landline, have lots of extensions, and each phone has a flashlight with it. Why? Because phones don’t move, and I can find them in the dark. I also keep a House gun by each phone, just in case (we don’t have children). Light to see, Phone to call for the Coroner to pick up….errr, to call 911, and a handgun right with them. YMMV, of course. Hope this helps.

  21. Hank Says:

    We leave the lights on all night. Got dogs: one in one out. Electrical box is locked.

  22. Skip Says:

    There is enough light comming from outside that with night vision a flashlight is not needed.
    No kids and she will be on 911 while I clear the joint, one way or the other.

  23. HardCorps Says:


    1) Hesitation (such as thinking about esoteric concepts such as civil liability when your life in danger) kills.

    2) If you have time to call 911 instead of actually engaging in tactical defense, YMMV.

    Rule 2 is still good as long as it’s applied with rule 4, because if you are sure your target is armed, then you want to destroy it.

    Light on the gun is a good thing, all ya’ll keyboard commandos go out to the range and practice firing holding a flashlight with your weak hand. Now practice firing one handed.
    I’d be surprised if your results varied.

  24. Alaskan Says:

    Nothing makes someone doubt what the hell they are doing than the racking of a 12Gauge.

  25. Kristopher Says:

    Mounting an electric torch on your sidearm is barbaric.

    Your butler should awaken you, announce “Burglar for you, Sir”, hand you your loaded pistol, and then illuminate the burglar for you with said hand held electric torch.

  26. MrSatyre Says:

    HardCorps, thanks for bringing some common sense to this discussion. Much appreciated!

  27. Homer Says:

    So, all those pics of lights ‘n’ sights ‘n’ stuff hanging on ARs in the hands of “real operators” should be ignored?

    I think what’s missing – and this is a marketing opportunity for someone – is an under-barrel light that’s activated by a grip-front switch, just like Crimson Trace lasers. Now, how you do that without wires ‘n’ junk all over the gun escapes me at the moment, but given the fabulous Bluetooth technology we luvs so much there should be a way…assuming, of course, that while you’re calling 911 your phone doesn’t start turning your weapon light on and off.

    “Around the house” is a reasonably easy problem to solve because you control that environment – motion sensing lights, maybe with a small UPS to keep them on if main power is cut (if you go this route I’d suggest a failed circuit alarm someplace to let you know the power has been cut); “motion sensing dog” is also potentially a solution. The real question is: what’s the plan when the environment isn’t under your control? I suspect most of the time that turns out to be Harries, partially because most people wold go for light before gun. Maybe not much before, but before.

  28. Mike Says:

    The flashlight on my shotgun will illuminate the whole room when shined on the floor or ceiling. No need to violate rule two.

    It’s controlled via a momentary switch on the forward handgrip – it only lights up when I need it, and does not give my position away any more than a handheld light would. I don’t like to activate lights or anything else with my trigger finger, except the trigger. I don’t like juggling things, either.

    At household ranges, it works well enough as an aiming device, too – shooting from the hip, or with one hand, is quite feasible if necessary.

    The long-life lithium batteries have held up very well so far. I test it occasionally and it’s still bright after several years.

    It’s not perfect, but it’s a good compromise. It’s always there, always ready to go, it’s easy to use and it works.

  29. chris Says:

    I thought that rail on my Springfield Armory TRP Operator was for my cell phone.

    Or maybe the remote control.

    Or the garage door opener.

  30. jesse Says:

    I took a training class a few years back using airsoft to allow safely roleplaying various defensive situations and there was a section of the class aimed at low-light situations.

    That experience pretty quickly destroyed any ideas I had for mounting a light on a weapon or using any of the flashlight grip positions where you stabilize your pistol with the hand holding the light.

    As soon as that light blinks on, you’re painting a huge “shoot here!” sign and I’d rather not have that lined up with my head and chest.

    And airsoft pellets sting like hell when you get hit in the fingertips even wearing gloves.

  31. Jonathan Says:

    Go and buy some simple X10 controllers. They allow remote turn on and off of lights. This way you can illuminate the entire area without exposing yourself. Additionally you can enter a lit house instead of going in dark.

Remember, I do this to entertain me, not you.

Uncle Pays the Bills

Find Local
Gun Shops & Shooting Ranges