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Old February 14, 1999, 12:03 PM   #1
Kurt
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Lights mounted on pistols, shotguns and carbines have become commonplace. As weapon mounted lights become the de facto standard for professionals (especially as portrayed by gun magazines and movies) -- it becomes standard practice for all shooters.

To me this begs fundamental safety issues. Weapon mounted lights may be a great invention; but they clearly compromise our most fundamental safety rule:

"NEVER point the muzzle of a gun at something that you are not willing to destroy"

is watered down to:

"EXCEPT when using a weapon mounted light in a potentially dangerous environment -- never point the muzzle of a gun at something that you are not willing to destroy."

I realize that safety is an individual responsibility; but fundamental rules do help us discipline our thinking and our behavior (President Clinton excepted, of course). What happens when a beginning shooter seeks to buy that first "home protection night-stand pistol" and the gun store recommends an HK with barrel mounted tactical light? Isn't this a tacit recommendation to break a long-standing cardinal rule of safe gun handling?

I am neither "for" or "against" weapon lights - but they do raise a question in my mind. I would appreciate hearing everyone's thoughts on the "pros and cons" of these systems and whether anyone shares my concerns.

Thanks and good shooting!

Kurt
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Old February 14, 1999, 01:20 PM   #2
Rob Pincus
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I am against them, not just for the "never point" rule, but that is a big factor.

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Old February 14, 1999, 02:24 PM   #3
boing
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Rob,
what other factors are you refering to?

I have a light mounted on my Mossberg 500. Prior to getting it, before going to bed, I would leave a few strategically placed lights on in the house. (or should that be tactically placed?)

In those days, I could light all "potential threat zones" as seen from my bedroom (safe room). But if the power went out, or the bulb burned out, what to do? And the arrangement of my new residence doesn't give me the strategic lighting option.

So I got a light for the shotgun. Holding a flashlight while manipulating a pumpgun under stress, and probably moving to cover, seems like a bad idea. Pointing a gun at something that might not be a threat is also a bad idea.

Enter what I consider to be the big advantage of a pumpgun for home defense: The chamber can be kept empty while investigating suspicious (non-cat) noises. If I encounter something that needs to be shot, chambering a round and firing takes almost no time at all.

I do not mean to waffle on important safety issues! All guns ARE always loaded, And NEVER point a gun at something you aren't willing to DESTROY! But, as I do need to identify the target, and all I have is the long gun, I have tried to balance all concerns (safety for me/safety for them). To this end, one ritual I practice without fail is checking the chamber right before getting into bed. Unless I've been sleepwalking, I know the gun will be in safemode when something goes down in the middle of the night.

Criticisms/alternatives are welcome!

-boing


[This message has been edited by boing (edited February 14, 1999).]
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Old February 14, 1999, 02:35 PM   #4
Rob Pincus
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WEll, you sorta answer yor own question. How do you know the chamber's empty? I mean, afterall, I never had an AD with a gun that I thought was loaded. Most accidents happen with "unloaded" guns.

I think it puts you in completely the wrong mindset to use your gun as a flashlight while you are invetigating a problem.

Furthermore, I don't like lights on guns becuase it is one more thing to worry about (batteries, lenses, wires, etc...).
On handguns, the holster issue is obviously a factor.

For a combat situation or an entry team I can see putting a light on a gun, but for a defensive situtation I just don't think they are appropriate.

There are options to the "working a pump gun with a light under stress" scenario. Such as using a semi-auto or wearing one of those miner hats with the flash light attached ( ).

If you it works for you, that's great, I just prefer not to use them. I am not very likely to go walking through the house with a longgun anyway. If I have to go check on the kids, etc.. I take a handgun and a Surefire or Maglight. My shotguns are for the safe-room or outdoors only.

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Old February 14, 1999, 03:02 PM   #5
boing
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Rob,
All points well taken (except the miner's hat )

I have a less-than-ideal situation, to be sure, and poking around my house with the 12 gauge isn't a habit of mine. I'll let my 14 dogs do that. But given what I have to work with (only one gun, a pump), it does work for me, for now. It is a compromise of evils, but seems to be the least evil of my choices at hand.

For later, I will definitely be purchasing a handgun, for carry, as well as the home. I am, shall we say, financially constrained from improving my options in a more timely manner (I'm broke!).

-boing

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Old February 14, 1999, 03:07 PM   #6
Rob Pincus
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Broke is okay, at least you are smart enough to have a firearm and be concious of learning how to use it effectively.

Keep up the good work ad be careful where you point your pump-action flashlight .
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Old February 14, 1999, 03:10 PM   #7
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"Broke is okay"? I don't follow you...

