6 Flashlight Shooting Techniques You Must Know


The majority of self-defense shootings occur during low-light or the night time. The exact statistics are all over the place, but I’ve most frequently seen them as saying 60% to 79% of shootings occur in these conditions.

It’s for this very reason that I recommend you have a flashlight and carry it with you. At the very least you need to have a flashlight next to your bed for home protection purposes. The flashlight I use is the SureFire G2X Tactical light, but you can’t go wrong with any of the SureFire models.

Once you’ve chosen your flashlight you obviously need to know how to use it for self- defense purposes. The first rule is to keep your flashlight in the same place at all times. If you’re going to carry a flashlight on your belt, make sure it’s always in the same location.

If you’re going to carry it in your left pants pocket, it should always be in your left pants pocket. This also goes for where you keep it in your bedroom. Every night before I go to bed I make sure my flashlight is where it’s supposed to be and that it hasn’t been moved or used by somebody.

Next, I would not recommend mounting your flashlight on your pistol.

This causes the major problem of pointing a loaded gun at everything you shine your light on. If your 16-year-old son is sneaking in the basement and you run down there to shine a light to see who it is, I doubt you want to point the loaded firearm at your kid.


Since you’re not going to have a light on the gun, you need to learn one of several flashlight shooting techniques. By far, the most popular technique is the “Harries” method. It was developed in the 1970’s by Mike Harries, a former Marine.

Simply put, if you’re a right-handed shooter you grab the flashlight with your left hand in the “ice pick” grip. In other words, the way you’re holding the flashlight should allow you to strike downward with force as if you’re stabbing someone. Also, your left thumb operates the pressure switch on the end of the flashlight.

Once you have a solid grip on the light, bring your left hand underneath the gun and put your hands back to back. When you are doing this do not cross your hand in front of a loaded gun, make sure and bring the light underneath the pistol and not in front of it. Maintain pressure bringing both your wrists and the back of your hands together.

Another popular flashlight technique is the Chapman…

Named after Ray Chapman, who won the world’s first pistol championship in 1975. With this technique, you hold the flashlight in a “sword” grip and bring the flashlight alongside your gun. The thumb and forefinger grasp the light and your other three fingers wrap around your shooting hand. The major problem with this technique is that it was designed when the majority of flashlights had the on/off button on the side of the flashlight, unlike today’s tactical flashlights, which have the button on the end of the light.

AyoobThe Ayoob flashlight technique was developed by Massad Ayoob, a well-known firearms instructor, and author of many books, including In the Gravest Extreme. The Ayoob technique is very similar to the Chapman in that you hold the flashlight in the “sword” grip. The only difference is, instead of holding the flashlight underhand, you hold it overhand and you bring both thumbs together as if you’re shooting in the traditional “thumbs forward” grip.

RogersFormer FBI Agent and firearms instructor Bill Rogers created the Rogers flashlight technique. This is where you hold the light in between your index finger and your middle finger. You bring the flashlight up to the side of the gun and have your thumbs touch and your other two fingers wrap around your shooting hand. This method allows you to get closer to a two-handed grip than any other flashlight shooting technique.

The Neck-Index technique seems to get more popular by the day and can be used with most flashlights, whether they’re big or small, and whether the pressure switch is on the end of the light or on the side. You use the “ice pick” grip for this technique and hold the flashlight right below your ear close to your jaw and neck. An obvious disadvantage of this technique is that the flashlight is directly next to your head so if a bad guy is shooting at the light you’re in trouble.

Of course…

I can’t talk about flashlight techniques without mentioning the old FBI technique. This is where you hold the flashlight in the “ice pick” grip up in the air and away from your body. The theory behind this technique is that you’ll disorient an attacker because they won’t know where you’re at and if they shoot at the light they won’t hit you. This technique is good for clearing a room, but if you have to hold the flashlight for an extended period of time your arm becomes tired very quickly.

