The idea that all gunfights happen at high noon is a creation of Hollywood. Gunfights can happen anywhere and at anytime. When they occur at night, he who casts the light often makes the hits. A light on your gun is one solution; however, this presents its own problems. For concealed carry, you are adding bulk to your weapon and making it hard to find a holster. Another issue is if you are using a gun mounted light you are pointing your gun at everything that you are pointing your flashlight at, which isn’t always safe.
A flashlight is a common piece of every EDC, and if it’s part of yours you should learn how to combine your flashlight with your handgun and rifle to be an effective force. Here are 5 techniques for mixing a flashlight with your weapon.
The Harries technique is one of the older methods of using a handgun and a flashlight. It’s not the most supportive technique but was created in a time when police flashlights were massive. Those big Maglites ruled the world and companies like Surefire weren’t producing powerful lights at a small size.
If you are wielding a more considerable light, or have smaller hands, this technique is for you. It starts with the non-firing the hand holding the flashlight in an icepick grip. This means the lens is on the same side of your hand as your pinky. With the gun in your dominant hand, extended outwards in an aiming position you’ll then run your flashlight holding hand UNDER your wrist.
Going under prevents you from flagging yourself, which is pretty critical. The wrist holding your handgun should rest on top of the wrist holding your flashlight. Then the wrist holding your flashlight should bend upwards bringing the back of both hands together. Apply pressure and attempt to keep the pressure on both hands. This technique will help stabilize the weapon.
The downside to this technique is, of course, only having one hand on your gun. Anyone who’s ever shot a handgun knows that two hands are better than one. It is great for folks with small hands, or people issued large flashlights.
The Surefire Technique is my favorite low light handgun technique. It provides outstanding support to both the gun and the hand. This technique can only be used with smaller, more modern flashlights. A big old Maglite would render this technique difficult.
It starts with you assuming a grip on the handgun. Position your thumb slightly over the magazine catch and your middle finger right below that. With the non-firing hand, grip the flashlight between the forefinger and middle finger with the end cap switch positioned at the bottom of your thumb.
You then take the light and press it into the little space between the middle finger and thumb of your firing hand. The flashlight should not be touching the grip of your handgun, but merely riding on the edges of your fingers. The thumb of your non-firing hand then rests on top of your flashlight. You want the light to shine in the same direction the barrel is pointing.
This technique helps you support both the gun and the light and doesn’t fatigue you. There is also plenty of support for the handgun. This technique is somewhat tricky to learn and does require some practice to excel with. It also only works for modern lights, unless you have monster sized hands.
The FBI Technique is an interesting one and is easy to use. It does offer numerous advantages and disadvantages. The FBI Technique involves holding the flashlight in the nondominant hand away from the body. Typically at head height or higher. Usually, you can hold the light with your arm at a 90-degree angle and the light held in an icepick grip.
Your gun hand is extended outwards, and you are in a search mode. Have the gun held at the same plane as your head allows you to scan naturally with the light. As you turn your body and head the light naturally turns with you.
The main benefit for this hold is you are not marking where you really are. With the light held out to left and away from you, you are less likely to be hit in an ambush by a watching attacker. Your body is mostly away from the light.
The FBI Technique works well with both large and small lights, and an icepick grip isn’t mandatory, just the most comfortable option. The downside to this style is fatigue. Your flashlight and gun arm are both going to get tired much quicker than other methods. The FBI technique is good to use for short periods of time, or when an attack is more than likely going to occur.
The Ayoob technique is best for new shooters. It’s straightforward and safe to use and requires little training to be effective. Something can also be said for its simplicity. In stressful situations, more straightforward techniques are much easier to use, even for well-trained shooters. The Ayoob technique has you holding your light in a fencing or sword grip. Imagine your flashlight like its a sword and you are pointing it directly at your opponent.
This technique was created by firearms instructor and Law Enforcement Officer Massad Ayoob. The Ayoob hold is a little dated, but still useful. It can be used with flashlights big and small and is a favorite for many due to its ease of use.
The light will be in your nonfiring hand and extended in front of you. You’ll bring your flashlight hand to your gun hand and press them together. Your thumbs will be a contact point, and you’ll be pushing them together. This tension will create support and help you steady the gun.
The downsides of this technique are the ability to operate the flashlight. If your flashlight has a side mounted switch, you are good. If it has an end cap switch you’ll have difficulty activating it. It’s certainly something you’d need to train your way through.
The Rifle Technique
There is only one real way to wield a rifle and a handheld flashlight. A rifle requires two hands to utilize and using a handheld flashlight effectively is somewhat tricky, but not impossible. You are going to use your nondominant hand to hold the flashlight. With the flashlight against your palm, reach forward and grip the fore end of the rifle.
You’ll be pinning the flashlight between the handguard and your palm. This gives you a slightly compromised grip, but an effective means to wield both a rifle and semi-auto shotgun. The compromised grip isn’t a significant issue when it comes to shooting in the dark. You are unlikely to be making long-range shots in the dark with nothing more than a flashlight lighting the way. This means at close range the slightly less supported grip won’t be a significant issue.
This technique works best with thinner M-LOK and Keymod handguards. The same can be said for thinner polymer grips.
If your rifle is sporting a vertical grip, you can use the Surefire technique we mentioned above. This does allow for easier weapon manipulation, and the grip is more stable in my opinion. These methods will enable you to avoid casting heavy shadows on the area in front of you.
Mixing a handheld flashlight with a gun can be clumsy. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you are going to have a rough time of it. These techniques are there to help make this a smooth and easy process, as well as a safe and effective one. The key to any of these techniques is training. Get out there and practice with them. The methods listed here are all tools. Put them in the toolbox and pull them out when needed. Sometimes you need the FBI option, and others times the Surefire method. Knowing them all means having the right tools all the time.