View Full Version : Lights on weapons?

November 27, 2006, 04:07 AM
Should you have lights on weapons used for home defense? Im not talking about concealed carry but weapons used specifically for home defense a pistol, shotgun, or carbine? I heard it can be used to disorient your attacker as well as light your backround/ BG. Whats yalls opinions?

Double Naught Spy
November 27, 2006, 05:52 AM
Do a search and you will find this has been discussed quite a bit. There is no consensus. Some of the general points made over an over again are that...
1. You rule the dark in your own home and hence a light on the gun makes this more possible.
2. It is good to have it for situations at home where you may not have adequate lighting at a particular moment (the 'always present if needed' notion)
3. Some things you can't do if you need illumination and have to hold a flashlight in one hand and a gun in the other (such as opening doors, calling 911) and it can be hugely difficult to run a long gun and use a handheld flashlight.
4. The make you a bullet magnet
5. Like everything else, they are just a tool that needs to be utilized in certain manners to be safe and effective, but if used wrongly, are a hazard/liability

November 27, 2006, 09:48 AM
I am against a mounted light.

Basic Rule: Never point the weapon at anything you are not prepared to shoot.

If the light is mounted to the weapon and you need to illuminate the source of a sound or sweep the area what do you do...

November 27, 2006, 09:59 AM
Basic Rule: Never point the weapon at anything you are not prepared to shoot.

Keeping the booger hook off the bang switch comes to mind on that rule. If you're investigating a "bump in the night" walking around a dark house with your finger on the trigger you're pretty foolish anyway.

I'm not against a light, not really for a light. Pros and cons to it. A pro of a mounted light would defintely be having a free hand and illuminating your target properly to make sure you don't blast Mittens or even worse the wife or kids. Cons would be if you illuminate something that wants to hurt you, they now know about where to start shooting.

If you're gonna get one make sure it is bright and by bright I mean BRIGHT. Like flash-blindness bright. If they can't see they aren't gonna have good aim.

November 27, 2006, 12:17 PM
Weapons light = instant target aquisition for BG.

I suspect, most people like me, can navigate their home in little or no light.

November 27, 2006, 04:42 PM
Depends. If you have other "friendlies" in the house a light of some sort is required. You must identify friend or foe before engaging. Anything above 60lumens does a good job of temporarily blinding someone who has night adapted vision. Another good tactic to employ.

I prefer a handheld light rather than a weapon mounted light for all the obvious reasons. You can get it away from your body so it doesn't direct incoming fire at your brain. You can identify targets without sweeping them with a loaded firearm. And so on and so on...

Technique is Key when employing any kind of light source. The last thing you want to do is turn on your maglight and go strolling thru the house. The idea is to flash and move flash and move. Never illuminate from the same spot twice. Use sparingly while searching and move in darkness.

Worth noting I am in no way advocating "clearing" your house in the dark. A one man stack in house full of hallways and doors with possible multiple BG's is just asking to get killed. Best strategy is to defend in place unless you absolutely have to go after another friendly. Then you're best served to move quickly and make good use of a flashlight.

Also worth noting that there are other sources of security lighting besides a flashlight. I leave the table lamp in the den on all night long. My 1st floor bedroom will be blacked out when the boogie man strikes. If he steps into the hallway he's backlit by the lamp while I'm hiding in plain sight in the darkness.

November 27, 2006, 06:25 PM
I do not think much of lights on guns for HD. It does not fit my circumstances, and I have always thought that they put you at more of a disadvantage than offer any real benefit.
Other's circumstances, and opinions may vary from mine.

Double Naught Spy
November 27, 2006, 06:54 PM
nkielborn, classic examples here such as Muskateer's and dfaugh's.

Both have reached an absolute decision because of potential shortcomings of weapon mounted lights. In their opinions, it would appear to be implied, you have to use the light all the time and hence the shortcoming can't be overcome.

If we abandon all of our tools because they have some shortcoming, we have no tools.

Muskateer seems to believe that if the light is on the gun and you want to see something that you must point your gun at it. This is wrong unless you live inside a home where everything is painted in light absorbing flat black. I am guessing he hasn't worked with tactical lights and hence doesn't know their limitations and capabilities. Most such weapon lights produce enough light that you can shine the light at the ground in a low ready/scan position and illuminate a room via reflected light.

