Do You Need a WML or Not?

The Power of the Sun Under the Barrel of Your Gun

Everything is a compromise in the concealed carry world. A bigger gun is easier to shoot, but harder to conceal. A smaller gun is more comfortable, but more difficult to get consistent hits with.

Many people have a “carry rotation” that follows the seasons. When it’s hot, you go small — like a Glock 43 or Sig 365. When the weather cools off, you can add layers to help with concealment… and grab the Glock 17 with an X300u or Sig P320 with a TLR-1.


But is a light equipped pistol in a light bearing holster the best plan? Let’s take a look.

Bump in the dark

Criminals like to hide in the shadows. When the bump in the night happens — whether it’s a home invasion, ATM robbery, or your average Chiraq mug and plug — you’ll want a hot load of lumens to ID your threat.

The Surefire x300u and Streamlight TLR-1 are industry leaders at the moment. They pump out huge lumens and candela so you can clearly see who your threats are and what — or who — is beyond them.

The problem with these lights? Their size. They add bulk that creates a few problems when it comes to everyday concealed carry.

  • The added width to your light bearing holster can be uncomfortable over long periods of time
  • The added length can dig into your important bits when you sit down if you’re carrying appendix — or add a bulge to your hip if you’re carrying strong-side (front bulge could draw some eyes too. Good or bad? You decide)
  • The added gap in your light bearing holster mouth to accommodate the light adds risks when it comes to reholstering with debris in your holster (clothing, gummy bears, soggy newspapers…)

Other lights on the market — like the Streamlight TLR-7a — fix many of these problems. The TLR-7a is just as thin as your pistol frame, so it doesn’t add width, and it sits flush with the muzzle of a Glock 19, so it won’t add length. But it too has to compromise for those benefits:

  • Lower run-time, as it only uses a single CR123 battery
  • Lower output, due to size and power constraints
  • Even it can be more uncomfortable than a non-light bearing gun

Enter the pocket rocket

There are options outside of a weapon mounted light (WML) if you don’t want to compromise on comfort. Streamlight, Surefire, and Cloud Defensive all make fantastic handheld lights — and some with even more output than the legendary WMLs.

A handheld light has the added benefit of use outside of force. You can use it to identify a threat before the engagement has elevated to the gunfighting stage. (Or to find your pencil when it rolls under your desk — like I usually do.)

The downside to using a handheld light in a gunfight is you’ll have to learn and train on how to shoot with it. It’s not an insurmountable task — as you’ll need to train even with a WML. But most shooting techniques with a hand-held leave you with one hand on the gun and the other on the light. However, the added benefit of this method is you can move the light away from your body so incoming rounds will (hopefully) miss your tender body.

Give me boffum

So should you just use both? Yeah, if you can deal with the compromise. But one way or the other, we think it’s a good idea to have a handheld on you. You should never use a WML to search an area outside of a gunfight. It’ll break most of the rules of gun safety, kids.

Don’t be the jackass who goes out to check the alley after you heard something clanging around outside and light up the neighborhood with your x300u, sweeping every house (and kid’s bedroom) with your Glock. Once the stray cats finish up making more strays, they’ll pounce, you’ll shriek — because what the hell is that ungodly mutant, and pop off an ND.

My Thoughts on Cats

A handheld light fixes those legal problems — and adds the benefit of potentially de-escalating a threat. You’d have to be a pretty determined attacker to fight through 1000 lumens searing through your retina. And if the alley cats push the attack at that point, you’ve still got the freedom to go for your Glock in its light bearing holster.

Too long, didn’t read — What do you recommend?

What does Carey Concealment recommend? WML, handheld only, or both?

Carry what’s comfortable. Carry what you’ll have on you, day in, day out, rain, shine, sleet or hail. Shrug at the Postal Service’s outdated motto. If it’s too damn uncomfortable to carry a pistol with a WML on the rail, don’t. Throw a handheld in your pocket and learn how to use it.

Some of us at Carey Concealment carry a pistol in a light bearing holster equipped with a TLR-7a, some with an x300u, and some of us prefer naked rails.

But we all have a handheld in the pocket, ready to shine light in the dark corners of the world (usually looking for the things the kid stuff under the fridge).

On the plus side, our Mach 2 light bearing appendix holster is incredibly comfortable, so it’s easy to pick for 24/7 EDC, and the dual Mod 4 belt clips make it a super stable platform for your pistol.

But whatever you pick, train with it. Practice with it. Shoot in the dark and be the thing that bumps in the night. Carry with confidence. And make no compromise.

1 thought on “Do You Need a WML or Not?”

  1. James Ryan Rothford

    I have a WML on all of my carry and home defense pistols as well as carry a pocket light. Good tips, nice work!

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