How to Install and Use a Pistol Light?

upclose installed pistol light

You’ve done your research, consulted the experts, and have finally decided on a pistol light. You placed your order, got your gear, and now you need to install it. We are here to guide you on how to install a weapon light on your favorite firearm.

Most weapon lights will use a Picatinny rail to hold the light, but some exceptions exist. For example, the TLR 6 requires you to take the light apart and install it over the trigger guard.

How To Install A Pistol Light

This guide talk specifically about how to install a light on a Picatinny rail.

There are too many different techniques for those that use other systems for us to cover them all. Luckily, they make up only 1% of weapon lights, so chances are this method will work for you.

Set-up

Step one is to ensure the gun is unloaded. This means you need to drop the magazine, rack the slide to the rear, and ensure the chamber is empty. Your hands will be near the barrel when installing the light. I suggest a visual and physical sweep on the chamber to ensure it is clear and so there are no doubts.

With most guns, you can keep the slide locked to the rear and install the light. This adds an extra layer of security.

Once that’s done, you need to take a peek at your manual. Some companies include multiple keys to fit multiple rails. Streamlight, for example, includes several small blocks to ensure the light will remain on the rail. Next, add your batteries. It’s often easier to install batteries prior to mounting the light.

Once you are properly set up with the right rail system we can begin:

The first thing we need to do is loosen the light’s attachment point. This could be a QD lever or a manual screw-style point. Once loosened, slide the light over the rail and ensure the cross bolt is positioned between a section of rail. This prevents the light from slipping, especially when faced with recoil.

unscrewing of pistol light

What’s also important is how far back the light is positioned. If the light is too far rearward, the trigger guard may interfere with the switches. Some lights are designed to fit flush with the trigger guard, and your activation method will be the main decider in how far rearward the light is mounted.

Once it’s aligned properly, check how it feels in the hand. Can you activate the light quickly and easily? In a two-handed grip, you should be able to activate the light with your trigger finger as well as the thumb of your support hand. You should be able to use the light with either hand with ease and in a comfortable manner.

Once the system is complete, apply Loctite to ensure the light is locked in place.

 

How to Use a Weapon Light

pistol light buttons upclose

Like most things that involve guns, you should get some training in with your weapon light. A reputable instructor is the best choice, but at a minimum, you need to be familiar with your light’s functions.

The standard modes on most weapon lights are “constant on” and “momentary.” “Strobe” isn’t too uncommon either. All have their place, and learning how to make them function is critical. You need to be able to activate and use the light with muscle memory and be able to do so under stress.

Controls differ between lights, and that’s why it’s important to practice with your light. Practice using the momentary setting just for a quick scan, and then shut it off. Practice utilizing the strobe and understand how it may affect you. Practice using the constant on and learn how far and how wide you can see with it indoors and outdoors.

man holding pistol with light

When using a light, it’s often best to use momentary to quickly scan an area. This keeps you from showing yourself as an easily trackable target. Once the shooting starts, constant on may be the better choice. When possible, avoid making yourself a target by using the light only when necessary.

If possible, find a night training class and get live ammo downrange using your light. When you start shooting at night, your lens is more than likely going to catch some carbon. A quick and easy way to prevent this for daytime training sessions is to apply Chapstick to the lens.

The Chapstick will catch the carbon and allow it to be easily wiped off.

Also, modern weapon lights tend to eat batteries fast, and this will require you to swap batteries after frequent use. I keep sets for training and sets for actual use separate. I’ll swap batteries between uses to ensure the batteries in the light are always good to go when they are needed.

 

Lighting Up the World

Surefire light on pistolWeapon lights are quickly becoming mainstream. Handgun lights are incredibly popular, and they are becoming even smaller in size and becoming concealed-carry-friendly. Lights are a wonderful addition to any arsenal and have their place in the concealed carry and EDC world.

 

Travis Pike
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record setting 11 months at sea. He’s trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines and the Afghan National Army. He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and teaches concealed carry classes

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