The other day while conducting some advanced training we had to employ a handheld flashlight. The question came up about handheld, weapon mounted and what’s the difference.
First off, there is a huge difference. From a simple utilitarian perspective having a powerful handheld flashlight should go without saying. There are an infinite number of circumstances where a white light will be used. From digging under your car seat for change, to navigating through a building during a power outage to illuminating an unknown. We seem to forget how useful these bad boys really are and tend to lump them into “tactical” situations only. I have pulled a flashlight way more than I have drew my pistol and chances are you will too.
Not every bump in the night is a foaming at the mouth zombie trying to eat your brains. Of course you can draw your weapon mounted light to check that bump if that is all you have, but that is my point. Folks believe because they have a weapon mounted they don’t need a handheld light. Don’t make that mistake. I have seen folks conduct administrative tasks with their weapon mounted light, things that you just have to shake your head. No matter the configuration of your blaster, you still need a handheld light.
You need to be able to carry that handheld light in such a way as it is discreet, but quickly accessible. You should have two methods of deployment, a more surreptitious method and a rapid method. The surreptitious method is one overlooked, but it is highly advisable to have the light in your hand before you need it. You have a lot more options available, using it as a distraction, using it as an impact tool and then using it to illuminate the threat for positive target identification. These can happen prior to the presentation of your pistol so don’t discount them. Then there is the rapid deployment, almost simultaneously with your pistol. Here is where a dedicated weapon light is advantageous, aside from the size, weight and limited carry options for concealment it is nice to light them up as you are drawing. Just remember that you still have to identify, it is presumed you have already located the threat hence the presentation. Engaging the target with a standard grip and being able to work the weapon light has an advantage. What folks overlook at times is all the work prior to the shoots fired, this is where we see folks failing to think it through. Things like, how will I work the light, turn it off, perform manipulations and if necessary engage one handed.
Deploying a handheld light in conjunction with your firearm needs to be practiced regularly. Here you have to decide if you are going to use a two handed technique or one handed technique. That is definitely a subject on to itself and will reserve commenting for a future article. However, you have to have thought it out and practice regularly.
Don’t make the mistake of overlooking a good handheld flashlight. A real tool for the tool bag.