Concealed Carry

The Top 5 Flashlights for Self-Defense

best flashlights for self defense

Different people have different ideas when they approach choosing and using flashlights for self-defense.

Some people are looking for a light that will also act as a club.

Other people, like me, carry a pistol for self-defense, primarily looking to the flashlight for illumination in low-light, self-defense encounters.

A third group of people is looking for very high lumens to blind or dazzle the opposition.

All of these are valid strategies, with some choices having significant overlap.

That being said, here are my picks when it comes to the best flashlights for self-defense:

1. Maglite ML 300L LED 4-Cell D

Maglite ML 300L LED 4-cell D
Photo source: Maglite.

In the “flashlight as a club” category, the four to six-cell Maglite has been a standard for a couple of decades. The lights come in C- or D-cell configuration.

The D-cell options have longer run time and are heavier, but also have a much wider diameter and are not best for those with smaller hands.

I prefer the C-cell variants of this light as they are a much more comfortable grip for me.

An example would be the Maglite ML 300L LED 4-Cell D.

This option has a peak of 1002 lumens—more five hours of run time on high (a 500-lumen setting) and more than 400 hours on economy mode (5 lumens).

At 14 inches and 36 ounces, this is a capable cudgel, if heavy to carry around.

2. Smith & Wesson Accessories Delta Force 2100 Lumens LED

Smith & Wesson Accessories Delta Force Flashlight 2100 Lumens LED
Another club option would be the Smith & Wesson Accessories Delta Force 2100 Lumens LED.

This choice would certainly fulfill the dazzle method. And with the bulbous crenulated light housing, it fits the tough club category as well.

At about 9 inches and 13 ounces, it is a less-effective club, but still solid and 2100 lumens to the face will cause temporary blindness in any nocturnal encounter.

This light utilizes four CR123 batteries.

3. Fenix E12 Cree XP-E2 130-Lumen LED

Fenix E12 Cree XP-E2 130-Lumen LED
Photo source: Fenix Flashlights

Although I own several of the Maglite options, my everyday carry light is significantly smaller and lighter—it’s a Fenix Flashlight. I alternate between two options.

The first is for when I am needing to minimize the footprint in my pockets, like in dress pants. This is a Fenix E12 Cree XP-E2 130-Lumen LED.

This light is the polar opposite of the large Maglite. At one ounce and just slightly larger than an AA battery, it makes a very ineffective club.

However, when used in the offhand, below my pistol, it illuminates quite well past any reasonable self-defense engagement range.

The single AA battery normally lasts for two to three months of everyday use and has almost zero footprint in my pocket.

4. Streamlight ProTac 1L-1AA

Streamlight ProTac 1L-1AA
When I am wearing cargo pants or I don’t care about a slight pocket bulge, I use a Streamlight ProTac 1L-1AA.

This light gives me the option of running a CR123 battery with a peak of 350 lumens or running an AA battery with a peak of 160 lumens.

Both options give roughly a 1.5-hour burn time on their respective high settings. The light weighs just over 2.5 ounces, depending on which battery is installed.

I also like the double-facing clip, as it allows for pocket retention or mounting to a baseball cap for use as a headlamp.

5. M&P Night Terror

M&P Night Terror
Photo source: Smith & Wesson

Either the high-lumen Maglite or the Smith Delta force 2100 lumen flashlight is quite capable of dazzling an opponent.

But if you really want to maximize that approach, the M&P Night Terror is in the running for king.

This rechargeable light puts out a breathtaking 12,500 lumens on Turbo 2 setting. This burst of brilliance cannot last long—it has a run time of two hours.

I imagine the mega lumen setting lasts less than a dozen minutes, but you can blind a lot of people in that timeframe.

In the end, any of these lights will be a capable choice. It really comes down to the desired goal, acceptable footprint and battery type you desire.

What are your go-to flashlights for self-defense? Do you approach it as a club, illuminator or blinder? Let us know in the comments below.

About the Author:

John Bibby

John Bibby is an American gun writer who had the misfortune of being born in the occupied territory of New Jersey. His parents moved to the much freer state of Florida when he was 3. This allowed his father start teaching him about shooting prior to age 6. By age 8, he was regularly shooting with his father and parents of his friends. At age 12, despite the strong suggestions that he shouldn’t, he shot a neighbor’s “elephant rifle."

The rifle was a .375 H&H Magnum and, as such, precautions were taken. He had to shoot from prone. The recoil-induced, grass-stained shirt was a badge of honor. Shooting has been a constant in his life, as has cooking.

He is an (early) retired Executive Chef. Food is his other great passion. Currently, he is a semi-frequent 3-Gun competitor, with a solid weak spot on shotgun stages. When his business and travel schedule allow, you will often find him, ringing steel out well past 600 yards. In order to be consistent while going long, reloading is fairly mandatory. The 3-Gun matches work his progressive presses with volume work. Precision loading for long-range shooting and whitetail hunting keeps the single-stage presses from getting dusty.
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (9)

  1. I have found with every Maglight I’ve ever owned that the Duracell batteries will eventually leak and destroy the flashlight. I will use either Eveready or Rayovac batteries in my flashlights.

  2. I keep a Maglite 4-cell in my SUV. I wear a Tac Light on my belt and keep either a Nebo or Cree mini in my pocket. Check the batteries in the Maglite! I’ve ruined a few of those when old batteries leaked and became lodged in the tube. The smaller lights of my EDC are used often enough to notice when the batteries are fading.

  3. I always recommend the, S&W light and no other.
    Get the top end which is expensive but what value do you place upon safety of self and others.
    At its most powerfull it is a disableler by light alone, and non lethal which helps avoid excessive force or deadly collateral mistakes by use of gun allne.

  4. We have several rechargeable Streamlight Strion LED HLs. One in each vehicle, home and my wife always keeps one in her purse. They have 3 levels of brightness and Strobe function. We feel a good tactical light is a must carry for any travel including on Airlines.

  5. $0 years ago, before high tech lights came into being, I used a Kel-lite 4cell, D battery, flashight while on patrol. The light wasn’t blindingly bright but it did make a great club if needed.

    Please check them out . They have a new unique magnetic charging system on their flashlights, high tech and run about 3000 Lumens . In various SIZES.

  7. These flashlights are all great and useable but do you have figure 8 mount to attach it to a 12 gauge shot gun barrel????
    Please let me know.
    Thank you

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