Weapon-mounted flashlights have made significant strides since the days when individuals held their pistols with one hand and clunky, unwieldy baton-flashlights in their off hand. Nowadays, there exist pistol-mounted lights, rifle-mounted lights, and helmet-mounted lights, all of which are exponentially brighter than their predecessors from as recently as the 1990s. Despite these technological advancements, there remain potential pitfalls for shooters employing weapon-mounted lights that could hinder their effectiveness.
For instance, a two-point sling is incompatible with an underbarrel flashlight due to the risk of the strap accidentally wrapping around the flashlight's bulb. This could cause the strap to rebound towards the shooter, potentially blinding them and revealing their position to adversaries in the room. When considering rifle platforms with a sling, the optimal placement for your light would be on the 9 o'clock rail, assuming that the front portion of your sling is affixed to the lower part of your handguard.
The INFORCE WML, for instance, can be positioned at the 9 o'clock location due to the convenience it offers in activating its non-slip thumb switch. This configuration enables quicker transitions between the flashlight's momentary, constant, and strobe modes without compromising your grip.
Conversely, for a one-point tactical sling, a 6 o'clock mounted flashlight is feasible, especially for those employing side-mounted lasers. The 6 o'clock mount also offers an advantage when firing from behind low cover. By utilizing your bottom-mounted flashlight as a support, you not only retain control over the light and stabilize your rifle, but you also present potential assailants with a deceptive target. Generally, an individual temporarily blinded by a bright light in darkness will assume that whatever lies beneath the light represents the "center mass" and may fire at the protective cover you are concealed behind, particularly if they are aiming low.
Nonetheless, caution must be exercised to prevent the light from striking the rear side of your cover, leading to a situation analogous to a flashlight entangled by a two-point sling. The beam may ricochet back, causing night blindness. To mitigate this, it is advisable to keep your flashlight off when not actively shooting and to only activate it when you are certain it is safely positioned on cover.
Personally, I prefer mounting my light on the side of my weapon. I have affixed my weapon light to a bolt-action rifle equipped with iron sights. Activating the light not only illuminates the area in front of me but also enhances visibility of my front sight post, facilitating aiming in low-light environments due to the contrast with the dark notches of my rear sights.
For handheld lights, the most versatile technique, which eliminates the risk of bouncing the beam off a surface, is the FBI technique. This involves holding the light in your off hand at a distance from your body, creating a decoy target for potential assailants. When peering around cover, this technique is easier to control as you are acutely aware of the positioning of your hand relative to your body.
The evolution of weapon-mounted flashlights has revolutionized the tactical landscape, offering enhanced visibility and target identification in low-light scenarios. While technological advancements have brought us versatile mounting options and intuitive controls, it is crucial for users to tailor their approach to their specific equipment and tactical circumstances. By carefully considering factors such as sling type, mounting position, and engagement strategies, shooters can harness the full potential of weapon-mounted lights while minimizing the risk of self-sabotage. As the realm of firearm accessories continues to evolve, a well-informed approach to employing these tools ensures that those who rely on them remain safer and more effective in the face of adversity.