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LITTLE NEW UNDER THE SUN (OR IN THE DARK) — 27 Comments

  1. I do no use a flashlight mounted on a firearm. I don’t like the idea of searching with the muzzle. Family and friends. I carry a flashlight with instant on off. I practice shooting with a hand held light. I especially don’t like the idea on a Glock with a attached light. My personal bias I don’t like Glocks either. I own a few and only use them on the range only. My preference is high end 1911’s or S&W N frame with heavy 44 Special loads. Frankly the majority of the time I carry a revolver. With age and arthritis I enjoy the simplicity of a revolver.

    • DJ – It is interesting that our views so much agree. Like you, I do not care for weapon-mounted lights. Besides the reason you give, I also do not like what they do to the balance and handling of a pistol. I will admit to owning a Kel-tec Sub-2000 (a carbine chambered for 9mm) with a light/laser combo but that it all. Like you, I prefer handheld or else fixed, motion-activated lights placed in strategic areas.

      Like you, I have never liked Glock pistols. My bias began when I handled and shot an early model Glock that belonged to a friend. The grip felt like I was holding a 2×4 piece of wood. I instantly despised it. Now, I know that Glock has significantly improved the grip frame on the new generation models. No doubt, newly manufactured ones feel much better. However, you know how it is with “Gun People”. Once one develops a bias against a certain brand or model of firearm, it is hard to overcome it. Glock lost me the first time I shot one of the things!

      I have a 1911 that I like and I have some other brands of polymer-frame guns that are OK, but I don’t own a single Glock.

      Like you, I also have a strong preference for the old-fashioned revolver. The best is good old blued steel with walnut (or fancy hardwood) stocks. On hard kicking magnums, stainless steel with rubber stocks work. I have a S&W 629 in 44 magnum set up that way. With a 44, I need the extra “give” found in rubber stocks.

      One great thing about revolvers is that one does not have to pick up the brass from where it has been flung all over creation! I reload a number of revolver cartridges, so that also appeals to me.

      So, I agree. A whiz-bang Glock set-up with all kinds of lights, laser and red-dot gizmos (and a 32-round extended magazine) may be great for all of the “arm-chair” Rambo’s out there but give me a good revolver or 1911 for accurate, and effective, shooting. I guess I am just old-fashioned! 🙂

      • TN_MAN,

        I also prefer revolvers because they are small, reliable, simple and easy to clean. I did buy a Glock 30 {.45 ACP caliber} because I heard Glocks are simple and reliable, for semi-autos. Also I thought I should attempt to be up-to-date.

        I love it! Simple, reliable, accurate and it only cost $500 a few years ago. I expected the recoil to hurt, but it doesn’t. The muzzle really flips, but my hand doesn’t hurt. Now I want a Glock 43 {9mm Parabellum}.

        You really should give Glocks another try. They are the next best thing to revolvers! 😉

  2. According to the Internet: the flashlight was invented in 1898 and first produced in 1899. The first company to offer them was the American Electrical Novelty and Manufacturing Company, later renamed Eveready; founded by Russian immigrant Conrad Hubert. Batteries were still a novelty at that point, and Hubert’s company made and sold battery-powered novelties such as neck ties and flower pots that lit up.

    I wonder if anybody realized at the time what a game-changer that first battery-powered flashlight was going to be?

    For the first time in the long history of mankind, a small and relatively-powerful, focused source of illumination, that you could carry in your pocket, switch on and off at will, and didn’t involve burning something to make light!

    The word ‘revolutionary’ has been so over-used, it’s easy to forget that some things truly ARE game-changers.

  3. Mas,

    Speaking of doing searches using WMLs as the primary source of light (and by necessity muzzle-flagging EVERYTHING in the room), could we get your thoughts on this?

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6584469/Shocking-moment-Indiana-officer-accidentally-shot-PARTNER-job.html

    I am not an officer or lawyer, but going by the video it seems like there were MANY violations of firearm safety during those 3 minutes in the house.

    I for one would appreciate a more experienced eye, if you would.

  4. Mas, What are your thoughts on the “instinctive activation” units that light automatically with your grip (à la Crimson Trace) versus those that require an additional function to light?

      • Jim, I personally use laser only on backup guns, which I anticipate only deploying in a fast-breaking emergency where I won’t have time to flip a switch. On a primary handgun I’d rather have the white light, and since the primary is more likely to have been drawn proactively instead of reactively, I want the turning on of the light to be my choice as to “when.”

