In this day and age, you see tons of ads in the popular gun magazines regarding the newest development in tactical lights, lasers, and even bayonets. There are almost as many companies offering these cool little gizmos as AR manufacturers now. You may think "What use do I have with these fancy add-ons, and what are the differences between them?". I hope this little thread will help you out.
These are a very common add-on to handguns these days and are very popular in the operator circles (SWAT, HRT, Military, LEO, etc...). The purpose of these attachments is to lighten up a darkened area, and at the same time, dis-orient the threat. This is usually accomplished by a heavy output light buld / LED bulb. The quality of these attachments range from very, very poor to outstanding. I won't get into each brand because that would take forever, and would defeat the inital purpose of this thread. The ability to provide light in a darkened area without using your weak hand is a great positive aspect of these attachments. Most brand come with a standard on/off switch and a monetary switch which allows you to create a strobe effect, that can disorient a threat rather quickly.
These are a popular and well thought out attachment to today's sidearm. The advantage of the laser is the user does not have to acquire a sight picture when engaging a target in low-light conditions. If the laser is properly sighted in, the user can put the beam where he/she wants the bullet to go, then pull the trigger. It greatly simplifies the shooting mechanics. There are two main types of lasers. The standard red laser,and the green laser. There are more official terms for these two lasers, but I don't want you to worry about fancy dictionary terms right now, just the difference between the two. The main difference, other than the color, is the brightness, and how easy they are to see in daylight. That is where the green laser (or viridian) excels over the standard red lasers. Care should be taken not to rely on the laser attachment too much. They can be finicky to sight in, and the quality will vary between manufacturers. They also have standard on/off switches and momentary switches.
These have only surfaced recently for the handgun market, and the opinions vary greatly on the validity of such an attachment for a sidearm. Most people view this as a gimmick, but when used correctly, it is possible to employ a small sidearm bayonet in a useful fashion. One could employ these with great effectiveness is extreme close quarters engagements. The verdict is still undecided on these, but I believe they could play a role in home defense tactics. The training and safety factors increase with this attachment because not only do you have to worry about safety handling a firearm, you have to safely handle a sharp blade at the same time. You will have to be paying utmost attention whenever handling a sidearm with such an attachment equipped.
The Laser/Light Combo:
This attachment takes the tactical light and the tactical laser and combines them into a nice package for your use. These are normally more expensive, but you get the disorienting effect of the bright light and the excellent quick-aim potential of the laser all at once. Care must be taken to not depend on these attachments too much. These are prone to failures on occasion, and usually at the worst times.
This post covered a very basic overview of the more common attachments for handguns out there. I hope this spurs some more detailed discussion on the positives and negatives for each attachment, and I hope some of you may learn something or teach something on this thread.