Flashlights for Every Day Carry
I have a confession to make. I love flashlights. But then again, I also love knives, and guns, and…well, all my survival tools. Now, I recognize that a flashlight might not be on the top of your every day carry list, but I think that’s a mistake, and I hope to show you why.
For a long time, I kept my flashlights in my home or vehicle, but that changed on a cold, crisp morning when I found a flashlight while hunting in the beautiful Sawtooth Mountains near Stanley Idaho.
Unfortunately, I didn’t catch anything that day, but as I was walking, I spotted a twinkle reflecting from something small on the road. It was a pocket-sized flashlight. When I picked it up, I was impressed by the quality of the device. I felt like the hunting gods (no I don’t believe in hunting gods) had made up for not providing me with a deer.
That flashlight was a Streamlight Stylus Pro. I proceeded to carry it for about six months. Then, it either vanished into the ether, or some kleptomaniac friend decided to take it. Hey Jack, if you took it, give it back.
It was then that I realized how convenient it is to have a flashlight, at-all-times. Honestly, before this, I never thought I needed to carry a flashlight. I was wrong. I used my Stylus Pro every single day.
However, for some reason, I did not buy another Streamlight right away. Instead, I just kept saying, “dang it, I wish I had a flashlight right now.” (Chuckling) Sometimes I can be a little hardheaded.
A couple of months later I found the truck of my dreams on Craigslist — a beautiful 1979 Ford Bronco. After acquiring this vehicle — from the poor fellow whose wife made him sell it (he, he) — I drove it home. On the way, I decided to test out the sun visor, when I pulled the visor down a Streamlight Stylus Pro was clipped to the back side. I couldn’t believe it. I just obtained my second Stylus Pro for free. Life is good!
I don’t know how long I carried that second Streamlight, but I do know that I purchased a third at Sportsman’s Warehouse, which I proceeded to carry until it apparently grew legs and disappeared — as I am sure you have learned, inanimate objects will often do this type of thing.
When it came time to purchase number four, I noticed that 5.11 had just released the TMT PLx Penlight, so I decided to give it a try. I carried the TMT PLx for over a year and found it to be an excellent option as well. More about that later.
Don’t go anywhere, I am going to give you a detailed comparison of these three flashlights, along with my top recommendation, but first, I want to give you three reasons to include a flashlight with your every day carry items.
Three Reasons to Carry a Flashlight (Plus Some Flashlight Hacks)
I like to call these reasons the three S’s of flashlight carry, safety, self-defense, and survival.
It’s late Friday night, and you’re taking the groceries out of the trunk when you hear rustling in the bushes nearby. Oh, shoot, what is that? You look in that direction. It’s too dark to see anything. Is it a Mountain Lion, or an intruder? You rush to the front door. The porch light is out. Your heart begins to race as you fumble around in the dark trying to put your key into the keyhole.
You sure could use a flashlight.
Once inside, you flip the light switch, but nothing happens. You realize the power is out, so you head to the kitchen to retrieve your flashlight but slip on a toy. You go down arms flailing, and then, what little light there was in the room is gone. When you wake up, it feels like a hammer hit your head.
You could have sure used a flashlight.
Maybe all you need to do is flip the breaker. You head out back to check. As you round, the corner someone grabs you from behind and knocks you to the ground. You struggle briefly, groping for something with which to hit the attacker. You find nothing, and then he flees, leaving just as quickly as he came.
Man, you could have sure used a flashlight.
It’s not until the officers arrive that you realize your wallet is gone. They ask for a description, but you didn’t see anything because it’s dark.
DUDE! You could have REALLY used a flashlight.
With a flashlight, you would have been able to see the intruder before his surprise attack. Often, just shining light will be enough to encourage an intruder to flee. You would have also been able to see the keyhole on your door as well as the toy on the floor.
SIDE NOTE: All of these “Pen lights” can be clipped on the bill of a baseball cap and used as an improvised headlamp.
With a flashlight, you would have been able to identify the threat before the attack, and also momentarily disorient the attacker by shining the light directly in his eyes. If you were carrying a tactical light, you could have also used it as an improvised weapon.
Many tactical flashlights have a serrated or toothed bezel. Properly used, this feature can be a very effective weapon. As a side note, the Bushnell tactical flashlights are beveled on both ends. The beveled tactical light can also be used to break a house window (think fire escape), but will probably not work well on a vehicle — even though many manufacturers claim it can do this.
After shining your light into the eyes of the attacker, use the toothed bezel to strike at the attackers face as hard as you can.
Another advantage to carrying a tactical flashlight for self-defense is that they are often allowed in places where a firearm is not. However, there have been reports of the TSA confiscating them as they are considered a “striking weapon.”
