Considerations When Choosing a Flashlight For Your Pistol

This article has been contributed by Joe from The Flashlight Guide USA. The Flashlight Guide USA is a resource focused on flashlights, providing useful guides and product reviews.

We all hope we do not find ourselves in a situation where we have to defend ourselves by having to use our pistol, but if it does happen you want to be in the best position to use your weapon effectively. Very likely if you have to use your pistol it could be in an environment with little to no light, which will make accurate shooting much more challenging. For that reason mounting a flashlight to your pistol is a good idea. Not only will it provide light for you to be able to make accurate shots, but it can be used as a weapon in its own right as you can temporarily blind a possible attacker with the light.

When looking for a weapons light for your pistol, there are four key considerations you should keep in mind:

1. Reliability

2. Output and Beam Configuration

3. Ergonomic Switching

4. Compactness

Key Considerations for Choosing a Flashlight to Mount to Your Pistol


A weapons flashlight is something you want to work perfectly every time you have to use it. Your life might just depend on in. For that reason you need to make sure you have a well constructed flashlight.

Material – There are a lot of plastic flashlights out there at cheap prices, but you should rather consider the options that are made from composite materials or anodized Aluminum. This will make sure your flashlight can handle tough conditions without breaking too easily.

Light source – In terms of light source, your best bet will be LED. The benefit of LED is that it is not as fragile as traditional incandescent light bulbs and uses less power. There is much less chance of LED bulb getting damaged when your flashlight is dropped than an incandescent bulb.

Output and Beam Configuration

There are two types of beam configurations for flashlights, namely flood beam and spot beam.

Flood beam – This is a wide beam which produces a large illuminated area. The pro of this beam is that it covers a big area, however its reach is more limited than a spot beam.

Spot beam – This beam focuses on a much smaller area than a flood beam. The pro is that it provides for more reach (i.e. the light is thrown further), however covers a smaller area.

So which beam is best for a pistol mounted flashlight? We would suggest getting a flashlight that you can adjust the beam from a spot beam to a flood beam as the situation requires. If you are in a close quarters combat situation, a flood beam would probably be best as it allows for a wider area to be illuminated and gives your more peripheral sight.

Ergonomic Switching

You need to be able to switch your flashlight on and off easily without having to seriously alter your shooting position. The better flashlights designed to be mounted to pistols have easy to use toggle switch. You should be able to toggle between constant on or momentary on. This will feature will allow you to keep your light off if you want and only produce a burst of light when needed, or you can keep it on if the situation calls for it.pistol light switch


Smaller is better. For a flashlight mounted to your pistol, you want it to be light weight and not be too cumbersome. A good size to aim for is 4 to 5 oz in weight and  3 to 4 inches in length.

Other Considerations

BrightnessModern tactical flashlights are able to emit really bright beams, however you only need 50 lumens in a close quarters combat situation.A lower brightness is better in close quarter situations as the bright light won’t bounce off surfaces back into your own eyes. A lower brightness also means your batteries last a lot longer! The better tactical flashlights allow you to adjust the brightness of you beam between several levels.

Mounting – If you want to mount a flashlight to your handgun, you will need a picatinny rail to attach the flashlight to your pistol.

Power source – You will need to keep your flashlight powered and ready to go at any moment. For that reason traditional Alkaline batteries are not a good idea. We suggest a flashlight that uses rechargeable batteries. The better weapons flashlights tend to use 123A lithium batteries. They are a bit more expensive, but in the long run they are definitely better option over Alkaline batteries!

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