Let There Be Light

From Sportsman's News Magazine
June 2008
Vol. IV, Iss. 6
By Dan Kidder

Building your Personal Protection Kit
Part 3

Statistics vary on how often an attack will take place in low or no light, but all of them agree that it is more likely than not that an attack will take place in the dark.  Crooks and creeps like the night.  There is less chance they will be spotted as they prepare to pounce and a less likelihood they will be identified in a follow up investigation.

For this reason it is a necessity that anyone concerned about personal protection get and carry a high-powered, good-quality flashlight. Remember my golden rule for personal protection “if you don’t have it on you, you don’t have it.”

In the not so recent past, a high-powered flashlight meant lugging around a 6 D-Cell Maglight the size of a baseball bat. While this type of light has distinct advantages in a fight, it is impractical to carry it on you in most situations.

Fortunately, advances in lighting technology have created better options for lighting devices. Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) have come a very long way in a really short time. Improved power supplies and integrated circuitry have all been combined to make very small yet powerful flashlights.

Left to right: The Surefire E2E Executive Elite, Z2 CombatLight, E1L Outdoorsman, and the E2D Executive Defender.


The company really driving the improvement of flashlights has been Surefire.  This California-based company began designing laser sights for weapons. After years of research and development into optics and power supplies it was an easy transition to create super-powerful flashlights in a small package. Originally focused on the military and law enforcement markets, Surefire is now the leader in personal defense flashlights for the general public.

Surefire offers a variety of products that are super bright, compact, and rugged.

My favorite for daily carry is Surfire’s E2D Executive Defender. Not only is this model bright, it features an intermittent switch, anti-roll bezel, pocket clip, and knurled grip. What makes it my favorite however, has little to do with light.  The Executive Defender offers a crenellated bezel with nasty teeth that makes it ideal for striking an attacker.  This addition, lovingly referred to as the “DNA Collector” by Surfire’s spokesman Ron Canfield, can seriously wound an attacker and perhaps make him choose a less well-defended victim. The Executive Defender is currently only available with a Xenon bulb, but Canfield says plans are underway to offer a brighter LED model in the near future.

One great feature of Surfires and many of the other flashlights we will discuss is their ruggedness. While the $9 LED flashlight you pick up at the local gas station may provide bright light, it is very unlikely that it will withstand a 4-foot drop or being driven into an attacker’s temple. I have drop tested each of the lights we will discuss, and each one kept on shining.

For a smaller option, Surefire has just released their E1B Backup, a compact 1-cell that features a dual mode switch that varies light output between very bright and more subdued for map reading or getting your keys in the lock. A microprocessor resets the light to its brightest setting a few seconds after shutoff so you don’t have to remember what setting it was in the last time it was used.

Left to right: Streamlight NightFighter, TL-2 LED, and the Scorpion.


Another leader in the flashlight market is Pennsylvania-based Streamlight. Utilizing advanced C4 LED technologies, Streamlight is able to provide superior brightness in a very small package. Ideal for temporarily blinding and disorienting an attacker, Streamlight packs superior brightness into a very compact and easy to use package.

The Streamlight Scorpion offers a rubber grip with an integrated tailcap switch. Both the TL-2 LED and the Nightfighter LED models offer superior ergonomics, which make the flashlight easy to hold and retain in a struggle. Their optics provide a double ring of light.  The first is the center spot which offers focused light to completely illuminate a subject, which is great for blinding an attacker. The second ring offers softer light that is excellent for target identification and maintaining situational awareness. This light will fully illuminate a darkened room as well as reach out and light up all the dark nooks and crannies in an alley.

The Nightfighter includes an adjustable plunger ring that allows it to be easily integrated into a two-handed grip on a pistol while offering the safety and flexibility of a non-mounted light.

The Leupold MX Modular Flashlight

Leupold MX Modular Flashlight

New to the flashlight scene, but with an unparalleled reputation is Leupold, maker of fine scopes and optics.

Leupold entered the flashlight market this year with the introduction of their MX Modular flashlight.  Leupold utilizes a modular system to let the user build the light that best suits their particular needs. By offering a variety of switches; a two or three cell battery tube; and several different heads, each with its own features, Leupold allows the user the flexibility to create a light that meets their own rigorous requirements or by swapping out parts to tailor the light to a variety of needs without having to purchase several different lights.

The Model I tested was a two-cell with a tactical tailcap and bezel. One feature I really liked was the super fast blinking strobe.  While using a strobe for defense requires special training, the disorientation caused by being hit in the eyes with a blinding flashing light really takes the ability to fight out of an attacker, at least in the short term.  A simple twist of the bezel switches the light from strobe to either high intensity, low intensity, or to a low intensity SOS mode that flashes a distress signal over and over again for hours.  The SOS feature is a real bonus for hikers and campers who may need a distress beacon if they are injured or lost in the wilderness.

The top beam shows Streamlight’s C4 LED, left lower is Surefire’s LED, and the right is the Surefire Xenon bulb.

Each of these lights offers different benefits and value. Prices vary from around $60 for a low end Surefire or Streamlight to hundreds of dollars for higher-end models. Each provides tremendous lighting power in the palm of your hand, durability to withstand an impact or dropping from several feet, weight measured in ounces not pounds, and the ability to work in all kinds of climates and weather. Additionally, each model tested uses CR123 Lithium batteries, which provide more consistent power and have a shelf life of up to 10 years. This means that your light will run longer, stay bright more consistently, and will not end up with a handle full of corrosive goo after sitting for a year in your glove compartment. The main benefit is that you know it will work when you need it and that kind of reliability is what all of us are looking for in any of our personal protection items.

Next month: Pepper for Personal Protection.

About the author: In addition to his job as managing editor of Sportsman’s News, Dan Kidder is an NRA Certified Firearms Instructor, a former range safety officer for the National Rifle Association Headquarters Range in Fairfax, VA, and a former Marine. He has worked with hundreds of students, including members of local and federal law enforcement, as well as beginning shooters.

Sportsman’s News in no way endorses the use of violence and is not advocating for or encouraging anyone to carry a weapon or use a weapon upon another person. The information provided in this article is general in nature and does not cover any and all circumstances or situations. Sportsman’s News encourages anyone choosing to carry a weapon for personal protection to seek out the services of a qualified professional instructor and to comply with all local and federal laws.

The cost of ignorance is far higher than the price of our training.

The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Dan Kidder • BCI/ NRA Certified Instructors • (435) 868-8919 • Cedar City, UT

Self Defense, training, firearms, guns, knives, fighting, tactics, Utah, Cedar City, St. George, Southern Utah, Marine Corps, Special Operations, weapon, pepper spray, Defensive Training