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Old March 14, 2012, 11:20 AM   #1
TheRoadWarrior
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Flashlights and Handguns for Home Defense

I have the urge to put a light on my handgun for home defense, but I'm having second thoughts after a cop told me that they don't because the enemy just has to aim center mass on the light and game over. He preferred a separate light so you can aim freely and use the light when you need it, and also to be able to be stealthy, he said it is better to let your eyes adjust and look and listen for an enemy, get a bead on them and then shine the light. I may be inclined to agree with that idea, because I know my house best, where to get cover or hide, get the drop on someone coming up my stairs.

I also think about the possibility that the enemy has their gun drawn and finger on the trigger, I think I have the drop on them and shine the light in their eyes and it makes them panic and shoot wildly and rapidly before I can even get a shot off. Perhaps stealth would be best, just double tap them in the dark and ask questions later? My state has castle law.
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Old March 14, 2012, 11:28 AM   #2
gnarSKYLER
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Another reason I won't put a flashlight on my gun is that you have to point the gun at whatever you want to see? I don't know if you have kids, so what happens if your wife or significant other gets up at night to get a drink and you think it's an intruder? Handheld. Flashlights are the way to go
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Old March 14, 2012, 11:30 AM   #3
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While I am by no means a tactical expert I do agree it is better to not have the light mounted on your gun. I think it provides more flexibility and just seems to make more sense to me, but again just my opinion.
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Old March 14, 2012, 12:26 PM   #4
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Also, if you turn a light on to find and identify a target, chances are it's going to let the bad guy find you before you find him.

My instructor gave me a tip, which i follow. I have a box of inexpensive light sticks next to the bed. If I hear someone up the hall, I grab a few, crack them and toss them out in the hall. This not only lets the bad guy know that someone is on to him. Many will flea at this point. But to get to you, the bad guy has to walk out into the light, with no idea where you are.
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Old March 14, 2012, 01:53 PM   #5
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Quote:
I also think about the possibility that the enemy has their gun drawn and finger on the trigger, I think I have the drop on them and shine the light in their eyes and it makes them panic and shoot wildly and rapidly before I can even get a shot off. Perhaps stealth would be best, just double tap them in the dark and ask questions later? My state has castle law.
First, if you believe that somewhere in your house, somebody/s is waiting finger on trigger, why would you go search them out? Have you ever done any MOUT/house clearing exercises? I have. It's a nasty business. You can do everything right and still get shot.

The last part in particular is troubling. Killing an unknown, unthreatening person for the mortal offense of being in your house is a terrible idea, even if the law permits it. Maybe it's your daughter's boyfriend sneaking in/out. Maybe it's one of your family on a midnight run to the bathroom. Maybe it's your roommate, or the neighbor who broke in to inform you that your house is on fire (it's happened). You must be able to positively identify your target before you shoot.

As far as the light on/off the weapon goes, that's just personal preference IMHO.
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Old March 14, 2012, 02:43 PM   #6
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I agree you should not go looking for a bad guy in your home. Not only do you run the grave risk of running into an ambush yourself, there is a legal concern. Seeking out a bad guy in your house can make you appear as the aggressor. If you do have to shoot someone, you should absolutely make sure that its utterly and totally clear that it was in self DEFENSE.

As to shooting someone for just being in your house, I agree, partially. It kind of plays into the idea of not going on the hunt. If I'm awakened in the night by shattering glass or something of that nature, I arm myself first and foremost. My next action is to secure and gather my family into a defendable location...back bedroom, on the floor, behind the bed. Then I call 911 and wait for help to arrive. The gun only comes into play if someone comes down the hall and attempts to enter that bedroom. But if someone does come down that hall, they WILL get shot. I'm not going to endanger myself and my family by waiting to make a positive ID and seeing what his intentions are. It won't be a family member on a midnight stroll, as I will already have the family secured, which is my case is just my wife. If it's a neighbor coming to tell me my house is on fire, I'd have an expectation that as soon as he enters the house he's announcing his presence and yelling that the house is on fire. If he comes down the hall toward the bedrooms without announcing himself, well there's just going to be one less idiot in the world.

