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  1. #1
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    Default Choosing A Pistol Mounted Light

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    First I want to discuss the uses and necessities of this. As I type, I have a Glock 17 TSD Pistol in my belt. It has a threaded barrel, and an RMR (RM06)...but no weaponlight. Why not...don't ALL weapons need lights? No, they do not. Let me restate that. Not all weapons need light, and specially not all pistols.

    Ostensibly, the purpose for a weapon mounted light...or in this discussion, a pistol mounted light, is to identify the nature of a potential threat/target obscured by darkness. In other words, to give you more information than that which you are currently operating on. A clear and present threat does not need to be identified any further. If you live alone and a large figure in moving down the darkened hallway telling you in an unfamiliar voice that he is going to kill you, you do not need to identify him before emptying your high capacity magazine into his face. If in twilight, on a city street, a couple of bad guys "prison strut" over to you, with a "Yo motherf*cker!" while reaching for weapons behind their backs, you do not need to identify them any further either. Get my point?

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    The use of light is a proactive event. There is no tactical value for the reactive use of light. In a reactive event, you either see the threat, or you are overtaken by the threat. If you see the threat, you deal with it as you would during the brightness of the day. If you do not, it won't matter anyway. The problem is when attorneys begin dictating tactics that things get weird and tactical mistakes are made. And of course...fortuitous outcomes reinforce bad tactics.

    Light will not prevent an adversary from firing...no matter how bright it is. The notion of flashing a bad guy in the eye and that will somehow knock him down is a false belief. Sure, that may work with someone who really did not intend any harm, but not with a man whose intent was to take you out. So we must be very careful in its use and not think it is some sort of angelic shield that will save us from incoming fire. Light of course can be used proactively to mask your movement, but that is for another discussion.

    So we begin the discussion of light from the proactive perspective. The mission requirements of the SWAT Operator may be different than that of the day-to-day UC Operative, or Private Citizen. BUT, when one is being PROACTIVE, the mission is identical. Lets recall that being proactive with a handgun involves defending a fixed location, or going on the hunt for the bad guy. We have discussed these strategies and tactics before, and they are detailed deeply in the DVD CQB Fighting In Structures.

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    So lets talk about the attributes of a weaponlight that best works in these situations.

    1). It should be bright, but not excessively so. Bright enough to identify the concerns obscured by darkness sufficiently, but not so bright that it causes your eyes to squint. The tendency is "as bright as possible", but I think this is a mistake. I have not examined the new 500 lumens X-series from Surefire yet, but I suspect it may be too bright. We will see.

    2). It MUST have a switch that allows for one handed use while you are shooting. Let me repeat that - WHILE YOU ARE SHOOTING. If you must use the support hand...or the trigger finger to operate the light, that light is useless in the tactical environment.

    The reason is very simple. The handgun may need to be operated one handed. As a point of fact, that is its very purpose. So anything on the weapon must be operable with the shooting hand while the trigger finger is on the trigger. What does that say of some of the popular new "tactical lights" on the market?

    The best of the breed are Streamlight and Surefire because they have the availability of the remote switching that allows for use by the firing hand, via pressure, while the finger is on the trigger.

    The epitome of Night Fighting advancements are not in the brightness of the white light, but rather the proliferation of Night Vision Technology in the hands of the private citizen and individual police officer. As well, the development of the Non-military, EPA-approved, eye-safe (relatively) IR Laser. This brings the capabilities of the individual up to its highest developmental point yet in terms of operating in darkness.

    The presence of night vision in the hands of the proactive good guy is a true game changer, and with the availability of the IR Laser, the game has become more one sided to those who wish to pay to play.

    Recently, both Surefire and Streamlight have announced the availability of IR lasers to their pistol light series. These are not yet available, but when they are, I suggest them as a great piece of kit to add. The lasers are mounted in conjunction with the white light, and can be operated independently of each other. And most importantly, can be used with the remote switch to allow them to be deployed in a tactically correct manner.
    Gabe Suarez

