When you live around or above the 45th parallel, like me, it is dark ALOT. I always recommend my students carry some sort of a tactical light on their person when packing a handgun. I know there are some companies out there who make some pretty sweet weapons mounted lights (Insight, NightOps etc.) but is a weapon mounted light really a good alternative to a handheld flashlight?

Now, some people like to argue that weapon mounted lights give away your position to the “enemy”. I don’t like to get involved in this debate because I have feelings both ways on this one. My #1 rule is to never give up the tactical advantage and the element of surprise (if you have it). I’ll leave it at that. However, there is actually a whole different reason I prefer to carry a handheld flashlight.

I usually recommend and carry a Surefire 6P as opposed to a weapon mounted light. The reason for this is noted above in my table: “Wherever you point the light, there also, the gun is pointed”.  Now different states have different laws, but in many states there are laws about pointing a firearm at another person without due cause. I know in Michigan it can mean be a misdemeanor, jail time and a fine. Same thing goes for OR and WA. What happens is, people get up because they hear a bump in their shed in the middle of the night. They grab their gun (with their weapon-mounted light) and head out there to check it out. Because the light is on the gun,  they end up pointing the gun at the mischief maker in order to see him. If the intruder isn’t doing anything you can legally shoot him for (check your state’s laws on this one), you have just unlawfully pointed a firearm at another person. Same goes for concealed carry.

This doesn’t mean a weapon-mounted light is a bad idea if used with proper caution. It just might be a good idea to check out your state’s laws before actually using it.