Firearms Related Equipment
Two is one, One is none
This is a saying you will hear in the firearms community. If you have two of some item you have one and if you only have one of some item you have none. This refers to Murphy's Law that if something can go wrong it will go wrong, or in this case some item will break. Two flashlights are not all that hard to have on your person. A backup gun may pose more of a problem depending on your body type and dress. In some states, New Mexico is one, you can’t carry more than one gun concealed on you. Even though you are a certified good guy, finger printed, background checked and so on. I just don’t get it..
You should carry a flashlight even if you do not have a firearm. A light with a minimum output of 60 lumens can be used as a defensive weapon. Shining the light in the attacker's eyes will temporarily blind them, giving you a short window to escape or move to a more advantageous position. A good quality flashlight can also be used as an impact weapon.
Modern lights come with either an incandescent or LED lamp. The incandescent lamps cost less and cut through smoke; a LED lamp will not. A polymer body (vs. aluminum) will help isolate the incandescent lamp when the light is dropped and help prevent the lamp breaking. LED lamps have longer run times at a given lumen output and are much more shock resistant. They seem to have a brighter light than incandescent; at least I see them as brighter.
SureFire and Streamlight are the two leading companies in the tactical flashlight arena. Streamlight tends to be less expensive compared to SureFire. Now keep in mind the least expensive flashlight will be in the $30-$40 range. I have at least 5 SureFire G2 Nitrolon that fall in that range. They are very good lights for many applications, from every day use to gun mounted applications. Most lights are in the $100-$200 range.
The SureFire E1B-Backup is an excellent pocket light with high and low output. I carry one and use it, just about every day..
The tail caps on flashlights come in many configurations, from twist on and off, to multi-function click type. For a defensive light, the simple click on and off with momentary on, is preferred. The more functions the tail cap has, the better the chance you will not activate the feature you intended to in a stressful situation.
A light that has two lumen output levels is nice; Low for general use and longer battery life and high for defensive use.
Most tactical lights use 123A 3V lithium batteries. They are not cheap, but do have a storage life of 10 years. Shop around the internet, you can sometime find deals. No-name brand 123A batteries can be dangerous because they lack a protection circuit. Lights with high lumen output can draw large amounts of current and without the protection circuit the battery can explode. Buy Duracell, Streamlight, Sony, or SureFire to name a few.
A good belt will make carrying even a full size pistol a more comfortable experience. The belt must be stiff to support the weight; a floppy, off-the-shelf belt will not work. When you wear a dress belt the lack of stiffness becomes even more pronounced. Expect to pay $80 or more for a good leather gun belt.
Manufacturers such as AKJ Concealco LLC, The Beltman, Brommeland Gunleather, Galco are just a few places to look for quality belts. If a rugged nylon belt is what you are after look at Wilderness Tactical Products, LLC. Their 5-stitch Instructor Belt is the one I wear every day it is worth every penny.
Leather and Kydex are the two most common holster materials. Leather makes less noise when you draw the pistol and is less damaging to the pistol's finish. Kydex is often said to be faster to draw the pistol, but with more noise and it tends to scratch the pistol's finish. Kydex is nearly indestructible and is really a no maintenance material; just wash it off with water. Some manufacturers are making a hybrid holster with leather on the inside of a kydex shell. Garrett Industries is the only hybrid holster maker I am familiar with - they do excellent work.
As far as classification of holsters, there are two main types; inside the waistband (IWB) and outside the waistband (OWB). The choice of one type over the other boils down to personal preference and, to some extent, how one dresses. I like IWB for summer carry and OWB for winter carry. Placement, or location, on the belt is also personal preference. The only type or style of holster I would not recommend is small of the back (SOB). Getting the pistol out if you are on your back could be troublesome and if you fall on your back, landing on the pistol could cause serious injury. IWB can conceal the pistol better as the only part above the waist line is the grip.
I really like my AKJ Concealco LLC, IWB; it does not cost an arm and a leg and it is well constructed. The two other instructors I teach with love the Milt Sparks Holsters, Inc. Versa Max 2.
No matter what type of holster you choose, make sure the trigger is completely covered. If not, Murphy will step in and something will get into the trigger guard - BANG! The holster should allow you to get a proper grip on the pistol. Having to re-grip the pistol after the draw is not a good thing. Also, choose a holster that will not collapse with the pistol out or re-holstering one handed will be next to impossible. Someday your support hand will be busy with some other task when it comes time to re-holster.
Over time we all collect holsters, sometimes even a box or two full of them.
Major note about lasers, they can fail, so have iron sights on the gun as well remember Murphy! Training with iron sights is a must, more so than the laser.
If you find yourself in a shooting position where you can’t get the gun up to your line of sight, you can still put accurate rounds on target with a laser. The laser will let you see your shot placement. They are a good diagnostic tool; you will see clear as day when you are jerking the trigger or breaking your wrist up or down.
Red is the most common laser color you will find and green is starting to come on the commercial market. Red has longer battery life, but is not as easy to see in daylight. Green can be seen in daylight, but battery life is much shorter. Some say green is an easier color for your eyes to pick up. That is why green is a popular color for night sights.
Lasers come in many packages: recoil rod, rail mounted, grip panel, wrap around grip and rear sight. The biggest difference between them all is how you activate the laser. With grip panels and wrap around grips, you activate the laser when you grip the pistol. All other packages are activated by using a thumb when you have established a firing grip. If your thumb is too short to reach the switch with a proper grip on the pistol, you will have to move your support hand to activate the switch. For this reason I like the grip activated style.
Companies like SureFire and Streamlight also make light/laser combo units.
Crimson Trace Is a leading company in the gun-mounted laser field. Laser Max produces rail mounted and guide rod units.