Forget Guns … Carry This Instead! the sign-up-and-get-one-“free” come-on at americanhandgunner.com urges. “Ultra-blinding tactical flashlight! 800 Lumen beam has been known to be ‘bright enough to blind a bear.'” Citation? Anyway . . .

I keep a Surefire GPX Tactical High-Output LED Flashlight in my car, but not on my person, what with carrying a gun, spare mag, wallet, keys and knife. Do you carry a “tactical” flashlight? If you do, why, which one and how did you choose it?

85 Responses to Question of the Day: Do You Carry A Flashlight?

  1. Streamlight ProTac2L for almost a decade now. I needed a compact flashlight that I wouldn’t cry over losing and can still take a beating. This thing has beeen dropped on concrete several times, has gone through several wash and dry cycles, etc… some of the anodizing has started to wear off, the bezel has noticeable dents. Still runs as well as the day I got it.

    • I had one of those and it only made it 2 years. The threads for the cap stripped off and the tailcap won’t stay in securely anymore. Oh and I broke the glass somehow.

      • I’ve only had to open up the tail cap three times in all the years I owned it. Once to install the battery and twice to change it.

        I’m actually impressed about the glass. That sucker has a very significant bezel. Did you smash it on gravel or something?

        • I honestly don’t know when it happened. I looked at it one day and it was cracked. I don’t remember dropping it.

    • I carry the same light, in a belt holster. Every day, right next to the Leatherman.

      It has saved my bacon on more than one occasion, especially on EMT calls in the middle of the night.

    • I’m running the 1L in everyday use. This ones been with me for a year, with zero issues. I use it daily to take the dog for walks, usually use it for 10-15 min, and occasionally a couple minutes a day at work. Battery lasts about 3-4 weeks at that rate, which I can live with. A 12 pack of surefire batteries will last close to a year.

    • Yeah, I have one of those in the Drago bag at my feet that always goes to work with me… of course, I’m not always carrying said bag so I don’t know if that counts – but it is near to hand when/if needed. Hasn’t failed me yet.

  2. I keep an old Surefire on my nightstand and a Maglite in my car. My cell phone has been adequate for my on-person needs.

    • and frankly, I am not enamored with the Surefure. My testing has it relegated to single purpose defense hardware. It is so blindingly bright that it is not useful for anything else, such as roadside repairs or night hikes.

      • I have the same problem. I carry a mini mag, cheapo rayovac aa or a coast g10 inspection light. None will break the lumen out put but they are all usable.

  3. Usually just the little blinkie that is built into the back of my phone. I just can’t see carrying a SECOND flashlight.

    Unless I’m going to the movies. Then I pack a dedicated light.

    • Ditto. Carried a Surefire years ago, lost it, and couldn’t justify the expense. I’m on my second Fenix as I wore out the tail cap on the first. I carry it and use it everyday in my work as a handyman and find it indispensable and incredibly rugged.

      If I’m dressed up or in a suit, I’ve got a smaller AAA that fits in the pocket much better.

        • I have a pd 35 and it has multiple brightness settings and strobe. I usually keep it in my vest and keep a pd 22 in my pocket.

  4. I use the flashlight on my phone pretty frequently. I’ve been considering grabbing a little purpose-built flashlight to carry around, but I haven’t done so as yet.

    • Yeah, the one on my phone is good enough in a pinch. But I have a bunch of Mini-Crees all over the place. Around the house, car, day pack, range bags. I have about a dozen of them. Cheap, bright and they just take a single AA.

  5. Streamlight NANO on my key chain – small enough I don’t notice it, bright enough to light up your way out of a mall in the event of a major power collapse. $10.

  6. “bright enough to blind a bear”

    Had to go through quite a few interns before engineering finally the brightness juuuust right.

  7. Absolutely. Streamlight Stylus Pro in a back pocket. It runs on common AAA batteries, is bright enough for daily tasks (certainly brighter than a crappy phone light), and it’s thin enough that I’m not sitting on it in my back pocket…it just disappears. And since I’ve started carrying a light, I find that I use it more often than I do my pocket knife. Very handy.

    • I carry the same. I find it is the perfect size, small enough to basically disappear in my day to day activities, but big enough to have an effective sized battery.

    • +100 I carry Olight as well. Its been a year and still going strong. I just recharge when I need too. I keep a Blackhawk flashlight like the surefite 6P in my EDC bag, and Surefire for the bed stand.

