Adding a mounted light to your firearm can enhance your home defense strategy. If you have a rifle, pistol or shotgun that you keep loaded and ready in case of an intruder, mounting a light on it gives you several advantages. According to the FBI, there is a burglary every 22 seconds in the United States, a murder every 30 minutes and one aggravated assault every 39 seconds. A strong home defense strategy is a must today.
Home Defense Benefits of Mounted Flashlights
For any type of firearm, a mounted light gives at least three benefits, which include:
Stunning or disorienting an intruder.
Seeing your surroundings better.
Minimizing the intruder's ability to see.
For the light to be effective in stunning or stopping the intruder indoors, it should be at least 100 lumens. If you want to disorient an intruder, there are lights with strobe modes as well. However, many people prefer a steady stream of light to illuminate surroundings and the intruder. If the intruder can only see a bright light, it is harder for that person to attack or shoot.
In many cases, a bright light may discourage an intruder. The person may try to run away or be persuaded to drop a weapon. If you encounter a situation where it is impossible to reason with an intruder and must shoot, a light is especially important. This is because when you first wake up, it is more difficult to think clearly. Having your target and surroundings well lit will make critical decisions and actions easier for you.
It is important to have a light that you are comfortable operating and can rely on in a serious situation. There are several important considerations when choosing a mounted light for a shotgun, rifle or pistol.
With rifles, three of the biggest considerations are the rail size, the space you have available and the weight of the flashlight optic. If you have a longer rail, you have more freedom when it comes to choosing a style and size of light, as well as where you want it. However, keep in mind that position is important with rail-mounted lights. For example, if you have a long barrel and a short rail, mounting the light on one side can cast shadows on the opposite side. A shorter barrel is not an option for everyone, but a longer rail with the light placed further toward the end of the barrel can help reduce shadow issues. There are also mounting devices for rifles that do not have rails, such as top or side mounts.
Weight is another critical consideration. If you have a rifle with a rail that already has other accessories mounted on it, the weight of the light you mount should not make your front end too heavy. If you choose one of the lighter flashlights to mount on your rifle, and it still feels too heavy afterward, consider removing a different accessory if there are others that are not essential for home defense.
Some rail-mounted lights also come with separate buttons or remote pressure switches to activate them. These also take up room on the handguard. If you decide to run a tape switch, you can also mount it on the rail or on a vertical foregrip. Be sure to mount the switches where you can comfortably and easily access them. As it is with choosing optic sizes, you may need a longer rail if you want a light and switch that take up more space.
Some people mistakenly choose to use a handheld flashlight in one hand and a handgun in the other. This can affect accuracy and make it more difficult to hit your target if you are forced to shoot an intruder. When choosing a pistol-mounted flashlight for home defense, durability is one of the most important considerations. Some of the cheaper products on the market are not designed to handle the recoil of a pistol. A few manufacturers make affordable mounted lights that are durable enough to work well on handguns.
Where you mount the light is another important consideration. Some people prefer to have a light on one side of the handgun. Others prefer to have it underneath. Today, most manufacturers of tactical handguns include an under-barrel rail. The rail may be full length or short. Pistols with short rails accommodate smaller lights better. If you prefer a side mount, it should have a bolt-locking system and a design that makes the switch easy to activate. Some mounts also have quick-release features if you want to easily remove the light for practice shooting.
For many people, a shotgun is the go-to home defense weapon because of its wider shot pattern. If you are sleepy, out of practice or concerned about being unable to hit a target in a life-or-death situation, a shotgun is great. When mounting a weapon light or a flashlight on a shotgun, it is important to choose a mounting style that fits your needs. Streamlight makes replacement foregrips with build in lights, like the Steamlight TL-Racker. On some types of shotguns, you can install a rail near the front for mounting your light, which allows many light options.
Another option is a light mount that fits on the barrel. Some types include a screw-based adjustment for a flashlight. With this style, it is important to pick a product that fits your shotgun and has a diameter of a light ring that will hold the light you want to mount. Also, it should be placed in a way that does not interfere with operating the shotgun. The switch is an important consideration as well. Most people prefer to mount the light where they can activate the switch easily.
