Monday, February 20, 2012

Shedding Some Light on the Matter

One of the hot items we carry are Weapon Lights, but with so many on the market (much less our store) how do you pick the right one for you needs?  We wanted to hit the highlights (so to speak) for our customers and hope this helps clear up some questions.

Weapon-mounted lights can be used in Military/Law Enforcement type jobs but also have uses in self defense or home defense.  For the purposes of this article, we will focus more on self/home defense.  The primary uses for a weapon mounted light in these situations are:

  1. Visibility in low light conditions
  2. Temporarily disorient an intruder

Weapon mounted lights have a few attributes that vary from one to the other:
  • Lumens: The brightness of the lights themselves are measured in Lumens.  The more lumens, the brighter the light.  If you are looking to disorient someone, you are probably looking at at least the 50 lumen range for 10 yards out.    (By comparison the average household flashlight is 5 to 15 lumens.)  Keep in mind more is not necessarily better.  Indoors, there are many reflective surfaces, so a 380 lumen light may not be the best choice for a pistol you plan on using inside.  Additionally, higher output lights tend to eat batteries like a kid eats Halloween candy!  However, 380 lumens may be perfect for a long gun you are using out on your property.  Some flashlights may be upgraded to brighter bulbs like these Elzetta bulbs we offer.
  • Light Modes: The type or pattern of the light can vary.  Momentary on, constant on, strobe, beacon (often an SOS pattern) and more.  Momentary on and constant on are the most prevalent and will do fine for most situations.
  • Mounts: Weapon lights can be boiled down into two categories, dedicated weapon lights and hand held flashlights that can be mounted as tactical lights.  The hand held route can be cheaper, but you need to make sure that if you are mounting it on anything higher than a 5.56, that it can withstand the recoil without breaking the bulb!
  • Switch: Each light comes with some sort of switch for each light mode.  Push button, twist or even both. The most common add on is what is referred to as a tape switch.  This type of switch comes with a sticky backing to mount onto your weapon and be activated with the touch of a finger.  A tape switch is nice, but not absolutely necessary.  Whatever switch you use, make sure you practice with it and get good at using it.  Nothing says fail like fumbling around in the dark for your flashlight switch.
Keep in mind, a weapon mounted light does not replace the need for carrying a handheld flashlight or even handsfree flashlight.  There are plenty of things you will want to illuminate without pointing your weapon at it!  Safety always comes first.

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