View Full Version : Which technique do you prefer when pairing a flashlight with a handgun? Why?

August 11, 2009, 12:19 PM
Vote on the poll, list your reasons in your post.

http://www.surefire.com/articles-handheld_techniques <== just for reference.

I noticed the Rogers/Surefire technique isn't mentioned, so...if you're not familiar with it, just hold your flashlight in your weak hand as if it was a syringe ,hold your handgun as you normally would, and voila.

Edit: I spelled Harries wrong. I don't know how to edit polls, so please excuse my mistake.

August 11, 2009, 12:41 PM
I prefer it mounted on the bottom of the frame on my G19 or G35. My TLR-1 works great with dual action switch.

August 11, 2009, 12:42 PM
I prefer Harries and FBI; choosing between these two is dependent on circumstances.

Harries works very well as a shooting position when you're ensconced. I like the fact that it is essentially Weaver-with-a-flashlight, and that the flashlight is pointed directly at the threat along with the firearm. However, it does not work well around cover and it is downright dangerous as a moving / searching technique both because it encourages you to point the firearm at unidentified people (who may not be a threat) and because it entangles your arms and prevents you from being able to shove or bludgeon your way out of trouble.

FBI technique is my preferred method when not ensconced, when searching or when moving through the house to safety. It works well around either side cover, and keeps the light (bullet magnet) away from my hands, body, and head. It provides good illumination to the sights as well as the target, an important consideration for those not using lasers or night sights. It also allows the flashlight but not the firearm to point directly at an unidentified person whom I may not be willing to shoot. And in close quarters, I do like having my non-shooting hand free to shove or bludgeon or break free as needed if I'm ambushed.

Oh, one more thought. I'm not a fan of Harries for those who haven't yet internalized the muzzle direction as it pertains to the non-dominant hand, because too often people put the flashlight out and then swing their muzzles across their own hands as they bring the firearm into the Harries position. Of course that's a training issue, but it's also a significant concern. If you decide to self-teach this technique, discipline yourself to ALWAYS put gun out, then flashlight -- and to pull flashlight back, then gun -- as you get in and out of the position. Don't do it the other way around.

For FBI, start out by learning to shoot well one-handed. After you've learned that, then transition to shooting one-handed with a flashlight in your other hand.


Shawn Thompson
August 11, 2009, 01:40 PM
I voted for the neck index; what I actually use is a "jaw index" which is very similar. I like having a little more protection up around the "off switch" (chin).

I find that interlocking techniques like the Harries put me in a position to point my firearm at anything I want to identify with the light. When I took into account that I have young children in my own home it really motivated me to practice other methods that insured their safety as well.

Using this type of method also allows for better retention of my firearm while independant of the operation of the light. In some cases retaining your weapon might be aided by the fact that you can still use your light for quick, sharp defensive blows. Not to mention the increased ability to perform additional tasks such as opening or closing a door without having to compromise my prefered weapon/light technique.

I realize that weapon mounted light systems may help you accomplish similar feats, but again you may find yourself pointing a loaded weapon at someone you may not intend to.

Al Thompson
August 11, 2009, 02:44 PM
Harries/FBI for me - but - IMHO, you need to be familiar with several. I use the Ayoob when I'm running my Mag-Lite.

Different flashlights and different handguns may make for different techniques. Different people may use different techniques based on body types and physical abilities.

Need more than one tool in the tool box. :D :cool:

Thanks for the link as well - good article!

August 11, 2009, 03:03 PM
not a real fan of flashlights....i mean dont they just give away your position...:p

August 11, 2009, 03:14 PM
I generally prefer the FBI technique with a mag light, but held out and low on the left instead of over my head as pictured in the article. I like having my light stream independent of my bullet path, and the option to club the perp without having to use my gun (still assault with a deadly weapon) in a detain but no-shoot situation. I only really care for WMLs on long guns. The Mayoob and Marine Corps techniques look very awkward to me, and I was never taught to employ the latter when the Corps issued me a Beretta. I think the Harries has a place, but I don't train for it.

August 11, 2009, 03:16 PM

They do if you're dumb enough to use it that way.

August 11, 2009, 03:21 PM
Just FYI on the poll, it's the "Harries" technique not the "Harris"
I prefer Harries and FBI; choosing between these two is dependent on circumstances.
Yup, I'm with Pax.

Al Thompson
August 11, 2009, 03:56 PM
TGS, not really an issue. I've lost count of the number of people I've zapped with a good strong (Surefire Nitrolon G3 is a fav) flashlight and absolutely had 2 or 3 seconds to assess the threat and react accordingly. :)


It's ain't your Daddy's flashlight! :D

August 11, 2009, 04:07 PM
head lamp...?

