Which Side To Mount Weapon Light On A Rifle

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A weapon mounted light can go on any spot on a rifle handguard, and depend on if you’re left or right hand dominate, so the setup varies from person to person.

A tactical weapon light help us to identify targets in the dark. It’s applicable to military, law enforcement & civilians, so it’s important to understand how you set it up can affect how you operate.

We are here to answer the question:

Which side to mount a weapon light on a rifle? and list a few accessories that help solve some ergonomic problems.

Your dominant shooting hand determines which side to mount the weapon light. The ultimate setup is to be able to grip the hand guard firmly & activate the light using one hand, without changing the grip placement.

And it has to also work for the non-dominate hand. If a particular side works the best for you, then THAT will be the side to mount the light.

Additionally, there are 5 things to consider:

  1. Ambidextrous control for support hand transition
  2. Light clearance & Cover
  3. Avoid casting shadows
  4. Make it snag-free
  5. Activation switch types

The techniques we suggest are not absolute, so free feel to adjust according to your needs.

For home defenders and tactical training students, setting up the light right helps you operate better & saves your life.


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Ambidextrous Weapon Light Setup

Tail Cap Activation Switch Users

This is the most common for people using their dominant support hand thumb to activation the light.

However…As soon as they transition, they can no longer reach the switch & grip the handguard the same way.

Remote Switch Users

The use of a remote pressure switch makes a weapon light ambidextrous even if you can’t reach the tail cap switch.

It works the best when it is mounted on the 12 o’clock top rail, and it’s at an optimized spot, so both left & right hand can grip it & fire the illumination devices regardless of which side it’s mounted on.

The switch can also be mounted else where as long as the user can still grip the hand guard & activate the button.

It’s important to tug in all wiring to avoid snag hazard & just keep the mounting rail space clean.

Please see the illustrations below:

Mk18-BEMEYER-MAWL-DA

This applies to guns with bunch of IR, Laser & white light devices mounted.


Light & Muzzle Clearances Matter

Don’t accidently shoot the barricade!

For tactical shooters, light & muzzle clearances matter when getting around a corner or entering a room, depending on which side you’re getting around from.

Anytime when the weapon light sticks out on the side where it requires the shooter to lean out more to get more muzzle clearance, you’re also exposing more of your body from cover.

The mistake you want to avoid is to: discharging a round into the barricade as soon as the light clears, but forgot the muzzle.

The better you understand your setup & limitations, the better you know what to fix your setup & know what product to buy.

Each set up has it’s own advantages & disadvantages, which we will briefly describe with some visual illustrations below:

Left Mount

  • Great for right handed shooter operating the tail cap switch
  • Immediate light clearance getting around the corner from the LEFT
  • Requires pushing the weapon further away around the cover to clear the light from the LEFT
  • Bad for exposing body when getting around from the LEFT.

Right Mount

  • Great for left handed shooter operating the tail cap switch
  • Immediate light clearance getting around the corner from the RIGHT
  • Requires pushing the weapon further away around the corner to clear the light from the RIGHT
  • Bad for exposing body when getting around from the RIGHT.

Read More: Best Weapon Light For IWI X95

Top & Bottom Mount

  • Great for LEFT & RIGHT side maneuvers
  • Eliminate disadvantages from right & left mount
  • Light beam & bore inline
  • Size of the light can block iron sight & optic co-witness

Offset Angled Mount

  • Just like LEFT & RIGHT mount, but closer to the center
  • Minimized weapon lateral profile

Avoid Casting Shadows

Where you mount the light can cast shadows that you don’t want in a tactical environment. It could expose your position.

Generally, it’s the shadow of the barrel & the muzzle.

Anyone in force on force training will tell you that, in order to avoid the weapon light from casting the shadow of the gun, you need to mount the light flush to where the flood light beam doesn’t hit anything.

People generally mount their lights flush to the muzzle to completely eliminate the shadow problems, but there is a catch when using a muzzle brake…

For Muzzle Brake Users

A muzzle brake helps minimize recoil, but it can damage the light sitting so close to the blast, and it very quickly fogs up the lens.

If you don’t enjoy cleaning your light, or don’t enjoy muzzle blast, AND you want to protect your light from the blast, we highly recommend not using a muzzle brake for CQB related applications.


Make It Snag-Free!

No matter which side you mount the weapon light, it’s important to check the setup all around to make sure there isn’t any loose cable or things sticking out.

These snag hazards are very annoying when they get caught on your chest rig, sling, tree branches, velcro straps and other snaggy things in the environments.

All they do is create frustration & slow you down!

Most modern day remote pressure switches are low profile, and there are wire clippers you can buy to keep them tugged in tight on the rail without getting loose.

To smooth out your light mount even more… maybe consider buying some aftermarket weapon light mounts that super low profile without much of anything sticking out. (Mostly made for Scout light)

Check Out More: Best MK18 Weapon Lights

Brandon Corbin

Firearm sales for the past 7 years 4 years of experience in hunting and collecting historical firearms Expert in mounting rifle scopes on bolt guns