What to look for, while buying self-defense flashlights?

Ever since our article on the difference between a tactical flashlight and a self-defense flashlight was published, we have been getting mails, and comments on self-defense flashlight. One of the most prominent queries were:

What to look for, while buying self-defense flashlights?

And it is a relevant question, too. Because, after all what defines a self-defense flashlight, and what should mine have at the minimum to qualify as a self-defense flashlight. Manufacturers often highlight their flashlight for use as a self-defense weapon in case of emergency, usually based on one or two feature they have managed to incorporate into the flashlight. And often, that might be sufficient  enough to avert the emergency. Herein, we will be talking about an entire array of features that come into our aid in an adverse situation, their relevance, and then list out some minimum requirements in these matters, and at last, list out some flashlights that fit the bill, so to speak, at different price ranges.

Let us first evaluate a typical emergency, that a flashlight will help avert, or at the very least, provide you with an advantage. This advantage may not be over and above the assailant/danger, and always keep that in mind while making decisions. The advantage will be over yourselves in the same situation, without the flashlight in hand. So, having cleared that up, let us jump right into it, shall we?

It’s late at night.

You had been out somewhere, even drinking, maybe. You walk out the door of whatever it maybe, and try to move into the car park, which as it turns out, is not lit well. No other patrons are around, expect for the singular sound or shadow of someone moving slowly, towards you.

Or, you walk out the door, and then have to walk to wherever you are going, which again as it turns out, is through some dark and unlit streets or alleys, without any traffic or other pedestrians. A shadow moves near to an alley, or some leaves crumple under a soft footstep from around a dark corner.

Or, you are at your home, and the power is out. You hear a sound from the backyard, or the side alley, or even from the kitchen. You are positive that it is an intruder.

Well, enough of the drama. If you are me, you don’t have or carry a gun. Even if you have one, you don’t know at what or where to shoot. Let us forget the scenario with the gun, and then talk about it in a later article  when we discuss on tactical flashlights. So, without a self-defense flashlight, you are just gonna have to walk or run away from the threat, if humanly possible, take an alternate route, or get somebody to assist you. In a situation where you are trapped from escaping immediately, you just have to swallow hard, and hope that you can throw in a couple of punches, pin down the assailant and call 911/help or throw a couple of punches, and then run away, before the assailant gets up.

Let’s not go into the statistics of how many muggings (or even abductions, or murders?) involve the assailant carrying a knife, a gun or some other lethal thing, or even a flashlight himself. It doesn’t matter. With a flashlight, you are at an advantage, in comparison to yourself without a flashlight. And everybody should have a flashlight or spotlight at homeDavid Erath of FunctionalSelfDefence.org, an expert in self-defense tactics with decades of knowledge and experience in the field, speaks about how to use a flashlight as a weapon for self-defense on his website, and also on how to use a flashlight in different defense maneuvers or tactics, effectively. I think it is a very good read, and anyone interested about self-defense especially, and using flashlights for that, should visit his website. Also, Brandon Webb, a former Navy SEAL and author of the New York Times Best Seller “The Red Circle” writes on how a flashlight will help in situations like those in the Aurora, Colorado shooting, on his website, SOFREP.com.

See better in the dark or low-light

This is a no-brainer. With a flashlight switched ON, you can see better, and you can locate the threat or target better. It takes off the advantage of the assailant who often prefers and lurks in the dark. In come cases, just shining the flashlight is enough to make the assailant second-guess his decisions or plans, and abandon his plans altogether.

Remember, the true victory or win in a fight is the fight that is avoided.

Disorient the assailant with the light

The intense light beam when shown directly onto the eyes of the assailant, will disorient him/her. If you have ever had bright light shown onto your eyes, you will remember that the first thing that you did was raise your hand to cover your face and squint your eyes. The assailant will most probably do the same, allowing you a chance to attack and incapacitate him, or just run away. The few seconds makes all the difference.