  5. Two things come to mind: a WML is also a target for the bad guy, so I prefer the hand-held method held away from the body; but I do have WM lasers that can be pulsed on/off, one on a backup j-frame and the other (Streamlight 2) on the nightstand weapon giving me the option of light, laser, or both and can be either pulsed or constant illumination.
    PS: 9mm Ranger-T? Interesting. I EDC Ranger-T 230g/910fps

  6. Many years ago when I was a police reserve, my department’s protocol was not to allow lights mounted on duty firearms. In fact, it was believed that in nighttime/low-light conditions an officer was asking for trouble by even holding a flashlight close to his (or her) body because an armed bad guy might shoot at the light and hit the cop. Apparently this is no longer a concern in law enforcement.

  7. Apropos LittleBill’s note about flashlight’s being a game changer, I would say that pistols in the post WWi years were also a game hanger for women in allowing them to reliably provide for their own safety for the first time in history. I have tried to point this out to my wife and numerous friends but that they seem to be stuck with their heads in the sand and say bad things don’t happen very often. They are all eligible for the Darwin
    Award IMO if they are assaulted and killed before having children. Reminds me of sitting at a local outdoor cafe and cutting a sandwich for my wife, who also refuses to carry a tiny SWAK I got her, and having a woman at the other table say “oh, isn’t that a good idea, he has a knife to cut her sandwich.” 😬

  8. I use a flashlight in my off -hand, away from my torso. The light can be a target for a felon’s gun.

    Mitchell Ota, Hartford, VT

  9. Yeah, I love handgun, light-enhancement with students/sarc/.

    I also like it when i go to the public range and see the 007’s using their laser sights. They spend more time chasing the dot than shooting. More importantly, they show just how easy it is to sweep everyone present, themselves and ceilings and walls. Perfect training tool!

    And you’d think the seasoned shooter would know better? Wrong. Thanks to grip mounted laser sights, for those who have them installed, I can definitely use the visual of a dot going across any part of their or MY body, and there is no dispute. Perfect! Except one thing, even though I work in ammunition sterile environments when teaching, I HAVE BEEN SWEPT and I do not like it!

    Mounted flash lights are a different beast. For the various discussions as has been mentioned, but I’ll throw another one out there-as was described by my training partner who is a county LEO. Paraphrasing his experience: “3:00AM he was dispatched to a domestic violence call. He and another unit pulled up and gained entry to the home where the accused is being holed up, armed. Unknown to them, it wasn’t clear if suspect was in the house or not. They decided to clear the house and in doing so, with lights ablaze, they searched. When his fellow officer came around the corner, his beam of light/hundreds of lumens, hit a full length mirror, reflecting back to my friends eyes. He said he was absolutely, momentarily blinded, several seconds or better, and chuckled at how the perps are blinded at the brilliance.” Sadly, I had to break it to him, if poop hit the fan when HE was blinded, he would have been useless to his fellow officer.

    Thats not to say the same thing couldn’t have happened with a hand held, but due to the nature of holding a flash light in the support hand vs gun mounted, the wrist in the hand held light is pronating and supinating in a much quicker fashion than the traditional gun mounted search for suspects. Thus the light exposure to my friend may have been diminished because of the rapid flexion and sensory motor integration for checking wide swaths of area, rather than directed, as if when holding a gun, i.e., slowly get a visual and move on.

    Lastly, I challenge everyone who “depends” on the laser sight to let the battery go dry. Don’t just remove it, let it slowly die. Adaptations have to be met with decreased light and finally when it dies, can the adaptation to the ‘iron sight’ be made without hesitation? If not, shoot more iron sight. Murphy’s Law prevails here, sorry to say.

    Im not a fan of any type of enhancement to the gun for the Armed Citizen, due to the fact that my mentor and instructor (I’m a MAG Member) has made some compelling arguments that enhancements may help the prosecutor UP the charges in certain jurisdictions, if deadly force was used. My take away is, enhance nothing! Learn the gun right out of the box. If you don’t like it, get one that you do. KISS principle.

    STAY SAFE.

  10. For some of us with small hands and dexterity issues that come with age, we simply cannot effectively manage a flashlight in one hand and a weapon in the other. DEFINATELY DO NOT use the WML as a search tool! If you want to identify your intended target in the dark, a light is needed.

    Also, do not opt for a ‘just shoot me’ light. Get something with all the lumens you can. I now have a Nighstick Extreme XLS mounted on my FNS 9. It is 850 lumens and a great buy. I particularly like that it fits securely and effective as a standoff in close contact scenarios. Highly recommend – I bought two!