What about the notion that a light on a gun makes you a bullet magnet or target as dfaugh is saying? He has failed to denote that what he is arguing isn't against weapon mounted lights, but against the use of ANY lights that are carried. So that would mean flashlights held in the hand or weapon lights. He notes most folks can navigate their homes in the dark, which is great, but most people can't see in the dark and so they will have trouble identifying a target correctly (if they are not sole occupants of the abode) as friend or foe.

dfaugh is also assuming that home navigation only occurs in areas intimately familiar within the home. Home defense is not always something that happens directly inside the home, but also happens in the yard, driveway, garage, etc., places where folks are not likely to be able to navigate well in very low light conditions while trying to stealthily look for bad guys.

A critical factor here is that lights, be they hand held or mounted, should be supplemental sources of illumination used when you don't have adequate lighting otherwise. Lights are tools and like guns need to be used in a smart manner. There is NOTHING that says you have to use the light on your weapon at any given time and you may not need to use a light on your weapon, but if you need light and don't have it, then you are just sort of screwed, no?

The point here is that the "always present if needed" aspect is a real bonus to weapon mounted lights. You don't have to use them. If you opt to use them, then the use needs to be smart.

November 27, 2006, 07:03 PM
why not have a light bulb target on your chest to make target aquisition for the bg easier

November 27, 2006, 07:21 PM
Lights [and other junk] on some guns like the Benelli auto may cause malfunctions.

November 27, 2006, 07:25 PM
I suppose you're just gonna start shooting at "something" in the dark. Good luck with that lawsuit. How are you gonna identify what may be a bad guy, or who may be your drunk neighbor walking into the wrong house? Besides, if you have that light on, you can see if you need to shoot.

November 27, 2006, 07:51 PM
Lights on a weapon???

If you're a THOROUGHLY trained, and constantly in-service trained member of an elite SWAT team? Maybe.

Otherwise, leave them for the "Uber-Commando-Mall Ninja types.

November 27, 2006, 08:18 PM
your houses get broken into often or something? I find the hours and hours spent on HD to be kind of idiotic. Why do most people break in houses? Mostly to grab as much stuff as possible in a short amount of time and scram. When do people rob houses? Mostly when they suspect no one is home. There are so many debates like this about HD. One guy told me to keep a round in the chamber of my HD shotgun because the sound of my 870 cycling a round into the chamber would alert the BG that someone was home and also my general direction!:eek: You tell me: if you are in a house with intentions of burglary and you hear the sound of a pump shotgun what is your first reaction? EXACTLY! Also, without a light on a weapon, how are you gonna see anything? My only advice, practice practice practice. The rest is just opinion.

November 27, 2006, 10:19 PM
I'll go against the masses on this one... I spend a fair amount of time searching building/ houses that are not mine, and I wouldn't trade anything for my weapon mounted light. I also have a light on my HD/ off duty gun, and in my opinion, the pros far outweigh the cons. You don't necessarily have to be an elite operator to utilize a weapon mounted light safely, but it does require a little extra work and confidence in yourself and your abilities. Everygun I have that I would plan using in a gunfight whether it be mine or my LEA's is equipped with a very bright white light.
Let the flaming begin...:rolleyes:

November 27, 2006, 11:52 PM
why not try night lights in the house. Cheap to buy/use, self activating with ambient light conditions, and if you have kids/spouse/pets you can see them without pointing a gun at them or near them, doesn't draw attention to your presence or movements

November 28, 2006, 12:06 AM
I suspect, most people like me, can navigate their home in little or no light.

Yeah, I've lived in my house for 18 years now, and I can find my way around in the dark with no illumination. That's how I get to the bathroom when my bladder says NOW. Probably more than you needed to know.

I do keep one big LED-converted Maglight in the bedroom, just in case. Should I need it, it would be in my left hand while my handgun would be in my right hand.

If need be, I've got another half-dozen flashlights, one plugged into a hefty UPS. After the big east-coast blackout hit here a few years ago, those flashlights came in handy.

I've thought about getting a generator, but I think the two UPSs are more than adequate for me.

Big Calhoun
November 28, 2006, 09:58 AM
IMO, it comes down to what is appropriate. I recently purchased a Streamlight and mounted it on my XD45 -- the weapon was terribly balanced. I have since mounted it on my 96FS (Vertec) and it is a much better fit as well as a useful addition.

