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Old August 2, 2009, 08:34 PM   #1
Phoebe
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Tactical Flashlights

I hope this is in the right forum. If not, I hope a mod can move it.

Can anyone share with me some info on tactical flashlights? Proper use? Minimum lumens? Appropriate price? (Whoa!)
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Old August 2, 2009, 08:41 PM   #2
Trashcan-man
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Depends on what you're using it for. If you are just needing a flashlight then I wouldn't spend too much on it. I use a maglight with rechargeable batteries. Works great and is reliable. If you need/want a real tac light then I have a Surefire 6p l.e.d., I think it's 85 lumens and was about $80.
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Old August 2, 2009, 08:45 PM   #3
Phoebe
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I'm looking to use it as a layer of SD in my home. So, no, not looking for a regular flashlight! Can those things even be used like a regular flashlight??
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Old August 2, 2009, 08:47 PM   #4
sakeneko
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My husband carries a Sportsman's Warehouse brand 12-volt xenon flashlight he got for around $40.00. It's bright enough to blind an attacker temporarily, and is rechargeable. This is the type of flashlight that is usually sold as "tactical".

Be careful with the term "tactical" when used about guns and self-defense equipment, by the way. I've learned that it's usually used to make things sound military grade and "sexy", and to jack up the price. :/ It doesn't usually mean anything specific when applied to equipment for sale; tactics isn't in a piece of equipment, but in how you use it.
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Old August 2, 2009, 09:12 PM   #5
Sefner
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A "tactical" flashlight has two purposes:

1. To illuminate a defender's surroundings (this is obvious) and

2. As mentioned above, to blind an attacker. Assuming the attack comes in the night, the criminal's eyes will be adjusted to the darkness. A quick burst of high lumins will cause all of the cells in the BG's eyes to activate, causing temporary blindness and a bit of surprise.

The tactics for this come in 3 main flavors:

1. Keep the light on at all times. This has one advantage: you can see all the time and you wont "miss" the BG's head with it. But the BG will see you coming and know your location.

2. Switch on an off. This is good for those times when you don't want the BG to know your location. It is also a very effective blinder when the BG, straining to see into a shadow, suddenly gets the power of the sun into his pupils. (but you obviously can't see with it off)

3. "wiggling" the light. You see cops to this to drunks/belligerent people sometimes. They aim the light, which is on, at the person's eyes, and "wiggle" the light really fast back and forth across their face. The quick "strobe" effect of the light confuses the person's eyes, usually causing them to cringe away from it (have a friend try it on you to see what it's like). This is best used when it is not totally dark (the sun isn't fully down, streetlight, light in the room etc etc).

Last edited by Sefner; August 2, 2009 at 09:15 PM. Reason: a little more info/clarity
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Old August 2, 2009, 09:15 PM   #6
Trashcan-man
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Sorry Kayla, I didn't realize you were brand new to shooting. I just finished reading your other thread about where to start so I will clarify what I said before.
Tactical lights are usually very bright lights, mostly upwards of 60 lumens, and are usually intended to be used in conjunction with your handgun. Most of them have rear switches so that you can hold them in your hand and turn them on with your thumb. The reason that they are so bright is so that you can disorient your attacker, trust me my surefire is 85 lumens and is PAINFULLY bright
This isn't to say that you NEED a surefire or a tactical light. I bought a cheap knock off at walmart for less than $20 and it is very bright as well. The reason I bought the surefire is because I will be attending a police academy in january and the agency I will be working for doesn't issue squat to it's new officers....ok...that's all true but lets be honest I really just wanted the name brand...lol.
Truthfully, IMHO if you are just getting started and are not independently wealthy I would suggest that you buy a cheap knock off from walmart and spend the remainder on practice ammo and good quality sd ammo for your new gun when you buy it.
If you do have plenty of extra cash laying around buy a surefire or 2 and while you're at it..I could use some cash

Last edited by Trashcan-man; August 2, 2009 at 09:58 PM.
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Old August 2, 2009, 09:26 PM   #7
skifast
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I bought two Solarforce's from the classifieds section for $30 each . I love them. Better than my Surefire 6P and less than half the cost.

