View Full Version : Which Flashlight Technique for Stability?

November 7, 2006, 09:24 PM
Like to get some "expert" guidance...which pistol/flashlight technique offers good stability?

Also how many techniques are currently out there and could you cover the strengths and weaknesses?

Many Thanks!

November 8, 2006, 09:17 AM
There are two techniques that I am familiar with: The crossed wrist technique, and the extended weak arm technique.

Crossed Wrist: Hold the flashlight in your weak hand, reverse grip (ice pick grip) with your weak hand wrist crossed underneath your weapon hand wrist.

Advantages: Provides stability to your weapon hand, aligns your flashlight with the line of fire of the weapon.

Disadvantages: Places the flashlight in line with your center of mass, thereby giving away your position.

Extended Weak Arm: Hold the flashlight in your weak hand, reverse grip, and extend your arm out to your side as far as you can.

Advantages: Obscures your position. Attacker tends to shoot toward the flashlight, instead of toward you.

Disadvantages: Difficult to maintain. The arm tires easily in this position, even with minimal weight to support. Also, difficult to perform in enclosed spaces, around tight corners, etc. Also, exposes the weak arm to grappling attacks.

Any .45
November 8, 2006, 09:44 AM
Very interesting never thought about the weak arm techniques Advantages just the disadvatage of the arm tiring.

November 9, 2006, 08:11 AM
I've always heard that shooters tend to shoot high in the dark, so it seems to me that you'd want to hold the light as high as possible.

black bear 84
November 9, 2006, 08:59 AM
Here you find most of the currents holds with pictures,



black bear

Glenn E. Meyer
November 9, 2006, 11:58 AM
What's the URL for the flashlight forum, BTW. I love to buy flashlights.

I saw a new Maglite LED set and wondered if they were any good.

November 9, 2006, 01:10 PM
Flashlight = GOOD target

I would never use one. My .02

November 9, 2006, 01:19 PM
Ugh. No disrespect for Black Bear's photo, but I have tried to use this technique with some practice and find it more difficult to use than the crossed wrist position. Try using this technique with a wheelgun and you'll see that it's more difficult to create a supporting hold. The other issue I have is that with a single finger over the top, you can lose control of the light (points down, slides forward). Using this technique with a wheelgun is more difficult due to the difference in grip positions.

There are two schools of thought when using a light.

First, and oldest, is to keep the light away from your body so that shots at the light shouldn't hit you. With a Maglite this can quickly tire the weak arm, especially if you hold it high. The two main advantages here are that your opponent's natural tendency is to shoot for the light. Second, you're less likely to have your own light reflected directly back into your eyes from glass, chrome or similar shiny things. You keep the light slightly forward of your body so no light-wash silhouttes you to your opponent. Disadvantages: Your weak arm can tire quickly with a heavy light (less so with a SureFire or similar tac-lite), second, this can be tough to do in close-quarters such as a hallway. Third, it doesn't work well around corners or doorways into rooms. Additionally, you're now shooting one-hand unsupported, making followup shots harder. Also, if the light is unusually high, the BG may recognize the offset and shoot accordingly. Lastly, most BG's are not known for being keen on marksmanship skills and you're just about as likely to get hit by the BG's "miss" on your flashlight.

"It's always some six-fingered buster that couldn't hit a cow in the teat with a tin cup that does you in."
--John Wayne, in The Shootist

The second school of thought is a light aligned with the axis of the firearm, whether held or mounted on the weapon.

The use of a tac-light with an end-cap on/off button allows you to hold the light in closed fist, thumb over the button (ice-pick or knife-fist hold) and then cross your wrists for stability. Since this doesn't allow a two-handed hold your support only offers some stability until firing the first shot. But it is fast to get set up and easy to use with very little practice and it gives you a light that is coaxial to your muzzle direction. Disadvantages are that shots fired at the light can hit you (an advantage of high-intensity lights is that it's difficult to look at them to make accurate shots); the lack of a two-hand grip; and the inability to flick the light beam to the strong side due to the limitations of the wrist. Additionally, pointing the light at glass, a mirror, chrome object or other shiny things can dazzle your eyes (not to mention illuminating you for the BG!).