My feelings on it are a combination of most of the thoughts expressed already. You know your own home better than any else, especially in the dark. Shining a bright-fully charged halogen bulb and laser illuminator in someones eyes in the middle of the night is a good attention getter. In these types of situations, it all falls down to rule #1 -- keep your finger off the trigger until you're ready to fire.

But really, I think the core issue is finding a light package that accenuates the weapon rather than going for taticool-ness and having to fumble with a brick.

December 1, 2006, 01:50 PM
I keep a TLR-2 mounted on my Sig for home defense at night. I have practiced with it and believe that it will be an asset in case of a break in.

My reasons why are as follows:
1) I wear contacts or glasses, if I don't have the time to put them on I can identify with the light when appropriate and have reasonable aim with the laser
2) Here in Philly you are asking for trouble if you shoot someone in your home who is unarmed, even if they are a burglar
3) I believe you should move around your house without the light on but, when you are identifying a target a surprising flash of light will blind them and give you the edge

Just my 2 cents!

December 1, 2006, 01:59 PM
A light, like a firearm, is one of those things that when you need it, you REALLY wish you had it, and a good one.
I find it amusing that many, not all, of the people discrediting weapon lights are the same that bad-mouth shootings where the target may not have been visible or fully identified. Both of these problems are magnified in the dark.
Oh well, it is said that smart people learn from their mistakes, and smarter ones learn from others. Experience will have to be the best teacher for the former group.

December 1, 2006, 02:30 PM
I'll take the light, on the gun, off the gun, or better yet, both.

I have to assume that those who are against them, have never been flashed with one of the high power lights, day or night, to understand how well they work. The light alone can be a great advantage and gives you quite an edge, if you understand it and are willing to make use of it.

Personally, I'll take any edge I can get. Better yet, I'll cheat at every opportunity. Loosing sucks. :D

December 1, 2006, 07:19 PM
The shotgun by my bed has one. It is like this but with a standard magazine (the old Scattergun Technologies "FBI Model"): http://www.wilsoncombat.com/s_professional.asp

Just because I have a light does not mean I have to turn it on.:rolleyes: I use it while other times it just very well may be a bullet magnet.

If I have to go out into the "sunshine", then I may have to use it. If I stay fixed and wait for the cavalry, then I probably won't use it.

I do not buy the "it will disorient them" silliness. (Clint Smith has a great story about this when his friend Dave Spaulding shot a SWAT cop from Down South in the gonads with a Sim round. "My light is a weapon!" No it's not, numbnuts, your light is a light. [Clint flexing like Hans and Franz]:D). Light is good for Rule #4 issues.:)

December 1, 2006, 07:31 PM
I like the idea of a light on the weapon as long as you practice with it on the weapon, for obvious reasons. A couple of the police deprtments in the area that I live in have weapon mounted lights on there handguns as standard issue.

December 1, 2006, 08:03 PM
1. The lights do not stay lit all the time. The person holding the handgun actually gets to choose when they wish the light to be on. The device is called a "switch." :rolleyes:

2. You do not have to point the weapon at the object you are trying to see. Most of these lamps will light up the entire room just by pointing it at the floor. When the handgun is held at the ready position, it offers an excellent balance of visibility and safety. ;)

3. It is better to have a tool and not need it, than to need it and not have it.

December 1, 2006, 08:03 PM
I know when tested with Simmunitions, that weapons mounted lights lowered your chances of being hit because the light often blinded the opponent and unless the light is almost completely still, its movement or strobing disorients the opponents.

December 1, 2006, 08:10 PM
What Kurt C said...

December 1, 2006, 09:43 PM
I think tritium looks better on a gun than a flashlight. Cheaper too.

(And I don't care how awesome they are, a flashlight is not supposed to cost more than $50 What's this world coming to with $300 dollar flashlights!?)

December 1, 2006, 10:23 PM
I like the light for outdoor use. In the house, I'm fine without it. But if I'm rooting around outside after dark, I want to be able to be able to illuminate where needed.

