Surefire P2ZX Fury and Glock 30SF (courtesy The Truth About Guns)

I recently bought a tactical flashlight. It looks like a chess piece. It couldn’t be any easier to operate: wax on, wax off. I mean, push on, push off. It’s got a perfectly placed ring around the middle that makes one-handed operation as easy as male fertility maintenance. It’s brighter than a month of sun days; fully capable of blinding a deer at 25 yards. So now I’m prepared for the BITN (Bump in the Night) scenario. Grab my Glock in my right hand, my Surefire P2ZX Fury in my left and proceed to daughter’s room. Light-up what needs lighting and shoot what needs shooting. Otherwise, proceed to safe room, ditch the pistol for a shotgun, assume a defensive position, call 911 and Bob’s your uncle. What could possibly go wrong? Lots . . .

For one thing, that’s two things: a light and a gun. That’s my hands done. What if I need to call 911 before I get to my daughter’s room or as I’m going to my daughter’s room? What if I need to open a door or grab a sleepy child? Although I’m a fair shot one-handed I prefer to shoot two-handed (I find it improves my accuracy no end).

Hence the reason The People of the Gun put a light on it. The gun, that is. Yeah, well, I’ve got problems with that.

I kinda don’t want to use my gun-hand’s fingers for anything other than holding the gun and pulling the trigger. As Paul Stanley might tell you, deciding when to switch a gun-mounted light on or off while trying to do other stuff with the other hand is a major violation of the KISS principle. Ever heard of sympathetic response? There’s that, too.

There’s also the issue of not lasering (i.e. shooting) good guys. Who’s there? Oops! Sorry mate. You should’ve said something. You could train to use your gun-mounted flashlight more cautiously by, say, bouncing the light off a wall or something. But then you have to “re-aim” your gun when you acquire your target. Are you that good? I’m not.

Besides, how dark is it really? My soon-to-be-ex-house’s interior is lit by nearby street lamps and outdoor lighting (shining onto exterior windows). I also put little automatic night lights in the corridors so I could see in my house at night without blinding myself with the night-into-day illumination of a Surefire P2ZX Fury. Well enough to identify my target and what’s behind it.

Ah, you say, if you can see them they can see you! True. But I don’t view protecting myself and my child at night as a real-life version of a David Baldacci gun battle. If the bad guys don’t run when the alarm trips, or if the alarm doesn’t trip, I’m in real trouble. The kind of trouble where I’m going to move fast. Period.

If you don’t have an alarm system and it’s night-time and you suspect that you’re in the midst of a home invasion and you’ve called 911 but you need to go somewhere to get someone or something don’t play hide and seek with a flashlight (gun-mounted or not). Listen.

If you’re defending, they’ve got to come to you. They’ve got to make noise to do it. Who doesn’t have creaking floors? Bad guys aren’t [usually] ninjas or Native American scouts. They rustle, clank, breathe hard, drop things, whisper, etc. If you pause and listen, you’ll hear the bad guy or bad guys and know where they are. You can then react appropriately.

Or not. As always, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry—especially when they’re experiencing the Mother of All Adrenalin Dumps. Still, your sense of hearing is your predominant sense in the dark. Don’t forget to use it.

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56 Responses to Self-Defense Tip: Listen

    • My Streamlight is staying on, and I just qualified with it on. There’s no contest when it comes to night fire accuracy and target ID. A weapon light and standard two hand hold (either weaver or isococles) absolutely smokes a bastardized single hand hold and a flashlight (cigar hold, weak hand hold, modified weaver, etc.). Spend some range time shooting targets if you don’t agree. If you can shoot as accurately one handed holding a light as with a weapon mounted light, more power to you. I am just not aware of anyone capable of that feat.

  1. I’ve never been a fan of “tactical lights”. They work both ways.

    There’s always enough ambient light in our house to see by. It’s pretty hard to mistake my 4′ kid for a 6′ intruder.

    Additionally, we have motion activated interior lights. So when the BG or BGs are moving through the house, they are tripping lights as they go.

    http://www.homedepot.com/p/Lithonia-Lighting-Decorator-Vacancy-Motion-Sensing-Wall-Switch-White-SSD-VA-120-WH/203606977#.UbTGM3oo5hE

      • The dog will probably be your first alarm…it’s what they do. You might think about motion lights on the outside too. If the dog wanders the house at night like mine do, the lights going on and off might get annoying.

  2. Geez, this is where the aforementioned opinions will start to vomit on what works best when and where.
    Here’s mine.
    Just practice. Stop during different times of the day and night and listen to what are normal sounds in your own home. Remember the OODA loop?
    Look around your house. Do you need a small night light here or there? Does your gun have night sights? One of my favorite authors would tie a strip of white cloth on the end of his shotgun barrel when hunting wounded game in deep dark bush.
    Try imagining different scenarios in your head with positive outcomes.
    Again, practice with and how works best for your situation, equipment.