-boing
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Old February 14, 1999, 03:54 PM   #8
4V50 Gary
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Kurt, thanks for reposting your question to Harry's forum.

Like Rob, I dislike the idea of a flashlight on a defensive mounted firearm. Self illuminated nightsights for me. As explained to me, flashlights on entry weapons serve to blind the opposition with a flood of lights).
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Old February 14, 1999, 06:08 PM   #9
pate
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I think it depends on the house. When it's dark enough inside my house that I need to use a pistol-mounted light, it's dark enough that the light illuminates an entire room. It becomes unnnecessary to point the light at a person to illuminate him.
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Old February 14, 1999, 06:51 PM   #10
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pate-
I've noticed that, too. Even with the light set to it's narrowest beam, everything in the room is clearly visible. Considering this, if you choose to use a weapon-mounted light, it would be wise to develop the habit of keeping the muzzle down when activating the light. Thanks for reminding me. I'll be adopting this technique immediately.

Gary-
Do you mean to say that blinding your opponent in a defensive situation is a bad idea? (I don't think you are, but could you clarify?)
Night sights work, but they don't show you what you're shooting at, they only show you if you're going to hit it.
And I think handgun/long gun makes a difference. I wouldn't put a light on a handgun, but I would put on night sights, with a flashlight in my weak hand. With a pump shotgun, complete two-handed control is paramount to using the tool effectively. That's my quandary! I'm actually using the wrong tools! Aaarrgh!

-boing

[This message has been edited by boing (edited February 14, 1999).]

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Old February 14, 1999, 08:24 PM   #11
STEVE M
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I think the best use of the gun mounted light is as a back up. Use a hand held if at all possible. For home defense, if all you can grab is the gun while you go get the kids don't you want some kind of light to prevent mistaken itendity shooting? Night sight are great( i have them) but options are better! Never limit yourself to one response.
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Old February 14, 1999, 09:20 PM   #12
Rich Lucibella
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I have to disagree here. You should have a flashlight and a gun in low or no light defensive situations.

That said, whether your intent is to dial 911, barricade and observe or to move down the hallway to secure the kids, you'll need both items.

If we agree thus far, then how do we employ the light? With a pistol we'd use the Harries Technique or the Rogers Technique. In either case, we're using the weapon as an integral of the light. The weapon covers an area that is unknown until the light is brought to bear.

Attaching a ight for specific situations seems to me a logical economy of burden..especially with the shotgun. Note I said a light, not the only light.

I do agree that lighting while simultaneously covering an area with the muzzle is a dangerous thing....practice should be undertaken. But to argue against lights on the gun is to simultaneously argue against both the Harries and Rogers techniques.
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Old February 14, 1999, 09:48 PM   #13
boing
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Enlighten me, please.

Harries: the weak hand holds the light with the lens at the pinky finger side, and is placed under the gun hand, with the backs of both hands put together, right?

What's the Rogers technique?

-boing
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Old February 14, 1999, 10:44 PM   #14
Rob Pincus
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I don't think so Rich, here's why:

In an LE situation, yes, I am using a two handed grip with the handgun and light more or less pointing in the same area...

However, When I am in my home with my family and I am "chekcing things out" I have the gun low and the flashlight in my weakhand, usually "pulsing" not walking around using it as a spotlight "painting" the rooms.

That is the difference. At the level where the gun is out for a known reason (looking for suapect, searching a crime scene, etc...) I ahve no problem with pointing the gun where the light goes.. it is for those lower threat levels that I think the light on the gun is not warranted.

I think the best option so far has been to have the light mounted on a long gun as a back-up. How much time would you be losinfg by having a round chambered and carrying the gun low with a FL in your weak hand VS. not having a round chambered and both hands on the gun ?? I'd rather count on taking that first shot one handed at in-house ranges than have to worry about pointing a gun at my child (or having to rack the slide while a BG is point a gun at me, for that matter...)
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Old February 14, 1999, 10:59 PM   #15
4V50 Gary
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Boing - For entry teams, blinding the opposition is an excellant idea. I don't think the concept is inapplicable in self (or home) defense. You're right about night sights not helping you identify your target. But in my home, there's sufficient ambient light (thanks to all the streetlights outside) that I'd rather not bother with a flashlight. For me, it's a personal choice.
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Old February 15, 1999, 12:07 AM   #16
Rich Lucibella
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boing-
Rogers: light held between index and second fingers of weak hand, like a cigar....thumb activates. Weak hand is able to be used in it's normal support position.

