A purpose-built, “tactical” flashlight is one of the most important tools you can carry for self-defense. A flashlight can be used to safely illuminate dark areas from a distance, as an impact weapon, and to identify targets before using force. When acquiring a flashlight, it’s important to understand how it will be used, as the use dictates the requirements.
- Illuminate Dark Areas: It is never a good idea to enter into an area that you cannot visually inspect from a distance. This includes parking garages, vehicles, walking trails, etc. An added benefit of lighting up the dark is that you project awareness and readiness. Someone looking for an easy target will notice your actions.
- Impact Weapon: A flashlight is a force multiplier. Striking someone with a hammerfist is one thing. Striking someone with a hammerfist with a metal flashlight with sharp edges protruding is another.
- Disorient/Blind: A high lumen flashlight can disorient an aggressor and create an avenue of escape.
- Target Identification: You must have the ability to identify targets in the dark, especially if you carry a firearm for self-defense.
- Conceals You & Your Actions: Since you will be behind your light, it will conceal you and your actions, such as drawing a weapon.
- Minimum of 500 Lumens: Flashlights keep getting smaller and brighter. Five-hundred lumens is a good minimum. You can expect a compact design, reasonable battery life and a powerful, bright output. For indoor use, I wouldn’t recommend more than 500 lumens, as light can bounce off the walls and diminish vision. If you’re going to use your light primarily outdoors and will not be carrying it in your pocket, then look at flashlights that are 1,000 lumens or more. For not much more in cost, you can get a light that is just a bit bigger than a 500 lumen light but puts out 1,000 lumens.
- Tailcap Switch: It is imperative that the flashlight can be actuated with the thumb while holding the light with a closed fist. This grip is best for striking an assailant and for using the light in conjunction with a handgun.
- Momentary On/Off: We are used to flashlights that click on and then click off. Often times it’s a disadvantage in a self-defense situation to have a light that stays on until you manually click it off. The tailcap switches on most “tactical” flashlights will have a momentary on/off. This allows you to gently press the switch to actuate the light. When you take your thumb off the switch, the light will turn off. This is a silent, effective way to actuate the light.
- Pocket Clip: If you’re going to carry a flashlight, it needs to be convenient to carry and easily “indexed” or located on your person. A pocket clip geared towards concealment will hold the flashlights firmly and allow the light to sit deep and out of sight.
- Strike Bezel: A serrated, or crenulated strike bezel surrounding the lens of the light makes for an excellent impact weapon. Be careful not to get too sharp of a strike bezel or it will cut through clothing when carrying the light in a pocket.
- Impact/Shock & Water Resistant: You get what you pay for. Sure, you can find a $10 light. Just count on it not working when you need it most. A high-quality light that is water and impact resistant is an investment. Expect to pay $40-80 for a quality light that will do its job and last for years.
A flashlight is a necessity when it comes to safety and self-defense. Invest in a quality, tactical flashlight that will perform when you need it most.