Flashlights - educate me

This is a discussion on Flashlights - educate me within the Related Gear & Equipment forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I'm looking in to adding a flashlight to my arsenal. I have no experience with them, other than maglite flashlights. I have a 3D LED ...

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    Member Array gun1's Avatar
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    Flashlights - educate me

    I'm looking in to adding a flashlight to my arsenal. I have no experience with them, other than maglite flashlights. I have a 3D LED model that has been the best/brightest one I've ever had. As to tactical lights - I need some edgeum occasion.

    Some thoughts - I'd like to be able to mount the light to a picatinny rail. It looks like there are a lot of types of mounts out there. The main factor there seems to be the diameter of the light frame. That having been said, how do you activate the rear button lights while gun-mounted? If I am understanding the tactical lights right - depending on the button sequence you can change the operation mode (output intensity, strobe, solid, etc). How would one turn on the light in strobe mode or constant mode while on a gun?

    As to intensity - is there any "benchmark" to go off of? My main purpose for the light would be as a force multiplier. I am guessing lights, no matter what their intensity, work best at night. What about during the day time? Is day-use asking too much? Or could I still get away with disorienting an attacker?

    What else can you guide me on regarding lights? I'd rather not spend a fortune on a light, but it looks like they can be well in to the $100 range.

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    VIP Member Array Easy8's Avatar
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    Its easy buy once keep it a long time, surefire, streamlight, fenix any of these are excellant

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    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Easy8 View Post
    Its easy buy once keep it a long time, surefire, streamlight, fenix any of these are excellant
    ^ Good advice, there. Lots of choices of sizes/features in those three companies' offerings.



    IMO, if you're seriously interested in evaluating the field, head over to CandlepowerForums.com.

    My choice, after having evaluated all that's out there: 18650 LiIon cell; a decent LED drop-in light module; and a host tube/head for it all. In my case, it is the SolarForce L2 host, the Malkoff M61W LED module, and the AW 18650 protected LiIon battery cell, along with a charger. I've got a few of these. Hardened LED module (though, not waterproof); decent size host, fits well in the hand; bright enough to blind an assailant; simple enough to use, without flubbing the "flash" mode when forced to use it. Yields about 1hr of continuous use, in my experience. The rechargeable cells support hundreds of recharges before needing replacement; haven't replaced any yet, in 3+ years of frequent use.

    BTW, the CandlepowerForums.com web site is pretty great. Lots of info posted by many people from all over the world, many of whom are electronics geeks extraordinaire. Example: 18650 Battery test/review summary.
    Your best weapon is your brain. Don't leave home without it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Easy8 View Post
    Its easy buy once keep it a long time, surefire, streamlight, fenix any of these are excellant
    also 4sevens and Elzetta.

    i have used lights from surefire, stream light, 4 sevens, and fenix. while more costly the surefire had the best color and beam pattern.

    also surefire has excellent warranty and their customer service is top notch. you can get parts for older lights totally free they even cover sipping. i accidentally cracked the lens on my 500 lum FURY by dropping it on gravel from the third floor ,they fixed it for free and gave me free bat tries.
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    Senior Member Array 5lima30ret's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Easy8 View Post
    Its easy buy once keep it a long time, surefire, streamlight, fenix any of these are excellant
    These are all great! I would also add Pelican to that list. Good luck!
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    Member Array ExaltedOne's Avatar
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    Fenix!

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    Member Array gun1's Avatar
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    Hmm. Everyone has recommended brands of flashlights, but as of yet no one has had any insight to answering my questions, other than a recommendation to go to the candlepower forums?

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    Member Array Drgnfly's Avatar
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    Tactical Flashlights For Home Defense - Popular Mechanics

    http://urbangrounds.com/2012/07/sure...al-flashlight/

    Why You Should Carry and Know How to Use a Tactical Flashlight | The Daily Sheeple

    Why You Should Carry and Know How to Use a Tactical Flashlight | The Prepper Journal

    Those should help you out.