  11. I’m probably an old fashioned antique on this issue but I prefer the light in my non gun hand. For example, an episode of a well known “as it happens” television show which at the time was filmed in a Florida jurisdiction showed a deputy looking almost casually for a piece of evidence with his Glock mounted light. It gives me the chills to this day.

  12. While taking your LFI-2 class Mas, early 80’s that was, I brought my first WML, an 870 with a 4-D cell Maglight mounted above the receiver. I believe you said, a club with a club! From the ensuing discussion I still carry a stand alone light, abet much smaller and powerful.
    BTW, do you still have “Fluffy”? Your model 66 S&W with the Magic Magnatrigger? Is there such an option for a polymer frame pistol!

    • Mike, the MagnaTrigger is still the only “smart gun” that actually works: a Smith & Wesson K-frame or larger revolver, modified to fire only in a hand wearing the proprietary magnetic ring on the middle finger. If you’re happy with six to eight rounds, it’s still available from Rick Devoid at Tarnhelm Supply, http://www.tarnhelm.com. He does great action tunes as well.

  13. It looks like there is currently no way to light the night which doesn’t have drawbacks.

    My first choice would be to use a Petzl lamp mounted on my head. I suppose I could use my non-shooting hand to cover the beam when I don’t want to reveal my position. The good thing about it is that it illuminates the iron sights on any gun I am holding, even long guns like shotguns.

    Maybe in the future when we need to search our homes, we’ll just send out a robot.

  14. Mas, et al., if searching with your WML gun in one hand and a flashlight in another, what is the recommended technique if you must suddenly fire your weapon? I watched Clint Smith on Youtube demonstrating a WML search by keeping the WML gun in a low ready while sweeping side-to-side. Of course, he’s an expert and I’m not.
    What are your thoughts?

    • Ira, if it’s that sudden, you either fire the pistol one-handed with the other hand holding the light just as if you didn’t have a weapon mounted light at all, or drop the dedicated flashlight and go to a two-hand hold as you activate the light on the gun. It would depend on the circumstances. We can’t lose sight of the fact that the vast majority of searches for danger DON’T involve having to fire.

  15. Prior to retirement I was involved in lots of force on force and live fire drills. As a result, we found the idea that a weapon mounted light is a significant disadvantage to be nearly a myth. The “nearly” is a qualifier as significant training/practice is a good thing.

    If we’re talking a building search, many/most are painted relo white (goes with everything). This acts as a light reflector much more effectively than you may realize. The backwash illuminates you and if you’ve passed the intruder, you’re the back blob against the white background.

    Now, the weapon & mounted light often doesn’t have to be pointed at something to illuminate it. However, that does take training. The hand held light does have a slight advantage, but if using many of the gun/flashlight techniques, it might as well be attached to the gun and it’s a whole lot handier if it is. BTW, a lanyard on that handheld light is a really good idea.

    Finally, waaaaay back in the last century I spent a lot of time trying the then current flashlight practice of holding the light far to the side and possibly above shoulder level. Coordinating the light and where you wanted it was difficult. Perhaps best done keeping the light on all the time and that creates it’s own problems. If you try to use this system in on/look/off/move mode, you find it takes a whole lot more time to light where you wanted to look than an adversary may give you.

    BTW, the one significant issue we found with WMLs is the importance of MOVE after you shoot. Firearm discharge causes a cloud of combustion gases and particulates to hang in the air by the muzzle. If you don’t move, the combustion products interfere with your vision and illumination.

  16. Pointing the gun down at 45 degrees and using the splash to identify people is sufficient. You are not muzzling anyone and the gun is ready.

    Using a light to search with a gun involves using the Harries technique…which points the light and gun at people while searching. There is not fundamental difference between handheld and rail mounted lights in this regard.

    So, yes, a handheld light permits a search without muzzling people. But, what do you do when you grab the gun because you think a fight is coming? Situations go from “searching” to “possible intruder” to “fight” very quickly. Knowing both styles is important and choosing which to use at any given moment is a judgement call. Identification is always important, but so is reacting quickly. A well trained person will be able to choose the best technique as needed.

    • The trouble with “using the splash” is that when people see something in the periphery of the light beam, there’s a strong instinct to see it better, and thus a strong tendency to reflexively center the light on what has captured their attention. The other problem is that a loaded gun is pointed in the general direction of the possibly innocent person in the light beam, which some prosecutors would construe as felony aggravated assault.