View Full Version : Tactics in the dark...

December 25, 2007, 04:40 PM
This is a spin-off on the lights on guns thread. Im wondering what helps in low-light scenarios besides placing a light on a gun. I feel that using a silver or chrome-plated pistol helps me a lot in low-light.

December 25, 2007, 05:41 PM
Unlike a light on a gun, you can't turn off the glint from a shiny gun. I prefer a black dingy gun for HD. I feel, for me, it is about practice. I know the layout of my home and my wife has stopped with the monthly rearranging she was fond of but made me re-learn my house. i do not use night lights as they may help in one spot but make my eyes need re-adjusted once past their effectiveness...

December 25, 2007, 09:14 PM
I always like night sights and lasers. BUT!!! they do not help you identify your target. Tactical lights on the gun are handy, mag lights make good less lethal weapons, and the modern small tactical hand held lights put out lots o' candlepower compactly.

Personally, I like a 4 C cell mag light. YMMV.

December 25, 2007, 10:02 PM
i do not use night lights as they may help in one spot but make my eyes need re-adjusted once past their effectiveness...

I have to disagree with this. I have several nightlights in my house, and the odds are if someone is breaking in at night, their eyes probably aren't dark-adapted (from headlights, flashlights), but mine already are. I keep one nightlight on all the time next to my bed and my HD handgun. I can see this argued both ways, but I happen to like nightlights.

December 25, 2007, 10:22 PM
I guess the real reason we don't have "night lites" is cuz we never made them a family practice. Had some now and than but as a bulb burnt out or the kids were no longer afraid of the dark they faded from use. I am accustomed and comfortable with making my way in total darkness in my home. The kids are aware they need to reply if i address them in the dark (I am quickly noticing that it may be a fantasy to expect a 16-17 yearold child to respond "post haste").

December 25, 2007, 11:46 PM
I am accustomed and comfortable with making my way in total darkness in my home.

I used to feel the same way. Somewhere along the line when I wasn't looking, I hit my 50s, and more often than not stubbed my toe on something (bed, door, cat) on my nightly trip to the bathroom. I never had to do that when I was younger. The newer (LED) night lights only take 1 watt of juice and last for years. It's all a matter of what you're more comfortable with, I guess.

December 27, 2007, 11:20 PM
+1 in favor of the night lights, especially the green ones that never need their bulb changed.

As a caveat, . . . there are none in our bedroom, . . . I can see through the whole house, . . . but there is no vision in our bedroom available to the bg. Yet bg is fully silhouetted in either door to my bedroom.

Again, though, whatever one is comfortable with.

May God bless,

December 27, 2007, 11:37 PM
There are so many lights around my house I don't need night lights. There are street lights, floods from next door and two houses in back. The whole neighborhood has a "glow". The BG can proably see as good as I can. I just hope they will pick another area to work in.


December 28, 2007, 02:17 AM
I like to think I have a tactical advantage in my home. The living room is dimly lit from the street light outside. The hallway from which I would approach the LR is pitch dark. Pair this with a super bright flashlight and my choice of hand cannon, this gives me the upper hand.

December 28, 2007, 02:57 AM
I keep a set of NVG's by my bedside, plus we have the entire property wired for infrared security lights. The walls in our house are condusive to painting heat signatures, so any burglarizing SOB that breaks into our home is going to be blasted since we can see their blob-like movements across our formal living room wall.

Oh, almost forgot--also have the tactical muzzle-flash reducer adapters for the NVGs--no sense in ruining your perfectly good night vision just because you blasted a burglar all to hades and back.


December 28, 2007, 10:42 AM
I don't use night lights, but do have several good flashlights.

My new night-time toy is a rechargeable spotlight. With 580 lumens, it's like a Phazor set between 'stun' and 'extra crispy'.

December 28, 2007, 10:48 AM
Crimson Trace lasergrips, enough back scatter from the beam to ID in total dark. Also, a cheap 3 watt Garrity LED flashlight with red filter installed. Best I can come up with. Add in home alarm system and two dogs, I think I am OK for now.

December 28, 2007, 02:26 PM
An unarmed person - Clean up the mess the dogs leave behind. Hand back his arm and call police. Yes, they would.
Armed - We have a 114' long ranch house with an attached garage. I need to protect the entranceway that separates the large common den/dining/kitchen area from the hallway leading to the bedrooms/living room. It also controls egress to the front door, which is far less likely to be breeched. Because of this, I prefer the darkness with just a bit of light from the street light outside. An armed person would find it very hard to negotiate the den, and would either have given himself away by harming my dogs,:mad: or be in a lot of trouble. The dining and kitchen areas leave me (and the dogs) a lot of open space. It would be a mess tac light or no tac light if the dogs are still in play, so I'd turn on the house lights at that point.
The dogs are one reason I'm not AS worried about it being a family member. They don't even stand up if it's a kid.
Five doors total to the outside including front and garage. All except one require opening another locked door to gain entry (odd house, I admit, but I liked this). It would make a lot of noise gaining entry. Anyone who goes to that trouble has proven themself to be a threat if armed, and a real stoo-nadge if not armed.

