In my daily life I find that there are a few items I am rarely without. These items are a pocket knife, a pen with some type of paper, and a last but not least, the topic of this article, a flashlight. Anyone who has been in one of my firearms classes knows how I feel about the importance of always having a light with them. Let’s talk about why.
Alright, you are home getting ready to head out to the movies with your friends. You grab your wallet, money, cell phone, and your trusty legally owned firearm. Midway thought the movie; an eruption of panic breaks out. There has been some type of shooting and people are injured. You get out of your seat and start making your way to the exit. The theater is dark but you are able to see the isle and the illuminated exit sign. As you approach the exit, a figure emerges from the darkness. You look quick and see what looks to you like a firearm in the figure’s hand. You stop in your tracks as the gun is raised and with no where else to run or escape the threat, you are forced to draw you weapon and engage the threat. After the dust settles, the theaters emergency lights activate and you see the injured man on the ground. You look again and realize that the figure was wearing a navy blue police uniform, that’s right, you just shot a police officer!
Now let’s look at the facts: You were legally authorized to carry a concealed pistol. You were in fear of your life and felt as though you needed to take immediate action to save your life and the life of others. But you failed to properly identify the threat and as a result, you injured a loyal civil servant who was running in to a danger zone to save innocent lives. Bottom line is that you have the legal responsibility to identify a target, threat, background and beyond. Without a light, your weapon is useless. Aside from target identification there are many other benefits of always having a flashlight. They can be used to blind or disorient a threat. They can be used as an impact or control weapon in areas you can not carry such as an airplane. They can help you navigate a dark area to get out of a dangerous area, and they can just be convenient in the event you encounter a dark keyhole or drop something on the ground. Lowlight firearms training is important and if you carry a firearms on or off duty, you should make sure you have had training in it, but for the purposes of this article we are going to focus on equipment.
A suitable flashlight should be reliable, small enough for you to carry comfortably. Batteries should be readily available and extras should be on hand. And last but not least it has to be bright enough to blind an adversary. In my humble opinion an LED flashlight with a lumen rating of 80 is ideal, but a minimum of 40 lumens is needed. I prefer LED for two reasons, it is shockproof so if you drop it the bulb shouldn’t break, and the battery lasts significant longer. The two examples I carry myself and what we will discuss today are the Surefire L4, and the Coast Cutlery DigiTac II.
Surefire is a name that immediately makes someone think of quality. The L4 is no exception. The L4 is an LED 6 volt personal light. The light itself comes from Surefire’s KL4 lighthead, and produces 80 lumens of high quality white light. The light beam is wide spread so although it focuses the most power on the target it will light up the whole area it is pointed at. It is activated by a “clicky” tail cap switch, apply a little pressure on it the switch and you get momentary light, push it until there is a click and the light goes steady on. You also have the option of locking out the switch when the light is in storage. There is a pocket clip on the side of the grey finished handle. The L4 fits perfect in your support side pocket ready for action. The L4 is a high end light so shop around, but expect to pay around $135.00
Coast Cutlery offers a lower priced line of LED lights. They go buy the name of LED Lensor. They are available in almost every shape, color and style. Their Digitac II is a perfect sized light for key chain carry and is still powerful enough to use as a carry light. The Digitac II is powered by one AA battery, which I find convenient because they are cheap and readily available. The light produces around 40 lumens or bright white light. The light fits well in the palm and is controlled by a “clicky” switch that operates on the same manor as the Surefire L4. At the tail end of the light is a lanyard whole. Attached is a steel ring. I found that this ring broke easily so I replaced it with a very small keychain available at any hardware store for about 5 cents. I have been carrying this light on my keys for about 4 months and have been very impressed with its power and battery life. I find it works best tucked into my waistline around my belt buckle with my keys hanging out for easy access. The Digitac II is finished in black and retails around $40, which includes two AA batteries.
I have discussed two lights with different sizes and price points. A flashlight is a priceless tool to have on you always. Shop around, find the light that suits you best and pick it up. Then come on down for a low light class. I promise you will have fun and you will learn to have a new respect for flashlights. I will leave you with one last tidbit of information to remember. When you control the light in an environment, you are better able to control that environment!