Inside Gun Digest Books Blog

3 Tips for Handheld Tactical Lights (& a Book Giveaway)


Last week, we talked about ways to effectively use a flashlight for self defense, personal protection and home defense, and the fact that there are ways to use a light that can get you hurt. Scott Wagner, author of Own the Night: Selection and Use of Tactical Lights & Laser Sights, offers the following tips for using a handheld light in personal and home defense:

Tip #1: Use the light sparingly. Leaving your light in constant-on mode makes you an easy target to shoot at.

Tip #2: Don’t hold the flashlight directly in front of you. When we talk about a light being presented to the bad guy, he can see nothing else and it becomes his likely target to shoot at. Wagner asks, would you rather have the bullet hit your hand/wrist/arm, or your face?

Tip #3: If you plan to use a handheld light along with a firearm for protection, practice shooting your gun one-handed.

The photo of the home intruder illustrates an example of bad technique. According to Wagner, the bright central beam should be aimed directly at the suspect’s face to effectively disrupt his dark-adaptive vision.

Last week, readers were quick to point out this error, as well as several other important factors related to home defense. While the light in the photo is not weapon-mounted (it’s a dark image and hard to see), a handgun has been presented, which certainly ups the stakes in this interaction.

If you’d like to read more about the issues surrounding use of firearms for personal protection, check out the Gun Digest Book of Concealed Carry by concealed carry expert Massad Ayoob.

To read more from Wagner about tactical use of handheld flashlights, weapon-mounted lights, and laser sights, click here to get your copy of Own the Night – a $29.99 value, on sale now for only $9.99! – at the Gun Digest Store.


For a chance to win a free copy of Own the Night, post a comment below indicating what, if any, tactical error is occurring in the image of the target shooter. Or, as always, you can just say that you’d like to win the book.

Entries will be accepted until midnight Sunday (March 18, 2012) and we’ll announce the winner Monday morning (March 19).

One entry per person, please.
Entries accepted until 11:59 pm Central Time Sunday, Mar. 18, 2012.
Winner will be selected at random and announced Monday, Mar. 19, 2012.


No purchase necessary to enter or win.
A purchase will not increase your chances of winning.
Offered only to legal residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia (“U.S.”), aged 18 years or older.

1. ELIGIBILITY: Open to legal U.S. residents who are 18 years of age or older. Employees, officers and directors of F+W Media, Inc. (“Sponsor”), its subsidiaries, affiliates, advertising and

40 thoughts on “3 Tips for Handheld Tactical Lights (& a Book Giveaway)

  1. frym

    He is lighting up the gun for all to see which no doubt is also putting a lot of glare on the sights, and he is holding it in front of his face, possible making the face his target.

  2. JJP161

    On the bright side, he is shinning it in the eyes of the bad guy, distorting his night vision. But the shooter is holding the light in front of his face, which the bad guy is going to aim for the light, also can’t tell from the picture but he should just use the momentary on to to spot the BG and distort and disorient him, lastly he shinning the light on his shooting hand, ruining his sight picture, won’t be able to see the front sight and letting the BG use his hand as target and see where the weapon is.

  3. ducky

    Shooter’s light is behind the weapon, illuminating it and reflecting brightness back into the eyes, which will impair vision of the target. The hand holding the light could be employed in one of several ways to support the shooting hand, which would also have the benefit of locking the light into better alignment with the sights. Thanks for the chance.

  4. Michael Edwards

    I agree with Skeece on all accounts. The young unmannered children (15-30 years if age,) are not getting the kind of weapons training I received as a MARINE and even as a young hunter. I come from a long line of Cherokee, my grandfather would have me rack him all over hell and highwater. I do not hunt anymore due to severe wounds to my legs. I do collect old and new guns. I have two gun cases with guns standing in the corners of them also. Gun tilted WRONG, light right in front of u wrong, backlighting your sights WRONG. The guy in the picture is dead. Never new anybody who could get a sight picture with a gun laying on its side.

  5. auroravet

    He didn’t read the article and is holding the flashlight directly in front of him in constant “on” instead of intermittent on function. I also feel like illuminating your handgun is a dreadful mistake.

  6. bikesrususa

    Shooter is illuminating himself. Also holding light in in a position to receive fire to the facial area. It also appears that the majority of the light beam is directed away from the bad guys eyes which would cause a loss of effectiveness.

  7. Dando

    The hand holding the light should be under and on the other side of the gun hand. The forearm of the gun hand should be resting on the forearm of the light hand. The light will then be beyond shooter’s body silhouette.

  8. Skeeve

    The shooter is illuminating his sights, not the target [or only incidentally the target.] He’ll be able to see his rear sights well, but the excessive light on his backsight will make it difficult to pick up the front sight or target [essentially, he’s selectively blinding himself.]