    Turning Lambs into Lions Since 1995

    Suarez International USA Headquarters

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gabe Suarez View Post
    1). It should be bright, but not excessively so. Bright enough to identify the concerns obscured by darkness sufficiently, but not so bright that it causes your eyes to squint. The tendency is "as bright as possible", but I think this is a mistake. I have not examined the new 500 lumens X-series from Surefire yet, but I suspect it may be too bright. We will see.
    I have used the X-300 Ultra (500 Lumen) and I find it to be too bright for many indoor applications due to almost blinding refection off of white colored walls and I don't even want to remember what it was like flashing into a mirror. However it does have "dazzle" effect, but so does the standard X300 (170 Lumen)

    One thing I will say when selcting a light is don't go cheap Surefire has IMO an edge over all of the other companies that I have worked with in the customer service dept. For example if you need spare parts for your surefire light you simple go to the Rapid replacement website http://www.surefire.com/rapid-replacement-parts click the part you need from the menu, enter your address, and it is mailed to you for no charge. That is customer service!!
    Cheers
    T.

    "VICTORIOUS WARRIORS WIN FIRST...
    AND THEN GO TO WAR,
    WHILE DEFEATED WARRIORS GO TO WAR FIRST...
    AND THEN SEEK TO WIN." Sun tzu


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
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    5,299
    Excellent write-up. Let me comment on the remote switches.

    I used a Surefire for years. As soon as the DG-11 came out I mounted it, for exactly the reasons you mention: one must be able to run the light while the other hand is occupied, and without giving up the ability to fire. The switch lasted about 3 months. It was killed by the friction from the holster lip (Safariland SLS, if you wonder). Its replacement lasted about 6 months, as did the third switch. Surefire now tells me that tape switches fall under "wear items" and will no longer be replaced. Fair enough, but be aware that the design is a little delicate, and it fails with no warning. The rocker switch continues to work independently, so there is a Plan B in place. I also know a couple of dog handlers who took dremel tools and hogged out the rear of their holsters to relieve the friction. Just not my cup of tea on that. I'll be replacing it one more time, but it's going to live on a house gun that never sees a holster.

    The Streamlight offering is now on the work gun and has no such issues (holster is now an ALS instead of SLS, but the buckets are essentially the same). That switch is hard plastic enclosing the circuit instead of Surefire's rubber over metal. The issue with the Streamlight switch is that it's a very light trigger. Expect an increase in white light ADs especially under stress. In a reactive draw, it doesn't matter, but some training time and care is called for when creeping around.

    Anyway, one guy's experience after some years of hard use, training and teaching.
    __________

    "To spit on your hands and lower the pike; to stand fast over the body of Leonidas the King; to be rear guard at Kunu-Ri; to stand and be still to the Birkenhead Drill; these are not rational acts. They are often merely necessary." Pournelle

  4. #4
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    All of my use has been with the Blade-Tech, and not the Safariland so I have not had that issue. What I like about the SF X300 is that it has a switch that in essence turns everything off. It also allows selection of white light, or laser independently of each other.
    Gabe Suarez

    Turning Lambs into Lions Since 1995

    Suarez International USA Headquarters

  5. #5
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    Is there a source for the old X300? All I have found is the bright-as-the-sun model.
    Virtute et Armis

  6. #6
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    Damn Gabe hard to beat in proactive situations. There are some wear areas using a Safariland holster SLS/or ALS (though the ALS doesnt seem to wear as much. I also advocate the used of athletic tape to help secure the switch in place, makes for a good grip and protects the rubber switch from additional wear.

    fighting gun.JPGwear.JPGholster.JPG
    NEVER CONFUSE GETTING LUCKY WITH GOOD TACTICS (unless you are at the bar)

    I'm not in the business of Losing

    A stab to the taint beats most of the mystical bullshit, most of the time

  7. #7
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    Gabe Suarez

    Turning Lambs into Lions Since 1995

    Suarez International USA Headquarters

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by LawDog View Post
    Is there a source for the old X300? All I have found is the bright-as-the-sun model.
    I know a place, sent you a PM…...

  9. #9
    I wonder if using a diffuser with the new Ultra 500 lumen SF's would serve to eliminate the problem of blinding yourself with reflections, etc?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by aaaa_cccc View Post
    I wonder if using a diffuser with the new Ultra 500 lumen SF's would serve to eliminate the problem of blinding yourself with reflections, etc?
    I had the same thought. I wondered about putting a red filter over the lens. But I figure that's just one more thing that can go wrong. I'll go with the original. Thanks again for the info.
    Virtute et Armis

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