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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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.