December 28, 2007, 02:43 PM
motion activated security lights on the corners of my house and a good watchdog that hates everyone she doesn't know.

December 28, 2007, 03:45 PM
In low-light/nighttime situations it will depend on the layout of your house and your preferred tactics for dealing with an intruder.

I used to have 3 cats, including a black one that disappeared if she slept in the hallway. Nothing like stepping on an invisible cat at 3:28am to make you wet yourself! :eek: :D (not to mention the need for antiseptic afterwards!)

In response to this (and that fact that the big male used to sleep in the front bath's sink bowl) I put nightlights in several places around the house. At night, they provide enough light to allow me to see anyone moving around or lurking. At least one of them will throw a shadow towards the hallway as a warning too.

If you have a 2-story house, using nightlights on the lower floor near the stairwell will illuminate anyone in the stairs or moving around near them (by shadows).

Keep in mind that a nighttime intruder has the advantage of night vision and adrenaline. He's already acclimated to the dark and adrenaline helps with his night vision. You, on the other hand, waking up from a sleep will NOT have your night vision fully ramped up for up to 30 seconds or more. In addition, unless you hear a positive sound that someone is in the house, you may be tired enough that your eyes aren't fully open. Older (50+) folks may have "sleep" in their eyes causing blurry vision too.

Light colored walls in your house will help show a silhoutte, especially if you have a light source somewhere inside the home. Mirrors or mirrored tiles strategically placed where you can see them from the hallway and inspect other parts of the house may be effective.

If you like the devices, those X-10 remote control units which allow you to turn on lights using household wiring as a comm-circuit can be effective too. Turning on the downstairs lighting (or kitchen/livingroom) may cause the intruder to flee or hide. At the very least, you can screw up his night vision while yours remains.

December 28, 2007, 04:16 PM
Your natural night vision is a function of how dialated your pupils are. Your night vision is better after sleepng in the dark then it ever will be. It takes about 15 minutes in the dark to get 99% of your night vision back, and a full hour to get the last little fraction. YOU have the advantage in the dark in your own house unless you turn on the light in your bedroom and then walk out into the dark afterwards.

One old standby technique is to keep one eye closed when you anticipate exposure to bright light, so that you still have night vision when the light goes out.

December 29, 2007, 12:06 AM
If you like the devices, those X-10 remote control units which allow you to turn on lights using household wiring as a comm-circuit can be effective too.

That's a great point. One of my friends has several in his house, and that's probably a good idea.

I'm a flashlight junky, and have a bunch of them. The bedroom flashlight is a 4-D Maglight converted to a LED. It would serve double-duty as shilelage should I need it. The little one that I keep next to my favorite chair is far brighter, but it has nowhere near the heft of that big 'ol Maglight.

December 29, 2007, 12:56 AM
Watch for the cats!


December 30, 2007, 09:29 PM
Keep in mind that a nighttime intruder has the advantage of night vision and adrenaline.

While an intruder may have an adrenaline rush, I think my rush would be greater. Every time I am suddenly awakened, mine shoots through the roof. Most times I am fully awake before my feet hit the floor. Everyone is different though. Some people take longer to wake up while others may sleep right through the whole ordeal.

Rifleman 173
January 22, 2008, 10:28 PM
Got a buddy who is an electrician? Have him wire into place a set of outside lights, high up so that it takes a ladder to reach them, with the on-off switch in your bedroom. When you hear a noise outside, switch on the outside lights to backlight the guy coming into your abode. With backlighting, the bad guy comes into your area having come from a lit area to a darker area in which you have the edge. Plus the guy is at a disadvantage because he's lit up from behind. MAKE SURE THAT YOU POSITIVELY IDENTIFY YOUR TARGET BEFORE FIRING ANY SHOTS. You don't want to accidentally shoot the son/daughter/loved one just because they came home unexpected.

January 25, 2008, 02:02 PM
My house has just enough light at night for someone familiar with the house to walk through if their eyes are dark adapted. It is still dark enough they would trip on anything left on the floor so I always clear the path to the stairs before going to bed. The downstairs is a tad brighter due to outside light.

