It’s been a long day at work, you’re tired, but your spouse has plans for you. After dinner and a movie, you make your way through the dimly lit parking garage, and a figure emerges from the shadows. Clearly this person has bad intentions and appears to be holding a knife. You start to reach for your pistol. Unfortunately, you realize it’s not with you. Fatigue allowed laziness to creep in and you neglected to carry your firearm this evening. You have no way to protect yourself and your spouse, except for your bare hands… or do you?

One of the most overlooked tools for self defense is the tactical flashlight. A good quality light can serve a variety of purposes. Let’s take a look some of the ways a tactical light can keep us safe.


General Illumination

Anytime you can improve your vision in a dangerous situation, you are improving your odds of survival. The ability to clearly see your surroundings can be critical. You need to not only see your attacker, but also anything that could be used as a weapon, by you, or against you. Unseen objects on the ground can also be a hazard that can be avoided if illuminated.

Brightness/Strobe Effect

If an attacker cannot see, he cannot be as effective. A good quality light can cause temporary blindness. This is especially effective in dark settings where the iris increases pupil size to send more light to the retina. How it works is rhodopsin, the pigment chiefly responsible for light sensitivity, is slow to respond to light. That means that if a lot of light, such as the beam from a bright tactical flashlight, hits the retina, the pigments saturate and reach the limit of information they can send to the brain. As rhodopsin is somewhat slow to respond to stimuli, it can take anywhere from 10-30 seconds (depending on how bright the light is compared to how dim the surroundings are) to return to normal light reception. A strobe light interrupts this process, which can perpetuate the impaired vision. The effect caused by this rhodopsin saturation is commonly referred to as “night blindness.” To exploit this effect, tt is wise to seek out a light with a high lumen rating. The light pictured above is the Powertac Warrior Reloaded , and is rated at 700 lumens (generally considered to be rather bright). The strobe effect, with which many tactical lights come equipped, not only aids in blinding the assailant, but can also confuse and disorient. Although, there is some debate on this subject. There is an argument that a light’s strobe effect can be as detrimental to the light user as it is to the attacker when utilized in an indoor environment, due to the light reflecting off of surfaces. My recommendation is to try it out for yourself and draw your own conclusions.

Striking Tool

A crenelated bezel is the jagged edge protruding from the front rim, around the lens of the tactical light. When used to strike an assaulter’s soft tissue, it can create gaping wounds. This can be an extremely effective technique if solid contact is made with the foe’s head. When blood enters the eye from a wound, vision is nearly always impaired. Tactical lights with a 3/4 to 1 inch diameter, are also ideal to assist the hand in becoming more compact, as well as heavier, if one chooses to throw a traditional punch.

Signaling Device

Tactical lights can be used simply as a way to signal someone for help. When using the strobe function, a bright light in a poorly lit setting is likely to attract attention. However, you may wish to also bear in mind that a light can also end up being a signal to your location for your attacker (and/or their companions). Because of this factor, some self defense instructors recommend engaging your light for your visual purposes, turning it off, and then moving locations.

A tactical flashlight can definitely save a life in certain situations. In those cases where you can’t, or just neglect to carry a firearm, a good quality light may go the distance. An attacker who cannot see due to the “night blinding” effect or, blood in their eyes, certainly has a handicap that will work to your advantage. The ability to see well while escaping, as well as signaling for help are also attractive characteristics of your light. What’s your preferred tactical flashlight?

This article was originally published on The Arms Guide and was written by Steve Durant

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