Here is the link to the ad:

http://www.thefiringline.com/forums/...d.php?t=358790
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Old August 2, 2009, 09:26 PM   #8
mskdgunman
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As Trashcan man said, alot depends on what you'll be using it for. Will you be carrying it around with you? If so, will size be an issue? Is it to be used just for general illumination or for more serious social encounters in conjunction with a defensive firearm?

Personally, I have two older model Surfires that I've carried for years. One is a standard 2 cell (a 6P I believe) and the other is a dedicated shooting light (also a 2 cell). While Surefires are expensive you generally get what you pay for (in my experience). They are bright, well made and stand up to lots of abuse. Batteries are reasonable if you look around and buy in bulk. If you go to Wal mart or any drug store, expect to pay a premium for the 3 volt lithiums. The only drawback to them is that they suck batteries. I have heard that the LED versions give better battery life and are just as bright but I don't have any experience with them.

Due to the battery drain, I use the Surefires only for shooting or as back up lights at work. For general looking around or for when I need a light on for an extended period, I've started using a Pelican Model 2360. It runs on AA batteries and is probably the brightest factory AA light I've ever used. I just stared using it at work so only time will tell if it will last. If it handles the abuse I'm cabable of dishing out, it'll be a winner and I'll get a few more. I also picked up a Pelican 3330 LED (2 3 volt lithiums) which is a basic polymer light with a push button end cap. So far, it's working well but does get hot with extended use (anything longer then 10 - 15 minutes). Botach has them on sale for $20 so I figured I'd live one a try

The PD issues rechargable Stingers which are pretty good all around lights but even if you charge them religiously, they always seem to die when you need them. Sometimes it's easier to just drop fresh batteries into a regular light.

As a cop, I carry 3 or 4 lights on me at work. One is a dedicated weapons mounted light, one is a back up shooting light, one is a general use light and one is a micro light for finding stuff in the car. For this, I'm currently using a Maratec AAA which, so far, is working out great. Off duty, I generally carry one of the Surefires and a small pocket light. For pocket or keyring lights, I have two of the Gerber Infinity lights (both are one cell AA) with are about as basic as they come but have served me well over the years. The Maratec is rapidly finding a place in my heart though.

Candlepower forums is a good place to go as those guys live, eat and sleep flashlights and you'll learn more then you really wanted to about lumens and candlepower

I've tried a couple of the chinese knock offs that you see on ebay and while they worked ok for a short time, they usually stopped after the first time I dropped them so I gave up on them. What you save in money you'll pay for in aggravation.

On a safety note, I did have one of Surefires blow up on me a few months back. I have to admit breaking a cardinal rule and mixing battery brands. Luckily for me, it was at night and the light was on the dresser. The batteries shorted out and it exploded with such force that it vaporized the plexiglass lens and the case got way too hot to touch. I shudder to think what would have happened if it had been in my pocket or on my gear when it went critical mass. I now stick with good brand name batteries and don't mix and match but it's always in the back of my mind
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Old August 2, 2009, 10:09 PM   #9
Phoebe
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Sorry, maybe there is a better term, but I mean a flashlight that is used for SD in contrast to one that helps me plug my HDMI cable into my tv!

The real question is, would it make any sense to depend on a tactical flashlight to blind someone to give me time to get out of my house?

I don't have a firearm yet. And even if I had one, I don't know how to use it yet.

Meanwhile, I don't feel safe in my own home.

Maybe the real question is, how do you use a tactical flashlight? And if I'm blinding someone else, am I blinding myself too?