December 2, 2006, 06:12 PM
First off I want to thank everyone for their respones and opinions. The reason I asked this question was to gather information. I am not trying to look like a SWAT team member or urban commando. I also can navigate my home in the dark but i do think the idea of being able to identify the perp is more important than keeping the element of suprise. even if i shine the light on the perp and he leaves i may be able to identify the suspect and that may be just as good IMO. and no my home is broken into a lot, but I was a boy scout and i do remember the thought of always be prepared ( and i dont think the end of the world is coming and im not paranoid). I dont even feel i need a CCW, I just wanted to understand purposes of having a light and its benifits and shortcomings.

Double Naught Spy
December 2, 2006, 07:15 PM
I think tritium looks better on a gun than a flashlight. Cheaper too.

I don't think I realized that a realistic concern for self defense and being able to identify your sights or target had anything to do with how something looked on your gun. If fashion is the issue, you might want to make sure that the tritium dots don't clash with your shoes.

nkielborn, obviously, having a light on your gun doesn't mean you are trying to be a SWAT person. SWAT and other teams often use weapon lights inside abodes because they don't otherwise have control of the other sources of illumination, such as the light switch for the room, or know if the lights in the structure even work. They have and use the lights as a collective group when doing entries, illuminating many areas at once and indifferent directions, something that could be accomplished by turning on the overhead lights by you in your own home.

When SWAT teams use their lights, there is a person running each light which means an additional set of eyes scanning for threats. Since each team member has a particular zone of coverage for which s/he is responsible, the team is better able to utilize weapon lights and the weapons attached to them than would often be the case with the single individual.

As such, the weapon light for a single individual doesn't work in quite the same way as for a SWAT or other tactical team. Individual light-use tactics are not the same as team light-use tactics. For example, a SWAT team making a dynamic entry into a crack house will often go in with lights on so that they always have light. Since they are working as a group and have on body armor, they aren't doing the single person tactic of flashing on a light for a second and letting things go dark and moving to a new position and repeating. If they did, they would end up shooting one another by mistake as armed people would be appearing and disappearing all over the place.

With that said, the need for being able to identify a target as friend or foe (IFF) is still a real need regardless of your personal position as an individual or SWAT team person. A weapon light can aid in this process.

December 2, 2006, 07:50 PM
My problem with flashlights on guns is that the undisciplined will end up pointing a gun a something that only needs a flashlight.

If you are dedicated to your pistol skills then get the training for low/no light shooting and learn how to use the flashlight properly.

I personally don't attach things to my guns, I do have tritium nite sites on my Sig, and carry a separate light to identify things with.

Both schools of thought have valid points and applications so it's a personal choice.

December 2, 2006, 09:02 PM
Light on a weapon is a target indicator. If you must identify specificially at what or whom you are shooting, ok.

Alternative. Have some leds with permanent on-off switches around the house.

Throw one into a room and the whole room lights up. No junk about swinging a weapon around.

Put one on a chain around your neck. Then your hands are free. You can see obstacles to step over and whether a door opens inwards or outwards and where the door handles are.

Think about the thoughts. Been there and done that.

December 5, 2006, 11:08 AM
I use both, my gun mounted light on my headboard handgun has a switch I can flip on and off with just a touch of my finger. I also have a rechargeable Maglite mounted on the side of the headboard.

Why not have the option of either one?

December 5, 2006, 11:39 AM
I have a VERY cheap light on my 1300 Defender... cheap like I made most of it. I used the barrel from a broken 2 AA knock-off mag, a custom fitted 3 LED head that I scavenged from another broken MagLite, and a push button switch from a plastic flashlight. I drilled a small hole in the end cap, isolated the ground spring from it, and ran one switch wire to the cap and one to the spring. I used a cheap screw mount in conjunction with some double-stick tape and it stays just fine. It's nowhere near as bright as a Surefire, but it will light a dark room well enough for me to make out who/what is in it.

Anyway, I like a light on my shotgun, but for a pistol I'd much rather have a 3 D cell MagLite. I keep two of them next to the bed, along with a .38. The 1300 is hung next to the door on the wall and is probably what I'd grab in the event of a break-in scare. The .38 is just what I tuck in my back pocket when some potential un-friendlies come to the door (lots of posing style break-ins around here lately).

December 6, 2006, 12:35 AM
"Put one on a chain around your neck. Then your hands are free. You can see obstacles to step over and whether a door opens inwards or outwards and where the door handles are."

Having it on a gun is better than around your neck.