The ideal playout would be that I would be waiting in the dark at the top of the steps and once a BG entered "the tunnel" I could light them up with a Surefire and get the jump on them. My bedroom door is about 1' from the top of the stairs, so hopefully I can get there before any BG does. Hopefully I never have to worry about it because I have a dog and an alarm system... anyone still trying to get up the stairs with all that commotion is seriously stupid.

I also installed these really cool deadbolts I found at Target (made by Master Lock) that allow you to disable the tumbler from the inside so they can't be opened (even with a key) from the outside. This means anyone setting off the alarm broke a door or a window and is most likely not my friendly neighbor or a child who decided not to spend the night at their friends house.

My next project idea is to connect the lights downstairs to the alarm system via X-10 so they all turn on when the alarm goes off.

January 26, 2008, 03:31 PM
Lasers and gun lights...

January 26, 2008, 08:27 PM
My next project idea is to connect the lights downstairs to the alarm system via X-10 so they all turn on when the alarm goes off.

Hmm... hear noise, arm self, slide out of bed, hit X-10 switch to light up downstairs....count to 3, turn lights off, listen for exclamations about excrement or sounds of intruder tripping over things in the dark. :D Then go to the top of the stairs with your flashlight.

Seriously, a 3 second exposure to lights will blot out an intruder's night vision while you retain yours. And you can turn the lights back on if needed.

Two other solutions:
Door/Window alarms - you can buy inexpensive First Alert self-adhesive alarms for doors & windows. I installed these on my sliding front windows so that if the window is opened at night, the screaming alarm will wake me up. (tip: use velcro to affix the magnetic switch "bar" in different spots so you can vent the house in summer.)

Motion-Sensing adapters. A friend's house has two areas where people might enter that are served by opaque hanging lights. He installed adapters in each so that entering the house at night the lights automatically turn on. He added the above alarms, one set to scream (den door) and the other to door-chime (rec room) so he can tell which door is open.

January 27, 2008, 12:00 AM
Well, I have two of the dual 250 watt bulb motion activated lights on the outside of each entrance, way up high. They will light up ALOT of ground very brightly. That, plus the chows inside, that ask me all the time why I don't let people visit, :eek::D and I think I'm ok.

January 27, 2008, 05:53 AM
In low light use a simple basic gun, not a complex one. An accurate and fast firing gun helps also. If you have a shotgun or a rifle tie a smaller gun to the stock, so when youre out of ammunition you can switch.

January 27, 2008, 12:12 PM
I feel that using a silver or chrome-plated pistol helps me a lot in low-light.

Anything that makes it easier for you to see your pistol in the dark also makes it easier for Mr. BG to see your pistol as well. He sees your "nickel-plated sissy pistol" and knows exactly where you are while you might still be looking for him. Better "get yourself a Glock." (yes, those are movie quotes, only reason I used 'em lol)

Personally, I like NightSights. I understand if you're holstered, then those sights can become an upward facing beacon that also gives away your position. However, since I'm not LEO or active military, if I'm in need of my gun in the dark then it's going to be up in front of me at the ready, not holstered, and the only way Mr. BG would see them is if he was behind me.

February 10, 2008, 09:44 PM
The most effective short range night site is a dab of fluorescence on the tip of an iron site. Any type of fancy illumination you become a target yourself - you've got to stay unseen. Long range (rifle) is a good old scope with lots of light gathering capability.

DCJS Instructor
February 10, 2008, 10:41 PM
Low & Reduced Light Training

by Tom Perroni

When people hear the term “Low Light shooting”, what they most often think of is shooting in the dark, while this is a bit misleading. At Perroni’s Tactical Training Academy “Low Light shooting” is using a flashlight in conjunction with a handgun to fight when the area you are in while in the fight the light is low or reduced or non existent.

In the FBI’s (UCR) Uniform Crime Report it tells us that 80% of all Law Enforcement shooting happen in low or reduced light. So as a Concealed Carry permit holder, do you carry a flashlight? Even if it is not dark outside could you be in an area of low or reduced light? EXAMPLES: Parking Garage, Stairwell, Hallway, Alleyway, closets, tunnels, etc. This report transfers to “citizen” CHP shootings as well. Perpetrators of street crimes are more active after sundown. So if you do carry a flashlight, do you know how to use it?

“The fear of the dark works both ways; you will be better prepared if you train in low and reduced light.”

The first step is having the tools. You need a flashlight, but which one? Surefire, Mag Light, Min Mag, Asp Tactical LED, etc. Before you decide, you need to know this:

What is the purpose of the Tactical Flashlight?

