That oft-overlooked AR-15 accessory: The weapon light
The bad part about things that go bump in the night is that by definition it is going to be dark out there dark out there –but for those who are prepared, having a decent weapon light on your AR can prove illuminating.
Why a light?
On a planet where we spend on average about half of our time in the dark and chose to live in homes that on occasion are more cave than greenhouse, it only makes sense to outfit your black rifle with a weapon light. You want to be able to identify those objects out there in the darkness and make sure of what you have in your sights long before you place a finger inside a trigger well. Typically, a light will be used more often in any sort of response you will have than the firearm itself.
However, there are many choices to make to keep you ahead of the game.
It is easy to be sucked into the trap of over-accessorizing an AR-15, filling up those nice long Key-mod and M-LOK rails up with all sorts of lasers and devices until you are left with a 20-pound rifle that has the ergonomics of a Christmas tree. Nevertheless, a light is possibly the most essential of all aftermarket add-ons to your rifle and, if positioned right, is exactly where you need it most.
When placing your light, you want to keep in mind the basic factor that you don’t want to obscure your line of sight or take your strong hand off the gun’s grip to activate it. With that being said, placing a light somewhere forward of the breech where the off-hand (e.g. your left hand if you are right-handed) can access the switch easily is ideal. Some instructors advocate keeping the light at the 12 o’clock position; however, this can occlude your field of vision or wash out your front sight in addition to often forcing your off-hand in front of your face when you manipulate the switch.
Mounting the light at the 9- or 10-o’clock position (or 2- or 3- for southpaws) can help eliminate the pitfalls of the above. No matter where you place the light, there will be a shadow caused by the rifle itself, so experiment with a combination that gives you the biggest cone of light projected forward and mounted in a place where you can access it with a minimum of fumbling. Keep in mind your sling and other AR-15 accessories (backup sights, etc.) can interfere with your light manipulation, which is a bad thing, so get this worked out ahead of time and test switching your light on and off while up on the target to help you figure it out.
A pressure switch mounted in the six-o’clock for a 9/10 or 2/3 mounted light can help give you the best of both worlds while keeping your off-hand out of your face and on your rifle.