Handgun Flashlight Techniques
This hands-together technique, which was developed for, and is limited to, use with older-style flashlights
possessing side-mounted switches, works well with large and small versions of the veteran illumination
devices. The method is easily assumed by isosceles or modified-isosceles shooters, but difficult to
accomplish for those with small hands or when using a heavy flashlight. The latter is of particular concern
when the approach is utilized for extended periods.
The Chapman technique is accomplished by grasping the flashlight in a "sword" grip, with the thumb and
forefinger circumventing the body, while the remaining fingers wrap around those purchasing the handgun.
This approximates a normal, two-handed firing grip, and the arms provide isometric tension.
Like the Chapman technique, the hands-together Ayoob method is restricted to side-mounted-switch
flashlights, and it's fatiguing for extended use with heavier models. The benefits are that it requires less
training to master than most approaches and isometric tension stabilizes the gun and light for improved
Employing the Ayoob technique requires the shooter to grasp the flashlight with a "sword" grip with any finger
on the side-mounted switch, then thrusting both hands to an approximate isosceles position and ending with
both thumbs touching. The latter action creates isometric tension that steadies the firearm.
Although developed for use with large-bodied flashlights, the Harries technique works equally well with smaller
tactical lights, thereby earning this hands-together method its go-to status. As the approach was created for
use with large flashlights—a heavy flashlight may be rested on the shooting hand's forearm—this method is
less fatiguing during extended use than many others. A hitch, though, is the Harries technique offers poor
ergonomics for anything other than the Weaver stance.
For the Harries method, the flashlight is maintained in an "ice pick" grip while the handgun is thrust forward, at
which point the non-shooting hand crosses beneath the handgun-retaining arm. The technique finishes with
the backs of the hands against one another, creating isometric tension for stability. The type of flashlight tail-
cap pushbutton or body-mounted switch—determines whether the thumb or another finger operates the
The Rogers technique, which was later refined by SureFire for use with the company's grip-ring-equipped
CombatLights, allows for rapid flashlight deployment when it's being carried in SureFire's CombatLight
holster. This hands-together method closely approximates a normal, two-handed firing grip, but is restricted
to only small, pushbutton-equipped flashlights.
To perform the Rogers/SureFire approach, the flashlight is held between the forefinger and middle finger of
the non-firing hand with the tailcap pushbutton positioned against the palm/base of thumb, forming what could
be considered a "syringe" grip. The flashlight hand is then brought together with the firearm hand, with the
two unused fingers of the light hand wrapping around the gripping fingers of the weapon hand, as to attain a
normal, two-hand firing grip. The light is activated by exerting pressure to depress the tailcap pushbutton.
Modified FBI Hold
This hands-apart technique prevents the user from "marking" his position—through the use of intermittent
light at random heights—and draws fire away from center-of-mass, as well as provides easy transitioning to
and from the Neck-Index method. It works well with large and small flashlights and allows for ambidextrous
shooting. Its disadvantages include difficultly in maintaining the flashlight beam on the threat and fatigue in
extended use. Additionally, implementing this method with an injured hand or arm would be arduous, and the
approach requires extensive practice to perfect.
The Modified FBI technique is accomplished by holding the flashlight in a "sword" or "ice pick" grip with the
arm extended away from the body and the gun hand. To prevent the user from self-illumination, the flashlight
is held slightly in front of the body.
Another hands-apart handgun option, the Neck-Index technique, works with large and small flashlights alike,
as well as those possessing varying switch configurations. This method offers fast deployment, provides
simultaneous illumination of sights and the threat and easily transitions to and from the Modified FBI
technique. The flashlight always illuminates the direction the user's looking, it's in line for use as a striking tool
(with larger versions) and the technique can be used with an injured limb. The problems, however, are that it
can create excessive reflection off the rear of the handgun, and most importantly, it draws fire toward the
The Neck-Index technique is achieved by holding the flashlight in an "ice pick" grip against the jaw/neck
juncture below the ear, so it moves with the user's head with minimal blocking of the peripheral vision. For
larger flashlights, the body can be rested on the shoulder and indexed against the base of the neck.
Depending on the type of flashlight, either the thumb (tailcap pushbutton) or another finger (side-mounted
switch) operates the switch.
Things to Remember
As a general rule, moving to the
concealment than operating in
areas with higher levels of light.
• In a low-light environment you
are most visible and vulnerable
• Keeping the flashlight on
continuously may make searching
easier, as well as reassuring, but
it also makes you a target while
letting the aggressor know how far
your are from his position, what
direction your are coming from,
and when you will be there.
• Activating the light away from
centerline, at intermittent and
irregular intervals, while
alternating the light position from
low to high, will confuse your
opponent while making it harder
for them to determine your
• In most cases—when searching
for, or engaging a hostile subject—
constant light should only be used
in two situations: (1) when your
are backlit and cannot move to a
less backlit position, and (2) when
your subject has been located
and is not an immediate threat.
• When searching for or engaging
a known-deadly force threat, your
gun, flashlight and eyes should be
aligned to the same point of focus.
—Excerpts from the "SureFire
Institute Low-Light Tactics Level
One Operator/Trainer Course"
While there are many handheld flashlight techniques, the SureFire Institute Low-Light Tactical Level One Operator/Trainer Course covers the six most
commonly practiced handgun methods—Chapman, Ayoob, Harries, Rogers/SureFire, Modified FBI and Neck-Index—as well as the Modified FBI,
having specific advantages and disadvantages. As such, no single method works for all situations.
In general, hands-together techniques provide marginally better accuracy due to the two-handed firing grip, but at the cost of flexibility in application.
These methods also require the light to be positioned center-of-mass, and as SureFire Institute Lead Instructor, Low-Light and Firearms Training, Bill
Murphy explained and vividly illustrated—via an expensive prototype SureFire flashlight with the tempered Pyrex window penetrated by a simulated
ammunition round during a force-on-force training scenario—that flashlights make good "bullet magnets," thereby limiting their use to routine
searches or for non-immediate threats.
Hands-together techniques typically align the flashlight beam with the firearm's muzzle, which can be beneficial. But muzzle flip upon firing can
displace the beam from the point-of-aim and alter the firing grip, requiring readjustment at a most inconvenient time. If not aligned, attempting to do so
can pull the firearm off target. Take heed, though, as just as when using a weapon-mounted light for searching, the alignment of the flashlight beam
and the muzzle trains the loaded firearm on threatening targets and "no-shoots" alike. The proximity of the hands increases the likelihood of an
accidental discharge through hand confusion during duress, and hasty execution can lead to the flashlight striking the firearm. Hands-together
techniques are also difficult to use with an injured hand or arm.
Hands-apart techniques offer greater flexibility when shooting around cover, as well as improved lateral movement. The tradeoff is decreased
accuracy due to the unsupported shooting hand. These approaches eliminate shifting of the flashlight beam or grip upon firing, as well as allow
searching without alignment of the muzzle and beam—a safety concern for "no-shoots" one might encounter. Because of the proximity of the hands,
there is less likely to be hand confusion and an accidental discharge during tense moments. The peripheral light offered by these techniques also
provides illumination for the handgun's sights.
For the aforementioned reasons, in addition to those yet to be discussed, a shooter must be well versed at which flashlight techniques are best for
given situations, as well as be able to change methods quickly as the situation dictates. To learn, a shooter must practice engaging targets at varying
distances, where decisions must be made as to what technique works best. Now lets examine the most common handheld flashlight techniques.
Courtesy of the NRA website.