Sefner, what is a BG?
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Old August 2, 2009, 10:50 PM   #10
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No. A tactical flashlight works the same as any other flashlight does. It shines light in one direction, the only difference is how bright. Think of the halogen headlights that are on new luxury cars....stare into the brights and you get the idea...lol. It is not really going to "stun" anybody, it's more going to blind them, reduce their night vision to 0 and if they stare into the light it will really hurt after a few seconds. This is not a tazer that will physically incapacitate someone but rather will take away one of their senses. It is meant to be used in conjunction with a handgun, not in place of one. If you cannot get a gun right away and you need something for the interim get a baseball bat or even a tazer in the mean time, something is better than nothing.

edit: I realize now that my last sentence repeats myself from the other thread. You don't have to reply 2x. My only point is that something like a baseball bat, tazer or rock...lol is better than nothing at all.
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Old August 2, 2009, 11:18 PM   #11
sakeneko
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A "BG" is a bad guy. :-)

For an interim measure, I'd suggest getting a can or two of pepper spray. They run about $15.00 each, and are quite effective against most attackers that are armed with something other than a firearm. I carry one as an option if I'm dealing with an unarmed attacker or to slow down an armed attacker if the situation warrants. It isn't guaranteed to work, but my brother in law is a police officer and he carries pepper spray in addition to his service pistol, so I figured it was worth adding to the arsenal.

If you do get pepper spray, you might want to get an extra or (even better) a couple of practice canisters that are like the real thing except minus the capcasin, which makes pepper spray burn. Then, get some training on how to use it effectively. Training is important, and not just with guns.
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Old August 2, 2009, 11:23 PM   #12
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Just keep in mind, when you pepper spray someone...you're gonna get the effects too. If you're ready for it you can deal with it, but it still hurts and can cause you as much problems as your assailant.
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Old August 2, 2009, 11:37 PM   #13
sakeneko
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Good point, Trashcan-man. If you're outside and the wind isn't blowing at you, I'm told that you will usually escape the effects, but inside that's bound to be a problem. Might be better to try something else for home defense, and carry the pepper spray when you're out and about.
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Old August 2, 2009, 11:47 PM   #14
Skan21
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Streamlight also makes good lights. For home defense purposes, I generally get the most lumens I can possibly get. The brighter the better. I have a vertical foregrip that kicks out 300 lumens. only lasts about 20 minutes though. Trust me, a burst from a 300 lumen light is cripplingly painful.
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Old August 2, 2009, 11:51 PM   #15
Trashcan-man
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Great Googly Moogly!!! 300 lumens!!! I looked into my 85 lumen surefire and won't make that mistake again. I cannot even imagine what a 300 lumen flashlight would look like...wait, that's not a flashlight do you have a death-ray permit? Did you go to mad scientist university?
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Old August 3, 2009, 12:13 AM   #16
Skan21
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Sorry, I goofed. It's only 225 lumens. Here's a pic of my vertical foregrip light. The one below it is one with 500 lumens. We also had 1 surefire light on our browning M2, stryker mounted, that was-get this- 1000 lumens! We called it the God Light.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg M900A_full.jpg (13.0 KB, 379 views)
File Type: jpg 10x_thumb.jpg (6.2 KB, 320 views)
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Old August 3, 2009, 12:29 AM   #17
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I've had a Surefire 6P for a long time, upgraded with CREE 290 Lumen LED bulb. Yep, they are *instantly* blinding.

Last week I picked up a 2 pack of "TechLites" from Costco for $20 (batteries included). They claim 160 Lumens and take 3 standard AAA batteries. They seem pretty well made, with nice aluminum bodies. They have pretty bright LED's, but not as painfully bright as the 290 Lumen models. The adjustable focus leaves a lot to be desired and you have to cycle through all of the options on the tailcap to turn it off (maybe that can be modified to on/off). Ooops, just discovered that if you hold the button down for about 1 second, it will come on at full power & turn off when the button is released. For 10 bucks batteries included, you can't beat them.

*Update:
I just got up the 'nads to point one at my face & turn it on for an *instant*. They are pretty dang bright. It took away my center focal area for about a minute & left a bright green bullseye in the center of my vision when I closed my eyes for about 5 minutes. (Aint gonna do THAT again, LOL)

From the package: Costco number 406343, (can't get it to come up on a site search though).

