One of the greatest aids to personal protection in recent years has been the advent of tough, compact, high-intensity flashlights we generally call defensive lights. Back in my law enforcement days we wagged around those big old flashlights that were great in a donnybrook but, otherwise, just got in the way. Nowadays, I seldom go anywhere without my little SureFire illuminator stuck somewhere about my person. Compact, handheld flashlights are useful, and I like them a lot.
However, I think installing such a light on your defensive handgun is a mistake. It changes the balance of the gun, while making it heavier and more difficult to conceal.
Folks will eventually get used to the change in balance, but this business of weight is another issue entirely. The most common complaint I hear about defensive handguns is they are heavy and uncomfortable to carry for extended periods. While I have carried a .45 Government Model or a Commander all day, every day, I hear this complaint so often that there must be something to it. A lot of people who are not used to wearing a gun all day long just seem to have a difficult time getting used to that weight. So, why would you make it heavier by adding a light?
Concealment is also an issue with gun-mounted lights. It is more difficult to find suitable holsters that accommodate a defensive light. And that light, and the bigger holster, add to the bulk that one has to conceal under his clothes. Yes, it can be done, but it requires a lot of experimenting, trial and error.
It is much easier to carry the defensive light separate from the pistol yet still on your person. You can then use it, or not use it, as the situation dictates. There are several simple techniques for using a handheld light in conjunction with a pistol, and with practice, you’re sure to find a method that works for you.
Defensive handgun trainer Louis Awerbuck put it so eloquently when he said, “Don’t hang stuff on your pistol!” Actually, he used another word that begins with “s” instead of “stuff,” but I think you get the picture.
However, there are exceptions to every rule. I think a handgun-mounted light makes a lot of sense when installed on a designated car gun or house gun, because these are not being worn and concealed all day long. We don’t care what they weigh and, in fact, when the balloon goes up you won’t give a moment’s thought to the issue of weight.
Of course, you are responsible for your own safety, so you should do what you think is best. Just don’t follow fad for the sake of being stylish. Give your light some thought, and fight smart.