1) As an aid in low light navigation and movement.
2) Locate and identify and assess threats and innocents.
3) As a non lethal tool for controlling suspects and subjects.
The biggest question I get asked about flashlights is:

What is the difference between candlepower and lumens?

Lumens is what is used to specify the total amount of light coming from any light producing device, and candlepower refers to the highest value of the light intensity to be found anywhere in the lights “beam”.

Lumens tell you how “powerful” the light-producing device is, be it a light bulb of any type, a flashlight, or a car headlight. Candlepower tells you how tightly focused the beam is, assuming the light source has a lens or reflector to focus the light into a beam.

Lumens can be measured quite accurately, using an instrument called an integrating sphere, and identical lights would all have similar lumen values. It is an important quantity to know when comparing different lighting products, as it tells you how much light each one produces.

Candlepower can also be measured accurately, using a light intensity meter to measure luminous intensity, and then by applying the appropriate formula, which takes into account how far the meter is from the light source. The problem is that the value measured depends on where in the beam you take the measurement (the highest value found is what is normally used), and on how well the beam is focused. It is not unusual for candlepower values to vary greatly from unit to unit on otherwise identical lights due to small differences in focusing or reflector tolerances.

Ken Good from Strategos, Intl. www.strategosinternational.com put it this way:

Lumens verse Candlepower

“Lumen - Measurement of a quantity of light as perceived by the human eye. As a light source’s color temperature increases, less light is required to achieve comparable brightness and visual acuity. The international unit to describe the quantity of light (also called luminous flux). – That’s why SureFire uses this as a standard benchmark for all of our illumination tools.

Candle Power (Candelas) Used by lighting designers to calculate the foot-candles illuminating a surface (C.P./distance in feet squared) or Lux illuminating a surface (C.P./distance in meters squared) Foot-candles -Measurement of light output in candela per square foot. It derives from the early English unit of foot-candle defined as the illuminance on a surface placed one foot from the standard candle. 100 foot-candles is generally considered enough light to perform most tasks. Lux - Measurement of light output in candelas per square meter. One lumen per square. 10 lux is generally considered enough light to perform most tasks.

These terms are useful to assist in determining the “signature” of the illumination tool you are speaking about. No one term will fully describe the overall usefulness or quality of the emission. For instance, you can have a light with a tremendous candlepower rating at one point in the pattern, but the rest of the pattern in not useful. I.E. dark spots, splotchy, and/or weak.”

The standard in the industry and the light used at Perroni’s Tactical Training Academy is the Surefire G2. For about $30.00 you have a solid flashlight with about 65 lumens.

The next question I get asked is what about night sights? Or what kind do you use. In my opinion night sight are good in reduced light situations because they give you a visual reference of the front and rear sight and this can be helpful. I teach my students not to shoot until they have identified the target. For this in a reduced light situation you need a flashlight, otherwise you are just shooting off into the dark. My (2) key night sight points:

1) Excellent tool to locate the main aiming point of your handgun.
2) The sight is not the total answer to the problem; you must see and identify the threat first.

Remember: Night Sights assist you in aiming! However they do not assist you in:

1) Identifying targets
2) Navigating
3) Searching

The flashlight is also useful for searching for subjects, as well as blinding them with light to shut down the OODA loop. As well as like we said earlier, target identification.

However there are (3) things one must learn before the refinement of techniques and tactics they are;

1) Reduce Telegraphing.
2) Be acutely aware of being in or creating a Backlit condition for you or your team.
3) Avoid blinding yourself or others.

Also realize that if you are in a gunfight in low or reduced light and you are using a flashlight that if the Bad Guy is armed and committed, they will fire directly into the source of light.

At that point you must distort your opponents perception of what is actually happening and where you are actual located. This is done by using the following:

1) Displacement
2) Angel of the Beam
3) Rhythm and duration

The reason this is so important is that you need to conceal your movement from your attacker. You need to train so that you can deploy both your flashlight and your handgun simultaneously and accurately. The shooter must be proficient with moving and shooting before they move on to moving and shooting in low light. Also remember running with a handgun or handgun and flashlight is bad.

I also stress one handed shooting and training with one hand and yes, also working with the weak hand (Support Hand) as well. Because after all, when you are shooting with a flashlight in your hand you are shooting one handed.

So with all that information let’s talk about Hand Gun Shooting Techniques in Low or Reduced Light. What follows are some examples of shooting Techniques that can be employed with a flashlight. However remember, the Tactical Golden Rule that I am sharing with you is ‘A’ way to do the technique not ‘THE’ way to do the technique. Review the following with an open mind, try each technique on the range, but keep the one or ones that work best for you.

Rogers Technique: Light is held between the fingers and activated by pressing against palm of hand see picture below.

