We spend a large part of our lives in low-light conditions, much of it on foot. Attackers often use the cover of darkness to take their victims unawares. Put two and two together: carrying a good handheld light is a no-brainer. Simply put, you can’t avoid or shoot what you can’t see, and you can’t see in the dark. The first rule for low- and no-light self-defense . . .
Have a flashlight.
A quick beam of light into a hidden corner can identify and temporarily immobilize an attacker, and save your life. A quick flash of illumination can mean the difference between shooting an attacker and the wrong person.
Both in my former life in the Navy and my current job(s) as father, husband and Training Director at The Range at Austin, I consider a handheld light a mission-critical part of my standard load-out.
And yet I still see gun owners — carrying a metric boat load of spare ammo — who don’t carry illumination.
There was a time when handheld flashlights’ size, bulk and weight made it difficult for the average Joe to comfortably carry and conceal portable illumination. Those days are long gone. There’s now a huge variety of small, sturdy, dependable, concealable, pocket-clip-equipped, handheld flashlights.
Why not carry a light? Many gun owners claim they can’t find a reliable, discreet method to conceal a flashlight without looking like a dork. Many more won’t consider carrying a compact light because of its diminished performance. Why bother?
It’s true: you can only pack so much illuminative power in a small package. But some light is better than none, just as any gun is better than no gun. In fact, I encourage students to carry a smaller, compact handheld light over a jumbo “face melter” for one simple reason: you’re more than likely to carry a pocketable light.
As my kids might say, are we there yet? Good.
I put personal defense flashlights into four categories; concealable handheld lights, handheld lights, pistol-mounted lights and rifle-mounted lights. Even if we’re just talking about white light (ignoring infrared), there’s no single light that can accomplish all those missions.
I’ll go into light choices and deployment techniques — strobes, handheld, weapon mounted, room clearing, etc. — in future articles. For now I’ll leave you with two pieces of advice: buy the right light for the job and buy enough light.
There was a time when 65 lumens was the bomb. Technology has advanced to the point where you should carry a flashlight that puts out a minimum of 200 lumens. Add a sturdy pocket clip with a push button tail-cap and you have a party.
These modern 200+ lumen daily carry lights aren’t cheap — and rightfully so. Flashlight companies have invested heavily in new technology to make their products, smaller, brighter, more robust and more durable.
Do some homework before you invest in a daily carry flashlight; including the price, availability and lifespan of the batteries required. (Hint: buy spares and replace batteries as soon as their performance diminishes.) But don’t delay. Not to coin a phrase, but the life you save may be your own.
What light do you carry?
Jeff Gonzales is a former US. Navy SEAL and preeminent weapons and tactics instructor. He brings his Naval Special Warfare mindset, operational success and lessons learned unapologetically to the world at large. Currently he is the Director of Training at The Range at Austin. earn more about his passion and what he does at therangeuastin.com.