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"Tactical" light level...hype or real value?

Discussion in 'Flashlights & Other Illumination Devices' started by subrosa, Jul 28, 2008.

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  1. subrosa

    subrosa Loaded Pockets

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    Howdy all,

    I have been looking around the "internets" for a new flashlight to replace my long (last week) lost Surefire E1B. I have noticed Surefire places the word tactical only on lights ~80+ lumens. Now, this would mean a E1L wouldn't be "tactical"? so I can be promised that I would be able to blind someone with night vision? or is it all just marketing hype and anything ~40 lumens or so could do the trick?
     
  2. millhouse

    millhouse Loaded Pockets

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    I don't think there is a definitive answer to this. A lot depends on the person and how night vision adapted they are at the time.

    I know some people who are quite sensitive and find my old L1 (22 lumens) blinding. Others are barely affected by my L4 (100 lumens).

    I certainly wouldn't rely on the beam of a flashlight as the sole means of self defence.
     
  3. KeyGrip

    KeyGrip Loaded Pockets

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    SureFire has stated before that 60 torch lumens is the minimum the consider "tactical." However, a lumen rating alone is not enough. The quality of the light; it's source and how it is focused as well as the ambient lighting conditions when you actually use the light are just as important to consider. I don't believe it is hype, but I also don't believe that simply shining a light in someone's face will give the desired effect with any reliability. Could 40 lumens do the trick? I wouldn't count on it. Definitely have a plan that doesn't rely solely on the light.
     
  4. mrichelo

    mrichelo Loaded Pockets

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    The light is just a diversion to (hopefully) give you a moment to get away or whatever.

    It isn't a phaser set on stun.

    I think given the right circumstances it could be effective for its intended purpose.

    It is better than nothing.

    Mark
     
  5. greenLED

    greenLED Empty Pockets

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    :iagree:
    It's refreshing to see y'all posting such objective opinions about the use of light in "tactical" circumstances.
     
  6. El Verbo

    El Verbo Empty Pockets

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    I agree with mrichelo. I believe the light is to give just a bit of an edge.

    Best case scenario: the light is so bright it wards off a would be attacker.
    Worst case scenario: you just get that small extra "bit" of a distraction to pull away or pull a weapon.

    Then again, it would be nice if a light packed enough lumens to burn a hole THROUGH a human head... or at least 2nd degree burn! :-X
     
  7. WolfAmmoMan

    WolfAmmoMan Banned

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    [/quote]

    :lolhammer:
     
  8. JonSidneyB
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    JonSidneyB Uber Prepared
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    It's funny until it is real.
     
  9. subrosa

    subrosa Loaded Pockets

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    Awesome feedback. I have not yet had to use one of my nicer flashlights in a life or death situation and I hope I never have to, however it is that little extra insurance that makes me want to EDC.
     
  10. ThChrMn

    ThChrMn Empty Pockets

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    Subrosa,

    So, whatcha buy'in?
     
  11. subrosa

    subrosa Loaded Pockets

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    Surefire E1L outdoorsman. ~45 lumen but it "seems" brighter.
     
  12. sak_collector

    sak_collector Empty Pockets

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    My wife and I tried a little test of using lights for self-defense.

    Say you are out at night walking through a parking lot and a strange person is approaching. You should really be paying attention, even say "hi, can I help you?" You should also have your light in hand already. If you just get the feeling that things are going down-hill really fast, go ahead and blast 'em with all the lumens you got. Lets think about this very carefully. Ok, if you are mistaken, the worst you have done is temporarily blinded somebody, maybe given them a headache and in general made yourself look like a real jerk...but in the grand scheme of things, no REAL harm done. It is a light, you have not stabbed, shot or pepper-sprayed them. Now you owe them a major apology and a genuine explanation and let them know that you were very scared of what was happening. Maybe they will understand, maybe not...but again, nobody has suffered any real harm.

    Now, if your instincts were right, you now have many options...running if able or escalating the force to the level you truely feel is needed to protect yourself, including drawing a weapon of your own or using your light as an impact weapon.

    Would this work in the real world? Well, lets find out. I mentioned my wife and I trying out a little practice with this.

    Lights used for this test were a Fenix TK10, Surefire L1, L2 and E2DL.

