Light em Up! The Flashlight as a Self-Defense Tool
When it comes to choosing a weapon for self defense, a flashlight is typically not the first thing that comes to mind. However, when used correctly, it is an amazing tool for personal protection.
In this post I want to share some of the advantages of carrying a flashlight for personal protection as well as what to look out for when purchasing one. Given the many advantages, this should be a part of everyone’s EDC (every-day carry) gear.
Advantages of a Flashlight for Personal Protection
- There are No Restrictions: The great thing about flashlights is that, as of now, they are legal to carry in every state here in the U.S. as well as abroad (as far as I know). This is particularly advantageous for those living in nanny states where they’d arrest you if you were found carrying a chopstick.
There is also no restriction on carrying a flashlight on airplanes or in other areas where handguns are commonly prohibited (such as the post office). Given the way things are going here in the U.S. however, I wouldn’t be surprised if flashlights get added to the list of restricted weapons.
- Flashlights are Discreet: Flashlights in and of themselves are very discreet. If a flashlight were to drop out of your pocket or bag in a public area, it wouldn’t raise an eyebrow. Contrast that with the reaction you’d get if your knife, or worse, handgun were to drop on the floor as your sitting in a subway car – yeah, not good. Unless you have one of those 12-inch flashlights with razor-sharp beveled tips that more resembles a medieval mace than a flashlight, then you should be good.
- Disorientation Factor: Especially at night, there is something about getting a wallop of lumens hitting you square in the eyes that can mess with your orientation. Have you ever been pulled over by a cop and have him shine his Maglite in your face? It’s disconcerting; and meant to be so. Many confrontations and potential attacks can be thwarted by simply shining a bright flashlight in your would-be-attackers eyes.
- Effective Against Animals: Animals, even more so than humans, become disoriented and confused when a bright light is shined in their eyes. When using really bright lights (100+ lumens) animals often react by running away.
- Illuminates Threat Areas: No other personal protection tool has the ability (except perhaps Night Optical Devices) to illuminate a low-light area. Since human predators like to use the advantage of the cover of darkness when lying in wait, a flashlight can remove that advantage and disrupt their attacks.
- Provides a Tactical Advantage: When coupled with other self-defense weapons, a flashlight provides a great tactical advantage. Not only does it illuminate threat areas as mentioned above, but it can blind an attacker which can disrupt aim and focus. From the attackers standpoint all they see is a wall of light and a dark silhouette behind it (that would be you). This not only masks your position but will mask any weapons you may be holding such as a knife, baton, or pistol, providing you with that tactical edge you need to come out alive.
What to Look for In a “Tactical” Flashlight
Here are my recommendations when choosing a flashlight for personal defense:
- Palm Sized: You want a light that is convenient to carry with you at all times. Your 500 lumen “mace” will do you no good if it’s under the seat of your car when you’re caught alone on a dark street.
- At Least 100 Lumens of Light Output: 100 lumens causes significant pupil constriction and a “blinding” aftershock due to momentary retina burn. It will even cause momentary blindness in daylight. This allows sufficient time for a surprise attack that will cause your attacker to think twice about continuing.
- LED Bulb Type: LED bulbs last significantly longer than incandescent and cause less battery drain.
- Rugged Housing: You want a light that is sturdy enough to stay lit even if dropped, kicked around, manhandled, or used to deliver a blow. Typically look for those made from mil-spec hard anodized (Type III) aluminum which will be very strong and very light.
- Waterproof: You want to buy a flashlight that is sealed on both ends with rubber o-ring gaskets. This will keep out water even when submerged.
- Established Brand: Flashlights, like any other tool, can break down with time. Be sure to buy one that is from an established brand and stay away from the cheap knock-offs. That way when you need replacement parts, they’re only a call away. In fact why not buy some replacement bulbs, o-rings, and batteries ahead of time. This way, you’ll have them when you need them.
Recommended Tactical Flashlights
Here are a few tactical flashlights that I highly recommend:
- SureFire E2D LED Defender
- Fenix TK12 R5 LED
- EagleTac T20C2 MarkII
- Olight M20S R5 Tactical Flashlight
- JETBeam RRT-2 Raptor
For those not familiar with the newer LED “mini” flashlights, here’s a few pictures demonstrating the size and light-output difference between a standard 4 D-Cell MagLite and a SureFire E2D LED Defender (both with batteries at full capacity):
This was around 11pm from about 50 feet from my barn. Even though the MagLite is a bright flashlight, it doesn’t hold a candle (pun intended) to the SureFire:
|4 D-Cell MagLite||SureFire E2D LED Defender|
- CandlePower Forums: For those interested in learning more than they ever wanted to know about flashlights, check out this forum. It’s filled with a slew of highly-knowledgeable torch junkies.
- SureFire True Stories: Here are some true first-person accounts of military personnel, LEOs and civilians who had to use their flashlights to defend themselves against attackers of both the two-legged and four-legged variety.