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Hand held or rail mounted tactical light

This is a discussion on Hand held or rail mounted tactical light within the SA-XD/XD(M) Accessories forums, part of the XD Talk category; I'm a new XDM compact .45 owner, and have heard different opinions about tactical lights. Some say to use a rail mounted light so to ...

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Old 02-29-2012, 10:12 PM   #1
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Question Hand held or rail mounted tactical light

I'm a new XDM compact .45 owner, and have heard different opinions about tactical lights. Some say to use a rail mounted light so to have two hands on the handgun at all times when searching an area in the dark. Others say it is better to have the non-dominant hand holding the light so that you aren't pointing the handgun at everything you are looking at, and also to prevent the bad guys from just firing at the light and hitting you. I'm confused, and would appreciate any input. Thanks in advance
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Old 03-01-2012, 12:33 AM   #2
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Nothing is going to perform the function of illuminating your target and helping you shoot accurately in the dark like a mounted light. Using a hand held light and shooting at the same time is harder than it sounds. During low light training that doesnt call for shooting to begin immediately upon "contact" with the threat/target, most people tend to focus on the bright flashlight beam and keep that on the target while the sights wander. Once they realize this, focus shifts to the sights and the flashlight beam wanders. In a high stress encounter you'll be very susceptible to tunnel vision, and If you make a conscious effort to keep both your flashlight and your sights on target you'll occupy a lot of brain processing power and possibly lose some reaction time if things go from verbal commands to deadly force. Also, if you do locate a bad guy who complies with commands the weapon light frees up your weak hand to perform other functions, such as calling 911, while you still have your threat covered and illuminated. Normally if you're deploying the gun in the dark it's for a reason, so pointing the gun at possible threats isn't a big problem to me. If you don't have a solid reason to believe there is a threat, you still have the option to use a hand held light when your weapon light is attached, and ditch the handheld if you need to. As for BGs shooting at your light, it's certainly possible, but can be mitigated by using brief bursts of light while moving to conduct your search. A handheld is only going to save you in that regard if you hold it way up over your head, or way out to the side, and neither of those methods results in an easy alignment of a flashlight beam, front sights, and rear sights. I'd strongly suggest finding a low-light class in your area.
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Old 03-01-2012, 12:50 AM   #3
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Rail mounted is the way to go
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Old 03-01-2012, 08:12 AM   #4
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Thanks! That is very, very helpful. You make a very clear, logical case for a rail mounted light. I'll start shopping. Which one do you have?
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Old 03-01-2012, 09:19 AM   #5
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Both.

Different tools for different jobs; handheld for search, weaponlight for shooting.

I highly recommend you take a low light class and learn how to, and when to properly employ both.
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Old 03-01-2012, 10:56 AM   #6
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As above. Here's the problem with the statement 'it is better to have the non-dominant hand holding the light so that you aren't pointing the handgun at everything you are looking at...'

When I am clearing or even just at IDPA, my eyes almost never go somewhere that my firearm doesn't go too.

So to me that reasoning is bunk.

Having the light away from your body, now that's a different story. However, the FBI technique (I think that was what it was called in the Academy...the one where you hold the flashlight in ND hand up and away from the body) is extremely uncomfortable for extended periods of time and I usually end up with the flashlight in my non dominant hand above my shoulder or crossed under my firearm anyways, which is not really any better than having the light mounted in the first place.

In my opinion, a mounted light is superior for a two reasons: first, it allows you to maintain two handed control of the weapon. Second, when the time comes for weapon manipulation (mag change/malfunction clear) you don't have to stow your flashlight somewhere so you can manipulate your weapon.

I think proof of that is that dedicated entry teams for PD's and Military hardly ever prefer hand held to mounted lights...at least none of the ones I have seen.

Handheld lights have their place, but if given the choice of mounted or hand held for home defense, it's mounted, hands down, for me.
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Old 03-01-2012, 11:47 AM   #7
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A couple more excellent points above regarding mag changes and keeping your gun pointed in the same direction that you're looking during a search. I use the Streamlight TLR1.
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Old 03-01-2012, 12:06 PM   #8
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Old 03-01-2012, 12:08 PM   #9
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I have taken a low light pistol glass, and used my TLR3 on my XD9 while camping many times. I highly recommend a weapon light for self defense situations.
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Old 03-01-2012, 12:54 PM   #10
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Very good points here good a good light is also a great weapon.
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