One more disadvantage of the "muzzle aligned" lighting techniques is that to illuminate anything you will, of necessity more often than not, point your weapon at it. This means you should be able to identify your target before shooting. It also means that your muzzle is covering something (or someone) you don't want to shoot. This requires serious trigger discipline to avoid shooting at the wrong time.

It should go without saying that you use your flashlight in short bursts, about 1 second or less, to illuminate areas of interest, and you should, if possible, move from your position after each use. Only when you find your target should your light stay on longer.

November 9, 2006, 08:03 PM
seems like every would be tactial expert has a technique with their name attached. I don't see much difference between any of them.

Charles S
November 10, 2006, 12:20 PM
Just one question for all of you: have any of you ever taken a course of fire at night that?

Any type of night handgun course?


Flashlight = target identification.

Feel free to shoot unidentified targets if you want to, but that is good way to kill your own loved ones in a house, fellow officers in the line of duty, and fellow soldiers at war.

Refusal to use a flashlight = ignorance (I don't mean stupid, although it may be that also) I mean lack of knowledge.

There are several good techniques. Each has its strengths and weakness and cannot be learned from an internet forum or from reading.

If you are truly interested in learning about the tactical use of the flashlight PM me and I will email you manual from a course.

November 10, 2006, 10:00 PM
Just one question for all of you: have any of you ever taken a course of fire at night that?Yes.Refusal to use a flashlight = ignorance...I think that, like anything else, flashlights are a useful tool that may or may not be applicable to any given specific situation. I have them on hand, but would no more say that one should always use one than I would say one should never use one.

Charles S
November 10, 2006, 10:11 PM
I think that, like anything else, flashlights are a useful tool that may or may not be applicable to any given specific situation. I have them on hand, but would no more say that one should always use one than I would say one should never use one.

That was my point....just not quite as verbose. There are indeed situations where a flashlight is not needed. I never stated you should always use one, but to state that you will never use one is truly ignorant. (Again, contextually lack of knowledge).

November 11, 2006, 01:29 AM
Fundamentals of Fighting in Low-Light Environments

In my humble opinion, the basic concept for fighting at night is that "darkness is your friend." If you are in the dark, stay in the dark. If you are in the light, light up the dark. Night vision would be of the utmost importance in this concept. As we age, our night vision may be negatively affected by the aging process. It is very important that you know your night vision limitations and that you tailor your tactics to your specific circumstance. Older eyes may also affect your ability to use night sights, keep this in mind and know your limitations.

The eyes are made up or numerous sensitive nerves called cones and rods. The cones are at the center of the retina and are best used for direct vision during lighted situations. They detect color, detail, and far away objects. The rods encircle the cones are best for peripheral vision, movement and low light situations. In low-light it is best to not use direct vision, but to use your peripheral vision in a slow sweeping manner to pick up shape, silhouette, and movement. Look just "off of center" to get the most out of your night vision.

Obtaining your maximum night vision takes nearly thirty minutes, but it can be lost in the blink of an eye. After approximately 5 to10 minutes, the cones become adjusted to the dim light and the eyes become 100 times more sensitive to the light than they were before. Nearly 30 minutes is needed for the rods to become adjusted to darkness, but when they do adjust they are about 100,000 times more sensitive to light than they were in lighted areas. After the adaptation process is complete, much more can be seen, especially if the eyes are used correctly. If you have achieved your maximum night vision, protect it as much as possible. One trick to preserve night vision (if you have no choice but to go into the light that will negatively affect your night vision,) is to close your dominant shooting eye and protect your night vision in one of your eyes. The temporary blinding affect of having your night vision suddenly taken from you can cause illusions, after images, vertigo, dizziness, and loss of balance. This is something that needs to be known to understand how important protecting your night vision is. In a fast pace, chaotic, self defense situation, dealing with any of these negative factors could be the difference between victory and defeat. But on the other hand, this is a double edge sword and can be used to your advantage against you adversary.

