In recent months, Clark Armory has had a lot of inquiry and conversation concerning the use of flash lights in personal defense situations. It is a fact that flashlights are a proven, essential tool in law enforcement and military tactical practice. So, we have done some extensive research on tactical flashlights, and the two main categories we will focus on are handgun mounted flashlight, and separate carry flashlights. We have information on what to look for in a flash light for each type, how to use and mount each type of light, and some information on how they “fit” in different styles of open and concealed carry profiles.
Some people might say, “Why would I EVER want to carry a flashlight, or mount one on my favorite handgun?” Silly! Right! Well, there are three very sound reasons why you would want to have a flashlight ready.
A bright flashlight can act as a deterrent to an attacker
Attackers like the element of surprise! They always want to have the upper hand at first engagement with their would-be victims. Take away the darkness, and you level the playing field, forcing attackers to rethink, or hopefully entirely give up on, their plan. Use a tactical flashlight before an attack by keeping one on you for those times when you find you are in a low light setting or area. If you use it to illuminate any shadow cover, under cars, or entryways while you are walking, effectively remove the element of surprise. The common profile for most attackers is that they are braien enough to attack when they have the advantage, take away the advantage of darkness, and they are forced to face you on more common terms. When faced with such adversity you deminish, or completely erase their motivation to act, thereby saving yourself from harm.
You want to be able to definitively identify the threat in low light or complete darkness
In the event that your attacker does NOT get deterred by the bright light, AND there are innocent by standers (A.K.A. you friend and family) in your field of view, a flashlight will help you in those low light situations, positively identify and track the movements of the attacker.
Most modern tactical flashlights are an effective alternative weapon when necessary
These flashlights are “TACTICAL.” They are designed to take a beating. Whether they are being dropped by accident, or VERY PURPOSELY Bashing the against the head or hands of anyone trying to assault you. Many of the tactical flashlights available are lightweight and easy to grip in any scenerio. Light with a bezel option to add additional striking power.
Tactical flashlights are reasonable in price and easy to use. They serve a wide variety of purposes beyond self-defense. Should you prefer to carrying concealed, a flashlight at the ready will give you better aim in low light, and they will provide your advisories some second thoughts when considering you a waiting victim.
Tactical Flashlight Styles
Using the three reasons as a guide, we have defined three styles of flashlights and have highlighted the pros and cons of each type. The debate around mounted vs. handheld tactical flashlights is long standing. While there are pros and cons to all the options, in the end, it is all a matter of personal preference. That being the case, we have collected the following information for the reader’s education and understanding.
Styles we have reviewed:
- Pistol mounted flashlights
- “Offhand” or separate carry flashlights
- Modern-day “Stun gun" flashlights
Pistol mounted flashlights
- It is ready as soon as your gun is drawn. Several models light up as soon as your hand grabs the gun. It is ready to go
- You have the ability to shoot with both hands. You do not have to hold the flashlight with your off hand
- The light is a “target” for you opponent. Pistol mounted lights are set in position. No matter the style of mount, they are always in close proximity to the barrel. The opponent(s) can simply aim at the general area of the light and have a good chance of hitting whatever is pulling the trigger
- You have to find a holster that fits the light as readily as it fits the handgun. There are many options out there. However, some would say that the concealed carry connoisseur is already at odds trying to find an acceptable holster WITHOUT having to deal with the mounted light. The “perfect” holster search, which is a chore for the most discerning concealed carrier, could be even more epic
“Offhand” or separate carry flashlights
- You can “redirect” your opponent’s aim point. With practice, you can use the flashlight with your offhand to make your opponent think you are in a position 2-3 foot away from where you “actually” are
- It can act as a “back up” or secondary defensive measure. If you end up in “close quarters” with your opponent, you have a means of smacking them or jabbing them in the head or some other body part to introduce discomfort, distraction, or even disable them
- With a flashlight in your offhand, you HAVE to shoot one-handed. This is an impossibility for some shooters, so it deserves consideration in the decision-making process. However, with practice, it is not completely impossible to overcome
- You have to carry and plan for, extra gear. Like the mounted flashlight, for the concealed carries, this is often a serious hindrance. Thereby, make it worthy of consideration
Modern-day “Stun Gun” Flashlights
“Stun gun” flashlights have come a long way in a short period of time. They pretty much carry the same pros and cons as the offhand flashlights because we were not able to locate “stun gun” flashlights that were designed for pistol-mounts, nor could we imagine a scenerio where such a set up would be value-added or even logical.
Additional considerations, specific to stun gun flashlights include:
- It takes the whole “extra weapon” concept to the next level. So much so that it is a REALLY solid, non- lethal alternative to your trusty sidearm.
