View Full Version : Flashlights ON the gun

October 23, 1998, 12:19 PM
When I was in LE, some times I had to clear parts of a building alone. Opening doors and clearing the room.
A flashlight in hand means you have two hands full and a knob needing turning. My solution (as I couldnt afford a ULT for my HK) was to place the light in my gun hand, and hold both light and gun... this would let me fire the gun if necesesary, while panning the light.
Any other tactical solutions that could work here?

October 23, 1998, 07:19 PM
Back in the 30's, the FBI developed that funky technique where the flashlight was held at arms length away from the body. You see, similar techniques to contemporary methods (save for crew served weapons with flashlights slung beneath, above or to the side) were tried back then. The agent playing the suspect always shot the flashlight equipped agent in the belly with a BB gun.

October 24, 1998, 07:24 AM
An extremely important thing to remember with either weapon mounted light systems or hand held flashlight techniques is that you must only illuminate an area briefly, then extinguish the light and move. It's not supposed to stay on all the time like you're out looking for Easter eggs.

October 24, 1998, 08:49 AM
An old SWAT contact told me the reason most of his entourage favored the new (then) MagLite over the ubiquitous (then) Kel-lite was the latter had the prominent switch which prevented rolling the light on the floor to pan the room while following its beam with the CQB weapon. Is this technique still employed?

Rich Lucibella
October 24, 1998, 10:14 AM
On my last trip to Gunsite, one of our instructors was a trainer for US Customs. He favored using the Sure Fire in and "Agressive" manner...constantly on and constantly moving.

I've come to the conclusion that I prefer the light on, sweep (and/or shoot), light off, move technique. This is especially so for us civilians where the technique is most likely to be used in the familiar environs of our home. (Disclaimer: not that I'm suggesting that an individual attempt to clear his home alone, except under the most dire circumstances.)

October 24, 1998, 07:41 PM
In my police academy they reviewed the rolling the light on the floor... It would be one way to clear the room while holding the gun and manipulating a door knob/lock at the same time. But this method is very clumsy.

My academy being out in Rangely Colorado - if you cant find it on your map - It is in the north west corner of the state - They trained us for more of a rural environment. Officers quite often have as much as a 30 minute eta for back up out there. I at one point was a candidate for the position of Marshal of Dinosaur, Colorado. A one person department. Rangley, Colorado - also the closest Ambulance and backup unit was 30 minutes on the dot. Not too uncommon out west in small population - high milage locations. They trained us to do every thing alone.
(I'ld like to hear from some officers that are out in those types of places. How do you do it every night?)
A lot of the training focused on the aggressive style - to overwhelm the subjects and move fast to take perps unprepared. It is hard to overwhelm any thing alone. But that was the idea. Another factor that aids this is your uniform. Your image plays a big part in the mental reactions of the subjects your dealing with - When alone we would often wear black tactical styles, with black ball caps and low slung holsters. This was a bigger help - we looked ready to fight and we looked like we were good at it too.
Flash lights - I still wish I had had a UTL back then. That would have solved a lot of problems.

October 24, 1998, 08:55 PM

I don't think SWAT members roll flashlights and why? They have flashbangs & cyalume (sic?) sticks. Some SWAT also likes fast aggressive action where lights are used to blind the opposition. They will literally flood them with lights (weapon mounted, helmet mounted, ballistic shield mounted - gee is that a Chevy coming into my room?)

A regular patrol officer may roll the flashlight or at least have the partner do it. That was what we were taught. The problem is recovery of a lit flashlight. Opps.

October 25, 1998, 09:01 AM
I'm not aware that the rolling of the flashlight is a modern technique at this juncture. All of the flashlight tech. I've seen involve hand held or weapon mounted techniques. The rolling of the light still pinpoints your position for too long, AND you're basically standing in the fatal funnel (remember your head mounted eyes which must poke into the room to view what is illuminated) while doing all that rolling and recovering and fumbling with the light. Bad juju.

October 25, 1998, 10:04 AM
Thanks for the feedback on the rolling light. I've never had occasion to use such a technique, but after having been told this, always thought it to be a piss poor way of throwing away a perfectly good flashlight. You've confirmed my suspicions. At the time, I wasn't about to impugn the opinion and comment of the LEO, but ever since have wanted to ask the question of an experienced CQB operater. This was my opportunity, 24-years later, to clear up that niggling little doubt. Thanx again! By the way, I still have and use my two Kel-lites from those days.

October 27, 1998, 10:33 AM
But that is something else to hold onto while already holding a service size handgun, a flashlight, and the doorknob.
But that is still a clever idea - I will have to put that in one of my books... Hmmmm.

October 27, 1998, 10:43 AM
Excellent idea!! Reuseable, rechargeable fb's

October 27, 1998, 01:49 PM
One problem I could think of with rolling the flashlight. If no targets show or it seems clear, you may have to retrieve the flashlight for further use. If the perp is smart he may just wait until you go to pick up the flashlight and spray the general vacinity of the flashlight with lead.

Just a thought.