    • I bought my S10 Baton before the rechargable was available. I buy CR123 batteries online for about $1.25 ea. They last me about 3 weeks each of regular use. I am a computer tech and am constantly under desks hooking things up. Love the magnetic tailcap and use it to stick to the inside of computer cases when I am working in them in dark areas. Fits perfect in the watch pocket of my jeans and is crazy bright for something of this size. Three power levels, plus strobe. Also love the .5lumen setting which works perfect as a night light in hotel rooms while traveling. 300 hours on a battery at that level.

    • Ditto on the Olight S10, I love that little light and it packs a punch. I use a rechargeable 123A, with daily use it’ll last a couple of weeks.

    • I carry two of the S10R Batons, one in each cargo pocket. Also have a backup Nitecore and another Fenix in my computer bag. I use flashlights far more often than carry guns, and almost as often as the two knives I carry.

  8. I do carry a light, though I don’t call it tactical. :p Though I recently misplaced it after noticing the battery was dying. I put it… somewhere. Ironically this was to make sure I’d find it to charge it. (facepalm)

    I still have my old daily carry light, though, just need to keep it on me. It’s a streamlight stylus pro. Great light.

  9. I carry a nitecore mh25, mainly for work, but it’s always nearby. 960 lumens, durable enough that it is fine after banging on walls, cars, during little wrestling matches… I can light up the tops of ten story buildings with the thing. Its also rechargeable by micro usb, which is always in my car or in the office anyway. Still, it has hours and hours of juice, so I sometimes don’t charge it for a week.

    As for why, those are reasons, plus it is a comfortable size for pistol&light, without having to mount one. I just don’t like pistol mounted flashlights. Seriously though, the thing is ridiculously bright. It also fits neatly in a regular baton holder

    As an aside, I know several police officers who use the extremely large maglight variety of light. Oh sure guys, you just like it old fashioned….

  10. Streamlight Micro. The wife laughed when I started carrying. Now at least one a week she asks to borrow it. Totally unobtrusive clipped on the pocket too.

  11. Nitecore CG6 at home in the nightstand, a little button LED flashlight in my pocket everyday. I used to have a Streamlight protac that could run off a AA or CR123 battery, until it disappeared. I haven’t gotten around to replacing it just yet.

  12. Absolutely. I’ve carried the Streamlight Protac 2L as well for a number of years. My only objection is that the damn clip tends to pop off when I hop in and out of my truck if I have it clipped to the inside of my pants. Lost more than one clip that way and Streamlight does not sell replacements. Sure, they sent me a free replacement one once, but I can’t keep asking for freebies.

    I’ve recently been carrying a ZeroHour Ignite (Google it) that I purchased through a kickstarter program. At just 4″ long, its even more compact than the Streamlight and I don’t have problems with its clip. On the negative side, You turn it on by screwing the barrel rather than by an end cap switch. It still does high, low, and strobe settings, but it’s hardly tactical.

    I carry a flashlight for the same reason I carry a knife. They are tools I use every day. Sure, a light on the phone is nice, but the flashlight is way more powerful and more durable than the phone should it get dropped. I often skip the gun. However, I never leave without my knife and light.

  13. Yep, small Spark SF3 that runs on a single CR123 or a rechargeable 16340. It is small enough to carry and bright enough to do the job.

  14. I used to carry one, an HDS Systems model. It’s very well made, but drains the battery ridiculously fast even in low power mode.

    I used to carry it when I was too young to carry a firearm legally. I also carried it back in my clubbing days when door security would frisk you for obvious weapons, but let this slip through without comment. I always figured it would be more useful to smash someone in the face with it, than to shine it in someone’s eyes.

  15. I’ve carried a flashlight for over 25 years, currently it’s LED LENSER F1r. I’ve been carrying this one about 3 years, I purchased it after a Defensive handgun course that involved a dark shoot house showed me what a bad choice I’d made with my previous carry light. F1r is small rechargeable and 1000 lumens on high, battery is only good for about 2hr on high.

  16. Currently I carry an Olight M-20X. I like the three levels of brightness and strobe but also the capability to use 18650 rechargeable batteries is nice. The crenulated bezel is an alternative to a glass breaker just in case.

  17. 5.11 TMT PLx, $50, 90 lumen pen light. Sturdy, cheap and reliable. Comes in handy way more often than my gun.

  18. Fenix PD35 on the job , Nitcore tiny monster on kitchen counter, Olight 123 in watch pocket of jeans 24/7. The Olight is a single cell 123A with a clicky switch .

    The RN daughter carries a Surefire Defneder , the CPA daughter a Fenix pd35 tac . Good for light guy dark lots and corners . Ok to,strike with.

  19. surefire on my 12ga. for use on those pesky night time burglers, other than that, what good is a flashlight going to do me in broad daylight? I’ll stick to my guns thanks.

