Book Review: Own the Night


By Curt Field

One of the many things that I have discovered over the 16 years of my law enforcement service is that cops don’t scare easily. They deal with pandemonium with the 360-degree sense, control people with just a tone in of their voice, they walk into the dark when others would be afraid to do so.

However we cops are just humans with special conditioning; proficiencies if you will. We, like other creatures, fear the unknown that affronts us. The constant in police work is darkness. Whether it be nighttime activities, a darkened room or lack of clear vision that allows us to take proper action, darkness plays a big part in what we do and how we do it.

Scott Wagner’s book “Own the Night” address those problems square on. He covers the history of the patrol flashlight from the early days where it doubled as a baton to the modern micro lights that are used as a force alternative to control subjects. The book covers every aspect of using modern tactical lights.

One you might not consider is that with the smaller lights comes the the by-product of heat, and it can be quite intense. This hits home with this particular cop. While on night patrol I left my Streamlight on lens down on the front seat of the Crown Victoria. Needless to say the next day when my chief pulled out a half inch of burned seat upholstery; he had words with me the next shift. It is small details like this that Wagner so aptly covers that makes the book more than just a flashlight manual.

Throughout the book Wagner gives simple do’s and don’ts noted on the pages of the text. (Mine would be principle #1- Use the light sparingly.)

The first half of the text covers the use of patrol flashlights and the physical positioning and tactics that come with the uses of compact high-intensity lights as they apply to traffic stops and building clearing. These were illustrated with both patrol rifles and sidearms. I personally appreciated Wagner’s respect for the Harries method and the variations that were basics in every patrol officer’s schooling.

At one point I felt the book teetered on becoming a combat handgun guide with the application of hand held lights as a secondary skill. But the truth of the matter is that when both a light and a gun are needed, they need to be used together seamlessly. When you need both, you can’t teach one without teaching the other.

The second section covers lasers and their application. For me, the meat of the section came with the first three pages that answered those darn nagging questions; the ones that administrators who can’t even find their gun, seem to always come up with when the request for lasers is made. (I can say that, I am a former chief.). Some questions that throw a roadblock in the way of getting the gear out to the troops might include, “How do you tell which target dot is yours?”

Wagner answers the question simply, if it is on your gun you know which laser dot is yours because you have TRAINED with that unit and only highly trained operators should have their units fitted with lasers. That and many more logical reasons sold me on the limited use of lasers. It seemed to me that most of the illustrations and examples were SWAT-based scenarios. That could be because Wagner runs a Counter-Terrorism Training Unit, but I also believe the author is quietly saying only the highly trained should be issued laser gear.

The remainder of part two seemed to cover the care and maintenance of laser gear and wrapped up with an extensive reference of products currently available. This include some reviews of gear and schools were training can be obtained.

This cop found Own the Night not only an excellent reference for “beating the night”, but also I found useful tactics to apply to that all but forgotten part of firearms training: low light and night shooting. I would refer this book to both mid-level and upper administration that is looking to upgrade both intense patrol and SWAT units.

Curt Field is a veteran police officer who has served in patrol, narcotics enforcement, SWAT, and sniper roles during his career.

You can buy a copy of “Own the Night” online at


  1. Curt, thank you for the review of my book-it is the first one I have seen! One small addendum to the review for clarification-and its probably my fault for not making it clear in the book, but I believe that laser sights are for everyone who is serious about their low level light defense. You were right, users need to train with them properly! Lasers arent a subsitute for iron sights as they can fail-I just had some batteries go down on one of mine due to improper storage (I left it on) -or their use can be negated if the weapon you are using the laser on is employed outside in bright sunlight. My Crimson Trace units are backed up by XS Big Dot tritium sights, which I rely on for both day and night use. My girlfriend, who is featured in the book in a couple of places to cover the civilian end of things, and who did most of the photographic work, likes them because they build confidence, she knows exactly where that gun is pointed. It adds even more empowerment to the fact that she can use a handgun to defend herself. But you are quite right in the training issue. Lasers need to be worked with seperately from iron sight work, and for police qualification, there should be seperate laser courses of fire in low level light. Again, thanks for the review.


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