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Old February 23, 2000, 09:18 PM   #1
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For a tactical situation, is it better to have a constant on/off switch on a shotgun tactical light (allowing light to stay on without using pressure switch)? Or is the extra cost of a constant switch not worth it, since you should ideally keep your weak hand on the forearm (and switch) of the shotgun?
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Old February 24, 2000, 04:43 AM   #2
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Constant on will draw unwanted attention at the wrong time. Go with the momentary switch.
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Old February 24, 2000, 08:25 AM   #3
Rosco Benson
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It's kind of hard to keep one's weak hand on the forend while opening doors, using a telephone, et cetera. The constant on/off switch is a good addition to the momentary switch.

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Old February 24, 2000, 10:04 AM   #4
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Get both. If you have a BG covered, and need to call 911, you take your hand off the light, and the guy knows it. Worse you take your hand of the reciever to keep the light on.

Spend the extra jing (+$89) and cry once.
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Old February 24, 2000, 10:06 AM   #5
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shamster, my vote is for both -- see my post to your question on Glocktalk. Thanks,


Justin T. Huang, Esq.
late of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania
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Old February 24, 2000, 12:32 PM   #6
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Do not use a constant on/off switch. Here is why:

The proper use of a tactical light is to surprise the enemy and cause him to be incapacitated momentarily so you have the tactical advantage. Keeping the light on constantly will give away your location and will remove the element of surprise.

Tactical lights have a very short battery life. They are not meant to illuminate an area, they are meant to temporarily blind a perpetrator.
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Old February 24, 2000, 12:52 PM   #7
Rosco Benson
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I've got to quibble on this one. The notion of the purpose of the light being to "surprise the enemy" is a bit silly. The purpose of the light is to IDENTIFY the target...which may or may not turn out to be an "enemy". If the ambient light is such that one can identify the target as being an "enemy" (who is posing a deadly threat or who otherwise meets the terms of engagement under which one is operating), then one is better off firing the weapon rather than fiddling around with the light.

As to the issue of position disclosure, it is true that it'll be pretty clear where you are once the light is on. This will be true to some extent whether the light is left on or just flashed. The "school solution" is to use the light in a momentary fashion, but doing so ruins your night vision and you can't see much when you turn out the light. If you confront an attacker, light him up, fire, douse the light, and then move...what then? Now, you can't see him. Is he down? Eventually, you'll have to turn on the light to check out his status. If he's down, fine. If he's not and has moved, you now need to find him all over again.

All in all, it seems that, depending on the situation, you'll either use the light VERY sparingly OR you'll use it for a fairly long period. This and the difficulty of controlling both the weapon and the light switch when opening doors, using a phone, and so forth, make having BOTH a momentary switch and a constant on/off switch the best.

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Old February 24, 2000, 08:16 PM   #8
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Rosco and antihero are both partially right IMHO. A tactiacal light should be used to identify and locate targets. The rest of the time it should be off because it IS a target.

The surprise a BG may get is a nice bit of icing on the cake. However, if the light was on too much previously, he won't be surprised, but waiting. Very bad! So a momentary switch is essential.

A constant on switch is also essential because once a threat is identified the light should never leave it until that threat is neutralized or a greater threat becomes feared. This is also one of the weaknesses in most tac lights available - BG gives up and surrenders immediately, but the police are still ten minutes away! If there is enough ambient light, the threat could be covered and the light turned off, but this leaves a lot of "what if"s.

My tac light training indicates momentary use until threat is identified then a switch to contsant use until the situation is resolved.

Another theory is to work in a team with constant light use. In this way, quick movement and huge amounts of bright light can overwhelm a threat. Just imagine two or three of those milleniums or such lighting up your world all of a sudden. Pretty hard to pick out people behind them let alone trying to start a fight. OTOH I'm not totally sold on this one, I picture some guy with a sawed off twelve guage or a full auto uzi just waiting for those pretty lights.........
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