Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Got Light?

Yeah, yeah – it’s been a month since the last blog entry. Sorry. Reason – I’ve been really busy. We launched the new forums and are still tweaking them a bit; I was teaching a military combatives course every morning at 0530 which meant I had to get up early for the commute, which meant I went to bed early every night; I worked with another outfit and put on a SERE II course; I’ve been working with the bees (and have not been stung again, thank you very much); we were getting the garden in, putting up more fencing, and dealing with new goat kids. So, yeah, I’ve been a bit busy to get on the computer and blog. But now I’m back. I resolve to try and do better.

Read any disaster preparedness supply list you want – somewhere therein you will find “flashlight”. Take the time to inspect any pre-made (in China, natch) Prep Pak and amongst it’s cheaply made contents you will also find a flashlight.

Let me tell you brothers and sisters, “there are flashlights, and then there are flashlights”. I recently posted on the forums about hammers. There are a bazillion types of hammers and they are all designed for fairly unique purposes. Same thing with flashlights. While a particular light may fulfill one role just fine, it may be largely unsuited for another.

Take the first one on the left up there. It is a rechargeable job that puts out 1,000,000 candlepower of light. It’s bright. It’s also heavy, large, and relatively fragile. It works well for spotting coyotes out near the chicken pen, lighting up large areas of the grounds around the house and signaling UFOs. It’s probably not the light you want in your BoB. It is rechargeable – which means you need a means to do so if you want to use it again when the batteries run down.

While that light is good for spotting hungry coyotes, it’s not great for shooting them – unless one person holds the light and another holds the firearm. No, for shooting it’s best to have a light mounted on the weapon. The two pictured are old. The current unpleasantness has seen an explosion of weapon-mounted lights. There are many good ones out there. The folks providing them for sale are mighty proud of most of them. I will tell you this – you need to realize how much light is enough. Consider the distance you will be firing with said light.

Some people have lights mounted to their handguns. I am not one of them. I like little handheld lights with the switch on the end – like SureFires, although I also have a small Streamlight that cost half as much and works just as well. These lights are small – small enough to operate simultaneously with one’s pistol. And that switch on the back makes them very useful for pistolcraft. Some readers may remember the days when we shot handguns with full sized Maglites and Streamlights like the two pictured. It can be done. I’m glad we no longer have to. These lights are also very bright. Remember that phrase about the candle burning twice as bright but only half as long? Yeah, it’s like that. The batteries in these puppies burn out quickly – like 30 minutes of use quickly. Again, not a great light for the BoB.

Better choices for BoBs are small mini-Maglites and the wide variety of led lights out there. I especially like headlamps for hands free use. There are some very bright lights that run a long time on one set of batteries. See that little black light just to the left of the GI angle head flashlight? That is an led light, very bright, has been running a long time on the batteries provided with it and I paid all of $5 for it at an auto parts store. It works great, it’s cheap and after using it for about a month – I bought everyone in the family one. You don’t have to spend $100 to get a decent light.

Everyone should have a small personal led light on their key chain. Most people have their keys most of the time. Therefore, they should also have a light for when darkness unexpectedly falls. I like Photons but again – there are lights just as good for significantly less.

I put the GI angle head flashlight in there because I hate them so much. They are large, they are heavy, they are not bright and the switch becomes inop fairly quickly. As soon as the mini-Maglite came out with different color lens filters, the old angle head became obsolete. Don’t buy one. The mini one down there is my daughters – I don’t know why she has it or where she got it. It seems to run okay but Lord knows I’ve bought her a whole bunch of better ones.

Like the PAL light knock off just below the rifle’s forward handgrip. This is a very bright led light, waterproof, and has a few different light modes – bright, very bright, off, and “ready”. In the ready mode it barely glows – but bright enough to find in the dark. In this mode it supposedly will work for a bazillion hours. We have been testing them since Christmas and they are still working on the original battery.

How many lights should one have? A lot. You should have one in every vehicle – I like full sized Maglites for that. They are bright, the batteries last a good amount of time, they are tough, and they make a decent improvised weapon. I keep reflective tape wrapped around mine to increase my visibility when operating roadside. You should have one on your key chain. Everyone should have their own light next to their bed. You should have a light by every door. Keep one in the garage. Keep one in the basement. Keep one at work. Keep one in your coat pocket. Keep one in your purse (or murse).

Flashlights make great presents because no one can really ever have enough. I like giving away Maglights. Everyone likes them. When I see them on sale, I buy a few and keep them in my “gift bin” so that I have a gift if I need one at the last minute.

It is good to test your batteries. If it’s a light that you don’t use a lot, make sure to test it every time we switch the clocks back (twice a year). If it’s not too much of a pain, keep extra batteries with the light. If not with it – at least have them available.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. – Matthew 5:16

If you have any comments I’d love to hear them.
If they really interest me, I may even post them.
You can reach me at vikingservices@hotmail.com

Prepared Americans for a Strong America


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