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Posted: 6/3/2009 11:10:00 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/14/2016 12:29:53 PM EDT by M4builder]
Using a White Light on Defensive Carbines

Whenever the subject of a light mounted on a home defense AR/M4 comes up, there are always those who will say, "It allows the bad-guy to see you coming.", "You will be pointing your weapon at non-targets when you use it.", and "It will give the bad-guy a point to shoot at."
These are accurate statements...for those who have no instruction on how to properly employ weapon lights. Well, let us try to rectify that.

For the purpose of this write-up, let's set some definitions;
Spot- The concentrated area of light at the center of the beam from the light.
Corona - The diffuse area of the beam outside the spot.
Splash - The light reflected off objects that illuminates areas not covered by the spot or corona.
Strobing - The act of using very short bursts from the light.
Flash blindness - The temporary blindness caused by a bright light making the pupil constrict & the eye to "see" the afterimage of the light source after it is removed.

Selection
Get a reliable light that produces at least 60 lumen of light. If you get a high lumen light (over 120 lumen) get a filter to preserve your vision.


1. Get the right light. Lights that are under powered will reduce your ability to induce flash blindness.
a. Low lumen lights reduce the amount of splash you have to illuminate a room or area for identification of threats.
b. Weak lights that have diffuse spots will limit your range if needed outdoors.
c. Well concentrated spots will be more effective when blinding opponents.
2. Too much? Lights that are overpowered will cause you to experience flash blindness & loss of night vision when the spot strikes a light colored object like a wall.
a. Using a filter on a high lumen light will allow use indoors at night, while still allowing you to have good range if needed outside the home.
b. "Pop open" filters work best/fastest, but cheap ones can accidentally be opened if bumped or snagged. Buy wisely.
3. Pick a strong one. Get a light that will withstand the recoil of the weapon it is mounted to.




Mounting
The mounting position should be such that it is ergonomic - accessed naturally & quickly when needed. ARs are perfect platforms for this.


1. All mounts are not created equal. The light should be mounted in such a way as to allow you to activate it momentarily by using your thumb on a tail cap switch as on Surefire P series lights, or the rocker switch on lights like the the X300, or by use of a 'tape' switch.
a. The mount should be secure, for obvious reasons.
b. Metal mounts are better than plastic.
c. Quick Detach (QD) mounts are good for keeping weight down when operating in rural/open areas in daylight. (just don't forget to keep the light with you)
2. Consider your carry method when mounting the light. It is important that the light not be dragging/snagging your gear or body when the weapon is slung.
a. This can cause the light to be activated in daylight hours depleting the batteries, and prevent you from getting the weapon into action quickly enough if it snags.
b. It can be uncomfortable/bruising to have your weapon light hitting your body during prolonged carry against your body.
I mount mine on the right side of the weapon for these reasons.







Activation
When using a light mounted on your weapon, it should not be placed in a 'constant on' state. This would be the way the opponent would be able to use your light to locate you. (Hollywood is not the real world) The ability to momentarily activate the light is critical.


1. Use a reliable switch.
a. Tape switches can be troublesome. They have cords that can become entangled, and can lead to accidental activation when bumped, or by gripping the component tightly due to the stresses of a lethal encounter. They also have a higher failure rate than tail cap switches. Use at your own discretion.
b. Tail cap switches should be set as to allow easy activation, but not with too light of a push, as this will cause the same issues seen with the tape switch.
c. The 'click' type switch, available from Surefire & standard on the Brinkman maxxfire (cheap guys know this one) are able to be momentarily activated with a light push, and 'clicked' to constant on with a bit more of a push. I like this arrangement.
d. Rocker switches (if placed correctly) are great.

Employment
This is where the rubber meets the road.