In most urban environments there will be ambient light sources, some brighter than others. As you are working these irregular brightness levels, keep in mind the preservation of your night vision and the use of darkness and shadows in this regard and as a form of concealment. Your movement should be dictated (in part) by theses simple concepts. The three rules of camouflage are very important here. The understanding that they are double edged swords that work both ways is absolutely vital. The three rules are Shine, Shape, and Silhouette. These rules must be understood from the aspect of both the predator and the prey. Tactics such as "keeping low" and using the horizon or ambient light sources to back light the adversary’s silhouette are crucial. You also need to remember that the adversary "in the know" will be trying to do the same thing to you. You should try to use this tactical advantage to benefit yourself, while at the same time mitigate the chances of it being used to your detriment. This may require you to look/search lower than you would during lighted situations. You may want to start your looking/searching at about knee level first before you raise your search level. While it is important to look/search at all levels during lighted situations, keep in mind that a lower search levels are even more important during low light situations. Other tactics such as the use of your hearing can be a real asset, while working in the dark, do not under estimate the tactic of just stopping and listening.

Shooting in low-light/ambient light

As in anything that we do in regards to self defense, there is a continuum/progression/matrix of fighting at night. IMHO this continuum is even more prevalent and important in the dark. In my basic philosophy of "react as you need to react, see what you need to see, and move as you need to move," the continuum is very clear. In the dark it is even more pronounced due to the loss of visual input. The lessening of visual input negatively affects all three parts of that basic philosophy. In the reaction phase, you absolutely need the visual input to understand the situation. Awareness and threat identification are both compromised in the dark. The reaction to these two things, in turn is also compromised. On the necessary visual input, this is pretty self explanatory. Ever aspect of this concept is affected in low-light due to your ability to not see as well. On the necessary movement, I have found that all of the movement is toned down due to the "safety considerations." Since you are not able to see the terrain/footing as well, there is the huge desire to not go down. The balance shifts slightly towards insuring the hit and slightly away from "not getting hit." I do not see this as a problem because once again we are talking about a double edge sword that both combatants are dealing with.

On pure marksmanship in low-light, the necessary visual input is affected all along the sight continuum due to the loss of light. Your limitations on each sighting technique may be affected by the loss of visual input due to darkness. Since absolute knowledge of your limitations is in direct relationship to your confidence, knowing your limitations at each lighting level is extremely important. Confidence is important due to the fact that there will be even less visual verification that your hits are good. Your ability to see the hits or call your shots will be severely hampered. Therefore you must have absolute knowledge of your limitations. Although, you can use the muzzle flash for hit verification, this is not really a sighting aid...it is an aid for verification or calling your shots. If your muzzle flash is centered on the targeted area, and the silhouette of the gun is centered inside of the muzzle flash (very much like metal and meat) you are getting the hits. This verification could be key, especially it the adversary is wearing body armor. If you have absolute knowledge of good hits and there is not the desired affect, you can transition to the head quicker for the fight ending shot.

In my teachings, situations dictate tactics and tactics dictate techniques. I teach my students the exact same necessary visual input techniques at night as I do during the day. It is up to the student which tools they prefer for each specific situation. But I believe that in low-light situations that you should always get as much visual input as you can, for the situation you are faced with. Obviously, this may not be the best solution during the day. In low-light there is a definite need to examine the balance between speed (of the drawstroke, movement, and trigger) and accuracy. This balance may not be the same as the day due to less visual input due to darkness.

