Recently, I was a part of a discussion in a Facebook group where someone asked about a light on their firearms. The poster was asking for recommendations, but the conversations quickly devolved.
For most people who carry a gun, I don’t recommend a weapon mounted light (WML). This is not because a WML has no use, but because for a majority of people who carry, it simply isn’t necessary.
I do recommend a WML for duty guns used by Police, Military and occasionally the civilians based on their individual needs. If you want to carry a light that is mounted to your gun, go for it, I’m not the carry police and I don’t really care if you carry a gun with a WML or not. Basically, you do you.
First, Let’s talk about some of the major benefits.
#1 – This is a HUGE one, this benefit is a MAJOR win in a self-defense scenario. If you have positively identified a threat, and are forced to present your gun in self-defense, the bright ass light shining in Tommy Two Chains face may be enough for him to second guess their current course of action. The next logical step is that you can make the decision to NOT shoot. NOT shooting is a major victory. The threat has been eliminated.
#2 – In low light, the front sight may become more visible. Even guns with red dots on them have iron sights (most of them…not all) so the front sight being easier to see is a benefit.
#3 – For Law Enforcement Officers (LEO) or Military, these users are the users that would be “searching” for a bad guy, in dark areas. These users also work in “high threat environments”, warzones, super high crime areas etc. the threat profile of their work would likely require a WML for searching and identifying threats.
#4 – The added weight can help reduce recoil possibly making it a bit easier to make faster follow up shots.
#5 – Both hands available when using a WML, as one hand isn’t required to hold a separate light. This can be beneficial in situations where you need to quickly evacuate an area where a serious critical event is happening.
There are just a few of the good reasons to carry a WML. However, let’s discuss some of the reasons that most people who carry don’t need a light.
#1 – Most people don’t train beyond their initial basic pistol or CWP class, the operation of a light will either create a cognitive overload or they just won’t operate it at all. In this case, the light is either useless or a hinderance.
#2 – in the urban environment we live work and play in, it is never so dark that I need a light to identify the threat that warrants drawing a gun. If you carry, you should only be unholstering AFTER you have positively identified a threat that warrants the use of deadly force.
#3 – Positive threat identification…. In all 50 states, it’s illegal to point a gun at someone that doesn’t need to have your gun pointed at them. if a WML is your only light, then you have no choice but to point your gun where your light is pointed. You shouldn’t even present your gun unless you reasonably think that the thing you are pointing your gun at is an immediate and imminent threat to life or serious bodily injury. If you are using a WML to see if something is a threat or not, you are wrong.
#4 – They add weight and bulk to your system. Sure, it’s a few ounces, some people won’t even notice it. Others will. If you are looking to covertly carry, the added bulk works against that goal.
While some daily circumstances could benefit from a WML, a handheld light is typically a better solution for most people. For example, in a dark parking garage, shining 100 lumens can make it feel like daylight. Walking through a parking lot after dark, a bright light can illuminate your path and deter potential attackers. Increasing your level 1 threat response (presence) can make a bad guy choose a different branch in their decision tree. This is a win. Unholstering your gun just to walk to your car at night is not recommended regardless of your circumstances.
Again, I’m not the concealed carry police. I don’t care if you carry a light on your gun. You get to make that decision for you. These are the specific reason that I don’t recommend that most people add a WML to their kit.