    Also don't count out Sunwayman. I have one of their lights, and it's been nothing but great for 6 months. First battery change last week, after daily use.

    If you are looking for a dedicated weapon light, I would look into an Inforce.

    I myself do not use a weapon light on my EDC pistol. Just a stand alone edc light.

  10. #9
    Member Array theledwarehouse's Avatar
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    1. For weapon lights, stick with a 1 inch body. This will give you the biggest pool of mounts to choose from.

    2. Activation: Depends on the weapon. A) you can get a remote and have a pressure switch wherever you want. b) Personally, I like to use an off set mount. (set up on AR15) That way my thumb is on the back of the light when I am aiming. No need to have a remote that can get snagged on something.

    3. Changing modes: For a weapon light, you want all high. Strobe is worthless, you can have a hard time focusing/aiming with the light strobing. With a good high powered light, it wont matter if it is strobing or not, you'll blind someone. (This point gets argued a lot, my response is always "come on over and I'll shine a strobing light and a fixed light in your eyes, and let me know if you like either one")

    4. build quality: Make sure the light floats the batteries(springs on each end). Recoil wont beat up a good LED light, but it will beat up your batteries. Bigger the boom, more risk.

    5. Intensity: It's going to be hard to get a new tactical light under 400 lumens. Every 6 months there is a new LED coming out that was 10-20% brighter than the last.

    6. Night vs Day: At night your pupils are wide open. So they are sucking in as much light as then can to help you see. So when you hit someone with a high powered light, it blinds them because they are set up for taking on as much light as they can. During the day, its the opposite. Your pupils are closed to block out light, therefore you need a ton of light to blind someone in the day. Closer you are to someone during the day, the easier it will be, but I wouldn't plan it.

    I think a really good value for a tactical light is the Fenix TK15. You can get a remote for it if you like. You can use 18650 batteries if you like. It will work with 1 inch mounts.

    Fenix TK15 S2 Edition

    If you plan on using it as a handheld more than a weapon light, I'd prolly pick the PD35. The body isn't as uniform, so mounting can be a little tricky and there isn't a remote available.

    Fenix PD35

    Fenix has a lifetime warranty and they all go back to Colorado, so pretty easy if you have any issues.

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    Member Array gun1's Avatar
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    Thanks for the links. I have been looking over Streamlight's offerings. I like the rechargeable version of the ProTac HL.

    Although, that is a little bigger light than I would like to carry all the time.

    Looking at their other offerings, it doesn't look like there is much else that is rechargeable or uses standard batteries (AA's), the greater majority of the lights use the CR123A's.

    Are there any lights in the 200+ lumen compact category that use conventional batteries (AAA's or AA's? or even C's - I would think NiMh's would be a decent battery option), or are LiIon rechargeables?

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    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    No expert on lighting, by any stretch. But I've used a few handhelds over the years. No weapons-mounted lights on my carry/defensive gear, though I've used some. Light output is good; simple is good. Complicating things on a weapons light can be disastrous, IMO.


    Quote Originally Posted by gun1 View Post
    Some thoughts - I'd like to be able to mount the light to a picatinny rail. It looks like there are a lot of types of mounts out there.
    Don't use a mounted light, myself. Can't speak to that.


    Quote Originally Posted by gun1 View Post
    As to intensity - is there any "benchmark" to go off of?
    "Benchmark" for intensity? You mean a standard measure of intensity? Yes and no. Many makers seem to report their output in lumens, though some use other measures. On the CandlePowerForums web site you can read about people's experience with "lumens spheres" or "integrating spheres" for the measurement of light output (ie, click). Basically, all else being equal, more lumens in a decent reflector equates to more light put on target. Same output in lumens with a crappy reflector will yield less practical light on target. Lumens are good, presuming the light module/reflector is a good one and otherwise meets your needs (ie, features such as hi/lo/strobe, a "moonlight" feature).