    We went outside at night, it was dark with the usual amount of ambient light present. My wife had a light in her hand, able to easily and discreetly keeping if out of sight. I approach, within 20 - 30 feet she says "hi, how are you"...I continue to approach and she says "please, dont come any closer" I continue forward...this is the real test of "the power of light". The following results were the same with each light and are real life results...not just theory.

    With each light, I was blinded, I could see NOTHING AT ALL beyond a wall of bright painful light. Therefore, any advantage I had was lost due to loss of vision. The only way to get away from it was to shield my eyes or turn my head away, again, that is a complete loss of vision of my target victim.

    We tried it again, this time I ran towards her, again a wall of blinding light destroys my vision. I continue to rush towards the light hoping to tackle her and take away her light advantage. She simply continued moving sideways and I had no idea she was moving at all until she tapped me on the head as I passed by her, she was letting me know she could have decked me with the light, or stabbed me and I never would have known until it was too late. The entire time I was running towards her, she was simply walking out of my path keeping the light firmly in my eyes. Again, I could have shielded my eyes, but the second I uncover them to re-aquire my target, all I get a blinding light.

    We do this one more time only this time I have a weapon (not a real one of course, this is training with my wife). I approach, she lights me up and see's the weapon. She has nowhere to run and she feels that if she does not do something really fast, she will lose the initiative the light has given her and she will end up injured, raped or dead. So, as soon as I am "illuminated" she takes the offensive and also rushes towards me. She can see, I cant. The blinding light made it almost impossible for me to judge her approach and distance from me and before I can make any move she gives me a few good smacks (not real hard, just enough to know that training needs to be serious) with her light. Strike bezel or smooth bezel, does not matter much...just the "firm" blows to my shoulders, arms, head and ANY other immediately available target was painful, and these were just "training level" blows that I was defenseless against because I had no vision. Had this been an actual defensive situation and she used full power impact blows with her light, the would have caused me immediate and debilitating injuries, allowing her to remain safe and able to come home to her family.

    Keep in mind all situations are different and you are NEVER guaranteed to come out on top, but those who dismiss the flashlight as a defensive tool are simply misinformed folks who probably never tried to train with them. Is a light a good first choice? Who knows, but it is definately an option.

    Ok, got a little off topic. But it does show that advertised "tactical level brightness" is real and even the lowest rated light we used, the L1 at 65 lumens was way more than enough to overwhelm me and take away any size and strength advantage I have over my wife (or in this training scenario, my victim).

    As a side note, the impacts with all the tested lights were very effective, the strike-bezels even more so...but if you dont have a strike-bezel, dont feel disadvantaged.
     
  13. greenLED

    greenLED Empty Pockets

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    Excellent test. Just a cautionary note... you two seem to be willing and trained to act in a self-defense situation (kudos to you!). Some people take the "tactical" light mantra and think a light per se will get them out of a tight spot, when there's a lot more involved.
     
  14. kamkazmoto

    kamkazmoto Empty Pockets

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    Great post . Thank you.
     
  15. KeyGrip

    KeyGrip Loaded Pockets

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    Cool test. I think the point about being able to hold the light discretely is important; it helps keep the element of surprise.
     
  16. JonSidneyB
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    While taking away someones ability to see (it is hard to see beyond a light shined at you) there is more to it than that. It can be startling to bring up a gun and not be able to see the sights as it points into blackness and only being able to make out outlines and shadows. There are many times I really wished I had not learned this.
     
  17. greenLED

    greenLED Empty Pockets

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    A light in your pocket or bottom of your pack/purse is of no use. I make a point of having a light in my hand as we walk out of the store, mall, etc.

    Jon, I know my experience does not compare to yours, but the first time I shot in low light conditions I could not hit a thing! It was scary, and I wasn't dancing with the elephant. It took a 2 classes for me to begin placing shots on the threats.
     
  18. mahler9

    mahler9 Banned

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    Hype, unless you're in some type of law enforcement.
     
  19. greenLED

    greenLED Empty Pockets

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    ...or want to incorporate light in your self defense toolbox.
     
  20. shrap

    shrap Loaded Pockets

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    I disagree.

    Worst case scenarios:

    You draw a flashlight when you should be running away or drawing a lethal weapon.
    You spend money on a tactical flashlight when you should be training to use the tools you already have (like your brain).
    You spend time practicing your tactical flashlight drills when you should have been practicing something else.

    I think in a self defense situation, it is the victim who is more likely to be surprised.
     
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