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Letter Re: Low-Light Tactics and Options

Officer Tackleberry’s recent article was a rarely touched upon subject in the tactical world. People like to train what they are good at and not what they aren’t so good at. Low-light takes a lot more work for a variety of reasons. I hope to add a bit to Tackleberry’s very useful article. I will attempt to not be too redundant, as Tackleberry did a very good job of describing techniques and principles… perhaps we can overlap in a beneficial way.

When activating your tactical light, be it handheld or weapon-mounted, always have the light pointed at, or nearly at what you want to illuminate and not at the “low-ready” or at the ground (yes, even with a weapon-mounted light… more on that later). Particularly when using any of the techniques that mate the hand holding the light and the gun (like with the “Harries”), and when using a weapon-mounted light, do not activate the light before bringing the light/gun up to illuminate what you want to illuminate or you will “draw” a path from you to the bad guy. Gun/light come up, then you activate the light. This principle still applies with the other techniques Tackleberry mentions… the reasoning being you are wasting time by bringing the light up and possibly specifically pointing at where you are standing with your light giving the bad guy more time to acquire you as the target!

Perhaps more critical is that you should use your light in very short bursts of light, as in roughly two to three seconds at a maximum… otherwise you risk becoming a bullet magnet (strobing might be an exception to this). Once the light has been brought up, then activated, you will scan with the light in the various techniques Tackleberry brought up for that (maximum) of two to three seconds, then the light should go off, and then MOVE! I cannot stress this part enough. Moving one step or two is usually not enough, though if that is all you have, then it is better than standing still. In drills with students, a light is activated in pitch black from somewhere in the 360 degrees around them for less than a second, then the light goes off, and they almost universally point to within 0-3 feet of where the light was… and that’s at a distance of 20+ yards to the light! In a normal living room this means they would pinpoint you! This would suggest that you should move more than that three feet to avoid their incoming fire once your light goes off.

About weapon-mounted lights… on handguns I am a firm believer in them though there are legitimate preferences on both sides of that preference. You should most definitely know the other non-weapon-mounted techniques as well. They compliment each other nicely. In my experience and in training others with varying levels of training I have found that target acquisition speed and accuracy are both greatly enhanced with a weapon-mounted light. This keeps you alive! The weapon mounted light allows you to focus on shooting the weapon and not on manipulating a light. This applies to both handguns and long guns. On long guns I would say it is more critical as weapons retention and driving the gun to the target (and any subsequent ones) are significantly faster and more solid than if you were using a hand-held light. The legitimate issues Tackleberry brought up about accidentally shooting someone due to a weapon-mounted light are negated with proper training. Remember that most cops don’t train outside of their department’s mandatory training and often that is lacking (not knocking cops, as I’m one, but it’s the sad truth).

As far as light selection, I will say don’t skimp on quality lights. There are legitimate reasons beyond brand names that Surefire and Streamlight charge $100+ (often upwards of $300!) for most of their lights. Briefly, as far as handgun mounted lights go, I would think the Surefire X300 is the dominant one in the market for good reason as of now… though I would strongly recommend mating it to the “DEVGRU” type switch that allows you to keep your natural firing grip while activating the light. For long-guns, I would also recommend Surefire’s X300 or Scout lights mounted as close to the 12 o’clock on the gun as possible, though other locations work well too.

All in all train with what you have. If all you have is grandpa’s worn out revolver and a 4-cell MagLite, you can still dominate your adversary with the proper mindset and training!

Psalm 144:1, God Bless! – PPPP [1]