Lasers, Lights, or Au Natural?

Accessories are a little-considered topic among gun owners. Firearms consumers will spend hours– days– searching about guns. Looking for product reviews, handling dozens of firearms, consulting the knowledge pool.

Relatively few of us make such an informed decision when it comes to what goes on the rail.

Many folks advocate for lasers. They are not without their uses, but I refuse to use one except as a rare training tool. The issue you run into is that people start looking for their laser pointer instead of using their sights or learning how to naturally aim the firearm. I found myself doing this within minutes of installing a laser, and it’s a jarring experience to bring a laser to bear on a target– only to find that the laser’s not working, or is no longer calibrated, or is washed out by the sun or dark clothing. As a backup tool or firing from an unorthodox position it can be useful, but it should not be something you use when conventional sights are available.

Most of you know I’m a firm proponent of having a weapon-mounted light. WMLs are, in my opinion, one of the single best insurance policies you can have against negligent homicide in a self-defense situation. There are plenty of reports of fathers and mothers accidentally killing family members who startled them, snuck into the house, or otherwise surprised them. For the most part, a light on the firearm could have done a great deal to help with Positive Identification– PID in tactical parlance. You might not always have a flashlight on you, but worst case, a bright light on a firearm can help you be sure you’re not firing on a drunk family member coming home late.

Don’t cheap out on your WML. I have had good luck with the Viridian C5 series as a lightweight, inexpensive light, with the added bonus that it will kick on when you draw your firearm. Some people strongly dislike the use of strobes as a defensive tool, but having played with it in dry fire I can tell you that a strobe light is a blindingly effective way to hugely neutralize someone who is aggressing rapidly. Particularly if you use an X-pattern evasion on your draw.

For ‘serious’ use, the industry standard really is the Surefire X300 series. They’re indestructible and run like tops. For something more covert, the Surefire XC1 is a good option as well– I run an Inforce WPL on my carbines, and I’ve had a TLR-1 that’s been heavily abused and still runs fantastically.

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