    As usual Robert, very thought provoking.

  3. Why ditch a perfectly good pistol? Its pretty easy to have a dedicated belt or vest with a holster and extra ammo on it…

  4. Silly. Let’s identify a problem and not solve it. Trying to identify bad guys by sound alone is an invitation to disaster.

    Which ever you chose gun mounted, freehand, headlamp, or lightsaber, practice in your home in the dark, twilight, and daytime.

    I prefer gun mounted but to each his own. I also have a two story house with all bedrooms upstairs. For less than $150 I put my outside lights and several downstairs lights on a 2 button remote key fob that is secured under the night stand. I hear a bump and I can light the outside or downstairs together or separately. They then have to fight from a position of weakness. I also have duplicate remotes in each car. I can light up the house from the outside if something is a miss or I just need to bring in groceries.

    On a different note the gun vault pictured (looks like the brand Gun Vault from here with the four finger pad) has the disadvantage of time locking you out after just a few code errors. If you are scared/nervous and enter the code wrong just three times it will lock you out for 5 minutes. Game over. A bedside gun vault with regular mechanical push buttons (like the ones Fort Knox sells) won’t do this and the require no batteries to fail at the wrong time.

    • To each his own but while you’re “slicing the pie” with your light, he may be waiting to ambush your behind ’cause he knows where you are. Personally, I would prefer to ambush him. Got your cars in the driveway or garage? I keep a fob for each on the dresser and assuming I have a chance, I’ll light off the car alarms and he probably will depart without me having to engage him in something other than talk. I also have motion sensor dual spots on the front, back and sides of the house….did it originally so I don’t have to turn the lights on and off when the dogs go out but works nicely as a deterrent too….gets very bright with no warning and they’re installed high enough he would need a ladder to reach them. My goal is to keep them outside. I also have a Sure-fire if it becomes necessary.

  5. I guess I like options; having a handheld light and a weapon mounted light on all of my firearms. Redundancy, but what do I know?

    • Not true. I live in FL and have a raised floor w/ample crawl
      space below. I was thinking about creating an egress in each
      closet that leads under the house to a mini bunker in case of
      emergency. In case of tornado’s or…whatever.

      Also, my father had a salesman in Japan who was so proud
      of his purpose-built cricket floor. A floor that was designed
      to squeak in a different pitch depending on where you were
      walking. It was so nobody could sneak around his house,
      not even a stealthy ninja. Probably wouldn’t be that hard
      to build. A floating floor with wooden dowels mounted on
      the floor joists. The sound could be tuned by the density
      or size of the dowel rubbing on the floor joist. Hmmm?
      I’ll have to do an Internet search for more info.

  6. Home invasions at night are extraordinarily rare. Why not sure up your perimeter with warning devices, put 11 mil film on your windows, and get good doors and locks. Child’s bedroom should not face street or unfenced yard. And, get a dog. All the middle of the night ninja, stealth crap about getting to your gun, light, phone, grabbing your kid(s) and getting to a “safe” room is overblown. Always was. Yeah, I know, you keep a suppressed .308 by the bed. Your wife would much rather it be a sex toy.

  7. I prefer a wall-mounted light switch for nighttime illumination indoors. Such switches activate impressive space-age gadgets called lamps or light fixtures. I don’t know exactly how they work, but I do know that once you switch one to the “on” position, the room lights up. I think it’s a miracle.

    Amazing, right? What a great way to determine if the sound that awakened you in the middle of the evening was your cat, your son sneaking out of the house or your daughter’s boyfriend sneaking in. I’m thinking that you don’t want to shoot any of them, but then again, you might.

    I know what you’re thinking. “What if the BGs cut the power?” Well, when my power goes out like in a bad storm or something, that’s when I use a flashlight or battery powered electric lantern. Otherwise, I’m not going to be skulking around my own home like some kind of half-assed ninja with a $10 flashlight that costs $120 because the marketing guy painted it black and called it tactical. YMMV.

    • “I prefer a wall-mounted light switch for nighttime illumination indoors. Such switches activate impressive space-age gadgets called lamps or light fixtures. I don’t know exactly how they work, but I do know that once you switch one to the “on” position, the room lights up. I think it’s a miracle.”

      It’s the electricity elves, who get together with the light bulb gnomes and have a big orgy, giving birth to light faeries.

      Hope This Helps!

    • PS got a package of three dual output type knockoffs at costco for about one-third the cost and kids each have one in their nightstand. so the can blind bad guy while heading to the gather point where we fort up when we hear dogs chewing on someone in the living room trying to get the big screen off the wall.

