Why You Also Need a Handheld Light

By Richard Johnson
Posted in #Gear
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Why You Also Need a Handheld Light

May 20th, 2021

4:03 runtime

A tactical weaponlight can be an important part of your defensive firearm set-up. However, a weaponlight has a narrow role to play and should never be substituted for a handheld flashlight.

Springfield Armory XDS-9 Mod.2 and flashlights
When paired with the Springfield Armory XDS-9 Mod.2, a quality tactical flashlight can help you address a potential threat to you and your family.

A handheld flashlight is a companion to a weaponlight – one that should be with you anytime you carry your firearm. In fact, I argue that the handheld flashlight is more important than a weapon-mounted light because it can safely identify potential threats, handle a variety of mundane situations and still complete the weaponlight’s mission.

The Right Tool

In a self-defense context, you must identify a potential attacker and confirm that he or she reasonably poses an immediate and imminent threat to your life before your use of a firearm is morally or legally acceptable. In low-light and nighttime conditions, proper identification requires artificial light.

Streamlight Strion LED HL
A tailcap switch is a preferred method of activation on a tactical flashlight. Shown here is the Streamlight Strion LED HL.

While a weaponlight can provide the light you need to identify a potential threat, it also requires you to point your firearm at the unknown person solely to determine who they are.

Streamlight ProTac HL
The Streamlight ProTac HL is an excellent example of a flashlight the offers reliability at a reasonable cost.

The fundamental rules of gun safety have served the firearms community well. Being in fear from an unknown person doesn’t give us a good excuse to dismiss those rules. You have a legal duty to identify the threat and have the ability to articulate why deadly force is needed prior to using such force. A hand-held light allows us to identify a person as either a threat or non-threat without pointing a deadly weapon at them.

Instinctive Reaction

The fundamental rules of gun safety tell us not to point a firearm at anything we’re not willing to destroy and to be sure of our target. If you’ve not already identified a lethal threat, you do the same thing when pointing a gun with a mounted weaponlight at someone.

Surefire G2X Tactical flashlight
Surefire is well known for its rugged lights. The G2X Tactical is a simple design that is both affordable and well suited for self-defense work.

Human physiology tells us that humans will curl their fingers when startled. Being surprised – especially when under the stress of thinking an intruder is in your home – can cause your finger to pull the trigger. Even if your finger is off the trigger, stress and movement can cause your finger to slip and that reflexive action may lead to a discharge.

Identify your target with flashlight
You need a flashlight that will throw enough light for you to clearly identify a potential threat. Is it a burglar or your teenage son sneaking into the house?

The more rules we disregard, the greater the likelihood of a tragic error. Gun owners are one of the most responsible groups of citizens in the world. By and large, we know and follow the reasonable rules of gun safety. A hand held flashlight helps us to maintain our responsibility for safe gun handling.


You need a separate flashlight so you can properly illuminate areas without having to point your firearm. Otherwise, you may be the part of a tragic headline.

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Springfield Armory® recommends you seek qualified and competent training from a certified instructor prior to handling any firearm and be sure to read your owner’s manual. These articles and videos are considered to be suggestions and not recommendations from Springfield Armory. The views and opinions expressed on this website are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Springfield Armory.

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Richard Johnson

Richard Johnson

Having made many odd choices in his youth, Richard was left with two career choices: aerospace engineer or cop. After failing his second year of chemistry, Richard pursued a law enforcement career where understanding covalent bonds was not a requirement for success. Along the way, Richard discovered a passion for writing. Consequently, he hung up his uniform and now publishes GunsHolstersAndGear.com where he reviews firearms and other shooting gear to feed his frequently annoyed family.

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