Is a Weapon-Mounted Light Right for Your Everyday Carry?

The majority of modern handguns have a section below the barrel called a rail. Rails can be found both big and small guns and, of course, can accommodate either light or laser. Additionally, you can toss on just about anything on a rail. But generally speaking, you are limited to a light or laser.

Today, we are going to talk about carrying a handgun with a weapon light mounted on your handgun’s rail; how it works, why it works, and confront the downsides of doing so.

Why Carry a Weapon Light?

Personally, I do carry a weapon with a light, although it’s not something that is an everyday carry setup for me. I take a gun with a flashlight when I know I’m going on an overnight trip, a long day trip, or I’m going to be spending a good portion of a 24 hour day outside. I want a light because simply put: criminals don’t work banker’s hours. They are a 24-hour menace to society.

I want the ability to positively identify a target 24 hours a day, and at the same time, I want to maximize my means to control a firearm. A separate EDC light is an effective way to identify a target but requires a hand to manage it. A weapon light allows me to control the weapon, and define a target.

The Pros of Carrying a Weapon Light

It’s much more practical to utilize your weapon with rail-mounted light using one hand. Should your non-primary hand be occupied with something else, like your child, you can use your flashlight and handgun at the same time.  and you can’t do this with a hand occupied by a gun and a light.

You can maximize control of your firearm by using both hands. A rail-mounted light allows you to place both hands on your weapon and control the firearm and light. This makes the weapon easier to control, as well as provide more accurate fire. If you can avoid shooting with one hand, you are putting yourself at a distinct advantage.

A weapon light will add some weight to the front of your gun, which is good and bad. What’s good is that the weight will act as a recoil counter. The muzzle will stay a little lower as you fire.

As I’ve mentioned above, a weapon light is an excellent option for establishing positive identification attached to your weapon. Yes, you can carry a separate light and use it for the same thing, but how much slower is that?

So a potential threat appears, something serious enough to cause you to draw your weapon. Time is of the essence so drawing a gun and getting on target is a lot faster than drawing a pocket carried light and a gun and working to get both on target.

This doesn’t mean toss out your EDC light, but supplement it with a weapon light and vice versa.

Of course, there is the ability to blind your opponent, even temporarily in a quick and literal flash. This can stock an attack in and of itself. At the same time, it draws attention, which is good. This means people are likely to investigate and potentially lend aid.

A weapon light can be a very valuable tool for your concealed carry pistol, but to be fair let’s look at the cons.

The Downsides of a Weapon Light

The biggest downside is the addition of bulk to your concealed carry handgun. The majority of weapon lights are rather large. Weapon lights like the TLR 1 and Surefire X300 are big boys. They add some serious bulk to your weapon.

Although we need to mention that lights are shrinking, the TLR-7 and TLR-6 from Streamlight are excellent examples. The SIG P365 has the Foxtrot 365 which effortlessly blends into the frame of the gun for a minimal sized weapon light.

One valid criticism is that the weapon light cannot be used as an EDC light. That’s very true, but a teeny tiny EDC light isn’t exactly hard to carry alongside a weapon light. They can be dropped when things get real, and you still have a weapon light on hand.

A lot of people like to complain that it’s hard to find holsters that are light-bearing…. I find that weird, because here is one, oh and another, and here is an IWB option. What about this one? There is also this one?

Now admittedly, not every gun and weapon light combo will always have a holster for it. However, most common guns will pair with the most common lights. The market for those sporting a Steiner weapon light and a Caracal is going to be pretty low, so obviously, holster options will also be low.

Weapon Lights and You

Is a weapon light right for your everyday carry handgun? I have no idea. Are you willing to conceal a bigger than a standard gun? Are you ready to spend the extra money to obtain a light and holster for it? Do you commonly work, or play, or do anything in areas with low light?

These are questions you have to ask yourself. I personally find a weapon light to be a piece of gear I need from time to time. When I have it, I feel more secure and more capable.

What do you guys think? Let us know!

About the Author:


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 pursues a variety of firearms based hobbies.

9 thoughts on “Is a Weapon-Mounted Light Right for Your Everyday Carry?”

  1. I appreciate the article, Semper Fi.

    I’d like to add that depending on the scenario having a light fixed to your weapon may add to your risk since if your enemy is armed and unsure of your position he will fire at the light, while an EDC light or nightstand Maglite can be held away from your center mass in these unique circumstances. Not common, perhaps should be taken with a grain of salt, but I thought I’d share this consideration.