1. Keep it short.
a. Keep the light off unless you are using it 'right now', it only takes a few milliseconds of light to check a room or area. (Strobing)
b. Use the splash to check an indoor area, not the spot. This will help preserve your night vision.
c. Splash from the floor will be plenty to see, so a low ready carry will suffice for checking your home.
d. Outdoors, the spot is a good tool for search, but keep the strobes short.
2. Don't be a lighthouse.
a. Stay on the move. Sitting on the "X" after a strobe will attract projectiles to your body.
b. Move in other than a predictable line. If you are moving and strobing at predictable times & along predictable lines, your opponent can set up to fire on you at the next activation of your light.
c. Be moving in one direction when you activate your light, and immediately change direction after deactivating.
d. Change where the spot hits as it relates to your body. As you move, orient the spot 2 o'clock - 9 o'clock - 12 o'clock..etc...randomly placing the spot around your position. This disorients threats as to your direction of travel, and still allows use of the splash to search.
e. When you pie a corner, strobe - observe - move. You don't want a bullet from an opponent just beyond your vision coming through a wall to you...and stay back from the opening, this is a much safer approach, and keeps you out of wrestling matches.
3. Going offensive.
a. If you see a possible threat using the splash, keep moving while coming to the high ready position. Orient the light to the possible threat's last known location, and activate. If the corona of the light is on the possible threat, re-orient to the face and identify whether this is a shoot or no-shoot situation.
b. Using the splash/corona will allow you to quickly determine if it is a family member/non-threat and prevent you from covering them with your muzzle.
c. Even if the threat dives out of the corona or spot, they will be experiencing flash blindness for more than a few moments. This will severely reduce their effectiveness with a weapon.
d. Once exposed to the light, the opponents eyes will be useless in the dark for a bit, allowing you to strobe & move to a good firing location. This prevents you from sending rounds through the target into friendly occupied space.
e. Move to fire very quickly, as the threat may begin firing wildly due to panic from being blinded in a lethal encounter.

Accessories
What else is there to add?


1. Navigation lights. Low powered LEDs can be useful for moving in uncharted territory, especially outdoors.
a. If you use them, keep 'em low and be aware of your splash.
b. Don't keep them on unless you absolutely need them (Lighthouse).
2. Chem-Lights. Bright enough, long enough, to be useful.
a. Good to chuck into areas you don't trust, or want to keep lit.
b. Crack & throw on the move.
c. Don't put them behind you. This can compromise your position.
3. Lasers. That's the spot.
a. Same rules of activation & mounting as the light.
b. Good against targets beyond "point shooting" range.
c. Can be a deterrent when the opponent realizes he is "Xed". (I wouldn't depend on this)
d. Should be used with a light, not instead of a light.


Recap

1. Have light enough, but not too much.
2. Make sure your rig is reliable, naturally usable, and mounted well.
3. Strobe-move-strobe-move. Change direction. Keep 'em guessing. Move your light. Don't be a lighthouse.
4. Use splash & corona to make IDs. This will be nice for your loved ones.
5. Blind that sucker. It makes what you have to do safer (for you & yours).
6. Don't go off half cocked. ID your people, and react quickly to threats.


If you have a situation where you need to defend your home and the lives of those residing in it, a light mounted on an AR/M4 type Carbine can be the most useful tool in your box. The weapon is reliable, has excellent retention capability (especially when using a sling), and its moderate penetration & lethality make it the choice of most professionals who must take the fight indoors. Having a light, and the instruction to use it properly, mounted to the AR/M4, will be a force multiplier, and increase your chances of stopping a threat, while providing increased insurance that your loved ones will not be targeted by you as you perform their defense.

The choice of weapon is only one factor in home defense. Training, familiarity, and practice must be included in your family defense plan. Your family members should be included in preparation for your home's defense. Your wife should be trained as well as you are. Your children should have designated locations to hide. Someone should be moving to defend your children. Someone should be calling for assistance. Signals to Identify, Warn, & announce 'all clear' should be discussed. A location outside the home should be decided on as a rally point, just in case you & yours must "abandon ship". Above all, knowledge & preparation must be the base of your defense.





[EDIT] 8-14-2016
I'm getting more & more impressed with the LED lights of today.
When I first wrote this, they were weak as hell. Now, these LEDs from Cree are like daylight with a switch.

