Gun lights like everything with fire arms equipment in the past ten years have seen a huge leap in technology. In 2002, I was issued my first purpose built gun light which was a Surefire Millennium series light. I remember the first time I used it at night in Afghanistan, I was utterly amazed at how powerful it was when I illuminated a pile of rocks about 100 meters out from the turret of a HMMV. I was in awe of its compact size, a mere 6 inches long and lighter than a pound. We had come a long way from taping lights to our guns for night raids and ambushes. Looking back now it seems like the Stone Age. Now days, everything about that gun light is antiquated. It had an incandescent bulb; it ran on three BA123 lithium batteries. It got hot enough to melt a plastic 30 or so millimeter Butler Creek scope cover I put on it to prevent white light accidental discharges, when I accidentally hit the steady on button for God knows how long, but the damn thing worked and it worked well and never failed. Today’s state of the art lights are running LED bulbs, which can project crazy lumen counts of white light and with a twist of a bezel turn into an infra red flood light using just a single BA123 or even double AA battery that will run for weeks. All of those features in a two to three inch aluminum or polymer case weighing only a few ounces.
You can spend a ton of time and money on lights, and I have to admit it, all the advances do sometimes get me to salivating, but at heart I am a simple creature, and it is very hard to get me to buy new equipment when I still have very serviceable and capable equipment on hand, especially if it is Surefire gear. One of the many good things about Surefire lights is that there is a ton of accessories out there that can enhance, easily upgrade or configure any existing equipment you may possess to fit just about any mission or application you can think of. With a little research and ingenuity you can keep that old light up to date with existing technology.
So why am I blabbing away and wasting your time with anecdotes instead of giving you the nuts and bolts of gun lights? Well hopefully those anecdotes will give you a frame of reference for the rather simplistic approach to weapons lights.
First, you need to simply understand that the higher the lumen counts the better. Combine that with a compact design that is light weight and streamlined. Then figure out the best and most comfortable control platform for your individual shooting style, and lastly train with the system. The training should be methodical, start on the flat range getting used to simply turning the light on and off. Then work on using the light in a momentary mode while identifying a target. Once you are comfortable with that particular point of performance, add in your live fire and work your marksmanship skills. As you gain proficiency with your marksmanship while using a light, and then add in moving and shooting.
Using a light in a low light situation is a double edged sword. Not only are you illuminating your threat, but you are also identifying yourself to that threat. So, moving after you tip your hand illuminating someone is an imperative point of performance in a gunfight. For those of you who have trained with me before, you can easily see how basic shooting can easily become a complex mental process. Once again, you will see that thinking through your problem is just as important and good marksmanship.
With this information, you are ready to start adding lights to your guns. I have added a power point of some field modifications I made to my light system while on my last trip down range that may prove useful. As you will see I have tried to make it as simple and used friendly as I can with what I had on hand. Good luck and see you at the range
“Shooting makes better people, period!”.
By: Shane Iversen