> TEOTWAWKI Blog: Survival Lighting, pt. 2



Survival Lighting, pt. 2

Alright, so headlamps are king for all-around use. Hands free, long battery life, all that good stuff. But, hey, they SUCK for tactical use. Yep, not exactly the best idea to run around a firefight with a big light on top of your head. No good for momentary lighting--flashing an area quickly. And nowhere near the brightness of today's tactical flashlights--we want retina-melting lumen count here.

Here's where your second light comes in, the high-intensity, hard-use tactical light. Typically they run on CR123a's, and typically blast out close to a hundred (or more) lumens, and have a "clickie" tail cap for momentary on. They're blindingly bright; all the light you'll need in a tough situation. They're specifically designed for combat and abuse, hardened to survive impact, and reinforced to handle the recoil of a firearm.

Surefire is the big name in the tactical flashlight market, and they have a bunch of solid products. They've recently begun an update of their line, switching over from xenon bulbs, which can burn out and break, to high-output LEDs, which will last for 100k+ hours of use, and also have a better run time. If you're in the market for a new flashlight, make sure it's an LED light...the xenon bulbs are quickly being phased out in favor of new, better LED technology. Worrying about bulbs burning out, needing to carry replacement bulbs...ya, lame. LED's all the way.

While Surefire is the top name, they've got a number of competitors who are nipping at their heals, and often times, releasing cooler, more cutting-edge lights. Fenix is the name that first comes to mind. I have a little AAA light, and E1, that has been great. Fenix has some very impressive offerings, and they're usually about half the price of Surefire's. They're made in China, but in my experience have been very solid quality. There are, of course, dozens of other manufacturers of lights. The Candle Power Forums offers more information than I could ever hope to cover.

An issue with most "tactical" lights is that they run off CR123a's, which are easy to find on the Internet, but harder to find locally, and run $1-$4 a pop, depending on where you get them. They have a shelf life of 10 years, so buy in bulk, online, for the best deal. Most of your other gear will probably NOT run on CR123a's, meaning you'll have to stock up on at least 2 different kinds of batteries. There are a few good lights on the market that run on AAs. I'm looking at the Nightcore Defender Infinity, but there have been troubles with the manufacturer getting these out to market. A cool light though, by the look of it.

The most easily available lights would probably be the Surefire G2 LED and the 6P LED, which are both sold at Lowe's hardware, amongst other places. Both are good quality lights. I've heard some very good things about the Brinkman lights sold at Wal-Mart, I believe, but I have no experience with these lights.

If the headlamp is your all-around, utilitarian light, the tactical flashlight is your panic light. This is your emergency light, the light you turn to when you NEED a handheld spotlight, right away. Keep it close and quickly accessible, ready for use.

Here are some great videos on YouTube covering Low Light tactics, from the Surefire Institute:

Low Light Technic 1

Low Light Technic 2

Low Light Technic 3

Enjoy the background music!