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
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
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
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
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
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.