You have the opportunity to carry just one weapon as a defensive tool. Choose now.

Time’s up.

What did you select?

For those of you who were thinking about a gun (especially a big gun like a carbine), or a knife, or pepper spray, or a collapsible baton, I would ask you to think again.

First up, let’s define self-defense. Effective self-defense is very simply your ability to cause enough dysfunction to an attacker that you can escape unharmed. Your goal is not to kick ass and take names. Your goal is certainly not to kill someone. Your goal is to escape the situation.

And now I will start a really big fight.

If you are allowed to carry just one implement for self-defense, I would suggest a mid-sized yet very powerful flashlight.

Consider the lowly flashlight. You can carry one anywhere. There are no flashlight-free zones. You can carry one on an airplane or into a post office. In most cases a flashlight will not get a second look.

A flashlight is lightweight. It slips easily into a pocket. It is easy to operate. Most importantly, a flashlight provides a very solid tactical advantage in just about every situation. Yes, even daylight.

Here are some reasons why I think a flashlight should be the first thing you reach for when putting together your self-defense kit.

  • Most attacks occur in low light. If you are walking to your car in a dark parking lot, pull your flashlight and shine it on anything you think might be suspicious. This takes away the element of surprise from your attacker and gives you more time to plan your course of action.
  • If he can’t see, he can’t fight. A good flashlight that throws a beam anywhere north of 90 lumens causes involuntary pupil contraction. You can temporarily blind just about anyone. Use that opportunity to move—toward cover, out of the way, to a safer place, etc. Just move. Movement is the key to winning the fight. If, for instance, you carry your light into a gun-free zone and the bad guy ignores the gun-free zone sign, his temporary blindness gives you an advantage.
  • Make an impact. If the fight gets in close, as attacks often do, your flashlight makes a pretty good impact weapon or kubaton. Use of a kubaton requires training. You need to learn the strike points and you need to learn to use that light with your left hand, because you MIGHT have a gun in your right hand. (This whole “one weapon thing” is really just hypothetical.)
  • It doesn’t hurt. A good light provides a force option, which means you can use the light instead of using a higher level of force. Using the light may allow you to escape the situation without escalating things to the point where bullets are flying. And, let’s say you see someone “lurking” in the parking structure and you light him up with your flashlight. If the guy turns out to be on the up and up; no harm no foul. You can use the light to defuse a situation where drawing a gun would not be advised.

These four elements are just part of the reason why a good flashlight can be considered the single most important piece of your self-defense kit. Sure, a flashlight will not stop bullets, but it will help you to dodge them. Yes, a flashlight cannot return fire, but if you use it properly you can prevent the situation from escalating to gunfire. And finally, this is your reminder that you can carry it anywhere. That should be reason enough to carry it everywhere.

Get a flashlight. Use it often.


Aside from carrying a flashlight, there are many simple techniques you can adopt to INSTANTLY improve your self-defense skills. Download our most popular guide 23 Proven Strategies for Effective Self-Defense today!

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