Gunlights: To Attach or Not To Attach

Screen Shot 2014-05-27 at 11.44.30 PMIn my last article I explained why it is important to have a flashlight if you rely on a firearm for personal protection.  Here I will try to answer the next logical question, should the light be attached to the firearm or of the handheld variety.

As with most tactics involving personal protection there are pros and cons to both attaching the light to the gun and carrying it on your person.  And like most other tactics, the situation will dictate your approach to low or diminished light situations.

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The advantage of affixing the light to the firearm is that it frees up your support side hand to do other things.  Generally that other thing is establishing your support side grip onto the gun.  Certainly holding a flashlight in your support hand and also gripping the gun with the same hand is doable, but it does take some practice to master before it will feel comfortable.

In addition to using the support hand to grip the pistol, you may need it to open a door, turn on an interior light, give a hand check to a bad guy or carry a child to safety.  In all those situations, having a flashlight affixed to the firearm is a real plus.  It’s also nice to know that if you need a light, it will always be there on the firearm.

Now, there will be times that you will need a light, but not the gun itself.  Your gun should never be brandished unless there is a potential that it’s lethal abilities may be needed.  So if you need a light to look for the keys you just dropped, using the one affixed to the gun while its still affixed to the gun is a huge no no.  Maybe you see what might be a potential threat heading your way in a dark alley or parking lot but you aren’t sure.  A handheld flashlight is your only option until you can say for certain that that shadowy figure heading your way is a threat.  If you are at home and you hear a suspicious noise, you don’t want to use the gunfight to identify it, especially if the suspicious noise was caused by a loved one getting a drink of water.

So as far as a handgun is concerned, my preference is to utilize both a gun mounted light as well as a handheld light that I keep in my pocket.  In doing so I am ready for any contingency and I maintain a degree of redundancy that is always a plus in any SHTF situation I might find myself in.

Should your choice of firearm for home defense be a long gun, be it a shotgun or a rifle, your only option is a gun mounted lighting system. I would certainly not ever elect to utilize a headlamp that is generally used for outdoors activities unless you want a beacon that serves as a giant bullseye on your forehead for the bad guy to aim at. Since you should be using two hands on a long gun, a gun mounted light is your only option.

Lastly, when deciding on what type of light to purchase, be it a gun mounted light or handheld, you should go with an LED over an incandescent.  If you need to use the light in short on off bursts for searching and you don’t want to illuminate your position more than needed, the incandescent light will give off a second or two glow after it is turned off.  This glow is sure to give away your position where an LED will turn off and not glow as soon as the switch is engaged in the off position.  There are tactics that can be employed with incandescents to minimize the glow the bad guys sees, but since LED’s are so readily available these days, to me it’s a no brainer.

Don’t just survive, thrive!


Carrying a firearm for personal protection brings with it an awesome responsibility. You have the power to change a person’s world forever, and even the power to take their life. It is you duty as a responsible gun owner to always obey the cardinal rules of firearms safety and to understand the laws where you live and travel with your gun. Do your due diligence become educated on the use of force continuum and become proficient with your firearm before you leave home.


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