Additionally, while a flashlight can be used for self-defense, I believe it should be regarded as a secondary or backup option — a gun or a knife will be a much more effective weapon, when available.
There are many ways you can use a flashlight in a survival situation. I am sure that many of you will have additional ideas. Please, share them in the comments section.
Here’s a list of flashlight survival techniques.
There are five possible ways to start a fire with a flashlight (that I know of). Or more specifically with the parts from a flashlight and some other items (i.e., steel wool, char cloth, paper clip, gum wrapper). Please note: some of these methods require a certain type of flashlight — they will not all work with every flashlight.
Flashlight Cone and Char Cloth or Tinder
With a large flashlight, remove the head of the flashlight and the bulb. Place the char cloth where the bulb would be and focus the light from the sun on the tip of the char cloth. It will ignite. You can also use tinder, but that is much more challenging. For instructions on how to make char cloth click here.
Batteries and steel wool
With a 6-volt, 9-volt, or, yes even AA or AAA or AAAA batteries and steel wool (preferably grade #000 or 0000). Simply touch the steel wool to both the positive and negative terminals of the 6 or 9-volt battery. You will get a spark. With the AA, AAA, and AAAA twist the steel wool into a loose cord (long enough to reach both ends of the batteries. Make sure that your batteries are facing opposite directions. That is, make sure the positive of one is facing up and the positive of the other down. Then connect your steel wool to both the positive and negative of both the tops and the bottoms of the batteries. The steel wool will ignite.
With a Mag-Light or similar flashlight and tinder or char cloth (must have a bulb with filament).
Remove the glass lens and break the bulb. Stuff the cone with tinder (make sure the tinder touches the filament of the broken bulb) and press the power button. The filament will spark and the tinder will ignite. The only problem with this method is it renders the Mag-light useless as a flashlight.
Another way to start a fire with a Mag-Light is to make a fire piston, but this is more of a project than a survival technique. It also permanently renders the flashlight useless as a flashlight. There is a well-written tutorial on how to build one here.
With AAA or AA batteries and foil gum wrapper. Cut the foil into a thin strip and connect it to the negative and positive terminals. (Note: it is also possible to do something similar with a paper clip, and also with wire).
Audible signaling. There are two possible ways to use your flashlight as an audible signaling device.
Click Signal. Use the clicking of the power button as a subtle signal for your team to take action. I imagine mothers could also use this as a secret signal for their children. One click means you’re in trouble. Two clicks mean it’s really serious now. Three clicks… you don’t want to know what that means.
Whistle. To use your flashlight as an incredibly loud whistle, remove the battery cap and the batteries. Form a V over the cylinder with your thumbs (see picture). Put your lips on the knuckles and blow air into the cylinder. This might take a little practice, but once you get it, you will have a very loud whistle.
We are almost to the review and recommendations, I promise. But first.
Tactics for using your flashlight with a pistol
Most experts recommend against mounting a light on your pistol because when you do, it forces you to point your flashlight at everything you want to see. This violates the safety rule of not pointing your gun at a person unless you intend to fire.
Therefore, learning how to use one of the several tactical pistol techniques with your EDC flashlight is crucial. Here are six popular techniques.
The Harries Method – by Mike Harries (former Marine) in the 1970’s
With the flashlight in your left hand in the “ice-pick” position (thumb on the rear button), bring it under your right hand (not in front of the gun) and place both your wrists and the back of your hands together.
The Chapman Method – by Ray Chapman, competitive pistol champion
With this technique, you hold the flashlight in the “Sword” position and bring it alongside the gun. The obvious problem with this technique is that most modern tactical flashlights have the power button on the bottom and not on the side of the flashlight.
The Ayoob Method – by Massad Ayoob
With this technique, you hold the flashlight in an overhand sword position and bring the light up beside the pistol with both thumbs together as if you’re shooting in the traditional “thumbs forward” grip.
The Rogers Flashlight Technique – by Bill Rogers (former FBI agent)
With this technique, you hold the flashlight between your middle and index finger and then bring the flashlight up next to your gun. Thumbs touching, wrap the remaining fingers around your other hand. This allows you to get closer to a two handed grip than any other technique.
The Neck Index Technique
Use the “ice-pick” grip and hold the flashlight below your ear and close to your jaw and neck. A disadvantage of this technique is that the light is right next to your head, which might make it an easier target for a shooter to hit.
The FBI technique
Hold the flashlight in the “ice-pick” grip up in the air away from your body. The idea behind this method is that the shooter will not know where you are. While this may be good for clearing a room, if you use this method for an extended period your arm will quickly become tired.
