“You Light Up My Life”-An Economical and Efficient Weapon’s Light

The first “Weapon’s Light” I ever had mounted on one of my personal firearm’s was a AA Mini-Mag light with a special end cap/pressure switch set up on a CAR-15 and a Mossberg 590. Compared to no light at all, it made a big difference. I bought them (bought 2) for the CAR-15 and my Mossberg 590 because of an incident I had with a skunk outside my home one night.

We had been having a skunk problem at the time, so when I came home from work at 11PM one night and saw a skunk start running across the yard under the Dusk to Dawn light, I whipped out my Glock 17 and engaged him, when he was far enough from the house to be safe.

Well, out of the four shots I fired at about 25-35 yards, I hit him with one. He made it beyond the shootable light and I stepped into the house, grabbed my 590 twelve gauge and a 3 D-cell Maglite, and took off after the wounded skunk.

I caught up with him quickly, but was concerned about getting to close, for obvious reasons. My first shot at him was about 35 yards away, I hit him, but he kept staggering towards a rock break I knew had a groundhog hole, and I didn’t want him to get away, being wounded.

Trying to hold and rack a pump action shotgun with a 3 D-cell flashlight in your hand is….difficult. On my first attempt, I short-stroked it. I finally got a round in the chamber and let it fly, just as he made it to the hole. I dropped him right there, and that was that.

After that incident I realized having a light on my weapon was pretty important, even if it’s only to dispatch a predator or nuisance animal on the farm, not to mention in a low light defensive situation. The next day I started looking in catalogs I had (this was the early 90’s, so…no internet) for a fix to the issue.

Keep in mind, I knew about the Surefire forearm replacement I could get for my Mossberg, but at that time (and income) of my life, there was no way I was spending that asking price on a light, and I would have had to modify the bayonet lug to get it to fit. Not happening.

I found a company that had started making a special clamp for a rifle or a shotgun barrel, and they also made a replacement end cap with pressure switch for the AA Mini-Mag light. At the time it fit my budget, it worked great, and I never had to try and figure out a “Work around” for those situations again.

Fast forward about 30 years later. The list of weapons lights I have used are pretty extensive, but suffice it to say, the model number usually had the “Surefire” name in front of them. I really don’t like CR123 batteries, but a number of my electronics unfortunately use them. They are expensive, not as common as AA’s, and when they die, they don’t give you any warning at all.

Although I have used pressure switches extensively, I’m not a fan because that is usually the most fragile part of a weapons light system. I had one fail on me in Iraq during a patrol and that is “No Bueno!”. If I can use the light with an easy to use switch, and without the need for a pressure switch, more the better. I have been using a system for a bit now that cost under $60, is versatile, economical, durable and efficient.

LXA-100 tail cap left, AA Mini-Mag light center, Magpul light mount right

The Light

The first part of the system is the tried and true AA powered Mini-Mag light. This version is L.E.D. and has a light output of 127 lumens. One of the downsides to the old Mini-Mag system I had, was the old style, plug in bulb could back out under heavy recoil. It did not work well on my HK-91 for that reason. This new version has an L.E.D. bulb, so it has a solid connection that won’t come loose under recoil.

Another thing to think about is the light’s output. My original Surefire 6P light’s bulb put out 60 lumens, and back then that was a lot! I bought an extra (expensive!) bulb that increased the light output to 120 lumens, and it was a pretty big deal. This Mini-Mag puts out 127 lumens, which is astounding in comparison to the older lights. Accessories that are available include extra lenses like the IR lens for use with night vision devices, and other lenses that are colored red, and blue for low visibility light signature.

Mini-Mag in an old laser mount on the left, next to that is an IR lens and it’s light head mount. The Mini-Mag accessory kit pictured on the right.

The Switch

Another addition to my system is a replacement, push button, end cap for the light. This cap is one of the programmable types that you can place on a certain setting and use it as programmed. Besides the ability to set the switch level, it also takes the pressure switch need out of the equation, thus eliminating a possible area for failure.

The last reason the switch makes good sense is the ability to completely shut the light off so you have no accidental light activations. This can get guys killed in a low light combat situation if the enemy is unaware that you are in the area, and someone inadvertently activates their weapon’s light.

With this system, you can turn the light head all the way to the left (as it’s pointed away from you), and it will not come on, even if you hit the switch. Need to use the light, set the light head to the focus setting you want, then hit the button when it’s needed.

The Mount

Finally, we come to the mount. I don’t know if you’ve looked, but except for the mount we’re gonna talk about, there are none that I could find, that fit the Mini-Mag. The nice thing about this mount from Magpul is that it will also fit lights like the Surefire 6P or G2 that I use. This mount can be purchased for either the left or right side of the weapon rail, and in either the 11 or 7 o’clock (right) or 1 and 5 o’clock (left) positions.

It is made out of the polymer that Magpul uses on most of their accessories, and sets the light in the perfect position for you to activate your light’s switch with your support hand thumb. Being a lefty, I opted for the right-side mount, so my right thumb can activate the light’s switch. Normally, I don’t like to mount accessories on the right side of my weapons, since keeping that side “Slick” makes it more comfortable if the weapon is snugged up against my back or chest. The way this mount rides on the rail, negates any discomfort issues with it up against my back.

Light system mounted on an 11.5″ Sig M400 AR. Pressure switch cover is for an IR DBAL  laser

NOTE: The most recent Magpul mount I received did not snug up as tightly on the Mini-mag light as the other three I have. My fix for this was the plastic hull, cut off of an empty 12 gauge shotgun shell brass base as a shim. If you run into that issue, this is a “fix” to that problem.

Well, that’s it. A weapon’s light that runs on commonly available batteries is durable with a good reputation, has the ability to be activated quickly and in a natural position by a switch that works well, All this is set up in a mount that is flexible and places the light where it is needed on you weapon. I’d call that a win, especially since it’s only about 60 bucks.

By the way, I like this system so much, I’ve replaced all the weapon light rigs on my “Go To” weapons with this new system.


"Parata Vivere"-Live Prepared.

2 thoughts on ““You Light Up My Life”-An Economical and Efficient Weapon’s Light

  1. So I love this set-up and set about putting one together.
    PSA, Mini-Mag now has a LED Pro at 332 lumens.
    Found some on Ebay for $20, they rock.
    Get them while you can.
    Thank you for turning me on to this.

  2. What a coincidence. I got into a weapon-mounted light after chasing a skunk around the yard with a 3-D Maglight and my 590. My solution was an Elzetta mag-tube mount with a Streamlight Polytac light, which lights up my back yard very nicely…

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