Personally, the methods which I prefer are the Harries and the Neck-Index, but you need to figure out what works best for you. Also, don’t forget to practice reloads and clearing malfunctions with the flashlight. If you use a lanyard with your light you can simply let it drop and hang from your wrist when reloading. However, if you don’t use a lanyard, you’ll need to practice putting the light under your armpit with the light facing to the rear, when doing these exercises.

In addition to dry firing at home, don’t forget to take your flashlight to the range with you to practice these different techniques because you never know when a window will break at 3 am and you’ll be extremely happy you learned one of these simple flashlight techniques.

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Jason Hanson is a former CIA Officer and author of The Covert Guide to Concealed Carry. He is also the creator of the Ultimate Concealed Carry Experience, which allows you to take your concealed carry training without leaving home. For full details about this training, please visit Concealed Carry Academy. You can also follow him on Google+ and Twitter.
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Thanks for including visuals. Wait. Scratch that, reverse it.


for photographs of the most taught flashlight techniques see this months’s issue of American Rifleman.


Somebody plagiarized somebody else. Either this is original, or the NRA magazine is. I’m not a real big fan of the NRA, but copyright infringement is serious. See page 60, February 2012 issue, by Richard Mann


We are looking into this. I don’t have a copy of the magazine but Jason is checking when he gets home. This is an article he sent me on November 28, 2011.


Does anyone even proofread this clown’s stuff? He advises against mounting a light on a handgun, yet the only image with the article is just that.


I for one think we should all remain calm here before we start accusing folks of plagiary or calling people “clowns” or accusing the site of failing to proof read.  USACarry has correctly said they’re going to calmly check it all out and we should wait for that process to take place.  

Maybe he meant to provide the pistol/flashlight image as an illustration of what is NOT advisable to do.   I personally have laser sights on some firearms and a flashlight on my 870 home shotgun, but that’s my personal choice.   There’s room here for differing opinion on this topic and Jason is presenting one point of view.   I just think we should relax and allow Jason and USACarry to respond.   It’s just the fair thing to do.


 Just read the article in the NRA mag. WOP2 is quiet correct. The author is really tacky.

White Doberman

I too use a SureFire G2X Tactica. I also have a 4Sevens Mini for EDC.


I have a couple questions.

1.  if you don’t recommend a mounted flashlight, why is the article picture a mounted flashlight?

2.  do you recommend keeping the light on?  or turning it on occasionally until the that is identified?  if you keep it in, doesn’t that give away your position?

3. do you feel this is the same for outside the home?    


that = threat
in = on

(swype awesomeness)


What about red vs white light, etc?


From what I was taught, white light is better for self defense.  Bright white light is blinding.  Bright red light is not blinding.  Lights should be minimum 90 lumens bright white for self defense.  This is subjective, but I have found it to be true on my own flashlight testing.

Red light is used primarily for retaining night vision while reading something (ie: reading a map).  Doesn’t do much good for the average person/self defense scenario.

Infrared is completely different.


 When and whomever wrote the flashlight article, I just don’t care. What I do
care about is the fact that someone cares enough about my family and me to take
the time and effort to highlight the proper use of a simple flashlight in an
emergency situation. The one aspect of this informational article that I really
appreciated was getting a flashlight with a lanyard and practice at the range
against jams and reloading.
And just in case an intruder brakes into my home, I’ll be sure
to inform him that this information was brought to him by, an NRA magazine and or
Jason Hanson a writer at Concealed Carry Academy
right before I pull the trigger ! !

Patrick Fox

pictures, we need pictures of the differnt techniques, you gave a good discription but a picture is very helpful to conclude the thought!! thanx!! p.f.

Joe J

+1 –  This


I’ve never been in this situation and hope I never am. But I do a lot of hunting and am most successful if I can remain hidden in the shadows. Looks to me like a flashlight would give somebody a good target.


