Sunday, May 19, 2013
A weapon light is a simple affair with a flashlight duct tapped to the barrel on the cheap side, and a thousand dollar laser/LED rail mounted system on the high end. In the middle is a nice bright LED light that easily mounts to a rail or other attachment point on a rifle, pistol or shotgun.
After running a Surefire 300 Ultra weapon light on both a G19 and an AR15, I have to say it far exceeds my expectations. I played around with some other weapon lights but this light is a surprisingly effective extension of a firearm across several perspectives.
The Surefire, like most weapon lights of this form factor grabbed hold of my Glock G4 G19 like it was designed specifically for the gun. The rail clamps slammed shut in a rock solid perfect fit. On an AR, it clings fiercely to a short rail I mounted on my Magpul handguard. Again, a smooth integrated look and feel.
The reason I am focusing on the 300 Ultra is because it raised the bar in terms of light output compared to similar sized, priced, and powered weapon lights. There are many similar or greater powered lights, but none that I know of that are in the compact body of 300 Ultra. So basically, a 500 lumen light is now available for a pistol leading to a over-lighting potential. Rarely is the amount of light on a rifle weapon light questioned, but fire out half a K of lumens from a gun designed to shoot between 0 and 25 yards and the switchboard lights up with criticism that too much light is dangerous.
There are a couple ways to judge the brightness of a weapon light. For starters, is there too much light? Is that even possible? Of course it is, but in this case, unless you are staring into your own weapon light, or hit a mirror at point blank, the amount of light all good for many reasons, and an integrated light makes it even better. But keep in mind this light is only 500 lumens. There are many far brighter lights out there, so while high lumens for a small weapon light, it is still just a flashlight. You certainly could not drive at night using only this light. At least not over 15mph anyway.
The reality is that once you crank on a weapon light of any flavor, you kiss your night vision goodbye. And once gone, you then need the light to see anything, so the winner here is more light.
The second consideration is that when someone is on the receiving end of this light, it helps prevent the good guy from being an easy target. I tried it myself. When facing down this light, you cannot see squat! Just a huge ball of light far larger than a person. And that's if you have good eyes. Add any maladies to the eyes and it only gets worse with flair etc. But remember that lesser lights make nice targets for the enemy because they don’t blind the foe, just provide a bright bullseye!
Third, If you cannot see, you should not shoot. Lasers are great within their high level of limitations, but in the dark, you cannot see with a laser, only point with one so you have to have light. And lots of it!
Forth, the light and gun are a combo. Pointing one points the other. Some think this is not ideal given that you have to point the muzzle towards anything in order to see it. To me, that's the point! I can imagine any number of reasons why you would only have one hand available. Got a crying toddler in the other, injury, operating windows, doors car keys, peering through small openings, sneaking around corners, clinging to something with one hand, dropping your stuff in a fall or fight (first you gotta find your flashlight before you can look for your gun), and always when under stress, having only one thing to locate and operate is much less than half what it takes to find and operate two things.
4.5, Personally, I think much of the concern of having too much light is because experience with a flashlight often requires doing other tasks with a flashlight in hand. The close work under bright lights is a real problem. Trying to read a map under 500 lumens is impossible until you move the light far enough away, or putting a few fingers over the light (don't get burned), but I'd much rather have that problem then squinting into shadows. Remember, you are buying a weapons light not a map reading light. If you let your priorities get hijacked by failures that are secondary to the core purpose of the device, then perhaps you don't fully understand what it is you are buying. Just a little tough love from Mr. Practical.
Fifth, if you have to hit someone with the light, it frees up your other hand for defense while preserving you ability use your last resort if necessary and with the same hand.
And finally, take this baby outdoors and you've got an easy hundred feet or two of brightly lit up territory to survey. The lower lumen light might still be usable in confined urban areas, but beyond that, you need a car headlight or a Surefire x300 Ultra!
My only complaint about this light is how easy you can pulse the light by a soft touch pushing the switch in (not up or down). I find I can easily do this accidentally and when removing the gun from a case so I could imagine unintentionally giving away my position through a accidental bright flash.
In the end, I am slowly envisioning my Glock 19 becoming a multitool. Perhaps there is a new cottage industry that would offer “add ons” for the Glock to provide a knife and other creative survival necessities built into the gun. Grab one thing and you have 75% of what you need.