Use as a weapon to strike

Some flashlights are built well enough to be used similar to a shaft to strike the assailant. If you are looking to deal some heavy blow to sensitive regions, then you should look up on this article on how to do that. In any case, a strong blow with a good flashlight, will give the assailant something to think about, and will give you that precious few seconds that we talked about earlier.

Use for attracting attention – SOS

Imagine a situation wherein the assailant was successful in getting your valuables, and escaping after kicking you to the ground. Maybe he/she made it difficult for you to get up to safety. A good flashlight can be used to get the attention and to signal distant people to come to your aid. Even to distances where your voice may not reach.

So, these are some of the major differences that a self-defense flashlight can make, given that they have the required features. Now, we will talk about these features, and the minimum requirements of these.

SizeSmall is good and easy to carry/conceal. Big is better for striking.

So, with size, you are going to have to make a call. Which is more important to you? A small flashlight can be carried in the pocket, on the belt, in your handbag or luggage, quite easy. It can even be carried on airlines, without anyone raising an eyebrow – A foot long flashlight, might raise more than a few eyebrows when the luggage passes through the X-ray scanner. But, as we said, a bigger flashlight is better for striking heavy blows. Hence, size is going to be a compromise, and you have to make that call.

Output – The more the better in effect, but battery-life/run-time might be affected.

When we say light output, we mean the output in Lumens, of course. We believe that you should have about 150 Lumens light output at your disposal, or 100 Lumens at the very least. Anything lower, and it might not be enough to disorient the assailant, while some say even 50 Lumens should be sufficient. A higher output might drain the battery quicker, but most flashlights come with selectable output – HIGH OR LOW, etc.

Ease of useThe faster you switch it ON, the more of the “FEW SECONDS” you get.

Some flashlights need the button to be slid in some direction to switch ON, while some require a ring to be turned. Some others require the rear end to be twisted. All these are going to use up the few seconds that we talked about earlier. Look for flashlights with a simple rear tactical push-button. Single press ON/OFF. And it should be very easy to get to the bright/HIGH mode. There are many flashlights that feature such a system, and proves quite useful in many situations.

ModesDifferent modes increase the usability, but if it takes time to select one, it reduces your odds.

Some flashlights have HIGH and LOW intensity modes, and this will be very useful in relevant situations. But like we talked regarding ease of use above, the selection should be simple. The high intensity mode can help disorient the attacker or get clarity in dark corners, while the low intensity mode will help in searching or scanning for a longer time. Also, you have to decide whether you want a flashlight with throw or flood, since both doesn’t come together all the time. Throw will give you a focused beam for longer distance, better for searching and highlighting something at a longer distance, while flood might give better situational awareness since it lights up more area.

Bulb LED is better since it has more stability than an incandescent bulb

LED bulbs are better despite any other shortcomings, since they are solid and stabler than the incandescent bulbs. Even on impact on ground or use as a strike weapon, LED has much better chances of surviving compared to the other.

Build quality – No compromise on this.

A flashlight of excellent build quality will transfer all your energy of strike onto the assailant. A good flashlight is one that is built out of good quality material like Aluminium, especially the higher grades, or like some rare ones out of titanium. Steel is going to be heavier. Anodized aluminium flashlights are the craze right now, and rightly so. Hard anodizing protects the aluminium surface from damages and scratches.

Additional featuresBezels, knurling, sharp corners.

Bezels and sharp corners hurt the assailant when they make contact with the strike, and are effective as weapons, but excessively sharp features might consider them to be treated as weapons in some places, especially airports. Knurling provides better grip in your hand, and comes as standard in most flashlights.

I will add to it if I can think anything else, or you could comment below, about what you think is a great feature for a flashlight in use as a self-defense weapon.

I think that the following are some very good self-defense flashlights, and it is a small list, not an exhaustive one.

  1. Surefire E2D Defender
  2. Nitecore P12GT
  3. Fenix PD35 TAC
  4. Olight M1X Striker
  5. EagleTac T20C2

Do let us know through the comments about your favorite self-defense flashlight.

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