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        INFORCE Blog

        Why are Pistol Lights Becoming More and More Popular?

        Why are Pistol Lights Becoming More and More Popular?

        “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. 

        An early 20th century revolver with a Seely Light attached

        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.

        An American tunnel rat soldier with his special suppressed revolver and weapon light combo

        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.

        Mk23 MOD 0 USSOCOM pistol

        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.

        Practical Uses of Flashlights for Self Defense

        Practical Uses of Flashlights for Self Defense

        A flashlight can be used for more than just illumination. With enough candelas, they can be turned into viable self-defense tools. Notice how I use “candela” and not “lumen.” Lumens on a flashlight measure the amount of light, but candelas measure a light’s intensity. Take this into consideration: the average fluorescent light bulb has 2,000 lumens while an INFORCE Wild1 has 500. While anyone can stare up at a fluorescent lamp and daydream about getting out of work early, nobody would want to look directly into the lens of a Wild1, and not just because it would be attached to a pistol. A fluorescent lamp’s intensity hovers at around 130 – 140 candelas, while a Wild1 has 5,000 candelas of blinding power. 

        Flashlights with high enough intensity can be used to deter any threat, including ferocious predators. For example, when hiker Jiji Oh went on what she thought was going to be a stress-relieving outdoor journey in the mountains of Steamboat Springs in Colorado, what started as a self-care journey ended up being a fight for her life. Lost in the wilderness for four days, she survived at night by scaring away predators with her flashlight. Thankfully for Jiji, she found a pair of fishermen at their “secret fishing spot” and was taken safely to civilization. 

        Likewise, in Nederland, Colorado, a family dog let out of the house in the middle of the night on a bathroom break was attacked by a mountain lion. The dog’s owners were able to scare away the mountain lion by making loud noises and shining the strobe of a powerful flashlight on it. The confused mountain lion had never experienced anything like a strobe before and decided it would be better to release the dog and walk away. The dog suffered several lacerations from the attack but is otherwise fine. 

        In an urban environment, your flashlight is more likely to be used against human threats rather than animal ones. Statistically speaking, the average person is more likely to find themselves knocking back a few cold ones at a bar than staring down a cougar in the wilderness. A tactical flashlight is not seen by many as a weapon, and bouncers will most likely let you pass as opposed to a guy with a pocketknife. In the same bar, you’re very likely to encounter someone drunk and belligerent. 

        In a self-defense scenario, the objective is not necessarily to incapacitate your opponent, but to remove yourself from the scene as fast as you can. There is no such thing as dishonor in retreat if it means you stay alive. In the absence of pepper spray, a flashlight can be used to temporarily disorient a threat before running away. Not only would it blind your opponent, but unlike pepper spray you would not be in danger of hurting others around you – or yourself. 

        Some argue that the flashlight can be used like a kubotan – a small stick, usually the size of a human palm – used by some as a self-defense keychain. The issue with this way of thinking is that many kubotan techniques require hours of training which ordinary people don’t usually have. 

        According to its proponents, the kubotan is not a “gimmick” but a practical self-defense tool capable of doing everything from blocking kicks and punches to incapacitating threats by applying force to pressure points. While a trained kubotan user can execute these techniques thanks to repetition and muscle memory, an untrained man on the street would be highly likely to fumble in a life-or-death situation. In fact, the official kubotan technique manual specifically states that no one should carry a kubotan without training. 

        The comparison between a tactical flashlight and a kubotan is fair since both are approximately the same size and made of durable rigid material like hard impact plastic or aircraft grade aluminum. The only real difference is the tactical flashlight helps you see in the dark. 

        In its simplest form, the kubotan can be used to strike at an aggressor’s face, chest, temple, or extremities. The problem is this would require the kubotan user to get up close enough to strike his or her assailant. Once again, if your objective is to run away, getting within grappling range of your assailant is generally a bad idea. 

        On the other hand, someone following you in the dead of the night will be temporarily blinded with a 12,000-candela blast from an INFORCE TFx from as far away as eight to ten feet; especially if the light is shined directly into his face. A flashlight is also a great tool for identifying who might be sneaking into your room, especially if your first reaction is to reach for your nightstand weapon. 

        If your room opens and you start blasting away in complete darkness, when you turn on the lights, there will be a chance you could kill a loved one. Reaching for a flashlight first allows you to both disorient an attack and see your opponent. 

        5 Holsters for your Pistol-Flashlight Combo

        5 Holsters for your Pistol-Flashlight Combo

        Any gun owner who owns a pistol with a flashlight attachment will know the pain of looking for a compatible holster. Since weapons have to fit into their holsters like tailored suits, once an attachment like a laser or a light is added, whatever holster it once called home becomes a useless piece of kydex or leather. Fortunately, INFORCE has done the legwork and found several different holster companies that can accommodate your new pistol and flashlight combo.

        1. Practicality: CrossBreed LDS 2.0 System ($99.95)

        CrossBreed’s LDS 2.0 holster with Accomplice Magazine Carrier can accommodate a wide variety of firearm and flashlight combinations. Meant to be worn inside the waistband, CrossBreed touts this as a comfortable, adjustable EDC holster. The Accomplice Magazine Carrier can be attached to the holster piece and features adjustable retention, an ambidextrous design, and an adjustable cant angle.

