Thursday, July 30, 2015

How many lumens?

On the left, some of the lumens. On the right, all of the lumens. Photo courtesy of Pat Rogers/EAG Tactical.
When I got to gun school, I was reminded that EAG Tactical's rules for the pistol shoot house class specified no IWB holsters. Pat probably would have let me run mine, but since I had learned my lesson from June's class and brought the whole range bag, I just did a little bit of swapping around frames and slides to get a more rules-compliant setup...

Since the OWB holster I had was a Raven Phantom for the TLR-1S, I moved the slide from the Tactical Dirt Color gun onto that frame (no backup irons on the DeltaPoint gun yet, and I didn't want to tempt fate). I moved the CTC Lasergrip onto it, too, because I've become a big believer in lasers in the dark. So the gun I used in class was the setup you see in the photo below.

I'm glad I switched.

See, the CTC Lightguard on my day-to-day carry gun is a pretty specialized tool. At ~100 lumens on a fresh CR2 battery, it's not up to much more than illuminating something at which you've already decided you probably need to shoot. And that's fine! It's not for searching dark corners and hunting for bad guys, which are activities I don't plan on doing anyway.

If I'm pulling my gun out and pointing it at something, it's generally because I've already identified it as a threat. Sure, it's possible to dream up scenarios where a light on a CCW handgun, especially one with a grip-activated switch, could be a detriment ("Suppose you're in a store and terrorists cut the power and you want to pull out your gun but not give away your position? And maybe ninjas!") but most of them are so far outside the likely uses of my CCW gun that I have yet to be persuaded that being able to better see my target is a bad thing.

Proper use of a pistol-mounted light is something very few non-cops (and too few LEOs) ever get taught. I certainly don't have much knowledge of it, and what I have is mostly theoretical, gleaned from keeping my ears open when smarter people are talking.

One thing I do know is that for that application, more lumens are generally better lumens. In the picture at the top of this post, that's my gun light on the left: A TLR-1s with less-than-fresh batteries, and so putting out less than its full rated 300 lumen output.You can imagine how swallowed up the LightGuard would have been, with less than a third the output and a generally more diffuse pattern at that.

That pattern part is important. See the light on the right in that top picture? That's the current industry standard, the "U-Boat", a Surefire X300U . With 500 lumens on tap, it has enough light output for a very bright center and a nice corona that helps illuminate the periphery of your vision. The spill from my partner's light was pretty useful to me a few times, since my light didn't give off near as much.

The picture at the top illustrates another point: How long an "indoors" shot can be. That one looks close to twenty yards right there, and if you look around hallways at work, down the aisles at the store, and corridors at your church or other public buildings, you'll quickly come to realize that "Indoors" does not equal "In the same broom closet."

More on this class to come...