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Let There be Light: All About Tactical Flashlights

In addition to a quality pen and an acute sense of situational awareness, another great self-defense tool is a tactical flashlight. While they have great non-defensive use as well, a high-quality tactical flashlight is a wonderful “carry anywhere” tool. The images below are of a Surefire E2D Defender Ultra. While it is certainly not the only game in town, I have carried a Surefire Defender Series flashlight for close to two decades now, in multiple countries, through some really rough environments, and mine has never let me down. Regardless of which brand or model you choose to carry, there are a few considerations when selecting a flashlight worthy of potentially saving your life. Brightness: Studies have shown that it takes 80-100 lumens of light to cause temporary flash blindness at night. In daylight, that amount increased to 200-300 lumens. So, one could argue that any quality flashlight that produces at least 300 lumens of light should be sufficient for a defensive tool. However, what about that well-lit home or office, during a bright sunny day, with all the lights on and shades open? In this arena, a little overkill on the brightness certainly will not hurt. My Surefire E2D produces 1,000 lumens! I have personally tested its effectiveness against my unsuspecting former military buddies in a well-lit environment. Yes, it will cause temporary flash blindness…and some pretty interesting expletives! As a bonus, it also has an optional lower lumen setting for long-lasting “everyday flashlight” uses as well. There are several quality brands out there that produce anywhere from 300 to 2,000 lumens. Just remember to test it on your friends. They will LOVE you for it! Durability: If you are going to trust this tool with your life, it needs to be able to hold up under the worst conditions. I highly recommend either aircraft aluminum or high-quality polymer bodies and LED emitters. If you drop the flashlight, tap it against something solid, or heaven forbid you must crack someone across the temple with it; you need to know that it is going to take a beating and keep on rocking. With durability, sometimes you get what you pay for. Remember, this is a potentially lifesaving tool. How much is your life worth? Go ahead and pay a little extra for quality and durability. Flashlight Size You want your flashlight to be small enough that you can carry it with you all day, comfortably, but larger enough that you can wrap your hand around it and get a solid grip. Understand that you may have to hit someone with this so, being able to hold it securely inside a clenched fist is a great determination of the proper size. You don’t want a keychain light or a thin pencil light because they won’t be bright enough and they won’t be able to hold up to any sort of combative use. Likewise, you do not want a big ole heavy-duty Maglite that can hold 4 D-cell batteries with room to spare. Sure, it might make a great club under the right scenario, but if you cannot carry it comfortably all day, it does not help you at all. Side note…those massive 4D Maglites typically only produce about 98 lumens anyway. Ease of Use There are a few things to cover in this category. First, how easily does the flashlight function? Is the on/off mechanism located in a place where it is easy to operate while holding the flashlight in your fist? Usually, a thumb cap-activated light works well for this. Second, how easy is it to carry all day and deploy when needed? While some flashlight companies actually sell flashlight “holsters” designed to be put on your belt, I prefer that my flashlights have a pocket-clip of some sort. The clip design can be used for a variety of carrying methods. Jeans or suit pants with a belt? Pocket clip! Yoga pants? Slip the clip over the waistband! Purse carry? Put the flashlight inside a pocket but use the clip to hold it upright in a consistent position so you know you will be able to access and deploy it quickly if the need arises. Flashlight Strike Bezel One last area to consider for a tactical flashlight use…a strike bezel. While you can certainly still inflict pain by cracking someone in the face with a flat flashlight face, a chiseled strike bezel does some damage! While not a requirement, a flashlight with a built-in strike bezel is worth highly considering for your personal protection inventory. Now that we have hit the high points of what to look for in a quality tactical flashlight, let’s talk for just a minute about how best to employ one. The flashlight works incredibly well at a “bad breath” distance. Remember, they call it a STRIKE BEZEL for a reason. If you are that close, start striking! Grip the flashlight in your fist with your thumb towards you and your palm (and the strike bezel) towards your attacker. Then, start slamming your flashlight-filled hammer fist into their temple, eyes, neck, etc. Equally useful at distances outside of the striking range, the super bright flash of light allows you to temporarily blind your attacker. This gives you critical seconds to assess the best course of action and execute it. If your only exit is on the other side of the attacker (blocking the door, in front of your vehicle, etc) then the best course of action may be to rapidly close the distance and deliver those strikes we just talked about to the attacker in order to take them out of the fight. If you have a viable exit in the opposite direction of the attacker, use their temporary blindness as your cue to remove yourself from the situation completely. Hope this was helpful. Stay safe out there!