  8. Need to add ELECTRONIC EAR MUFFS to your metrosexual nitestand. Shooting indoors will permanently deafen you and limit your short term combat effectiveness. You dont want to miss the verbal command from the arriving po-po or your childs scream that there is a BG behind you.

    • Forgot to mention…I personally believe that Clint Smith of Thunder Ranch is one helluva instructor, if not THE BEST. This little video promo is great and has his recommendation of a neck pouch for home. Have your stuff ready when something goes bump in the nite in a small case to put around your neck.

      <ahttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ly_7RF0oJsk/a>

      • Massad Ayoob did a video too – suggests keeping a pair of electronic muffs, a vest (with a plate : ) that’s open on one side (to slip your strong-side arm through and grab your firearm), light, and gun next to the bed.

        I have those things and a light mounted on my sleepy-time Glock.

        Interested in the pouch idea though.

    • I am reminded of a quote I heard somwhere, sorry I can’t remember from whom: “If you think you need all this stuff to protect your home and family from intruders, you’re at the wrong address.”

      • In neighborhoods where I’ve been I’ve seen motion-activated porch lights. I once bought one for my back porch because there was no outside switch, so I had no light coming in from the garage.

        And in the neighborhoods where I live and hang out, a PIR porch light would be a sufficient deterrent to ruffians. 😉

      • Google Pettit family, Cliff. We are a very mobile society and even nice neighberhoods are only a few gallons of gas away.

  9. I have a flashlight by the bed,but its an academic feature.I’m so close to the front door of my split level apartment that once a criminal gains entry I’ve got enough time to get the gun and brace for incoming.911 won’t be an option until the guys already dead or running.

  10. The joys of an empty nest–there are only two people in my home at night, and I am the only one who might be wandering around. After 10 years, I know all the creaky places, and can walk around with ease with no lights on. And I have dogs–always on alert. Motion sensors on the outside lighting. I can skip the flashlight. I always wondered if a flashlight that had a function like a camera flash might be effective–immediate blinding flare to blind the intruder, then darkness to protect your movements.

    • Me too on the empty nest and dogs (two big labs) Mark. Keep in mind the flash of a strobe (some lights have a strobe feature) will probably kill your night vision as well. You might consider using the car alarms as well.

  11. Those of us that have good hearing can “see” around corners and through walls and floors. Of course we cannot actually see around corners or through walls but hearing enables us to determine, with a fair degree of accuracy, what and where a potential threat is.

    As for children sneaking in or out of the home, I believe a simple talk at a young age takes care of that problem. Let them know in no uncertain terms that sneaking in or out of your home or anyone’s home will likely result in their bodies getting additional orifices. Of course that doesn’t address sleep walking or someone getting up in the middle of the night because they are hungry, cannot sleep, are sick, or need to use the bathroom — or someone legitimately returning home late from work or a recreational activity.

    The best situation is to know when an unauthorized person is entering your home before they actually enter. Locked windows and doors, alarm systems, and dogs are great tools in that respect. Freeheel’s idea of remote controlled lights has some merit although nothing stops a home invader from promptly busting your remote controlled light once you turn it on. Then you will want a flashlight. But I would simply turn on the flashlight and leave it on the floor illuminating your home’s fatal funnel (stairs/hallway leading to your sleeping rooms). The home invader will have to deal with a light shining at them that isn’t attached to anyone. Meaning shooting at or near the flashlight on the floor gains nothing for them and actually gives away their position and their true intentions. But it allows you to positively identify the home invader and have both hands available.

    As for a home invader cutting your electricity, home alarm systems should have battery standby power sources so they continue to function even when your electricity fails. Of course dogs don’t run on electricity. And inexpensive security lights are available that turn on automatically if the electricity fails. (Every public building is supposed to have them for illuminating hallways and exits if electricity fails.) Those could be worthwhile.

  12. Make sure to try your tactical light in the dark some time, preferably with your eyes already adjusted to the dark as they would be if you were sleeping. You might just find that super-tactical light that puts out a billion lumens blinds you the moment the beam bounces off the nearest wall.

