When I first saw the Elzetta ZFH-1500 in photos, I didn’t think I would like it. It’s a flashlight mount designed to attach to the FSB – and place the light right under the barrel.
A “brief,” “abridged” history of my weaponlight experiences
I experimented with a number of flashlight mounts – and mounting locations – when I was first issued an M16A2. My initial attempt involved a rail designed to attach to the bottom handguard, through the vent holes. I placed a Surefire M3 in a First Samco light mount on the rail, and a heavy aluminum vertical grip behind the light.
Needless to say, this added a good bit of weight to the weapon, and it also kept coming loose (I preferred not to use Loctite in case some senior NCO or officer wanted me to remove the whole setup in the field). Mounting a vertical grip towards the magwell was in vogue at the time, so there was a good bit of barrel beyond the front of the flashlight, despite its impressive length. I found this to be detrimental when shooting over or around barriers, as I would often rest the barrel of the weapon on whatever was at hand if I was in certain shooting positions. It would be impossible to use the light to illuminate a target unless I pushed the rifle very far forward on the barrier – which was sometimes uncomfortable or not even possible, depending on the barrier in question.
Later on, when I was issued an M4 with a KAC M4 RAS, I used a Surefire 6P in various positions on the forend, including the bottom rail. Again, I couldn’t mount it far enough forward to clear a lot of barriers – and again, I was still putting the vertical grip at one of the rearmost positions.
Of course, mounting the light on one of the side rails has drawbacks too, though perhaps not as much as a light mounted towards the rear of the handguard at 6 o’clock – if you’re peering around a corner, depending on which side your light is on, you may have to expose a little more of the rifle (and yourself) to illuminate a target.
For quite a while, my favorite method of mounting a light was to use the Midwest Industries FSB rail and a Vltor light mount or 1″ scope ring – I had since moved my support hand farther forward, and this method allowed me to place the light on the weapon without the added expense of a railed forend. I’ll still use the MI rail on some rifles, and consider it to be a relatively lightweight and low cost solution for mounting a weaponlight.
Probably the most ideal position for a light – from a “tactical” standpoint – is 12 o’clock, in front of the FSB. However, this requires railed forends of a certain design, and a carbine gas system – which not every AR owner has or wants (on either count). It also requires the use of a pistol light, which is not designed for activation from that angle, though it’s something that shooters can get used to.
This brings me back to the Elzetta ZFH-1500. As you can see, when mounted on a midlength AR, the front (bezel) of a 6 volt flashlight is right behind the muzzle device.
Since hardly anyone rests only the muzzle device on a barrier, I don’t find that it’s a disadvantageous position. On the contrary, it’s easy to activate – the bottom sling swivel is very wide, yet doesn’t rotate from side to side much, making it very useful for activating the flashlight. When switching from strong side to weak side, the light is still easy to operate.
Beyond that, it’s pretty affordable. The standard mount, as pictured above, is $30 from Elzetta – $37 with a thumbscrew to tighten the screw holding the light in place. I found the thumbscrew to be useful and easy enough to tighten and loosen with a coin or the back of a knife blade.
My biggest complaint about the ZFH1500 – before I ever saw one in person – was that it prevented the use of a side sling swivel. Elzetta has corrected that with the introduction of both an add-on picatinny rail ($7, for use with your choice of sling swivels) and an add-on QD socket ($36). I haven’t used them, but they would appear to solve that “problem” quite nicely.
I was never too concerned about durability, though I’m sure some might be, because it’s “plastic.” It’s actually made of glass-filled polymer. It flexes just enough to allay any concerns or fears I might have had about brittleness. However, unlike the Chinese airsoft copies of the ZFH1500, it does not flex enough that a strong hand might be able to simply twist it until it broke off or was permanently deformed.
Although I did not hit the mount with a hammer or drop test it, I did attach it – and a light – to the Spike’s Tactical Midlength 5.45, which I fired 3000 times in under 2 weeks. At no point did the light come loose, nor did any of the screws keeping the two halves of the ZFH-1500 loosen up even a tiny bit. I did not use Loctite on any of the screws.
The FSB is pretty much the hottest part of the barrel once serious firing commences, and at several points during my test, FSB temperature was over 600 degrees Fahrenheit. However, when I removed the ZFH-1500 to examine it after the test, it looked practically new on the inside. In fact, other than some scuffs on the inside of the flashlight mounting ring from the knurling on an aluminum light, I doubt anyone could tell that it wasn’t brand new.
The light I used for the test – a Solarforce L2 with Malkoff M30 drop-in – has a slightly larger outside diameter than Surefires of the same ilk, so the tailcap couldn’t be rotated with the mount clamped properly. However, Surefire 6Ps and G2s, as well as the Elzetta ZFL-M60, did allow the tailcap to be rotated with the mount clamped. I did experience a few “negligent discharges” of the flashlight when picking the rifle up off a table or bench and catching the sling swivel on the edge of said table or bench. If the end user found this to be an issue, they could remove the sling swivel, or “lock out” the flashlight by unscrewing the tailcap.
The ZFH-1500 is one of a growing number of products that I was initially skeptical of – but after a detailed examination, have come to use with enthusiasm.
At 2.1oz, it’s about an ounce and a half lighter than the MI FSB rail/simple flashlight mount combo, and cheaper to boot. For someone on a budget looking to put a light on a home defense rifle, this would be ideal. A quality light such as a Surefire G2 LED could be procured along with this mount for under $100. There would be no worries about reliability or durability, and no apologies to be made in terms of quality. Police officers may find the ZFH-1500 especially interesting because it will fit, with a light, in many patrol cruiser rifle racks easier than some side-mounted lights.
Of course, if one has a railed forend, the need for an FSB light mount diminishes. Elzetta makes light mounts for those applications as well, and I’ll be reviewing one of them soon.