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Gear & Accessories Optics Tactical

Bright Idea: Crimson Trace Lightguard

by James Tarr   |  March 28th, 2012 17
crimson trace lightguard on springfield xdm 5.25

Crimson Trace's Lightguard is a small, powerful unit that activates via a simple squeeze of the grip—no reaching of trigger or support-hand fingers.

I was last a uniformed police officer in the 1990s, and at that time the rechargeable Maglite was the pinnacle of personal illumination devices. It was big and heavy enough to hit people with because, in order to provide enough illumination and battery run time to be useful, it simply had to be large. Now the consumer marketplace is filled with “tactical illumination devices” light and small enough to fit into a pocket, and they keep getting better and brighter.


The latest company to push the speed of light is Crimson Trace with its new Lightguard series. The Lightguard clamps around the trigger guard and accessory rail of your pistol, and is very narrow and light. The version I received weighs just 1.5 ounces according to my scale. It is constructed of a dense and strong polymer, with a protected glass lens for the light.


Crimson Trace Lightguard from front

The Lightguard’s activation switch is a pressure pad located where the trigger guard and frame meet. Note how thin the unit is: It's no wider than the pistol itself.

Okay, big deal—just another weapon light, you say. Wrong. What makes the Crimson Trace Lightguard stand out is its pressure pad switch for instantaneous and instinctive activation. When installed, this activation switch located at the top of the grip just underneath the trigger guard. This rubber pad is positioned so as to be underneath the middle finger of your firing hand, and a normal squeeze of the grip is all it takes to activate the light.


The Lightguard requires no gunsmithing to install or modification to your pistol, although it is not quickly detachable. There is a very small on/off switch at the front of the unit to prevent accidental activation while in storage. It is flush to prevent the switch from being bumped in a holster.


Currently, the Crimson Trace Lightguard line is available for full-size frame Glock 9/40 pistols (Glock 17/19/22/23/34/35), Smith & Wesson’s M&P pistols, the Springfield Armory XD and XDM—and the company just announced models available for 1911 pistols.


It’s an LED light with a 100-lumen output, which is amazing considering how small it is. One hundred lumens is enough to light up any size room in a house or momentarily blind anyone close enough to grab you


LEDs are the “in” illumination technology because they produce much brighter light than incandescents and are a lot more durable than traditional bulbs—plus they run much cooler. For a comparison, if you have an old AA-powered Mini Maglite, pull it out and compare it to any mini LED light you might have hanging on your keychain. Not only will that little LED be tougher, it’s probably brighter as well; the original Mini Maglite produced less than 10 lumens of light.


Crimson Trace Lightguard halves

The Lightguard is made up of two halves that clamp around the gun, fitting around the trigger guard, and are secured with two screws.

Batteries have improved as well. The Lightguard is powered by a CR2 lithium battery that provides two hours of run time, and like all Crimson Trace products it has a three-year warranty.


The Lightguard has two halves that clamp around the pistol’s trigger guard and frame rail. One half houses the light/battery. Two small screws lock the halves of the unit together. A battery is provided with the unit, as well as two high-tech looking swabs for cleaning the lens.


Most weapon lights are universal and mount to the pistol’s accessory rail on the front of the frame, and the problem with traditional weapon-mounted lights is that you really need two hands on the pistol to manipulate them properly. The toggle switch on the back of these units is best worked with the thumb of the support hand. Move the switch one way for momentary light and the other to switch the light to stay on.


While the toggle switch can be maneuvered with the trigger finger of the firing hand, this is not fast, easy or instinctive. If you have a light like this, I hope you’ve trained in its use, especially activating it in the dark while stressed. Also, any light that stays on is a potential target for an intruder, but turning a toggle-switched light on and off with just your trigger finger is a real pain. What is instinctive and easy is simply squeezing down on the pistol, and with the Lightguard’s pressure pad the activation is simplicity itself.


Having a light mounted on your handgun is so much more convenient and easier to operate than having a flashlight in one hand and a gun in the other. Plus, having a flashlight attached to the pistol in the nightstand means there is only one thing to grab for in the dark when you hear glass breaking.


There is another advantage I see to the Crimson Trace Lightguard system. It is small and light enough to put on a carry pistol. An ounce and a half is nothing, and it is narrower than the slide of any of the pistols it fits. While I don’t think a Lightguard-equipped pistol would be able to fit in most standard holsters (except for perhaps a generic pancake style), by the time you’re reading this or shortly thereafter I expect holster makers to be offering models to fit pistols equipped with the Lightguard. (The Lightguard is also compatible with Crimson Trace’s Lasergrips, so if you wanted to have both on your pistol you could.)


Just remember there is one serious disadvantage to having a flashlight mounted on your pistol: It means that whatever you’re pointing your flashlight at, you’re pointing your pistol at. This action can violate the “Don’t point your weapon at anything you’re not willing to destroy” rule of safe gun handling, and it’s something you need to consider.


I requested a Lightguard model to fit a Springfield Armory XDM 5.25 I had on hand for testing. Installed, the Lightguard looks like a part of the pistol and adds no discernable weight. It is no wider than the frame. I can hold onto the pistol without accidentally triggering the light, and yet with just a slightly tighter squeeze the flashlight pops on.


Experimenting with the Lightguard in my house, I discovered that at a distance of eight feet it projects a roughly six-foot wide circle of light on the wall. The circle was evenly illuminated with no dark spots, and there was a bright 18-inch center.


I spoke with Crimson Trace’s Iain Harrison, and he said the company designed the Lightguard to throw a wide pattern to maximize its utility for use inside buildings. Crimson Trace has also done extensive torture testing. Harrison put 1,000 rounds of .40 S&W through a Glock 22 wearing a Lightguard in one day with no ill effects—other than sore hands.


