Weapon Mounted Lights or Handheld Lights??????

There is a lot of discussion surrounding weapons lights these days. Bear in mind that there are many good ways to do things in a variety of disciplines and take with a grain of salt the person that tells you his or her way is the only way. I will admit to being something of a dinosaur when it comes to the subject of all the “latest and greatest” equipment out there, including red dot sights on pistols (but I’m keeping an open mind about them), but red dots are a discussion for another time. I am a throwback to the days when cops carried revolvers, and your weapon light was generally a three cell Maglite, that doubled as a nightstick on many occasions. Having said that, I put a lot of stock in carrying an off pistol light, with me 24/7 in case of unforeseen situations, and they DO happen, even if I’m looking for something in my own closets. The method I was trained with for off pistol lights is not the method that is most seen on TV., where the arm of the light bearing hand goes under the wrist of the shooting hand. It does offer more support (arguable) to the shooting position, but it also gives the undesirables a great target to shoot at. We in the NYPD (in the early 80’s anyway) were taught to use a light that could be strobed, and to hold the light as far away from our bodies as possible, in, obviously, our non shooting hand, whereby if the undesirable were to shoot at the light source, we stood a better chance of not being struck with a fatal wound. The first experience I had with an actual on board weapon light was when I went to the NYPD’s Emergency Service Unit, where a major role of ours was as a tactical unit. We had lights on the HK MP5’s, as well as on Beretta 92’s. The latter is what I was using as the bunker man on the stack. The lights had pressure switches that were set up for easy application, the MP5’s on the fore grip, and my Beretta on the pistol grip itself, basically set up for one handed use. I don’t currently use a light on my everyday carry, a Sig-Sauer P365, but as I mentioned I always have a light on my person. My nightstand gun does have a light on it. I am running a SureFire TLR 7 on a Sig P220. It’s a compact light at 500 lumens, but directs most of the light forward, so there isn’t a lot of overspill to the sides, eliminating glare, and night blindness for me, or the user. I have an Olight Valkyrie Mini 2, 600 Lumens that I don’t run dedicated to a certain pistol but is presently on my Flux Defense platform for my P320, which I am also using a red dot with….so I really am keeping an open mind about them. I also have a SureFire X300 Ultra, which is bigger and bulkier, which is also not dedicated to a particular handgun. My main rifle, an AR15 has a Surefire Scout, 1200 lumens, and again, the lens has a more direct beam concentration to prevent side spill and glare. My AR pistol has an Orion H40 500 lumen light on it. It cost me $60 bucks, and honestly, to this point I can’t tell you the difference between it and my high dollar Surefire. Any tool we opt for, we have to consider its use. Are we looking at distance, enclosed space, room clearing? A lot of thought has to go into what tool we are choosing to work with. In my opinion, 500 lumens, give or take a hundred or so is plenty of lumens for a pistol light. How long of a shot are we going to take with our pistols, is in direct proportion to how far the light needs to be thrown. The flip side to that is even with a more directed beam, in an enclosed space, the more lumens, the more spill back we are going to have, not necessarily illuminating us, but hindering our vision as well.

There are plethora of lights to choose from out there. Some of the big names, SureFire, Streamlight, to name a couple have stood the test of time and are the gold standard, so to speak in weapon lights. The most expensive may not necessarily be for you. Budget is also a major consideration in lights, as it is for just about anything in our lives these days. Pick what works for you. The two main considerations aside form cost, in my mind, are lumens for the intended use, as well as how concentrated the beam is, favoring beam concentration. In any event, keep in mind, that your light will be useless without a power supply. Paying attention to the smaller details can be just as important as the larger ones. Have a supply ready.

Hopefully, we’ll see you soon at the range. Train Hard, Train Smart, and Train Often!

Eddie Foley

Pistol Instructor

Little River Range and Training

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