The thing about self defense situations is that you never know when or where they’ll happen – at work during the day, at home, or in a dark parking garage headed to your car. While we can’t run around life in full kit with body armor all day every day, there are modifications to our every day to be prepared for a wide range of self defense scenarios. So we have to find the fine line of being prepared for a wide variety of situations without crossing into the realm of paranoia. This fine line is different for everyone, someone who works from home has a different every day carry (EDC) than a cop.
To that end, I have a weapon mounted light on my conceal carry pistol. Before I continue, having an off weapon light is also very valuable – one is not better or worse than the other. They have different pros and cons, and some people carry both and are perfectly legitimate. Carrying both is probably the better route, especially if you’re out in the dark on a regular basis.
So here’s why I carry a Streamlight TLR-1 on my carry pistol.
Identify Targets at Night
The first reason is quite obvious. Many self defense situations happen at night or in other dark areas. It doesn’t have to be after sunset to be dark! Determining whether it is a legitimate threat before pulling the trigger is quite important. Is the bump in the night a home invader or your roommate coming home early from vacation? Being able to better see your target is also just a tad important in hitting your target.
Easier to Shoot with a Weapon Light than a Hand Held
Have you ever tried shooting your handgun while holding a hand held flashlight? It’s a lot more challenging than Hollywood makes it out to be. Even with training, since it’s essentially a one handed shot, no one will be as good with a hand held flashlight as they would be with a weapon mounted light. Shooting with a weapon mounted light allows for much greater speed and accuracy than using a handheld light.
If you haven’t tried shooing your handgun with a hand held flashlight, I would encourage you to give it a try next time you’re at the range – even if it’s during the day and the flashlight isn’t even on. It’s pretty eye opening to contrast two handed shooting to shooting with a flashlight.
Not only does a weapon mounted light allow you to shoot two handed and still illuminate your target, but the weapon light acts as a counterweight, reducing the handgun’s muzzle climb. This allows for faster follow up shots. Some competitive shooters in open divisions will even add counter weights to their pistols for this exact reason.
More Convenient to Carry
I’d say that most people who conceal carry a handgun have a few other things in their every day carry, like a knife or an extra mag. Adding a hand held light is yet another thing to add to your belt – a weapon mounted light is simply more convenient to carry. One less thing to worry about.
Have you ever been in a dark room and had someone point a bright flashlight into your eyes? It is very disorienting. This gives you a significant advantage over a potential attacker, allowing for a few extra precious seconds to determine the legitimacy of the threat and to put shots on target if necessary.
Like many people, my conceal carry pistol is also my home defense pistol. Having a weapon light allows me to clear my home without flipping on light switches (if I can even get to them) and announce my position. Having my conceal carry pistol and my home defense
Downsides to a Weapon Light
The biggest downside to a weapon mounted light is that you can’t use it without pulling out a gun. Using the weapon mounted light isn’t always an ideal, or even legal, option for identifying a potential threat. That’s why many people recommend carrying a handheld light in addition to a weapon mounted light.
One of the things people also throw into the mix with the cons of a weapon mounted light is that you can’t illuminate a potential threat without pointing a gun at them. That is incredibly not true. Weapon mounted lights have plenty of flood for this exact reason, and a quality, bright weapon mounted light can illuminate a room by bouncing the light off the ground or ceiling. It is very possible to identify a potential threat by pointing the weapon light at the ground and using the flood to scan the room and identify potential threats.
Hand Held Flashlights are Great
I want to stress this again, hand held flashlights are great additions to an EDC. I am definitely not saying weapon mounted lights are the only method, or even they’re the best method. There are many scenarios where a weapon mounted light is the best option, and many where a hand held flashlight is the best option. It simply comes down to balancing out the pros and cons of each method and matching them to your lifestyle.
What Do You Carry?
What do you have in your every day carry? Do you use a weapon mounted light, a hand held flashlight, or both?