    • “what good is a flashlight going to do me in broad daylight?”

      You might want to try looking into a 1000+ lumen bulb on strobe, at noon sometime, you might find an answer. Especially in places where your gun is not practical!

  20. Thorfire PF01 in a generic nylon holster with a couple spare batteries. It’s small and lightweight and can be clipped to a hat brim to act as a headlamp. Perhaps not the best or brightest but it works great for me.

  21. Sorry meant to edit the poor spelling but time ran out …..
    Surefire Defender, and good for lighting up dark lots.

  22. Maglite 3-D cell LED flashlight in my truck.

    If you’re going to have a flashlight, it may as well be big enough to cause a skull fracture when you hit someone with it.

  23. Streamlight stylus pro. Found it on sale in Montana, with no sales tax to boot. Been with me on (and off) jet skis in lake Powell through the washer and dryer multiple times, lots of camping. Use it every day almost. I work a lot at night but I’ve had to use it many times during the day in dark buildings or to work on cars among other things. Also I find that if I don’t carry it during the day I won’t have it with me after it gets dark. Would like to get something that’s a little shorter and a bit more powerful here soon. I like carrying in my front pocket and some of my shorts pockets are too shallow for my stylus.

  24. I’ve got a Olight S10Rii in my pocket right now, I use my flashlight everyday or at least every night. I end up being awake long after everyone in the house is asleep and I use it instead of turning on lights in the house so I don’t disturb anyone.
    For me it’s not how bright it can go but how dim. I only need a little bit of light to navigate around the debris my kids leave everywhere and when I’m checking on them I want only a little light. I have a box of flashlights ranging from cheap AA mag-lights to expensive models that cost more than I want to admit to the wife.

    Honestly now days I’m sort of Meh on expensive “tactical” flashlights they don’t really do anything that the mid range lights don’t and it’s not like I’m doing search and rescue and need 800+ lumen or using the strobe for anything else but destroying my night vision.

    I’ve also never seen anyone at the range training to shoot with a light in their off hand or with a weapon light other than myself and I get odd looks from everyone when I do.

  25. Olight S10. Because size matters. I don’t need a big bulky light, the small Olights do everything you would ever need and then some…

  26. I’m amazed how many people don’t carry a flashlight as part of their EDC. The chances of being stuck in a building when the power goes out is likely higher than landing in a gunfight. Think of everyone in the WTC on 9/11.

    And sorry, a phone is not a flashlight. You might need your light while making a call or Googling directions.

    My main carry light is a TI Illumina. It’s about the size of a .223 round I keep it in a pocket wallet with a micro pen and a spare magazine. Its first twist gives you 132 lumens should you need it. I also have a Factor Mizpah and a couple of Nite Ize Inovas, but I find buttons, even on recessed tailcaps, seem to get pushed ON in my pocket.

  27. I’m a total flash-a-holic so the answer would be hell yes.
    Streamlight, Maglight, Surefire, Olite, nitecore, and on and on and on.

  28. I’ve always been infatuated with flashlights, have dozens of them all around the house including several “tactical” ones, plus a few more, but I don’t carry them with me. Most of my lights are too big to carry in my pockets that are already full with my huge cellphone, keys, wallet, pen, comb, etc. My weapons lights are smaller, but most are far too easy to bump on by accident and have them burn out in my pocket — except for the InForce WML (see https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AF9YOFI/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=1IBUN6JT22U5L&coliid=I2SW68VY7UY5AA) which has a little device you can flip up to keep yourself from accidentally bumping the “on” button, and the InForce also has a strobe feature that can come in handy for disorienting attackers here in New Jersey (where law-abiding citizens are disarmed, not allowed to carry guns or anything else for self-defense).

  29. I have six tact lights I’ve bought from Lowe’s and belt clip holsters for all of them , They run around 300 lumen , have half bright setting and strobe and cost about $40.00 each . They use 4 standard AAA batteries in a clip that loads thru the rear , have beam focus and are perfect for all uses . I keep one by the bed for night emergencies and always on the ready , One in each of my safes and one is generally on my side when I leave in the mornings , so yes , I do and my wife has a few of her own .

  30. I’ve been using flashlights all day long 5 or 6 days a week for going on 20 years. I’ve had every type and price point of light you can imagine. About 5 years ago one of my expensive lights stopped working on the 1st stop of a 15 stop day. I stopped by the wally world and picked up a $10 3×AAA 150 lumen aluminum light about the size of a roll of quarters in the store brand. I still have and destroy my bigger, brighter expensive lights (mostly for deep,dark crawl spaces), but I also have about 20 of these cheap and nearly indestructible lights everywhere(and always in my left pocket). Over the years they have come and gone from the line and the last time I checked, didn’t have one I was happy with. What all this was about is that the Cree leds have revolutionized the world of flashlights. Anyone can afford a powerful, reliable light for less than $10.

