How To Use a Flashlight in a Tactical Situation
by Brett & Kate McKay
Art of Manliness
late Friday night and you’re walking to your car after a fun
evening with your friends downtown. As you turn the corner down
an unlit side street, you see a shadow dart across the wall and
hear footsteps. The hairs on your neck stand straight up. You quicken
your pace, but the other footsteps speed up as well. You look around
trying to make out shapes in the dark, when out of nowhere a fist
connects with your cheekbone. The sucker punch takes you to the
ground and you can feel your wallet being taken from your back pocket.
have time to react, your assailant has disappeared back into the
cover of darkness.
could have used a flashlight.
like me, you typically think of flashlights as something you keep
in your kitchen drawer in case the power goes out, or as what you
bring along on an infrequent camping trip so you can find your way
back to the tent after you take a middle-of-the-night leak. But
according to Mike Seeklander, firearms and tactical trainer with
Performance, a flashlight is something every man should have
with him at all times. I met Mike over at the US
Shooting Academy here in Tulsa to go over the ins and outs of
using a flashlight in a tactical situation. Here’s what he
Is a Tactical Flashlight?
post we’re not talking about just any old flashlight. We’re
talking about tactical flashlights. What makes a flashlight
tactical? A tactical flashlight is simply a flashlight that’s
been designed for tactical (i.e. military or police) use. Many tactical
flashlights are designed to be mounted to a weapon for low-light
shooting. They’re typically smaller than traditional flashlights,
emit much more light, and are made of weapon-grade aluminum for
maximum durability. While tactical flashlights are designed primarily
for military and police units, as we’ll see below, they’re
also a really handy everyday and personal defense tool for the average
Every Man Should Carry a Flashlight
Before we even
get into the tactical and self-defense uses of a flashlight, letís
talk about why you should start carrying one even if you don’t
plan on using it to thwart would-be attackers. Next to a pocket
knife, a small, tactical flashlight is one of the most useful and
versatile tools a man can have in his Every Day Carry kit.
count the number of times I’ve been in a situation where a
flashlight would have been handy, but I was left stumbling in the
dark. Take the other day for example. I was trying to fix a connection
on our TVís audio output, but I couldn’t see a thing behind
the stand. So I had to go rummage around my house looking for a
flashlight. I could have saved myself about 15 minutes if I simply
had a small flashlight tucked in my pocket along with my knife.
And as the
residents of the Eastern seaboard learned firsthand last week, electrical
power can go out at any time and for long periods. Having a flashlight
on you can save time and toe stubs as you navigate about your darkened
helping you fix wire connections or navigating your home after a
power outage, a flashlight can also be used as an effective self-defense
The Most Underestimated Tool for Personal Defense
If you use
a handgun as a personal defense weapon, a flashlight is vital for
low-light shooting. Not only does it help you to identify your target,
but it also allows you to see your gun sights in the dark. Even
if you don’t carry a gun for personal defense, a flashlight,
when used correctly, can be very handy in tough situations. (We’ll
talk more below about using a flashlight when armed or unarmed.)
They can be taken into places like movie theaters or airplanes where
guns are banned, and are great for men who live in countries with
strict weapons laws, but who still want to carry something for personal
There are two
important self-defense functions that a tactical flashlight serves,
plus one bonus use.
identify threats. Attackers often use the cover of darkness
as an advantage. A bright flashlight can help identify threats in
a low-light environment and eliminate the advantage of an attacker
stalking in the shadows. Simply shining a light on a bad guy can
be enough to get him to take off.
disorients attackers. Have you ever had a bright light
shined in your eyes when it was dark outside? You probably felt
disoriented and even blinded for a bit. You can take advantage of
that natural reaction to bright light to defend yourself against
encounter a possible threat, shine your flashlight directly in their
eyes, or as Mike says, “dominate their face.” Your assailant
will likely reach his hands up to his face and experience three
to four seconds of disorientation and semi-blindness. That gives
you enough time to either flee or attack.
use: Improvised weapon. Some tactical flashlights have
a serrated or toothed bezel. Manufacturers advertise these specialty
bezels as a tool that can be used to break car windows in an emergency.
