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Flashlights: Blinded by the Light

With or without a gun, the right light can stop crooks cold.

March 01, 2002  |  by - Also by this author

Weapon Mounted Lights

You can hold a flashlight while you hold a gun, but many flashlights and flashlight attachments now make this unnecessary by effectively making a flashlight part of the gun. It's kind of useful to be able to see who or what you're aiming at.

The type of flashlight or attachment varies, depending on the type of gun you're using. Some magazine mounts and handgun mounts work with a wide range of manufacturers' guns. For example, one TACM (Tactically Advanced Combat Mount) III mount will attach to any 1911-type gun. However, some are model specific, such as the TACM III mount only compatible with the Smith & Wesson model Sigma. This mostly depends on the gun you use and how unique it is.

TACM III "flashlight systems for firearms," from Diamond Products Tactical Flashlights, do not require gun modification or a new holster. Because the product keeps the gun and flashlight together as an integrated system, your gun's ready to use when you need it. TACM III products won't unbalance the weapon or prevent magazine changeout, both pretty important considerations when you're trying to shoot. You can find TACM III mounts to fit all manner of pistols, shotguns, long guns, and assault rifles.

SureFire offers "weapon lights"- the company's name for these products-that fit  just about any gun you can think of. The SureFire Classic System has a dedicated housing that securely attaches to the gun and uses two 123A size lithium batteries to provide either 65 lumens of light for one hour or 120 lumens of light for 20 minutes. The classic systems come with a molded slimline switch that allows you to activate the light from the pressure pad on the pistol grip and is ambidextrous for tactical needs.

Streamlight and Surefire lights mount beneath the barrel.

Innovative Illumination

Specialty lights now on the market meet needs you didn't even know you had. These lights are so useful, you might soon wonder how you lived, or worked, without them.

The Ceptor, by KDA Industries, is a hands-free flashlight that attaches to the epaulet of a uniform. This makes it convenient and safe. It is designed for use in traffic stops and includes a stroboscopic light on the rear of the device to alert traffic that there is someone outside of the car. It's powered by a rechargeable Ni-mh battery included within the flashlight.

This wide selection of Streamlight flashlights includes, from top to bottom: Scorpion, Baton Lite, Stylus 2, CuffMate, and rechargeable Ultra Stinger.

Streamlight's CuffMate solves the problem of uncuffing subjects in the dark. Now you can actually have enough visible light to uncuff them quickly and correctly. You can even check to see if the cuffs are doublelocked in the dark. The CuffMate contains an LED light that sits next to the key, so there's no fumbling with a bulky flashlight, trying to point it in the right direction without losing control of the subject. The CuffMate's special features include a swiveling keyring connector with keyring and a double-lock pin. It runs on two replaceable CR 2016 lithium batteries for 12-plus hours.

The new SL1 Survival Light from Tool Logic combines a knife, a flashlight, and an emergency whistle all in one. A white LED flashlight sits above the knife blade and works whether or not the blade is open. A twist of the barrel turns on this waterproof light, powered by three button cell batteries. To top it all off, built into the handle are a whistle and cavity for any small items.

Left, Quik-2-See. Right, TACM III.

There are also many ways to carry flashlights: keyrings, neck lanyards, carrying cases, holsters, and rings. Whichever you choose, make sure it fits the flashlight you want to carry and that you'll be able to get to it when you need it. This is especially important if you plan to use your flashlight with your gun. You don't want to be fumbling for it while someone is aiming at you. As with any important piece of equipment, it all comes down to what flashlight is most comfortable and effective for you and your job.

The Right Light

One of the great innovations in LED lights is the variety of colors now available. And this is not just an aesthetic issue. Different colored lights help complete different tasks.

Red Light. This intense color preserves night vision and can be used for signaling and map reading. Red is an internationally recognized attention color.

Orange Light. This bright light combines some of the aspects of both red and yellow lights. It doesn't disturb your night vision as much as the yellow, and illuminates things better than the red. It's great for signaling.

Yellow Light. A traditional flashlight type beam will easily project 20 to 30 feet onto an area you want to see.

Green Light. Nearly as bright as the blue, turquoise, and white lights but with a longer battery life, the green light will run up to 20 hours with one set of batteries.

Turquoise Light. The turquoise light appears slightly brighter than the blue. It is great for walking around at night. Wide angle beam lights up the whole room. The blue, turquoise, and white lights use two replaceable half-size batteries to boost light output. Because these lights use smaller batteries, the battery life is around 12-14 hours-still much longer than a regular flashlight.

Blue Light. Blue, turquoise, and white are the brightest of the Photon lights. The blue is tremendously bright and excellent for walking around. Wide-angle beam illuminates everything to the side as well as forward.

White Light. White is great for all-around use as everything you look at is viewed in full color. The narrow-angle bulb produces an incredibly bright flashlight-style beam.

Infrared Light. Used by members of the Secret Service, this Photon light creates a powerful infrared beam invisible to the naked eye. Rated at 11mW, this little light is quite a bit more powerful than your average IR illuminator. When used in conjunction with night vision equipment, it will illuminate a large area. Note: This Photon light is ONLY useful when used with night vision equipment or other equipment sensitive to infrared light.

For More Information


Diamond Products/TACM  


KDA Industries/Ceptor  

LE Technologies  



Pelican Products

PhotonMicro Light

Quik2See Flashlight Systems




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