Okay sorry, but honestly I like the FBI way... just comfortable with my hands where I need them and if it turns into hand to hand I can strike with the light...

Old Grump
August 11, 2009, 05:19 PM
I teach Harries Technique to new shooters but from force of habit use FBI technique. Comes from years of one handed shooting and old habits from using what was first taught to me.

August 11, 2009, 05:54 PM
Harries Technique. Most stable shooting platform for me.

August 11, 2009, 07:49 PM
Harries (left barrier) and something similar to what they are calling the Chapman technique (right barrier). When moving (running) I will most often adopt a shoulder or neck-index technique.

August 11, 2009, 08:42 PM
Harries if shooting Weaver, Rogers if shooting Isosceles. As others have said, I think it's wise to not be married to any one technique, either flashlight or shooting stance, but rather being familiar with several and able to adapt technique to situation.

August 11, 2009, 08:54 PM
I'm with Steviewonder1.

August 11, 2009, 09:02 PM
I flow between several as necessary, typically but not exclusively neck index, FBI, and Harries.

August 11, 2009, 09:45 PM
Just FYI, I had no idea what a "Hargraves Lite-Touch was" so I had to look it up. Gosh ya learn something every day.

So just as a reference....

Lite-Touch, Modified FBI, and Cross Support (for long guns)

Chapman, Ayoob, Harries, Rogers/Surefire, Modified FBI, Neck Index (for pistol)

Shadi Khalil
August 11, 2009, 10:20 PM
Harries is what I was taught and I actually shot pretty well using it. I've never tried a mounted flashlight.

August 12, 2009, 12:44 AM
I have a WML and am a huge fan! I was clearing a apartment looking for Man with a Gun and the WML was superb---good two handed grip light and barrel pointed identically. I am buying one for all my guns---next uniform check.

August 12, 2009, 01:43 PM
Having tried most of the techniques listed I prefer and encourage my students to at least try the neck index - more than once. I like it becuase it forces the flashlight to follow your line of sight, when it is used properly. All to often I have witnessed trainees looking around and the flashlight is still pointed in the original position - straight ahead.

August 12, 2009, 04:12 PM
Harries, just feels right has limits but just a habit

August 12, 2009, 07:16 PM
I like the FBI method. Having the flashlight well away from me just seems wise.

August 12, 2009, 09:36 PM
I like the Harries, . . . but modify it so that my pistol rests much closer to my left elbow (right hand shooter), . . . taking the light out and away from me.

If the shooter shoots at the light (and if he is accurate) he will miss me to my right, . . . and until I pull the trigger, . . . he most likely will not know where I am in relation to the light, . . . especially if I have my beam on his face.

Anyway, . . . my $.02

May God bless,

Father Time
August 13, 2009, 11:26 PM
I use the Harris with the light hand instead going over my shooting arm at the elbow (Im right handed), To clarify my right elbow is under the middle of my left forearm. If I need to I can lower the pistol and take a fast overhand swing with my EL GRANDE maglite. Also if the pistol Jams (not that MY sd gun would;)) or if it runs out of ammo simply lean the pistol to the right into the light beam for a fast visual inspection.

August 14, 2009, 10:03 AM
Some of these methods work well with lights that use a switch on the body of the light, others work better with lights with the switch in the tail cap.

Rob Pincus
August 15, 2009, 07:38 AM
Here are my thoughts on the subject:

I have rarely seen the popular techniques do anything but slow people down. Combine that with the fact that there are very rarely truly pitch black circumstances and I tend to find most "techniques" over mechanical and over thought.

Flashlight Technique Article (http://www.imakenews.com/valhalla/e_article000413118.cfm?x=b11,0,w)


Dr Raoul Duke
August 16, 2009, 10:51 AM
I use the Harries technique, as it has worked well for me. I like the idea of the FBI technique, as flashlights are bullet magnets.:)

Dr. Raoul Duke
Gonzo Forever

August 16, 2009, 10:45 PM
I didn't vote because I've never actually tried any of them. I find it hard to find a way to practice low light shooting. Even though I have property and a private range..there are neighbors. We have always stopped shooting well before dark to be good neighbors. Maybe I need to invite them over for some flashlight technique range time. If they are helping make the noise...they can't complain! :D


August 17, 2009, 07:16 AM
I'm with Pax and others - Harris & FBI technique.

The FBI technique was the one I was first taught, but I'm not wedded to it. It's best used with flashlights with side-mounted switches. One can hold the light "dagger style" and over the shoulder to distort your height while allowing a fast defensive swing if needed. Or you can hold it out to the side in a normal flashlight mode.

