“Crime and vice generally require darkness for prowling,” said Mahatma Gandhi. “They disappear when light plays on them.” These words have always been true for criminals since the dawn of civilization. Even though Gandhi was shot with a Beretta M1934 in broad daylight, most shootings tend to occur under the cover of darkness.
Therefore, it should follow that after the invention of the flashlight, people who carried every day would have the forethought to strap a light onto their pistols. However, we cannot discuss how the modern pistol light rose in popularity without discussing how its predecessors failed. In 1911, George A. Seely invented the first hand-held battery-operated pistol/light combo. It was given the practical but unimaginative name “Night Sight for Firearms.” A technological marvel for its time, its recoil dampening system allowed a flashlight to be mounted to the frame of a revolver without breaking when it was fired.
Regardless of how practical Mr. Seely thought this was, his invention was not widely adopted by the general public. This was probably because the light was never mass produced and would have been made by hand for every order, making it expensive and impractical.
Flashlights eventually came into mass production, becoming sturdier and brighter. Certain people once again saw the practicality of using them with pistols. This especially became true during the Vietnam War, when American GIs and Marines had to play a deadly game of cat and mouse with the Viet Cong in their deep, dark tunnel networks with low ceilings. The Americans deployed tunnel rats to smoke the VC out of their hidey holes. These men, typically 5’5” or shorter, were trained to crawl into the darkness of enemy tunnels and engage the enemy with only a knife, pistol and flashlight.
Most times, the M1911 was used in tandem with an angle-headed flashlight for these underground operations. Unfortunately, not only did this loadout leave the tunnel rat with no free hands, but the M1911’s high caliber round was ear-shattering in the confined spaces of a VC tunnel.
When a unit had the resources, it could use a purpose-built .38 special revolver with a suppressor and flashlight. The idea was sound, but the execution was sloppy. This “tunnel rat special” revolver had its light mounted on the top of the weapon, eliminating its iron sights. While this was fine for the job it was meant to do, since tunnel rats would engage VC at arms-length distance, it would be absolutely useless outside of this one specific task. Once again – not something the civilian market would need.
It took several decades until the pistol flashlight took the form we see today. In 1996, Heckler & Koch released the Mark 23 MOD 0 pistol, otherwise known as the SOCOM. This 9.6 inch long handgun was suppressor-ready and equipped with a flashlight/laser combo called the Laser Aiming Module or LAM. With all its attachments, however, it tipped the scales at 5 lbs. The LAM was a well-conceived idea, but its proprietary rail rendered it useless to any weapon but the Mark 23 itself.
Picatinny rails, standardized the year before the SOCOM pistol was released, eliminated the problem of proprietary attachments forever. When the rails hit the civilian market in the mid-2000s, every company that produced firearms or firearms attachments recognized the diversity the picatinny rail offered. Some of the top pistols of the 2010s were the Sig Sauer P320, the Smith & Wesson M&P, and the VP40 – all of which were designed with integrated rail systems for underbarrel attachments.
The Picatinny made it possible for a firearms owner to mount a weapon light or laser on any compatible firearm, remove it, and mount it to any other railed firearm regardless of manufacturer if he changed his mind. This had massive appeal to consumers worldwide.
Not only that, but companies like INFORCE have developed smaller, lighter, and more powerful tactical pistol lights than anything seen in the previous decades. The lights from the INFORCE Wild series are true modern pistol lights, the culmination of decades of development in the tactical flashlight world. The INFORCE Wild lights are more compact, lightweight and powerful than anything that came before them, and with Picatinny and Universal Rail mounting for maximum compatibility, they make the perfect accessories for any modern pistol and a must-have attachment for anyone who’s serious about self-defense against criminals who hide in the cover of darkness.