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zackmars

weapon lights, mythconceptions, history, and more

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Weapon lights are a pretty important addition to any firearm meant for self defense, and since sometimes these scenarios occur in less than optimal lighting conditions, people have started to put flashlights on their firearms in recent years.

 

But this all started in the 1980's, during operation NIMROD, where the MP5 and maglight were shown center stag... wait what? oh yeah

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this whole phenomenon actually got started in the mid 30's, when hitlers bodyguards were issued Luger P.08 pistols equipped with a light that was activated by using the natural conductivity of our skin to... AHHGR

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Ok, weapon lights can be traced back to as far back as the 1800's, as it turns out, darkness hasn't changed much, and as was the case over 200 years ago, some things just need to be shot.

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We've come a very long way from huge maglights of the 80's that gave a measly 20-40 lumens, now we have 800 lumen beasts that can fit in the palm of your hand, like this Streamlight TLR-1HL

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Even this respectful Streamlight stinger DS LED with a 180 lumen output, is paltry to what could be had even several years ago.

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(its hard to tell, but the G2X on the rifle has about 140 lumens on the DS)

 

When selecting a light, it is easy to be concerned about run times, since most tac lights put output over run time, you aren't going to see lots of compact lights that have long run times, the TLR-1HL that i've shown, can only run for about 1.75 hours before giving out, while the G2X can muster an entire 2. the Stinger DS LED? 4-5 at peak output.

 

I say this is nothing to worry about because you are not supposed to keep these constantly running, which leads us into the difference between a flashlight, and a weapon light

 

You will notice that i use different names for them. This is because they fulfill different roles. where a flashlight is more general purpose, a WML (Weapon Mounted Light) is there for the sole purpose of quickly identifying, and possibly disorienting the potential assailant. a flashlight is like dads 5 lb hammer, while the WML is more like a pair of disimpact forceps. Misuse of a WML can have some very bad consequences, you might run the risk of having a Negligent Discharge, or you can even give away your position.

 

but that can easily be avoided by following a few steps

1, do not turn your light completely on, give a blast of a few seconds (momentary on), and wait a bit till you do it again

2, keep moving, and not just in a straight line 

3, use reflected light to aid in target ID and navigation, most lights are bright enough that a moment of light directed at the ground can easily light up a hallway or decent sized room enough to make out most details. Combine these steps, and you will avoid any risks that people often talk about when using WML's.

 

now that we've talked about history and use, so let's look at equipment. 

 

lots of flashlights come filled to the brim with "features", brightness modes, programmable strobe, beam focus... you don't want all that stuff on a WML, you want simple, high output. This Surefire G2X Tactical in an Elzetta ZRX mount is a relatively popular weapon light, it offers good performance in a small, and cost effective package. this light has one button, one output level, no strobe, etc. this lack of features is a good thing, no things to mess up under stress, nothing to turn on, and struggle to turn off.

 

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flashlights that have both a constant and momentary on are preferred, most "tactical" flashlights have both, Surefire and Streamlights use a 2 stage button, a light press is momentary, while a hard press is constant on, others like Elzetta, use a tail cap that has a momentary on, and when twisted to the right, are constant on. whichever you go with, be sure to train with it.  you might be confused by me saying that the simpler the light, the better, and then recommend a light that has multiple modes, but there is always the possibility  that you might need to have constant on, if you are holding an assailant at gunpoint, being able to pour light on him while dialing 911, or performing some other task can come in handy.

 

After you pick your light, you will need to figure out where you want to put your light, and this will effect what mount (if applicable) you get.

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on handguns, mounts are typically integral to the light, so no real need to worry, just be sure that the light is compatible with the accessory rail on your pistol. some people are against lights on pistols, but i'm not one of them. instead of going into that can of worms, i suggest doing your own research into the pros and cons of that.

 

rifles and shotguns offer much more real estate, so you aren't restricted in size like you are with handguns, but most mounts will be for 1" diameter flashlights. Whatever the case, you will also want to decide where the light will go, if you decide to use the tail cap button, you will want it to be located where you can easily activate it with your support (non dominant hand) a tape switch grants you much more freedom, but can be a snag hazard, and can be a pain to secure to your firearm. On some rifles, people have taken to putting pistol lights in front of their front sights, since most pistol lights are set up to butt up against a trigger guard, they fit quite well in front of a sight. 

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(proper use of a light with a click tailcap)

one thing to look out for, especially on pistols, is powder burns on the lens, you can put a thin coat of petroleum jelly on the lens to prevent this, i've also heard chapstick works well.

Edited by zackmars

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I dont want a light for shtf, and I dont want to point a gun at everything I want to see (in normal times, either). I'll take luminous sights, and a hand held light for normal times, and for shtf, night vision. Showing a light is going to draw enemy fire, so to hell with that idea. You aint gonna have uncle sugar backing your play, ya know. So forget about what cops and soldiers get away with.

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4 hours ago, kenne said:

I dont want a light for shtf, and I dont want to point a gun at everything I want to see (in normal times, either). I'll take luminous sights, and a hand held light for normal times, and for shtf, night vision. Showing a light is going to draw enemy fire, so to hell with that idea. You aint gonna have uncle sugar backing your play, ya know. So forget about what cops and soldiers get away with.

You should read my post. You will only draw fire if you are using it incorrectly.

 

I know the police and military aren't backing me, thats why i want to be sure I don't accidentally shoot a family member because I couldn't get a solid ID

 

 

If you are still even legally allowed to own firearms, you should go to a low light training course, that way you aren't just spreading disinformation.

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ha,  ha. you offer a lifetime guarantee that light wont draw fire, from any direction, right? same with all the noise, I bet?  keep it.

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2 hours ago, kenne said:

ha,  ha. you offer a lifetime guarantee that light wont draw fire, from any direction, right? same with all the noise, I bet?  keep it.

i offer a lifetime guarantee that if you do things right, you won't have issues.

 

with all the noise? what noise? we are talking about flashlights, not guitar amps.

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on handguns, powder burn is a concern, this can be delt with by putting a coat of petroleum jelly over the lens, like so20170107_070100.jpg

 

this wont have much effect on light put out, far less than a few hundred rounds worth of carbon will have

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with jelly lens

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another advatage, a light can serve as a stand off device

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should you find yourself in the unfortunate posistion of needing to take a contact shot, a light can mean the difference between 'click', and 'bang'

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throwing light

 

when navigating tight spaces, it might be necesssary to gain a quick look at your surroundings. taken in a completly blacked out hallway, about 16 feet long. the little orange dot is a lightswitch

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and a blast from the TLR1HL pointed at the ground?

 

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and from a g2x tactical?

 

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this lets you see rough details, like open/closed doors, and helps you navigate, not to make IDs. should you see a figure, pour light on it, and make your ID. Sure the TLR gives ample light to ID, but you wont be able to disorent the "suspect". you also might not have a light that can match the TLR's, as shown by the G2X, or your batteries might be running low, etc

 

 

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