Harry Humphries
October 28, 1998, 12:13 PM
White light - dangerous as it gives your position away yet absolutely necessary if the shooter is bound legally and / or morally to identify the target. Weapon mounted systems offer the most direct control of light orientation with respect to muzzle alignment and allow for a full final grip on the hand gun and forstock control on the shoulder fired weapon. The down side is that it is a bulky package but apparently not that bulky as many Law Enforcement students of ours have Sure Fire Mounts on their weapons. Most importantly with this configuration one can anticipate that a shot fired near the light center will probably result in a hit. Big problem! That's why I am a proponent of IR systems but this is not practical for the everyday situation- it's really the easy way out of a controllable solution.

With any white light assisted low light shooting training, it is absolutely imperative that the student is taught to use the light intermittently in very short bursts, only long enough to orientate position and identify persons or objects in view. The shooter must be prepared to make the shoot / no shoot decision immediately than change position as rapidly as possible. This takes a bit of practice as the walk and chew gum syndrom usually takes over here.

The Surefire Training Institute has an excellent program that focuses high power light (i.e. 520 Lumen power and the like) as a debilitating technique to blind the opponent (or any one else for that matter). It makes sense but I can't comment as I have never been in a combat situation with this technique. I can say that their Z12 is one powerful hand or mounted light and has many uses that conventional lights don't have. It is, after all, as powerful as an automobile headlight. Think of that hitting you in the eye in a dark room.

The old FBI extended arm technique probably wasn't a bad technique when you consider shooters were not using a weaver grip in those days so the weak arm was used as body armor and independent light holders, etc. I still can't believe how difficult it was for me to swallow my manly pride and use two hands to grip that tiny hand gun. I can assure you Walt Marshall had his hands full when he trained me up at GS Ranch.

Rolling the flash light doesn't warrant a conversation other than to say if it works for you - use it.


October 28, 1998, 06:09 PM
Here`s a stupid question. When using a super bright light for only momentary illumination doesn`t it adversely affect your night vision when the light is off? I fully understand the idea of not giving ones self away but this seems to be a downside. Might a red filter be the solution? I`ve "solved" this problem at home by using a plain ol flashlight that`s not overly bright. Of course shining the light indirectly (at floor or ceiling) to illuminate the area also helps. I`m just wondering how you fellas handle it. Marcus

Rich Lucibella
October 30, 1998, 12:54 AM
I need to apologize to Spectre at this point.
On 10/26 he posted a reply to this thread which was responded to by Kodiac and fal308 the next day. As I was on "duty" here those two days, it could only have been me who deleted his post. (I was cleaning up double posts at the time.)

For those of you who noticed and wondered if we'd censored the post, the answer is "no". For those of us who missed Spectre's input, which is invariably worthwhile, I offer my sincere apologies.

To Spectre, of course my apology. I'd personally appreciate a repost either here or by email.
Rich Lucibella

October 30, 1998, 01:20 AM
(Let me state that Mr. Lucibella is deserving of a great deal of credit for his role in these forums, and has my utmost respect. http://www.thefiringline.com/ubb/biggrin.gif)

While not weapon-mounted, a quality camera flash set off into a darkened room causes no collateral damage, is legal, cheap, and can be surprisingly effective at buying the seconds you need to "clear" said room.

November 19, 1998, 05:04 PM
I'm very late into the game on this one, but if you're using a Weaver, you can temporarily grip the flashlight on the strong side of your neck to free your weak hand. This works even with my Maglite 4D cell but works best with my SureFire.

Rolling flashlight. Interesting scenario. One time in our room clearing training, the guy that was playing the "bad guy" rolled his flashlight out. Got OUR attention, so I guess it works both ways. Also lit up the room we were trying to clear while he hid in darkness in the next room. Bad stuff.

Light intensity. If you can get your eyes adjusted to have low light intensity to work for you, the same goes for the BG. So if you gotta shine a light, you might as well use a bright one. At least that way it'll stun the BG. This might sound stupid, almost Hollywood, but if you wear your shades just before you shine, it helps.

IR. Wish I had that kind of money, but yeah, I guess that would solve the whole thing wouldn't it? :)

November 20, 1998, 03:56 PM
I, like Spectre, keep a camera flash handy.
When unexpected, the effect upon firing is a temporary freezing on the part of the subject.

Jeff White
November 20, 1998, 06:56 PM
I use a red flip up lens cover on my SUREFIRE. Use it for a second and then move. Wish I knew where to get one for my HK UTL.

There was an article in "Infantry" magazine a year or so ago written by the commander of one of the Ranger Battalions (the 3d I think, I'll have to dig it out) on conducting a night attack totally illuminated in the IR spectrum. He mentioned that with all of their resources (PVS-7s, PAQ-4s etc.) they found white light the best for building and room clearing. The article didn't really get into why. Any thoughts?

Jeff White
November 21, 1998, 01:48 PM
Did my research, the article I mentioned is in the September-October 1996 issue of "INFANTRY" and was written by LTC P.K. Keen (then battalion comander of the 1st Ranger Bn) and CPT James Larson (rifle company commander in the 1st Ranger Bn).

In as section called CQB Techniques Workit says "Once in a room, Rangers use white light to clear under most conditions; it works much better then IR."

