Having your own light before engaging in a combat is incredibly important – it could make or break a situation. Light is as good as a bullet, and not having one proposes a lot of risk during battle. You can have it either mounted to your weapon or handheld; either way, you must have one, but one does not replace the purpose of the other.
Before purchasing one, you must first know its usage purpose. Saying you need to purchase one because you want a portable light is not good enough. You have to know if it’s for shooting or searching.
It goes down to weapon mounted light vs. handheld. You don’t want to find yourself pointing your weapon to your kid, or your dog, or any family member. If it’s the only light you have, you do not get your gun for your source of light.
Weapon mounted light does mean you should stop carrying a pocket light. Also, you want to have the right amount of light, not too dim nor bright. You do not want your own light to blind you when it bounces to a mirror, or window, or any reflective material.
Another consideration is the durability of the device, and whether it can withstand submission to water, shocks, heat, etc.? The look and feel of the device is another story, as well. What is the device made of?
Is it made up of solid aluminum or plastic? The device must be reliable at all times and it should not disappoint you, especially through critical times. You do not want your light flying off your weapon when you shoot. Therefore, you should look for a secure light that is intact and does not move around.
The switch must adapt to your dominant hand, either if you are left or right handed, your grip should not be compromised. You want to have your thumb or any preferred finger thick that light switch on or off with ease, especially when you are under stress and emergency situation when you just have to rely on your memory muscle.
If it’s a plus feature for you, go look for a light that has enabled momentarily and constantly, through this feature, you will be able to communicate and navigate with your partner/members. It’s also important to consider the dimension and weight of the light device, as some prefer to attach two to three segments to the handheld light which is somewhat similar to a flashlight.
Also, try to look for a light device that doesn’t need two or more batteries in it. The more battery it requires, the more it adds weight to the whole devices – and the more it weighs, the more energy you use which can affect your combat conditions.
Also, consider the type of beam you will use; but this, of course, depends on the usage purpose. As of today, there are 3 types of light beams for light devices:
In Wide-Angle Beam, also referred as Flood Beam, the light of the emitter is direct into an expanded cone-like shape light distribution throughout the beam. This outputs to more natural lighting conditions and maximizes area and peripheral illumination. But having a broad-angle illumination lowers situational awareness and target ID/acquisition capability at longer ranges.
With a spot beam, the emitter’s light is focused into a narrow slim cone. It produces the highest capacity for the brightness tool’s given lumen output, though it comes at the amount of less area/peripheral brightness at closer ranges, which reduce situational awareness in close-quarter and more confined spaces.
This type of beam is achieved by fixating an emitter’s light with either a bigger-diameter reflector or a lens that projects the light forward.
Beam with Reach and Surround Light
These non-zero-sum game beams—with both broad reach and plentiful peripheral brightness—bring the benefits of both extremes for maximum versatility.
Weapon mounted light vs. handheld light, take your pick. It’s really about the safety, comfort, and reliability of the usage. But as mentioned earlier, one’s purpose does not make up for another – you can choose one or have both.