    Quote Originally Posted by gun1 View Post
    I am guessing lights, no matter what their intensity, work best at night. What about during the day time? Is day-use asking too much? Or could I still get away with disorienting an attacker?
    In my experience, it depends on the quality of the reflector and just how much of the usable light it makes practical use of. I've been blinded by certain lights in the daytime, up close, sure. But I've avoided disorientation in all cases; for me, at lest, there's something about nighttime and "night blindness" that does it, whereas in daylight the same basic light blinding isn't itself sufficient to do it. Can't say whether everyone experience it similarly. I'm assuming not.

    I'm sure others with lots of weapons-mounted lighting will be able to chime in on desirable features for that platform.


    Generally, more lumens is good ... at least for "blinding" assailants. But IMO a moderate amount of light output that is extremely well-directed via a quality reflector makes more difference by far. But lumens intensity is only part of the equation.

    Consider the difference between the two primary modes of light output: throw, and fill. A reflector that gathers more of the light and sends it downrange to the target has greater throw, whereas a reflector that allows more to spill out around you has greater fill. I've been blinded by several lights with good throw, but really only a couple decent "fill" type lights" during the daytime based on the excellence of the reflector designs (which have decent throw despite being mostly "fill" flashlights). In this way, the reflector can make all the difference. Example: Malkoff's M60, M61 and M91 series of LED modules, each of which has a decent reflector that makes the most of the output. These are handhelds. A decent weapon-mounted light has a different purpose, and your desired mix of throw/fill might vary for that purpose.

    On a weapon, you're going to want a mix of throw and fill. You want to blind an attacker, yes. But you don't want a "spot" light that has zero fill so that you cannot tell what's in a room you're clearing (for example). You can be subjected to "night blindness" in unlit zones as easily as an assailant, if there's not enough fill for the space. How much of each (throw vs fill) is going to depend on your training and what your eyes work best with in such spaces.

    If you're looking for a lot of punch in a small light that can be easily mounted on a frame-mount, consider the 4Sevens Mini lights, or one of Streamlight's smaller offerings. If you're looking for true ease of use, consider mounted lights designed to be mounted, ones with simple switch activation (ie, Insight Technology's stuff, or Streamlight's competing gear).


    Over on PoliceMag.com, back in 2008 there was a decent article on Laser Sights & Weapon Lights. A bit dated, but it'll cover some of the key products at the time. Haven't hunted around for a similar article since then.


    Quote Originally Posted by gun1 View Post
    What else can you guide me on regarding lights? I'd rather not spend a fortune on a light, but it looks like they can be well in to the $100 range.
    Lights can be very subjective. How they affect the eyes can vary from person to person (blinding, disorientation, vertigo). Some prefer ease of use. Some prefer a single light that can be carried or mounted. Some don't mind a purpose-designed mounted light (such as Insight's rail lights). Some demand the grip-mounted activation mechanism, whereas some aren't averse to light-mounted activation.


    Some of the major flashlight vendors have "Product Selector" tools on their web sites, ie: Streamlight's Product Selector. Can filter by lumens intensity, or by type of light desired, for example (weapons light, handheld). The Streamlight TLR-1 might interest you. Frame mounted and at 300 lumens with a decent amount of focus/throw, it'll certainly blind most folks.


    My best suggestion would be: be patient; do your research; call some of the top players or visit a couple of decent local gun shops to speak with someone in some detail about alternatives. If you've got a few LEO friends in the area, ask them what they prefer and why, as they'll tend to have more experience than many. Or, hopefully more of the LEO's in the crowd will chime in with their weapons-mounted lighting comments and recommendations.
    Your best weapon is your brain. Don't leave home without it.
    Thoughts: Justifiable self defense (A.O.J.).
    Explain: How does disarming victims reduce the number of victims?
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    ...strong, reliable, inexpensive to feed...plenty of light to identify the threat by...pocket size
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    Quote Originally Posted by gun1 View Post
    I'm looking in to adding a flashlight to my arsenal. I have no experience with them, (snip)I need some edgeum occasion.

    Some thoughts - I'd like to be able to mount the light to a picatinny rail. It looks like there are a lot of types of mounts out there.(snip) How would one turn on the light in strobe mode or constant mode while on a gun?