I got a Streamlight TLR-1 HL, 800 lumens. Wouldn't want to hit a white wall with my eyes adjusted to the darkness, but for out door use, and creating flash blindness, you can't beat it on a handgun.



M4builder
El Dorado KS.
Link Posted: 6/3/2009 11:15:12 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/29/2012 8:30:16 PM EDT by FMJ]
I don't care about trying  to blind the BG
ID and shoot



Very nice write up / topic
Link Posted: 6/3/2009 11:18:08 AM EDT
Nicely done, this should be tacked
Link Posted: 6/3/2009 11:23:49 AM EDT
Good synopsis.
Link Posted: 6/3/2009 11:28:06 AM EDT
Excellent write up. Thank you very much.
Link Posted: 6/3/2009 11:33:46 AM EDT
Just what I needed- thanks for the writeup.
Link Posted: 6/3/2009 11:44:24 AM EDT
Beautiful writeup, just beautiful.

You have managed to condense an entire low-light carbine class into five minutes of reading. Thank you

I vote for a tack.

The importance of strobing, avoiding the compulsion to lighthouse, and movement cannot be overstated.

One of the homework assignments I've had to do was to take an UNLOADED carbine and employ the principles we learned on a dry run through our own homes. You'd be amazed at how differently your home looks in the dark, and how many nooks and crannies exist to hide behind. Playing flashlight tag with your kids is an eye opener too, particularly when you overlay the game with the low-light concepts you've learned in class

Posted Via AR15.Com Mobile
Link Posted: 6/3/2009 11:45:39 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Captains1911:
Nicely done, this should be tacked


+1
Link Posted: 6/3/2009 11:50:02 AM EDT
Excellent,

Mounting location whether 3-6 or 9 oclock is very important, you need to practice some real world, low or no light shooting practice, with barriers on both strong and weak side to see if your setup really works.
Link Posted: 6/3/2009 1:02:27 PM EDT
Thanks for writing that up, it filled in gaps in my knowledge that I didn't even know I had.

I was a long-time believer that a light would just show the bad guy where I was at. I just recently got a clue that it doesn't have to be that way, so now I'm shopping for a light. This article comes at the perfect time for me.
Link Posted: 6/3/2009 1:10:38 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Daisycutter123:
Originally Posted By Captains1911:
Nicely done, this should be tacked


+1


+100 Great Info!
Link Posted: 6/3/2009 2:47:07 PM EDT
Thanks guys. Not sure if it's worth a tack though.
Link Posted: 6/3/2009 2:48:21 PM EDT
Tagged for being a good read.
Link Posted: 6/3/2009 2:52:09 PM EDT
Originally Posted By M4builder:
Thanks guys. Not sure if it's worth a tack though.


I think it is worth it, maybe in the "Lights & Lasers" section anyway considering how many people post questions about this stuff all the time.
Link Posted: 6/3/2009 3:14:50 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Captains1911:
Nicely done, this should be tacked


+1,  In the market for a light and this answers everything I did not know.  Great job.  Thanks
Link Posted: 6/3/2009 3:19:40 PM EDT
Originally Posted By M4builder:
Thanks guys. Not sure if it's worth a tack though.

I think it is.

There is a ton of bogus information floating around about using a white light as a fighting tool.

I'm not trying to be melodramatic, but your tutorial on the proper use of a white light could save a reader's life in a defensive situation. It could also prevent the senseless tragedy of killing a loved one.

Any guide that gets people thinking is a good thing, and a welcome thing. There are many who bolt stuff onto their weapons without a lot of thought in how they would actually employ their gear in a fight. As you know, you can't simply bolt on a Surefire and pronounce your carbine GTG. We see lots of carbine pics of lights mounted in ways that would be difficult at best for the user to activate. When asked about it, I've seen people reply that they didn't want the logo upside down

So yeah, a tack would be good

Link Posted: 6/3/2009 3:24:37 PM EDT
Originally Posted By CJan_NH:
Originally Posted By M4builder:
Thanks guys. Not sure if it's worth a tack though.

I think it is.

There is a ton of bogus information floating around about using a white light as a fighting tool.

