Weapon-mounted lights have come a long way since the days when you had to rig up a standalone flashlight with electrical tape wrapped around the handguard, positioning it just right where you can reach the button or switch without taking your hand down and losing your 2nd point of contact on the rifle. As versatile as the AR platform is, it wasn’t always easy to mount a light.
One of the biggest obstacles to mounting a light on a rifle has always been the size. Traditional old school tactical flashlights were simply way too big to be practical. Think about trying to mount a four D-cell Maglight on an M4-style handguard. It’s gonna be awkward. And it was for all those years. However, two innovations changed everything.
The 1st was the adoption of LED bulbs. While LEDs were nothing new, they had been largely relegated to the world of toys and trinkets. But LED technology improved to the point where they could handle more power and thus became more practical for tactical (see what I did there?). Light manufacturers could compress as much—or sometimes more—illumination power into a significantly smaller housing. Flashlights began to shrink without sacrificing brightness or light projection. In fact, some of the newer flashlights were brighter, with more lumens and farther throw for better overall performance.
The 2nd was a revolution in handguards, as the traditional M4 barrel shroud was largely cast aside for the more functional and streamlined free-float design peppered all around with Picatinny rail and M-LOK attachment points. Now AR owners could ditch the roll of black electrical tape for one of these more stable methods for affixing the light. While there was still the issue in some cases of how to turn the light on and off—how to reach the button/switch—at least it could be semi-permanently mounted to the rail and stay there through recoil and moving around with the rifle. Some folks placed the light close enough to their natural 2nd hand position to thumb it on, while others opted for a remote pressure switch snugged up against the rail. This 2nd option allowed more flexibility in mounting the light without a need to rearrange the shooter’s natural grip.
No matter which option a shooter chooses, one other potential obstacle can get in the way. I say potential because not everyone has one: a foregrip. Some AR shooters like the addition of a foregrip on the handguard, while others prefer to run the handguard clean, employing a variation of the overhand or underhand C clamp to stabilize the barrel.
The challenge comes when you want to incorporate a weapon-mounted light and a foregrip at the same time. How does that work? Your hand can only be in one place at a time. So how do you hold the foregrip and work the light at the same time? Can it be done? It can now.
Enter the Viridian 4Lux CQ Grip Light. This innovative setup incorporates a 400-lumen/850 Candela LED flashlight into a foregrip to offer both rifle barrel stability and the needed illumination to see your target and field of fire in low-light conditions.
The Grip Light is based on a highly ergonomic design that allows a natural grip on the foregrip regardless of whether you’re using the light.
Viridian has made rail-mounted tools for several years now, most recently the HS1 Hand Stop Laser, which serves the aiming laser world in much the same way as the Grip Light serves for illuminating a target. The HS1 Hand Stop Laser adds a green laser to the front of a contoured hand stop for safe and easy operation no matter the barrel length, from pistols to SBRs to full-size ARs.
The same concept governs the Viridian Grip Light’s design: to create a foregrip and light combo that allow the grip to be used as a light or with no illumination but contouring it so an easy flip of the index finger turns on the light when needed.
When I received mine, I quickly headed downstairs to mount it to my AR because why would I wait? I needed to attach it fast so I could take it to the range for testing. Chop, chop! So, it was a good thing the 4Lux affixed so easily to the rail. The three M-LOK mounting screws— one each in front, middle, and rear—worked easily, although the middle one was a bit finicky at 1st because it was rather small. After I figured out my fat fingers caused the problem, I tightened the Grip Light screws down and gave it a wiggle test. It held firm with zero wiggling.
In case you’re not familiar with Viridian’s M-LOK system, they include a small card with instructions in the box. Naturally, I didn’t discover this until after I had installed the light because, well, I’m a guy, and guys don’t follow instructions. Why would we? We just pull out our screwdrivers and get to work until something breaks. In this case, nothing broke, and everything worked out fine.
Next came the battery, which is a standard Lithium 123, the same power system used in a ton of other tactical flashlights. The beauty of using a standard battery is that you’ll probably have a robust supply both at home and in your tactical kit and bailout bag. It’s also a reliable system that’s been used for years.
To install the battery, simply unscrew the cap on the front lobe of the Grip Light, tuck the battery inside, and screw it back together. The screw face is big enough for a large screwdriver or multitool edge, making battery installation and replacement simple.
There were two aspects of this Viridian Grip Light that I wanted to test the most. The 1st was basic illumination. How well would it light up a low-light scene so I could see my target? Would it be bright enough and deep enough? Just because a light casts 400 lumens doesn’t mean it’s great at lighting up a target or helping you identify what you’re seeing.
The 2nd test would be to see how well the mount held under firing conditions. Just as you test an optic to be sure it stays put under recoil, lights and foregrips (in this case, one and the same) need to also hold firm and not move or loosen when a rifle shoots. Even though ARs don’t kick very much, vibrations still travel down the barrel and handguard that would jostle poorly mounted hardware free.
At the range, I shot through four full magazines of 5.56, under both rapid fire and slow fire rates, with plenty of tugging on the Grip Light to simulate running and gunning. After clearing the gun, I tugged and yanked on the Viridian Grip Light. Nothing. It held as firmly as before I started shooting. So I shot a couple more magazines and tried it again. Still nothing. The screws didn’t back out even a smidge. And this was without Lok-Tite. First test: passed.
Then I turned out the lights to see how well it lit up a pitch-black bay. As you’ll see from the pics, it did a bang-up (ha!) job, illuminating even the black rubber backstop. The 400 lumens cut through the dark.
To say I was impressed with the Viridian 4Lux CQ Grip Light is an understatement. While it’s certainly not the most powerful weapon-mounted light out there, it does what it’s designed for: close-quarter identification and illumination.
The ergos are spectacular, making that 2nd point of contact on the handguard both comfortable and useful. Turning on the light is super simple, with light index finger pressure on the nub switch. Initially, I was bothered by the lack of an always-on setting but quickly realized under shooting conditions it was totally unnecessary, as my left hand was always at the ready with no need to shift my hand position at all to activate the light.
“Okay, David, I get it, and I want one! How much?” Viridian lists the 4Lux CQ Grip Light on its website at $199, which at 1st seemed a bit steep until I realized it was less than most high-end tactical flashlights and less than many foregrips, yet you get both in one. So, all told, it’s a relative bargain. Would I recommend it? It’s still on my rifle and likely to stay there, if that’s any indication.