    What else can you guide me on regarding lights? I'd rather not spend a fortune on a light, but it looks like they can be well in to the $100 range.


    I'm experienced and here to help!

    On off button on side or bottom, to get it to strobe either use index finger to turn on/off quickly or add disco ball and spin it.

    Under $100, no problem - how bout under $10! Camo duct tape, $3.50 @ Lowes home and garden in the paint dept + camo flashlight $5.00 @ Bass Pro.
    Last edited by Sister; August 12th, 2013 at 10:11 PM. Reason: lost in space
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  15. #14
    Member Array gun1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by theledwarehouse View Post
    1. For weapon lights, stick with a 1 inch body. This will give you the biggest pool of mounts to choose from.

    2. Activation: Depends on the weapon. A) you can get a remote and have a pressure switch wherever you want. b) Personally, I like to use an off set mount. (set up on AR15) That way my thumb is on the back of the light when I am aiming. No need to have a remote that can get snagged on something.

    3. Changing modes: For a weapon light, you want all high. Strobe is worthless, you can have a hard time focusing/aiming with the light strobing. With a good high powered light, it wont matter if it is strobing or not, you'll blind someone. (This point gets argued a lot, my response is always "come on over and I'll shine a strobing light and a fixed light in your eyes, and let me know if you like either one")

    4. build quality: Make sure the light floats the batteries(springs on each end). Recoil wont beat up a good LED light, but it will beat up your batteries. Bigger the boom, more risk.

    5. Intensity: It's going to be hard to get a new tactical light under 400 lumens. Every 6 months there is a new LED coming out that was 10-20% brighter than the last.

    6. Night vs Day: At night your pupils are wide open. So they are sucking in as much light as then can to help you see. So when you hit someone with a high powered light, it blinds them because they are set up for taking on as much light as they can. During the day, its the opposite. Your pupils are closed to block out light, therefore you need a ton of light to blind someone in the day. Closer you are to someone during the day, the easier it will be, but I wouldn't plan it.

    I think a really good value for a tactical light is the Fenix TK15. You can get a remote for it if you like. You can use 18650 batteries if you like. It will work with 1 inch mounts.

    Fenix TK15 S2 Edition

    If you plan on using it as a handheld more than a weapon light, I'd prolly pick the PD35. The body isn't as uniform, so mounting can be a little tricky and there isn't a remote available.

    Fenix PD35

    Fenix has a lifetime warranty and they all go back to Colorado, so pretty easy if you have any issues.
    Thanks for the reply. The Fenix lights look like great options - I see I can get remote switches for a lot of them = more versatile. The price point seems reasonable too - I can get the TK22 with a charger and 18650 battery for less than the other Streamlight I linked to (ProTac HL):

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    Member Array theledwarehouse's Avatar
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    The strion HL is a nice light, its just not built to be a weapon light. Nor is the Protac HL.

    Streamlight Strion HL

    Both Fenix lights I listed above can use a rechargeable 18650 cell.

    Ultrafire 18650 Two Batteries and WF139 Charger Kit

    AA and AAA lights typically are not tactical lights. But we have a bunch of different AA powered lights that are over 200 lumens, they just are not going to be great fro weapon lights.

    LED Flashlights


    As said previously, lumens is just total output. Some lights have throw some have more flood. A good rule of thumb, lights with a XPG LED will have more throw (tighter beam) and lights with a XML will be floodier.



    Quote Originally Posted by gun1 View Post
    Thanks for the links. I have been looking over Streamlight's offerings. I like the rechargeable version of the ProTac HL.

    Although, that is a little bigger light than I would like to carry all the time.

    Looking at their other offerings, it doesn't look like there is much else that is rechargeable or uses standard batteries (AA's), the greater majority of the lights use the CR123A's.

    Are there any lights in the 200+ lumen compact category that use conventional batteries (AAA's or AA's? or even C's - I would think NiMh's would be a decent battery option), or are LiIon rechargeables?

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