POLICE Magazine

FEB 2019

Magazine for police and law enforcement

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12 P O L I C E F E B R UA R Y 2 019 much less money over time? Most flashlights made for law en- forcement that run on rechargeable batteries use the lithium ion type. "Lith- ium ion batteries are very robust," says Surefire's Wright. "ey provide more runtime and longevity. You can very easily use them for a normal duty cy- cle at work and then charge them every night without overcharging because it's a protected circuit." en there are flashlights that al- low you to use either rechargeable or disposable batteries. "An advantage to dual-fuel lights is if you're in the field, you can take out a rechargeable battery and drop in another rechargeable one or just a disposable battery if you need to get your light up and running," says Wright. 4. STROBE FUNCTION ISN'T A NECESSITY. "I wouldn't buy a tactical flashlight based on if it has a strobing function or not," says Santos. "You could just use a bright light in the eyes instead to disorient a subject." With that being said, if you're going to use a strobe and you've trained with it, go ahead and buy a flashlight with that feature. But make sure it has everything else you need as well. "e strobe feature has its use and place. But if you're using it to disorient a subject before you go hands on, remem- ber when you assess the situation that a strobe means the light is off 50% of the time, so it takes your eye twice as long to process what you're seeing," cautions Streamlight's Taylor. "We program our lights so the end user can decide. If you want strobe, you can have it. And if you don't, you can cut if off." 5. YOU NEED A LIGHT WITH SWITCHES IN THE RIGHT POSITION WITH THE RIGHT FUNCTION FOR HOW YOU'LL USE THE LIGHT. Ed San- tos is the founder of Tactical Services Group and author of "Rule the Night, Win the Fight and Low-Light Combat- ives." Unsurprisingly, one of his biggest concerns with a flashlight's switches is how well they align with whichever low-light technique you prefer, such as Harries versus Ayoob. You'll need to be able to access the switch while hold- ing your flashlight next to your service weapon. Will a tailcap switch on the tailend of the light or a bezel switch on the body be better? Also consider whether your flash- light has a constant-on option that's easy to activate versus momentary-on, which would require you to hold the switch down as long as you need the light operational. Some flashlights allow you to pro- gram the sequence of clicks that acti- vates different functions through one switch. If that option is available, make sure you choose the best sequence for your use when you set your light up. And train with it so you know how it will work in the heat of the moment. Oth- erwise, make sure you're happy with the sequence the flashlight's switch or switches come with. "But I'm not a fan of multi-function buttons. I want the light to come on as bright as possible when it comes on, and stay that way all the time," Santos says. Decide which option best meets your needs before you settle on a light. 6. A WEAPON LIGHT IS NOT A SEARCH LIGHT. is should go without saying, but for safety's sake, we'll mention it here. inking you don't need a dependable duty light because you have a weap- on-mounted light on your sidearm is wrongheaded. "Weapon lights are great. But they're only to be used when you need the weapon, not just to look for something in a dresser drawer," says Taylor. "Your handheld light is to be used for searching." 7. THERE IS NO ONE IDEAL DUTY LIGHT THAT WORKS FOR EVERY OFFICER. "Because we haven't found that ideal size patrol of- ficer yet," quips Ed Santos. "Some of us have monster gorilla hands and others have small, petite hands, regardless of gender." Finding a good fit depends on the size of the firearm issued, the size of the officer's hand, and the dexterity of the officer. If you have too big a light for your hand, it can be difficult to effectively manipulate. 8. THE BEST WAY TO TEST A LIGHT IS TO USE IT AS YOU WOULD ON THE JOB. Test it out in the showroom if you can, and also on a range if possible. If these options aren't available, you can watch YouTube vid- eos to get an idea of how the flashlight is used and if it matches the size, weight, and functionality you're looking for. Or use a realistic stand-in for your duty weapon."If you're going to a place without a range, typically your agency will have a blue gun of the same mod- el used on duty," shares Santos. "If you bring it with you on a shopping trip, you can do all the flashlight manipulations in a retail environment and get an idea of its use." 9. DURABILITY AND DEPENDABILITY ARE KEY. "Generally speaking, I'd look for an IPX 7 rating," says Wright. is means it's considered waterproof. If you drop an IPX7 rated flashlight in water up to 1 meter, or 3 feet, it is still going to work. "And a warranty is a good indicator of how much a brand trusts its product. ose two criteria are a good place to start," Wright adds. "I'm biased, but I'd say quality is very important. You could be facing some life threatening circumstances in which you need to rely on your gear," says Surefire's Wright. "We've been do- ing this for 40 years and have a proven track record." Santos agrees that quality is at the top of the list of criteria when buying a light, particularly in the longevity of switches, which can wear out quickly on poor quality lights. But that doesn't mean the light you buy has to be expen- sive. "Don't let the price be a governing factor. Don't count on a light because it's expensive. Don't discount a light be- cause it has a low price," Santos says. 10. A LIGHT IS WORTH NOTHING IF YOU WON'T OR CAN'T USE IT. "Try to find the brightest light with the best distance and best runtime you can get out of those lumens. But it has to be useable," says Taylor. HOW TO... PHOTO: GET T Y IMAGES

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