I'm not trying to be melodramatic, but your tutorial on the proper use of a white light could save a reader's life in a defensive situation. It could also prevent the senseless tragedy of killing a loved one.

Any guide that gets people thinking is a good thing, and a welcome thing. There are many who bolt stuff onto their weapons without a lot of thought in how they would actually employ their gear in a fight. As you know, you can't simply bolt on a Surefire and pronounce your carbine GTG. We see lots of carbine pics of lights mounted in ways that would be difficult at best for the user to activate. When asked about it, I've seen people reply that they didn't want the logo upside down

So yeah, a tack would be good




I agree. This thread is worth a tack, or at least needs to be posted to one of the existing tacked threads. Maybe it could be tacked in the lights/lasers forum if nothing else.


Link Posted: 6/3/2009 3:39:09 PM EDT
Wow, That is one AMAZING write up!  Well worth a tac and could possibly save peoples
lives just by arming them with intelligence.  

In the past, I would have been a lighthouse / moving target.  Won't happen again thanks to
you!!  I really appreciate your time.
Link Posted: 6/3/2009 3:49:20 PM EDT
Excellent write up.



All the tactics, (at least in my humble opinion) are sound and spot on.
Link Posted: 6/3/2009 3:52:24 PM EDT
Well done.  A good read.
Link Posted: 6/3/2009 3:52:28 PM EDT
well written...
Link Posted: 6/3/2009 4:14:29 PM EDT
Very nice.  Thanks!  
Link Posted: 6/3/2009 4:19:19 PM EDT
tack in the lights forum
Link Posted: 6/3/2009 4:22:15 PM EDT
Excellent write up!
Link Posted: 6/3/2009 4:24:08 PM EDT
Originally Posted By FMJ:
I dont care about try to blind the BG
ID and shoot

FORGOT

Very nice write up / topic


If you have your weapon aimed at the BG, and your light is on, he will be blind.
Now, you realize your wife or child is behind him.
You can't take the shot, but at least he is limited in his effectiveness until you can re-orient your position so that your family member is out of the impact zone.

....on a tangent
Once, I lit up a burglar who had just ran from the back of a house. Turned out to be a drop-dead knock-out of a red headed 23 year old girl. She was unarmed. Suppressing the urge to fire on instinct until assessing the situation can have mental benefits later.
Link Posted: 6/3/2009 4:27:44 PM EDT
Good job dear.
Link Posted: 6/3/2009 4:31:28 PM EDT
nice write-up... perhaps some people would like an addendum on light color choices/uses? =)
Link Posted: 6/3/2009 4:45:17 PM EDT
I use Green & Blue. It gives me plenty of definition, and the two colors allow my wife & I to ID each other by the light we put out. The eye is approx 4X as sensetive to green light as compared to red light.
When M4builder Jr. gets older he will use the red filter (he's 9 now), and training is progressing well.





Link Posted: 6/3/2009 7:38:14 PM EDT
+1 and a vote for a Tack
Link Posted: 6/4/2009 1:04:40 AM EDT
Nice write up. Tack it.
Link Posted: 6/4/2009 7:49:36 AM EDT
If anyone would give these methods a try, I'd like to get some feed-back as to whether or not you find them effective for you.

I find that in smaller homes these methods are less effective because you have less room to move & strobe. A small 2 bedroom home may require a different approach. I'm working on a "Confined space" bag of tricks adapted from these tried & tested methods.
Link Posted: 6/4/2009 7:55:48 AM EDT
I think this is a lot of good info. This is tack worthy.
Link Posted: 6/5/2009 12:37:02 AM EDT
Definitely tack worthy.  Great guide!
Link Posted: 6/5/2009 8:23:22 AM EDT




Originally Posted By Infant_Tree:

Definitely tack worthy. Great guide!




Thanks for using your first post to comment on this.
Link Posted: 6/5/2009 9:44:47 AM EDT
Link Posted: 6/5/2009 4:29:03 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 6/5/2009 5:50:33 PM EDT by M4builder]
That is why I use the phrase "Limited in his effectiveness" in stead of "ineffective".

