How to Use a Weapon Mounted Light on a Handgun

It is dark for a significant portion of the day. A light of some kind is critical for conceal carriers to verify and engage a threat.

How to Use a Weapon Mounted Light on a Handgun Pistol Drill

It is dark for a significant portion of the day. Humans are not designed to see in the dark. So how do self defenders expect to be able to properly identify and engage an unknown threat in the dark if they can’t see it? A flashlight of some kind is a critical component of anyone’s every day carry (EDC) who also carries a handgun. A weapon mounted light in particular helps shooters identify a threat and keep two hands on the handgun for fast and accurate shooting.

Aaron Cowan of Sage Dynamics is a skilled firearms instructor with a law enforcement background. His videos can be a little long, but they are extremely thorough and informative.

Why you should have a Weapon Mounted Light on a handgun

A weapon mounted light allows for very fast illumination should a firearm need to be drawn. It also allows the shooter to keep two hands on the gun while shooting, which retains speed and accuracy. Furthermore, bright weapon mounted lights, or even hand held flashlight, allow self defenders to blind attackers for some concealment.

Aaron views a weapon mounted light as a “luxury” and a handheld flashlight is “mandatory.” He makes very good points for that argument, and I agree with him, but handheld flashlights are not the primary focus of this article.

How to use a Weapon Mounted Light on a handgun

Aaron covers techniques for searching as well as target engagement with a weapon mounted light.

There are a wide variety of weapon mounted lights with a variety of sizes and brightnesses available. A good holster with a strong gun belt makes a firearm surprisingly easy to conceal carry, even with a weapon mounted light. Lights such as the Surefire XC1 Compact are good options if you want a compact light.

But doesn’t a flashlight just show where you are?

Criminals shoot at what they can see. Proper use of a light in dark conditions will remove a bad guy’s ability to see you. A very bright flashlight can be quite blinding, making it impossible for someone to pinpoint exactly where you are. If you don’t believe Aaron or me, get a friend and a several hundred lumens flashlight, and shine it at each other in a dark environment – see if you think you can definitely see anything. Some handgun weapon mounted lights can reach 800 lumens, but even a 300 lumens flashlight can be quite blinding in a dark environment.


It is extremely important to practice shooting with a weapon mounted light and/or a handheld flashlight, whichever you choose to carry. One handed shooting is also very important as the second hand is often used for other tasks in a self defense situation. Practicing these techniques can be done cheaply and easily at home through dry fire practice.

Written by - always a student, sometimes a teacher.

I don't consider myself a competition shooter - I think of myself as a performance pistol shooter. I am all about performing at as high of a level as possible. Towards that end, I am obsessive about learning how to perform. I spend a lot of my life learning from the best across the entire firearms world and even into other areas of performance and other sports. I am a USPSA Carry Optics Grandmaster, currently working towards my second GM title in the Open division.

Want more? Follow on Instagram, Facebook, or Email.

Summer Practical Pistol Course

Join me for a three month virtual training program!

Learn More