- Inexpensive and easy to learn. They are, on average, comparable in price to standard tactical flashlights. Additionally, a lot of recent studies say they are more reliable than pepper sprays.
- There is ALWAYS a risk that you might “zap” yourself Like pepper spray, you have to be AWARE of your surroundings. This is a Segway into the stun gun flashlight’s other con…
- It requires additional, specific training/education for stun gun use. As is true with ANY self- defense tool. Responsible ownership demands proper training and education.
Types of Mounts for a tactical light:
Most modern tactical semi-automatic pistols come from the manufacturer equipped with a rail. Typically, you can buy specific rail-mount lights that will universally fit these modern rails with a simple “screw/clamp-type” mounting bracket.
The number of brands of rail mount type flashlights is wide in scope. Moreover, the price is just as diverse. The Firefield (pictured above) runs between $35 and $50. It can be mounted and “dialed in” in about 15 minutes. You could also get a rail mount light like the SureFire M600 Ultramount for $275-$500. The reason for the price difference is debatable, depending on your background, experience, and general budget. The “average” user could get an acceptable rail mount flashtlight spending not more than $100 and still get a good measure of respect from your gun-wielding, shooting range buddies.
Like it is a semi-auto sidearm, revolvers have made leaps and bounds regarding the ability to accessorize. You can get rail mounts, grip mounts, and scope type mounts. Which one to choose, is personal preference in conjunction with the size of your handgun, and what fits your style of shooting and how you chose to carry and holster the weapon.
Other mounting options:
Pretty much any universal mount you would buy for a laser dot or scope, can be fitted with a flashlight. The most expensive route for any option would be to have a gunsmith custom make a mount. That being said, “You get what you pay for” is very applicable. Customization is expensive, but should you decide to go that route, a reputable gunsmith will size you up and truly fit the flashlight you chose to your favorite handgun. It is also a good idea to contact the manufacture of your handgun of choice and inquire if they already have a flashlight mount designed for your model.
Selecting an “Offhand” flashlight
The selection process for using an “offhand flashlight,” like choosing a mounted light, requires any user to make some decisions.
- How big/bright do you want or need the flashlight to be?
- How will you hold the flashlight when in use with your handgun?
- How will you carry the flashlight when it is not in use? (Or maybe it is just for use with the trusty sidearm you keep at your bedside at night.)
Once you answer all these questions, the most important aspect of utilizing an off-hand flashlight carry method is of course... Practice!
One of the cons mentioned in this article, related to using an off-hand flashlight, You HAVE to shoot one- handed. While you could use your “flashlight side” forearm as a stabilizing point, you are still only gripping the handgun with one hand. It is not a standard position for the novice shooter. Live fire and dry fire practice are recommended, and a requirement for responsible gun owners, no matter what your decision is regarding the use of a flashlight. Using the offhand flashlight will just require the user to focus some range time on dialing in their skills with the flashlight in hand.
“Stun Gun” Tactical Flashlights:
Stun gun flashlights are quickly gaining in popularity in the self-defense circles. The basic carrying methods for use, in conjunction with your handgun, mirror those we covered with the standard offhand flashlight. However, there is one very important add-on. If you end up in a “bad-way” in a self-defense situation, you have the additional stopping power of a stun gun. The pricing on these, like every other flashlight option, can vary widely from $25 to $250. The sizes are typically similar to a small to “lower” medium size (Double AA battery to Double C battery size). Like the other options before don’t buy low, but you don’t have to break the bank either. $50-100 will get you a reputable Stun gun flashlight. With this flashlight option, LEARN HOW to USE it! Not REALLY getting to understand how it works could really ruin your day with a “SHOCKING” result. You do not want to end up like so many of those people who managed to lunch the pepper spray while standing downwind.
Some of the most common Stun Gun Flashlights with consistently good reviews are Sabre, Taser, and Vipertek.
It is all up to the user
In this session, we have shared a lot of information related to using a flashlight with your handgun. While it is a lot of information, it is NOT the be all end all regarding the “How, what, and what” concerning the use of tactical flashlights with handguns. The one thing that is a solid take away from this information is the reasoning behind using tactical flashlights.
- A bright flashlight can act as a deterrent to an attacker
- You want to be able to definitively identify the threat in low light or complete darkness
- Most modern tactical flashlights are an effective alternative weapon when necessary
Having the flashlight at the ready will improve your ability to defend yourself and those important to you. When choosing what is “best” for you personally, like choosing to use lead-free ammunition, you have to take the time to decide on what the best option is for your choice in tactical flashlights. The type/brand of the flashlight, the size and style of light, and how you carry/use the flashlight are all personal choices. Even if you just choose to have that “dollar store”, basic, “plastic special” flashlight after reading all this, you will be better prepared for a low-light self-defense posture, then having no flashlight at all.