I'm just curious as to why two of our SPEC OPs units (SEAL Teams represented by our moderator) and Army Rangers (represented by the above mentioned article approach it from the opposite sides (IR vs white light).

November 22, 1998, 08:06 AM
I have some experience using weapons mounted lights in tactical situations. However let me preface all my comments by saying I have never been in a live fire fight under these circumstances. But, our team does quite a bit of simunitions training.

The weapons mounted lights are the most versatile tactical accessories. They allow positive identification of the target and at the same time blind the target. Most types allow one handed use of the weapon - a very important consideration when setting up a tactical weapon.

I have found that intermittent use of the light is VERY difficult. It is a fine motor skill. You must think on and off while at the same time doing a deliberate threat scan and assessment. You must also accomplish this with only one eye open or you will ruin all of your night vision. Then you must immediately move because you have given away your position. This becomes much more difficult if you throw in actually shooting.
Light, threat scan, threat assessment, fire, light off , move, and repeat. Remember while the light is out and you are moving you are trying to regain your night vision plus the bad guy is probably moving also. Now yu have to start form scratch and begin searching all over again.

Our team turns the lights on upon entry and leaves them on under almost all circumstances. We use dynamic movement to reduce the risk of our lights being the targets. As for as being able to shoot the center of the light - most tactical lights put out enough light to not only blind but also to disorientate. In simunitions training I have never successfully engaged (in a CQB situation) the center of the light.

Light and movement will most always give the advantage to the team.

All light techniques should be practiced under a variety of conditions to test each individuals physical reactions to the technique.

To the best of my knowledge
Buck Peddicord

Harry Humphries
November 22, 1998, 03:21 PM
Jeff the issues with respect to tactical philosophy vary greatly between large unit operators and very small unit operators for all the obvious reasons. IR has a great advantage in that it retains the unit's tactical or clandestine advantage provided the other side is not equipped to pick up the IR illumination if active systems are used. A Ranger fire team, for example, will be much larger than a SEAL boat crew or squad. Workit espouses the use of IR for strong hold approach and is probably using Bravo 7 head gear. In an open field this gear works well but remember that there is a restricting visual cone of (20, or so degrees?) which means that close in objects are not visible unless the user sweeps his vision pattern up and down - back and forth this is not easy to do in close in situations that occur inside rooms where the field of view becomes more restricted as objects get closer. Outside in open areas it is not as problematic because we are normally looking out several yards away where the vision field gets broader with distance from viewed objects.

Some of the SEAL teams use bravo 7 gear as well but they also have gone to monocular gear which provides for ambient, complete peripheral vision with one eye ( preferably the dominant or shooting eye) in any case they will always opt for tactical profile before giving in to convenience as they do not normally have as much fire power to get out of trouble.

Harry Humphries
November 22, 1998, 03:35 PM
Good points Buck

The optimal method for neutralizing the tell tail white light problem is as I've discussed and I still recommend practicing this technique especially if you find some day that you are searching with one partner or alone. If you are entering dynamically with a team there is no way you cannot flood the room with white light. A continuous view of all activity in the room is needed instantly and must be maintained throughout the dynamic entry and clearing phase. Your dynamic fire power will over ride the disadvantage of giving your position away. In any case once white light is emanated visual purple is destroyed and will not be recovered for 30 minutes or so depending on several physiological and altitude factors

Jeff White
December 1, 1998, 11:10 PM
Thanks for the answer Harry. I've used the PVS-5s and 7s and figured periphial vision and depth perception were the main reasons. I've never used the monocular tubes.

I seem to be the only one who is using red lenses. The Police training Institute of the University of Illinois is now advocating them, is eeryone one else pretty much either white light or IR?

Mike Mello
December 7, 1998, 10:27 PM
Hi Guys,

You may have addressed this, but I think that one of the original question was, how to handle both the flashlight and sidearm during the door opening. Might I suggest the use of a lanyard on a smaller style light, such as Surefire products.

If you work for an agency that does not allow lights on patrol duty weapons (SWAT gets to use all the toys) you must confront the problem of building searchs with both hands full. A lanyard on a smaller light allows one to maintain the weapon in a retention position, such as back by the body, drop the light the length of the lanyard, open the door, retrive the light and continue your search. I now carry two lights, an issued Mag light for regular duty needs, and a Surefire 6Z for tactical purposes. As soon as they develope a light that is the same size as the 6Z, as bright as a larger light, and rechargeable, that will be the only light I carry.

December 8, 1998, 03:17 AM
When using flashlight and gun on building searches, I use the following technique when I need to open a door, move an obstruction, etc.

I keep my strong hand on the weapon and pull the gun against my torso, (which is a good idea anyway so you don't lead with it and invite a grab) and I use the middle, ring, and pinky fingers of the strong hand to hold the front of the flashlight by the outside edge of the lens and push the light back against the torso. When the door is open or the obstruction moved, I go back into what I call the modified Ayoob technique where the flashlight is held alongside the pistol with the lens touching the strong hand fingertips and the base touching the inside of the forearm. The thumb of the opposite hand operates the switch. Works great.