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Choosing the Best Weapon Light for SHTF

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Editor’s Note: This post was contributed by Roger. If you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and possibly win a $300 Amazon Gift Card to purchase your own prepping supplies, enter today.


Tactical situations and hunting expeditions don’t always offer the convenience of daylight. Indeed, night-time operations can offer significant advantages to those who are prepared. A weapon light is an essential tool for tactical operators and hunters, and can be a vital addition to your bug out kit in case of a SHTF scenario.

In an ideal world, you’d be able to fit your weapons with the perfect light for each situation and set them up with the configuration you’re most comfortable with. But when it comes to a post-collapse situation, keeping multiple lights, multiple rigs, and multiple sets of batteries may be a luxury you can’t afford. This quick guide highlights a few of the considerations to make when choosing a weapon light to include in your emergency prep kit.

Versatility

As with most gear in these situations, versatility is the name of the game. While there are a number of dedicated weapon lights, a handheld light that can be easily and securely attached to a weapon’s rail systems offers you the 2-in-1 capabilities that proprietary gear can’t. Lights like the Fenix TK20R can be used as ultra-bright hand-held devices and then easily be attached to the rails of a shotgun or rifle. Best of all, true tactical lights like the TK20R feature tactical switches and grips for easy one-handed use in conjunction with a handgun, and crenellated bezels that add an extra level of close-quarters self-defense.

Ergonomics

FENIX TK20R USB Rechargeable 1000 Lumen Cree LED tactical Flashlight

Comfort is only part of the story here. A flashlight with the proper ergonomics will ensure that it’s as useful when used in hand, or in conjunction with a handgun, as it is when it’s mounted on a rifle. A tail switch with constant and momentary on, a “cigar ring” grip, and adequate knurling will ensure you can comfortably and effectively utilize the light with one hand with a variety of tactical holds. Pistol-mounted flashlights are beneficial for several reasons, but a rig like that might not be practical for every situation. Again, the versatility of a hand-held device saves on the amount of gear you need to keep in your bug-out-bag, making your kit lighter, and more manageable.

Durability

Durability is obviously important for any piece of gear you’re going to depend on in a post-collapse situation. That’s doubly true when you’ll be using that gear to defend your life. Luckily, many modern flashlights are built with the rough use of tactical operations and hunting expeditions in mind. A few durability features to keep in mind:  Dual-spring construction puts solid contact on both ends of the battery, ensuring consistent contact throughout the firing process and eliminating noisy rattling. Anodized black finishes are resistant to scratches and corrosion and reduce glare. Tempered glass lenses are impact resistant and allow for maximum performance without losing transparency and reducing output over time.

Attachment Method

There are a lot of options when it comes to accessory mounting on firearms. Each rail system has its own strengths and weaknesses, and each user has their own reasons for using the systems they do. The important thing to keep in mind is to ensure you have a reliable mount that is compatible with your rail system, and that you have whatever necessary tools on hand for quickly attaching and removing the accessory. Consistency here can go a long way.

Battery Type

Like with competing rail systems, there are many schools of thought surrounding which batteries are best for emergency situations. AA’s are obviously the most abundant and cost-effective. They also offer versatility as they can be used in and harvested from countless other electronic devices. The trade-off is most AA’s are not rechargeable, and they limit your device’s performance. A high performance LED flashlight packing a 3.6 Volt 18650 or two 3 Volt CR123’s is likely to provide more lumens better run times than a AA device.

Lights running off of 18650 batteries are popular for a number of reasons. First, there are a number of high performance lights on the market running on a single 18650 platform, meaning you can pick from some of the world’s most trusted brands. 18650’s Are also rechargeable, meaning if you have access to a generator or solar rig, you could get an impressive lifetime out of each cell compared to traditional alkaline batteries. And finally, most lights powered by 18650’s can also be powered by two (non-rechargeable) CR123A cells, giving you an added level of versatility.

All of the pros and cons need to be weighed against each other and, just like with any gear, the right answer will depend on your needs and expectations.

The best flashlight is one you have on you at all times.

