Should You Mount a Light to Your Handgun?

If you ever have to deploy your weapon to defend your home, it is very probable that your gunfight will take place at night. The best way to identify your target in the dark is to use a weapon mounted light. A light mounted on your weapon prevents you from having to fumble in the dark when a bad guy kicks your front door in at 3:14 a.m. Like all other firearm accessories, lights come from many manufacturers and come in several different models and sizes.

See this excerpt regarding today’s semi-auto pistols and shooting in the dark:

Dr. Godnig also states, “Size of an object is related to visibility because relatively larger image sizes have the potential to stimulate more retinal cells inside the eye resulting in higher numbers of cones and rods sending information via the optic nerve to the brain for visual information processing.” Objects that are large and of contrasting color are easier to see under stress, which makes the current generation of semi-auto sights on the wrong end of the sight plane. I, for one, have highlighted the front sight of all my pistols with bright orange emergency warning tape. It offers a contrast that is large and bold and I feel is the reason that I can recall my sights during high stress events.


In other words, if your pistol doesn’t have night sights you should consider getting a gun mounted flashlight.

Surefire is one of the leading weapons light manufacturers.  Their lights are durable, bright and can hold up to the shock of the recoil.  Some light manufacturers may use uncommon batteries and light bulbs.  These lights are usually very bright but are expensive to maintain with higher cost of batteries and bulbs.

There are a large variety of firearms built today that will accept a light using a picatinny rail or universal rail. This is a common system that weapons manufacturers and accessory manufacturers use so that the accessories can easily mount to the firearms.  It is very easy to install a light or other accessory using these systems.

The disadvantages to installing a light on your weapon are that you are adding weight and limiting your holster options.  Adding weight can make the weapon less comfortable to carry and harder to hold on target.  Also the added size of the light will usually require a different holster.

You may want to add a light to your home defense firearm only and not your carry weapon. Target identification in your home is of the utmost importance.  It unfortunately happens occasionally that someone will draw their weapon on a family member in the middle of the night. A weapon mounted light can very easily save an innocent person’s life by allowing positive target identification.  The weight and added size of the light you add to your home defense weapon should not be a hindrance, since you are not carrying it throughout the day.

As mentioned above the Surefire light is a very durable and popular selling brand of weapon lights. A quality LED surefire pistol light starts around $200 and you can spend up to $500.  They also make adapters for handguns without rails factory installed so that you can install a light on virtually any semi auto gun.  The flash between the cylinder and barrel of a revolver makes it very hard on a light installed on a revolver. Typically a light is not seen on a revolver.

You can buy a less expensive light but make sure it is built from quality materials and that will hold up to the shock of the recoil.   Stream Light is another popular light manufacturer that offers weapon lights under $100.  You may consider taking the light off while you are using the weapon at the range; just remember to re install your light when you finish shooting.

You may also want to add a laser to your light or buy a laser light combo.  Once again you are adding weight and size but for a home defense firearm you gain a great advantage.  You can now identify your target and see where your rounds are going to land. With the laser you are also adding a device that requires batteries.  The best practice to get into is when you check your home’s smoke detectors you check the batteries in your home defense lighting.  You could also do this when you change the air filter in your heat and air unit.  All of these should be done at least once a month.  The majority of the population today has smart phones, all of which have calendars that you can program to notify you when it is time to do these things.

If you decide to mount a light on your weapon for home defense or for your everyday carry gun make sure to read some reviews on the exact product you decide to buy.  Weapons lights take a lot of abuse and you only want to buy one once for your firearm.