I'm inclined to use the FBI if I'm searching a large area or indoors in office buildings. A light held high can reveal lots of interesting things (like a ball cap moving down an aisle! ;))

I've used the Harris technique off and on. If I can hear someone or see someone AND I'm using a Surefire or tail-cap light, I prefer it for the support.

A caution: I've discontinued the Harris for room entries. With a bright surefire light, you will blind yourself if you enter a room unware of a mirror or large glass window. Using a "low FBI" technique seems to work better for me.

With uber-bright tac lights, looking into it is usually so painful that most people shooting back will shoot blind, so the FBI style's distance advantage is moot. But with a mag light, you can still try to shoot at it because their lights aren't generally really painful to look at.

Bouncing the bright beam of a surefire off the white ceiling of a room, when you're a couple of feet from the door, works well to see into the room with minimal exposure and see it's layout too.

August 17, 2009, 01:43 PM
Excellent post Bill, thank you. Makes me think maybe I need to invest in a SureFire. I have always been a mag light user, but the many tactical uses of the super bright light does certainly have it's appeal, as does the smaller size.

Father Time
August 17, 2009, 03:43 PM
No need to buy a new light IAN, just get a drop-in LED bulb for you maglite. Its what I did, its just as bright as surefire without the cost;)

August 18, 2009, 12:45 AM
One of the beauties of the SureFire is its smaller/lighter size and the momentary tail-cap button. I like MagLites and use 'em, but the tactical lights are more likely to be in my pocket than a maglite.

My preferred maglight is actually the C-Cell versions, for two reasons. First is that the smaller diameter lights are not only lighter, but easier to grip. Second is that they will fit in a standard police baton ring that can be attached to your belt. This allows you to carry it hands free when necesary, yet have it available.

August 18, 2009, 03:56 AM
FBI It is what I was taught and am familiar with and I have had good results with practice.
Flashlights I have and use
Streamlight Stinger DS LED, Ultra Stinger, SL-20, SL_20X, Surefire 6P and S&W 6P Clone.

Glenn Dee
September 27, 2009, 12:15 PM
I noticed an option of not paring a flashlight with a handgun wasnt available. Why not?

September 27, 2009, 12:52 PM
I generally use the Harries method, but just found out there was a name for it.;) Like pax and others, I seem to throw the FBI method in there at times.

October 1, 2009, 03:26 AM
Hargreaves Lite-Touch

It is instant off and on with base button. Plus I know him!

Charles S
October 1, 2009, 02:31 PM
Most all of the techniques in the poll have their strengths and weaknesses. A course in the use of a tactical light at night where one is taught various techniques and then puts them to actual use will really broaden your perspective.

There IMHO is no perfect technique and, after training, I use several fluidly depending upon the situation, available cover, ambient lighting, and my stance at the moment. Ideally everyone should carry a light, everyone should be trained with the use of a light, and everyone should have a backup light.

Training is our friend.

Without answering the poll... and to answer the question if limited to one technique I think I would choose the neck index technique.

October 1, 2009, 05:29 PM
in tactical pistol class we learned the chapman. we discussed almost all of the styles shown, but because the class taught modern isosceles the chapman is most conducive to what we were learning. we also did a little neck index and fbi method.

my advice, get comfortable with a couple styles so that you can have the skills to survive any situation. the way I see it, you should pick one or two styles that you like that presents both the gun and flashlight straight ahead in front of you, such as the harries, marines, chapman, ayoob, and keller techniques. for me this is the chapman.

next, you should be semi proficient with the FBI and neck index techniques. these two styles coupled with one or two from above, you should have all your bases covered.


October 1, 2009, 06:48 PM
Hank, it really depends on what one needs to do, all have pros and cons.

E.g., Harries tehcnique may be stabilish (all flashlight shooting is one handed shooting), it stinks for a right handed shooter who is pieing or rolling out left.

Learn as much as you can. See what you like. See what works for you. Some things will not, some things will. For example, I find that Clint Smith's suggested technique (on link posted infra) barely works for me as his XL mitts do this better than my L hands.

I often use a modified cigar/Rogers technique with the bottom two finds of my support hand griping my strong hand. However, I've seen all kinds of stuff in training including an older individual who, because of his eyes, pressed the light on top of his head while inside and used the ambient light to see (no, I'm not kidding, I was just in an Awerbuck class with him).

For flashlights I use the Streamlight TL-2. I love the ring (Tiger's ring is much handier than the figure 8s we used to twist from duct tape back in the old days), works great during manipulations.


October 3, 2009, 12:34 PM
Any method that puts the flashlight behind my pistol! Don't want toshoot the handthat feeds me. Work on a few, dont get caught with your light and gun in your hand wondering what to do next.

matthew temkin
October 3, 2009, 03:44 PM
What Iano351 stated.