Choosing a Type of Mounted Weapon Light
Now that you know some of the basics about light mounting options, you can think about which type of light fits your needs. This is a quick list to help you better determine your needs and preferences:
Since lights are better toward the front of the firearm, be sure to consider the weight carefully. If your rifle feels pretty light and you can handle more weight, you may be ok to order a bigger light. If your firearm feels like you cannot handle much more weight, be sure to choose a lightweight product. You may even decide to use a different rail. For example, picatinny rails are heavier and designed for more heavy-duty use without sacrificing performance. However, their heaviness is not ideal for everyone.
For durability, remember that you get what you pay for with tactical lights. If you are also on a budget, there are still products that you can afford. For example, the Streamlight TLR 1 gun mount light is an excellent choice for something affordable and rugged enough to rely on when your life is potentially in danger. Streamlight is one of the manufacturers that follows the ANSI FL1 standards. Not all manufacturers follow these important standards.
Beam style depends on your preferences. For example, if you have a larger house, you may want a beam that gives you a wider view range to see all your surroundings. However, if you rent a small studio apartment, you may only want a focused beam of blinding light. Perhaps you want a combination of both or a light that gives you the versatility to adjust brightness and beam patterns. Be sure to pay attention to the beam distance of a light as well, and make sure that it meets your needs for the size of your home.
Some lights have multiple modes. You may want one that has a strobe light, a spotlight beam and a floodlight beam. There are some that have laser dots as well. For example, the Streamlight TLR 6 rail mount gun light is available with or without an aiming laser. In a worst-case scenario when you need to prepare to shoot an assailant, the light helps you see clearly, and the aiming laser shows you where you can expect to hit. For greater peace of mind and more judicious aim, this is an excellent feature to have on a weapon-mounted light.
The switch should be easy to activate, and the light should be mounted in a way that the switch is easy to reach quickly. If you are considering a corded switch button to mount near the trigger, be sure to ask a gunsmith before you decide. Although some people find these helpful on certain rifles or shotguns, they can be hindrances in some cases.
As stated earlier, for indoor use and home defense, it is important to have a weapon light that is at least 300 lumens or brighter. Remember that shining a bright light in an intruder's face in a dark room makes it harder for the intruder to see you and the surroundings. Lumens are a measure of light output, but it does not measure how focused the beam of light is. Candela is a measure of how strong a beam of light is. We have more information about Lumens vs Candela in our handheld flashlight article.
The size of the light may depend on the size of the mounting rail or the type of firearm. As you compare lights, you may also want to consider the lights that are better for a certain firearm. For example, if you are looking for the best tactical light for AR15 rifles, you will find that three of the top recommended brands are SureFire, Streamlight and Inforce.
Know the expected battery life of a light before you buy it and the type of batteries it uses. Most tactical lights are designed to allow for quick battery replacement, so be sure to keep spare batteries on hand. Some take standard alkaline batteries or disposable lithium batteries. There are also rechargeable lithium ion batteries and integrated rechargeable batteries. Both tend to be a little more expensive and require care when charging. However, they tend to have long lifespans.
Which Weapon Light Is Right for You?
If you are new to mounted weapon lights for home defense, take some time to browse our products. We offer trustworthy brands that are known for reliability and durability, such as Streamlight, SureFire, Inforce and others. One of the most popular and highest quality weapon lights available now are made by Cloud Defensive, which we carry a large inventory of in store. We also sell night sights, red dots and other optics. Once you know the size and type of mount you need to use or the maximum size you can use, it is easier to compare your options and find the products that fit your preferences.
Picking the right mounted light can seem overwhelming in some cases. Although you can spend time reading forums to learn about what others like, you will find a wide variety of opinions and recommendations. The key idea to remember is that you cannot defend yourself if you cannot see clearly. Therefore, your goal should be to properly illuminate the room and a potential assailant. A high-quality, reliable light that is your preferred brightness and beam style is a good choice for you, as long as it is easy for you to turn on when it is mounted and does not interfere with you confidently and properly handling your weapon.
Weapon mounted lights are important for home defense, but what about when you are our of your house at night? Check out our article about handheld flashlights, their role in self defense, and how to incorporate them into your everyday carry(EDC) setup.