  31. Common sense should tell you a flashlight would be needed 1000 times more likely than a firearm in your EDC, to not carry one is not smart. Why spend $500 or more on a pistol, then not carry a flashlight or carry a $5 special? Invest in a quality flashlight from Olight, Nitecore, Fenix, Elzetta, etc., it’s a lifetime purchase.

    Buy once, cry once. It’s for real.

  32. Flashlights can be a great tool for self defense, complimenting a firearm or knife, or by itself when I must go defenseless. An unexpected 1,000 lumens in someone’s eyes can provide a brief but meaningful advantage.

    My daily carry is an Olight S1 Baton at 900 lumens powered by a single CR123 cell. Used daily, usually on the 12 lumens power setting. When I leave the house I carry a compact light with a single 18650 cell.

    My latest 18650 light is the Nightcore TM03 at a blinding 2,800 lumens that really lights up a parking lot. Sadly, this light is too big for EDC, unless I’m carrying a man purse, er, tactical bag.

  33. I use a streamlight on my Glock 19, whenever I pull it the light is on! I figure its a distraction during the day. Just long enough to maybe get the upper hand out there.

  34. I have a mini mag flashlight on my belt at all times. Practical more than ‘tactical’, there are dark corners even during the day.

  35. I have lots of lights stashed everywhere, but the one I carry every day is a little Bushnell pro high performance that I bought at the local big box store. It takes a single AAA battery. It’s rated at 50 lumens which seems plenty for EDC. The only modifications I’ve done is use my Dremel to smooth out those damnable “DNA grabbing teeth” to keep them from tearing holes in my pockets and removed the pocket clip as unnecessary for my needs. Though its small it gives plenty of light and is easy to find in a pocket if you aren’t carrying too much crap. The head of the light has flat sides so I can set it down without it rolling away. It works for me and cost less than 15 bucks. I have the 2 AAA version clipped to my briefcase in case I need something brighter.

    • This right here. I am often out on the boat with company after dark and I bought a bunch of the ~50 lumen plastic bodied lights cheap lights when they were on sale at the auto parts store. I can give everyone their own light and if they lose it or whatever no big deal. Having a bunch of cheap lights to share is a good thing.

      Slightly more expensive metal bodied ~200 lumen lights have been bought in multi packs on ebay and given freely any friend who indicates a need. I just give them the one in my pocket and get another one when I get home.

  36. My EDC light solution currently is a COAST HX-5 I picked up from Target for about $20 when both of my mini-mag lights died at the same time (I had a gift card). It’s plenty bright, adjustable spot/flood and the best thing is it runs on ONE regular AA battery for hours. In a pinch you can sub a rechargeable Li-ION or NiMH battery for brighter or dimmer light.
    It has a cool double-sided clip that can be used to attach it to a brim of a cap for a headlight. Tactical enough for me!

  37. Outlite E6; rechargeable or normal batteries, all metal, head bashing front end, zoom able, different brightness levels, blinding strobe, 100 yard plus range at night zoomed in, still fits in jacket pocket, battery goes forever, luminescent tail cap power button, etc. If we go out at night or into a large building (power failures) a flashlight goes along. This is my best one, a few others depending on circumstances (just like my carry guns, have variety to choose from).

  38. I have several Fenix lights that run with one or two AA batts. I use rechargeable NiMH batts, and I do sometimes carry the little single AA units: Fenix L1T, LD09, or LD12. The LD12 has a brightness selector button that also acts as a panic button with a 320 lumen strobe.

    Also, the LD12 at 4.0″ long is almost long enough to be an effective self defense “palm stick.” Also know as a kubotan, yawara or tenouchi. Not that I am trained in its use. Check out the movie “Twisted” if you are interested in that.

  39. Always. Fenix PD-22 in my pants pocket, PD-35 Tac in my jacket pocket, another on in my pack, third in the glovebox…
    I’ve owned one Surefire in my life, and the switch failed in less than 6 months. I bought my first Fenix because it was brighter, smaller and half the cost of the Surefire, and I’ve never looked back.
    I’ve never broken one, never had one fail. They get pretty ugly after a couple years of banging around in my pocket against a knife, keys, coins, etc. and when it’s got enough character marks it goes in a toolbox, drawer, etc…wherever it might be useful in future.
    I’m in Canada, so a pistol is a non-starter. I have to make do with what I cut with or hit/blind with. A good pocket knife and a flashlight fill the bill

  40. 1.) Bushnell Pro 750 rechargeable.[Wal-Mart special. Grown rather fond of this series of tactical LED flashlights. Aggressive design, self-defense type TID and handy.]