    • true dat. i have this light. good for lighting up the coyotes across the canyon. but you will be blind as a bat when you turn it off inside. little battery operated emergency/nite lights you plug into outlets that go when when power goes out gives enough glow to see a skulker if the dogs dont get em first. the tac light blinds em so i can ventilate or withdraw. if u cant hit center mass either hand at in home range while point shooting you need to spend time at the range

  13. Flashlights and gun lights are excellent tools. I frequently find a flashlight useful for finding things in the attic, basement, and such anyway. I keep one in my car. Multi-use. The Surefire gun light switches are very easy to operate with either the weak-hand thumb or the trigger finger. As for dropping the separate light, my flashlights (other than the smallest carry light) each have an adjustable wrist loop. No need to drop the light. Just let go and it hangs there. Re-aim? Just bounce the light off the floor with your pistol held in the low ready, pointing in the appropriate direction. If you carry a pistol for field protection when camping, you’ll find a gun light doubly useful, both to see critters and as a backup flashlight (removed from the gun). Even the best lights don’t cost more than two weeks’ practice ammo, which I consider a fair tradeoff. Unless you live in Mogadishu, you’re likely to use the flashlight more than your pistol inside your house. “If Zimmerman had had a very bright flashlight, he might still be head of his neighborhood watch.” None of this should affect our judgement about alarms, locks, dogs, etc. Those are entirely separate issues.

  14. Picture yourself as a burglar or prowler outside my home some dark quiet night. You breach my perimeter and instead of sirens or bells or lights flashing you hear the banjo music from deliverence playing. And on the big screen TV in the living room the basement scene from the pawn shop in Pulp Fiction. Would you continue moving forward or would you unass the place?

    A bit of a fantasy I know. But why not be creative with your security. As for your gun, I want a gun, not a multi tool.

  15. “It’s brighter than a month of sun days[SIC]”

    I gotta send this one to Mr. Language Person or somebody …

    • I liked it. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I know he used it “wrong.” But I liked it.

      Know what we call “a month of sun days” in Florida? January.

  16. We had TS Andrea come by our neck of the woods this week and we lost power. Pitch black on a New Moon. Let me tell you Robert, anyone that tried to get in would have met a 320LM GX2 Tactical in their face, without light adjusted eyes.

    This thing is so bright I could daylight the kitchen just by pointing it at the ceiling.

    And I have to mention again the time we had a power outage a year ago and I lit the thing against a closed white door from three feet away. I could not see anything for at least 30-seconds, probably more.

    They work. Period!

  17. Light on the gun? Yep… But I do recognize the issues you raise, RF.

    That’s why there is an LED headlamp in my gunvault right next to the HK, spare magazines, and other ready gear. My new readiness drill is:
    * safe open
    * pause 5sec, listen — if threat is immediate go directly to gun
    * headlamp switched on to red light (one click)
    * headlamp on
    * spare mags/etc in pocket
    * pause, listen
    * hearing protection on, volume to 100%
    * pull gun with finger indexed on switch
    * stop, listen (again)

    I don’t practice as often as I should, but having thought things through and running the drill regularly still puts me ahead of 99% of gun owners.

    Oh, and everything with batteries gets tested regularly and fresh batteries installed on a schedule whether it seems needed or not. The kids get the 80%-good batteries for use in their stuff.

    Also: I was keeping the ready gun in a Fobus retention holster on paddle mount, but recently eliminated the holster when I realized during a drill that it was seriously slowing down access to the gun.

    • Makes a lot of sense. Gives you a chance to wake up observe orient and make a smart decision and avoid an ND or ventilate a sleep walking kid by accident.

  18. “Who doesn’t have creaking floors?”

    Anybody who lives in a single-level slab-on-grade house. Which includes probably 85% of my state.

    The rest was good, I just thought this particular assumption was funny.

  19. Really dont understand the article. Would rather have a light (on the gun or hand held) and not need it than the other way around. Kinda like a gun or a knife or any other tool. Some guy just posted on our local gun board that he woke up to a guy yelling at him with a gun pointed in his face. So much for creaky floor boards and ninja hearing. Murphy says you will need a back up flash light when the power is out and the floor boards start to creak, you know you are the only one who is supposed to be in the house and your gun mounted light just took a dump.

  20. Calling 911 when there is an intruder in your home is a lot like being a pilot with a big problem in your aircraft. Take care of the issue at hand, any one you talk to on the ground is too far away to help anyway.

  21. For the most part, it gets annoying to hear people spout off about “why this is better” or “this instructor says this.” Every house and every situation is different. Are they coming in through a window, door, upstairs window? My back door to my home was broken in to back in December. I did not have a flashlight on my XD and couldn’t see a damn thing. My dogs alerted me to the intruder before he even hit the door. After he had broke the door in, I was already right there waiting. You won’t know what’s necessary in your situation unless you do a few practice walk-throughs in your own home. And yes, I now have a Streamlight on my XD that’s 300 lumens and strobes. I won’t be caught in the dark (literally) again.

  22. Indeed, follow the KISS principle. I have a DG remote tailcap switch on my surefire pistol light for this reason. The switch turns the light on/off based on your grip. It’s not perfect, but it keeps one hand free.

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