So someone called Sheriff Jim Wilson cautioned us all last week not to put flashlights on our pistols, especially if we intend to carry them concealed. He specifically warned about shooters being handicapped by the additional bulk, weight, complexity, and inability to find a holster for the combination of pistol and flashlight chosen. A flashlight on your pistol also makes it more difficult to shoot, because it changes the “balance” of the gun. A much better option, in his opinion, is to carry a separate flashlight instead and use it if necessary.
Well now! All of this came as a surprise to me, as I have been carrying a Glock model 19 with a Streamlight TLR-1 attached to it, in a Comp-Tac CTAC IWB holster, for 18 months now without issue or difficulty. The combination has been just as comfortable as a bare G19 and I find it easy to shoot well. I found his position difficult to take seriously, and wonder if he has some other motive other than taking a deliberately contrarian position in order to generate fake controversy. Oh well, here’s me taking the bait!
Taking his arguments in reverse order, the blithe suggestion that a separate handheld white light is at all a replacement for a coaxial pistol light is dangerously incorrect. If you find yourself in dire enough straits to require both a pistol and a flashlight, the pistol mounted light is the next best thing to having a third hand. All the techniques for shooting a pistol with a handheld light suck for both retaining the light and shooting well, and are absolutely impossible if you have one hand occupied with other things like opening or closing doors, holding on to a companion, fending off a blow or any of the other thousands of things to go wrong in a fight. Pistol mounted lights are a lifesaving device and this is why police departments across the nation are making them duty gear. If you ever have the opportunity to run a dark shoot house with one, you will never want to find yourself without one again.
Next is the bizarre claim that a rail light will negatively affect the “balance” of your pistol and make it harder to shoot well. This is emblematic of the nebulous, subjective, unquantifiable bullshit that permeates the professional gun writing media and has made print magazines unreadable. What is “balance” and how is placing a tiny weight under the barrel going to ruin it? You won’t find out from Sheriff Jim Wilson! On the contrary, adding weight under the barrel reduces felt recoil and muzzle rise, which will tend to reduce both split times and transitions. Either this increase in efficiency is a bad thing in Sheriff Jim Wilson’s opinion, or he doesn’t understand these effects. Neither position enhances his credibility.
Moving on, he claims that holsters for pistols with lights are hard to find. I’ll have to give him this one. Other than Armordillo Concealment, Blade Tech, Bravo Concealment, Comp Tac, Cross Breed, Crown Holsters, De Santis, Dropcrate, DSG Arms, Galco, Garrett Industries, Griffon Industries, LFI, LHS Holsters, Peters Custom, PHL Holster, PS Holsters, Raven Concealment, Safariland, Shark Tac, Sidearmor, Silver State Holsters, Talon Tactical, White Hat Holsters, and Zero Concealment, I couldn’t find anyone to offer them! If you know of someone selling holsters for pistols with mounted lights, please feel free to chime in.
Finally, the meat of the argument: Rail lights add too much bulk and weight to make them worthwhile. Obviously this has not been my experience. The Streamlight TLR-1 weighs in at 4oz with batteries. If that is too big for you, there is the Crimson Trace LightGuard which is barely 2oz and narrower than the frame of the pistol. While the TLR-1 does increase the width of the pistol, the LightGuard is so small as to be barely there. I did find the G19 more difficult to get a consistent grip on with the LightGuard attached, but people with more normal sized hands will probably have a better time.
Like I said at the beginning, I’ve been carrying my G19 with the TLR1 for over a year, every day, in a variety of outfits, and it’s never been an issue in comfort either due to size or weight. Apart from a potentially hilarious mishap involving a 5.11 instructor’s belt and a lawn chair (but that’s another post), I’ve had no problems with this rig. But I’ve always been committed to the idea that a constant companion pistol should be more comforting than comfortable. Even though the G19+TLR1 is both. For me, YMMV, FWIW, etc.
What it comes down to is that Sheriff Jim Wilson uses incorrect facts and irrelevant subjective concerns to greatly exaggerate the difficulty of, and dismiss the utility in, carrying a pistol with a rail light, merely to fill column inches. That his advice may lead citizens to ignore more efficient and effective weapon combinations that could save their lives is apparently of no concern. That’s not his problem. His only goal is racking up hits and meeting deadlines. One could write an entire blog about the failings of the paid print gun media, and this is merely one.