If you own a gun for self-defense then you need to know how to hold a flashlight when using a gun. National law enforcement estimates indicate that approximately 70% of self-defense shootings happen in low-light conditions. For this reason alone, you should make sure that you carry a flashlight on you at all times. If you take the defense of yourself and your family seriously, you will not only own a tactical gun light, but you will practice with the light regularly. There are several flashlight holds that can be used during tactical shooting; the key is to find the one that works best for your hand size and self-defense environment. Practice these popular methods of holding a flashlight when using a gun and think about what might work best for you.
Former Marine Mike Harries developed this popular technique in the 1970s. A right-handed shooter will take the flashlight in the left hand in an “ice pick” grip. The flashlight should allow you to strike downward with force as if you’re stabbing someone. The shooter’s left thumb will operate the pressure switch on the end of the flashlight. Next, the shooter brings the left hand underneath the gun and puts the hands back to back. Make sure to keep both wrists and the back of the hands together. The shooter must make sure to take the flashlight under the shooting hand when assuming this position and not crossing the hand in front of the loaded gun (flagging). Be aware that this technique can get tiring if you have to clear a big area or multiple rooms.
Chapman and Ayoob Techniques
Ray Chapman, the winner of the world’s first pistol championship in 1975, developed this technique. Later, well known fire arms instructor Massad Ayoob developed a similar hold. Both holds have the same principle of maintaining the shooter’s triangle of support while holding the flashlight. In this method, hold the flashlight in a “sword” grip in the non-shooting hand and bring the flashlight alongside the gun. The thumb and forefinger grasp the light and the other three fingers wrap around the shooting hand simulating a two-handed combat shooting grip. The benefit of this technique is it similar the normal shooting grip and is easy to incorporate into the already developed muscle memory of the shooter. This allows the shooter to focus on target identification and acquisition, not figuring out how to hold a flashlight.
Bill Rogers, a former FBI firearms instructor developed this flashlight technique. In this method the shooter holds the light between the index finger and the middle finger and brings the flashlight up to the side of the gun wrapping the other two fingers around the shooting hand. Similar to the Chapman technique, this technique allows the shooter to maintain the triangle of support and have a shooting grip similar to a normal two-handed combat grip. This technique takes some practice to master holding the flashlight between the fingers and may not be a good option for those with small hands.
A final note: While it is recommended to dry-fire possible self-defense scenarios in your home, you never know the exact conditions under which you may have to defend your life or the lives of your loved ones. The key is to use the stand-off capabilities of your flashlight as much as possible to positively identify your target and engage with the most accurate method available. Remember to practice reloads and clearing malfunctions with the flashlight. Think about using a lanyard with your light so you can simply let it drop and hang from your wrist when reloading. Having a working knowledge of multiple methods for how to hold a flashlight when you are using a gun will help you be prepared to handle unexpected situations and may save your life.