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Old December 27, 2011, 12:48 AM   #1
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How many lumens to get a disorienting effect?

I've heard of people using a very bright flashlight to gain an edge by more than just illuminating the bad guy. How bright do you have to go to degrade the opponent's ability to do harm? I'm not talking about leaving nothing but a shadow burned on the wall, though that would be nice...
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Old December 27, 2011, 12:59 AM   #2
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A bright light works but any salient information is an "It depends" answer:
How dark is the area where the test subject is?
How long have their eyes had to get adjusted?
What color is your disorienting light?
Is the test subject colorblind?
Is the source constant, high rate pulsing or flashing?
If flashing is it at a PSE (photo sensitive epilepsy) rate or other disorienting rate/pattern?
Are one or both eyes affected?
Etc, etc.
So, with those few questions in mind:
If the area is relatively bright dazzling lights are less effective.
An inexpensive 100 lumen light will temporarily blind a sleeper you just woke up but not a dark sunglassed guy on a bright beach.
If the test subject has been in a dark room for a while then gets hit with the dazzler they will likely be more greatly affected.
Some colors are much more effective than others, including better than white light. Some sequences of certain colors are even more effective.
Colorblindness may be at least a partial defense. DHS built a "maglite" sized high powered dazzler several years ago, and allowed volunteers to test it at a trade show. I talked with the project manager during the demos and watched ~ dozen testers, as my employer was interested in the technology. Most started to be nauseated or disoriented in 15-30 seconds. One colorblind subject had no effects after 2 minutes, including the last minute of having the device about 4 inches from his face. The project manager stopped the test officially for safety reasons, but later indicated that colorblind people seemed to 'skew' the results of the effectiveness of their testing.
(He did make the point that a bright light was no where nearly as effective as the patterns. )
The flashing pattern and colors can make all the difference in the world, forcing the test subject to turn or close their eyes.
Some patterns are more effective when only viewable by one eye.
Spectrum can also make a difference: a moderate powered IR solid state laser can instaneously make a test subject experience significant eye pain / headache without an overt reason, potentially taking them out of the fight. Higher power devices could make that instaneously permanent.

So to answer more succinctly, I would submit that a carefully engineered and constructed dazzler may be much more effective than a firearm in disabling an opponent or gaining an advantage as you noted. Now all you need to do is go search for a rail mountable DIY dazzler to pick up that advantage
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Last edited by TXAZ; December 27, 2011 at 09:21 AM.
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Old December 27, 2011, 01:03 AM   #3
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Lumens alone won't get the full disorientation effect without a decent reflector to focus the light into a good hot spot. Surefire claims 50 lumens as a minimum tactical light output, but any decent handheld or weapon light around 90 to 200 lumens should be adequate. Keep in mind that there are lots of bogus claims for big lumen numbers made by certain companies and these are based on the theoretical output of the LED. The better quality brands like insight, surefire, and streamlight rate their lumen output based on real world test data so their 150 lumen light is probably as bright as a chinese knock off at 300 lumens.
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Old December 27, 2011, 01:48 AM   #4
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I just got a TLR 1S light for Christmas . It's rated at 160 lumens. It's damn bright. I was seeing spots for several minutes. Yeah don't look at it.
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Old December 27, 2011, 09:31 AM   #5
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How many lumens to get a disorienting effect?

I've heard of people using a very bright flashlight to gain an edge by more than just illuminating the bad guy. How bright do you have to go to degrade the opponent's ability to do harm?
Surefire has been quick to market their lights as weapons. This hype has been well overstated. FOF training at Thunder Ranch showed how a "blinded" bad guy can still manage to defeat multiple oppoenents by targeting the lights and the area around them.

Sure, some folks will succomb to bright light, but it isn't a reaction that you can count on occurring. Similarly, a lot will stand down to a forcefully issued command, but that isn't a reaction you can count on occurring either.

To paraphrase a quote from the past, "It's a light, not a laser weapon."
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Old December 27, 2011, 02:37 PM   #6
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As stated before, it depends. I remember going through the police academy 11 years ago and all the instructors were saying 40 lumens. My how times have changed...

I'd say anything over 100 is plenty, provided it focuses properly. I run TLR1Ss because the brightness of that light with a strobe is insanely disorienting.
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Old December 27, 2011, 08:41 PM   #7
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How bright do you have to go to degrade the opponent's ability to do harm?
As part of your self defense system, a good strong flashlight could give you the edge for a second or two. Especially when you consider that a flashlight can be used as a striking weapon as well as a tool to provide a blinding light.

As far as a flashlight degrading an opponent's ability to harm you, I wouldn't consider even a very bright flashlight such as a Surefire such a tool. Best case, it might certainly cause some people to stand down, but it isn't something that you could count on as being a primary self defense weapon.

Worse case, bright light certainly makes a very good target don't you think?
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Old December 27, 2011, 09:50 PM   #8
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How many lumens is muzzle flash from a 45 acp? (sic)
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Old December 28, 2011, 02:10 AM   #9
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There are lights out there that pulse at a certain rate that acually causes nausea and sickness.It usually has different colors also,green if I believe.
I saw it on Modern Marvels I think.
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Old December 28, 2011, 11:22 AM   #10
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My gut feeling is the ability of a flashlight to render somebody helpless is over rated. If the effect was practical then whenever somebody left their high beams on the road would be nothing but a string of crashes in their wake.

I'll use a light for seeing and any disorentation of the bad guy is just an unexpected bonus.
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Old December 29, 2011, 01:19 AM   #11
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Light em up!....

To my limited knowledge, 65lum is considered by most US law enforcement instructors to be the min for a "white light" or tactical duty light.
Im not Bill Nye, , but I'd buy a high quality light with a strobe/LED-CREE light of 150-250lum.
New designs & improved lights are always out there.
ps: Dont tell the bad-guys, !
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