For those who are self-defense minded and ascribe to Col. Jeff Cooper’s Situational Awareness color codes, a flashlight (or two…or few…) is an essential piece of your everyday carry (EDC) gear. Anyone who spends any time outdoors has a flashlight or two. Even those who don’t want anything to do with firearms or roughing it in the woods should have a flashlight in their emergency kit, on the nightstand and in the car or for those late night/early morning jog or dog walks. We’re vulnerable in the dark and a flashlight not only helps us light our way at night, they help us positively identify hazards in the dark—whether those hazards are stationary and we’re avoiding a nasty bruise or fall or we’re having to identify a life or death threat in our home, in a parking garage or in a dark alley.
There is a seemingly endless amount of the types of flashlights available—spotlights, night vision flashlights, camping and hiking lights, hunting flashlights, hand-held, head-mount, shop, keychain, tactical…the list goes on. In the firearms community, we’re mostly concerned with three types—hunting, tactical and EDC flashlights. EDC and tactical flashlights are very similar, while hunting lights generally offer a few additional features that many EDC and tac lights don’t have.
EDC/Everyday Carry Lights
The best EDC flashlights are compact and lightweight, yet don’t compromise brightness for size. An EDC light still needs to identify threats, aid in changing a tire or looking under the hood or help in a survival situation. Because you carry this light every day, construction must be durable and battery type and life is a serious consideration.
When shopping for an EDC flashlight, pay attention to the bulb type, the lumens (how bright the bulb is), focus adjustments (if it’s an option), brightness levels, and operation, as well as how it can be carried (lanyard loop, belt clip, etc.)
Sightmark’s SS280 tactical flashlight makes the grade from both the National Tactical Officers Association and the North American Hunting Club. With multiple lumen functions, this bright white Cree LED has three settings—100 lumens, 280 lumens and strobe mode. Strobe is preferred by many experts in self-defense situations, as well as a vital signaling tool in a survival or emergency situation. It has an IP67 waterproof rating and is made of aircraft-grade aluminum with a Type II MIL-Spec anodized finish. Included is a red, green and blue lens filter, which means this handheld flashlight works well for tactical purposes, reading a map at night, hunting and preserving night vision.
Tactical flashlights are designed for professional use in law enforcement, military and security. Civilians who own firearms to protect themselves, their families and their homes realize the usefulness of these types of lights and generally buy one for the bedside or to mount on their firearm. In many cases, they own both. Tactical flashlights have a very specific purpose—identify suspects or threats in low-light situations. They need to be bright enough to temporarily blind a person and bigger, heftier ones like MagLite, may be used as a blunt-force weapon if necessary. Like many EDC flashlights, tac lights will have a glass-breaking bezel and some type of strobe function.
The most important features of a tactical flashlight are its ability to be mounted to a firearm, its lumens and battery life. You really don’t want your tactical light to fail when you need it most.
Sightmark’s Q5 Triple Duty Tactical Flashlight is the perfect crossover between tactical and EDC. Tested and recommended by the National Tactical Officers Association and voted Editor’s Choice Award by Outdoor Life magazine, the Q5 is light enough to carry every day at 4.9 ounces and bright enough to serve on your home-defense rifle. It has a 280-lumen CREE LED bulb which casts a clean, bright white beam. LEDs are more efficient, brighter and conserve battery life better than incandescent bulbs. 280 is plenty to identify and stun bad guys. Constructed of aircraft-grade aluminum with a MIL-SPEC Type II anodized finish, the Q5 tactical light can be dropped without incident and is submersible to 1 meter for up to 1 hour. Operation is via a two-stage push button on the tail cap or the included pressure pad. There is a three-prong glass-breaking bezel, as well as on the tail cap. The Q5 takes 2 (CR123A) batteries that last up to 1-1/2 hours continuous use. Included is the pressure pad, offset rifle mount and lanyard.
Hunters, especially predator hunters, utilize flashlights to track and spot hog and coyote at night. Hunting lights are often hand-held spotlights, headlamps or weapon-mounted and offer colored lenses or filters to preserve your vision at night and not spook game. Red filters are used to protect your night vision, while green is becoming more popular because we can see green light better than we can red light.
One Sightmark flashlight that really yields itself to multi-purposes is the Triple Duty H840 tactical flashlight kit. Either handheld or weapon-mountable, this light has three Cree LEDs for 840 super-bright lumens. It includes green, red and blue filters, which help with blood tracking. Like the T6, it is constructed of rugged, yet lightweight aircraft-grade aluminum and is Type II MIL-SPEC anodized. The H840 is also submersible to 1 meter for up to 1 hour.
Sightmark also has a super bright spotlight for extreme tactical use or for hunting, camping, hiking and other outdoor adventures with 3,000 lumens.
Sightmark has the best flashlights for any tactical, hunting or self-defense need. Besides the ones listed here, there weapon-mounted laser and light combos, IR illuminators and more handheld/rifle-mount lights online. Check them out here.