Pistol upgrade suggestions, Part 2

This is a continuation from Pistol Upgrade Suggestions Part 1. In this article we will go over handheld and weapon mounted lights.

In review, before you spend money on upgrades, I know you were wise and took training, purchased a range bag with the needed shooting and medical accessories, bought plenty of spare magazines and have shot hundreds of rounds in practice with what you learned in training. You are now very familiar with your pistol and comfortable with it.

Various types of lights

Lights: hand held flashlight and weapon mounted light.

Crime occurs 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Because of that you should be prepared to defend yourself and your loved ones in low light or no light situations. That is where a light comes in. I don’t want you involved in an incident where thugs attack you in low or no light and you are unable to neutralize the threat because you are not sure where you are aiming.

You can’t shoot what you can’t see and a responsible gun owner never fires at shadows. One of the four Universal Safety rules is: Know your target and what is beyond (in front, back, left and right) it.

We never want to point a gun at something or someone we don’t want to. Remember the 4 Universal Safety rules.

4 Universal safety rules

As a result, you need at least one flashlight that is not connected to your pistol.

We want to positively identify what is going on in the dark before pointing a gun that direction.

I highly recommend one you can operate one handed, not the old big D or C battery ones. You can get small ones that you can easily clip in your pocket, and set on a night stand. I personally prefer those that you turn on via a button on the back (butt) of the light, however that depends on you. These flashlights can be inexpensive to very expensive and vary in battery types.

Choosing your handheld light:

Lights have different lumens or candela, output of light. Too many people will tell you the more lumens the better. They are wrong. I don’t care what their credentials are, if they are recommending anything over 500 lumens for a defensive pistol, in your home, they are ignorant at best and negligent at worst.

For those doubting, let’s try an experiment. Purchase three flashlights, any three. They don’t have to be weapons mounted. Get a 100 lumen, 500 lumen and a 1,000 lumen light. Get up between 2am and 4 am to go to the bathroom, grab one of the lights and as soon as you walk out of your bedroom turn it on. Bam! With the 1,000 you will be instantly yet temporarily blinded. It does not matter if you bounce it off the floor, wall or ceiling. If you can’t see, even for a few seconds you can’t protect yourself. Do the same with each light. You will find that a light between 85 and 400 lumens won’t blind you.

Before some lame person tries to tell you that the 1,000 lumen or higher light is for blinding the bad people, stop, take a breath and let’s do another test. When coming back from the bathroom, have your significant other shine that 85 to 400 lumen light into your face as you come down the hall. You will be blinded for 2 to 3 seconds, exactly what helps you in a defensive situation.

If you want to have a higher output light for when you are out of the house, fine, do that. Get a 1,000 and put it in your pocket. It will work for parking lots, movie theaters et al. In your home, have the lower lumen light.

If you already carry a flashlight, everyday, in your pocket then great, if not, I would recommend one that is rechargeable or uses one or two CR123a, AA or AAA batteries.

I carried the Surefire Backup for years. After losing two, I decided to go with a less expensive one, the Streamlight ProTac 1L. Much less painful in the wallet when lost. For my nightstand I have the Streamlight ProTac2L-x and scattered in backpacks, in the vehicle consoles and around the various Streamlight Polytac lights. I don’t care what you have, so long as you have one that will help you when things go bump in the night where you live or you need to quickly tell someone to back off in low light or no light situations.

Now you can identify and temporarily blind someone without pointing a weapon at them. Next you will probably want a weapon mounted light.

Mounting a light to your pistol will require a new holster. One made specifically for that pistol and light combination.

This may alter the way you carry your pistol. I have to go from inside the waistband (more concealed in my opinion) to outside the waistband when I have a light mounted. As a result, I only put a light on my pistol during the winter months when daylight is short. This means 6 or so months a year, I must practice shooting with a handheld light. Once again, a training class should teach you the different techniques and you should practice them constantly.

There are many companies that make weapon lights. I highly urge you to test and take training with any brand you choose.

Training will test the quality of the light and teach you how to store, or drop your handheld light and deploy your weapon mounted light.

Don’t be this guy who shot his partner instead of dropping the handheld light and using a weapon mounted one.

Many handguns come with accessory rails to attach items such as flashlights.

With and without an accessory rail

Some of the pistols that don’t have an accessory rail can still have a light attached. Here is what Streamlight can do.  I am sure there are others.

The industry standard and by many considered the best are Surefire brand lights. They are expensive and can take a beating. Many government agencies issue this brand (thus the reason they are so expensive).

The next one that many people including myself use are the Streamlight brand. These lights are strong and dependable without the cost of Surefire. They are what I have on all our carry guns.

In the budget arena are the Olight brand of lights. Many people cuss these and cry foul, I however have several and have used them for years (both gun and pocket carry lights). I trust them enough that they are on our dresser drawer pistols.

Once you have decided on the brand, model and lumens, you will need to practice with the light and weapon combination. I am not talking just once or twice but dozens of separate times with hundreds of repetitions.

Most, if not all pistol mounted lights are finger activated. You will use the thumb of your non-dominant hand.

If you don’t practice, you will accidentally fire the gun instead of activate the light. It’s a sympathetic nerve system. I have done it in practice. As a result, at one point I went completely away from lights on my pistols, until I fixed myself. You can do this under a skilled trainer and under dry fire (empty gun) practice.

That’s more than enough for now. Until we meet again, keep your booger hook off the bang switch until on target and ready to fire.