To be honest, I am still shocked at how bright the Crimson Trace Lightguard is. It is literally small and light enough to hang on a key ring (if it had a loop), and yet it performs better than most weapon lights twice its size and weight. At $149 for all current models, it is competitively priced.

  • J Johnson

    I like this!

  • Alan_T

    Hmmmmmmm I don't think I'll be replacing my Laser Max / SureFire combination on my S&W .45 M&P , however I do like the fact you can operate the light one handed .

  • Snug

    I still have reservations on having to point a LOADED gun at anything you illuminate ! I prefer a laser on target with the illumination in front on the floor. In a home defence scenario,don't stay directly behind it,it is an instinctive target point,as it is on your gun.

    • Alan_T

      Snug ……. I hope you don't think I was criticizing you , because I wasn't . You're right to be concerned about where you point your gun , loaded or unloaded , and I gave you thumbs up .

  • Alan_T

    No offense intended Snug , but the proper technique with a light mounted firearm is to use a second light for search and identification so that you're not pointing a loaded gun in order to see . Then when / if needed , you drop the hand held light and switch on the pistol mounted light . That's why most lights for that purpose come with a lanyard or at least provisions for one , so you don't break your light when it's dropped .

    • Rico

      Right, because off duty, people carry a 2nd flashlight with their concealed pistol, also mounted with a light, spare mags, a few knives, belt & holster AND NOW a lanyard, not for my pistol, but a lanyard for my second flashlight!

      Ok, very reasonable?

      • Deputy DAWG

        Yes, Alan is reasonable and that is exactly how your suposed to use a handgun mounted flashlite, with a 2nd combat flashlite. All of them I seen come with a lanyard you wear on your wrist.

        • Alan_T

          Rico doesn't appear to be very well informed , Deputy DAWG . Since the advent of pistol mounted lights . , there are all kinds of articles in just about every gun magazine ( including Guns & Ammo ) that deal with combat flashlights all the time , INCLUDING the proper use of lanyard around the wrist in conjunction with the pressure switch .
          Thanks for the back up DAWG .

      • Alan_T

        Rico …… you seem willing to break a cardinal rule of firearms safety : NEVER POINT YOUR GUN AT ANYTHING YOU ARE NOT WILLING TO DESTROY !
        Rico ….. the pistol mounted flashlight isn't just for concealed carry and your hyperbole might benefit from some remedial English composition classes
        I commend Snug for being responsible enough to be concerned on the subject . You … on the other hand Rico , if you're not willing to shoulder the responsibilities that go with carrying concealed , then perhaps YOU SHOULDN'T CARRY ONE .
        No , scratch that perhaps ….. you shouldn't carry one !

        • Rico

          I never said Id point my handgun at someone to use the light. Just because your handgun has a flashlight, doesnt mean you HAVE to use it.
          My Off duty doesnt need a flashlight.
          As far as MAGAZINES like G&A printing the "proper" way to point a flashlight…..well lets just say that YOU are the misinformed one if you think a magazine has the only proper way to do ANYTHING.

          You obviously have some anger issues, have narcissistic tendencies, & require other people like Dawg to agree with you in order to feel intelligent or welcome. Im sure youll be on this web site everyday to "respond." you might want to work on some of your issues though

          • Alan_T

            Well Rico / Gil ….. Snug was voicing HIS concerns about using a weapons mounted light for illumination . If he doesn't use a second hand – held flashlight , what is he supposed to use ? ? ?
            I never said there was only one proper way to do anything , YOU are saying that I said that . However if you use a combat light with a L A N Y A R A D , there's pretty much only one way to loop it around your wrist so that it works . You think I have anger issues huh ? You should go back and read YOUR rantings . Perhaps along with your remedial English composition classes you could take some remedial comprehension classes too HAHAHAHAHAHAHA….. Oh …. and Gil's still a sociopath .

  • Rico

    I really like the OPTION of turning my light on or off, especially on Duty. I you don't grip the CT light tight, it won't come on, but then you cannot fire the pistol successfully! So making a light that basically cannot be turned off, (and can make you a Target) is just not for me.
    I do like the idea & the design, it just needs options for turning it on AND off.

    • mactex

      Your right. IT is next to impossible – espeically in a high stress situation – to grip the weapon properly and excercies just the right about to turn the light on and off. That is what is good about CTC handgun lasers – you can conceal the laser, due to it's location, with your trigger finger, even when activated. Then when you move the finger to the trigger to fire the laser is right on target. Also, many CTC lasers are mounted in a fashion that come into direct conflict with the Lightguard, blocking either the area where the pressure pad goes or where the light will be mounted.

  • guest

    Man you don't know what your talking about Rico and why are you talking about duty? You aint no cop .

    • Alan_T

      Yeah , Rico obviously isn't in law enforcement , so it makes me wonder what duty he's talking about too .

  • Rico

    I am (not your business) a cop you genius, that's why when you said lanyard, I pictured a lanyard that goes on a handgun & radio & attaches to your belt, not a small loop of string that goes around your wrist. If that WERE the case, that would be stupid & unreasonable to utilize.

    On Duty, I have 2 flashlights, one handheld, one weapon. People who CCW (ive met thousands over the years), less than 1% carry a handheld flashlight. Most cant conceal a weapon mounted light due to holster selection, weight, accidental activation, etc…

    Now whatever mactex was saying, it makes zero sense to me.

  • Alan_T

    Gil ….. I MEAN RICO , you're not an LEO and you're just displaying your ignorance on the subject and evidently I'm not the only one here that thinks that . HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

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