Tactical Flashlights: a Great Review by Kevin Creighton

I have carried a flashlight for over 30 years. As a plant engineer, I found out early on that there was no way to predict when I would be in the dark, and need light.

As I went on, I began to think about the tactical aspect of carrying a flashlight – that is, being able to use it to stun an opponent, or to be able to aim in the dark.

I have written in the past about flashlights in general, and about the ones I carry, and I thought that someday I would research the different types available and write a review.

And then, I read Kevin Creighton’s review of the Best Tactical Flashlights at the Ammoman School of Guns blog. And all I could say was Wow.

Go read it, and make a decision. I’m going to, and I will share my decision with you.

EDC as a Lifestyle

I was reviewing my blog, and as it turns out, in the years I’ve been writing this, I’ve never done a post on my everyday carry. This seems strange to me, since most of it hasn’t changed in a long time.

To start with, I’ve carried a pocket knife for as long as I can remember. Starting in about the 7th grade, I carried a Boy Scout version Swiss Army knife, up until about the time I graduated from high school. Yes, in those days we could carry a knife with no comment from anyone at school. I even had a teacher borrow mine once or twice.

I changed knives in college, and then went back to the Swiss Army knife you see above, in 1992.

I added the Leatherman tool a few years ago after I received it as a gift. I particularly like it because it’s got tools I can use, like pliers and a file. But the thing I like best is that it doesn’t have a blade, so the TSA lets me take it on an airplane, and so when I travel without checking bags, I’ve got something, at least.

In the same vein, I’ve carried a flashlight for my whole career. As a chemical engineer, there are many times every day when I needed to be able to see something in a shadow or in the dark, and I started carrying an explosion proof flashlight. I still do, only this one is 200 lumens, and uses AA batteries. I keep about 6 rechargeable batteries in rotation, and when the last charged set of 2 go in, the other 4 go in the charger overnight. When I travel, I always carry a spare set of batteries, and I keep a set of 4 in the Get Home Bag.

Next is my wallet. All I carry in there is my various ID – driver’s license, Weapons Carry License, insurance cards, and the like – and my credit cards, and a few business cards. I haven’t carried cash in my wallet since I was in college, and when I do I carry it in a different pocket than the wallet. This has to do with avoiding pickpockets.

In fact, I always carry these things in certain pockets, for a reason. Here’s where:

Right front: cell phone, knives, car keys, cash, and a pen.

Left front: wallet, flashlight.

Left rear: a handkerchief.

Note I don’t carry my wallet in a back pocket, so I can avoid pickpockets. I also carry my wallet on the left side, so if I’m asked by a policeman for my ID, I’m not reaching on the same as my pistol.

I also carry my flashlight in my left pocket, so I can draw it and go to a Harries or other flashlight hold.

On a similar note, in my car I keep my insurance card and registration in a folder on the back of the driver’s side sun visor, since I can’t promise that I haven’t just been to the post office, which would mean my pistol is in the glove box. Again, no sense drawing attention to anything I don’t have to.

Now we get to the most recent addition – a pistol. In the summer I carry Liberty, my G19, IWB at 3 o’clock.

In the winter I mostly carry Bruce, my G17, on my belt OWB at 3 o’clock, with an open shirt or jacket or fleece vest over it.

Year round I carry a G17 magazine with a plus-2 extender on my left side at 3 o’clock.

So there you have it. Nothing that isn’t part of my life, for quite a while.

Having said that . . .

I will likely add a medical pack in the near future, now that Linoge has shown how to put it all in a cell phone case. Stay tuned.


I’ve recently become aware that I was violating one of Alton Brown’s rules: No Unitaskers. And, I’m happy to say, I have remedied that.

Let me explain.

I’ve carried a flashlight as part of my every day carry for over 20 years. I’m a chemical engineer, and I’ve found them handy more than once, for looking at equipment in buildings or under things. Even in an office setting, you would be surprised how many times you would need to check something plugged into the computer under your desk, or hidden behind the ceiling panels overhead.

I’ve usually carried a small, cheap flashlight like the blue one on the right in the picture above. I bought that one as part of a “2 for $2.99” pack at the local hardware store. In fact, there are five more just like it in various places around the house.

But, I was reading somewhere after the recent theater shootings in Aurora, Colorado, and the writer reminded us that, even in a Gun-Free Victim Zone, a flashlight with high output can be shined in an attacker’s eyes, temporarily blinding them and allowing us to escape.

I then realized that the flashlight I carried wouldn’t disorient a mouse. It was a unitasker – a device that served only one task. Except for a fire extinguisher, I want no unitaskers.

Now, I admit I have been aware of the vast array of “Tactical” flashlights on the market, but that part of my brain imply ignored them, since, duh, I already had a flashlight. But, after considering the lessons to be learned from the Aurora shooting, I decided to get a new flashlight that could deliver enough light to be a serious defensive tool.

I settled on the flashlight on the left above, the Smith & Wesson branded Galaxy Elite model. It delivers 120 lumens from a CREE LED bulb, uses AA batteries, and has a twist-on, or momentary push button control. I used it in the dark back yard last night, and the difference between it and the old light was astonishing.

I know there are several brands of tactical flashlight out there, and I’m sure I will stir up the usual discussion. I wish I could say I researched the subject exhaustively, but in truth I bought the flashlight that gave me the most lumens for the  best price, with a design I thought fit how I carry.


So, now, what other unitaskers am I harboring . . . . . ?