Mega-bright…good or bad?

Who is not carrying a personal handheld flashlight these days? Those serious within the art will find the question boring. You have got to be impressed with how far the personal handheld lights have come; they are smaller, lighter and brighter.

Is there such a thing as too bright? I mean where do you draw the line on a personal hand held light’s brightness. I equate this discussion with the large frame .357 Magnum…badass gun, but a whole lot of gun and it tends to stay right there on the nightstand.

I have talked about what to look for in a personal handheld light before, here is one blog; Handheld Torches. However, have we reached a point where too much is actually a bad thing. In a conversation the other day the discussion was brought up and my feeling was the individual had stopped considering portability in favor of brightness thinking that brighter was actually better.

So, let’s take a closer look at that theory shall we. The body is an amazing mechanism, capable of some pretty amazing feats. For instance, do you know how fast the human eye blinks? How does as fast as 0.1 seconds sound, that’s a tenth of a second in other words. How does that equate in more useful terms? A 5.56mm round traveling at approximately 2,500fps will cover 100 yards in 0.11 seconds. In other words, it’s pretty fast.

Then, what’s really happening when you flash a bright light into the eyes. The corneal reflex is an involuntary reflex, designed to protect the eye from foreign bodies and bright lights. Something else to consider is the bodies response to pain, in this case a super bright light. When you are surprised with a bright light your head turns and your hands come up to shield your eyes. Another thought is passengers in vehicle accidents can sometimes sustain great injuries to their extremities/arms as they try to protect their head from the deployment of an airbag and projecting through the windshield. While not as fast as a speeding bullet, it is impressive none the less.

Now that we have some perspective is it reasonable to expect that being surprised with a bright light will illicit the response we are looking for; which is a stunning affect. I mean lets face it, its not like you just employed a destructive laser. But does the stunning effect depend on the brightness of the light and if so how bright. is it 60, 100, 200 or 500 lumens? Can the suspect override their body’s defenses by continuing to look into the super bright light? Hell, try it yourself. See how long you can look into that bright light from the reflection in your mirror. But just remember one thing and this is critical…you know it is coming.

The trend I am seeing is folks who are trying to carry these ultra-bright and bulky flashlights. I saw it earlier today at the local gun store, only rather than being clipped to a pocket, it was in a pouch. My fear is that folks will forget the trend we were working so hard at a few years ago…making them small!

You will need to decide what is bright enough, but it has to be balanced with size. If it is so bulky you don’t carry it, then it is useless no matter how bright. I was carrying one of the new SureFire Defenders E2D  for several months on a daily basis. I love that light, but it is just too big for daily carry on my frame. I started carrying it because I had lost my go to light, which was a SureFire L4 Lumamax. Well, I’m back to carrying my Lumamax and I don’t see myself out matched or ill prepared. Hopefully with a better understanding, you will as well.