Reloading and Clearing
Practice reloading and cleaning your gun while holding your flashlight. Consider a lanyard so that you can let the flashlight dangle from your wrist. Otherwise, practice placing the flashlight in your armpit facing backward, and remember to practice all of this in the dark.
Sheepdog Man’s Recommendations
Let me start by saying that there are many options available that may be better in one way or another than those I am recommending. Please, understand that the criteria for which I am basing my recommendations are:
- Size – because these are intended for every day carry, I am only making recommendations that will clip inside your pocket next to your pocketknife. If you don’t mind wearing a holster than you might be able to go with a bigger flashlight. Personally, I want the most powerful, yet small, and discrete option.
- Price – the three that I am suggesting are all affordable. Cost should not be a barrier for anyone.
- Functionality – brightness, durability, easy of use, battery life, switch functionality, and size.
My purpose is to recommend affordable options that will work well for the average person for every day carry. There may be better options for LEO or military use or even for SHTF scenarios but these options will either cost significantly more, or be much bigger or have much shorter batter life. Many people custom build LED’s that can be $1000 or more. (You can browse for them here) Therefore, what follows is a comparison of three of the best, most affordable, and durrable options for everyday carry. All of these flashlights are made from aircraft grade aluminum and can take quite a beating.
The TMT PLx Penlight
At 90 lumens, the PLx provides a nice white light, bright enough for most situations with a reach of 131.2 feet. It has a battery life of 4 hours, with two AAA batteries.
As for size and use in pants pockets, I found it worked well enough but did not fall in love with the way it feels in hand. It has a weird shape to me.
After carrying the PLx for at least a year, there were two areas of weakness. First, the clip is thin and will wear out in time. Second, the button eventually wore out making the light inoperable until I cut the rubber away completely.
At $26.84 on Amazon, I do not find the PLx to be the best bang for your buck.
Similarly to the PLx, the Stylus Pro produces 90 lumens, with a nice white light. It outshines the PLx by 59.3 feet with a reach of 190.3 feet. This is because the cone is much deeper. The Stylus boasts a 6.5-hour runtime (2.5 hours more than the PLx), with two AAA batteries. It’s IPX4 water-resistance, and 1m impact resistance is impressive as well.
As I mentioned before, I like this flashlight. It looks great and feels great in hand. Sadly it suffers from two shortcomings. Like the PLx the clip is weak, and you will wear it out quickly. Another weakness of the Stylus is that the button works great for the press-and-hold but does not click into the stay on position very easily. The rubber of the button will also wear out in time.
At $17.78 on Amazon, I think this light is well worth it. And if you are looking for the sleekest option with the best performance, this is the light you want.
The 100L outshines the others with 100 lumens. But, rather than white, it produces a bluish hue. It has a reach of 114.8 feet and a 3.5-hour runtime, with two AAA batteries. It’s IPX4 water-resistance, and 2m impact resistance is impressive as well.
Overall, I rate the 100L above the others because of it’s beveled, serrated tactical edges, it’s sturdier clip, which will not wear out easily, and a much better button that is protected by the beveled edge. I also like the rough texture, which aids in removal from the pocket.
The only downside to this light is the bluish hue of the light and the widespread illumination field.
At $24.49 on Amazon, it is well worth the price and it receives the Sheepdog Man seal of approval for every day carry.
The Prepared Bloggers are at it again!
Everyday carry, or EDC for short, refers to items that are carried on a regular basis to help you deal with the normal everyday needs of modern western society and possible emergency situations.
Some of the most common EDC items are knives, flashlights, multitools, wallets, smartphones, notebooks, and pens. Because people are different, the type and quantity of items will vary widely. If you have far to travel for work or have young children, your EDC could be huge!
But, even if you’re just setting out for a walk around the neighborhood, taking your essential items with you in a pair of cargo pants with large pockets, may be all you need to be prepared.
Follow the links to see what a few of the Prepared Bloggers always carry in their EDC. Would you feel safer with these items close at hand?
Shelle at PreparednessMama always carries cash, find out why and how much she recommends.
John at 1776 Patriot USA tell us the 5 reasons he thinks his pistol is the essential item to have.
LeAnn at Homestead Dreamer won’t be caught without her handy water filter.
Justin at Sheep Dog Man has suggestions for the best flashlights to carry every day.
Bernie at Apartment Prepper always carries two knives with her, find out what she recommends.
Nettie at Preppers Survive has a cool way to carry duct tape that you can duplicate.
Todd at Ed That Matters tells us about the one item you’ll always go back for…your cell phone
Erica at Living Life in Rural Iowa knows how important her whistle can be when you want to be safe.
Todd at Survival Sherpa always carries 3 essential fire starters wherever he goes.
Angela at Food Storage and Survival loves her Mini MultiTool, it’s gotten her out of a few scrapes!