Weaponlights: Do They Belong on a CCW Gun?

posted on February 5, 2019

I’m on record (several times, actually) as stating that I remain unconvinced that a weapon-mounted light (WML) is anything like a necessity on a CCW handgun toted by a private citizen outside the home.

This is not to say that I think WMLs on handguns aren’t useful; they’re super-handy on any handgun used to search for, identify and engage bad guys. The thing is, that’s not my mission while I’m out and about in the wider world beyond my front door.

Where it might be my mission, however, is inside my own home. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I think a weapon-mounted light is a good thing on a handgun intended specifically for home defense. Being able to positively identify targets in one’s own home is crucial to avoiding negative outcomes, and a good white light mounted to the handgun allows one to do this while still having a hand free to operate phones and doorknobs, herd family members and perform other chores. There are a couple caveats, though.

First, seek out some training in the proper use of a weapon-mounted light. This is important in learning how to use it to illuminate your surroundings while moving with the gun in either a high or low muzzle-aversion carry position, using the “spill” from the beam as well as the “bounce,” or reflected light, off the ceiling or walls to light a room. (Hollywood tends to have everyone running around with WMLs held horizontally at eye-level, in a “what-not-to-do” fashion.)

The second is that a weapon-mounted light supplements a hand-held flashlight; it doesn’t replace it. It has been more than 20 years since I felt the need to draw a CCW handgun, but I use my flashlight multiple times every day. You can’t just yank your Glock out every time you need to look for your keys under the sofa.

Now, if you’re one of those people who keeps a separate handgun for home-defense purposes, life is simple. Put a flashlight on the house gun and continue to carry a non-WML pistol for everyday CCW.

If you’re a believer in using the same pistol for defense no matter where you are, however, I’m a fan of leaving the light on it all the time. Sure you could, every night, draw your CCW pistol, safely clear it, mount and properly tighten the light, reload it, place it in its overnight storage location, and then do everything again in reverse in the morning before holstering up to start your day, but that’s an awful lot of unnecessary administrative gun-handling. And unnecessary administrative gun-handling is when the Negligent Discharge Fairy makes her unwelcome appearances, so I’m in favor of minimizing it.

This means finding a way to keep the light on the gun at all times. Fortunately, this is becoming easier to do every year.

It wasn’t that long ago that the only holsters designed to accommodate pistols with mounted lights were bulky, duty-style holsters like the ones from Safariland. Probably the first common concealable holster for pistols with WMLs was the Phantom, a now-discontinued model from Raven Concealment Systems. A kydex holster originally intended to be worn outside the waistband as a pancake-style rig, its body-hugging contour and thinness allowed it to be adapted to inside-the-waistband use via soft loops, and I’ve carried a Glock G34 with a mounted SureFire X300U in exactly that fashion.

There are a ton more choices on the market now, though. Raven Concealment, for example, has replaced the old kydex Phantom with the Perun, and they offer a variant for light-bearing guns, as long as the light-bearing gun is a Glock and the light it bears is either a SureFire X300 or a Streamlight TLR-1HL. I used one of these in a low-light shoothouse class recently with a Glock G19X/X300U combo and was impressed by the easily adjustable retention, ease of holstering, and amount of protection given the trigger guard area.

Inside-the-waistband offerings, once limited to special orders from custom kydex benders, are now almost too numerous to list. In the past, I’ve used the AIWB Light-Bearing Holster from Henry Holsters as well as the Spotlight from PHLster, and the Gotham holster from Bawidamann, which was interesting in that it indexed on the light, and therefore worked with a few different pistol models, as long as they had an X300 light mounted on them.

Most recently (as in its official release will happen after I write this but before it goes to print), PHLster takes the omnivorous light-bearing holster a step further with the Floodlight. This new holster indexes on the light, like the Bawidamann Gotham, but uses an ingenious shock cord adjustment to control the width of the holster body. I’ve successfully used it with pistols as diverse in size and shape as a Heckler & Koch P30L, a Glock G20 and G19, and a Beretta 92 Elite, and they all worked fine. Further, the holster body can be optimized for vertical/appendix or canted/strong-side. With an MSRP of $115, that’s a pretty versatile holster.

With concealable options like these on the market, there’s no longer a need to step away from the light when you leave home.


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