CREE XRE LED 160 lumen
3xAAA (6 provided in blister pack)
Water Resistant - 30 minutes at 1 meter
Vacuum plated reflector.
Polycarbonate lens
Adjustable Focus ring - spotlight to flood.
Aircraft Grade Anodized Aluminum
Shockproof to 1 Meter
Wrist Lanyard

MultiFuntion cap switch
- Constant Current
- 50% & 100% output modes
- Emergency Strobe mode
- Cap light indicator at 20% battery life.
- Momentary switch for immediate light
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Old August 3, 2009, 12:51 AM   #18
Phoebe
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In reality, how much worse is 260 vs 180 lumens?
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Old August 3, 2009, 01:26 AM   #19
Skan21
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Well, after their eyes scorch out, it's basically the same! But seriously, any exceptionally bright LED is going to disorient the heck out of someone, if their eyes are adjusted to dark. I feel more comfortable with LOTS of lumens. If I could conveniently carry a 1000 lumen light, I would. 260 lumens would probably blind someone in broad daylight! That's a pretty powerful light, run off CR123 batteries. You get short life light though, probably only 15-20 minutes.
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Old August 3, 2009, 03:24 AM   #20
swk314
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I carry a surefire E2D Execuctive Defender from Surefire. Not sure of the lumens (100 I think), but it has a crenulated strike bezel, so it can be a last ditch striking weapon as well. FWIW, while a "tactical" light may blind the bad guy, it will not affect his trigger finger.
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Old August 3, 2009, 03:28 AM   #21
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Can't hit what you can't see! But you can see him just fine....... All he can do after he is blinded is shoot in approximately your direction. Maybe he gets lucky, but I like my odds of hitting him first better.
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Old August 3, 2009, 07:52 AM   #22
rickyjames
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wouldn't a tac lite not only be bright but also able to handle the recoil of whatever gun it was mounted too? so far in the conversation it seems people would use it as a flashlite but often they are mounted to handguns, rifles and shotguns. i would think besides brightness a tac light would have to hold up to 12 ga stogun blasts as well. do some of the cheaper tac lites people have recomended hold up well when mounted to a shotgun?
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Old August 3, 2009, 09:33 AM   #23
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Some tac lights attach to weapons. Most of the ones mentioned here do not. The 6p led from surefire that I have will not attach to a weapon, I think they sell a mount for a shotgun for it but am not sure. What you are thinking of are weapon mounted tac lights which is a whole other ball of wax. Personally I do not like stuff hanging off the end of my pistols, I would rather hold a flashlight in my support hand. If you are interested surefire has a few, but they are wayyyyyy more expensive then the ones we are talking about.
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Old August 3, 2009, 10:33 AM   #24
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The most thorough review of "tactical" flashlights can actually be found on TFL in the Gears & Accessories forum. There is a sticky thread that a fellow member, black bear 84, keeps adding to. His reviews are very helpful. He takes pictures to let you see the difference between the different lights.

I also think his BOREALIS with a retna scorching 1050 lumens is something worth looking at if you have the extra cash lying around .

Check it out!

http://www.thefiringline.com/forums/...d.php?t=239165
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Old August 4, 2009, 11:33 AM   #25
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I have a Surefire 9p as part of my self-defense package, along with a 1911, extra mag and a 4-inch folding knife ... the 9p will absolutely blind the BG, especially in the dark but even in subdued light ... however, without an offensive weapon -- like a gun -- you need to be prepared to take advantage of that period of blindness and disorientation to get out of Dodge fast, and that requires planning and practice ... also, as others have mentioned, the 123 lithium batteries that many tactical lights use fail -- at least in my experience -- with little or no warning, unlike AAs, where the light will dim as the power is used. so I don't use the 9p for anything but nightstand standby .. I have a 6p for routine uses, like walking the dog in the dark, etc. change the batteries once or twice a year if you don't use the light, just to be safe ..
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