The Malkoff Bodyguard does the Sig Sauer Academy

NH Lumens

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The Sig Sauer Academy in Epping, NH is widely recognized as one of the premeir firearm training facilities in the U.S. I recently had the opportunity to attend their Low Light Pistol Operator course - this report covers my experience there using the Malkoff Bodyguard v.1 light.

Along with the Bodyguard light, I used my EDC gear - a Walther PPQ pistol carried in a JM Custom Kydex IWB holster. For the class I also had three 17-round magazines, the two extra carried in JM Custom Kydex magazine carriers.

edc-4.jpg


The training focused on the use of hand held flashlights in conjunction with a pistol for defensive applications. The instructors, both of whom had extensive military and LEO experience, covered different flashlight techniques for holding the light in one hand while firing the pistol in the other. Since I've been shooting handguns for nearly 40 years, I was well prepared to take full advantage of the course and learned a few new skills in the process. For anyone interested in firearms training, the Sig Academy is highly recommended.

The Lights

There were 10 participants in the class and two instructors. We started in a classroom setting discussing gear and tactics, and specifically the key features of a light that will be used for defensive purposes. Both instructors hit on the same theme when it comes to light selection - reliable operation and a simple UI that ensures the light activates on full power every time. There was a definite preference for non-programmable lights, and for lights that always activated on full power without fail. Once we made our way into the indoor range it became apparent why that is the case.

We had a chance to introduce ourselves and describe the gear we brought with us. There were a few Surefire lights, but mostly imported lights, a few of which I had never heard of. When I mentioned "Malkoff" the name immediately caught the instructors' attention, even though no one else in the class seem to recognize the brand name.

We started the range time practicing the different holds with the lights, with the range lighting on. This allowed the instructors to demonstrate the different flashlight hold techniques and then assess our use of them. It also allowed the instructors to ensure we handled our firearms in a safe manner. Of course, safety is always the first and primary concern for this kind of training.

Once the lights went off, the firing exercises were in total darkness using our hand held lights to illuminate and engage targets. There was a lot to manage during these exercises in "running the gun" - proper grip, sight alignment and trigger squeeze, magazine changes, practice clearing malfunctions (purposely induced with dummy rounds), safe drawing from holster and re-holstering, holding the light in alignment with the target while engaging it, etc. In other words, the last thing we wanted to have to worry about was whether the light was going to work as needed. While the Bodyguard performed flawlessly in this training, that was not the case for some of other participants. Here is what I observed;

  • Lights that required multiple presses of the switch to get on high power (and stay there) are not good for this kind of use
  • Lights that have adjustable beams by tuning the bezel never seemed to be set right and required constant fiddling
  • Programmable lights were also problematic as they would occasionally activate on a lower setting, strobe, etc.
Seemingly, the more features a light had, the greater its chances of not working the way you need it to while you're trying to focus on handling a firearm in a self defense situation. Even though the targets did not fire back, the adrenaline was felt and the loss of fine motor skills evident. It is for this reason that a simple UI that cannot be accidently set wrong or activated in the wrong mode is absolutely required under these circumstances.

The Malkoff Bodyguard is absolutely perfect for this kind of use;

  • Its compact size makes it easy to EDC
  • Even the 600-lumen v.1 version is more than adequate for illuminating and blinding a threat out to about 50 feet
  • The shroudless body design is easy to grasp
  • Most importantly, the simple UI required no fiddling and caused no concern about the light not doing what it's supposed to do the moment you need it
Additionally, I found the DIY finger lanyard outstanding for this use. It allowed me to simply let go of the light to do magazine changes, malfunction drills, etc. and then immediately re-grasp it to get back into action. I would never carry EDC a light without one.

I was happy that all of my gear - including the Bodyguard - performed flawlessly. I was also pleased with my performance of using a hand held light in total darkness to engage a target, something that I have done little of before. Quality gear that performs 100% as needed instills a lot of confidence, as does having the skill sets needed to perform low or no-light shooting. Below is one of my targets from the day, this one with about 120 rounds on it, fired at from 15 to 45 feet using my EDC Walther pistol and the Malkoff Bodyguard;

llpotarget-2.jpg



The dude above is the only one who didn't have a good day. ;-)
 

tjb

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Great write up! Thanks for sharing your experiences. I keep meaning to take the time to go to Sig’s classes, especially since it’s only an hour away. You’re making me seriously contemplate what light I EDC now.

Thanks for sharing! Live free or die, baby.
 

NH Lumens

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The beam pattern of the Bodyguard proved to be a good mix of lux (7,700) to lumens (600). The hot spot was wide enough to make alignment easy and bright enough out to 50 feet to have plenty of light still hitting the target.

I also brought my M61T-MD3 combo and used that at 75 feet, where with its higher lux put more light on the target but required more careful alignment due to the smaller hot spot. I think the Bodyguard v.2 with 1,000 lumens and 13,000 lux would have been better at those longer distances.