Rob-
In regards to mounting a light on a handgun, you've got me and I agree the low ready is appropriate. But how do you carry a shotgun in one hand and a flashlight in the other and expect to bring that shotgun into immediate play, one handed?
Rich
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Old February 15, 1999, 12:10 AM   #17
boing
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Rob,
It almost sounds like you're saying that it is acceptable to point your gun at a friendly when you are at a crime scene, but it is unacceptable when the friendly is a member of your own family! I know better (I think), but that's what it sounds like.

So how would you differentiate levels of threat? Whether searching for a suspect at a crime scene, or in your own home, if the gun comes out, don't you assume equal probability of encountering a BG (or a Non-BG)? Is it that a crime scene directly indicates a BG, while a suspicious noise at home only indicates something suspicious?

As for carrying a (pump) shotgun one-handed with a round chambered, vs. two-handed with the need to rack the action, it is a trade-off: How much time/accuracy do you lose having to aim a shotgun one handed vs. racking the action and aiming with two hands? Here we enter into 'personal preference' territory, with a nod to how each individual trains with their weapon. I train for the latter, mostly because I have more confidence in my ability to succeed with that method. Your Proverbial Mileage May Vary, so be comfortable with what you do, and I'll be happy.

Rich,
My hand won't go that way! I see the weak hand more or less 'cupping' the gun hand. Can you elaborate?

-boing

[This message has been edited by boing (edited February 15, 1999).]

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Old February 15, 1999, 12:14 AM   #18
Rob Pincus
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Pistol Grip.
God knows if I can shoot at clays one handed I can shoot at BGs inside my house that way too!

If PG isn't an option, single handed shooting is still possible, in the extreme case. Like I said, I'd rather shoot one handed at a BG inside my house than point any kind of gun at my daughter. I get the heebie jeebies sometimes when she hugs my leg under my holstered carry gun, thinking "what if?".....

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Old February 15, 1999, 12:28 AM   #19
boing
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Heebie jeebies indeed! I've experimented this evening with widening the beam on my shotgun light and illuminating rooms with the muzzle held low. It works quite well. Now I can have my weapon mounted light and my cardinal rules, and eat them, too!

Do the clays ever point guns at you?

-boing
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Old February 15, 1999, 12:48 AM   #20
Rob Pincus
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I was cut by one that I had wounded at a 5 stand course once...

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Old February 15, 1999, 01:19 AM   #21
SB
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In the event of a break-in, I fully agree that it would be best to barricade yourself in your own room while striking up a nice conversation with the 911 dispatcher.

Normally, I would do that. However, I've got kids. One of them is a toddler. My wife has made it very clear that she would run out there to protect them. To me, that's suicide, but that's how strongly she feels about it. And I have to admit that I feel uneasy knowing my kids are out there, available either as a potential hostage or a target.

The most sensible plan we have is that she would stay behind and call 911 while I would go out there and protect the kids. Now, I know just how ridiculously dumb it is to clear rooms by myself. I have a hard enough time clearing rooms with a team. But if I had to, I plan to arm myself to the teeth. I've been working on an integrated fighting strategy involving both a pistol and a knife. Of course, I'll need a light too. Integral light seems to be the best solution. OR, like I said, I have a toddler. So that means one of my hands needs to be free if I plan to move the kid back to the safe room. Either way, the conclusion is clear: We need an integral light.

And while we're at it, our house is small. That means I'll need to work VERY fast. And that means dynamic entry with the light left on. Forget the pulsing. Every second counts. And if I can find some sort of equivalent to the smoke grenade or flashbang, that's even better.

Anyways, in theory, I agree fully with Rob. But in practice, integral light, and the dangers that come with it, is something I'll have to live with. My personal feeling about it is that if we have a reliable gun, we shouldn't experience ADs. And until we absolutely positively need to destroy a target, our finger has no business touching the trigger in the first place.

Comments?
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Old February 15, 1999, 01:52 AM   #22
Rob Pincus
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Small house.

Toddlers.

Flashbangs.


hmmmmm....SB, we must be thinking of different scenarios.

Personally, I have a 4-legged alarm of german descent that wakes me up when someone/thing approaches the house. I live about 150 meters off the road and there is no home within 200 meters or so, and only a few within half a mile. I have been woken up and felt the need to "go looking for trouble" countless times. Most often I've gone with a pistol and a flashlight. I haven't found anyone yet. If I had been walking through the house any of those times and Deniro and his boys from Heat had been planning the robbery, I'd've been dead meat, but I'm sorta banking on the chance that I'll hear Mr. Bad guy before he hears me.

