Do you know what that rail is for on the front of your handgun? Contrary to popular belief, it’s not there to impress the ladies! It’s for mounting accessories, which usually means some kind of “tactical” light. Anyone who carries a handgun or keeps one around the house should also have a good flashlight, and a rail-mounted light is a convenient solution. Handheld flashlights are a popular alternative, and many respected firearms instructors seem to prefer this option.
Here are the basic pros and cons of the handheld light.
No matter which way you lean on this issue, it’s essential that the light selected is of high quality. Even if you skip the practice and training necessary to become proficient with a light, just having ready access to a reliable illumination source is better than waving around your gun in the dark. Below are a few general gear-specific tips and some recommendations to get you started.
LED technology has come a long way in the last decade and we now have plenty of remarkable flashlights that put out a great deal of illumination but can still fit in your pocket. However, not every well-constructed bright flashlight is suitable for use with a handgun. Beyond basic quality and light output, the most important feature to look for is a switch that can be activated easily with one hand. This usually means a tailcap switch that is operated with the thumb.
A simple interface is also ideal. Some lights have a strobe function or various brightness modes depending on how many times or how long you press the switch. For self-defence, the light should be stupid-easy to operate so that next to no brain power is required to activate it under stress.
Some lights feature a “momentary-only” style switch, which is useful for techniques that require the user to activate the light only for short bursts in order to avoid becoming a target for a potential attacker. Others boast extraordinary light output, which may be ideal when searching for missing children in the woods at night, but possibly counter-productive when illuminating your bathroom with a glossy white tile floor.
Most tactical flashlights run on one to two batteries, usually AA or CR123. Both battery types are common and affordable, and many of the brighter flashlights will burn through those batteries fairly quickly when used on the highest setting, so keep a good supply handy. No matter the bells and whistles, just make sure your light comes from a reputable manufacturer, like Klarus Light, who have a history of making lights that work every time and won’t die out on you when you need it.
Below are a few excellent tactical flashlights that are both reasonably priced and reliable. This list should help get you thinking in the right direction.
This list should help get you thinking in the right direction. Stay tuned because next week we’ll be discussing the basic pros and cons of the weapon -mounted light.