My only regret was not bringing the HD 18650, which would have been awesome at 75 feet. Next time. :)
 

peter yetman

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Is it more important under those circumstances to have a cool 6200k light than something warmer or more neutral? Or doesn't it make a scrap of difference?
P
 

NH Lumens

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Is it more important under those circumstances to have a cool 6200k light than something warmer or more neutral? Or doesn't it make a scrap of difference?
P

IMO, within the usual 3000k to 6200k, not a difference. What is more important is beam configuration - enough lumens for a generous hot spot, enough lux/cd to disorient an adversary when shining the beam in their eyes. In my own experimentation using a mirror, the 1,000 lumen/5,200 lux WC v.6 doesn't bother me, but the 900 lumen/29,000 lux HD 18650 is vicious.
 
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XR6Toggie

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Good post. I definitely agree that simple operation is crucial for this sort of thing and a lot of lights marketed as being tactical don’t get this aspect right.

The use of lanyards for clearance drills and reloading is an interesting concept to me. When I first joined the police we were still using revolvers and low light shooting involved the use of Maglites which was clunky for shooting and cumbersome for reloading.

When we changed to semi autos a few years ago we also introduced weapon-mounted lights. I get the feeling that lanyards would complicate things both during clearance drills/reloads and reacquiring a proper grip after the drill/reload. How did you make the lanyard work for you and would you prefer a handheld light over a weapon-mounted one?
 

NutSAK

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Seemingly, the more features a light had, the greater its chances of not working the way you need it to while you're trying to focus on handling a firearm in a self defense situation. Even though the targets did not fire back, the adrenaline was felt and the loss of fine motor skills evident. It is for this reason that a simple UI that cannot be accidently set wrong or activated in the wrong mode is absolutely required under these circumstances.


That has become very obvious in the low light handgun training I've done in the past as well. I was using a simple Quark tactical locked in high mode and nearly everyone else was fiddling with their multi-mode reverse-clicky wonder lights.

Though I love my Malkoffs, I still carry that Quark when I CCW because it will eat pretty much any cell I feed it, and do it efficiently.
 
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NH Lumens

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When we changed to semi autos a few years ago we also introduced weapon-mounted lights. I get the feeling that lanyards would complicate things both during clearance drills/reloads and reacquiring a proper grip after the drill/reload. How did you make the lanyard work for you and would you prefer a handheld light over a weapon-mounted one?

The advent of much smaller but immensely more powerful lights are a big change from the Maglite days, which makes handling them much easier.

In my case my weak hand index finger goes through the lanyard. The pistol is held strong hand only, even the Harries or Rogers technique doesn't constitute a 2-hand grip. When using the weak hand to do a magazine change, rack the slide, etc. I simply let go of the light and let it hang from my finger by the lanyard. The Bodyguard is small enough it doesn't get in the way at all. For the larger light it can easily be flipped to the back of the hand, but even with the M61T-MD3 I didn't have to do that. Once I performed the reload or clearance drill, it was a simple matter of re-grasping the light and getting back into position. Other than a slight shift to hit the magazine release, the firing hand grip never changed.

As a civilian I have limited use for a WML. Unlike a LEO, I cannot draw a weapon to use a WML for administrative purposes, so a hand held is infinitely more useful. I've become comfortable using a hand held in conjunction with a pistol, and the fact that I can use just about any hand held suitable for the task is another big plus. Additionally, a pistol sans a WML is easier to carry/conceal. For LE, the requirements and tactics used are obviously quite different.
 

Gene43

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Thank You for sharing your experience. It's great to hear that the new Bodyguard performed well. That is exactly the primary use it was designed for!

Thanks, Gene Malkoff
 

NH Lumens

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So perhaps the only minor issue I ran into at the training was that with certain holds, the switch got pressed far enough to make the switch click-on in constant mode. In this application, that's not a good thing - when you need the light off, it needs to be off now.

Since I use the Bodyguard strictly for personal protection, constant-on is something I don't need with this light. Since the Bodyguard uses a standard McGizmo McClicky switch that is easily replaceable, I went about modifying the switch to be momentary only. The process is described in post #47 of this thread.

The Bodyguard is now perfect for my needs and the one minor issue fully resolved. As I stated previously, I also carry a VME/M61NLL/1-CR123 light at the same time for more utilitarian purposes.

edc-5.jpg
 

idleprocess

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  • Lights that required multiple presses of the switch to get on high power (and stay there) are not good for this kind of use
  • Lights that have adjustable beams by tuning the bezel never seemed to be set right and required constant fiddling
  • Programmable lights were also problematic as they would occasionally activate on a lower setting, strobe, etc.

It always confuses me when I see such light marketed as 'tactical'. An actual tactical light is a remarkably overbuilt single-use tool that's purposefully designed to be as easy to use as possible without fumbling around under stress. Multiple modes, latching operation, sending bursts of data via a blink pattern are all things that could happen with a tactical light, but they'd need to be so isolated from primary use modes as to be almost too burdensome to use under 'administrative' scenarios.

A Surefire G2 with the P60 lamp is more tactical than most lights carrying the label. But marketers have latched onto the term, probably because several decades of movies, TV, novels, and video games have primed the male 18-24 demographic to be drawn to the term.