November 11, 2006, 01:30 AM
The Floating Light

I prefer to only use a flashlight only when I absolutely need to use the light. But there are times when it is absolutely necessary, so these tools should be in your skill set. Some of you may have recognized that I am into fluid transitions between skill sets that are dependent upon the situation. I do not see these transitions as being overly complicated or complex. To me, they fit into the KISS principle, but more importantly, they cover all of my bases. Keeping it simple is important, but I see being well rounded and versatile as being just as important. My basic concept for the flashlight is the versatility of what I call the floating light. I really do not have a default flashlight technique. My technique is all situationally dependent. The positions that I use flows from one to another seamlessly, giving me the best tool to use on each job. The positions that are incorporated into my system are the FBI, modified FBI, neck index, centerline index (SNarc), and the Modified Harries (Gabe.) They all have there place and I transition through them as situations arise. I tend to keep my handgun in a one handed compressed ready. This gives me a good retention position, one that I can fire from immediately, and a position that I can shoot accurately through out my extension.

I like the FBI and its modified positions for searching in large areas, due to the fact that a light source is a bullet magnet. These techniques keep the light source away from the body. If someone is to shoot at the light the chances of a solid hit are reduced dramatically. I really like this for searching, while incorporating "wanding and strobing." Wanding is a search technique that incorporates the old "light on/light off/move" principle with splashes of random, arching, light strokes. The random strokes give enough light to see an area to maneuver through or to identify a threat. The strokes also make it harder for an adversary to determine your position or your direction if they do not have a visual on you already. Wanding works best in large areas. I strive to never have my light on for more than two seconds. Along with that, I strive to move constantly during the "light on" portion. I try to make sure that I have used the light in a manner that lets me see what I need to see, before the light goes back off.

Strobing is random, quick, bursts of light that are manipulated in both direction and angle. Strobing is best used when you are approaching a corner or a doorway that must be taken. The concept of strobing is to use the bursts in a random pattern that makes it impossible for the adversary to know where you are or where you are going. If done correctly you can "take" the corner or make entry into the door in a manner that is much more unpredictable by your adversary. If you use the old light on/light off/move without wanding and strobing, you are telegraphing your position and your movement.

The neck index is an outstanding position. It works great with the third eye principle. As you maneuver and turret your body, your flashlight and your gun are pointed the exact same direction as your eyes. The flashlight is also in a very good position to be used as contact weapon. The horizontal elbow also works well with SNarc and Gabe’s CQB techniques; it gives some good protection to the head and facilitates good striking potential. There are good retention properties and a lot of very good options out of this position. Where this technique really shines is its use with dynamic movement. The body mechanics of the position just seems far superior to all of the other options. Of course there is the balance between making the hit and not being hit. The neck index brings the flashlight closer to your centerline and right next to your head. This could be problematic if the adversary is shooting at the light. But on the other hand the position facilitates excellent dynamic movement and accuracy. I am leaning to the fact that the dynamic movement and the accuracy outweigh the lights possible problematic position. This really gets into the fight continuum and the balance or speed and accuracy that I have mentioned prior to this.

The centerline index brings the flashlight out of the neck index and positions the flashlight on the centerline right next to the gun in the compressed ready. The exact position of the flashlight is fluid on the centerline; it can be used to the right or to the left of the gun depending on the angle of vision/lighting that is needed. This position also gives you a better field of vision than the neck index. It also brings the flashlight elbow in closer to the body, cutting down on the chances of "leading" with the elbow. As seen in SNarc's PSP this is also a very good position for taking corners and doors in conjunction with the vertical elbow.

The Modified Harries as Gabe teaches is my preferred two handed precision shooting position of this fluid system. But shots can be fire from any of the positions dependent on the situation. By simply shooting from retention, throughout your extension, or at full extension of the firing side arm, you can stay in whatever flashlight position that you choose and go at it one handed.

Be versatile, flow from one response to another, have all of your bases covered, and have the best tool for the job at your disposal.

WTS, does it make sense to be bi-lateral in your flashlight system? I believe so. Here is the flashlight transition that I use. Extend the pinky of your gun hand. Place the flashlight, bezel up, in between the pinky and the ring finger. Curl the pinky around the flashlight. Acquire the back strap of your handgun with your support side hand and transition over. Reacquire your flashlight grip.