        CrossBreed LDS 2.0 System

        2. Variety: Safariland holsters (price varies)

        The fact that Safariland sports not one but several holsters compatible with INFORCE lights says something about the versatility of their product line. Safariland holsters feature a variety of safety features unique to this brand such as the SLS (Self Locking System), which uses a rotating hood to protect the weapon from unwanted takeaways as well as the ALS (Automatic Locking System) which retains the firearm in the holster until it is released by the user’s thumb pushing a locking lever, allowing for a smooth, natural-feeling draw (see image). A complete list of all Safariland’s compatible holsters is located here.

        Safariland holster

        3. Vehicle Carry: Hornady RAPiD Vehicle Safe (Available at Scheels for $249.99)

        While not exactly a holster, Hornady’s RAPid is a side-console gun safe designed solely for your vehicle. Accessible only by a user with an RFID wristband, key fob or the correct PIN, the RAPiD is perfect for any parent who wants to carry in their vehicle. With the RAPiD’s security system, there’s no need to worry about a curious child reaching for the weapon and causing an accident.

        Hornady RAPiD Vehicle Safe

        4. Customizability: ANR Designs ($69.99 - $98.99)

        INFORCE's holster of choice, ANR holsters are made from kydex to stand up to the rigors of intense activities like competition shooting. They come in a variety of custom molds and patterns for any style or model of semi-automatic firearm you need. INFORCE has an available holster for the Glock 19/17/34 and Wild2, but a wider array of options is available on the ANR website.

        ANR holster

        5. Modularity: Insane Kydex (price varies)

        Offering an insane (pun intended) variety of holster types beyond ordinary IWB and OWB options, Insane Kydex caters to everyone from competition shooters and law enforcement to casual enthusiasts and collectors. Their holsters are tailored to every individual customer with a wide range of options for pistol, light and optic compatibility. Capable of housing any INFORCE light, Insane Kydex's holsters are known for their color options, which vary from the tacticool to the tacti-crazy.

        Insane Holsters

        We hope you find this selection of holsters for OWB and IWB carry helpful. What are your thoughts on your favorite pistol/light holster combo? Tell us in the comments below.

        What is a Tactical Flashlight?

        What is a Tactical Flashlight?

        Simply put, a flashlight is a handheld portable lighting device.  It puts photons where you point and may even be mounted on a weapon.

        A tactical flashlight, on the other hand, has a greater lumen and candela output than an ordinary flashlight. They are usually smaller and much more powerful than what you may think of as a traditional flashlight and are meant to take a fair amount of abuse.

        Materials and features

        One of the requirements of a good flashlight is its ability to withstand harsh conditions. Most handhelds in use today are constructed of aluminum or Nylon 6, a knurling of some sort on the body, and have a rear click switch that offers constant on and momentary modes. A parabolic reflector allows for a beam pattern that produces a bright hotspot for distance and noticeable side spill to illuminate a large peripheral area.  Quality flashlights will use a white LED and measure their light emissions through Kelvin (K).  A rating of 5000K is equivalent to direct sunlight and is optimum when bright illumination is needed.  A more detailed explanation of the Kelvin color temperature can be found here.

        Lumens and Candela

        Lumens are a measurement that tells you the total amount of light emitting from the LED.  It is important to note that the lumen number does not correlate to what you may see at a distance from the focused beam once the LED is placed into a reflector or any other type of optic. Candela can be described as the amount of light that is emitted in a certain direction.  Typical modern flashlights use a parabolic reflector but there are many other types of optics that may be used such as Fresnel lens, convex lens, or Total Internal Reflection (TIR) lens. Modern high-performance flashlights usually have a lumen measurement from 500 to 1000 lumens and a candela from 25,000 all the way up to 60,000 or higher while utility flashlights have brightness levels anywhere from 25 to 100 lumens and very low candela.

        Batteries and battery life

        Lights producing a high number of lumens require CR 123a or rechargeable Lithium-Ion batteries, which are more efficient at delivering energy than a typical AA or other alkaline battery. However, because of the power consumption a high-powered flashlight uses they may only last up to 2 hours on its highest settings. In contrast, a regular flashlight which typically only has an on-off switch, can usually last ten hours or longer on regular alkaline batteries.

        Ratings

        Professional grade flashlights typically have IP (Ingress Protection) ratings, which indicate how well-protected a device is from water and in some cases, it defines how impervious it is to solid objects such as dust.  Ingress Protection ratings begin with the letters IP followed by one or two numbers.  The first number tells you the level of ingress of a solid object and the second letter dictates how impervious it is to water.  Some flashlights may even have an IP68, which is highest IP rating for both dust and water resistance. A more detailed explanation of IP ratings can be found here 

        Users

        Besides Law Enforcement, Military, and armed citizens, tactical flashlights are usually seen in the hands of search and rescue workers, survivalists, mechanics, outdoorsmen and others who value their high intensity beams and ruggedness. The once rare tactical light is so commonplace and affordable today that it has by and large taken the place of the regular flashlight for home use. This is especially true because most will not bother buying low-lumen flashlights simply because everyone has phones that do just as good of a job as a regular non-tactical flashlight from just a few years ago. Many tactical lights on the market today are equipped with the strobe function, which is meant for either signaling or self-defense, something the designers of typical flashlights are not concerned about.

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