The down side to a weapon mounted light is the exact same thing that makes it an asset; it’s mounted to your handgun. This makes finding a holster that will work with your handgun more complicated and, if a weapon mounted light is all you have, it makes it impossible to search the darkness without pointing your gun everywhere you want to look.
When should you disobey Rule # 2? Never!
Just like the Glock pistol, laser sights, and smart phones, weapon mounted lights are not the end-all, be-all of personal protection with a handgun. They’re nothing more than a tool, which in certain circumstances can be very beneficial to helping you solve a problem.
The Three Ls
A weapon mounted light should offer no less than 100 Lumens, because you want to put enough brightness in the eyes of a bad guy to make him close them. Lithium batteries should power it because you want them to last a long time. It should have an LED bulb because they’re more resistant to breakage and cast a cleaner beam. And finally – like with a handgun mounted laser – it should offer instant/instinctive activation; you should not have work to turn it on.
A perfect example of an ideal handgun light is the Crimson Trace LightGuard. I have one on my bedside 1911. The nice thing about the LightGuard for the 1911 is that an accessory rail is not needed; it mounts securly to the front of the trigger guard. If you’re in need of a LightGuard compatible holster, Crimson Trace has those too. Or, you can turn to a holster company like WV Holsters who can custom make a holster to fit your rig.
For Shooting, Not Searching
A handgun-mounted light is not a search tool for the civilian gun owner. Yes, I know, special operations teams search with their weapon lights but they operate in a different world than the civilian gun owner. In some locals you can be guilty of wanton endangerment if you just point a gun at someone. If you’re searching with your weapon mounted light, that’s what you’ll end up doing.
The purpose of a weapon-mounted light is to blind the threat – this gives you time. Its purpose is also to allow you to better see the threat – so you can shoot it more accurately.
A handgun mounted light can also be especially useful for holding a suspect at gunpoint until the authorities arrive but it is not the tool you use to go prowling around in the dark looking for that bump in the night. They make another tactical tool for that purpose. It’s called a flashlight and its been around since 1899. But, have you tried shooting with a flashlight? Yeah. Well, then you know why we have weapon lights!