White Lights Black Rifles

While stealth is the tactical mantra — it helps to shed a little light on matters!

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A forward-mounted light properly oriented on a rifle’s railed forend makes for a welcome companion when entering a darkened room.

Since man discovered fire he has sought to harness the illumination it provided, make it portable through torches and use it for personal protection. Today, both policemen and soldiers have a flashlight as a part of their working kit. Beyond searching the night via the handheld light and pistol, we see operators trying to gain the advantage in subdued lighting by mounting lights on top of their long guns to solve the problem of locating and identifying friend from foe.

In 1980 the British Special Air Service made use of Mag Lites mounted on their Heckler & Koch MP5’s to successfully storm the Iranian Embassy and save hostages inside, effectively neutralizing the terrorists holding them. Military and police equipment manufacturers have continued to advance white light equipment using the latest in science and technology. Lights first taped or bolted on to weapons are now secured more soundly with the advent and proliferation of Picatinny rail forends, while large incandescent lights have been replaced with smaller LED lights that are brighter. Operating switches have improved, integral systems have developed, and the market segment has grown exponentially.

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The EMA Tactical PLS1 light mount is shown here mounting a BlackHawk X6-P light on a railed forend.

Optimizing Illumination
Along with this development has come improved training on how and how not to use the light. Training programs look at how the eyes, with their rods and cones, work as light decreases as well as the time it takes to adapt to low-light conditions. Fighting in adverse lighting conditions is taught—including the mechanics of navigating, searching, threat identification and control as well as shooting with lights. Like every other issue of skill at arms, low-light use of the carbine-mounted light requires hands-on training and practice. Put simply, you must train dry-fire as well as live-fire and you have to practice moving through structures to understand the how to of these skills.