Of course that doesn't cover the home invasion scenario where someone just kicks down your door when everyone is up and about. You just have to play that one by ear, as there are way too many variations in the scenario to plan it out in advance. Of course, in that case, the aggressor is going to be pretty apparent and the threat immediate.
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Old March 14, 2012, 03:21 PM   #7
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Nothing says you can't have a weapon mounted light and a hand-held light as well. Different lights, different jobs, different tactics. Get some training in low light shooting if you don't know how to use a weapon mounted light... and NEVER shoot at a target you have not positively identified as hostile.
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Old March 14, 2012, 04:07 PM   #8
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Another reason I won't put a flashlight on my gun is that you have to point the gun at whatever you want to see?
Yes, if you tape your 1960s vintage 2 celled (AA batteries) Eveready penlight (http://www.ebay.com/itm/VINTAGE-OLD-...item5ae5a70d0f) to your gun, then you may have to point your gun at what you want to see. If you have purchased a tactical light in the last 10 years, it will be bright enough to illuminate much of the room just be pointing it at the ground. A couple of mine are more than bright enough to illuminate things in front of me by pointing the light the opposite direction. Of course, you don't want to do this to backlight yourself, but today's lights are really much brighter and don't require being shown directly at somebody to identify tem inside of a typical home.

Quote:
Handheld. Flashlights are the way to go
Of course, it can be hard to hold your gun, flashlight, and ... cell phone as you are dialing 911, staunching blood flow, trying to open doors/windows, manipulate your keys, give hand signals, carry your baby daughter, drag you wounded spouse to safety, etc.

Quote:
I agree you should not go looking for a bad guy in your home. Not only do you run the grave risk of running into an ambush yourself, there is a legal concern. Seeking out a bad guy in your house can make you appear as the aggressor. If you do have to shoot someone, you should absolutely make sure that its utterly and totally clear that it was in self DEFENSE.
In many, if not most, states, there is no duty to retreat and intruders in your home can be considered a lethal threat whether you are looking for them or not.
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Old March 14, 2012, 04:08 PM   #9
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In my most recent class at Gunsite we did a number of night exercises using a flashlight. The Gunsite perspective on a gun mounted light: they are good for shooting, but one still needs a flashlight for looking and seeing. Remember Rule Two of gun safety -- “never let the muzzle cover something you are not willing to destroy.” One needs to be able to illuminate something without pointing a gun at it
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Old March 14, 2012, 04:34 PM   #10
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In many, if not most, states, there is no duty to retreat and intruders in your home can be considered a lethal threat whether you are looking for them or not.
So you think that if you walk into a room at night and see a lone man carrying your TV set toward the front door, and you shoot him in the back, that all you have to do is hold up the castle doctrine and you're off scott free?

We have the castle doctrine here. But all it does is remove the requirement to RETREAT. You can stand your ground. It does NOT authorize you to go hunting anyone you find in your home, without cause. So says my attorney. And as someone else already said, I'll take her advice over internet opinions.

Last edited by Stooge; March 14, 2012 at 04:40 PM.
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Old March 14, 2012, 05:03 PM   #11
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Application of a State's Castle Doctrine and/or whether there can be a duty to retreat is off topic for this thread.

A primary reason not to go looking for a suspected intruder (unless absolutely necessary in order, for example, to get innocents to a place of safety) is that it puts you at an extreme tactical disadvantage. And in any case, you will still want a light source if you wait in a safe room.
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Old March 14, 2012, 05:05 PM   #12
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I remember reading about a police officer that ended up shooting a suspect trying to actuate the weapon mounted flashlight. I will not get into it a whole lot.

For me I prefer a light that is not mounted to my handgun. I am not a police officer, I am not military. I do not wish to pretend that I am one. I live in a small duplex. I have a dog. If he starts going balistic, the first thing that is happening is the house lights, and porch lights are getting turned on. I will be in my bedroom behind the bed with my girlfriend and my shotgun. She will do tne calling. I speak this as a matter of personal choice.

The only thing in the past near 3 years that has gone bump in the night in my aprtment has been me bumping into something on my way to the refrigerator.
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Old March 14, 2012, 06:22 PM   #13
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I went through this thought process several times and each time I came to the conclusion that a weapon mounted light is likely to cause more trouble than benefit. My 3D Cell LED Maglite is separately held in my support hand and it is bright enough to temporarily blind and disorient an intruder. I won't use the light unless I have the decided tactical advantage because it shows the intruder which direction to spray his bullets. If he had the mindset to break in, I can't count on him leaving just because he saw my light.

It's my house and I care who gets hurt. The intruder is presumably prepared to shoot indiscriminately if it means avoiding capture. The less visual and sound information you give him, the better off you're going to be.