N.H. Yankee
October 4, 2009, 06:51 PM
They have a light out now that strobes and is strong enough to disorient whoever its aimed at, though I am not sure of its actual ability to be used as a flashlight. OK, someone bring up, yeah but what if they're wearing sunglasses at night:D Perhaps that would be the way to go if one is afraid of giving away their position, and it can double as a flashlight.

I think if someone is shooting at you with buckshot I don't think any hold is going to keep you from getting hit unless your behind a barricade. Also when aiming a standard light you have to have a good idea where the person is too attempt to blind them with the beam.

There are drawbacks with most anything, if you have to search with the beam you are a target, and a lucky shot could hit home. I think the strobe beam may have a wider field of effectiveness, but not knowing the cost they may be a bit pricey for the average consumer. I think I recall it being advertised as a weapon of self defense due to the disorienting effect.

October 5, 2009, 10:32 PM
I use the Harris because that's what was taught to me when I became a Police Officer. I haven't changed because-
1- it's in-grained and instinctive
2- It doesn't require me to compromise my grip
3- It works well with revolvers and semi-autos

October 9, 2009, 10:43 AM
Neither, I use Firstlight.

James K
October 9, 2009, 06:06 PM
You should do like the ads in the gunzines - attach the light directly to the gun, and place the gun directly in front of your face. That way when the BG uses the light as a target, you will get your fool head blown off and no longer be a burden to your family.


October 12, 2009, 05:54 PM
I voted FBI not because it is preferred, but it is the technique I use most.

See, most times I have a drawn weapon & light at night is in my home....and something has gone "bump."

FBI allows me to use whichever light is at hand: big/small, Surefire/Maglight, whatever.

FBI also allows me to scan my house more quickly and without having to sweep every square inch of my house with my weapon. I am kinda anal with regard to Rule #2 and do not want to sweep my kids on the other side of two thin gypsum boards.

Those few times when I have gotten a tingly or definitely wanted weapon/light alignment, I have used Harries or Ayoob. Harries if a light, tail-cap-switch. Ayoob for larger or side-switch lights.

I think it behooves hte shooter to know more than one technique and transition to the most advantageous for the task at hand.

October 12, 2009, 06:05 PM
I'd like to add that in the home, the flashlight is my secondary weapon and "reload", maybe primary if the backstop is inadequate or ends in the kid's room.

That's why I am partial to 3D LED Maglights in the home. They are heavy & hard enough to cause serious/lethal injury. FBI allows a ready position with the Maglight. I am usually dressed for bed, so spare mags are not going to be carried. If it is serious enough for a spare mag, I am staying put and using Mr. Twelve Gauge and his Streamlight mounted on the side.

Outside the home, my Surefire 6P LED is my buddy.

October 12, 2009, 09:32 PM
I use a variation of the Harries technique.

Why? Because I have a tailcap switch, and the hand placement is comfortable and controllable for me. My variation is the flashlight is almost under the pistol though. this is due to my watch being worn on my off-arm (I'm a southpaw that shoots right-handed, thus watch on left wrist).

Yes, I do sleep with my watch on.

October 12, 2009, 11:25 PM
Harries... cause you can turn off and on the light while shooting, with one hand.. and you can simply drop the light, cause i like using the front of the trigger guard to get a solid grip on the gun... what ever gets the bullets in the bad guy, but a gun mounted light, and a handheld light are good too.... as long as your handheld light is your primary light... i always thought, cops walking around with surefire's on their glocks, is a dead give away for miles, a harries technique... you can "strobe" through corners and if you light hits someone, the strobe action leaves them seeing a big blob of white (or blue or green depending on your light) try hitting yourself with your own light, you respect a 7Watt light and up...


October 31, 2009, 11:41 AM
I do not use a light on my weapon for the very reason it shows the bad guy where to shoot.It shows them where you are.

November 9, 2009, 04:06 AM
Next to last day of an armed contract (HOA ran out of money) my Sons Company, I had reason to call OCSO, (None emergency #) pulled shut door, was now open, earlier break in, foreclosed house, responding Deputy Ex Swat Officer, now back on street patrol, we had met B/4.

I was asked would I care to go in with Deputy (his back up was none existent) he had gun out, mine holstered, my rechargeable in left hand.

My light was in front of him! He had forgotten his, all blinds pulled! No sign of drug use, but water left on, good bed in bedroom.

Good feeling, long time since I searched a house, no one in the home, I talked to a Lady who lived across the road, she said she had called the Bank on the 2 ft. tall grass, they had sent some one to cut it. She said she had kept the number, and name, "I will call again" she said, she did.

One thing I noticed, going through that door! my pucker factor was alive and well! Next day, door fixed, new lock fitted.

Security work is sometimes a little tense.