But according to Mike, breaking a window with a small, tactical
light is easier said than done. “Me and a bunch of Military
Special Operations personnel tried for hours to break a car window
with the toothed bezel of a small tactical flashlight. We never
While the bezel
on a tactical flashlight isn’t going to break windows, it
can be used as an improvised striking device during an attack. After
you’ve shined the light in your attacker’s eyes and
disoriented him, strike his face with the toothed bezel as hard
as you can. The motion should be like stamping him with a giant
Mike says to
be careful with the toothed bezeled flashlights when flying. He
had one taken away by a TSA agent because it was deemed a “striking
tool.” When in doubt, put your flashlight in your checked
Flashlight Is the Best Flashlight in Tactical Situations?
So a tactical
flashlight is a great self-defense tool. Which one should you get?
There are literally
nearly 100 different models on the market. The one you choose will
typically come down to your budget and personal preference. But
here are a few things you should look for when selecting a tactical
flashlight for everyday carry:
You want something small enough to carry in your pocket
every day. Your flashlight should be no bigger than the size of
least 120 lumens of light output. For a flashlight to
be an effective self-defense tool, it needs to be bright enough
to disorient attackers. Anything less than 120 lumens just won’t
get the job done.
There are flashlights on the market that have strobe
or SOS functions, or flashlights that allow you to change the
brightness of your light output depending on how many times you
push the on/off switch. While many tactical flashlight users swear
by these features, Mike recommends keeping things simple. You
don’t want a flashlight so complex that you have a hard
time using the primary feature (bright light) when you really
need it. A simple on/off switch should do the trick.
You want a flashlight that will work in ALL situations.
Get a flashlight that’s waterproof so it will work even
in the rain or other wet conditions.
constructed. Your flashlight will likely see a lot of
action, so get something that will withstand the use. Look for
one made from hard anodized aluminum. It’s a tough, yet
light metal. Also, make sure the metal on the flashlight is machined
so that it’s easy to grip. You don’t want to drop
your flashlight when you need it most.
or incandescent? Mike prefers LEDs because in his experience
incandescent bulbs break easily when dropped while LEDs can withstand
a beating. Incandescent bulbs also aren’t very energy efficient.
You’ll burn through bulbs and flashlight batteries faster
than you will LED bulbs.
P2X Fury Dual Output LED. After the tragic shootings
in Aurora, former Navy SEAL Brandon Webb wrote
an article about what citizens could do to help protect themselves
in a similar situation. His number one recommendation? Carry
a super bright tactical flashlight with you at all times. He recommended
the Surefire P2X Fury Dual Output LED flashlight. This bad boy
puts out 500 lumens of light. Downside of the Surefire is price.
This little guy will set you back $121. Ouch.
88031 Protac Tactical Flashlight 2L. If youíre looking for
a more affordable tactical flashlight, check out the Streamlight
ProTac. Its 180 lumens of light output is more than enough to
blind an attacker so you can escape and evade. $44.
Extreme LED Flashlight. Mikeís go-to
flashlight. His has taken a beating and been through the wash
three times, but still works like a champ. Unfortunately, it appears
NiteCore no longer makes this flashlight, but you still might
find some places that still sell it new. If all else fails, look
for a used one.
to Safely Maneuver in a Dark Space With a Flashlight
When you hear
something go bump in the night and you think that something might
be armed and dangerous, there’s a particular way you want
to maneuver in a dark space when using your flashlight to maximize
your safety. Here’s how to do it.
the light switch first. If you’re in a low-light
environment, your first step should be to simply turn on the main
light source if itís convenient and safe to do so. Don’t be
like the forensics teams on CSI. The more light you have,
there will be situations when turning on the main light source is
impossible — you’re not near the switch, electricity
is out, you’re outside, etc. In that case you’ll need
to use your flashlight. But if you suspect there’s an attacker
nearby with a weapon, you’ll need to use your flashlight in
a certain way to keep yourself safe.
on, scan, light off, move. When youíre maneuvering in a
low-light environment and believe there’s an armed attacker
nearby, you don’t want to leave your flashlight on the entire
time. That just makes you an easy target. Instead, follow this sequence:
- Light on
- Scan environment.
Look for threats.
- Light off
maneuvering in a low-light environment, don’t leave your
flashlight on the entire time. That just makes you an easy target.
Instead follow this sequence: turn light on, scan, turn light
will likely shoot at or attack where they last saw the light from
your flashlight. By turning off your light and then moving, you’ll
increase the chances that you’re not standing where your threat
is going to shoot or attack.
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© 2012 The Art of Manliness