Lumens

Lumens get a lot of attention when shoppers are looking for a new flashlight. The truth is, most modern flashlights are plenty bright for most applications, including tactical operations. At 1,000 lumens, the TK20R easily provides the kind of illumination you’d need to light up a dark warehouse, alley, or field, and multiple settings allow you to step down the brightness to save on run time or cater to more reflective surroundings. One thing to keep in mind is ANSI ratings. Non-ANSI rated lights will often have inflated lumen measurements. That’s not to say they aren’t bright or high quality devices – it’s just important to compare oranges to oranges.

There’s no question that a weapon light can be a life-saving device in a SHTF world. Whether it helps you spot an intruder, or helps you track game after the sun goes down, a quality torch attached to your firearm will pay off in dividends the first time you truly need it.

When planning for worst-case-scenarios, keep versatility in mind, and look for gear that can be put to use effectively in a variety of applications. A quality LED flashlight can be just as crucial navigating rough terrain while collecting firewood as it can be spotting assailants in dangerous territory. There’s no shortage of quality gear on the market, and no shortage of opinions as to which styles and configurations are the most effective. Shop around, consider the variables, and choose your gear wisely.

17 Comments

  1. Flattop

    March 3, 2017 at 7:41 pm

    Since I have armed myself with a rifle, shotgun, and hand gun, I need to begin considering illumination. Where would one look , ( store or website) for an illumination adaptor for my 3 weapons

    • 3rdMan

      March 4, 2017 at 12:27 pm

      The Streamlight TLR-1 HL LED can be mounted on all three platforms, with or without the remote pressure switch. I use the TLR-1 on both my rifles and pistols.

    • R. Ann

      March 4, 2017 at 7:25 pm

      Do a search using your specific models, and look for people/forums/reviews where they’re getting used hard and abused.
      Forums will let you know if the rail you’re looking at is great on everything except X, unless X.
      Then do a general search for that specific item, and check the price, warranty and return policies to get the best.

      Just me:
      If you don’t have a sling yet, get those for the long guns first.
      Arguments can be made back and forth whether holsters or lights are “more” needed for the handgun.

      Since I can hold a flashlight/torch handle and still rack a slide and hold a barrel sheath or foreend for fast man-sized/2′ sq/3′ sq shots while moving sideways and diagonally at the extent of my usual light, use a clip-on light, or have a squeeze on-off back-of-hand light glove, the convenience and extended usefullness* of slings, pouches, belt/baldric/messenger bag, and holster are higher for me.
      *Edit: “extended of slings” is not gud engrish rihtin. 🙂

      If you are just getting into shooting, consider some training or hitting some of your local club’s IDPA, 2-gun, 3-gun, etc. competitions – to watch, to ask the guys there what they use and how and on what, and to join up and start using gear.
      We’re all a little different, and sometimes a good setup for somebody is a second or two (or five) slower for somebody else.
      Cheers!

      • BobW

        March 5, 2017 at 4:55 pm

        Well said. When I kept guns, I had a nice, leather bianchi #19 holster for my daily carry. Then when I started thinking more tactically, I picked up a couple drop-leg holsters I think from Blackhawk. They were super cheap, mainly because they were an undesirable model, the airborne model. Dirt cheap, and the only diff I could find from the non-AB to AB model was an extra strap to help retention when parachutes open. None of these models supported a weapon light, which appeared at the time to be a ’boutique’ option in holsters.

        Funny thing about weapons and weapons accessories. Not everyone likes or is comfortable with the same thing. My daughter had mad love for the Sig Sauer pistol. Always wanted to clean it, shoot it, etc. But after shooting everything a couple times, when they were laying on the bench at the range, it was always the G19 she shot. When I asked her about it, I got the response, “its so easy to shoot. I just like it.” She’s still in love with the Sig, but realized it was too big for her hand, and the G was easier to manipulate. Smart girl.

        Oh, and “mor guder ritin, or “ain’t not gud” are acceptable as well.

        • R. Ann

          March 5, 2017 at 5:53 pm

          🙂

  2. Vermont Prepper

    March 4, 2017 at 9:36 am

    Search for fenix flashlights in amazon or go to fenix.com. I like the tk16 hunter package. It comes with an offset picatinny mount and pressure switch for 106.95.