The concept of a safe room is good but the concept goes literally up in smoke if the perp starts a fire in your house. Many times perps will start fires to cover up their crimes. Google it. You can't afford to wait patiently behind the bed not knowing what mayhem the home invader is creating for you downstairs. The sooner you get him and his partners out, the better for you and yours. That's why the Castle law is so important. When you're at home, there is nowhere else for you to run. Find the threat and neutralize it but do it to your advantage. It's your castle, not his.
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Old March 14, 2012, 06:42 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by TenRing
...Find the threat and neutralize it but do it to your advantage...
The reality is that there is no way to go looking for the threat that is to your tactical advantage. If there really is someone there who means you no good and is willing to engage you, he will be the one with the element of surprise.

You may have to go out looking if there are unaccounted for innocents, but otherwise, solo house clearing is generally a bad idea.

(a) If you go looking, and there is indeed a BG there, you will be at an extreme tactical disadvantage. You can easily be ambushed or flanked. You may also have given a BG access to family members to use as hostages. Or there maybe more than one BG, one of whom can get to your family while you're occupied with the other one.

(b) When (whether you called them or they were called by a neighbor who may have also seen or heard something) the police respond, they don't know who you are. You are just someone with a weapon.

There used to be an annual event called the National Tactical Invitational at which some 130 of the top security people and firearm trainers gathered, by invitation only, to test skills and examine tactics. One of the events is a force-on-force exercise using simunitions in which the "Good Guy" must clear a house against a single "Bad Guy." During the first six of these annual events, only one "Good Guy", in one year "survived" the exercise and he was head of NASA security firearms training at the time. And one, and only one, made it through the seventh year. The tactical advantage of the ensconced adversary is just too great. And remember, these were highly skilled, highly trained instructors/operators.

These are some past threads on the subject. You'll notice that in general the folks who have had training and/or done this sort of thing for a living recommend against solo clearing unless absolutely necessary.

http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=317285

http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=314788

http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=328646

http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=365308

http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=383046
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Old March 14, 2012, 06:57 PM   #15
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Interesting. I'm not one of those experts but I have had some training and I don't do this for a living, nor would I want this type of job.

Even so, each year there are lots of ordinary citizens around the USA and literally dozens each year around metro Detroit who do survive these house clearing scenarios. This is a regularly reported event around here and it is not unusual at all.

I think those who do this successfully know that they have an advantage in their particular case. Otherwise, I doubt that they would take unnecessary risks. I wouldn't do it unless I knew that I had an advantage and I won't always have it but sometimes I will.
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Old March 14, 2012, 08:00 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by TenRing
...each year there are lots of ordinary citizens around the USA and literally dozens each year around metro Detroit who do survive these house clearing scenarios....
Really? I'm aware that ordinary citizens have managed to successfully handle intruders. However, I have not seen any reports of ordinary folks successfully undertaking a true, solo house clearing, i. e., a situation in which the householder suspects that there is an intruder in the house, the householder goes looking for the intruder, and there is in fact an intruder in the house willing to engage the householder. And I challenge you to provide reliable, published report of such actually having taken place.

This post describes a time in which it didn't work out too well for the householder.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TenRing
...I think those who do this successfully know that they have an advantage in their particular case. Otherwise, I doubt that they would take unnecessary risks. I wouldn't do it unless I knew that I had an advantage and I won't always have it but sometimes I will.
Actually, those that do this sort of thing do it only because the situation requires them to. The person who goes looking will never have the advantage. For example, see --
  • This post:
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Striker071
    ...I am technically one of the trained professionals that would deal with a bump in the night or a silent alarm. I have done force on force training where a BG is in a warehouse and you are tasked with investigating it. It was a 50/50 split on the number of times I had a chalk cartridge make contact with my body. I was told that I was better than most at doing it...
  • This post:
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by VHinch
    To those advocating clearing your house on your own, I strongly suggest getting some FOF experience at a reputable training center. Nothing drives home the point of how dangerous it is better than getting repeatedly shot with Simunitions for 8 hours.

    I have also been trained in building clearing, and I absolutely will not do it unless I have no other choice. "No other choice" in this context is defined as either my wife or child is on the opposite end of the house from me with a BG between us.
  • This post:
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by The Canuck
    Okay, off the top. I have been trained to clear houses. Will I do it without at least three buddies who are good at it? Oh heck no. Will I do it solo if I can get away with not doing it? Absolutely not.

    When you go room-room in a clearing exercise you are entering into an aggressor/defender situation. Sure its your home, but when you are going room to room you are the one who is aggressing. You are moving and making noise all the while the person you are trying to clear out will most likely stay static and listen and watch. When he sees you in the poor light, he will be better able to engage you before you will see and engage him. Ask any LEO how they feel about house clearing....
  • This post:
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JoeFromSidney
    I've been through house clearing training (Tactical Defense Institute) and night-time use of flashlight. Two points.

