When it comes to personal protection, one of the most useful tools is a hand-held light. No, a flashlight won’t stop a determined bad guy that is trying to attack you, but if used effectively, it can be a HUGE deterrent against the petty thief that wants to steal your stuff. While, I would much rather you have BOTH a firearm AND a flashlight, I realize fewer than 10% of people who complete a permit to carry class actually carry a firearm on them every day.  So, if you or your loved ones haven’t made the commitment to carry a firearm, at least carry a handheld or tactical light.

Why a handheld or tactical light?

The truth is we rarely go where it is truly dark. For most of us, the places we go at night such as the grocery store, gas station, strip mall or other retail areas all have lighted parking areas. Take a few minutest to read Tom Givens’ “Functioning in Low Light”, it contains some excellent information about the actual use of flashlights in defensive encounters. In fact, he states that none of his former students who were in a gun fight used a light, nor did they indicate a light would have helped.  The truth is if you let a stranger get close enough to stick a gun in your ribs, a flashlight won’t do you any good, and if you do have a gun on you, you are probably going to reach for the gun before the flashlight.  But there are instances where a light has stopped an attack.  Listen to this amazing story on how a flashlight stopped an attack and saved the attackers life.  The story starts at the 35:40 mark.

In order to be able to use a flashlight as an effective deterrent, it must be in your hand and you must be paying attention to who is around you.  If you are approaching a darker area of the parking lot, or you see someone approaching you, the flashlight can be used to verify no one is hiding in the shadows or spotlighting a bad guy at a distance. This will bring unwanted attention to the bad guy, and clearly lets him know that you SEE him, and that you will not be an easy target. In most cases, this can be enough to deter a potentially dangerous encounter. Additionally, hand held lights are allowed in most non-permissive environments where firearms are not allowed.  With that said, here are some Bright Ideas for Stocking Stuffers this year.

Streamlight Pocket Mate – The Streamlight Pocket Mate is a rechargeable keychain light with up to 325 lumens.  It has both a high and low output, comes in a variety of colors, is smaller than most vehicle key fobs and even has a clip that allows you to attach it to the brim of a hat for hands free use around the house or in the field.  The on/off switch in the center of the light turns the light on (first in low) then another click goes to high (325 lumens) then turns the light off. While this light is bright enough to be a defensive light, for an EDC tactical light, I prefer a tail cap switch and the first click of the switch to be high intensity.  But this light is well suited as a backup EDC and utility flashlight to help my aging eyes find things in the dark.

Streamlight Microstream – I first saw the Microstream while at SHOT Show in 2018.  As a flashlight nerd, I always made sure I stopped by the Surefire and Streamlight booths to see the new products. The micro stream was an amazing little rechargeable light with up to 250 lumens.  The original version came in black, red and blue.  All three utilized a tail cap switch for on/off and to cycle through low/high intensity. Later, Streamlight introduced the coyote-colored version which starts in high intensity mode, a feature I prefer.  The light comes with both a neck lanyard and a hat clip, but I either modify the neck lanyard or purchase a shorter lanyard for my personal carry. This way I can hold the light in my non-dominate hand with the lanyard wrapped around my wrist. I can walk to or from my vehicle with the light in my hand turning it on/off as needed and if I have to go to gun or hands on, I can release my grip on it and still retain my light.  In my opinion, this is an excellent EDC light. It has just enough lumens to be effective and small enough that it can easily be carried every day. 

Streamlight Macrostream – The Macrostream is the latest in the line of USB rechargeable lights from Streamlight.  It is slightly larger in diameter, a little longer, and about twice as heavy (2.2 oz) as the Microstream, but also produces twice the lumens (500).  For a true tactical light, this is about the perfect combination of size and output. It uses the same on/off and high/low tail cap switch as the coyote colored Microstream and comes with a neck lanyard and hat clip as well.  Once again, I either shorten the neck lanyard or buy a wrist lanyard for my personal light.  While this light be a little larger than most people would likely carry every day, especially when wearing jeans or tighter fitting pants, this is my absolute go-to light when I know I will be out after dark. In fact, on a recent trip to Washington DC my macrostream was the only “defensive tool” I could carry on me as firearms were not an option, and my pepper spray was confiscated at Arlington Cemetery!


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