Defense in Low Light Close Quarters
A Tactical Flashlight Solution 2.0
There are a number of considerations when shooting in low-light conditions. First of all, as with any combat situation, things will not go exactly as the buffed and tattooed YouTube celebrity instructor demonstrated. Your laser will fail, you will not have both feet firmly planted on the ground with 80% of your weight on the balls of your feet and you will not be “running” with all of your “kit.”. In reality, you will have peed your pants, you will be falling backwards with a terrible pain in your pinky finger while shooting one-handed. Sounds and sights will be distorted and stuff will kinda suck.
Having said this, today I want to share some considerations for low light shooting. The flashlight industry has provided us with incredible high-lumen lights and this is wonderful in some circumstances. I was not happy with anything the tactical industry had to offer, so I invented my own light. More on that later, but let’s first look at low light shooting and searching issues.
I divide those of us that are interested in personal protection into a couple categories and further subcategories. Those that are “serious” attend at least 2 trainings each year, practice with firearms at least 2 hours every week, practice hand to hand combatives at least 3 hours each week and have quality gear, though probably not the latest and greatest bluetooth espresso attachment for their $7,500 AR.
Then there are “most of us.” We have a few guns, we workout really hard for a couple days each January and we spend $85 on the latest and greatest IWB holster for the gun we rarely carry. We have not trained Pulzikas-style, and we are not disciplined enough to do 10 minutes of dry fire practice each evening. We are the 95% and while we know we should do more, we don’t. Shame on us.
Physiological reactions to combat.
For those of us that are not battle-hardened, there are certain things that are likely to happen when we are engaged in real battle. Terry Vaughan talked about his British special forces group “taking a battle crap” before heading into a mission. This is because the human mind focusses muscles, organs etc where they are needed. In a fight, upper body strength, honed hearing and sight are more important than bladder or bowel control. We lose our “fine motor skills” and fancy thinking.
An example is remembering that each push of the flashlight button means a different thing. First push is for bright light, second push is for dimmer light and third push is for strobe. Maybe a 4th gives a solid red light? In a stress situation, most of us will not remember to push the proper number of times to have the dim light option while we search, then when we see bad guy with a knife running at us, switch to strobe to disorient him, then after we double tap his center mass and he is on the ground to change our light to solid high beam. Whatever your light system – keep it simple!
I wish I had one more hand
Most flashlight solutions require one hand to hold and activate the light. This makes it difficult to perform other tasks like turning door knobs, grabbing wrists etc. Having a ring-attachment like the Switchback is a good solution, though it does have other drawbacks. It isn’t a perfect solution, but acceptable. The most popular flashlight holding techniques all require the shooter’s support hand grip to be diminished by 30% or more.
A wonderful partial solution is a weapon-mounted light. This allows the properly gripped pistol to be fired while maintaining that same grip. Two big problems are that these lights are typically very bright (not good for searching) and not everything that needs to be illuminated needs to have a gun pointed at it. While a supplemental dim light for searching is necessary, having a weapon mounted light it a good idea!
Pupil constriction and dilation
I have mentioned that a flashlight should not be too bright. Why? The pupil constricts when bright light circumstances, and the smaller that the pupil constricts with a bright light, the longer it takes to bounce back and allow “night vision” to return. When searching a building, a light should be activated to illuminate a slice of the area, then the light turned off as you move to a new location. Each time you turn the light on, your eyes adjust to the light, then when it is turned off, your eyes have to return to “night vision.” For this reason, a 10 lumen light is better than a 1,100 lumen light when searching close areas. There will still be a delay in dilation, however .3 second is better than 5 seconds.
There must be a better way!
I examined the orientation of a shooter’s hands on a properly gripped pistol and examined how to have a flashlight pointing downrange without having to change the grip. I also knew that the light could not be attached to the pistol, because I would sometimes need to point it in a different direction than my muzzle. I also needed it to be “hands free” so that if I needed to open a door, grab someone or perform some other task, the light would not drop out of my hands.
Details and purchase information coming March 2019…