Anyone can get someone to pop them in the eyes with their weapon light, and then evaluate how well they could continue the fight.
There is no hand held light that will blind a BG into ineffectiveness, the best it will do it cost him the details of where you are. So if you lock your light on (this is not part of the tutorial) and are painting a target, you must be ready to fire instantly (I'd have to agree with this, but only because you don't have a choice if you leave your light activated, and aren't moving).




Because as soon as you lock your light on, you are a target and the BG may not have seen the Surefire or Gladius strobe ad so he doesn't realize he should be curled into a little ball screaming "Teh light it burns!" He might just blaze away at your light, or charge your light. (this is exactly what the tutorial is trying to prevent)


a. If you see a possible threat using the splash, keep moving while coming to the high ready position. Orient the light to the possible threat's last known location, and activate. If the corona of the light is on the possible threat, re-orient to the face and identify whether this is a shoot or no-shoot situation.

b. Using the splash/corona will allow you to quickly determine if it is a family member/non-threat and prevent you from covering them with your muzzle.

c. Even if the threat dives out of the corona or spot, they will be experiencing flash blindness for more than a few moments. This will severely reduce their effectiveness with a weapon.

d. Once exposed to the light, the opponents eyes will be useless in the dark for a bit, allowing you to strobe & move to a good firing location. This prevents you from sending rounds through the target into friendly occupied space.


Re-read the tutorial, the BG should be seeing an afterimage while you are moving, not your light. If you Lock your light on, you will be allowing him to track your location.



A better example would be to place a camera strobe on a moving target that you don't have a fix on already, like in your example. You know where the target is already on a square range.

In a 360 degree world, your momentary strobe would not be in a known location from behind, would be off by the time the target turns, and you would not be in the same location as you activated the light. The next thing the BG sees of your light should be a fast flash from a new location, followed by a muzzle flash milliseconds later.
Link Posted: 6/5/2009 7:42:38 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 6/5/2009 7:45:49 PM EDT by NVBGear]
Link Posted: 6/5/2009 7:50:02 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 6/5/2009 7:50:23 PM EDT by M4builder]
My intrest is in the 5% you disagree with. Input to this is what I'm seeking.

I've instructed this course a few times now, and am looking for any ideas to consider. No way of doing things is set in stone, and if I can add to what is being taught, it will only improve the quality of the course.
Link Posted: 6/5/2009 8:24:05 PM EDT
Link Posted: 6/5/2009 9:11:17 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 6/6/2009 7:33:03 AM EDT by M4builder]
Couldn't agree more.



"Blinding" is often taken as no vision, where here it means reduced vision ability. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flash_blindness - is what I'm referring to in the tutorial.

As for over 120 lumen lights & filters, use at your own risk. Personally, I use G2 & 9P Surefires which are 65 & 105 lumens respectively. I still use filters on them to preserve my vision. How you place (clock) the hinge of the filter can make a difference on how easy it is to use, & how easily you can accidentally open it on a door frame when using it as a support. This is one reason to stay back from "fatal funnels".

I'm still using incandescent instead of LEDs. LED lights are more durable, but too diffuse IMO. I just let the user decide on that one.

I should have mentioned bulk of the light in the article, too many folks do want the "death ray" lights. I've had them show up with 500 lumen M6 Guardians cobbled on to their AR that you could cook a turkey with. 6 123 batteries get pretty heavy during a 10 hour day night of training.