Necessary use of the flashlight

I believe that the biggest asset of a good flashlight is in making the threat identification. Many aspect of the fight can be dealt with without the use of a flashlight, but the threat identification can be the very hardest thing to see. As in during the day, it is the hands that kill, but that is not the only thing that needs to be ID'ed. One of the most important things that one can stress in a low-light course is shoot/no-shoot situations. Of course FOF is the very best way to do this. The problem is that this type of training is not as prevalent as it should be and a full course can be a logistical nightmare due to the time limits imposed due to most people wanting to be able to sleeping at night. Often the instructors are stuck with doing the best they can on the square range. This is definitely a problem that needs to be examined and alleviated. Square range training will only take you so far, and seeing first hand the affects of a good flashlight in the eyes is an absolute necessity.

On making the threat identification with a flashlight, there are three ways to go about this if you are in a reactive gunfight. You can keep the light on, move, and engage. You can turn the light off, move, turn the light back on, and engage. You can turn the light off, move, and engage with ambient light. This will all be situationally dependent on the amount of ambient light, and the user’s skill level. If the user is dependent on a maximum amount of visual input to get the hits, they will have to use their flashlight. But, if the user needs minimal visual input, going at it in the dark can be a huge advantage.

Once again "darkness is your friend!"

November 12, 2006, 01:39 AM

Good food for thought in your postings.

A couple of thoughts to add to yours;
1. When you wake up from sleep, even in a dark room, your night vision is NOT "ready to go". It will still take several minutes for your eyes to adjust.

2. For home defense, use small night lights strategically placed to silhoutte anyone in the hallway or in first-floor rooms. Placing one in the hallway bathroom can cast a glow sufficient to pick out an intruder in the hall quickly.

3. Most affordable night-vision devices are unsuitable. Most have magnification (undesireable in CQB) and poor flash recovery times. And even many Gen-II devices can fail due to vibration if mounted on weapons.

November 12, 2006, 11:55 AM
Good to see you here Bill, I believe that we used to interact over at the now defunked Polite Society Forum. I used to go by P8riot there.

I have been wondering about night vision after you wake up. Would you happen to remember where you got that information?

As far as night vision, I'm sure that you can see that "technology" was really not part of my article. This piece was a course handout and time restraints of the course left out covering "gear." This was a course about training the mind.

Here is something else that came out of my low light course that some of you may find interesting.

Threat Identification


I just finished running a private course this weekend. It was a combination day/night course, integrating techniques, skills, and tactics that you find inside of the Fight Continuum. There is heavy emphasis the "Reactionary Gunfighting." The course ran two days/nights, from 3:00 PM to 10:00 PM and the round count was 2,250 rounds. (Yes, that is 2,250 rounds)

In the night portion of the course there was a heavy emphasis of Threat Identification. I integrated a number of drills that required the the ID be made and the threat engaged in an appropriate manner, with live fire. These drills were run under many varying lighting conditions ranging from ambient light, low light, back lite, use of the flash light, and no light.

Running private and semi-private course has some advantages over group courses, for both the instructor and the student. This type of training will never make the instructor rich, but it does allow for regular guys like me to do what they love to do..... teach. It also allows the instructor to be able to customize the course to the students needs.

I wanted to find a way to run these drills so that I could change the "threat" quickly with minimal down time to the student. I wanted to be able to show the student the importance and the difficulty of making the ID, with minimal disruption to the flow of the course. I have seen the "painted on" threat clues, but these are simply too limited and clearly not good enough.

Here is the targets that I came up with to solve these problems. I am sure someone else has already done this....but I have never seen it. It is just too simple and based on too much common sense for others to not have discovered it also.


As far as the original question, if I had excellent cover and needed precision hits I would use the Rogers technique. If the action was fluid I would use the modified Harries for precision. But the facts are that this is not the typical "encounter" that a civilian would face. These encounters would be very fast and close with the use of dynamic movement. One handed techniques out of the neck index is an outstanding tool. The course mentioned above covers threat focused skills combined with dynamic movement in low light environments. This covers the "most likely" situations. The most "stable" position is pretty low on the priority list.IMHO