Harries Technique: Similar to Weaver stance, except the back of the support hand is pressed firmly against the back of the shooting hand. This enables the support hand to operate the flashlight while providing isometric stability to the shooting hand. See picture below.

Ayoob Technique: Simply thrust both the light and the gun out to approximate an isosceles position, with both thumbs touching. Ayoob teaches that if you place both thumbs together in horizontal alignment out to about seven yards the light will shine in the assailant’s eyes while the handgun is indexed on his chest. See picture below.

FBI Technique: In the FBI technique, the flashlight is held away but much higher than the modified technique from the body with the non-weapon hand. The technique is simple but takes support away from the firing hand. See picture below.

Weapon Mounted Lights: I am not a huge fan of weapon mounted lights the advantages are Support hand can be free. It’s always there on the gun. The
Disadvantage in my opinion are Searches- If you have a suspect at gunpoint how can you search for more suspects without taking the gun off the suspect?

In summary I would like to reiterate a few key points: (They are as follows)
Many flashlight techniques have been developed throughout the years. The ability to accurately engage targets in low-light conditions will always depend on the individual’s skill to shoot their weapon with one hand. An operator should learn a variety of flashlight techniques, and train on these techniques regularly. However, the foundation of low-light training will always be learning the skill required to shoot their weapon with one hand.

I have attempted to provide you nothing more than a skeleton of knowledge of how Flashlights & Night Sights work and a few Handgun Shooting

Techniques. I urge you to do a few things:

1) Practice Shooting with one hand (both strong & support hand)
2) Practice shooting with your flashlight.
3) Draw, Move, Shoot, Communicate!
4) Shoot to stop the threat… don’t stop shooting until there is no threat.
5) Get a quality flashlight and carry it at all times.

We have a saying at my training school: “Conflict is inevitable; Combat is an option.Always stay in condition yellow and when all else fails align the front sight and press the trigger and the button on your flashlight!”

Stay Safe & Shoot Straight!

Tom Perroni

Tom Perroni is the owner, President and Chief Instructor of Perroni’s Tactical Training Academy. Pulling on a five-year law enforcement operational background, Tom has spent the last fifteen years delivering training to government, military, law enforcement and private security companies. Tom is a NRA Certified Firearms Instructor and NRA Range Safety Office, Maryland State Police Handgun Instructor, Virginia DCJS Handgun, Shotgun and Advanced Handgun Instructor /Trainer for the PSS section. Tom is also a Contract Instructor for Blackwater Training Center.Tom is also the Training Director for Golden SEAL Enterprises .He is a member in Good standing with IALEFI & ILEETA. Tom appreciates feedback and can be reached through the Contact page on his company website at http://www.perronitactical.com or http://www.goldensealenterprises.com


February 11, 2008, 12:27 PM
My opinion of flashlights is that they are for searching and not for handgun fighting. (I have both a Streamlight TL-3 and a TL-3 led)
Flashlights in a gunfight are a bullet magnet.
I believe in staying low, using cover/concealment and using the threat's silhouette as the target. Remember too, that lasers used judicially in the dark, can paint a target with residual light for ID.

One thing that I've learned is that the old school trainers and the gun game-players are stuck in their own world of laser sight denial. They just don't get it. They're good because they've trained with hundreds of thousands of rounds downrange....but, who cares!

In the real world ninety nine percent (99%) of handgun owners have that gun 'strictly' for self-defense.
They barely practice, they don't play gun games and handguns are not in their realm of recreation. Many are aged or are physically challenged, have poor eyesight, need bi/tri focal glasses. Some are handicapped, obese, frail, bedridden, live alone, etc.

Advanced training is nearly non-existent for these folks. But, they can train themselves and perfect their aiming by unlimited dry-fire practice in their home with a lasergrip.

Nearly everyone can instinctively point shoot at close range if necessary. And fortunately, nearly everyone can lay a laser dot on a threat and press a trigger.....from just about 'any' position without using sights.

Most defensive shootings occur at very close range and under great stress.
In a real self defense situation everyone will focus on the threat, thereby verifying that threat. With a lasergrip sighting system they can pinpoint the POI on the threat while looking at that threat....and especially so in low light and darkness where 80% of encounters occur.

Below is an excellent laser equipped setup for the barely trained self defense shooter.


James K
February 11, 2008, 09:47 PM
I am not a BG. I have even been an LEO, a real honest to gosh GG. But if I were a really nasty BG and you put your flashlight out in front of your face, you better hit me right in the eyes with the light the first time you turn it on. If you didn't, I would blow your silly light and the head behind it into a bloody mess.