NH Lumens said:
As a civilian I have limited use for a WML. Unlike a LEO, I cannot draw a weapon to use a WML for administrative purposes, so a hand held is infinitely more useful. I've become comfortable using a hand held in conjunction with a pistol, and the fact that I can use just about any hand held suitable for the task is another big plus. Additionally, a pistol sans a WML is easier to carry/conceal. For LE, the requirements and tactics used are obviously quite different.
I struggle with this. I have a weapon light on the 'nightstand' pistol simply out of acknowledgement that in the event I need it, I'm not going to be wearing street clothing want need a free hand to open doors, etc.

With the advent of CR2 or 1x123A weapon lights of adequate performance and much lower profile than the typical 2x123A side-by-side arrangement it becomes somewhat more practical to mount a light to a pistol since at least the side-to-side profile can approach that of the weapon. However, I believe that night sights are a first priority before going through the adjustment of mounting a light to my somewhat diminutive single-stack carry pistol - new holster shell at a minimum and practicing with it until I have reasonable competence.
 

marinemaster

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I agree with idleprocess. 10 plus years ago I worked all night with a relative to change a water pump on his truck. Back then I had the Surefire E2L with one level at 45 lumens. It worked perfect. We were under stress to get it done by morning. We succeeded.
Fast forward until few years ago and same thing happened on my car. This time I had the latest 18 levels light with a digital switch and it was horrible. The switch was too delicate had to keep pressing long enough or short enough to get it were I needed. Not possible in the hurried stress I was. It was the wrong tool for the job.
While I don’t have experience in law enforcement field I understand the pressure level and that flashlights need to be simple to operate and ideally one level.
 

NH Lumens

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I struggle with this. I have a weapon light on the 'nightstand' pistol simply out of acknowledgement that in the event I need it, I'm not going to be wearing street clothing want need a free hand to open doors, etc.

Agreed, home defense is the only scenario where (for me) a WML could be beneficial. But since I do not EDC with a WML, I would install the WML at night when it comes out of the holster and then detach it in the morning when it goes back in. I have a second-gen Inforce APL which is a nice light, but requires a screwdriver to take on and off. If I'm going to invest in a WML for my pistol, it will be a X300U-A with the QD mount, which can be easily slid on and off the rail.

In the meantime I'm comfortable with a hand held, a Hound Dog 18650 sits next to the pistol at night. I also keep a MD2/M361/bezel switch on the night stand for general purpose use (the three very low settings with the bezel loosened are extremely useful), both of which are set up with finger lanyards in the event I need a free hand to open a door, etc.

It always confuses me when I see such light marketed as 'tactical'. An actual tactical light is a remarkably overbuilt single-use tool that's purposefully designed to be as easy to use as possible without fumbling around under stress.

Exactly.

The word "tactical" in product descriptions helps sell products that are actually quite useless for this application. I always chuckle when I see the latest-greatest Chinese light with 14 different SOS settings, multiple switches, etc. marketed as "tactical."

Additionally these lights must survive regular drops on hard surfaces (such as concrete). All you have to do is disassemble some of these imported lights to realize how fragile they are (their typical light weight is the first clue). Lights from Malkoff, Elzetta, HDS, etc. are built the way they are for this reason and have a long track record of surviving physical abuse.
 

PartyPete

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Did the instructors seem to have a preference between a handheld light and a weapon mounted light? Or did this primarily focus on specifically using a handheld separate from a handgun?

To me it seems like a scenario like this would be more of an at home type occurrence rather than a CCW type situation. With that said, why not just utilize a weapon light?
 

NH Lumens

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Did the instructors seem to have a preference between a handheld light and a weapon mounted light? Or did this primarily focus on specifically using a handheld separate from a handgun?

They did not have a preference and in fact both were covered, in the class room and on the range. But out of 10 attendees, only two brought WMLs so the vast majority of the time was dedicated to hand held lights.

To me it seems like a scenario like this would be more of an at home type occurrence rather than a CCW type situation. With that said, why not just utilize a weapon light?

Great question, one that I have pondered myself for quite some time. Having owned and used both, I have arrived at the following conclusions (which seem to mirror those who have done the same). In a civilian, CCW scenario;

  • I am far more likely going to need to point a light at something/someone than a weapon
  • Drawing a weapon to use the light attached to it in a non-lethal threat situation could result in arrest on a brandishing charge
  • Using a hand held light by itself is also a deterrent to any predator looking for an easy hit (those with zero situational awareness)
  • A hand-held can be carried in-hand and seen in public with zero ramifications
  • When used in conjunction with a pistol, a hand-held offers more options in positioning the light
  • A WML usually marks your own center mass to an armed adversary
I believe WMLs have their place, and for me as a civilian having one attached to my pistol for in-home defense is definitely one of them. For LE the use of WMLs have much broader application.

On the other side of the coin, one must be competent at shooting a pistol with one hand to effectively use a hand held light. No doubt I can establish a steadier, stronger hold with a full 2-hand grip, but with instruction and practice learning to shoot with one hand opens up a lot of options - one of those being able to run the light independent of the pistol.

The ultimate solution is to have both, and perhaps at some point I'll EDC with a WML attached. But for now I'm quite comfortable using hand-held lights exclusively - especially now that I've taken this course.
 

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