    First, I would not attempt clearing my own house, let alone one I was visiting, unless there were visitors at risk (normally only my wife and I are present). Going through a live-fire house shooting at bad-guy targets is one thing. Going through my own house risking getting shot by a bad guy is something else entirely. Assuming it's a night-time invasion, I'd stay in the bedroom, call 911, and shoot anyone who tries to get in. If it's during the day, I have guns located around the house. I'd get one, call 911, then let the bad guy come to me....
  • This post:
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by 44Magnum
    I took a class that taught room, hallway, and stairway clearing in low light conditions. I am NOT a professional, but here's what I took from the experience:

    * The homeowner is at a disadvantage the moment he begins clearing.

    * Get off a staircase, or die. You break too many planes at once and it really requires a partner to do properly.

    * The intruder generally knows you're there when you begin to clear.

    ...

    Despite having instruction, I would NEVER voluntarially clear my house....
  • This post:
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by VHinch
    ...Despite being well trained in building clearing in a prior career/life, it's high on my list of things not to do unless absolutely necessary, and the only reason I would consider it necessary is if I have to do it to get to my daughter. Clearing a building by yourself is a great way to get yourself killed,...
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Old March 14, 2012, 11:20 PM   #17
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Your points are well taken and well understood. We just have a difference of opinion and that's fine. Since you challenged me to find one published incidence of a homeowner clearing his house, here's one.

http://www.myfoxdetroit.com/dpp/news...eg-20111012-ms

As I stated in an earlier post, there are many more examples and they are easy to find. I just posted the first one I found. You may say that this example doesn't meet the strict definition of "clearing a house". I say that when a homeowner wakes up from a nap, arms himself and confronts multiple intruders, he has cleared his house. The news reports don't relate each minute detail of the incident, but I think this is sufficient to illustrate my point.

I don't mean to be argumentative. I'm just making the point that homeowners clear their own houses on a routine basis, notwithstanding the advice of the experts.
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Old March 14, 2012, 11:39 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TenRing
...Since you challenged me to find one published incidence of a homeowner clearing his house, here's one.

http://www.myfoxdetroit.com/dpp/news...eg-20111012-ms

As I stated in an earlier post, there are many more examples and they are easy to find. I just posted the first one I found. You may say that this example doesn't meet the strict definition of "clearing a house". I say that when a homeowner wakes up from a nap, arms himself and confronts multiple intruders, he has cleared his house....
Nope, I don't buy t this as "house clearing."
Quote:
...Two men managed to unlock the door and head inside. Both started up the stairs, but they were met by the owner, who happens to be a bail bondsman and had his service weapon in hand.

When the intruder reached for his weapon, the homeowner said he fired his several times....
It's one thing to be present at the time, and close to the point, of entry and confront an intruder then and there. It's quite another to suspect that there is an intruder somewhere in the house and to then go searching for him.
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Old March 15, 2012, 12:44 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by fiddletown View Post
Nope, I don't buy t this as "house clearing."
Well, there were multiple home invaders who broke into the man's house and he confronted them, wounded one and held him for police and ran the other off. Existentially, the house was cleared of intruders as a direct result of the homeowner's actions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fiddletown View Post
It's one thing to be present at the time, and close to the point, of entry and confront an intruder then and there. It's quite another to suspect that there is an intruder somewhere in the house and to then go searching for him.
Wow! Now it really gets interesting. The homeowner could not have known how many intruders were in his house unless he was psychic. He had to decide whether it would be better to go search and investigate or to stay put. He decided to go search and he found them near the stairway. Would you have felt better if the homeowner had stayed put and called 911 as the thugs rushed into his bedroom to kill him? Mind you, this was a forced entry by at least two perps in broad daylight. It was not a case of investigating a
bump in the night at 3 AM. This was only one example of many available. As I stated before, this type of thing is a very routine occurrence in metro Detroit and other areas of the country.

It seems that you were trained to accept only a narrow definition of house clearing and that house clearing looks a certain way and that it must only be done by certain people. It is different in each case with different people under different circumstances. There are no rules when one if fighting for one's life. When you force the thugs, rapists, thieves and methheads to leave your house, your house is clear.
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Old March 15, 2012, 01:12 AM   #20
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Old March 15, 2012, 01:46 AM   #21
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Are you really going to walk around the house with your gun mounted flashlight turned on pointed at the ground? I would prefer to have my gun in a more ready position. Call me crazy.
Okay crazy, since you don't want a light on your gun because you don't want to point your gun and whatever you want to see, just where is your gun going to be pointed should you be clearing your own home?