I need to be quiet while am getting my gear and leaving my room, not just grab a selection from my Arsenal and blitz to the children. Do you guys (with toddlers..) plan on laying out your tactical gear before you hit the rack? Do you plan on having time to go to the closet and quietly push the sweaters out of the way? Is getting the shotgun from behind your sportscoats going to make noise?

I ask these questions not to mock anyone, but to make sure that everyone is thinking about things in a practical sense. You guys know that I am a pretty straigthforward guy. The less arty the approach, the better as far as I am concerned 90% of the time.
This reminds me of the "what gear do you carry?" question. Some people apparently carry around more gear everyday than I can haul in my pick-up truck; knives, lights, cameras, guns, mags, flasks of brandy, multi-tools, lighters, cigar cutters, ID cards, tokens for drinks at the Mustang Ranch, emergency cash and god knows what else. I sometimes feel wieghted down if I am carrying cash and a debit card.

I opt for the simpler way... If someone chooses to have a dedicated lighted weapon handy when they are asleep, I got no problem with that. For me personally, I like the idea of having my light seperate. I can look around corners, check out my kid's rooms, put the light right up against a window to shine it outside without glaring myself to blindness and get more versatility out of it by not having it lanyarded to a long gun or crazy glued to my Glock.
If/when BGs appear in my light's beam, I can throw up the gun and have a back-to-back grip blasting away as fast as anyone can rack and fire a long gun. If you choose this option make sure you consider your hand placement as you walk through the house.. you do not want to have to "paint" your weak hand in order to achieve the back-to-back grip. This means bringing the gun hand up and then bringing the light hand up from underneath it (try it, you'll see what I mean).
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Old February 15, 1999, 01:27 PM   #23
Kurt
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Thanks to everyone for an engaging discussion!

It occurs to me that using a weapon mounted light might significantly increase the probability that the weapon will be fired -- regardless of the circumstances.

If you shine a light on anything it automatically dramatizes the subject and intensifies the situation. Think of how spotlights are used in stage productions -- the dramatic effect of a single spotlight going on or going off, suddenly illuminating an entertainer, or plunging them into darkness. Isn't something similar going on when we use weapon mounted flash-lights in dark rooms?

In the split second that light and muzzle coincide with a "subject" -- the illumination might create a dramatic effect and maybe an instinctive reaction that could lead to weapon to be fired.

I can see where some might argue that a weapon mounted light might make it easier to mistakenly shoot the neighbor's cat (or worse) by setting up a "dramatic chain reaction".

Some here have suggested remembering NOT to point a weapon mounted light at a potential threat; but still use it for illumination. This sounds awfully difficult to me; something akin to getting a "little bit pregnant".

In the example of entering children's rooms -- how could you go into a daughter's room with a weapon mounted light, under all that stress, and KNOW, for CERTAIN, that she was not going to fall under the light/muzzle combination?

What if she fell out of bed, or slipped on the floor while coming to find you? You certainly would not want to illuminate her and risk thinking she was the intruder! I don't think it is a risk I would take, anyway!

Training would overcome some of these problems and allow exceptions, I suppose. I hadn't thought of the appropriate use of lights for "entry teams"; because I'm not associated with anything like that.

My concern is that the proliferation of weapon mounted lights may make it standard practice for everyone.

I like our cardinal rule of shooting because
it is absolute. NEVER is NEVER.

If we NEVER point the muzzle at something we are not willing to destroy -- we will NEVER destroy something too precious to be without!

Again, thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Good shooting!

Kurt
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Old February 15, 1999, 03:09 PM   #24
pate
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Kurt, you seem to be going to extreme lengths to support your argument. Personally, I would rather unintentionally point my weapon at the daughter in your hypothetical situation than enter a dark room and step on her or bump into her because I couldn't see anything. I don't see how a light is detrimental in your example. Would it be better to have your weapon at low-ready so it was pointed at the fallen child in the dark? Or do you advocate holding the weapon in a manner that points the muzzle at the ceiling? If so, a pistol-mounted Surefire would still provide enough illumination to identify the child in a typical-sized room. Regarding your assertion that a light intensifies a situation: would it be any less "dramatic" to walk into an unidentified person you never saw in the dark? If you go far enough, an argument can be made against any technique. Hell, some would argue that guns are too dangerous to have in the home at all.
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Old February 15, 1999, 03:25 PM   #25
Rob Pincus
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Pate,

Your last post indicates that somewhere along the line you missed the fact that those of us arguing against the light on the weapon still have a light, it is just seperate from the weapon. No one is advocating bumbling around in the dark.

As for thestatement that you would rather point a weapon at a daughter than bump into her.... well, it makes me think that you don't have a daughter.

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