60-120 lumen is all anyone should ever need.
Link Posted: 6/6/2009 12:09:34 AM EDT
CAN A MOD TACK THIS
Link Posted: 6/6/2009 11:14:35 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 6/8/2009 8:23:04 AM EDT by NVBGear]
Link Posted: 6/6/2009 1:35:19 PM EDT
Good write up.
Link Posted: 6/6/2009 7:22:17 PM EDT
I agree with the simple and sensible tactics in this write up. Some of the discussion regarding leaving the light on while illuminating a BG is missing the point from a LE perspective. If you are searching a house that has obvious signs of forced entry, and the only thing you know is, no one is supposed to be home, more than likely the person you find in that house will NOT need to be shot. When, in the midst of the search (and with more of the house left to search) you find the burgler you have to keep him lit up. You have to check him for weapons and begin giving him verbal orders to hit the floor and surrender. You cannot do this with your light turned off. You will not be able to see what he is doing, you have given up your position and will continue to give it up because of the very loud voice commands you are issuing. Sometimes we look at low light tactics with the only outcome being... Shots fired. The vast majority of the time you will never shoot someone. Sorry to say for my non-LE friends but, if you find someone in your home you cannot just open fire. At least not in California, you must have a threat to life. If the burglar in your home decides to give up and not start shooting, you will have to keep a light on him. If you don't he now has the opportunity to escape or attack you hand-to-hand. Don't confuse military tactics (which almost always end in shots fired) with civilian or LE tactics which have a primary purpose of protecting life first.

I agree with the examples of shooting at a light at night. I have done drill similar to this with airsoft and the light or the hand holding the light gets shot alot. There is no way around it, we have to use light at night and it will give away our position. We can minimize this with some of the tactics in this write up but, we have to use light.

Matt
Link Posted: 6/6/2009 9:11:19 PM EDT




Originally Posted By msloshooter:

I agree with the simple and sensible tactics in this write up. Some of the discussion regarding leaving the light on while illuminating a BG is missing the point from a LE perspective. If you are searching a house that has obvious signs of forced entry, and the only thing you know is, no one is supposed to be home, more than likely the person you find in that house will NOT need to be shot. When, in the midst of the search (and with more of the house left to search) you find the burglar you have to keep him lit up. You have to check him for weapons and begin giving him verbal orders to hit the floor and surrender. You cannot do this with your light turned off. You will not be able to see what he is doing, you have given up your position and will continue to give it up because of the very loud voice commands you are issuing. Sometimes we look at low light tactics with the only outcome being... Shots fired. The vast majority of the time you will never shoot someone. Sorry to say for my non-LE friends but, if you find someone in your home you cannot just open fire. At least not in California, you must have a threat to life. If the burglar in your home decides to give up and not start shooting, you will have to keep a light on him. If you don't he now has the opportunity to escape or attack you hand-to-hand. Don't confuse military tactics (which almost always end in shots fired) with civilian or LE tactics which have a primary purpose of protecting life first.



I agree with the examples of shooting at a light at night. I have done drill similar to this with airsoft and the light or the hand holding the light gets shot alot. There is no way around it, we have to use light at night and it will give away our position. We can minimize this with some of the tactics in this write up but, we have to use light.



Matt




In LE operations, you should not be performing house searches alone, or using a weapon mounted light to provide illumination for a body search & restraining. A second officer should be providing illumination & cover during apprehension. To do otherwise, will lead to serious weapon retention issues. If a burglar is not presenting a lethal threat, keeping him lit up is not an issue while giving verbal commands to prone out, and holding him there until a retention officer arrives.



This tutorial comes from 14 years of LE work I have done, 6.5 of which were on a tactical team. It is more targeted to HD than LE operations though.

Link Posted: 6/7/2009 7:02:51 PM EDT
I vote (again) for this to be tacked. I have been wanting to get a light for my rig for quite some time now and this write up has given me a ton of info to think about.
Link Posted: 6/8/2009 4:53:05 AM EDT
Yeah. Tack it.

I'm biased, M4builder is my husband
Link Posted: 6/8/2009 3:05:10 PM EDT
Originally Posted By 101st_shooter:
I'm biased, M4builder is my husband

You have my deepest, most heartfelt sympathy
















Kidding!









Link Posted: 6/8/2009 3:23:24 PM EDT
Tag for review later.
Link Posted: 6/8/2009 3:54:45 PM EDT
Originally Posted By 101st_shooter:
Yeah. Tack it.

I'm biased, M4builder is my husband


I'd do as she says.



Link Posted: 6/8/2009 7:32:57 PM EDT
I haven't been around this site for too long but I am just wondering what the requirements are for something being tacked???????
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