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. porkchop6209

    I’m blind as a bat so I could really use a copy of this book, if for nothing more than to beat them off of me with it if they get too close.

  2. randoid

    Yes indeed. Holding light to illuminate his own firearm is the biggest problem. Some would also argue that he is holding the light directly in front of himself making himself a target.

  3. prfsr1

    Many tactical errors in the pic: 1. flashlight is behind the gun with the gun blocking the light, 2. flashlight is blocking the gun sites, 3. flashlight should be away from the shooter’s head

  4. larrymac1

    Since he is on the range I find no fault with his handling of the light. However good practice makes perfect and he should probably operate as if there is a true “bad guy” in front of him. That is why it is called the “Practice Range”.

    The lady in picture ‘1’ appears to be doing all things right except for where to point the light. However I have to take in consideration that this is a demo photo and the ‘burgler’ probably doesn’t want his real identity identified with being a bad guy.

    Over all they are just being ‘polically correct’.

  5. rwballca

    The subject has the light directly in front of his body, a shot at the light would hit his torso; he is illuminating his own hand and weapon – there may be another bad guy unseen who can lunge for the gun. Can’t tell in a still photo if the light is always on or if the subject is using the thumb on cap switch to turn the light on and off. Light does not appear centered on the perp’s eyes.

  6. dialtone

    He’s holding the light directly in front of himself.

    Some would say it’s not a good idea to extend your arm out holding the gun. It’s too easy a taget to swipe away.

    Also, he’s standing with a bright light source behind his location.

  7. john c

    I see three tactical errors and room for improved technique.
    1. He is lighting up his own weapon hand,which in addition to not only revealing his weapon, but his hand and weapon is partially blocking the effective beam.
    2. He is being backlit by a light source from behind and silhouetting himself to the bad guy.
    3.His weapon is too far out in front,it could be taken. It should be held in close ready.
    4. While there are many light holding techniques depending on the situation;including high overhead (FBI)index,neck index, Rogers/Surfire etc. It is considered a more stable shooting platform with either a two hand hold on both weapon and light or in the case of neck index, the support hand, arm, and elbow is tucked in tight to the chest providing a more controlled and stable position.

  8. ekeith2000

    By holding the light behind his weapon he’s showing the perp exactly where his gun is and where it’s pointed.
    Also, he’s pronating his wrist, shot placement and ability to stay on target will be compromised. Use that weak hand to support your strong hand so that recovery of the target after the shot will be shorter.

  9. kpalm79

    I see two errors. 1) He is lighting himself up (hand hold weapon). 2) Most would say it is not good to have the light directly in front of you as it presents the best target for the bad guy.