There is literally an entire “night fighting” industry that produces products for, and offers training in, the use of white light for shooting in darkness. There is a place for this skill set and toolset in civilian self-defense, although we are hard-pressed to find incidents where citizens have actually used a flashlight in conjunction with their gun. Still, we all spend much of our time in the hours of darkness, so this is a skill to develop. However, beyond just using a light for shooting in the dark, the flashlight can do much more for us in the role of defense and general preparedness. A modern handheld LED white light is a fantastic tool and should be carried as part of your EDC.
In terms of what light to carry, there are many excellent models now on the market. Even some small keychain lights can now produce several hundred lumens in light and may provide all the illumination you likely need. However, for a light to provide all of the following utility, I suggest carrying a tactical style light with a momentary activation tail cap, and a light that is large enough to protrude from the bottom of your hand when held in the standard ice pick grip. Here are six advantages this tool offers beyond just being a shooting aid in low light:
#1. A Navigation Tool
A light allows you to navigate at night in the dark or in pitch-black indoor environments that one can encounter even during daylight hours. While being able to find your way is a convenience, it is also a safety concern. Navigating a strange environment in the dark can result in injury, and having a bright light on your person for such unexpected situations is a great convenience and a safety aid.
#2. A Search Tool
Obviously, it is hard to find something in the dark, and overlooking certain things in a dark environment can be a personal security issue. Again, a light is simply a convenience, as it allows you to search for your dropped keys in a dark parking lot. However, the light provides security by allowing you to search a dark environment when entering it so that you are aware of anyone who may be lurking there. When walking to your vehicle in a pitch-black environment, you can use the light preemptively to assess the surroundings and make sure there is nobody waiting in the darkness with nefarious intent.
#3. A Deterrence Tool
While the light may serve as an integral part of a fighting system when in darkness, it also proves to be a fantastic deterrence tool that may provide the opportunity to end a dangerous situation before it starts. Criminal actors specialize in profiling potential victims in order to select an ideal victim that will not offer resistance. When a criminal approaches an individual that they intend to rob or victimize in some other way, they are hoping to take the individual by surprise and overwhelm them quickly. When the intended victim shines a bright light on the encroaching criminal actor, it not only diminishes the night vision of the threat, but it sends a clear message to the criminal that the victim is aware of their presence, and is obviously prepared in some capacity. This demonstrates that the targeted individual has the mindset and awareness to light up the approaching threat, and it may also suggest that the victim-to-be might well have other skills and tools at their disposal. A bright light can quickly change the predator/prey dynamic and stop an assault before it starts.
#4. A Concealment Tool
This is an advantage that may seem counter-intuitive, because how can turn on a light in the dark offer concealment? In the darkness, a bright light diminishes the vision of whoever is being illuminated, and it also obscures from view anything behind the light. If an unknown person approaches in the dark under conditions that strike you as potentially dangerous, light the stranger up by putting the beam of the powerful light right in their eyes. If you hold it there, the stranger cannot see you behind that beam. If you sense danger, you may want to get your hand on your gun or another defensive tool. While the flashlight clearly identifies your location, your activity behind the beam of the light will be obscured. Should you sense danger, yet miscalculate, deploying a weapon on an innocent person is a bad thing that can land you in extensive legal trouble. The concealment offered by the light can allow you to get a hand on your weapon without the other party every knowing. This allows you to covertly prepare, if the stranger is indeed a threat, or it allows you to figure out the situation without scaring an innocent person by putting your hand on a weapon.
#5. An Impact Weapon
If you carry a stout light that protrudes beyond the bottom of your palm when holding it in an icepick grip, then you can use the light as a formidable contact distance impact weapon. Hitting an adversary with a sold focused impact weapon can be far more devastating than hitting with only your hand. Not only does the use of the impact weapon facilitate greater striking power, but it also protects your own hand from sustaining damage when hitting an opponent. The light can be deployed and used for strikes to the body as a less lethal tool, or it can be used to target the head, and ocular cavity is you must escalate force to deal with a deadly threat, and the light is the only weapon you have. A solid light can be an excellent force multiplier when used in this way if it is the only tool that you have available.
#6. A Glass Breaker Rescue Tool
Don’t underestimate the importance of having a striking tool that can break glass. A good light, especially one with a dedicated striking bezel design, can do this quite well. It gives you the ability to break glass and escape a vehicle, or to free someone else from a vehicle, or the like.
So, these are six reasons to carry a good light beyond just shooting, and this is why the light proves to be one of my preparedness tools that I carry at all times possible.