Not only will my light and gun be pointed at the ground, the gun will be in a "more ready" position. In fact, that position is called...wait for it...the low ready position.

So as to not cover things with the muzzle (such as loved ones located in the home, either in direct view or behind walls), but still have the gun in a ready position, your options are fairly limited to low ready, high ready, indoor ready, or any number of their variants. From high ready, your gun mounted light will be reflecting off the ceiling. Generally speaking for the interiors of most homes, walls and ceilings tend to be lighter colors or white, especially the ceilings. As such, you can often light up a room even better from high ready than from low ready given that carpets and floors are often darker colors that the ceiling.

While not quite as ready as high or low ready, indoor ready allows you to navigate confined spaces without sweeping other people. It also has your gun and the gun's light pointed to the ground.
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Old March 15, 2012, 03:24 AM   #22
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Thanks for the great advice everyone. I am military so I tend to want to clear my house and pretend I'm kicking down a door in Afghanistan...problem is that I don't have my battle buddies behind me...and I'm not wearing interceptor body armor....and I don't have an automatic weapon...

I have a two story, bedrooms are the only rooms upstairs. I have gone through emergency plans with my family, from fires to environmental disasters...even a zombie outbreak lol, but mostly intruder response. My tactic was to gather the kids and wife in the daughter's room because the window opens out on to the garage roof which can then safely permit a soft landing to the grass below, and since its a duplex it can also mean climbing to the neighbors roof and yelling for help if need be. I even have the emergency fire ladder there so if you have to climb down to the grass below it can be done safely.

My tactic was only thinking of myself having the upper hand since I can keep the lights out at the top of the stairs and wait to see if the BG has violent intentions, or just taking my TV and running away. I had it in my mind that if someone comes up the stairs unannounced and my family are accounted for, then they must be hostile, so I did not have qualms about opening fire at that point. I did however realize with all of your help that I should be behind that door, behind the bed with gun aimed at the door, the wife is calling 9-11 on the floor with the kids, not waiting at the top of the stairs in ambush like I'm Chuck Norris or something.

I'm deployed, so that is what I told my wife to do anyway. It was just me and my ego that thought I could be a ninja and get the drop on someone. But when I'm back home, I will have my mossberg 12 gauge and the wife will have my CZ aimed at that door, I pity anyone that tries to come through that door!
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Old March 15, 2012, 05:00 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TenRing
...The homeowner could not have known how many intruders were in his house unless he was psychic. He had to decide whether it would be better to go search and investigate or to stay put. He decided to go search and he found them near the stairway...
He didn't "go search." He responded promptly to a noise and was lucky enough to meet the intruders just as they were making their way into the house. Luck has a lot to do with these things.

Even if it pleases you to think of what this householders did as "house clearing", his situation was a good deal different from "bump in the night" situation, and presented different problems and opportunities. If one is there and armed at, or near, the time and place of first entry, he has a chance to deal with the problem one way. If he becomes aware of the possible problem a bit later, after the intruder has gained entry and established his presence and control of a part of the house, the householder's problem, and best tactical response, is quite a bit different.
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Old March 15, 2012, 08:06 AM   #24
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I personally like a separate light myself, mostly because I use the light a lot more than the pistol in everyday more mundane tasks. Having said that, there are several modern pistol lights that mount by 1913 rails that you can slide on and off the pistol in a couple of seconds. So it is quite possible to have a weapon-mounted flashlight but use it as a separate flashlight if you desire to do so; but you now have the option of a weapon-mounted pistol light if you decide you need it.

And that is one thing that I think gets missed in the discussion of flashlights and firearms is that it is about options. A flashlight gives you options you don't have without it. A flashlight that can be mounted to the weapon does as well. Just because you have those options, you are not mandated to use them at all times. Nor are you required to surrender common sense concerning how they are used.

It seems a lot of times this discussion ends up boiling down to "Here are stupid things people do with flashlights, ergo, I will not use any flashlight at all." For some reason, we never spend much time on the "Don't do stupid things with flashlights" discussion, which would probably be more educational for everyone.
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Old March 15, 2012, 08:26 AM   #25
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Location: San Antonio, TX
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Personally I don't have any weapons mounted lights, but there are more and more people using them. My handgun box is primarily used in homes for storing a HD handgun. Over the last 3 years the boxes sold with a holster for a handgun with a light has increased from about 10% of sales to about 20% today. In my home I feel I have the advantage in the dark and there should be no one wandering around in my house at night other than my wife. If I feel the need to iluminate an area it will be with my off hand with a hand held flashlight.
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Glenn

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