By Bob Campbell,
There are many choices when choosing a personal defense handgun. The size, weight, caliber, and action type are important.
Among the options is the light rail. Some handguns such as the Glock and modern HK pistols come standard with the light rail or accessory rail. Rail gun is common parlance for a handgun with a rail.
Many well-trained tactical shooters favor the light rail and would not wish to deploy a handgun without a rail. Some have been in a situation where white light has been beneficial to their survival or in situations where they wish they had had the light. Many handguns feature the technical over the tactical, but the light rail is a tactical improvement. The catch is the pistol is a reactive weapon. The pistol is drawn in response to an attack.
Few if any concealed carry permit holsters will carry a handgun with the light attached. They may carry a light in their pocket but very few will practice quickly attaching the light to the handgun. If you can anticipate a fight then you had best avoid it or at least get to cover. It is better to have the rail and not need it that to need it than not have it. You just have to ask yourself if you are willing to embrace the rail and obtain a suitable light or laser and learn to use it properly.
The 1911 pistol balances well. There is nothing that feels better in my hand. Some feel the same way about the CZ 75 P-01 or the Glock 19. Some 1911 rail guns are neutral in balance. The Rock Island 2011 with its monolithic rail is very well balanced. It isn’t muzzle heavy but it certainly dampens recoil due to the weight out front. The Colt Rail Gun may be an improvement in balance over the Colt Government Model. The CZ 75 is among my favorite handguns.
But after a hard test and firing hundreds of rounds of ammunition I find the CZ P-01 a great compact 9mm that is very well balanced. I can fire the pistol more accurately than the full-sized CZ. The P-01 features a light rail on its long dust cover. I like this a lot. Keep an open mind when considering the rail gun.
To my way of thinking the best place for the rail gun is in home defense. A service grade handgun that is too large for concealed carry may be kept at home ready with the light attached. I often do so with my Glock long slide Model 35 and the Insight light. I keep it ready in the Hornady gun safe. Simply press the keypad and the pistol is ready. Most of us will keep the handgun we carry all day at home ready in the evening, but some of us do not carry a concealed handgun. But we may all keep a handgun at the ready in the home. A well balanced handgun that weights 30 ounces or more will have lighter recoil than the typical concealed carry handgun.
The service grade handgun may also be more accurate due to its long sight radius. When selecting the light I think that common sense dictates that the light should be appropriate to the size of the handgun. As an example the compact Viridian light is ideal for most of the 4-inch barrel service pistols. A full length slide and dust cover accommodate the Insight light. Having the light protrude past the muzzle isn’t ideal. If you prefer a laser sight, then the new LaserMax Spartan is a great sight, affordable and with good power. If you are using a full-sized pistol the Insight M3 is a good choice.
Tactics are important. With the light mounted the light is used to illuminate the target. Target identification is the goal. Firing a shot into the dark is bad news on every count. Unless you have incoming fire and you are not behind cover, returning fire at a gun flash is fraught with many problems. There are worse things than being shot and one of these is shooting the wrong person. The rail mounted light isn’t for searching, that should be accomplished with a handheld light. The rail mounted light is for target illumination. When all is said and done, the modern rail gun, properly understood, is a good investment in security.