    2.) Bushnell Pro 650.

    3.) Fenix PD35 950lm

    4.) Olight warrior 950lm.

    5.) Nitecore 900lm pocket.

    6.) Fenix TK 25 400lm long-distance.

  41. Note: My original Coast 250lm Tactical LED flashlight got me “TERRY stopped” in my Massachusetts township twice a couple of years ago. On foot, walking from my car, from my resident parking area with an arm full of groceries. Suddenly found myself blocked by an Aggressive, young, BDA clad paramilitary P/O in a TACTI-cool SUV. Who stopped me, and said my “Military style flashlight was suspiciously bright !!!? He wanted to question me?! I said, loudly, and clearly as I continued to walk by him…I am I being detained for suspicion of committing a crime…I am under arrest..I have no wants, no warrants, and no criminal record of any kind…As I continued to walk away…I said I am not surrendered or waiving any of my Constitutional rights to the police department, or to the township… I am not answering any questions…Furthermore, I am NOT in need of any township police assistance at this time…As I walked away….P/O drove away on both occasions. I contacted my attorney about the incident, and gave him the P/O’s ID number, and Cruiser number…Haven’t been stopped again…My attorney believed the P/O. was on a “Fishing Expedition”, and that I asserted my rights properly…And I avoided the trick of a “Consensual Stop.” It appears that even in some places in Massachusetts. Leftist PD doesn’t believe that citizens should have access to “Assault Flashlights” as well as other lawful items…Like Pepper spray, pocket knives, pocket tools, etc…Massachusetts is such a “Utopian, Militant Liberal Progressive Enclave….”

  42. Of course I carry a light. Nobody ever talks about the dangers of a well lit parking lot or the dreaded bump in the daytime. Statistically bad guys operate under cover of darkness and are less likely to strike if you remove that advantage (especially if you have them under light control). I carry the powertac e5 and decided to do so after beating on one severely for a few years and it continuing to ask for more. Thing is built like a tank and the very impressive 980 lumen is hard to beat. I also carry a streamlight tlr-1hl on my carry gun, its 800 lumen does a great job of baseboard/umbrella lighting and still can gain light control at 25 meters or so. If I forget to ready my handheld I can go directly to the gun and still get positive id and light control on bad guy. You cant respond to much less shoot what you cant see.

  43. Somewhere between 2 and 4 lights on my person. Typically a Streamlight Nano keychain light, another small Streamlight keychain light, a BriteStrike penlight, and a Streamlight ProTac HL. Usually more around close by – vehicle, briefcase, desk, etc. Plus spare batteries.

    And you don’t have a camera big enough for my pocket dump.

  44. I carry two, and I don’t use my smartphone flash LED as one because I use my phone for work so I have a hard enough time keeping it charged as it is. Models have come and gone over the years in my pockets but I’m currently using small ones, a Fenix E15 which is their smallest single-CR123A light, and a Nitecore Tube which has turned out to be a pretty great keychain LED that is recharged by the same micro USB cable that charges my phone.

    I would like to get a single 123A light that can recharge from the same cable but all the ones I’ve seen use a proprietary magnetic-plug USB cable, and magnetic plugs are really great but being proprietary rules them out for me. I have a micro USB cable just about everywhere I am through the day for my phone, to the point where I even have USB battery packs if I’m even away from my car or work truck. When a new standard comes out to charge all our devices that fixes USB’s “difficult to get it right the first time” plug, I’ll buy new devices, but for now I want standardization so I don’t have to keep buying new devices whenever I break or lose a cable.

  45. O yes. Got to have a light. Problem is, with 3 sons and a habit for breaking, well everything I touch. I have gone at least 12 in a year! Not kidding. Lots of maglights, cree, laterns and drop lights. All broke or disappeared. Got one 3 days ago for my bday. Open package drop in the bateries. Wonder why there is no spring? Curious. O well screw end cap on. No work. Take out batteries. O there it is, jammed in the wrong end! Man I am soooo stupid!

  46. Streamlight Protection 1AA, then how many others? Have the entire family of Bushnell Pro flashlights plus 3 different weights of Streamlight HLs, including the HL4. BUT LOVE the Bushnells. I use the 1300 lumen as a backup light for the 50′ trailer when I park on a dark lot at night, floods the entire area up to 150 feet behind me.

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