November 9, 2017 by Kaiju
What is normally the first thing players do when they buy a new airsoft gun? They want to accessorize it. We’ve all been there. Accessories such as slings, optics, fore grips, rails, buttstocks, and tactical lights to name a few. One of my favorite go-to accessories for rifles or pistols are tactical lights. I play at a lot of urban or indoor events so I normally mount a tactical light on both my rifle and pistol, as well as carry a handheld light in my chest rig.
Back in the day there were two main brands: Surefire and Streamlight. Today, you can find so many other brands, including NFORCE, Fenix and our very own Valken Tactical. The first tactical lights for rifles had very large bezels on the front and were typically mounted at the 6 o’clock position via a scope ring to the rail. The tac lights were typically activated with a pressure pad.
The large bezel and pressure pad presented two problems in airsoft. The first issue with a large bezel is it became a very bright and large target and prone to the lens getting shot out with a BB. The other problem is the reliability and placement of the pressure pad that activates the tac light. The pressure pad was normally long, but the cable attaching the pressure pad to the tac light was typically short. This left mounting the pressure pad with double sided tape to the rifle’s hand guard or to a vertical hand grip. Also, the reliability of a pressure pad was always hit and miss for me. Sometimes they would work great, and other times not at all. Some pressure pads were also finicky and only worked when you applied pressure to a certain spot on the pressure pad.
I personally run my tac light at the 12 o’clock position on my rifle and use a thumb switch at the back of the light rather than a pressure pad. The light is positioned where my support hand maintains my thumb over bore grip. So it is very easy for my thumb to activate the light. I have it mounted at the 12 o’clock position for a couple reasons. First, it is in direct line with my point of aim beneath my optic. So it doesn’t cast any weird lateral shadows. Also, when a light is mounted at the 6 o’clock position, you block the light when you rest the barrel on an object and get major washout of the light reflecting off the surface back at you. It’s not rocket science; it just makes sense to me.
Then tactical lights started to become smaller and more compact. This was for many reasons: reduced profile, mounting to pistols, etc. Before pistol mounted tac lights, many users would hold a small handheld tac light in their support hand. The methods of holding the light varied from application to application. Before I started using a pistol mounted tac light, I used a technique called the modified FBI technique which is holding the tac light in my support hand near my temple. The reason why I like this technique is because my tac light and arm do not get in the way of my pistol. I can punch out and extend the pistol or change the direction of my pistol without the risk of shooting my support arm. The other most common method is called the Harries technique, which is simply holding the tac light in your support hand and you rest your strong wrist on top of your support wrist. The risk of this technique is sometimes the shooter moves the light and their arm crosses in front of the muzzle rather than moving your shoulders as one unit and having your wrists maintain contact.
One of the main reasons for the inclusion of pistol mounted lights is that it frees up the use of your support hand. Allowing the user to conduct reloads or other support tasks such as opening doors or moving light obstacles. But mounting a tac light to a pistol brings another challenge: a holster that accommodates a tac light. Since there are so many models and sizes of tac lights, it can be difficult to find a stock holster unless your light is made by Surefire or Streamlight. So the introduction of kydex holsters filled a niche demand. So now anyone can take their pistol and light combo to any local kydex shop and get a custom holster made.
For more information on Valken products, follow this link to OPTICS / LIGHTS / LASERS