There is absolutely nothing wrong with a weapon mounted light. It allows you to reload, fix problems, and operate the gun with one hand if needed. Of course you must have good “finger of the trigger” disciine. You must also be sure of your target and be able to identify it. But these rules must always apply with a weapon mounted, hand held, or no light at all. Failure to train with your equipment as well as negligence are the cause of accidents. I’ve been a police officer for 13 Yrs, assigned go SWAT, and have use a weapon mounted light for 7 Yrs. They are a great tool. You should carry a hand held light anyway because we all know when you need the light the most is when the battery will die.

noel john

Thank you sir for the learning, this is very useful.   


I am a retired LEO and Certified Tactical Flashlight Instructor; I have been training officers and legally armed civilians in firearms and self defense for more than two decades. A good tactical flashlight is one of the best tools anyone can carry for several reasons. You must be able to identifying targets, helps you navigate dark areas and aids you in searching areas, room’s, for suspects, etc. It can also be used as a self defense tool. Blinding an aggressor with bright white light can give you an opportunity to escape, use it as an impact self defense tool to strike bony and soft tissue targets, plus they are legal to carry just about everywhere, even on a plane.     Human beings have a natural fear of the dark. Human beings depend primarily on sight as a means of figuring out what is going on in the world around them so it should come as no surprise that we naturally find conditions where this sense is significantly diminished or useless to be extremely disconcerting. Our eyes are remarkable organs capable of incredible feats, but seeing in the dark isn’t one of them. As a species our night vision capabilities are some of the worst you can find on the planet….certainly the worst you will find among top level predators.
Things to RememberAs a general rule, moving to the lowest level of light provides more concealment than operating in areas with higher levels of light.In a low-light environment you are most visible and vulnerable when backlit.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 you are from his position, what direction your are coming from, and when you will be there. Use your light TACTFULLY!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 position.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.Avoid blinding yourself or other friendly’s.


Jason didn’t pick the picture. That was the only picture with a gun and a flashlight that we had rights to use at the time. I’ve changed it.

Jason has also verified that there is no plagiarizer going on and that they are just similar articles. Jason wrote this article and sent it to us on November 28, 2011.

I’ve contacted him to see if he can provide some pictures of the techniques.


What are you serious? 

Arc Angel

Couldn’t agree more with the idea that your tac light shouldn’t be permanently fastened to your pistol.  In addition to forcing you to point the muzzle of a loaded weapon at everything you look at during an encounter, there is, also, the problem of, ‘telling’ an equally well-armed adversary exactly where your muzzle is pointing at any given moment.  If the other gunman knows what he’s doing that permanently attached – and muzzle orientated – tac light can get you quickly and efficiently killed.  The only other caveat I’ll offer is for those who must use a permanently fixed (weapon-mounted) tac light:  Be sure you have immediate backup available or are working as part of a team when you do – OK! 


hi im new to this site but i have read about the flash light holding teckniques and find them the same as usual but at the same time its great to be able to revue what i already use i always wonder if any thing is out there to make things safer for me or my family thanks for taking the time to print it out for all to read


it depends on the situation, chances are if i am startled in middle of night and take a few seconds to get my marbles back i’ll want the light on my gun. I doubt I’ll have time to grab two items. In each of the techniques above, is sure looks like they are made for pointing the light w/ the gun anyway. I’ll have a sep tac light available as well though.


Great article.


A lot of people carry guns for camping, especially when hunting. This (flashlight use) is something I am studying for varminting and defense against animals as well.

David Abraham

The Rogers seems very uncomfortable. Instead of beside the gun, how about holding it beneath? I have a S&W Bodyguard 380. Holding the light between the index and middle fingers beneath the grip is just like not holding a light at all.

Mad Mac

With the neck index or FBI grip the spill light around the central beam can illuminate the front and rear sight enough for quick and precise sight alignment and sight picture when it is pitch black. The other techniques leave your sights in the dark.