Gear Review: M3 TI (Tactical Illuminator)

Illuminator? I just met her! And there’s your trouble. For an explanation of one of the main dangers of using a snout-mounted light on your handgun, let us turn to page 2, point 5 of Insight’s manual for its M3 Tactical Illuminator, under the main heading WARNINGS. “Once the M3 TI is attached to a firearm, the firearm will be pointed at anything that the M3 TI is directed at. Do not point the M3 TI at anything or anyone that you do not intend to shoot.” So how do you search for a perp in a darkened space that might contain friendlies (e.g. your children) without pointing the light and, thus, the gun at them? The manual has a theory—and we have some video of the light in action—after the jump . . .

The M3 TI is designed to produce a significant amount of light to allow someone in a low-light environment to be safely illuminated and identified without the need to point the M3 TI light, and the attacked firearm, directly at that individual. The light from the M3 TI can be pointed in a safe direction at a wall, floor or ceiling and “bounced” onto the darkened silhouette for identification purposes, thus avoiding the need to point the firearm directly at an individual.

Excellent advise—that’s completely counter-intuitive. How many people who mount a light on their handgun will know NOT to point it straight at any noise ahead of them in a low or no-light combat situation? How many will know it and forget it when their mind and body are in the grips of a full fight or flight response? How many of them will have their finger on the trigger, despite years of practice?

Could a gun-mounted light increase the odds of a negligent discharge? In the video above, David Kenik of Armed Response (eventually) cuts to the chase: adding a light to the business end of your handgun requires additional tactical thinking and, as always, plenty of training.

Where, pray tell, are you going to find a place where you can train with a tactical illuminator safely—remembering that you need to know what’s behind your target? The American Firearms School has a private range where you can turn the lights off, but they don’t let just anyone go dark. And look what happened when Mr. Kenik puts the M3 TI to the test, tripping the light fantastic: the M3 TI went on and off intermittently during David’s firing sequins. I mean, sequence. Spock! Analysis!

So, to make good use of the Insight M3 TI, you need serious strategizing, long thumbs, lots of practice and $119.99 paid to Insight’s website, or less from a margin amenable dealer.

That said, the new Insight M3 LED (GLL700A1) is only $40 more. You get twice the run time (two hours), no bulb replacement costs and a brighter light. Only problem being they’re on backorder until January. So there is light at the end of the tunnel.

M3 TI – Limited Lifetime Warranty

Models: GLL-001-A1 (Black), GLL-001-A5 (Tan)
Peak Output: 1 hour
Interface Options: Slide-Lock®
Dimensions: 3.4”L x 1.6”W x 1.5”H
Weight: 3.3 oz. w/Batteries
Lithium Battery Power: 6V from Two (2) 123 Batteries