How Many Lumens Do You Want in a Self Defense Light?

When carrying a firearm for self defense in low light, a flashlight or weapon mounted light is important for identifying a potential threat and blinding the attacker. But how many lumens should you have in a self defense flashlight?

If you use a handgun for self defense, the only reason why you should not watch this video is if you never go out at night or never are in a situation where there is darkness. In other words, watch this video. It’s a little long and wordy, but is very thorough and addresses every aspect of the arguments for more or less lumens. Don’t skip through the early scientific stuff as understanding it is important.

Don’t want to watch the video? Ok, here’s the cliff notes.

More lumens provides more detail on your potential threat

The most important component of carrying a handgun for self defense, be it law enforcement, home defense, or conceal carry, is simply determining a threat. Knowing if the person in front of you is a violent attacker, child, random bystander, or cardboard cutout is important for engaging in lawful self defense. How can you determine if something is a threat if you cannot see it?

More lumens allows for light control

“Light control” is, in its simplest explanation, blinding a person so they cannot effectively attack you. If the person in front of you is determined to be a violent attacker, shining a bright light in their eyes is a very effective way of limiting their ability to see you or their environment. In this situation, there’s never an instance where less is more, especially when dealing with multiple attackers.

Blinding yourself is simply poor technique

One of the common arguments for using less light is to prevent you from blinding yourself. This is simply a problem of poor technique. Why point the light forward at a white wall or mirror when you can point the light at the ground or ceiling and still have enough light to see? This allows you to sufficiently light up a room, but still be able to overpower and blind an attacker if a threat arises.

Conclusion: more lumens, always

In situations where you need less lumens, point the light at the floor – you can still see everything without blinding yourself. In situations where you need more lumens for threat identification or light control, you have them.

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Brian Purkiss
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Brian Purkiss is a firearms instructor, competitive shooter, proponent for individual liberty and Second Amendment rights, and a web developer. He enjoys competing in and organizing Run and Gun Competitions, as well as shooting in USPSA, Outlaw matches, and 3 Gun.