  3. EgbertThrockmorton1

    March 4, 2017 at 4:22 pm

    I have never cared for weapons mounted lights. From my past law enforcement career and military experience, I’ve found that in my experience, weapons lights are bullet magnets.
    I prefer quality hand held lights instead, the ones listed in the comments section are truly decent ones to get and use.
    Just my subjective opinion is all. We are all responsible for our own salvation.

    • Bolofia

      March 4, 2017 at 10:00 pm

      Agreed. The last thing I would do is turn on a light that is directly in front of my chest and head.

    • 3rdMan

      March 4, 2017 at 10:47 pm

      I can see where someone who has not be properly trained would shy away from a weapons mounted light.

      • EgbertThrockmorton1

        March 5, 2017 at 2:43 pm

        Nice slam, my friend. You have no idea of my professional experience whatsoever. Too bad, you cannot rise above your own petty insecurities.

        • 3rdMan

          March 5, 2017 at 3:49 pm

          I have 30 plus years combined myself, and I’m also currently a LE firearms/ tactical shooting instructor among other things. SO, with that said I have found that the uniform and my muzzle flash was a bigger bullet magnet then the proper use of a white light in CQB. So you’re welcome to lay out your pedigree if you so like. To many people watch movies and think you keep the weapons mounted light on throughout the operation, not the real tactical world!!! People need to stop getting their tactical training from movies and Youtube.

      • NRP

        March 6, 2017 at 12:24 pm

        Yet another post as why most that come and read the articles here, prefer NOT to post anything.

        Y-all just LOVE to slam and make remarks on what someone else believes, EVEN when they add “ Just my subjective opinion is all. We are all responsible for our own salvation.”

        Really??? Pat ya need to step in and get some control. There is NO reason for this kinda CRAPO, of course boys will always need to get into a pissing match.

        JMHO, and my turn to gat blasted I’m sure
        NRP

        • EgbertThrockmorton1

          March 8, 2017 at 11:34 am

          I always add “just my subjective opinion is all…” because I do believe it is our personal decision. I wasn’t slamming the author of the article at all.at all. Anyone can get into a urinating contest online, personal decisions based on professional experience is indeed subjective, as are all opinions. Disagree with my opinion fine, we are all different, and our opinions are indeed subjective, I just choose to voice my subjectivity, as honestly as I can.
          And no, I have zero desire to blast you at all, NRP, we have more in common than not, just based on what I’ve seen you post here and elsewhere.

          • NRP

            March 8, 2017 at 1:47 pm

            @ EgbertThrockmorton1

            Rest assured, my comment was not directed at you Sir

            NRP

  4. Bolofia

    March 4, 2017 at 9:54 pm

    Is it just my impression, or is this article a paid promo for the TK20R?

    • Pat Henry

      March 5, 2017 at 8:59 am

      I didn’t get paid anything Bolo, but the writer does seem to have a preference. I am similar on some things too. I have a few Fenix lights and overall I think they are great for construction/cost/durability. I have a Streamlight on my AR, but it doesn’t see as much use.

    • John Hertig

      April 2, 2017 at 12:43 am

      As a writer for blogs like this, I write about what I know (or can find out). My first “quality” flashlights were Fenix, and I liked them fine. They weaned me off of “junk” flashlights. Then I found that Olight gave me more brightness and more importantly, longer runtime for the same size and battery set, so that is what I use now for EDC. And if I were to write an article about EDC flashlights, some Olight models would be what I would recommend, without any compensation from the Olight company. Time might change my opinion and recommendations. And if I ever desired a tactical flashlight, I’d look at Olight and Fenix to see what their best choices are, and then compare them with other company’s offerings.

      For instance, I’m actually looking for a weapon-mounted light/laser combo. Streamlight seems to be the classic for this, but the prices are out of my reach. Beamshot is in the same price range, but I found a used one cheap which seems pretty good so far, but that was apparently a one time deal (most people seem to be holding onto theirs). But I’m pinning my hopes on the Vector Optics one which so far works well at a third of the Streamlight price. If it proves durable and reliable, it will be a winner.

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