Lights on carry guns; wise ?

Is it possible that you might find yourself in a situation where there is no or low light and you need to use your pistol? Of course the answer to that is yes, almost anything is possible. Does that mean we should all have a light on our carry pistol? Possibly. Let’s look at the advantages versus the disadvantages to make our decision.

Advantages of lights on a carry gun

More accurate in low light conditions.

The most obvious reason to carry a light on your pistol is that in low light conditions, it will allow your aim to be much more accurate which will result in more shots on target.

Many people routinely carry a flashlight daily for purposes other than defending themselves. This is a very good practice as the flashlight can be used as a weapon light in a pinch.

Not only can you see your target much better you can also see your sights. Although instinctive shooting, which is the art of shooting with no sights, is probably what you will use when the adrenaline is flowing, having visible sights is definitely a plus in any situation. A light gives you this advantage.

Temporarily blinds your attacker.

Another super advantage a pistol light can give you in low light is that a good bright one, 800 lumens or more, will temporarily blind your attacker and you become invisible – he can’t see you. This is about as close as you can come to cloaking like the invisible man.

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Confirms your target

Believe it or not, there are plenty of instances in low light situations where the wrong person has been shot because the shooter made an assumption and it was the wrong one. In stressful situations like this without a light, like in your home at night in the dark, you may be forced to make a quick decision.

Have the equipment to make sure it’s the right one. An example would be a family member coming home very late at night when this is not expected to happen.

This is not a good situation and is exactly why I recommend that all home protection pistols should be equipped with lights mounted on the pic rail. This will ensure that the light is with the pistol at all times. We’ll get more into the right type of light below.

Using a hand held flashlight in a home protection situation is conceivable but not in a carry situation on the street. In the latter situation you should be focused on drawing and presenting your weapon. You won’t have time to fumble around looking for a flashlight.

Relying on a hand held flashlight in one hand and a pistol in the other for home protection will mean you have to shoot with one hand. Try shooting at the range with one hand.

Either your strong or weak hand alone will yield much less accurate shots. Not something that is desirable when you are responsible for every shot that leaves your pistol and your loved ones are inside the home.

Negatives of lights on carry guns

You may never need it Most instances where a concealed carry pistol was used occur within a distance of 7 yards in well or fairly well lighted areas. Unless you are a cpp or planning on going in to dark buildings or alley ways in search of armed bad guys, your normal carrier will never need a light.

Lights add bulk

Bulk is a bad thing in “concealed” carry. It makes your pistol harder to conceal and takes away your largest advantage – surprise. A bulkier pistol is also harder and slower to draw from a concealed position.

You probably won’t have time to use the light.

Defensive situations happen quickly. All of your focus will be on ending the threat and you will be looking at the source of that threat, the attacker. You probably won’t think about using a light unless you are in the dark, in which case you won’t see the threat coming anyway. Stay out of dark situations when you are in public.

Specialized holster

You will need to find a special holster to accomodate the light and your pistol. It of course will be larger and bulkier and although availability is improving, they are not that easy to find.

Not illegal, but won’t help in court

If you are forced to defend yourself with your carry pistol, usually one of the first things that happens is the police take custody of your firearm. If your pistol is highly customized with many accessories it shows that you are an enthusiast.

That is not illegal either but could give whoever is making the decision on your justification for defending yourself a reason to believe that you might have been over zealous in your decision.

I am not a lawyer and this is not intended to be legal advice. I am just saying a person who has used a stock pistol in self defense is more likely to have less legal trouble afterward than a person who used a highly customized pistol.

Gives away your position

Having a pistol light on in a dark room in a self defense situation gives the bad guy a nice brightly lit point of aim. Not good when you are trying to use the element of surprise.

This can be overcome by using light that can be operated with 1 finger, usually the trigger finger, and immediately goes off when released. Some lights also come with a strobe effect that is supposed to confuse the bad guy. I’ve never used a strobed in a real life situation but I can see how it would have that effect in a dark room.

Does a pistol light make sense on a carry gun?

In my opinion, a pistol light does not make sense on a civilian carry gun but I wouldn’t be without one on my home protection pistol. In a SHTF situation, or any offensive situation you might find yourself in, a pistol light begins to make perfect sense.

Everyone should have a pistol equipped with a light for home protection or in the car where legal for an unexpected emergency. But having a light on your EDC carry gun a lot of times is just not practical and will probably never be needed.

For the purposes I have discussed above, I have several pistol lights in my collection. When identifying the perfect light there are only 3 requirements. It should have the ability to be operated with one finger without breaking your grip, it should be as bright as possible, and it should be compact.

Why not just carry a hand held flashlight?

Some people do every day carry hand held flashlights and for good reason. They can be used very effectively for a lot of different tasks. I always keep one handy in my car and at home and use them both often.

I don’t carry it every day as a part of my self defense system because as mentioned above, I don’t plan on being in the dark in public. Unless you are planning to be on the offensive, I just don’t see the need to carry one. My carry equipment consists only of my holster, pistol, an extra mag, and a knife.


Keep your EDC pistol simple with highly visible sights or a low profile red dot. It should be fast to draw, present, and aim. If you are in the dark and know your life is being threatened, run and get to a place of safety as fast as possible.

Without a doubt you should add a light to your home protection pistol and your car pistol if you state allows this. If you are faced with a threat in either of these situations you could have the time and the room to use a light productively.

If you are going to use a handheld light for EDC make sure you practice holding and shooting with it before you need it for real. It takes a little coordination to accomplish correctly.