Carry Gear: Self Defense Flashlights

Sep 12th, 20103 Comments

Browning Alpha Max, My Current Carry Light

The flashlight may very well be the most underrated and forgotten self defense item, but it is one you should carry at all times.  With advances in technology, we can now get better performance in pocket sized lights then we once got from the massive D-cell beasts our parents kept in the kitchen drawer.  So why carry a light?  First, it is just plain useful to have!  I’m amazed at how often I pull out my light during day to day life.  If you have it, you will use it and will be glad it’s there.  Second, a solid flashlight is a great hand to hand weapon that is so innocuous you can even take it on an airplane.  A flashlight can be used in the same manner as a kobutan for striking at joints and boney areas, but unlike the kobutan, a flashlight can also blind and disorient your attacker.  Finally, a bright flashlight is absolutely essential for night shooting.  For self defense it is critical that you identify your target and minimize stray shots and you’re not going to do that at night without a light.  Here are a few things to consider when choosing a carry light.

Size: If it is too big, you won’t carry it.  If it is too small then it either won’t do the job or you won’t be able to find it.  I prefer a light that is one to two inches wider than the palm.  This size is generally small enough to fit in a pocket, but large enough to use as a striking weapon.

From the Top: Too Small, Too Dim, and Just Right

Light Output: Most manufacturers measure light output in lumens.  You should get a light with at least 50 lumens, but I prefer lights with at least 100 lumens.  A primary self defense use of a light is to blind and disorient your attacker, so the brighter the better.  A 100 lumen light is blinding and causes temporary blind spots out to twenty feet.  At five feet it is unbearable.  200 or more lumens will absolutely screw up the attacker’s vision, but the reflected light may impact you as well.  Anything under 50 lumens just does not have the range or brightness to reliably identify targets or blind an attacker at self defense distances.  Many lights also have a strobe feature which will seriously disorient your attacker!

Construction: I prefer metal flashlights.  They are more durable and plastic lights are not going to have the same effect when used as an impact weapon.  A shatter proof lens is another plus.  Additionally, many of the new lights have crenellated heads which provides for more concentrated impact force when striking with the light.

Batteries: This is not a huge factor for me, but I do prefer AA over lithium batteries because they are cheaper and easier to find.  However, lithium batteries have a longer service life and shelf life.  The 3 volt 123 size battery is the most commonly used lithium battery.

On/Off Switch: A bulb type, push button switch on the back of the light is best, since you don’t want to be fumbling for the switch when you need light.  I also prefer momentary switches that illuminate when depressed half way and extinguish when released.  This enables the user to briefly illuminate an area or target without a double thumb click.  Be careful of lights with multiple modes because they usually require the user to cycle through all of the modes to turn the light off.  This can be very distracting during night shooting.

Many shooters like to use gun mounted lights, but I prefer a pocket light.  On the positive side, a gun mounted light does let the shooter use a two handed grip and keeps the light and muzzle in perfect alignment.  However, holster options are significantly reduced and it’s generally not a good idea to draw your weapon every time you want to see into some dark corner!

You can expect to pay at least $50 for a quality self defense flashlight and the more expensive ones will run $200 or more.  Sure Fire lights are nice if you don’t mind paying for the name, but if you’d like a quality light at a reasonable price then check out these websites:

LED Lenser

4Sevens Lights

Tactical Lights on Amazon.com

The Browning Alpha max is also available on Amazon.  Click Here

Feel free to share your comments and let us know about your favorite light.

© 2010 – 2012, mjshozda. All rights reserved.

3 Responses to “Carry Gear: Self Defense Flashlights”

  1. Johnathan says:

    Check out the Redline light. 220 lumens and has a defensive strobe mode. though somewhat annoying to get to it works!

  2. keith says:

    Menards has a 110 lumen metal flashlight by Guidesman that is very durable and very very bright. Powered by two AA batteries and led bulb. I keep it by my nightstand . Only around $20.00. Worth every penny.

  3. mjshozda says:

    Thanks, Keith. The Guidesman lights look like they are worth checking out.

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