    1. Well, 1; a weapon light isn’t supposed to be turned on and left on, like a signal beacon. 2; If using an edc handheld light, (held off center) that means you are shooting one handed.

      1. I’m finding it extremely hard to find a light bearing holster. You know why? I don’t own a GLOCK. CZP10F W/Olight Pl Pro. There are only a couple of options and they are expensive. Yes it should be easy, however it is not.

        1. So we have one person speaking sense and two others making excuses. You would have to carry something seriously obscure in order to find yourself in a pickle when it comes to finding a holster for your firearm and in that case it’s on you as the purchaser. I have learned very quickly that it is important to look at the aftermarket support of a gun and look at holsters that I will plan on using to make sure I won’t be shit out of luck. As for the idea of using a handheld off center for PID…well yes you could do that if you are using a switchback or something that allows you to grip your firearm, but if you feel that it’s a situation that might go bad you shouldn’t be leaving your flashlight on as you scan for the threat. Not only that but most WML’s are capable of causing temorary blindness especially in low light conditions meaning a 500-1000 lumen light with decent candela is going to inhibit the attackers ability to accurately fight back thus further stacking the odds in your favor. People act like the light is only going to be as bright as an old Maglite or one of the crappy flashlights you buy from the store…even off a mirror the TLR-1 (not the HL had enough candela to temporarily blind me as well as cause a black spot in the center of my vision that coincidentally made seeing my front sight difficult. My Modlight OKW (680 lumen, 69,000 candela) is so bright that even the splash off a white wall is semi blinding when coming from a dark environment, and I am not even going to try and see how bad it is to get flashed with that sucker.

          If you are using a WML in a time or crisis it’s because they already know your position, or it’s because you heard a ruckus downstairs and you wanted to identify who it was, what they are holding, and what they are doing prior to you changing any sort of negative behavior they might start to exhibit.

          I get it, running scenarios in your head is hard work…and it’s easy to just use any old fashioned lame excuse in order to justify not doing something. But PID is part of being a responsible gun owner, and it’s not as if the lights turn themselves on randomly in order to give away your location. If for some reason you feel the need to keep your signature to a minimum (same reason I suggest flash hiders over muzzle brakes or comps) you are completely free to not turn your light on.

          TLDR: If you carry a gun it’s probably because it’s better to have one and not need it than to jeed it and not have it. Same goes for lights and medical…

  2. I like the idea of a weapon mounted light and have them mounted on a shotgun and a .22 rifle. One criticism I have read that the author did not address is aiming the light – and thus the weapon too – at the target in order to illuminate it. I can appreciate the concern with this but I can also appreciate the disaster that would occur in shooting a target that was unidentified. What does the audience think about this?

    1. A very valid point, Kidd. It obviously comes down to personal preference and decision making but I very much want to be able to positively identify who/what is in front of me without having to point a weapon at them. Using a stand-alone light allows an escalation from a mildly curious quick check to a hand readied on a still holstered gun to an unholstered but still semi-concealed at your side posture that isn’t available if your only 2 options are “holstered/dark/unidentified” or “on target/lit up/identified”. I’m comfortable having a TLR on my home defense pistol because I know my house and also know that anyone in it will be “uninvited guest” and automatically a higher level of potential threat but even if I were to decide to put a light on my EDC (not my current setup) it would never be my primary/only light while out in public.

  3. When you mentioned that there were plenty holsters available and used examples of Crossbreed I checked each one and none of them were available for the pistols that I have. H&K , and 3 versions of Springfield Armory’s XD and XDs were available. So it really depends on the gun, light, and the holster combination. Yes Glock is available, sorry just not a fan.

  4. I’m definitely pro pistol light. I wouldn’t say I carry it around everywhere and every day with me but for any kind of night-time activity, I feel it’s necessary. I use this one and I’m happy with it as I’ve had it for a while. It doesn’t really hinder me from concealing my gun and I don’t find it a hassle to take a few extra steps. I’d say the answer lies somewhere in the middle. Enjoyed your post and keep up the good work, cheers!

  5. This article delves into a critical aspect of everyday carry – the inclusion of a Weapon Mounted Light. The thoughtful exploration of the pros and cons, along with practical considerations, makes it an invaluable read for those contemplating this addition to their EDC. The emphasis on responsible use and the impact on situational awareness provides a well-rounded perspective. As someone invested in personal safety, I appreciate the insights presented here, helping readers make informed decisions about integrating a weapon-mounted light into their everyday carry setup. Well-written and informative!

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