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Griplight: A White-Light-Integrated J-Frame Grip

Every trainer -- both LE and civilian -- stresses the need to have white light capability, and has now for decades.  The reasons are compelling: most defensive shootings occur in reduced light, and even in daytime you may have to fight in a dark interior environment.   No one disputes the need, but there have been two schools of thought on how to achieve that capability.  A light attached to the gun offers two-hand gun manipulation and shooting, insures that the light is always available with the gun, automatically aligns the light beam with the barrel, allows the weak hand to do other tasks (open doors, restrain people, etc.), and is easy to shoot with.  The downsides of a gun-attached light are that they require special holsters, they are too often result in the gun being pointed at innocent people when you are searching, and the light can  give away your location and provide an aiming beacon for the BG to shoot at.   On the other hand, using a free-standing light in your weak hand doesn't force you to "search with the muzzle", and if skillfully used, can distract and disorient your opponent and confuse them as you your location.  The free-standing light's negatives are that it requires one-handed or compromised two-handed shooting, it's another thing to carry and possibly forget, and you don't have a free hand.

For years I have come down on the side of a free-standing light, mostly because I'd seen too many cops use their firearm-attached light to search with, with the result that muzzle discipline became non-existent.  I'm re-evaluating that stance now that the new generation of super-bright lights put out enough light on the periphery of their beam so that searching with the edge of the beam, and not the muzzle, can be practical.  However, that line of reasoning is for on-duty law enforcement.  For off-duty cops and civilians, who typically won't be searching buildings and alleys, and who will usually be responding to a fight that's already been brought to them, the gun-attached light is, I believe, a good -- even preferable -- way to go.  And what's the most popular off-duty and concealed carry gun?  Probably the classic Smith & Wesson J-Frame, a revolver without a rail and no way -- until now -- to mount a small light to it.

The Griplight solves that problem and fill that void.  Developed by retired police officer and gun magazine editor Roy Huntington and produced by Hyskore, the Griplight is an integrated light/stock unit that simply replaces the j-frame's stocks.  The 100+ lumen CREE LED sits atop the cylinder on the right side of the revolver, and is activated by a micro pressure switch under the middle finger position on the front of the stock.  There's also an on/off slider switch on the bottom of the stock.  The unit is powered by a single CR2 battery that' s supplied with the unit and housed in the bottom of the Griplight stock.

Here's what I found when I installed the Grip light on my j-frame: the light is bright - really bright - and fully illuminates a room.  The light isn't shadowed out by any part of the gun in any way that matters.  The switch is entirely instinctive to activate, and with a minute's practice, you can learn to release tension on it to leave the light off; in fact you can easily learn to flick the light on and off.  The grip is extremely comfortable -- these are really great stocks even without the light.  The stocks are partially aluminum and partially rubberized, meaning that you can slide your hand onto the gun easily and then "glue" your hand to the stocks as you apply a normal shooting grip.  The unit is solid -- not thin or flimsy, and gives off all kinds of high-quality vibes.   The light module doesn't interfere with cylinder operation or reloading, and neither do your hands and fingers get in the way of the light.  What you trade-off for all this: larger than normal j-frame grips (which are too small to shoot comfortably or well with anyway), and the fact that you'll need to use a soft holster or have one made (which, with the plethora of high-quality Kydex shops out there today, would be easy and inexpensive). 

One thing that jumped out at me was that the Griplight shone so brightly on my front sight that the sight itself looked like an illumination source.  That's a good thing; in fact, that's a very good thing.  The Griplight thus provides target illumination and identification, as well as strong front sight clarity for accurate shooting.  .38 and .357 loads do not affect function or reliability.  The patented Griplight lists for $130, but you can find it for $80 or so.

When Roy -- who's been in the firearms business a long time -- showed me the Griplight he said, "Like you, over the years I've seen a million gizmos for guns come and go.  But this is one I really think has merit." 

So do I.